Ashmei Ambassador Day 2015

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Last weekend was pretty awesome.  I spent much of it running with like-minded people and exploring new neighborhoods.  Oh, and I got my photo taken with Mo Farah (but more on that later).

Last year, I met Stuart and his Airstream at the Dorney Lake Duathlon. He had me at merino really, but I wasn't in a position to invest in new kit just yet.  When I heard Ashemi was looking for new ambassadors, I was keen to get involved.

Saturday I visited Aldbury, Herts for the first time.  Toto, I wasn't in London anymore.  I was surrounded by green fields, a small village, and an Airstream campervan at the Ashmei Headquarters.  It is a very cool open space in a converted barn.  Plus it was full of bicycles, running kit, and Ashmei clothes of course.

My new socks!
On the way up, I met up with The Fit Advisor, Helena, on the train.  It was fun to meet another fitness-minded individual who was up for new challenges and sporty activities.  We weren't sure what to expect at the ambassador day but were excited to meet some new people and see what Ashmei was all about.

Matt, the Bald Runner, picked us up at the train station and drove us the embarrassingly short distance to Ashmei.  We noticed a guy (who ended up being named Guy) was running from the train station and he arrived at the same time as we overshot the driveway.

The Fit Advisor's selfie above the salt mine
We were welcomed by fruit, pastries, mounds of Ferrero Rocher, and reps from Freestak and Ashemi.  Stuart, the founder and designer of Ashmei, took us through their innovative technology and signature design points.  He aims for performance over everything, followed by quality and style.  Although the price point is a bit higher than other brands, Ashmei is worth every penny.  Long time readers of this blog know I am a big fan of merino wool.  Ashmei uses merino in their clothing with a unique feature of added carbon to help the clothes dry faster, regulate your body temperature, and avoid post-workout stink.  Stuart generously gifted each of us a pair of socks to try out on the physical bit of the day.

We were supposed to make a funny face.
Attendees were divided into a running or cycling group for an hour long excursion around the local area.  I headed out with about 20 others on a scenic run along trails, up hills, alongside a 16 mile trail race, and passed a salt mine.  It was fun to run in a new place (the views were incredible but I left my phone with my bag) with so many friendly people who just love to run.  I tried to talk to as many people in the group as possible, hoping to get some good marathon training tips and suggestions on places to run throughout the UK.

We ran just over 5 miles at a nice social pace (see my Strava feed for the route). The energy in the air was electric.  We watched out for each other when we got spread out along narrow bits of the trail, and stepped to the side to cheer on the runners in the trail race.  No ego.  No competition.  Just fresh air, mud, and a love of running.

Back at the HQ, we didn't have to wait long for the cyclists to return.  We ate more, talked more and then packed up.  It would have been a lot of fun to head to the pub as I didn't get much of a chance to talk to the cyclists, but I think I could done a bit more networking.  (Lesson learned for next time!) It was overwhelming in a way as I didn't know anyone and many of the other athletes were ultrarunners, on Team GB for triathlons, etc.  Talk about being out of my league!

On the way home, I chatted with a bunch of other candidates and I have since started following most of them on social media.  I am grateful to have connected with my new friends and look forward to running with them again soon along a new trail.

Group shot in the cold. Woop!

Check out a short video of our run, filmed and edited by James MacKeddie, of Running Without Fear.  This is proof I need to strengthen my glutes and hamstrings to pick my heels up off the ground.

Big thank you to Freestak and Ashmei for inviting me up for the day and considering me as a potential ambassador.  Hope to hear from you soon ;)

Giveaway: Longhorn Trail Run Entry

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Longhorn is a trail run (not cross country though) along on old military roads, forest tracks & some grass through ancient & private parts of Sherwood Forest.  There are 10K, half marathon and marathon routes so the winner can choose the distance they would like to complete.

The Longhorn will have the following:
  • Trail Runners Association permit
  • 10k run race
  • 1/2 marathon run race
  • Marathon run race
  • Chip timing
  • Regular water stations around the course
  • Route fully marshalled and signposted
  • Distance markers
  • Bespoke race finishers medal
  • Prizes for fastest man, woman and veteran (aged 35+)
  • Race photographer
  • Sports Therapist for post race massage
  • Full medical provision
  • Ideal for novice through to elite
  • Race village with food and beverages for sale.
  • Free onsight parking-please car share to save our environment.

The race takes place on 19th April on the grounds of Thoresby Hall in Nottinghamshire (NG22 9WH).  Check your diary and if you can make it, enter below!  Bonus entry if you leave a comment below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Entries close on 21 March at midnight.  One winner will be chosen by random and contacted by email.

Thanks to SBR Events for offering this awesome prize to my readers.  Please like their Facebook page.

Quickie Workout #128

Sunday, March 1, 2015

As usual, remember to go for QUALITY over quantity. If you are unclear what the exercise is I am describing, please look for a video or arrange for an in-person tutorial with me.  Please consult your doctor before engaging on any fitness regime.

Don't forget to breathe! Please email me if you want tips on how to make the quickies easier or more challenging (

Warm up: 10 squats then 10 star jumps. 5 cycles through
1 min: Step ups or box jumps on a low steady step
1 min each leg: Lunge facing away from the step with back foot on step
1 min: Press ups- easier with hands on step, harder with feet on step
1 min: Wall sit
1 min: Tricep dips on step
1 min: Side squat with one foot on step. Squat down and then lift leg up off ground at the top of squat
1 min: Burpees
1 min: Leaping on 2 feet. Swing arms to give you momentum.
1 min: Calf raises
1 min: Prisoner squats
1 min: Upright row

Quickie Workout #127

Sunday, February 22, 2015

As usual, remember to go for QUALITY over quantity. If you are unclear what the exercise is I am describing, please look for a video or arrange for an in-person tutorial with me.  Please consult your doctor before engaging on any fitness regime.

Don't forget to breathe! Please email me if you want tips on how to make the quickies easier or more challenging (

Warm up:  30 sec jog in place; 30 sec jog in place and bring heels up to bum; 30 sec jumping jacks/star jumps; 30 sec squats; 30 sec hopping (either in one place or moving); 30 sec skipping
1 min: Bear crawl
1 min: Crab walk
1 min: Plank
1 min: Squat thrusts
1 min: Toe touches
1 min: Boat pose
1 min: Walking lunges
1 min: Wall sit
1 min: Lateral raise
1 min: Tricep kickbacks
30 sec each leg: Bulgarian squats
1 min: Swimmies

Are you heart healthy?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Are you taking care of your ticker? February is American Heart Month and it is always good to learn how to keep your heart healthy.  Last week, I started my Exercise Referral course to help me train people recovering from various illnesses and diseases (such as COPD, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and osteoporosis).  In the classroom discussions, we began to realize that personal trainers think and behave very differently than the general public. Conversations turned to brainstorming how to prevent these diseases rather than simply being reactive.

Did you know that, according to the Center for Disease Control,  uncontrolled high blood pressure is the leading cause of heart disease and stroke.  31% of Americans (that is 1 out of every 3) have high blood pressure.  When was the last time you had your's tested?  Many pharmacies in the USA and UK offer free blood pressure testing.  Check in one a month and keep a record so you will notice any changes over time.  As a guideline:

Normal: <120/<80
At risk (prehypertension): 120-139/80-89
High: 140+/90+

The following behavioral choices will increase your risk for high blood pressure and subsequent health problems, especially if you have hypertension and/or diabetes.
  • Smoking tobacco
  • Eating foods high in sodium and low in potassium
  • Not getting enough physical activity
  • Being obese
  • Drinking too much alcohol
The American Heart Association has a high blood pressure risk calculator.  Have a peak and see if you are at risk.  (You need to know your height, weight, and current blood pressure to start).

Controlling your blood pressure isn't the only way to keep your heart healthy.  Here is a fantastic summary of the things you can do to keep your heart healthy and happy in the years to come, courtesy of the American Recall Center.  Feel free to print and share this with friends and family.  This is add accountability and keep everyone on track towards good heart health.

Beat the gladiators at the Gauntlet Games. Win a free entry!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Sarah King, founder of The Gauntlet Games
Obstacle courses are the latest fitness craze.  Forget just running a 5K. Now you have to run through fire, get electrocuted, and swim for 100 meters underwater* to earn a medal and a pint.  One person though didn't like what she was seeing and took it upon herself to create a women-friendly obstacle course. Meet Sarah King, founder of the Gauntlet Games.

Her story is an inspirational one.  Rather than be disappointed with what life was throwing at her (in terms of race events), she decided to create her own.  How awesome is that?  Gauntlet Games obstacles include a ball pit, foam zone, dodgeball challenge, jumping beans, jousting and a the travelator, making it a bit more friendly (yet still challenging) to those who have never signed up for an obstacle course before.

Here is a bit more about Sarah, why she chose the British Red Cross as a charity partner, and her advise for women wanting to start their own business.

Did you try any obstacle courses before dreaming up the Gauntlet Games?
Yes! I’ve been in the obstacle racing Industry for over 6 years now, and have tried a lot of the races out there. My very first experience of obstacle racing was Tough Guy in 2009 – a baptism of fire, as it still is one of the toughest challenges I’ve done! It was January, it was snowing, and the course was brutal! I was not at all fit at the time and had never run more than 5km before, but somehow I managed to get through it and the sense of achievement was epic.

I have since taken part in huge numbers of obstacle races – it’s an essential part of the job!

What was your overall objective in developing the event?
I created the Gauntlet Games as I felt that many obstacle races can be intimidating for those who have never taken part in one before and that may be new to fitness – and particularly to women. I am really passionate about fitness and the outdoors, and I really want people to find an activity that they genuinely enjoy, so that they can make fitness a fun and sociable experience.

I wanted to create an event that was like an adult playground – letting people have a laugh with friends, do something different and hopefully raise some money for charity. Our obstacles include a giant slippery slide, a huge ball pool, foam pits, mud and inflatables, and all involve getting past a real Gladiator in some form – whether through dodging the paint guns, barging past an inflatable pugil stick or wading through mud!

How many of the obstacles did you design yourself?
I dreamed up the concept of most of them myself, but I also have an amazing course team who have come up with some amazing ideas. We also ask our runners to submit ideas for obstacles and our favourites are built for the next course. I am always looking for inspiration from TV Game shows in the UK and overseas, and in keeping with the ‘Games’ concept, I wanted each obstacle to be an interactive challenge against a Gladiator. Some of the obstacles require physical strength and some require a bit more strategy!

It is fantastic that the Gauntlet Games have a charity partner.  Do you have a personal connection to the British Red Cross?
I was really keen to have British Red Cross on board as their work is so far-reaching – all of us are likely to have come into contact with Red Cross’s work over the course of our lives. A lot of us don’t realise just how varied the work of the British Red Cross is – from First Aid training and health and social care in the UK, to responding to natural and humanitarian disasters in the UK and overseas. With so many current appeals – the Ebola outbreak, the Gaza and Israel Appeal, the Iraq Crisis appeal, and many more, I felt that it was a very important cause to support.

We are encouraging all our participants to raise funds for British Red Cross – no matter how small.

Do you think your event has any little touches that women will appreciate? (more toilets, changing rooms, etc?)
I would probably say that the biggest appeal for the ladies will be our Gladiators…..this year we have teamed up with rugby clubs whose players will be looking after our obstacles!

Eye-candy aside, we have a very welcoming and family-friendly experience at the event. Our event village will have all sorts of activities going on, including pre- and post-event massages from our physio partners. We’ll also have a games area for the children so we’re encouraging everyone to bring along their families and friends.

Finally, our Gladiators at our London event – Saracens Amateur Rugby Club, are inviting all our runners to come and enjoy a Barbeque and some drinks at their rugby club after the event – just a short walk from the park. So there’s even a chance to meet the Gladiators after the event! There will be tickets available for this nearer the time, which will cover the cost of the food.

How do you keep fit these days?
I try to take part in as many different types of fitness as possible – both to keep things interesting but also so that I’m constantly challenging myself. On a weekly basis I’ll run (outdoors, and ideally off-road), do a Pilates session, at least one HIIT session at the gym, and swim, and I also cycle everywhere as my preferred mode of transport. I’ll usually try to have at least one race that I’m training for – this year I intend to take part in my first half-Ironman, having completed many triathlons. But training for that hasn’t started just yet!

How many times have you taken part in the Gauntlet Games?  What's your PB?
I do the test-run before each obstacle race I manage, so as we’ve only run the Gauntlet Games once to date, I’ve only run the course once. However, as it is a ‘test’ run we are also thoroughly testing every aspect of each obstacle, so it takes us a long time – we’re talking several hours – so it’s more a case of my Personal Worst than my Personal Best!  

What advice would you have for women wanting to start their own business?
There has not been one day that I have regretted making the decision to run my own business – and I would encourage much more women to get out there and do it as it is fantastic to have female role-models out there for the younger generation. It’s definitely hard work, but the sense of achievement that you get from your successes is unbeatable.

The biggest piece of advice I’d have is ‘Go for it!’ There is never the perfect time to start a business and there are always going to be obstacles that get in your way, but if you have an idea, you are passionate about it, and you have done as much planning as you feasibly can into how you will make the business work, then you have to take a leap of faith.

This risk-taking mindset has to then continue on into your business. You have to understand that some risks will pay off and some won’t – but if you take lessons from your failures then you can turn these into successes too. People that can deal with failure are the ones that will succeed – as it makes you stronger.

How about women wanting to be more active but aren't sure where to start?
I would suggest finding an activity that genuinely interests you and find a way to fit it into your weekly routine. In addition to that, I’d look at your daily routine and see how you can build activity into what you already do.

So, start off by looking at your everyday activities. If you use the car for short journeys, think about walking or cycling instead. Use the stairs instead of the escalators – it’s a free treadmill! Get off the bus or train a stop early and walk the extra distance.

Then, find a new hobby or activity – dancing, climbing, swimming, yoga – anything you fancy. Sign up to a class locally so that you are going on a regular basis.

Plan these activities into your weekly schedule. Record your activity in your diary or calendar – it will give you great motivation to look back and see what you’ve achieved. If you can then start creating a routine out of this combination of activities, it will start coming naturally to you.

Finally, I’d suggest signing yourself up to an event or challenge, giving yourself a few months to train. You will work much harder at your activities when you have a challenge looming, and it gives you a target to aim for.

Do you have a motto or inspirational quote that you live by?
I love quotes that focus on taking risks and living your life to the full.

I love Mark Twain’s quote ’Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover’.

Giveaway time!
The Gauntlet Games have generously given PTMollie readers the opportunity to win a free entry to one of there upcoming events (any location, either 5K or 10K course):
  • 18 April, Hertford, Hertfordshire
  • 30 May, Trent Park, London
  • 8th August: Brighton (coming soon)
  • 5th September: Hertford, Hertfordshire
Entries start at £29 and include a free t-shirt and medal.  You can stay up-to-date with the latest news from the Gauntlet Games by liking their Facebook page and/or following them on Twitter or Instagram.

Enter the giveaway to win a free race entry to any of the 2015 Gauntlet Games and also a Flipbelt to hold your stuff on training runs (these are fab! Read my review here) with this Rafflecopter giveaway.

*I might be exaggerating about these tasks. I have never taken part in an obstacle race either.

Recipe: Pancakes are the best

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Happy Shrove Tuesday! Where I come from, it is called Fat Tuesday and people with links to New Orleans have a Mardi Gras party. But any celebration that involves eating gets a thumbs up from me. In the last 4 years since moving to London, we only have pancakes on Shrove Tuesday. It is really a shame as I like pancakes and they are easy to make.

I was very excited when Debenham's contacted me to attend their #Debspancakeparty.  Co-sponsored by Breville, we would be learning how to make the perfect pancake and try an assortment of fillings.  Zoe, part-pancake goddess part-Breville food tech, explained to bloggers in attendance the settings their crepe maker should be on for cooking (4) vs warming (1). She also had homemade chocolate sauce & crepe suzette (both of which were fantastic) to try in our custom flavor combinations. Turns out you can also make quesadillas on the crepe maker with store bought tortillas, shredded cheese, and finely chopped vegetables.  I tried a few different flavor combinations, including the quesadilla. When I asked Zoe how many kitchen appliances she had, she said 8 in the kitchen, with cupboards full of winter and summer machines. I am so jealous as there isn't even room for a stand mixer in my kitchen!

This got my mind turning with ideas for Valentine's Day dinner. My husband is headed out today on a work trip, so he requested pancakes on Saturday night. He is more of a savory person, while I am more sweet so we bought the following for ingredients:

Savory: Goats cheese, Leerdamer cheese, sundried tomatoes, leeks, butternut squash

Sweet: Nutella, blueberries, raspberries, bananas, chocolate chunks, lemons, colored sugar (in the sprinkle section)

I cooked the leeks and squash in a frying pan with coconut oil to soften them up a bit.  I also drained and chopped up the sundried tomatoes.

The basic pancake recipe (based on Nigella Lawson's) we followed for pancakes was:
325 ml milk
30g melted butter
150 grams wholemeal flour
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt

Whisk or blend everything together except the melted butter. Add that to the mixture last. You will also need to drizzle a little oil into the pan (even the nonstick types) and wipe it around with a paper towel.

Pancake making is a big lesson on patience. You need to wait for the pan to heat up properly, then wait 1-2 minutes for the first side to start to brown. Then after flipping, you need to wait another 3-4 minutes for pancake to finish. The good news is that you can start putting your toppings on as soon as you flip it. 

If you'd like to add some wallop to your pancakes, substitute 50g of flour with your protein powder of choice.  We tried with MaxiNutrition Promax lean chocolate, Hale Naturals PPB, and Purition vanilla.  All were fab.  If the texture isn't quite right, put mixture into a blender for a few seconds to mix well.

There are so many photos to make you drool. Check out this Facebook album to find some inspiration and ideas for your pancakes today. Mind you, I had never had a lemon sugar pancake before (remember, I am American). But I would have to say Nutella raspberry was my favorite. (Don't worry if you don't have any Nutella on hand. Try my recipe for homemade Nutella instead).

Tweet a photo of your pancake creation to @ptmollie so I can see what you were up to thus morning.  If you are truly inspired, the Brevilla crepe maker is £10 off this week at your local Debenham's.

Thank you to Debenham's for inviting me out to this tasty evening. I enjoyed lots of good food and met some lovely people too.