I was recently invited by Glaceau Smartwater to a beautiful rooftop yoga class at their HQ with the amazing Jessica Skye of Fat Buddha Yoga. I am one of those people who knows they need to go to yoga more often, but seems completely incapable of actually hauling my butt to a yoga class (I know, we’re the worst), so I grabbed the opportunity for a class with both of my pudgy little hands.

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I also have a bit of a soft spot for Glaceau Smartwater (yes, I can be sentimental about bottled water – bear with me). It first came out around the same time as Dayve and I went on our epic US road trip, and we used to buy freezing cold bottles of it from service stations because it contains electrolytes but tastes just like regular water. No yucky powerade zero or sweetener filled drinks with a weird salty edge; straight up amazing water, which just happens to be even more hydrating than regular water. It’s genius and it always reminds me of the best holiday in the world and so I love it.

It was a beautiful sunny morning and there were some serious tunes along for the class. I did really enjoy the class, but what really struck me was just how good I felt afterwards. As well as carrying marathon stress in my legs, I have permanently tense shoulders thanks to a combination of an ongoing shoulder injury and my permanently desk-bound status. The yoga definitely helped ease those tensions, and also eased off some of the many stresses I have been under recently. I can see why you’re all so in to this yoga thing.

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I felt so good after the class that I decided to get yoga in my life more regularly, especially as a recovery tool to aid both my marathon training and my frazzled brain. Due to my schedule I find it difficult to make it to regular scheduled classes, so I asked Jessica Skye at FBY to give me a rundown of the best yoga moves to counteract all the pavement pounding that comes with training for a marathon. She kindly obliged, and I thought I’d share the love. So, here are six of the best yoga poses for runners!

What can yoga do for those preparing for marathons?

As a high impact sport, running is known to cause tightness in the main muscle groups of the legs (quads, glutes, hamstring and calves). Tight muscles will pull at other parts of the body and can also create knee issues, joint pain and lower back issues – not to mention simple strains. Yoga is a key activity to compliment running, as it will keep the body balanced, train your breath work and increase lung capacity. Practicing yoga will also teach you how to channel your focus, get in the zone and learn to breathe efficiently… all essential tools to nailing the big race. A pretty important part of any sport or even just your day-to-day is to drink more water. Whether you gulp or sip – staying hydrated is a pretty smart thing to do.

Jess’ 6 post-run yoga moves  

I have added links to photos/videos of the poses described, in case you’re a yoga newbie like me!

1)   Uttanasasa Intense forward fold – Fold forward, tip tailbone up, but soften knees if this is too intense. To go deeper, grab opposite elbows behind your legs. Not only will this lengthen the backs of your legs but will also stretch out your back.

2)   Parsvottanasana Pyramid – Take a step forward, bringing your stance to around two-thirds. Press both heels into the floor to lengthen lower calves. Square hips, slowly fold over your front leg, bringing your nose towards your knee. Keep squaring the hips level with each other so as not to twist the lower back. To open the chest, grab opposite elbows behind your back. This will open the calves and hamstrings, it will also lengthen the spine and open your chest.

3)   Parivrtta Trikonasana Reversed triangle Maintain same footing as pyramid, bring both hands either side of your front foot, get long in the spine, slowly raise the hand on the outside of your front foot onto your hip. Slowly turn your chest in the same direction, maintain the press in both heels as well as squaring the hips. This will get a gentle twist in the spine, open the calves and IT band.

4)   Anjaneyasana Variation – Reversed low lunge variation with foot grab – Opening the hips, lengthening the hips flexors, gently twisting the spine, and opening the chest. The foot grab will create an intense stretch in the quads.

5)   Ardha Kapotasana – Half pigeon pose – Opening the hips and getting into the glutes. Make sure you line your knee up with your wrist and your shin is diagonal across your body – for more intensity, bring your shin parallel with the top of your mat. Make sure your hips are level, and if you want to go deeper, keep lowering your chest towards the ground.

6)   Ardha Supta Virasana Reclining hero pose – This reclining position will intensely stretch the lateral part quads. After bending at the knee and bringing your heel to the outside of your hip, allow the knees to fall where feels best and slowly walk yourself back with your hands until you find your edge. To go deeper, lean all the way back or do both legs at the same time.

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I don’t normally post about events I go to, for various reasons, but this one was so awesome that I really wanted to share a few photos and thoughts on it. Honestly, it was the coolest workout I have ever done. I have just never seen anything like it.

This weekend, Nike are hosting “Unlimited You” in the Truman Brewery in Brick Lane, which they’re describing as an immersive workout experience. You can choose between a workout with Barry’s Bootcamp (this is a treadmill based workout, so no floor segment for those who are familiar with Barry’s!) and Kobox (boxing!).

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I did the Barry’s workout – a sneaky speed session in disguise, I’m telling myself it was good marathon training – and it was incredible. There are amazing light installations (from United Visual Artists) that run across all the walls of the huge warehouse space its set in, made even more dramatic by smoke machines and an intense soundtrack. It’s nuts.

After your first workout, everyone comes together for a Nike Training Club (NTC) workout. If you did Barry’s first you do a floor based workout on one side of the room, and if you chose Kobox then you’ll do a treadmill workout on the other side of the room. You face the other group while doing your second workout, with Nike trainers down the middle of the room leading the workout. This is all set to the sounds of Hot Chip and the Heritage Orchestra, who are situated in the centre of the room playing a live set! Hot Chip composed the music especially for Unlimited You, and it’s an incredible experience. I did feel sorry for them though, playing a live set in the middle of a room of 100 smelly sweaty people. Although added workout bonus: there’s a bearded cello playing babe.

After the workout bonanza you head to the roof for food. There’s salad from Maple and Fitz, pancakes from Pip & Nut, and shakes from Barry’s Bootcamp! All so delicious.

 

With lovely RDC babe Orsii

 

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Dreamy LunarEpic

As part of the experience you get to road-test two pairs of Nike shoes. You get to try the LunarEpic Low Flyknit ULTD for the running sections (which, on first impressions, I loved), and then the Free TR Focus Flyknit ULTD for Kobox/NTC (which, on first impressions, I didn’t like). It was cool to get to try them, and I was sad to hand back the LunarEpics!

All in all it’s awesome. I think last tickets went on sale last night, so if you’re in London this weekend and you fancy an amazing workout (with food and t-shirt included), I’d definitely recommend registering.

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I was invited as a guest of Nike London to this event. I was not asked to write about it, and all opinions are obviously my own!

I guess it wasn’t just a bug bite, but the bite was definitely the beginning of the end.

I haven’t given an update in a while, and I’ll be honest and admit that it’s because I’ve been burying my head in the sand about it. I have a bad habit of doing that when things go wrong.

The short of it is that the sub-4 attempt is off for Berlin. Potentially forever, but I’ll come back to that! The long story started about six weeks ago, during that mini heatwave we had in June. We slept with our skylight open and I woke up one morning with a huge bite on my knee.

It hurt like hell; my whole knee was swollen and pain shot through my knee whenever I put weight on that leg. It was also disastrously itchy and, while I was very well behaved during the day, I woke up one morning having scratched it in my sleep and it ended up getting infected.

The potentially TMI bit…

I had big hives start popping up all over my leg, which I initially thought was an allergic reaction to the bite, but it turns out I had a bacterial infection in my entire leg. I was given a penicillin based antibiotic to clear it up, but it made me feel awful. I persevered, appreciating that antibiotics are often unkind in a cruel to be kind sort of way, but I ended up going back to my doctor when I broke out in a huge rash on my back and the inside of my elbows. Turns out I’m allergic to penicillin! So I came off the antibiotics. And the infection returned. I ended up having to treat them one by one with an antibiotic cream, and it took three more weeks to actually clear the infection properly.

OK, TMI bit over.

I tried to keep up my training but, to be honest, I felt absolutely awful. The infection sapped all of my energy and my leg was, at times, just downright painful. The worst part was the reaction to the penicillin though, it was horrible. All in all I ended up missing the majority of three weeks of my programme, which has meant that I’ve had to re-evaluate my goals.

I don't want to put gross photos of my leg infection on the internet, so here's some running photos from the past few weeks!

I don’t want to put gross photos of my leg infection on the internet, so here’s some running photos from the past few weeks!

I’ve tried to get straight back in to the training plan but I felt weak and definitely lost some fitness. Going for sub-4 was a big challenge for me already given my form this year, and with three weeks out it’s nigh on impossible I think.

I’ve felt a bit lost since getting better. I’ve been half heartedly following the training plan but I just don’t have the motivation to follow such a full-on plan knowing I won’t be able to make my goal. There is, however, nothing I can do.

So, what’s the plan?! The plan is to still run in Berlin. This is actually my third time round attempting the Berlin marathon and, at the moment, it feels like it’s a cursed race for me! I’ve had to defer my place twice now due to injury and I can’t stand the idea of having to head back a fourth time, so I will be running the marathon no matter what. I’ve scaled back my training plan to running just 3/4 days a week, and making sure I fit in plenty of strength and yoga sessions to protect against injuries.

As for #SophSub4, I’m taking a rain check for now. I make no secret of the fact that I hate marathon training, and I don’t want to go straight back in to it after Berlin for a spring marathon. I’m really really busy, juggling planning a wedding, renovating a flat, ridiculous working hours, and social and family time, and I just don’t think I’ll have the time to commit to it realistically until 2018. In the meantime, I’m just aiming to keep a smile on my face whenever I train!

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Training has begun!

First up: a confession. I miscalculated my dates and thought that my training plan was meant to start last Sunday on 29 May. When I went to write out my plan at the weekend I realised that it was actually meant to start the week before and I was already a week behind! Bad start. Luckily week one was very low mileage and wasn’t actually too far off what I had actually run that week, so limited damage done. Annoying though!

My week in training looked like this:

Sunday: Rest
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: 2 easy mile
Wednesday: Rest (but I did a Rumble class at 1Rebel)
Thursday: 3 easy miles
Friday: 3 easy miles
Saturday: 3 easy miles
Total mileage: 11 miles

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When I say “easy miles” I mean easy miles

This week was easy and manageable, but it did feel good to make running a priority again. Without a training plan I find it very easy to convince myself that I am too busy/too tired to find time to exercise, and having a plan helps to bring it to the forefront of my mind. I also forgot how amazing running is for my mood, and I am feeling so positive after just one week of running regularly again. That is a huge motivator.

I’ve been getting up early to fit my runs in before work, with the exception of Friday where I ended up squeezing it in at 10:30pm at the end of a busy day. I think morning workouts are going to be key to making sure I fit in my training around my work commitments, especially as my mileage increases, and this week had been good for adjusting to earlier alarms! Now if I could also adjust to earlier bedtimes, that would be great…!

So that’s week one done! I am documenting the journey mainly on instagram, so make sure you follow me there for (almost) daily updates!

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So, when does the wedding diet start then?

Shortly after I got engaged last summer, one of my colleagues asked me this question. It was definitely well intentioned and pretty topical (one of our other colleagues recently underwent an amazing health and fitness drive ahead of her wedding, and has continued well after it too), but something about it didn’t sit right with me. When I responded “Oh, I won’t be doing any of that” she looks surprised, before saying “Good for you!”.

Good for me?

I thought that our wedding day was about celebrating our love for one another; not about the size of the dress I wear. I’m pretty sure Dayve is marrying me because he loves me, regardless of the way I look. In any event, if he liked the way I looked enough to propose to me then I’m pretty sure it won’t be an issue on the big day.

I do understand that people getting married (brides and grooms!) want to look and feel their best on their wedding day, but since when did a wedding diet become a compulsory part of the preparations? I’ve been given/bought a few wedding magazines since we got engaged, and pretty much all of them have articles about losing weight and (old favourite) “toning up” for the big day. Because heaven forbid you turn up to your own wedding without bothering to “banish your bingo wings!” or “tone your tum!”. Your groom will surely just walk out, no?

It's a no from me.

It’s a no from me.

I’ll be honest, planning a wedding can be pretty stressful. It’s supposed to be one of the happiest times of your life, and it is pretty great, but there are loads of unwanted stresses along the way. All the cliches are true! Doing your guest list sucks. Doing your budget sucks. Sticking to your budget sucks even more. There are people at every corner who really want to rip you off, and will do their very best to emotionally blackmail you in to getting unnecessary things for “your special day”. You do not need the added bullshit of sculpting your arms or nipping in your waist or lengthening your limbs, or whatever it is the wedding industry thinks you should do.

My advice is this. Your wedding should be the happiest day of your life (or at least one of) because you are marrying the love of your life. You have found someone you really love, who really loves you back, and that is totally rad. Please don’t let anything dim that joy, especially not any notions that you should look a certain way. If you do want to shape up a bit, cool! Go for it! Just don’t get hung up on it. Your body fat percentage does not determine your happiness, your worth, or the value of the commitment you make on your wedding day. I’m pretty sure that the person lucky enough to be marrying you thinks you’re beautiful just the way you are. Try your best to think the same of yourself.

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