Tips on how to keep your kit from stinking up your desk

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Yesterday on my way home from work, the Evening Standard had an article about how offices should offer showers and lockers to running and cycling commuters.

I am all about reducing stink and have been run commuting for a few months in prep for the London Marathon.  I have learned the hard way that millions of microscopic bacteria are the reason why your gym clothes smell after a sweaty workout.  If you wash your clothes with the wrong cycle, temperature or detergent, you will compromise the fabric, reducing its quality.  Poor maintenance of the fabrics means less wicking, longer dry time and the perfect conditions for bacterial growth.  If I am running a race in hot temps, I stink a lot more at the finish line if I dump water on my head than if I don’t.

Nobody wants to be ‘that guy or gal’ who has an office strung up with sweaty gym kit with a smell that permeates the canteen.  Here are a few things to think about to keep the smell of victory to a minimum in the office.

Tip 1: Choose the right material

When you are buying new workout gear, avoid cotton like the plague and instead look for:

Merino wool is a natural solution to avoiding post-workout odours.  Made from the wool the Merino breed of sheep, this kind of wool doesn’t itch, helps you thermoregulate and doesn’t smell due to a natural oil secreted by the sheep called lanolin.  Icebreaker, Smartwool, and ashmei are all brands that work with merino wool.

ashmei offices in Tring

You can also look for the Polygiene logo. It is a silver-ion treatment of the fabric before final manufacturing occurs that prevents bacterial growth.  It is permanently integrated into the fabric and will not wash out. Companies such as lululemon, Ron Hill, Adidas, Poc, DaKine and Polartech are just a few examples of partner brands that use this treatment on their products.

Polygiene socks make stretching out in the dining room more bearable.

Tip 2: Wash it with the right stuff

This seems like the natural thing to do but sometimes the detergent we use or the water temperature settings don’t actually kill the bacteria.  Don’t use fabric softeners on your tech fabrics as this could leave a residue that will effectively take away the wicking properties.  A few products you could try are:

Revive by Odo Sport is designed to keep synthetic sports kit clean, oudor-free, and functioning properly. It shields the fabric from acquiring dirt between washes and adds a fast-drying agent to help kit to dry more quickly (which will keep stink down too).

Nik Wax Basewash®  effectively cleans, deodorises, inhibits the build up of body odours, accelerates drying and improves cooling efficiency of synthetic base layers.  If you have wool baselayers (we’ll talk about material choice in a minute), use NikWax Wool Wash™ instead.

Mr Black’s Sport Wash is all natural and biodegradable, yet able to squash the bacteria that cause your technical kit to smell a bit funky.  Their philosophy is to prolong the life of your clothes as you have invested in them (and we all know how much good kit can cost).

Run commute warrior!
A final option if you want to wash your clothes is to send clothes out during the day to be laundered. Indoor cycling studio and fitness gym H2 offers this as a service with a 48 hour turn-around time, which means the sweaty clothes never make it to your office to cause any offence.

Tip 3: Use Pay As You Gym (PAYG) to shower

Perhaps your training schedule only requires you to run or cycle in once or twice a week.  If your office doesn't offer shower or lockeroom facilities, look on the PAYG website to locate an inexpensive gym facility near work where you can freshen up and change before your first meeting.  Long term it might not be cost-effective, but it could also help you smell fresh for the rest of the day.

Tip 4: Run home instead

Sounds simple enough, but make exercise a priority and run home from work instead of going to the pub.  That way sweaty clothes can air out in the comfort in your living room instead of your work cubicle.  Of course, it is challenging to keep the motivation up over the course of a day but think about how you will feel as the endorphins start flowing after a few minutes of sweating.

If you have any other ideas on how to keep your office from smelling like a locker room, please comment below.  I  know Londoners can be pretty creative with this sort of thing.

Portions of this post originally appeared on the H2 Life Blog.

Do you practice self care?

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

My beautiful flowers from Prestige Flowers UK
In today's digital world with nearly instantaneous results, we have a tendency to overbook and over commit.  It is a competition of how early we get up to go to the gym and how late we stay up to finish the newest episode of Orange is the New Black.  We go to every birthday party, every leaving 'do and never miss a workout.  We never put ourselves first, which can lead us feeling tired, depressed and anxious.  I say 'enough is enough!'  It is time to take care of yourself so that you have more to give to others.  Here are a few suggestions on how to administer self care.  Note, these are things that make me feel better by keeping things pretty, simple, and calm.

Treat yourself- Fresh flowers aren't just for Valentine's Day. Prestige Flowers UK sent me a gorgeous bouquet a few weeks ago.  The comments I got on Instagram were how decadent it is to have fresh flowers and others wished they had flowers too.  There is nothing stopping you from picking up a beautiful bouquet every once in a while. Having them delivered was great too! They arrived in a really sturdy box whic would be manageable to carry home on public transport.  I tend to pick flowers up on bank holiday weekends as I will be home for a few days in a row and can enjoy the flowers more than if I was at work.

Other treats that I enjoy once in a while include manicures with my mom or friends, trips to the cinema, and going out for a meal at my favourite resturant (aka Chipotle or Pizza Express).

Facial at the spa. So peaceful

Skip a workout- Bet you never thought a personal trainer would say this.  Sometimes, you just need a night off (please do not cancel less than 24 hours before your PT appointment) to refocus.  There is a worry you will fall out of your training schedule but having a night off might be just the thing you need to get your mojo back.  You body will appreciate the rest too if you tend to workout more than four times a week.

Have a lie in- I dare you not to set your alarm.  It is glorious.

Sleeping on the #fitbitfifty bus

Watch TV without multitasking- In my house, we are usually working on the laptop while the TV is on in the background (like I am now).  But is that really an effective way to create quality work or to grasp plot of the show? Set a timer to just watch your show and chill, then get back to work.

Take a nap- It is amazing what a little power nap will do.  Rest and recovery are very important when you are training, sp make sure you are getting enough of both.  In addition, if you are burning the candle at both ends, you might need to be creative with your sleep schedule.

Revisit a favourite hobby- Usually we start a hobby because we enjoy it, and possibly because we are good at it.  As we grow up, we loose the time to set aside for these fun pursuits. So pull out the sewing machine, dust off your SLR, or book a dance lesson to do something fun again.

I am learning how to make quilts (in all my spare time)

Call an old friend- Sure, Facebook is great and so are emails but there is nothing like chatting to a friend on the phone.  People seem to be so disconnected these days with text messaging and rapid fire emails.  Reconnect the old school way.

Stop comparing yourself to others and let go of FOMO-  This will drive you crazy and develop self-doubt. Be proud to be you.  You might not get the same experiences as everyone else but it is your life to lead.

What do you do to take care of yourself?  Leave a comment below and let me know.

Prestige Flowers sent me a bouquet of flowers.  All views are honest and my own.  They would be happy to deliver flowers for your Easter celebrations if you are looking to bring spring indoors.  :)

London Marathon Looming

Friday, April 7, 2017

Running to the finish
In a perfect world, I would have wrote a post for '1 month until London Marathon' but the training plan I chose had me running two 20 mile peak weeks. It has been a long 15 weeks of training but I am feeling ready.  Now that I am officially in taper mode, a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders.  My mileage is decreasing, leaving more time for food prep and Dance Moms reruns (my latest guilty pleasure).  With less than 3 weeks until my second World Marathon Major, how will my training change in the lead up to the starting line?

Less mileage- This is good as Strava just told me it is time for new shoes.  I might use my Salomons 3D this week for short runs.  In the post, I recently received Wiiv custom insoles which used photographs of my feet to create the perfect fit.  Is 3 weeks enough time to break in new shoes and/or insoles?  I am not willing to risk it so I will wait to try these insoles out.

More stength training with Julia B Fit- Every. Time. I. Say. I will strength train. Then I don't.  There just isn't enough time in the day to work and train in all the disciplines that balance the time on my feet.  Julia's workouts are great because you can mix and match different sessions based on your training goals and how much time you have.  You can get started in her online gym for free, so click on the link above and have a mosey around.

Thank you John Lewis for my new yoga bag. So fancy!
More yoga- John Lewis sent me a 'yoga at home' kit from their wellness campaign. Like strength training, yoga is something I know I need to do more of as a runner, especially one who has Achilles tendonitis and periformis issues.  The bag is beautiful and I can totally see it as a beach bag or carry on.  There was also a resistance band in the bundle, which will be handy with the strength training point above.

More sleep- Seriously. If you are part of a sleep research lab, can I please be a study subject?  I need eight to nine hours normally but then with big miles on top, even more.  Any advice on developing quality sleep patterns?

More blogging- Having reached my fundraising goal a few weeks ago, I can now concentrate on writing posts about my time in South Africa, new kit I have been testing out from Get the Label and La Redoute (check out their fitness guide with a mini-profile on me), and trying electro-acupuncture for my periformis pains.

Whole30 rules- After having to stop and use the bathroom four times on my 20 miler on Sunday and three times during Berlin Marathon, I need to get my GI system under control.  I will loose a lot of time trying to find a bathroom during London Marathon but also it is no fun having to worry about having an accident for 4+ hours.

What do you do in the last two weeks leading up to a big race?  Let me know in the comments below.

Decathlon Scavenger Hunt- so much to find under one roof

Monday, April 3, 2017

Pink Ladies!
Last week, I headed back to Surrey Quays, which is the neighbourhood we lived in when we first moved to London.  It is always nice to go back and see how the area has changed.   I am so happy when I go back to the area, probably because of the fond memories of our gorgeous flat and exploring London with fresh enthusiam.

When we lived there, the Decathlon in Surrey Quays was the only one store in the UK.  Most of my personal training/fitness kit and cycling accessories came from there, as it was easy to access and really affordable (it took me 2 years to stop converting pounds to dollars).  In the USA, most stores carry a variety of items while I find in the UK you have to go to a specialist store to find each thing you need.  Decathlon has everything from running kit to ski gear to protein powder to free weights to warm fleece for the winter and wellies for dog walks in the spring to good old bike inner tubes.  But it wasn’t until the scavenger hunt that I learned just how much variety they offer.

Bloggers are big on selfies
Decathlon kindly invited nine bloggers down for a fun scavenger hunt through the store.  There were three teams of three and I was on the Pink Ladies with Beki and Eileen.  Each team started in different parts of the store and had a dozen or so questions to answer about the products on the shelves.  We also had a bonus question about the Decathlon brands and what sporting discipline they represented.  I had no idea that Decathlon had over 20 of their own brands for everything from camping to swimming to rock climbing to equestrian to court sports.  They also carry big brands, such as Nike, Adidas, Salomon, Karrimor, etc. but in my experience, I have found that the Decathlon quality is just as good depending on what I need and how much I am willing to spend on it.

I bet you can't see us. (Decathlon made us wear these jackets around the store)

No one told us we were going to have to do math as part of one of the tasks.
Decathlon even has their own brand of fitness technology products, Geonaute.  If you are looking to invest in a heart rate monitor, GPS watch, action camera accessories, or ear buds, have a look at their selection.  With Decathlon, they really aim to remove the finacial barrier of getting stuck in to a new sport or physical activity. Often times, I see people discouraged from trying something new because they don't have the proper equipment or don't want to invest too much in case they don't like it.  After walking around the store, I can tell you there are many products that can help increase your heart rate without decreasing your bank account by too much.

Trying to find the right strawberry-flavored protein and one of the answers to our questions.

I just wanted to eat all the protein.  Apparently, Eileen did too.

After exploring nearly every bit of the store looking for clues, I am thrilled to say that our team won and were given awesome medals for our efforts while we enjoyed some great canapes and wine with the other bloggers.  Each attendee was also given a brightly colored 20L rucksack, a fitness ball, a running bumbag, and soft microfiber towel.  I was actually eyeing the 1 bottle carrier belt bumbag for the London Marathon and have pleased with it so far.

First place team celebrating our win over social media.

'In-tents' bloggers after the challenge was over.
The scavenger hunt would be a lot of fun for families or schools to learn more about different types of ways to be active and there is a great potential for it to be even more interactive with the products available.  I found a few new pieces of kit I would like to try (stand up paddleboard, horseback riding boots, and a Subea face mask with a snorket built in).  As this was the first time the scavenger hunt was put on, Decathlon is taking our feedback and will tweak the experience a bit more (I suggested adding a time limit).

I would highly recommend keeping your eyes out for similar interactive events at your local Decathlon store.  You can always stop by and have a wander around though to see what inspires you to get more active and/or explore the outdoors.

Thanks to Decathlon for providing us with a fun evening and great sporty items.  All opinions are honest and my own.