What I am reading right now

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Although I don't have much time for reading these days, I do like to have a book with me on the tube or when I am on holiday.  Usually, I aim to read one book at a time because it is hard for me to focus, while my husband will be reading a few different books at a time.  Somehow, I have found myself with a little pile, so I thought I would share what I is on my nightstand and Kindle:

Your Holistically Hot Transformation- Written by fellow IIN alum, Marissa Vicario, this book is s fun read if you are looking to get your eating back on track.  She offers simple but effective tips while telling you her story and what habits she has overcome.  It is designed to be read one chapter at a time, after which you go off and implement the tips suggested by Marissa.  It is a really fun read and great for a little boost.

The Diet Myth- KCL lecturer Dr. Tim Spector gave a lecture about how microbes are more unique than finger prints to each individual's gut.  These microbes are best suited to process different types of foods and that is one of the reasons why one diet regime doesn't work on everyone. You can even send his lab a sample of your stool to find out which microbes your gut possesses.

Like The Wind Magazine issue #9-  When it arrived in the post, I was so excited to see I could color in the cover.  How cool is that?  LTW is about art, running, and everything in between.  Published quarterly, articles are submitted by the running community and amazingly illustrated.  You can order back issues or check out these stockists.

Natural Born Heroes-  I was lucky enough to meet Chris McDougall last year at a 'lecture' about this book.  I say 'lecture' because Chris has unfortunately lost his voice.  Even without a voice, his energy and passion for running and storytelling radiated throughout the crowded running shop.  This book looks into English residents of Crete who would literally run messages from camp to camp during World War II, creating a running style form similar to parkour.

I am eager to finish these as I have some awesome books being sent to me in the post:

I am always looking for new books, both fiction and non-fiction. Please comment below if you think I should read your favorite.

Please note this post contains affiliate links, which add no cost to the purchaser but does help to maintain this site.  Also, I was provided with 'Your Holistically Hot Transformation' and LTW but all opinions are honest and my own, as always.

4 tips for running in the rain

Friday, June 24, 2016

One of my favorite quotes is something along the lines of 'Don't wait for the perfect weather to go for a run. You will never leave the house' and it is so true here in London!

With the typical British weather this week, I was inspired to share these tips about training in the rain with you on Instagram.  In case you don't follow me, I included the video below.

Don't forget you can use my 15% off discount code (PTMWR16) for the Women's Running Magazine 10K race series.  I will at the Milton Keynes race and hope to see you there!

Women's Running Magazine 10K Race Series

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

If you have found yourself hungry for some more race bling, or are thinking about trying out a 10K distance, I recommend registering for Women's Running Magazine's 10K race series.   As a race ambassador, I have happy to share my discount code with you below.  It is valid for any race and there are training plans provided to get your ready for the start line.

I have to admit, the thing I am most excited about is that I am also leading the warm up at the Milton Keynes race on Sunday 3rd July.  This is a huge opportunity for me as I will be able to meet so many women on their fitness journey to health and happiness.  If you see me there, please do say hello.

Soon I will have a video or two up to help you with your training for the race.  If there is anything in particular you want to know, whether it be about training, kit, fuelling, or race day, please leave a message below and I will do my best to answer you.

Happy running!

Active travel: Cairo

Monday, June 20, 2016

Yes, that is a real pyramid.

One of the things I love about travelling is exploring new place and cultures.  When on a trip, it can be hard to stay active though.  Sure, you may walk a bit around the city, but I usually find myself indulging in the local cuisine and enjoying a drink or three with lunch and dinner.  Part of the Active Travel series here on ptmollie.com is to share with you some ideas for ways to keep up your exercise regime.

Back in April, I was lucky enough to spend a few days in Egypt with my girlfriends.  The city isn't really designed for walking much (it is very hot and there is too much traffic), but here are three things I would suggest you try out next time you find yourself in Cairo.  

Run with Egyptian Runners-  This particular trip, I was hoping to run the Cairo Half Marathon with the Egyptian Runners.  Unfortunately, they changed the date after I bought my plane tickets.  From their Facebook profile, the group looks like a lot of fun, inspiring citizens to be active and have fun with weekly runs on Friday mornings.  I did ask a person who lived in Cairo for 10 years if I could run along the river, but she said no one does that.  It was 30 degrees C while we were there, and I never saw someone outside running during my visit.

View of the bow

Felucca boat ride- You don't need any sailing or knot-tying skills to enjoy a lovely hour on the Nile River.  These are the traditional wooden boat used in protected waters.  It runs purely by wind, making it a leisurely activity.  My friends and I enjoyed sunshine and light breeze while we sailed a bit down the river from our hotel.  The boats can hold 10 people, making it very affordable for big groups.

Erin relaxing in the comfy robe

Visit a spa-  My friend and I had a free morning while we waited for my friends to arrive.  We decided to treat ourselves to a morning at the Kempinski Hotel Spa.  I had my first hot stone massage, which was amazing.  It was already warm in Cairo and I didn't realise how much I would be sweating by the end.  It will be perfect way to treat myself during London's cold winter.  Erin got a body wrap and enjoyed that too.  We had use of the jacuzzi, sauna and lounge before and after our appointments but didn't have too long as we were due to meet back at the hotel.  The exchange rate was excellent during our trip, which helped soften the blow of this once in a lifetime experience, as I have never been to a fancy spa like this before.

There are also tons of gyms in Cairo, but the ones I wanted to visited seemed to be on the other side of town.  You can visit cairogyms.com to find something that suits your interest.  I emailed them for suggestions and they were very helpful.  Their site has event listings too if you are looking for something specific to do during your visit.

If you have other ideas on how to stay active in Cairo, let me know in the comments below.  My Istanbul active travel tips will be up soon!

Please be sure to use common sense when travelling and do not place yourself in a situation where you do not feel safe.

When was the last time you accidentally ran a marathon?

Thursday, June 16, 2016

After 1st lap. On my 2nd cookie.
On Wednesday, I accidentally ran a marathon.  Accidentally probably isn't the right word.  Maybe unexpectedly is more appropriate? My friend, Lucy, (we ran Mill Hill Marathon together) and I set out to take part in Saxons, Vikings, and Normans (SVN) Cookie-a-Thon. The course was a 5.36 mile loop with lots of cookies in between each lap. I had 6 miles to do according to my Berlin marathon training plan from Hal Higdon.  Lucy had been toying with the idea of running 100 marathons but wasn't planning on it when the starting bell went off.  We decided we were aiming for a half marathon and then would see how we feel.

It was an early start for both Lucy and I as the race was in Challock, Kent.  We both left our homes by 6am and she picked me up from the Ebbsfleet International train station.  I didn't fuel properly in the days leading up to the race and didn't get much sleep the night before so I was unsure how I would feel on the day.  I did 90 of spinning both Monday and Tuesday nights meaning I wasn't physically rested either.  I was also worried about injury.  If my Achilles tendinitis, plantar facisitis, or periformis pains started acting up again, I would be really cross with myself.

But the gang at SVN are so incredibly friendly it is hard not to have a good time when you are at one of their events (we had previously attended their Unusual Suspects challenge in February).  We had a late start due to the toilet queue but set out on the trails only a few minutes late.  We weren't worried though because the time limit was eight hours.  I found the course to be hilly (1500+ feet elevation change according to Strava).  There were some bits in the sun and some in the shaded wood which was nice.  The weather was a bit funny, as half the time it was raining and the other half the sun was out.

Bit of the course through the Forestry Commission park we ran in.

We aimed to run the first two laps and would then use a walk/run strategy if we were going to continue.  Lucy's stomach was bothering her so we did walk a little bit on the first two laps.  For the next lap, we decided to walk uphills.  We didn't stick to a specific time or distance interval when breaking up the final three laps between walking and running.  We listened to our bodies and tried to get around.  Many of the participants were doing the same and we had a good chat with them too.  Lucy learned what 'Quest for the Vest' is and declared she is out to be part of the 100 marathon club.

So many cookies!
Part of the Cookie-A-Thon was runners bringing in cookies.   Awards were given out for best cookie, best cookie with peanut butter cookie, best vegan cookie and best cookie with chocolate.  The SVN community is very inclusive. Everyone on the trails is friendly and encouraging other runners as they pass. There are many smiling volunteers supporting the event and Travis, the co-founder & chairman of 100 Marathon Club, walked the route backwards and chatted with each runner as they went passed.

It was an amazing feeling as we set off on our last lap because we knew we were going to have completed another marathon.  We took inspiration from Lucy's daughter, who isn't a runner, yet managed 15 miles at the Unusual Suspects event.  It gets to the point in the 'race' (not the best word in this case due the to community-feel that is more akin to parkrun) where it is more mental.  When you take away the pressure to run all 26.2 miles and you don't have masses of people passing you, it is very freeing.  It was my 3rd marathon and Lucy's 9th.  The bling is amazing (so heavy I couldn't wear it while I was stretching out).  We spent a lot of time stretching after we finished and talking to some of the people who ran ultras that day.  I was a bit stiff that evening but today my legs felt alright.

Check out the bling!
I must still be delirious because I signed up to run the Virgin Money London Marathon in 2017 with Plantlife today. Instead of running 100 marathons,  I am aiming to run the World Marathon Majors courses (I have always wanted to do a race in every state and as many countries as possible.  I have a long ways to go).

If you love running, and eating, I highly recommend you become involved with the SVN community. You will not regret it.

If you have run any of the Major races, please leave a comment below with your favourite memories of the race.  I have Berlin in September and will need to work on the rest in 2017 and beyond.

No way around it. Get in the saddle!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Start of Evan's Cycle Ride It Reading
Ride London is only seven weeks away and this year I am determined to ride all 100 miles of the route.  For readers new to the blog, let me briefly update you on my attempts over the years:

2013 (inaugural year)- Ballot spot.  Got a flat tire on Leith Hill and my feminist pride meant I missed the time cut-off for Box Hill. Total ride ~ 93 miles.
2014- Ballot spot. A wee bit of a hurricane hit London and entire course is shorted for safety reasons.  Total ride ~ 86 miles.  Tragically, I bought a shirt that said '100 miles done' before the race at the expo.
2015- Ballot spot.  We moved house in May and I didn't start training due to length of new commute. Deferred entry to 2016.
2016- ?

I have a score to settle and am going to ride all 100 miles this year even if it kills me.  I am taking my training very seriously and am committed to accomplishing my goal.

As part of my training, I have been going on lots of long rides with my husband and his friends (see Strava for my training log).  Some they have organised themselves, but we also signed up for Evans Ride It Reading event in May.  For that ride, we stayed with friends in Pangbourne and it was only a few miles ride to the start line. I opted for the medium route (approximately 60 miles),while the boys went for long (approximately 80 miles).  It was a gorgeous day for a ride and there were organized fuel stations along the way with lots of yummy food.

In addition to riding outdoors, I still teach indoor cycling once a week at Forest Fitness Gym and I have been training to starting leading classes at the Lee Valley VeloPark's indoor cycling too at the Velodrome in Queen Elizabeth Park.  Even though these rides are indoors and on a stationary bike, they can also be invaluable for sportive training.  Try to find a studio near you where the class focuses on riding, without any upper body work.  After a few weeks of single classes, start adding on another without a break.  You don't need to follow the lesson plan for the second class, but instead aim to ride with consistent RPMs and a bit of resistance.

Indoor cycling studio
Turbo trainers, or similar machines such as rollers, are another way to fit in more training indoors. With weather, family life, and traffic, getting out the door is sometimes tough. You can use the time on the bike to catch up on your favourite TV show, watch a film, or listen to a podcast.  To make it more interesting, download the Zwift app.  I haven't tried it myself but lots of friends on Strava (yes you can log your training on there) seem to love it.  It will give you a bit more structure to your at-home sessions and has a competitive edge to it if that is motivating to you.

Being outdoors is nice too.
My longer rides are proving to be a struggle as I need more strength in my upper body to maintain my posture.  I also need to work on building the endurance in my legs.  This realization is one of the reasons why I am spending this week here on the blog and Instagram sharing my tips on becoming a stronger cyclist.  Today's lesson is to spend lots of time in the saddle.  After all, practice does make perfect.  If I want to be good at riding a bike continuously for seven hours, I need to spend time gradually building up the length of my rides to prepare my body for that task. The benefits of long training rides include:
First long ride with husband & his
co-workers to Southend-On-The-Sea

  • Aerobic base building/Strengthening your cardiovascular system for the longer rides
  • Getting your body used to performing the same motion for several hours (endurance)
  • Opportunity to work on fuelling and hydration (in case something doesn't agree with your body)
  • Practice changing a flat tire and trouble-shooting other mechanical failures, should they occur

On top of all this bike riding, I am supposed to be marathon training. As the training for both events overlap, I have subbed long rides for my long runs and  but have struggled to find energy during the week to get my short runs in.  Work is full on, making it hard to get away from the desk or my email day or night. I cannot continue on like this though because it is just getting to be too much to fit it all in.  But I cannot afford to skip training for either is I want to be successful. I hope the aerobic base-building and mental training from cycling (7 hours with my thoughts and no way to write down all the things I think about is a long time) will prepare me to jump into full marathon training mode in August.  Last night, I did a 5 mile run at marathon pace and it felt alright even in the heat and humidity (a nice change from the usual London weather).  My body felt tight though as I stretched out in the garden.

Next steps for me?  More rides, more runs, more strength training, and more stretching.  Easy, right?

I would appreciate any and all tips about balancing multi-discipline training while working full-time. Leave a comment below!

Smart cyclist = Strong cyclist

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Too often do I see cyclists without helmets, wearing headphones, or riding without lights in the evening.  These seem like no-brainers to me but maybe that is because I am a very cautious cyclist.  Or I thought I was.  I wear hi-vis and indicate at every junction.  I refuse to ride down the middle of traffic and would rather walk my bike through a deathly junction that ride it.  It turns out I was missing a critical point about cyclist safety.

Red arrow is pointing to the damage from Oldland treating my helmet as a chew toy.
My helmet needed replacing.

When we first adopted Oldland, we had a bit of a teething period where he would chew stuff or eat the garbage while we were out. My helmet was one of those things.  I didn't think much of it as only a bit of the foam was missing and I continued to wear it.

After a 40 mile cycle ride this weekend, James and I stopped at a local market in Redbridge.  They had 2 stalls dedicated to bikes (one to sell used bikes, the other for repairs).  My gears don't shift very well but the queue was too long to have it sorted for free.  I decided to stop at BikeTrax in Wanstead to see if they could help me and also to purchase a bell (mine fell off at the first London Duathlon).

The staff at Bike Trax were really nice and explained my gear shifting problems to me.  They also had bells, so I picked one up.  As I was paying for the bell, Noah (who is also a wheelsmith) noticed my helmet and said he couldn't let me leave the shop in good conscience as my helmet was not safe.  Here is a video of him explaining why: 

After we shot the video, Noah had a go at my helmet.  Not bad for a skinny cyclist!

The other points to consider when purchasing a helmet:
-The fit: make sure it fits your head properly, sitting on your forehead, not back
-It meets safety standards, such as 16 CFR 1203 in the USABSEN1078 in the UK.  Noah explained the helmet I purchased met Australian standards, which is better than UK.
-Helmets need to be replaced every 2-3 years nowadays.  It used to be every 5 (which is how long I had my helmet).  I imagine this is due to the different materials being used to make them lighter nowadays.
-Don't leave in high temperatures, such as storing in your car or near a heat source.  If you see any damage to the plastic shell (which is also affected by UV light), you need to replace your helmet.

Big thanks to BikeTrax for great service and having the things I needed in stock.  There were several color options for my helmet but I went with red and black to match my bike.  I am sure I will be back to BikeTrax again soon as I like supporting local businesses and the staff were very friendly and helpful.  Thanks to Noah for being a good sport and letting me film him too!

Fierce Grace Yoga makes you sweat

Thursday, June 2, 2016

My experience with yoga is infrequent. I only make it to a class when there is a special offer or a unique workshop on for runners.  For a few weeks last year, I made it to the class offered at work but my days are so full on right now, I barely have time to eat lunch.  Which is all the more reason I should be going to yoga!

The lovely folks at Fierce Grace Yoga invited me over for a class to experience what they have to offer. With six studios throughout the city, it was easy to find one that fit into my commute (the Old Street location, just a short walk north of the station).  They also have lots of classes offered throughout the day, making it even more accessible to fit around anyone's schedule.  I chose the Fierce Grace signature class and hoped it wouldn't be above my level.

Note how red my face is.
Busy timetable at Old Street
The few times I have tried hot yoga, I found it wasn't for me.  I couldn't breathe and it irritated my skin allergy.  At Fierce Grace Yoga, I loved being enveloped by the warmth of the studio.  I did start to struggle to breathe a bit after about 60 minutes, but I think that might have been more due to fatigue.  I was quickly making my way through my water bottle and completely soaked with sweat. The instructor encouraged us to take breaks as needed and I did just that towards the end of class.  Who doesn't love a little Child's Pose?

Some of the moves during class were too advanced for me, but I just grabbed a block to help me find a better position.  Most of the attendees seemed capable of completing all the sequences which was very impressive!

Fierce Grace yoga is perfect for those who enjoy hot yoga (obviously) and those looking to get leaner and stronger.  It would also be good for people training for events in hotter climates, such as Marathon de Sables.  They are also very reasonable in price/class, considering the length of the classes.  I would recommend bringing your own mat and at least two towels (one for class and one for a shower) although you are able to rent both at the studio.  Also, there are lockers in the studio for your valuable but the womens' changing room only has shelves and coat hooks.

By the time I got home, I needed more water STAT.  Luckily I had a bottle of the new For Goodness Shakes coconut protein water. They had invited me along to a special HIIT class where I was able to learn more about the water and, of course, fit in some exercise.  Normally I don't like coconut water, but I did like this stuff.  Each bottle contains 20g of whey protein, which, according to Claire Baseley, registered nutritionist, is more than enough for a cardio session, such as spinning or aerobics. Consuming protein during a workout allows the muscles to start repairing immediately.  It helps for those long sessions too, which my 90 minute yoga session was for me (I should have packed the protein water!).  If you are taking part in a resistance set, you will need more protein for your recovery because the muscles are damaged by lifting weights.

For Goodness Shakes coconut water =delish!

Whey protein is very digestible and rapidly dissolves in water, making it super absorbent into your body.  If you are not allergic to milk, definitely give it a try. However, if  you are slightly intolerant to milk products, you will need to try a little bit first.

I spotted For Goodness Shakes protein water in Asda, so it shouldn't be hard for you to find when you are out and about.  The flavour is refreshing and light as a post-workout treat after a workout in the summer (as opposed to a milk-based protein shake).  Plus, it is only 86 calories per bottle, has zero sugar and zero fat.  Score!

How do you re-hydrate after a hot yoga class?  Let me know in the comments below!

Big thanks to Fierce Grace and For Goodness Shakes for allowing me to try their products.  All opinions are honest and my own.