Last marathon training update

Monday, February 29, 2016

Well this is it. My marathon is Sunday. And I have had a cold since two weekends ago. I woke up with cold, ran 12 miles to work and sniffled my way through the week. Friday, Lucy and I did a slow 4 miles in the sun as she has also been sick. Everyone is at work really, so I guess it was hard to avoid. We put in the miles and are not expecting any PB's so if there is any race to get sick for, this is the one.

I was too sick to teach spin last week but gave it a go last night. Coughing and sniffling, of course. I have been using my resistance bands to help strengthen my glutes and hips, so not all has been lost.  My left piriformis is still acting up but I don't if this is from the extra resistance band exercises or something else. But I don't have free time that aligns with my massage therapist.  And now the right side has given some indication that it isn't happy either. I must get more serious about strength training before Berlin!  My only guess is that my piriformis is compensating for something that isn't strong enough.

Not much to do this week but fuel and rest.  My plan has me running 10 miles over 3 days but I am going to skip these.  I am off also off Diet Coke and cookies this week.  The plan is to keep this up through April as I have a photo shoot for new head shots and am not happy with how I look. When I did Whole30 while marathon training last year, I slimmed down. I am sure some of that was due to a reduction in bloating and lots down to not eating crap. I need to remember how strong and healthy I felt during that time and draw on that when I feel like eating something that isn't good for me.

If I don't stumble upon a London Marathon place, I start Ride London training in April and Berlin marathon training in May.  It is going to be a busy year!

If you want to cheer me on or pace me for a lap, the Mill Hill Marathon is Sunday at 9.00am starting at Camdenians Sports Club. It is a fundraiser for Marie Curie so if you are impressed with how far I am running, feel free to donate on the organizer's website here.

We are meant to wear yellow shirts, so I got my nails did.  :)

Omnida Studios turns up the heat

It is fun to get invited to a new fitness studio in London.  I had never been to the Turnpike Lane area before last week, and was excited to explore the area before my session at Omnida Studios.  The studio has only been open since the autumn, but offers a wide range of classes- yoga, dance, Pilates, and fitness to name a few.  Myself and a few other bloggers were invited to try out their latest offering, hot yoga.  The room is kept at 38 degrees C (that is 100 degrees F for those in the USA).  I thought it was perfect.  The evening was cold and windy.  The warm room wasn't oppressive, like I have experienced at a Bikram studio in Texas.  Last time I tried hot yoga was at Life Shoreditch and at the time my skin allergy was very bad.  The sweat and heat made me very uncomfortable.  However, my experience at Omnida was the complete opposite.  The front studio is small, which means you get a lot of personalized attention from the instructor.

I felt instantly relaxed in the warm room even before we started out warm up.  The high temps also help muscles become more elastic (more flexible) which will decrease your risk for injury.  This flexibility also gives you the opportunity to try getting a little deeper into postures that might prove challenging at room temperature.  Breathing and lung capacity are also improved when practising hot yoga.  Other benefits include the body burning fat more effectively because of the warm muscles and cardio benefits as the heart rate is elevated.

I enjoyed the class as it was challenging but nothing I felt uncomfortable doing.  The instructor was very welcoming and gave clear verbal instructions both when she was performing the poses and when she was walking around the room.   We were each provided with a mat and towel.  The owners and other studio staff were all friendly and the changing room was clean.  There is only one toilet, but I assume more of the clients are local and simply go home after the class.  The location is super convenient, just outside Turnpike Lane station.

You should check out Omnida Studios.  They offer drop in rates (very affordable for London) as well as class packs.  It isn't very far from Central London and seems like a studio where they know every member's name.  The timetable is very diverse (with ballet, tap and ballroom dance classes for those more adventurous), and even offers children's classes, so I am sure you will find something you find fun.

Thanks again to Omnida Studios to inviting me to their hot yoga taster session.  It was fab to see some friends I haven't seen in a while, as well as make new blogging friends. All opinions are honest and my own.  Thanks also to Green People, Super Seeds, Faith in Nature, and Tea Pigs for the awesome treats too.

#JustOneHour a week of exercise

Friday, February 26, 2016

I don't talk about it much now that it is under control, but I have a skin allergy.  It is pretty severe and I struggle to find beauty products that don't cause a reaction. My day job used to require me to have my hands in water most of the day, and that aggravated it even more. The UK and EU seems to have better standards that the US, but this have developed more in the 5 years we have been in London.

When I first came to London, I did some product reviews for Green People  (self-tanning lotion and shampoo and conditioner).  Currently, I use their intensive repair shampoo and conditioner, as well as rejuvenating eye creme on a daily basis, and their sun screen when on holiday.  So I was super-excited when they contacted me about their exercise survey.  Over 1,000 of their customers took part and you can see the results in the infographic below.  Overall, results indicated that people who exercise just one hour per week are 17% more content with their appearance than those who do not take part in exercise regularly.  It also suggests that you should find a form of exercise you like, rather than trying out each new fad (something I would 100% agree with.  Do what makes you happy!)

Surely you have 60 minutes a week to make yourself feel content?  Join in the conversation on Twitter with #JustOneHour and let us know if you agree.

Green People kindly sent me a few products from their new Quinoa & Artichoke range to try in exchange for this post.  Product reviews coming soon.

Borrow My // Blender- give it a taste

Monday, February 22, 2016

One of the things I miss most about living in the USA is having space for all my stuff. We visited my mom and step-dad at the start of January and I am pretty sure my flat would fit in their basement. Don't get me wrong, I love our flat and am excited to be putting decorations up that make it ours, but I do wish it had a bit more storage. For example, our galley kitchen has limited counter space, which means I can't invest in every kitchen gadget I see. I couldn't even bring my pink Kitchen Aid mixer with me when we moved (I did bring my hand mixer, which blew up the first time I used it so it was probably best that I left my stand mixer with my mom).

Aside from spiralizers, juicers seemed to be the hot Christmas gift this year. I was aware of the
Vitamix Total Nutrition Center Blender from my studies at Institute for Integrative Nutrition, but the NUTRiBULLET Pro 900 Series Extractor was new on my radar.  There are lots of kitchen appliances aimed at improving your health, but they all involved a financial investment and coveted space in my kitchen. Plus, would I use it? (After uni, I really wanted a bread maker. My step-sister lent me hers to try out. I used it once and watched it sit unloved for a month before returning it).

I was super-psyched when my friend, Elle, told me about her new business venture, Borrow My Blender (BMB).  For a low weekly fee, you can rent a Nutribullet, Vitamix, Kitchen Aid or MagiMix anywhere in the UK. London-based folks can arrange in-person delivery and pick up or Elle can ship to you if you live farther away.  I had the Nutribullet, complete with several cups, handles and a recipe plan book.  Elle also provides a bunch of recipes to customers.  There is a required security deposit, but this is promptly refunded once you return the appliance.

First off, I didn't realise the Nutribullet had a lifestyle plan. It was really interesting to read what they recommend in terms of ingredients for smoothies, shakes, and soups. I made the following cholesterol busting recipe off of their website and it was really yummy!

Nutribullet Cholesterol Crusher
Blast Smoothie- before
After! Yum.
I also experimented a little with flavours I like and things we had in the cupboard.  The book gave inspiration too. I would have never considered adding whole nuts or dates to my smoothies. The Nutribullet is so powerful, it chopped up everything I threw in in less than 1 minute! The handles made it easy to blend and go without too many extra dishes to wash.  A few mornings, I brought a smoothie to sip on the train with me instead of having breakfast at the table.

Improvising with what I had in the house.
BMB was really helpful to me as I could rent the Nutribullet without having to buy it first. I learned it wasn't as big as I thought it would be and I found it easy to clean.  I could also see people using BMB if they want to kick start a healthy habit of smoothies for breakfast or if preparing for a big event, such as a wedding, beach holiday or family reunion.  BMB also can come to your London event and prepare smoothies for your guests, which is a nice touch after a group run or yoga class.

I am very proud of Elle and encourage you to support her small business.  Like the BMB Facebook page to stay in the loop with her latest news.  Or contact BMB to rent one of their appliances.

I received a complimentary loan from BMB of the Nutribullet. All opinions are honest and my own.

Win a place to North London Half & a visit from Urban Massage

Friday, February 19, 2016

It's Friday and what better way to welcome the weekend than to have an amazing giveaway.

I have teamed up with the good folks at Urban Massage to offer one lucky reader free entry into the Vitality North London Half Marathon on 20th March 2016 (complete with a finish in Wembley Stadium).  In addition, the winner will receive a 60 minute massage from an Urban Massage therapist, to be used either in preparation for the race or as recovery.

I will be running the race and am looking forward to the new route this year.

Please note, there are some T&Cs with this. The same person must run the race and receive the massage. The winner must contribute one blog post to by 10th April 2016.  Winner must also complete 2 social media shares tagging @massageapp by this date.

Still excited about the giveaway?  Me too!  I had Urban Massage visit me once before and absolutely loved it.  I am sure you will too.  

So what are you waiting for?  Enter now and good luck!  Big thanks to the folks at Urban Massage for this fantastic prize.

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#UrbanMovement Festival- You'd better Twerk

Waiting for the session to begin.
Two weekends ago, Pay As U Gym (PAUG) invited me to their first Urban Movement Festival (check out the video!).  The concept was an indoor market area with 70 minute group exercise class that offered 10 minute tasters of classes you could attend with a PAUG membership.  So on a Saturday morning, I made my way to Shoreditch's Underground Village to get my sweat on with 100 strangers.

All of the Urban Movement staff in pink shirts were really friendly and helpful.  They were quick to answer questions and volunteered to take photos when I was struggling with selfies.  Beki from Miss Wheezy and Pennie from Oh My Quad were there. I tried to snap a photo of them twerking but it was hard to do in the dark and a roomful of people (but I did ok, see end of post).  I also met a few other bloggers I knew form Twitter but hadn't met in person yet.

Schedule of workouts:  We started with a warm up with Bradley Simmonds (which seemed a lot like my old football warm ups.  He used to play professionally), yoga, Pilates, my first Capoeira, box fit, twerk, and HiiT.  The schedule went to time and was a lot of fun.  The crowd seemed to love Capoeira and twerk the most, as I assume these were new to most participants.

Goody bags: Packed full to the brim with healthy snacks, Urban Decay make up, Pop Bands, Nuva water, (plus many more) and we got to keep the pink yoga mat.  I was thrilled to find at the bottom of my bag several gift vouchers for Pay As U Gym. Now I can incorporate Power Plate sessions into my last weeks of taper.  Score!

Pay As U Gym is planning on holding Urban Movement events quarterly so keep checking their social media, as I bet the next one will sell out too.

The market area where a few of the brands had stands where you
could shop or learn more about the products.

 And because I had to share:
Beki and Pennie twerking!

Taper time- hallelujah!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

On Saturday, I ran 22.73 miles with my co-worker Lucy at Unusual Suspects hosted by Saxons, Vikings, and Normans (race review coming soon). This means peak week is over and my body can start to recover.  Soon my mileage will be dropping off. I have sports massages scheduled in upcoming weeks and look forward to more sleeping.  Both of these I tried to incorporate throughout my marathon training.  But now that I am tapering, what will I do differently?

Stretching out my hammies
A few weeks ago, I ran 18 miles on a Thursday afternoon as part of my marathon training. Lucky for me, I had a Power Plate session with Caroline Pearce at SoHo Hotel immediately after.  She blessed me with a recovery massage and stretch on the newly launched Personal Power Plate. This small unit fits under a bed or can stack in the corner of a fitness studio. It only weighs 18.2 kg, making it fairly easy to move. You can use it on carpet or bare floors, or store away in it's soft case. I love the remote control which makes it easier to keep a steady pace up during your workout, rather than bending down to press the start button each time.  It is always set at 35 Hz (compared to 30, 35, and 40 in other models) and still has high and low options.  
Power Plates are great for helping speed up recovery, boosting endurance, helping with circulation, and improving core strength, stability, and balance.  All of these are important to runners!  Caroline and I talked a bit about how strength training with a Power Plate can help people of all athletic abilities and interests gain an edge by maximizing their workouts. With the vibration, more muscles in your body are engaged when performing exercise (which is great for your core).  I always tell my clients, any exercise you do with a free weight, you can do on a Power Plate. The constant instability over the timed one minute intervals makes workouts much harder. 

This move is no joke on a Power Plate
I used to teach vibration training classes at Frame and Powervibe Studios. Just 25 minutes of hard work gave fantastic results to the members. No matter if it was a runner, mummy, bride-to-be, or someone prepping for a holiday, vibration training benefited them and their goals.  If we had a little more space in our flat, I would be tempted to invest in this model as I want to incorporate more strength training over the next 3 weeks. My hips and legs were feeling the strain over the weekend, so my goal is to do 2 weights sessions a week now instead of one. I just need to make sure I am not over-training during this important time for recovery. The Iron Strength DVD will remain for one session. For the other I will use my resistance bands from the Physical Company to do leg abductions, squats, clams, and hamstring curls.

There are 2 passive bits to my tapering too.  The first is Recovery Bits.  Normally, I use Energy Bits for fuelling on my long runs.  These are 100% spirulina algae- no sugar, chemicals, etc.  (hence vegan and paleo approved). The company also make 100% chlorella Recovery Bits which I take when I feel a cold coming on and after long runs (13+ miles).  You definitely need to swallow them whole (rather than chew) as they taste a bit organic, but I find they do the trick without upsetting my stomach or giving me runner's tummy. Try them yourself with 25% off using code PTMollie (I am an ambassador and receive 1 free bag for every 10 purchased with my code).

And where would I be without my compression gear? Knee high compression socks are a must, as are my 2XU leggings. I typically don't run in compression gear but save it for after the race.  That is my personal preference though as I get hot when I run.  You can read more about the benefits of compression gear on this post I wrote for Bospasa.

Do you change your training strategy during your taper? What other recovery tips do you have after a long run?

Thanks to Power Plate for the taster session and to Physical Company for providing resistance bands in the goody bags.  All opinions are honest and my own.

Product Review: Fleetfoot 3 Max

Monday, February 15, 2016

Long-time readers will know that I am a fan of British sport accessory brand Workplay Bags. Over the years, we have supported each other on many campaigns and it has been fantastic. It has been great reviewing their bags, which are specifically designed for the female figure, as well as testing prototypes.  The Fleetfoot II I reviewed in 2012  and I have nearly worn it out. If I am running a short distance and don't require a water bottle, I throw my keys, phone, & Oyster card in my Fleetfoot II. Technically, it could carry a small water bottle in the mesh bit, but I never liked how it felt on my lower back.  The bag might also hold one small pack of Haribos or a gel, but that was it.

Introducing the Fleetfooot 3 Max in a new colour range.

Based on feedback from customers, Workplay Bags have released the Fleetfoot 3 Max.  It has a slightly bigger pouch which means there is now room for your iPhone6 and inhaler. The bag also comes in new colours- black, berry, and luminous yellow.  Even though it is bigger (and therefore can hold more stuff), the bag is still incredibly comfortable. The adjustable strap means you can wear it where it fits best for your body shape. I wear it on my natural waist and for me, it doesn't bounce no matter how full (or empty) it is.  Having a little more room means I pack a few gels without a problem. The interior now has three sections- a soft pouch for keys and change (to prevent your phone from getting scratched) and then a divider for the rest.  There are also gel loops on the strap, which is a new feature.  The mesh external storage pouch and elastic straps for holding a jacket have remained in the updated design, which allow the user to carry even more.

The bigger pouch also means a greater reflective area to maintain your visibility on early morning or late night runs. The larger size has not compromised the female fit however. The Fleetfoot 3 Max still is hardly noticeable when you wear it (no bounce and it stays in place).

Check out the high-vis. Safety is key!

It you are looking for a comfortable bum bag, please do check out Workplay bags. Support a British small business that designs for a women's body shape and you will not be disappointed.

WorkPlay Bags graciously gifted me the Fleetfoot 3 Max for review.  All opinions are honest and my own.

Last minute shopping for Valentine's Day

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Doubling up on  my trackers,
because they do different things.
Christmas just happened and we are rapidly approaching Valentine's Day.  How do you celebrate the 'holiday'? My husband sees it more as a card company promotion, but I try to get him a little something.  If you have a sporty partner and are considering getting them an activity tracker, here are my tips on selecting one as a gift:

Be ready with a 'why'. Hopefully they have mentioned wanting one, how all their friends got one for Christmas, or seem curious about how activity trackers work. Valentine's Day is not the time to make your partner feel insecure about their body shape so give it consideration as a gift choice and be ready to explain why you choose this as a gift. 

Technological abilities. Are they capable/interested/confident in learning how it works? Will they want to monitor heart rate or keep track of how much water they drink? A basic model might suite your partner fine or if they are a technophile, bells and whistles might be best.

What apps they use.  If your gift receiver has all of their training logs on Nike's free app, they might not be keen to switch to TomTom.  Check if they use Bounts (my referral code is millington1695) or another reward program and if their activities can link.  It would be a shame to loose all that sweat for nothing.

Primary sport.  Is the person a runner, swimmer or cyclist? Different disciplines are tracked with various measures (GPS, altitude, RPM, etc) and you need to match this. You also will need something waterproof for swimmers as not all trackers can get wet and/or used for swimming.

Should the tracker have a large visual display?
This Mio FUSE lights up when you tap the screen.

Size of wearable and the person- If possible, check out the wearable in person to see how big it is. Getting the most expensive GPS watch won't do your wife any good if it weighs down her arm so much that she can't run.

I have dainty wrists, so big trackers can be cumbersome for me.

Additional accessories required. When in doubt, accessories are always a good option as they tend to be a bit less specific.  Headphones, arm band, bum bag, portable charge pack, Bluetooth remote control, selfie stick, or a paper based training log are all good items if you can't decide which activity tracker to pick.

Ready to try out an activity tracker (or give it to a friend)?  Rem-Fit offers s sleeker wrist activity tracker with their 200 series that syncs with the Rem-Fit app on your SMART phone.  It is only $99.00 (£68) so very affordable for newbies to give activity tracking a try.  There are loads of different color silicon bracelets too so you can find one that will match every outfit.  Or you can wear it on your belt.  This tracker will monitor your sleep, steps, distance travelled, and calories burned.

Enter today.  Competition ends 15/2/16.  Winner will be drawn by random by Raffelcopter.  Best of luck!

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Marathon training- 4 weeks to go!

Friday, February 5, 2016

All I do these days is eat, work, run and sleep. I knew January would be tough as the miles are adding up and I am starting to see gains. Last week I did an 18 mile run with friends, which meant my pace was faster than I thought I would do. It was cool to explore London along the canals, periodically popping up and getting my bearings. No traffic lights simulated a race situation of a steady pace too.  

Here is the 18 mile route.  My GPS didn't pick up right away but I can assure we ran far.

This weekend my long run is 14 miles with Advent Running and next week is 20 at the Saxons, Vikings, and Normans Usual Suspects race. That will be my peak run, followed by taper (hallelujah).  I have only heard good things about these race organizers and look forward to something different on my longest run (so far) of 2016.  

For the last 3 weeks, I have joined Advent Running at their #tracktuesday session at Mile End track.  It is a free session, but you have to pay £3.25 to use the track.  Bring a 20p coin to use a locker too.  Usually we have a long warm up (which is needed on these cold, wintery nights) and then break into groups depending on speed for 1km repeats.  It has really helped me work on pacing, confidence, and knowing how my body feels at different effort levels.

For cross training, I continued to teach spin on Monday nights at Forest Fitness.  It has been over 2 years since I taught indoor cycling regularly and it is amazing to be back in the saddle.  I have also been doing one session a week of strength training.  For Christmas, my stepmom got me the Iron Strength DVD which helps runners get stronger.  I have done it twice now and it is pretty intense.  Tomorrow, I am attending the PayAsUGym Urban Movement Festival, which will cover 7 different types of group exercise classes in one amazing workout.  I am sure I will be sore on Sunday!

Yoga is something I am trying to squeeze in too.  I did yoga at the Shard and will be trying Cocoon yoga at Gym Box next week.  There is a yoga class offered at work on Tuesdays, but I seem to be busy with meetings as of late.  Work is ramping up with a new location due in the summer, which makes things a bit more challenging to plan.  There is always something to turn in, schedule, or report on. Normally I thrive on these sorts of deadlines, but the additional running is making it a bit tough to find balance.

Rest and recover needs to be scheduled in too.  I am trying to go to bed by 9.30pm every night (rather than 11pm) but today I just feel tired. I am due to run 5 miles (from yesterday) but have a sports massage scheduled after work.  It is so tempting to say sod it and skip the run (UPDATE: I did a quick 5 mile run on my lunch break).  I know listening to your body is important but I also want to be prepared for the mud and trails for my marathon.

I was happy to have added a few fun races though to break up monotony.  I did RMR virtual run with a cool spinning medal, Walt Disney World half marathon in January, UK Fitness Bloggers 5K run last weekend at Running Works, and the London Winter Run. I am debating about Hogwarts Running Club Ugly Sweater race and have a few days left to decide.

During runDisney events, you can have photos taken with cast members!

Many people are training for marathons this time of year.  How is your training going? Any tips on fitting it in?

(Also, I would love a London marathon place of you hear of one going spare.  Unfortunately I am not in a position to fundraiser this year due to my previous support of RODS but the opportunity to run London would be forever appreciated.  )

Follow me on Strava to keep tabs on my progress.