Prudential RIde London 2016 #ScoreSettled

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Kit courtesy of Altura. Review soon!
This year was my third attempt at Prudential Ride London.  I have been very lucky enough to have won the ballot entry for three years in a row.  You can read my review of the inaugural event here.  2014 was the year of the hurricane, in which the entire course was cut short to 86 miles.  I was so waterlogged, I didn't write up a review.  Last year, we moved house so training got pushed aside.  We ended up volunteering at the start line, which was a lot of fun even it was early in the morning. Luckily I was able to defer to this year and I am so glad I did.  Read on!

Registration process & fees:  The event is ballot entry, with plenty of charities offering space in return for fundraising.  I have been lucky enough to win a place every year I entered.  I am not sure if that is because I am a woman, or just lucky.  As I had deferred, my money was not refunded from last year and I had to pay again this year.  While not ideal, I completely understand it must cost a fortune to close down to many roads and having staff for 100+ miles.

Note: Registration is now open for 2017.  I am not sure when the ballot will close (either a date or limited number of entries).  Registration for 2017 is £58.

Standstill at Mile 38
Location:  The course has remained the same since the first event.  The start line is in Queen Elizabeth Park in Stratford, from there the course goes out to Surrey, and it ends on the Mall just before Buckingham Palace. This year you could have your bike brought back to Copper Box Arena for £5 after your race.  It was a bit hard to find the truck at the end of the race, but it was really convenient for us otherwise as a way to get our bikes back home after a long day.

Course & bogs:  It is still amazing to ride through London streets without traffic or red lights.  You go passed many iconic sights before heading out to the country with the first food hub at Hampton Court.  The big hills to worry about are Leith Hill and Box Hill, with a few other ups and downs.  Be sure to train for these inclines!  Declines are still a hazard, so please ride responsibly.  Remember, other riders around you might be less experienced.

Numerous portaloos at start area and also at every hub.  I barely had to wait and there was always loo roll.  Good work organisers!

Fuel was provided by Clif Bar and hydration by ORS tablets.  There was also rice cakes, bananas, Haribos, malt loaf, etc at the food hubs.  Drinks hubs had a limited selection of food.

THIS YEAR I RODE THE ENTIRE COURSE!  I have been working towards this for 4 years and felt such relief as I crossed the finish line.  True, it wasn't my fault in 2014 that I didn't ride 100 miles, but now I can proudly say I have.  Would I have been able to without my 1 hour rest?  I would like to think so, as I limited my rest stops otherwise.

Atmosphere:  Even though it was an un-Godly hour on a Sunday morning, everyone was excited for the event.  Along the way, there was friendly chatter between friends and strangers.  When I was held up for an hour at Mile 38 after a bad crash, folks were still talking to one another and although they were frustrated, they always got out of the way for police and ambulance without any negative words about the victim.
Drinks Hub at top of Box Hill

Bling/goody bags:  Another big shiny medal with the course on it.  Goody bag included the usual flyers and a few snacks.

Tips if you decide to take part next time:  Ride the guidance provided on how to cycle safely and share the road.  I recommend checking out my blog posts tagged 'Ride London' for training and kit tips.  You need to take the training seriously to make it around the course.  It took me 8 hours (one of which was waiting for crash to clear) and I feel like I spent a lot of time in the saddle.  Don't forget to add in strength training to complement your cycling.  Most importantly, have fun and enjoy the ride!

Will I take part again?  I am going to skip the ballot for 2017 and let someone else give it a try.  I really enjoyed the training aspect and will continue to keep it up after the Berlin Marathon in September.  Using cycling as cross training has really benefited my running too.

Thanks to Altura and Zyro for the cycling kit and Merlin Cycles for the new wheels.  Honest reviews on these products up soon.

I did it!

Rio 2016 Interview with Team Canada's Kim Gaucher

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Back in 2012, Kim Gaucher (nee: Smith) was kind enough to spend a few minutes with me for an impromptu interview, which you can read here.  Gaucher is back at the Rio Olympics as Team Canada Basketball captain.  Before the games got underway, she was able to email with me for a quick interview.

How did you cope after 2012 Olympics ended as it had been a goal for so long?
It was the best two weeks ever!!! There have been a lot of experiences over my basketball career that I have built up in my head, then when you get there/achieve something, it never quite lives up to the buildup. Well London and it’s Olympics surpassed every wild fantasy and was better than could have been expected. Nothing to cope with, just an amazing life experience that I will always have with me.

Image source: Edmonton Journal
Looks like you have been on the court a lot in the last 4 years. When did you decide to aim for Rio?
After the games, my career was sort of at a crossroads. In the couple of months following the games I told myself I was done with basketball and it was time to move on. However our team and myself sort of exceeded expectations. I took one of the many opportunities presented to me and played that following year in Southern France. Turns out I could still play, I’ve always enjoyed playing and I love representing Canada. So I guess once I got a ball back in my hand after a month off I knew I was ready for another Olympic cycle. People never realise how much work it takes to get to a point like this, but once you get to a level like this you realise just how much fun it is!

Have you prepared any differently in terms of training or mental prep for Rio vs London,  now that you have experienced the Olympics once?
I’m very lucky in that I really love my job. Not just saying that cause we are down here in Rio. When I go a day without some type of basketball it just doesn’t feel right. I’m competitive, I love to work out, I love being part of team – I am very lucky.

When you get a little older, now being in my 30’s the workouts are structured a bit differently. Physically it can be a bit tougher, day after day month after month, but with age also comes wisdom and maturity. My coaches rely on my decision making and leadership now more than ever. I’ll take whatever role they give me as long as I get to compete.

Has being married changed your ability to train or play at all? Are you worried about the Zika virus?
I was with Ben for along time before we even got married, maybe 7-8 years. He knew what he was in for. It has never been easy, and long distance never works well, but we’ve always managed to make it work. I think if anything it’s easier now having the same last name so he isn’t seen as a groupie or distraction.

Yes Zika is something all the athletes are worried about. As an adult my two biggest goals in life were to become an Olympian and a mother. Maybe not at the same time, but still both. In the lead-up to Rio, all of us athletes are so focused on the present that we sometimes forget about the future. There are so many different messages out there it's hard to know what information to trust.

It has changed our plans. At one point we were hoping of conceiving just before or right after Rio, however it just does not seem smart or prudent to do at this point.  I’ve resigned with my club team in France for next season as a result and will take things as they come after that.

What tips are you giving your teammates who haven't been to the Olympics before?
As we say in Canada “ Just give’er”!! Having failed to make 2 Olympics before London, some of our younger player don’t realise how difficult it is to get here. Take it all in, it’s an unbelievable experience to have so early in life, but once that ball goes up its the same game just a bigger stage!

Have you learned any Portuguese for this trip? Are you concerned about Brazil being ready for such a big event?
I’ve been to Brazil now on 5 different occasions for basketball. An amazing country with amazing people and they LOVE and really appreciate womens' sports here. We want to put on a good show. But having said that, it’s kind of like going to another couples house for game night. You love the couple, but they are having a terrible fight just before you arrive. It’s a bit awkward. You know they’ll get through it, but they need to figure some things out before you arrive.

But these are the Olympics. They are what most athletes dream about competing in. I’ve dedicated most of my adult life to getting here and not much right now is going to stop me. If I have to wear long sleeves, not drink the water, go through a couple protests and not go swimming to compete for Canada- Well then that’s what Ive got to do!

Not sure if you met Bolt in 2012, but any other athletes you hope to see? Do you have tickets to any events?
Would have loved to meet Bolt in London but missed my chance. However when I am back in Utah training I always run into elite distance runners who are out there training. I’ve watched Mo Farah train and Canada’s Mohammed Ahmed get ready for the 10000m. Inspiring!!

I love watching the track and field along with the swimmers. And with the games in Rio, volleyball will be the hot ticket with everyone watching, so will I. I just love getting know the athletes, particularly the Canadian ones. Many of us seem to have similar backgrounds and face many of the same struggles with sport in our country.

With the games only being 2 weeks long and basketball playing games every other day, it’s tough to get out and explore. The organisers leave room for athletes to attend any event on a first come first serve basis. But unlike some of the other events where the competition has come and gone in one day, we will hopefully be playing for the entire two weeks, deep in medal contention!

What is your nutrition strategy leading up to Rio and during the games?
Whew where to begin. It’s amazing how much science there is out there. It also does not help playing in France when you’re attempting to be fit for an Olympics.

Basically I never limit myself on fruits and vegetables. I have a couple fruit smoothies a day and never have a problem getting those in. I’ve tried to not go the supplement route. More yougurt and chocolate milk seem to get the job done.

No red meat, and have tried to eat more fish than poultry lately. I’ve always eaten very clean and I think that’s why I’ve been able to stay at this level for such a long time.

Thanks so much to Gaucher for putting aside some time for me.  Tune in to watch Team Canada vs Team USA on Friday 12 August.

How to create a successful personal training business

Thursday, July 28, 2016

People often ask me if I would ever want to do personal training full time.  There is so much that goes into being a successful PT, especially if you want to be self-employed.  The folks at ICS Learn have provided a few tips here to consider if you are thinking about becoming a personal trainer.  If you have any additional questions about PT as a career, shoot me an email or leave a comment below.

If you’re thinking of running your own person training business, it’s likely because you dream of
being your own boss. It’s an appealing prospect – no one looking over your shoulder, setting
targets, or declining your three month mini-sabbatical to the Mediterranean.  However, the main pain of running your own business is also not having a boss – no one to take responsibility, deal with boring finances and schedules, and make sure everything is ticking over smoothly. That means that if you’re planning to launch a personal training company, it’s not enough to have a range of personal training courses under your belt – you have to be business-savvy in order to succeed in this business.
The same applies to PTs just starting out in their careers. After all, being a self-employed
personal trainer is essentially running your own small business (even if you are the boss,
accountant, secretary and canteen lady rolled into one).  So what should you consider before starting up your personal training business?

1. Your Business Plan 

Your business plan is your blueprint for success. If you don’t know where you want to go, how
will you get there?

Define your goals with concrete Vision and Mission statements.

 Vision: how do you see your company? How would you like others to see your

 Mission: what are you going to do to make your vision happen?
On a smaller scale, define realistic goals and the time period in which you want to achieve
them. That way, you can celebrate lots of little successes along the way until you’ve fulfilled
your ultimate ambitions.

2. Location, Location, Location

Analyse the feasibility of starting up a personal training company where you live. If there aren’t
many PTs working in your area, is this because of low demand or have you stumbled on a gap in
the market? If it’s the former, consider investing in high quality marketing to interest people in
what you do.

If there are already plenty of personal trainers in your location, business must be good, but
you’ll have lots of competition. In order to stand out from the crowd, try to find a niche. Who
do you enjoy or excel at training most? New mums? Runners? Older people? Gymnasts?
Geriatric mums who cartwheel marathons? Pour your resources into appealing to those people.
Soon, they’ll seek you out.

3. Availability of Financial Resources 

If your plan is to keep things small-scale, you can work at a gym or fitness centre – this will give
you credibility in the early stages of your career and allow you to learn from other PTs. The
centre will take a significant portion of your earnings, but there are generally good benefits as
gyms want to hold on to their best staff.

However, if you’re ready to go big, you’ve got a lot of financial planning to do. You may have to
look for investors who are willing to finance your company in return for equity.

If you’re going to build your own facility, how much will this cost? Would it be smarter to rent a
space on a long-term lease instead? Do you have a big space in your home which you can
convert into a fitness area and office for only the cost of the renovation? Whatever option you
go for, one of your biggest expenditures will be fitness equipment – budget accordingly.

Running a personal training company requires a steady source of capital especially in the first
year of operation. This should be carefully reflected in your budget plan. You have to consider
one-time expenses and recurring expenses, especially on the operational side of things.  Consider your monthly utilities, the remuneration for your staff, if any, and the cost of running
an office (including supplies).

4. Manpower Needs 

While you might be doing most of the work at the beginning, there will likely be some things
that you’re not cut out for (hello, taxes!). You’ll be more efficient and successful if you can
avoid getting bogged down in menial tasks.

If you’re a one person operation, there’s a huge range of apps that can help you keep on top of
schedules, accounts and plans.  If you’re aiming bigger, you might consider hiring non-PT staff to help your business run smoothly. For example, you might need the services of an accountant to make sure that all of your financials are in proper order. If you plan to run your own centre, you may want
maintenance and/or custodial personnel to make sure your facilities and the equipment are
running smoothly.

You could hire a dedicated marketer or get in touch with an advertising agency to make sure
you’re reaching as many potential clients as you can. You might also want to consider getting a
personal assistant or a secretary to help you with your scheduling, signing up new clients, and
managing accounts.

5. Hours of Operation 

Understand that your clients will generally be scheduling your services outside of normal
working hours – think 5am to 10pm, not 9 to 5. To attract the greatest number of clients, your
availability should include early mornings and late evenings when possible – when work is
slower during the day, use the time to work on marketing, planning, or making business

6. Availability of Social Support 

To give you a better understanding of the challenges you might face, seek out fellow personal
trainers who have gone through the same process. Ask them for advice on how you can start
your own PT business, whether that’s by working as a self-employed trainer or founding a new
fitness enterprise – no amount of research can beat the real-world insight of someone who’s
already been there.

7. Passion and Discipline

Many businesses fail because the owner doesn’t have a real passion for what they’re doing; or,
if they do have the passion, they don’t have the discipline to back it up. Many people think that
finding a job you love about negates the need for a strong work ethic, but even the most
motivated person will have days when they just don’t want to do what needs to be done.

Commitment to your goals is essential!


Whether you’re just starting out as a self-employed personal trainer or launching your own
personal training company, your central concerns will be the same: your plan, your finances,
your location, your hours, your staff, your support and your passion. If you spend some time
considering each area before you start going it alone, you’ll be well set up for success - and on
your way to that Mediterranean sabbatical in no time.

This post was sponsored by ICS Learn.

One week until #RideLondon

Monday, July 25, 2016

Today was my last training ride in prep for Ride London.  It was nearly 40 miles and my legs were heavy the entire way.  I only rode 8 miles yesterday on my Brompton, so I didn't expect it to be so tough.  But 'what can you do?' as my great Aunt Mary would say.

If this is your first year taking part in Ride London, check out my race recap from 2013 (note it is not actually a race, but a ride).  I also rode in 2014, but that year there was a hurricane, so the route was cut down to 86 miles and it was just miserably wet.  I skipped the race recap and it was (hopefully) a unique experience.

Have you thought about the little things yet for the race?  You have a week to get your last bits and bobs sorted.  This is a head-to-toe packing list for a running race, but to it I would like to add for Ride London, specifically:

-spare inner tube
-air pump
-tire levers
-cycling shoes (if you are wearing other shoes to the event)
-2 water bottles
-fuel you have been training with
-cash for more inner tubes, bike repairs, or snacks along the way

Last week on Instagram, I posted a few reminders about figuring out what fuel you are going to use (Clif Shot Blocks and ORS tablets will be provided) and how you are going to carry everything (seriously, practice this one as you might need to buy a new bike bag).  We found a little mobile phone holder on Groupon and use that to hold extra hydration tablets and my portable battery charger.

A photo posted by James Millington (@geographer_jim) on

I had a few hours on my bike today and though of a few more reminders.

1.  Wear sunscreen.  Riding 100 miles with a sun burn and possibly sun stroke is no fun.  Make sure you pick a brand that won't drip off of your face too.

2.  Know how to change a tire and how to put your chain back on.  These two tasks might seen easy, but in the heat of the moment, can you pull them off?  If you don't want your hands to get dirty, keep a pair of disposable gloves in your bag.

3.  Arrange where you are meeting friends and family ahead of time.  Chances are, either your phone battery will be dead from using Strava or the networks will be jammed from so many people trying to do the same thing.  I think there might be signs with letters to meet by at the finish.  Pick a seldom-used letter, like Z, that is less likely to be crowded.  I recommend the Life360 app as it gives people in your 'family' an idea of where you are. You can also message everyone at once to let them know your progress.

4.  Nothing new on race day. I mean it!  No new shorts, socks, shirts, underwear, shoes, etc.  100 miles is a long time to be uncomfortable.  If you need to get something, get it today and go on a ride with it.  For example, a bike computer is really handy but you will need to know how to use it before the race so you can focus on riding in a group.

5.  Take on food and water regularly.  Fuelling is a huge part in getting you across the finish line.  Take on water every 15 min (sip little and often) and eat a little something 45-60 minutes.

6.  Know the courteous hand signals to alert riders of hazards.  Here are some key ones from British Cycling.  Don't be afraid to use your bell too if you are passing someone or need them to be aware of your presence.

7.  Use a rucksack (or something similar) to carry your official Ride London bag in when cycling to the start line.  It is one of the most challenging bags to cycle with, between slipping around and the strings rubbing into your skin.  Either practice riding with it before hand (with it filled up), or wear a different bag that can fit inside of it for the official bag transport.

7.  Keep walking after the race and stretch out too.  You will probably be stiff the next day, but it is worth it every time you look at your new medal.

8.  Remember it is not a race!  There will be lots of people on the road of varying abilities.  Please always be aware of who is around you.  Take descents cautiously and when in doubt, slow down.  It is refreshing not to have to share the road with cars, but that doesn't mean you should be reckless.

9.  Have fun!  This event is truly unique and will be once of the most memorable you will ever take part in.  Enjoy every minute.

Anything else I have missed about Ride London?  If so, please leave a comment below.

Wiggle is having a sale!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Hey guys, just wanted to let you know that Wiggle is currently holding a summer sale.  Please note all links are affiliate links.  This means I get a very small percent of each sale at not additional cost to the buyer.  If you are committed to continue cycling even after Ride London, consider investing in some of this kit.

Elite Race Workstand, £126.39 (List Price £159.99).  James has a workstand and he finds it very handy when working on his bike.

Northwave Extreme Road Shoes, £181.99 (List Price £259.99)  
Colnago CX Zero Disc (Ultegra - 2016), £2,799.96 (List Price £3,499.95).  Isn't it pretty?

Gore Bike Wear Xenon 2.0 Windstopper Softshell Jacket, £95.00 (List Price £189.99) .  This will be handy when the autumnal weather sets in.

Assos iJ.shaqUno Windproof Jacket, £97.50 (List Price £195.00).  This one too!

 dhb Cover Sock Overshoe, £4 (List price £10)

Thanks for having a look.  By purchasing items through my affiliate links, you help support the costs of running this blog.

Peanut butter and jelly flapjacks recipe

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Flapjacks are one of my favourite foods to snack on when I am training.  They can be quite filling and sit well in my stomach if I have one on a pit stop during a long ride.  Hale Naturals has a versatile product, Powdered Peanut Butter®, that I like to have on hand as a way to make any food into one for recovery.  I add it to everything- porridge, protein shakes, ice cream, and now have tried baking with it too.

Here is a fab recipe for an American-inspired treat.

Powdered Peanut Butter® and jelly flapjacks

2 cups oats
1 cup PPB
150g melted butter
100 ml honey or golden syrup
200g dried strawberries (can be chopped into pieces if they seem big)
100g chocolate chips or chopped chocolate (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
2. Spray 9"x13" pan with cooking spray or wipe with butter. Line with parchment paper.
3. Mix everything together in a bowl by hand.
4. Spread batter in pan and press flat into corners.
5. Bake for 25-30 min until golden brown.
6. Let cool before cutting.
7. Try not to eat all at once.

My husband doesn't like peanut butter (weird, I know) so here the variation of what I made him this morning.  Follow directions as above.

2 cups oats
2 sachets of Linwood Super Food packs
150g melted butter
100 ml honey or golden syrup
200g raisins

Note: this post originally appeared on H2 Life Blog.

New foods for you to try out

Monday, July 18, 2016

There is so much going on in my life right now- big project deadlines looming at work, teaching group ex classes, training for my big endurance events, being a wife, taking care of Oldland and squeezing in a good night's sleep.  All this leaves little time for food prep, planning my meals, or packing healthy snacks.  Luckily, I have had opportunities to try some new food products on the market.  I thought I would let you know which ones I have tried.

Primal Pantry bars- If you have been a long time reader, you know that I have dabbled with Whole30.  Primal Pantry bars are grain-free, vegan and lack added sugar.  I tried 3 different flavors during a long bike ride around Reading.  They were all really yummy, didn't upset my stomach and seemed to give me enough energy to keep up with the boys.

Men's Health Kitchen frozen meals-  These have been a Godsend for me.  We were able to try all 12 flavors.  Each was absolutely delicious!  The combination of flavors and foods were very hearty and filling (quinoa, lentils, rice, etc).  The portions didn't seem very big but I was never hungry after finishing one.  Plus they retail at only £3, which is a bargain compared to a drink, sandwich and crisps. 

Ugly Drinks- For the record, I am not a sparking water kind of girl.  I do like pop though, so I thought I would give the Lemon-Lime and Pomegranate flavors a try.  Unfortunately, I didn't really like them, perhaps because the flavour wasn't very strong (as it would be with soda pop).  My co-workers tried Ugly Drinks too and had the brilliant idea to use Ugly Drinks as a mixer.

Dr Zak's nut butters and high protein bagels- I am obsessed with Raspberry Peanut Butter (in particular, putting in Ben and Jerry's Phish Food ice cream).  When I first saw it as a flavor, I thought it would be really weird.  More so than Apple Cinnamon, which was the other flavor I was able to try.  But Raspberry PB was also good on plain bagels and bananas.  I really liked Apple Cinnamon on toasted Cinnamon and Raisin bagels.  When I had this for breakfast, I felt full all morning.  These products are something I would keep in my desk at work for a quick post RUNCH snack.

Yokebe protein drink- This drink is marketed as a weight loss drink, but I was using it as a protein recovery drink.  I followed the directions to mix it with milk and vegetable oil.  The powder smelled like vanilla pudding my grandma used to give me as a kid so I had high hopes.  It wasn't very sweet but I prefer the drink mixed with only milk.  It is pretty filling and another good think to have in your desk drawer.

Seriously Summer at Costa- Costa has launched a new menu for the summer which are great if you need to pick up something on the go.  I tried a falafel couscous salad wrap and grape/watermelon/strawberry (Red Super Day) smoothie.  Both were delicious!

So these are some foods you can have on hand to help you fuel when on the go.  What new foods have you tried lately that you would recommend? 

Please note I was sent samples from all of these brands.  As always, opinions are honest and my own.