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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I’ve never really been in to rugby. Lots of rules and lots of dudes; it just never felt very approachable. When I was living in Dubai I went along with some friends to the Rugby Sevens, as I’d been told that Sevens is a more approachable game, in that it is more about drinking than watching rugby. They were right, and I think I spent approximately 3 minutes of that entire afternoon actually paying any attention to the game. So, when HSBC Sport got in touch and asked if I’d like to check out the London leg of the Sevens tour, it seemed like a good opportunity to try and get to grips with the game properly.

I took along my friend Laura who does know about rugby, and she guided me through the first couple of games we watched until I got to grips with the rules. And you know what? I got so in to it.

Sevens is pretty straight forward and it’s actually really exciting to watch. It’s played on a full sized pitch but with only seven players per team instead of fifteen, so there’s a lot of space to play. I think it’s also a less technical game, so there’s less time spent stopped faffing about with the rules. As a result, it’s very end to end and there are lots of tries and tackles. The best bit is definitely the tackles; sometimes they really smash each other to bits and it is very entertaining. At one point, one of the players got knocked out cold and their team mates just carried on playing. It was unbelievable.

Also, while I hate to sound like a typical girl, there’s a ridiculous amount of babes there. Both playing and spectating. It is babe central. This definitely added to the all round enjoyment of the day.

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Laura and I having fun in the photobooth

As well as there now being ten tournaments in the World Rugby Seven Series, Sevens has actually been included in the line up of Olympics sports for the first time this year in Rio, which means it should reach an even wider audience than before. As sponsors of the world series, HSBC have produced a report entitled The Future of Rugby which looks at how the men’s and women’s games are set to grow.

Amazingly, the report says that women’s rugby is the fastest growing sport in the world; there have been around 500,000 new players coming to the sport every year. If growth continues along those lines then, in a decade’s time, it’s estimated that 40% of all rugby players worldwide will be female. That is awesome! There are currently five tournaments in the women’s world series, so hopefully that will grow in the next ten years too.

As an added bonus, HSBC arranged for us to meet and interview rugby legends Brian O’Driscoll and George Gregan who were amazing guys. We spoke to them about the future of rugby, the accessibility of Sevens and the growth of the women’s game. They were really enthusiastic about the women’s game and hope that its inclusion in the Olympics will encourage girls to get in to the sport. They also said that they would encourage everyone to try rugby, and recommended trying tag rugby as a starting point (it looks like you can find tag rugby clubs here, if you’re interested!). They also agreed to hit the photobooth with us, which was very fun.

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A big thank you to HSBC Sport for having us for the day; I’ll definitely be heading back to the Sevens for more rugby fun!

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HSBC Sport provided me with two free tickets to the Rugby Sevens. All views and opinions my own.

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I’m sure you haven’t managed to escape the hype about the latest shoe release from adidas, the Pure Boost X. This is the first shoe designed for women, by women. The thinking here is that, to date, all women’s running shoes have just been smaller versions of the men’s shoes, without any specific thought going in to any particular needs of women. Thus, the Pure Boost X was born. 

Now, my initial reaction to this launch was, shall we say, cynical. With the recent(ish) upsurge in the popularity of women’s fitness, it’s easy to presume that fitness products targeted at women are jumping on a bandwagon to cash in on an trend. With the success of amazing programmes like This Girl Can and the work of the Women’s Sport Trust, it’s easy (and a bit lazy) for brands to summon up a girl power campaign and use it for commercial gain.

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This isn’t to say that (a) I don’t approve of brands using their power to promote female participation in sport (I do) and (b) I wasn’t excited about the shoes themselves. I love new kit, am a huge adidas shoe fan (especially Boost technology) and was intrigued by the concept of the floating arch (more on that later). I just can’t say I’m immediately sold on female specific versions of products that aren’t gendered (like body glide or bic pens). 

I couldn’t find many specifics in the press materials about what elements of the design were female specific, and what female specific issues they were looking to address. I know that a lot of other runners and bloggers were asking similar questions, including my own readers and followers, and I found it frustrating that I didn’t know and couldn’t give an answer. Having visited adidas HQ, including their incredible innovation lab and bespoke athlete services, I felt like it wasn’t very ‘adidas’ to come up with empty claims, so I did some research!

I contacted adidas and they put me in touch with the VP of Design for adidas running, Ben Herath. From his explanation, it appears to me that the “women specific” angle is much broader than just physiological requirements, and also relates to female preferences for design, feel and performance. On the physical side, adidas’ research has found that women’s foot shapes vary wildly, as compared to men’s but also from woman to woman. Building in inherent flexibility (primarily evidenced by the new floating arch) allows the shoe to adapt to these varied female foot shapes, providing a snug “personalised fit”.

Further, adidas worked with hundreds of female athletes to listen to their preferences for design and feel of a shoe. They found that most female athletes undertake a varied fitness routine with running at the core (familiar!) and so versatility was important. The flexibility of the Pure Boost X allows it to be worn in a variety of different situations, and to provide a comfortable fit in all of them. Design wise, adidas found in their research that women like their trainers to look streamlined and preferred trainers that made their feet look petite (so, the opposite of ‘traditional’ support trainers!), so this was the focus with the aesthetic. I personally have very wide feet, and I like the way the floating arch wraps around the arch of my foot and makes them look a bit less like cuboids. Vain maybe, but I can’t deny that I like it!   

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Also, I was very kindly invited by adidas to appear on a panel at their Oxford Circus flagship store to talk about ‘Positive Energy’ in celebration of the Pure Boost X launch. Also on this panel was Jo Knight (editor of Women’s Fitness magazine and also We Heart Living), who mentioned some research that had come across her desk that showed that the length of a woman’s plantar fascia changed according to her monthly cycle. This prompted me to do some further digging, and I did find (for example, here, here, here) that there seems to be a link between increased oestrogen levels and the risk of ligament injuries. I am in no way professing to be an expert (and would love to talk to someone who does actually know something – drop me a line if that’s you!), but if the ligaments in your foot are changing on a weekly basis, a super adaptive flexible shoe might make sense? 

Anyway – do I actually like them?

In short, yes. They look nice and they’re ridiculously comfortable, genuinely like walking on clouds. I know that some others have had issues with the high back rubbing their heels, but I haven’t had any issues like this. 

The floating arch is weird at first, but I really like the snug fit. When I say “floating arch”, the arch of the shoes is actually suspended – it isn’t attached to the sole – and instead it’s like a cradle. When you put your foot on the ground the gap closes up under your foot, which means that the fit adapts to your foot shape. Weirdly, I have actually had cramp in the sole of my foot when wearing them for a particularly intense workout (the Zanna van Dijk bootcamp at The X being one of those times!), which I’ve put down to having to get used to the floating arch. 

Floating arch

I’d personally say the Pure Boost X were more suited to workouts rather than running. adidas say they’re for running up to 10km in, and you need to work up to that, so the Pure Boost X are probably better suited to workouts involving running rather than being purely running trainers. I actually wear them a lot for walking too! So, if that’s what you’re looking for, it’s worth giving the Pure Boost X a go.

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Thanks to adidas for giving me a sample of the Pure Boost X for review. All views and dodgy research my own!

I’m starting to realise that I could probably fit more workouts in if I was more organised. With remembering kit, remembering food, remembering to eat at the right time. (Side note: does anyone else get so hungry that they get a really bad tummy ache? Sometimes I get it so bad that I can’t stand up. Once it comes on I’m pretty much a write off. It’s really awful and annoying). Anyway!

Sunday 

After having what felt like a useless week I went out on Sunday to run with Dayve. We ran 10km off road in Epping Forest. I cannot believe I found it so hard! God, I felt absolutely exhausted. It was really fun though. I love running with Dayve because he gets bored just running so he’s always looking for a hill to race up, a puddle to splash through, a log to jump over… a bit like running with an over excited puppy. He also pushes the pace past my comfort zone, which is really good for my progression as I need to stop running so slowly.

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I managed to keep the pace below 9 minute miles for the whole run, which was amazing as I cannot remember the last time I managed that! I find it hard to believe that I am the same person who once ran a whole half marathon at sub 8 minute mile pace, and I hope I can get back to seeing some 7-something minute miles by the end of the year. Lots of work to do between now and then though!

Monday 

Today I went to the gym after work, maybe at around 8:30pm. I did 45 minutes core and upper body workout, working on my tricep dips, followed by 15 hellish minutes with the foam roller. As well as being a much faster runner, I also used to be able to do unassisted tricep dips and chin ups. It’s time to get back to that. Currently my tricep dips are very assisted, but all progress is progress!

Tuesday 

Legs now ridiculously sore after Sunday’s trail adventure. We had a friend from university staying so I left work at a reasonable time and went for burgers and cocktails. Delightful.

Wednesday 

Legs still very sore. Regretting not stretching. Intended to go for a run, but the weather was awful so I decided to hit the gym for some mobility work instead. Ended up getting ridiculously hungry so just had dinner and massaged my legs at home. I massaged my calf muscles for about an hour (they were very sore) and I am so glad I did – they felt much better after this.

Thursday 

I set my alarm for an early morning workout but slept through it, as always! I don’t know why I bother. After work I joined adidas for a Supper Club in Victoria Park celebrating the opening of The X, their new temporary workout space in Victoria Park. The space is gorgeous and I love that they’ve lit up the park so that you can run through at night. It was great to see some other blogging babes and to chat the night away with Charlie and Claudia.

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Not entirely sure why I chose to wear tight leather trousers to a three course meal, but it was a mistake. 

Friday 

I went for a run after work. I finished for the weekend at around 7:30 and so headed for 5km down by the river at about 8pm. I love running down by the river at night; it is so so beautiful. After about 5 minutes my legs were hurting so I stopped and stretched off, and after that I felt a lot better. I forgot my watch, but I felt pretty strong and feel like I’m definitely making progress.

Saturday 

I got up at just before 6am for an early morning shoot with Greg Woodward in the Olympic Park. I did a lot of running and stretching, but I think it would probably be stretching it a bit to class this as a “workout”. I ended up in shorts for most of the shoot and after about 2 and half hours felt pretty frozen to the core! I warmed up in Counter Cafe with Dayve and then headed off to look after my nephew for the day.

 

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