#solidaritea

If you follow me, then you are probably very like me. If you follow me, then you are probably a mum. If you follow me then you are probably a girl who likes her food. If you follow me then you probably enjoy the odd glass of wine. Basically you are likely to be just a girl doing her best to remain fit, healthy and sane, as a full-time mum in a part time job...or something along those lines anyway. If this does sound like you then you have probably come across (and can relate to) the so-called "slummy mummies" on Facebook and other social media channels; The Unmumsy Mum, Hurrah For Gin , Naked, Filthy and Feral and Headaches and Hangovers, to name the main protagonists.

This week, these ladies have been slated in the Daily Mail for their "gin-soaked shortcomings", and in retaliation have stuck the metaphorical two fishfingers up at the Mail and embarked on the aptly named #solidaritea campaign.

I have followed and often relate to these mums - I recently read (and annoyed my sleeping husband) because I LOL'd at the Hurrah For Gin book. All of their posts and memes regularly fill my newsfeed.

Social media has given us a false impression of what life is really like. A way of presenting your life to others through rose-tinted spectacles. You choose how you want people to see your life using filters to hide the full story. In return, this has made us doubt our own abilities, continuously comparing ourselves to others in whatever role we pursue, and our abilities in life in general!

I consider myself to be a reasonably well-balanced individual, getting along with life, ticking along with the perfect amount of of "savv" and "slum".

Sometimes I roll my eyes at the mums that show the rest of us up with their kids perfect garden-on-a-plate homework or a show-and-tell-all-singing-all-dancing powerpoint presentation. On other occasions I am THAT mum. It's swings and roundabouts.

On reading the Daily Mail article and seeing the backlash of #solidaritea, it occurred to me that I am actually the fitness equivalent of the slummy mummies. Hurrah for Cake, The Unfitness Fitness Instructor, Naked, Feral and a Little Bit Chubby as it were.

So if you follow me then you will know that I am not the perfect image of a personal trainer. I do have a big bum, thunder thighs and a bit of a muffin top. I eat clean-ish, probably about 60-70% of the time but I'll be honest with you, I do like my food and I do eat fishfingers. I like the odd glass of wine and I can eat a large bar of Dairy Milk in one sitting. I too always have good intentions on a Monday.

I am real. I could do better...a lot better.

I could eat cleaner and I could do more exercise.

But instead of dwelling on what I am not, I try and focus on what I am.

I prepare most of the family meals from scratch, I eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, I drink my 2 litres of water a day, I always aim for 7.5 hours sleep a night, I walk my dogs daily, I walk or bike whenever I can, I drink one cup of coffee and one cup of tea a day, I only drink alcohol at weekends and I aim to spend my freetime doing wholesome activities such as music, reading and gardening.

As a fitness instructor I have knowledge, good humour and compassion and I will support your fitness journey and encourage you to reach your goals.

Basically I'm just here, doing my best.

So in #solidaritea with those slummy mummies out there, here is me telling you that it is just fine to be "perfectly imperfect".

Give The Girl The Right Shoes...

...and she will conquer the world.

...as long as they're not running shoes.

March and April was marathon season. Not for me of course, if you've ever read any of my blog posts! I have so much admiration for anyone who completes a marathon, any marathon, under any circumstances. I have even more admiration for anyone who actually enjoys them! For me I have been left mentally scarred by my two experiences, but this of course is old ground that I intend to put firmly behind me.

So in homage to all those silly devils running the 26.2 miles I set myself a challenge. Not a very difficult challenge mind you, more of a chall. This challenge was to cover the marathon distance of 26.2 miles over the whole of April. And I decided to cover the distance by walking only.

This challenge was made a little harder by the fact that half of the month was dominated by school holidays. Just ask anyone with dogs and under 8's how difficult it is to get the kids to walk said dogs. They can jump around soft play like monkeys for 3 hours but ask them to walk a mile down the road and it's tantrum central.

During my challenge I only included "proper" walks - no school runs, no wandering around the house, no shopping. I doubled my dog walks and the job was done by 27th April, another medal in the bag.

If I had decided to complete the challenge by running the 26.2 miles, again a very do-able challenge, I would have subjected myself to a month of self-sabotage, procrastination, negative emotions and self-doubt. As it turns out, I looked forward to my walks, especially knowing that when the kids went back to school I could go a little bit further for a little bit longer.

For me 2017 has been a reflective period in my life so these walks were blissfully solitary, not the despairing pain and suffering that I always feel when I run (ok so that's a bit dramatic but you get my drift). Walking doesn't hurt my knees, or hips, or butt. I could enjoy the surroundings; April is a beautiful time of the year and walking gives you the time to look around. I can stop and talk to a passer by or fellow dog walker without worrying about stopping my Garmin or losing momentum or ceasing up. And most importantly walking really helped me to achieve clarity in my thoughts.

So the question is why have I persisted so long with the running, which I hate and despise and always have done?

Because...

what I lack in competitive edge, I gain in sheer stubbornness!

I had a coffee date with my sister last week, and had a bit of a lightbulb moment over a shared love of a cheese scone. We were chatting about our general dislike of exercise, bit strange I know coming from a fitness instructor. But not all exercise, just the hot and sweaty type of exercise, a very small sub-section of the term. We were brought up on fresh sea air, sailing and lots of walking.

My point is this...

Exercise, keeping fit, health, well-being, or whatever term you want to use, is different for everybody. It doesn't matter how you do it, as long as you do it.

We all overthink exercise, by categorising it as exactly that...exercise. This makes it sound like something we must do, another daily chore to add to the list, something that is forced upon us. But in truth we are simply born to move.

Just watch a confident toddler at play, a gymnast balancing on a beam or a world class boxer in the ring, to see how true this is. All three examples are made of flesh and blood in the same way as we all are yet they all move in very different and amazing ways.

Moving, that's all there is to it.

Perhaps if I had come to terms a little earlier with my hatred for running and accepted that it is not for me then I would be in a better fitness place now.

So for the time-being (never say never) I will be hanging up those running shoes and replacing them with walking shoes, and I too can conquer the world, but from a different, slightly slower perspective.

 

 

Review of the Year 2016

That's it. I just got back from teaching my last class of the year, Metafit, in the fog and ice, 1°C my car told me as I was driving there. 7 participants in total, far better than I would ever expect for the the week in between Christmas and New Year and more than double than this time last year...200% more, that's good growth right?? What a year. And I'm exhausted, more than I realised. I'm often the butt of many jokes at class, mainly aimed at my laziness, that I spend the whole time bossing them about and never really doing anything myself. Personally I prefer to call it instructing, i.e. my job. The truth is I never really stop working - always planning, plotting, designing, administrating - and I did truly need a rest.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not moaning, I have loved every minute and I can't wait for the New Year to begin so we can do it all over again.

If I had to sum up this year in three words these would be: Metafit, Gold Stars, Mud.

7388_962936143783570_4038785542175016561_nJanuary

The "new year new you" syndrome was in full force in January of course, busy classes, everyone working hard. At the end of the month we took Team Hope on a road trip to London to complete the Winter 10k, a now annual event on the Hope calendar.

February

The first themed workout of year fell in February - as Valentine's Day was on a Sunday - and I treated the class to a special kind of Hope Fitness love...and lots of burpees!12728929_969084846502033_6716286751196145325_n

Three years on and it was time to renew my Freestyle Fitness Yoga certification. I passed with flying  colours and became an Elite Freestyle Fitness Yoga Instructor. I'm still not a "proper" yoga teacher but that will do for now. I've been promising new material ever since, which hasn't quite happened but is definitely top of the ToDo list for 2017.

The first of the next batch of Hope Juniors arrived this month; baby Marnie. Mum Kirsty is one of my longest standing members. In fact Kirsty arrived at Hope Fitness (Buggy Workout at the time) when her first child, Alyssa, was 6 weeks old back in 2014.

April

In April, we had the first "active"social of the year. The choice this time was ringos at the local dry ski slope. Despite chickening out myself it was great fun watching everyone let loose with their blood-curling screams. Lots of fun had by all.

May

Although there are running events going on all year, the choice of events is much more prolific in the Spring and Summer. We had our biggest ever team out for the Kesgrave 5k, what is fast becoming a very important date in the Kesgravian calendar, and on our (my) doorstep. It's the 10 year anniversary next year and the organisers have promised bigger and better, possibly including a 10k.

13237585_1030010850409432_3749082976447120542_nWe also took a big team to the stinky mud of Insane Terrain, great seeing the purple Team Hope tops out in force. We were all undecided prior to the event whether we would do the 5k or 10k (you can decide as late as the end of your first loop) but I think all-bar-one everyone did the 10k.

May also saw our first Hope Juniors event with the EACH colour dash in Christchurch Park. We'll do anything for a medal!

Midway through the year I was in desperate need of a kickstart and I took the opportunity to relaunch my fitness and nutrition plan; the Better Body Plan. Twenty of us embarked on the 21 day clean-eating plan and collectively we lost a fair few inches between us (the actual numbers are eluding me right now).

13263741_10153332673206653_219798708966533944_nI was pleased to announce the purchase of a laminator, which revolutionised not only my life but also my workouts. The other big purchase was a snazzy new yoga mat - so pretentious that I have to spray it with water (filtered of course) to make it non-slip.

June

Just like the Queen, 2016 was a big year for Hope Fitness zero birthdays: Ali, Kirsty, Bridget, Rachel and Sarah all reaching one of the decade milestones (my apologies if I missed anyone - they are all so secretive). We helped Kesgrave celebrate the Queen's 90th birthday by putting on a Hope Fitness display at the Millennium Fields. I'm not so sure anyone noticed we were there but it was good to be part of a community event and something I hope we will be a part of again in the future (although next year we will have to miss out due my own big birthday celebrations).

July

Spring and Autumn are the time for the "active" socials, whereas Summer and Christmas socials are  there for us to let our hair down a bit. The Farmhouse was chosen as the venue, mainly because most of us are within walking distance (and honestly, the drinks are really cheap). A fun and interesting night out, highlights including a perfect headstand in the middle of the conservatory room and a hysterical bike ride home....

The second Hope Junior of the year was born, baby Ezmay, to the lovely Sam.

14264157_1102704349806748_985668726596947075_nThe #hopefitnesssummerchallenge was back, tougher and stricter than the previous year. Bridget was well and truly knocked off her "most competitive" perch this summer by newcomer Gemma, an unstoppable force having practically secured the title in week 1, rippling with muscles by the end of her challenge.

And this was the month that Debbie nearly got her mojo back (#shehadherkitonaswell).

August

We completed the Ipswich Twilight 10k for the second year in a row. A road run around the centre of Ipswich starting at 7.30pm where the idea is to beat the sunset. I love this event but for some reason, this event always seems to be my nemesis. A stunningly pathetic performance by myself left me announcing my imminent retirement from running if things don't improve by May 2017....as of right now, my running career is teetering on the edge.

Debbie still hadn't found her mojo and the weather wasn't helping (#shestillhadherkiton).

September

A gaggle of us had an impromptu night out at the cinema to see Bad Moms, to celebrate the end of the school holidays. This was an utterly hilarious film that hit the mark with all of us, all sitting there with tears rolling down our faces throughout most of the film.

September was the big launch of Metafit - a 30 minute HIIT workout  - and probably the revelation of the year. It was just what HF needed to give it a much needed boost. Every month a slightly different workout with a random name and some new tracks. We started with Ape Shapes (all is forgiven Ape Shapes), then Big Buff (way too much jumping), Beach Bum (a firm favourite) and Levante Power. Now we're all looking forward to Undisputed in the New Year.14695560_10210544562831276_3631431717598262084_n

Team Hope went on tour (I wish), a couple of them anyway, to New York no less. Look where these two bumped into each other!!

I also held my now annual "Free From" coffee morning, or Joyless baking party as it is now know, raising £50 MacMillan. The competition hotted up this year, with Carina taking first place. I have even higher hopes for next year now everyone's getting into the swing of sugar-free baking.

I'm still not sure if Debbie had found her mojo or weather Facebook was stuck in a loop (#itsatest).

October

The Autumn brought another "active" social night, this time we headed to Flux Freestyle, the new trampoline park in Ipswich. A good test of the pelvic floor muscles and I realised I'm actually completely rubbish at trampolining - those kids make it look so easy. Another one of Gemma's forte's!!

14680695_1132781923465657_2586958999735607364_nOne of the highlights of the year was the Whole Hog. My third year in row but this year was the biggest team I have taken there. Lots of newbies to obstacle races too. The weather was completely rubbish but we had so much fun. I personally was relieved to find that the most undignified of obstacles that requires you to haul yourself up and over a very steep slope, had been moved away from the spectators at the end and we completed the course with dignity very much intact.

Debbie - have you found your mojo yet???? (#stillnotsure)

November

This was the month of #toiletpapergate. Of all the Facebook posts I write this was the one that got the most engagement!! Over or under? What are your thoughts?

December

15241321_1183461678397681_4697548231479684273_nIt's no secret, I'm not a big fan of the Christmas period, or the C word as I prefer to call it. But this year with HF it has been pretty fab. We kicked off the festivities with a 5k Inflatable Santa run. Just to explain, the obstacles were inflatable not the Santas! And this event saw me adorn a red tutu and a Santa hat - that's a lot of embracing for me.

We went all out with our Christmas party this year; Moulin Rouge at Trinity Park. At what a fab night we had  - you girls know how to party!! Jen's performance in the Can Can was a particular highlight.

But that wasn't the festivities over just yet. We didn't have just one Christmas party but two! We finished off the year with our awards evening at the Black Tiles. This year I asked members to vote for their winners. The results were as follows:

15665780_1203005976443251_5079809530265151976_n15727263_1203006123109903_6681429035647562610_n

So that's it, what a year. I've probably missed loads out but as usual with my end of year post, I actually left it until the end of the year!

I promised more this year and I think that exactly what happened. The social aspect of Hope Fitness has really cemented the team and friendships within the team.

Next year will be more again, focusing on achieving goals and pushing outside of comfort zones.

Do I have any big plans?

Not right at this moment...I think I'm going to wing it!

Thank you to all of you for your support of Hope Fitness, and I wish you a happy and prosperous 2017.

Angela x

My Freestyle Fitness Yoga Journey Part 2

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Freestyle Fitness Yoga Elite Instructor - March 2016

I was recently reading through some old blog posts I had written and this one caught my attention (http://www.hopefitness.co.uk/classes/fitness-yoga/the-start-of-my-freestyle-fitness-yoga-journey/) from way back three years ago when I qualified to become an FFY instructor in the first place. Reading it again has made me realise how far I've come as an instructor.

I had completely erased the trauma I felt heading back home on the train after that second workshop day - I was exhausted and in pain. I still get that pain, every Tuesday morning after the previous night's class, even after three years. This is the beauty of the class for me. It never gets easy. You can always go a little bit further, push a little bit deeper.

As I resolved to do on that journey home, I practiced...and practiced...and practiced a little bit more. There was no way I could teach a class to the public until I had mastered the tricep dip, hold the lunge with good, no...great form, and speak while flowing through the sun salutation.

Finally with venue and class prepared I offered a few free classes to friends, to get the ball rolling and build my confidence. It was scary! My mouth was always dry, I tripped over my words, got my left and rights in a pickle (nothing changes!) but I had very positive feedback and people seemed keen to continue participating and learning from me.

I quickly learnt that the class was a little bit "marmite". You loved it or you hated it. Those that loved it, really loved it. Otherwise my client retention was terrible, often demoralising, and if teaching the classes wasn't so beneficial to my personal fitness, I would have given up long ago!

Within that first year I picked up some very loyal followers, who are still regularly participating in classes today. The class attendance grew and I found a new, more convenient venue that allowed me to teach the class through school holidays. I also added another class to the timetable.

To say the new Thursday morning class was a slow-burner is an understatement! The first class I had zero participants  - and I spent the hour playing around taking photos and videos of myself doing some of the postures (after all I had paid for the hall). After 6 months  I was still teaching an average of three people per session and was ready to drop it. Then at the turn of the season it changed slightly and on a good day it was more like 6 - worth sticking to a little bit longer. 6 was almost the perfect number, it was fun. We laughed and chatted our way through class and I became friends with some lovely people over a shared love of yoga.

Last year was a strange year for me personally. I completed the London Marathon for the second time and, exactly as it did first time round, it completely destroyed my spirit (which is a whole other blog post!!). What I did gain was what a friend affectionately calls "thighs of steel". The running trashed my hips and knees but man, could I hold those warrior lunges forever!

My confidence as an instructor began to grow as I felt my own yoga practice improve. I realised that the more "me" I was, the better the class was. Not because of my ego but because being "me" ensured that I was relaxed and comfortable teaching the class so I enjoyed it more and therefore others enjoyed it more and my style of teaching. Then as if by magic, my client retention improved by 100%.

This year has been great so far and I've never looked back. And three years on I have proved my worth and have now become an "Freestyle Fitness Yoga Elite Instructor", the next chapter in my journey. Maybe it's time to build up another class?

My next goal (other than the indefinite crow of course)...I took a course in May to become an iMoveFreely instructor, expanding my knowledge of intrinsic biomechanics, using a series of movement techniques. As well as adding a new edge to my class,  this will also work as a standalone clinic to help alleviate low-grade pain most of us experience on a regular basis.

 

 

Healthy Snacking

2402297473_f12c05dccdI get asked, ALOT, about healthy snacks and I do believe that snacks can play an important part in a healthy style, keeping blood sugar levels up between main meals and curb over-eating at your main meals. However, get it wrong and you can quickly consume excess calories throughout the day. Here are some tips to healthy snacking:

Avoid sugary items at all costs. This includes sweet drinks, biscuits, cakes, sweets.

Snacks should never contain enough calories that constitutes a meal. 200 calories  or less is about right.

Have no more than two snacks per day; one mid morning, one mid afternoon. Snacking quickly becomes a habit rather than a necessity. If you are regularly grabbing snacks many times a day, perhaps you need to review when and what you are eating at mealtimes. Your aim should be to eat enough at mealtimes to keep you going until the next meal, rather than snacking.

Snacks should be a good balance of lean protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fat - too make you feel fuller for longer. Aim to add to your overall nutrition intake that you may be missing from other meals.

The simplest method to cut unhealthy snacking is to avoid having these types of snacks in the house. This is not always easy when you have a family but the best option for everyone is to encourage your family to have healthier snacks too.

If you're feeling peckish then have a glass of water first. Wait 10 minutes and if you still feel hungry then maybe you are. Sometimes the feelings of thirst can be mistaken for hunger pangs.

Be mindful of what you are eating rather than mindlessly grazing. Fill a small bowl or plate with your snack and walk away. Once it is eaten, snack time is over. Never take the whole packet with the intention of stopping when you've had enough - before you know it you've eaten the whole lot.

Don't snack in front of the TV or at your desk. Avoid all distraction so that you can focus on eating and enjoying your food.

Plan your snacks as you would your main meals and if necessary prepare your snacks in small containers so you can grab them on the run.

Need some healthy snack ideas?....

Healthy Snack Ideas

  • Chopped crudités (pepper, carrot, celery, cucumber) with guacamole, hummus or tzatziki
  • Oatcakes/Rice cakes with nut butter or slice of avocado & smoked salmon
  • Handful of mixed nuts or seeds and some dried fruit
  • Fruit with natural bio yoghurt
  • Dates and walnuts
  • Fruit juice ice lolly
  • Hard boiled egg
  • Plain self-popped popcorn
  • Small natural liquorice bar
  • Two squares of dark chocolate
  • Homemade vegetable crisps

A to Z of Clean Eating

A is for Alcoholfreeimage-1905388

Quite simply alcohol adds fat all over your body, especially over your stomach, waist, thighs and bottom. It is the simplest and most fattening sugar of all. It makes your body store fat, stresses your liver so it can’t burn calories properly and makes your face look old and wrinkled!

B is for Berries

Berries are low in calories, high in fibre and they contain vitamins and minerals your body needs to function normally. They are packed with antioxidants and a highly beneficial compound called proanthocyanidins, which protects you against degenerative diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

freeimage-6022035C is for Caffeine

Excess caffeine stimulates your nervous system, causing your body to produce cortisol, a fat-storing hormone which helps the body respond to stress. Caffeine disrupts your sleep and lack of sleep encourages your body to store fat. On the plus side, Caffeine can help the body to burn fat and it’s great for digestion. Limit yourself to one cup a day of good quality, organic coffee.

D is for Dairy

Dairy is ok if you're ok with it. Many people find the lactose in cow's milk hard to digest, making you bloated and uncomfortably full. If you find this then you may be intolerant. Goat's milk is a good alternative as it is better for you and easier to digest. Other options include; unsweetened almond, oat, rice or hazelnut milk. Wherever possible buy organic. Organic milk contains more nutrients than non-organic and also contains more omega-3 fatty acids.

E is for Epsom SaltsCup of Coffee

Try taking an Epsom salts bath for 20 minutes, 2-3 times per week. The salts are full of magnesium and encourage the body to shed toxins quickly. Epsom salts are also good for boosting digestion and reducing cellulite.

F is for Fat

Eating fat is good for you as long as it is a good fat. Good fat prevents you from over-eating, burns fat and gives you a flat tummy. Bad fats include; anything with a crust, pizza, ready meals, shop-bought cakes, anything deep-fried, sautéed or breaded, fat on meat and salad dressings. Good fats include; nuts, seeds, oils, meat, fish, seafood and avocados. You should aim to have some good fat with every single meal or snack.

freeimage-2804231G is for Gluten

Gluten is a protein composite found in foods processed from wheat and related grain species, including barley and rye. Gluten is very hard to digest for most people and can cause indigestion, candida, allergies and coeliac disease, the side effects of which are bloating, diarrhoea, constipation and fatigue.

H is for Honey

A better for you sweetener than processed sugar as it is packed with calcium, iron, B vitamins, potassium and antioxidants. Moderation is the key here and honey should only form a small part of your diet. The best types to have are raw honey or Manuka honey.

I is for Insulin

Eating sugar causes a sharp increase in your blood-sugar levels. This increases the production of insulin, preventing you from burning fat and encouraging your body to store fat instead.

J is for Junk Food

A 'junk' or processed food is one that has been altered from its natural state to make it cheaper, more convenient, more attractive or to extend its shelf life. This type of food is usually made in factories, stripped of its natural goodness and mixed with man-made additives and preservatives.

freeimage-166477

K is for 'breakfast like a King'

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day because it determines what you are likely to eat for the rest of the day. Changing the habit of a lifetime and avoiding high-sugar cereals and bread for breakfast will be one of the best things you ever do for your health.

L is for Lemons

Start your day by enjoying a glass of water with a slice of lemon. This is a great start to the day because it aids the removal of toxins, kickstarts your metabolism, reduces cravings for sugar and salt at breakfast and refreshes you after a long sleep.

M is for Massage

A regular massage helps to reduce cellulite by improving blood flow to the area and softening fatty tissues underneath the skin. Cellulite is created by fat cells that have bulged into the skin's middle layer, where they pull on connective tissue to create a dimpled skin surface. Try having a massage twice a month to really improve the appearance of your skin.freeimage-5510271-web

N is for Nuts

Raw nuts are great for snacking as they are packed with protein, fibre and essential fats. Have a handful of mixed nuts per day to get a wide range of vitamins and minerals.

O is for Organic

Eat organic food wherever possible. Many people feel that it is too expensive to eat organic but it is best to do what you can afford and remember it is an investment in you longterm health. Organic food contains fewer toxins and additives and more health-boosting minerals and vitamins, which can help to make you healthier, stronger and slimmer.

P is for Positive Thinking

Feeling fat can make you feel fat and a negative body image can lead to weight gain. Think fabulous - celebrate your positive bits, eat healthy and exercise regularly. The rest will just fall into place.

Q is for Quinoa

Quinoa is considered a superfood because it contains all eight essential amino acids making it one of the most protein-rich foods available. It's rich in fibre, magnesium, iron and is gluten-free which makes it easily digestible.

Almond nuts on a white

R is for Reward

If you achieve a goal, don't reward yourself with food. As children, we are brought up with sugary foods being used as a reward for good behaviour, or to cheer us up when we felt sad. Teaching us that our relationship with food is an emotional one. Instead try other ways of yourself such as; a relaxing massage, a new pair of shoes you've had your eye on or a simple manicure.

S is for Sugar

Sugar is a highly processed, emotionally addictive substance that causes spikes in your blood sugar levels, giving you an instant energy boost followed by a big energy slump. Once eaten, your body finds it difficult to process sugar so it is converted into fat and stored. Eat too much and you will have high reserves of unwanted fat around the waistline in no time.

T is for Green Tea

Try switching to Green tea, which has a lot less caffeine than ordinary tea and coffee. Drinking four to five cups of green tea daily, combined with exercise, can accelerate the loss of fat around your waist. Green tea is rich in antioxidants, that can raise your metabolic rate, making it easier to burn fat. It also helps to regulate blood sugar levels, which means you'll be able to combat those sugar cravings more easily.

U is for yoU

Modern stress in a relentlessly busy lifestyle is bad for you. When we are stressed our body produces cortisol, a fat-storing hormone, which prepares your muscles for the "flight or fight" response. It also helps the body to release sugar into the bloodstream for instant energy. All these hormones and excess sugar eventually end up as fat around your waist.

freeimage-3233136-webV is for Vegetables

Forget five-a-day, eat as many vegetables as you can during a day, they are the healthiest food that you can eat.

A diet rich in vegetables contains beneficial antioxidants that help reduce your risk of cancer, stroke, and heart disease. When eating vegetables have as much variety in colour and texture as possible, think rainbow.

Try to eat local and in-season wherever possible.  It's better for you, it's better for the environments and it's more natural. 

W is for Water

Water is the one thing that we can not live without. Keeping well-hydrated is one of the most, THE MOST, important things you should be doing for yourself. Two litres of plain, fresh water per day should be your aim (preferably filtered or bottled). It is difficult at first, you will probably find it a struggle to drink that much water during the day, however, it does get easier as it becomes a habit.

X is for Xylitol

IMG_1078

If you are having a tough time giving up sugar then there are a couple of alternatives. Xylitol is a sweet-tasting crystalline alcohol derived from xylose, present in some plant tissues and used as an artificial sweetener in foods. Stevia is a herb that is 200 times sweeter than sugar, which you can buy in granulated form.

Y is for Yoghurt

Eating live natural yoghurt every day helps restore balance in the digestive tract, critical for supporting your immune system. It is rich in calcium so great for your bone health and by eating more calcium-rich foods helps you to lose that excess weight, particularly around your tummy. Try a bowl with a few mixed seeds and a drizzle of honey.

DreamingZ is for ZZZ's

The quality of your sleep has a huge impact on your weight, appetite and food choices that you make. After a good night's sleep your body will crave clean, fresh foods. But after a bad night's sleep your body will crave sugar, fat and caffeine for a quick energy fix. The result of this is crashing blood sugar levels, sugar addiction and extra fat being stored. Take time to wind down before bed and aim to get 8 hours sleep per night.

Is February the New January?

New Year, new you, right?? How are your New Year's resolutions going?

Only 8% of people who make New Year’s resolutions stick to them, and those who don’t usually abandon them after just one week. It is unrealistic to think that you can immediately overcome a habit you have spent years establishing. But we still do it. The 1st of January is just that Monday thing but with a longer outlook. We are pre-programmed to start a new diet, a new exercise regime, give up a bad habit or make a good habit on the first day of the year or the first day of the week. We love to live our life with markers and blank pages.

But this year, for a reason I just can't quite put my finger on, I feel there has been a slow start to everyone's good intentions. Despite class attendance being up 52% and new clients up by a wapping 275% compared to December, there has been no big bang....until now.

Let's face it, January is a rubbish month. For the whole of December, it has been lights, music, fun, presents and parties so it is not surprising that once the decorations come down, you come down too. Weeks of over-indulgence means you feel tired and crappy. You feel fat, unhealthy and sluggish.  This all makes for a bad start to the year. Along with bad weather, very little daylight hours and no money. This is January.

Have we finally learnt our lesson and realised how futile it is to make New Year's resolutions in January?

Maybe it has something to do with "Dry January" , someone recently asked me. Dry January is a small easily achievable resolution that has a very specific end point and raised money for charity to boot.

Have we finally accepted the fact that it is far easier to focus on surviving the month, one day at a time, until the 31st finally arrives and your "best year ever" can finally begin....

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Putting the "Me" into Family Time

Mother with a stroller There is no doubt about it, Mums are busy people. I have yet to meet a Mum who isn't. I have also never met a Mum who does not complain about their post-pregnancy body but yet exercise is way down their priority list. Exercising after having a baby has many physical and mental health benefits and there are lots of ways to exercise with your new baby in tow, so don't make it an excuse.

In the immediate days after giving birth, it is important to get as much rest as possible. However, after you have been given the all clear from your GP at your six week check up then it is safe to begin a regular exercise regime. If you had a caesarean birth then you should wait at least 10 weeks before you begin.

Try the following activities with your baby:

Walking (from birth onwards). It’s free, it’s safe, you can take baby with you and the fresh air will do you both good. If you need some extra motivation, how about trying a Buggy Workout* class and join like-minded mums? All you need is a pair of good walking shoes or trainers. Regular walking boosts circulation, aids fat loss and reduces the risk of developing chronic illnesses. Build up your walking regime gradually everyday. Walk to the shops, leave the car behind for short journeys, take a regular walk with friends. Aim to take 10,000 steps a day. Make every step count.

Swimming (from 6+ weeks postnatal). Get a swim seat for baby and do 20 lengths pushing them in front of you. A low impact all-rounder, improving your muscle endurance and cardiovascular fitness. Swimming is a safe and effective form of exercise and all you need is a swimming costume. It can boost your mood and help to keep your weight under control. (If you suffered with PGP (Pelvic Girdle Pain) during your pregnancy it is recommended that you do not use breast-stroke).

Cycling (when baby is 6+ months old). Get out and about with your child on the back. Ditch the car and cycle to the swings, the shops or even to your favourite cafe for a cuppa. Cycling is one of the easiest ways to fit exercise into your daily routine because it is also a form of transport. It saves you money, gets you fit and is good for the environment.

However, if you really want to regain that pre-baby body and ditch the maternity jeans for good then why not try split-training and workout around your baby's schedule. Two shorter high intensity workouts per day could be the answer for you as a busy mum. Split-training can boost your metabolism twice, resulting in greater calorie burn and higher energy levels. Because the workouts are high-intensity they are also shorter, making it easier to fit into your busy schedule. Try 10 minutes of dancing in the morning and 10 minutes of upper body and abs exercises in the afternoon. Or a 15 minute power walk in the morning followed by a 10 minute whole-body circuit in the afternoon. Or what about using the household chores as a fat burning session; speed bed-changing in the morning followed by power lunges and vacuuming in the afternoon! Keep the workouts balanced and the possibilities are endless.

Annual Review 2015: Successes, Failures and Lessons

mudsweattears  

The tail end of December is a great time to reflect on what you have accomplished over the year. This year I had a lot of successes and failures (I like to call them lessons). I’d like to share them with you.

PERSONAL

Successes
  • I completed my second London Marathon, despite falling down the stairs, being plagued by injury, piling on the weight...and all with a PB too!
  • I competed in another six events post-marathon even though I was adamant I was retiring from running after London, taking my total medal haul for the year to eight.
  • I thought that I had got to that point in my life where I didn't really need anyone else to be part of it but then a special person comes along and it turns out they are exactly what was missing.
  • In the second half of the year I find myself with extra time on my hands and decided to dedicate a little more time to my music. It was time to relearn the piano after at least 10 years in the wilderness and the opportunity arose to join two new bands playing saxophone, making four bands in total.
Lessons
  • tumblr_nb7ns6ey2q1tkts6co1_500I am not a marathon runner.  I had the resolve to complete the challenge but I truly don't have the body or the head to run another. I have run two, so I don't have anything else to prove to myself.  As for me and running, 10km is now my distance of choice.
  • Somehow, despite my flaws; constant moaning and negative attitude towards the marathon training and being a less than perfect example of a fitness instructor, it amazes me (and for this I am forever grateful) that people are inspired by me.  To me this is very special. And for them I will strive to be a better example next year.
  • There is no sustaining with personal growth. Either you are making a conscious effort to grow or you are slowly stagnating. I need to learn more and experience more.

HOPE FITNESS

Successes
  • We started the New Year with a bang. Outdoor classes were busy, fitness yoga bursting at the seams. New customers were appearing and the new TeamUp customer administration system was a huge success. I was very driven and focused during the first part of the year, with lots of hopes and big ideas.
  • We welcomed two new Hope Juniors to the clan; Rose and Betsy. Rose's mummy, Nicola was a Hope client before falling pregnant, came to classes until she was 37 weeks and had Rose just three days after her last class - now that was a surprise! Nicola was back just 6 weeks later. Betsy's mummy, Gwyneth, came on board at about 20 weeks and completed her last class at 38 weeks. At about 30 weeks, Gwyneth out-sprinted practically everyone else in the class...amazing!! Looking forward to the arrival of baby Smith and maybe more Hope Juniors in 2016.
  • As we approached Summer I realised something very special had happened to Hope Fitness, right under my nose. This was no longer just exercise classes, it had become a community of like-minded ladies working together towards a healthier lifestyle. We called it group therapy, #activewear is a now a major part of our vocabulary and we laugh...a lot!12376225_10153024163006653_4213096145977982172_n
  • I felt that I was in a place where I needed to expand the business by adding more classes to the timetable. I was already teaching for 6 hours every week and was acutely aware that teaching any more classes would risk me losing my motivation and enthusiasm. Therefore I took the huge leap of searching for a new trainer to add to my team. Out of six applicants, two of those came along and took a Hope Fitness class. I then offered my client base the opportunity to feedback. I was genuinely shocked by the comments that I received in reply. It turns out people come to my classes because of me!
Lessons
  • I am excellent at making to-do lists but not so good at actioning those to-do lists...master procrastinator. I need to continually reassess my goals, getting my ideas out there even if they are not perfect. What's the worst that can happen?
  • The team hope spirit is awesome and I have made some amazing friends this year. However, I have also learnt the hard way that there is a fine line between friendship and business, where boundaries need to be more clearly defined.
  • Hope Fitness is my life but it never occurred to me that me as a person is the very heart and soul of the business. This gave some much needed clarity and I realised that if clients move on and no longer require my services then this does not mean I am doing something wrong it just means our paths have taken a different direction and there will always be someone new to help.

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  • I am not ready to share my business with anyone else. I rather like the fact that it is all mine to do whatever I want with! The right person will find me when the time is right.
  • Discovering the revelation that my business was all about me I ended up sitting back and resting on my laurels for the latter part of the year. The drive and enthusiasm had faded and I fell into my comfort zone. I realise now that the business needs to grow and evolve not just because it makes good business sense but for everyone, to keep the community fresh and focused.

SO WHAT'S COMING IN 2016?

Quite simply....more.

Let's do this!

~Angela~

 

London Marathon 2015 - The Final Chapter

I did it! And now I have not only ticked that box, I have ticked it twice. Going out in a blaze of glory and knocking a whole 16 minutes off my marathon PB. I hereby announce my retirement from running any further than 10 miles....ever again! Did I enjoy any of it? No not really, it was pretty much hell from start to finish. I guess once the pain and agony has passed, I will have fond memories of my experience. But right now I am just glad it's over.

The problem with running a marathon as far as I can see is that actually doing the marathon and running 26.2 miles is a huge, huge task in itself. But the effort it takes to get from securing that place to actually getting to the start line is of quite epic proportions. By Monday morning I was a wreck both mentally and physically.

So this is the final chapter in my journey, and here's how things unfolded....

My sister Ally and I headed up to London on Saturday morning, excited, nervous, exhausted from a week of sleepless nights. We headed directly to Excel to register, pick up my race number and chip and have a look round the expo. The queues had gone down considerably by now so we skipped through and got sorted quickly. The expo on the other hand was packed and just finding the exit was a challenge in itself. It was then on to the hotel to have some chill out time before dinner.

IMG_4735I'd booked a table at Carluccio's in Canary Wharf for dinner. I was still concerned about my salt levels so we made sure we ordered olives and bread to start. I actually despise olives but managed to eat 4 of the little devils before I had to give in. For main course I had lobster and crab spaghetti with tomato and basil (lobster is high in sodium so I thought this was the perfect choice). I'd promised myself dessert but I was beaten...must have been nerves, food rarely beats me.

IMG_4731Back at the hotel I packed my bag, had an epsom salt bath and camomile tea, caught up on my messages and did a last little bit of planning my route to the start line. I'd been worrying about that all week because it involved getting an overland train from miles away. As it turns out I shouldn't have worried.

IMG_4725After a terrible nights sleep of course, I crawled out of bed at 6.30am, feeling slightly nauseous. The weather looked gloomy as I looked across the Thames and it was raining. I had no idea what to wear so I opted for long trousers and a vest. I managed to compose myself for long enough to do my "marathon hair" and apply my waterproof mascara, then I headed down for breakfast.

IMG_4736Breakfast consisted of porridge, toast, grapefruit and coffee, with a view of the O2, which was really rather pleasant and I could have sat there all day. But nooooooo, I'd gone and stupidly entered a marathon instead. Then it was time to check out and head off to the start.

I had to start from the blue start at Blackheath this time, and as I had previously mentioned it had given me a number of sleepless nights. But I planned my route and I stuck to it, despite the fact that there appeared to be no other marathon runners going to the same place as me and I kept getting the "I think you should have got off there" looks. Two tubes, an overland train with a seat and 40 minutes later I had arrived at Blackheath, calm and composed. A short walk from the station and I had arrived at the blue start. I found my allocated baggage lorry and deposited my bag, eaten my banana and flapjack, and headed off to the infamous toilet queue.

We all make choices in life, some are the right ones, some are the wrong ones. Now on this particular occasion I decided to try out the female urinals as the queue was considerably shorter. I'm not going to tell the story here because it is much better for me to tell it in person, as I have already on numerous occasions. All I need to say here is that this was one of those times when I made the wrong choice.

Then it was time to head to the start line....

It was cold and wet and I was wearing a few layers to discard once the race began. I had been put in pen 9 (so right at the back) so I knew I had a long wait to cross the start line. Had a chat with a few people; "where are you from", "is this your first marathon", "what did you have for breakfast" etc, etc. Finally got across the start line at 10.24am.

Had a bit of a wardrobe malfunction during the first few miles. My super duper running pouch wouldn't stay put as it was stuffed full of gels so I had to carry it like a clutch bag. In hindsight I'd just packed it badly, but no point dwelling on that now! First mile was mildly enjoyable. The second mile was not so great. And by the third mile I had settled. The early miles are my favourite part of the marathon. Perhaps it's because it has a feel of a less high-profile race in the early stages before the drama of the centre of London.

The first 8 miles felt ok. My leg was hurting me but I felt fairly comfortable. I couldn't seem to shake off the hairy pair of testicles that were running in aid of testicular cancer. In fact at one point he nearly knocked me over. Great. I'm taking part in one of the greatest marathon's in the world and I get knocked over by a hairy pair of testicles!! Just my luck and you know that will be the one and only time I get on the TV!

As I approached the halfway point everything was beginning to hurt. Tower Bridge was once again amazing. The support all around the course was pretty damn good but I can't begin to describe the noise that is generated at this point. It is incredible and it is almost...almost worth doing the marathon just for this experience.

Even though I knew it was coming this time, I have a real mental block at the halfway point. At this point you meet the runners coming in the other direction who only have 6 miles left, but yet you are only halfway. For me this has proven to be a deal breaker and I find it very difficult to recover from this negative head. I did what I said I wouldn't do this time, lose the will to live and begin walking.

Everything was now hurting, particularly my hips. I really tried to keep up a good pace but I was now hating every minute of it. Finally at 14 miles I got to see my family and friends, which gave me a little boost. I can't remember what happened after that...it's all a bit of a blur.

marathonAt about 20 miles I spotted Team Driver, Mr D and Baby D AKA John and Lucy, fellow Kesgrave parkrunners. We did the last 6 miles together and I'm so pleased that we did. I think I would have done it without them but it made it so much easier to do it with them that is for sure. John was in as much pain as I was and we walked/ran through the last few miles. We overtook Jesus on our "sprint" finish and crossed the line together. Official time was 5:57:23.

I then made the slow and quite painful walk to horse guard parade to meet my family  at section H for 'Hope'. Got told off by a marshall en route because I hadn't put a warm top on neither had I had anything to eat. We battled our way through the centre of London to get home while I had my protein shake and took approximately 2 hours to eat a tuna sandwich!! Pretty much for the whole of the marathon I was craving a burger. I was rewarded at Newbury Park with a Big Mac, can't remember the last time I had one of those...it was just what I needed.

Finally arrived home at about 9.15pm, for a hot Epsom salt bath while replying to a million texts and Facebook notifications.

medalIn the week following the marathon it appeared that I had come off relatively unscathed. My injured leg was no worse than it had been in training, it didn't snap off after all, I had one small blister and no extra black toenails. I had a leg massage from the fabulous Lizzie at Just Bea, which sorted out my bruised and battered quads. I successfully managed to teach a yoga class the day after, and there were only a couple of grimacey moments. I'm even starting to be able to jump (this bodes well for doing Insane Terrain in a couple of weeks) and I've even got straight "back in the saddle" and done the Kesgrave 5k today, and in a fairly reasonable time as well!!

So this chapter is finally over. I am proud of my achievement but relieved that the pain and suffering is over. Will I run the London Marathon again? No I won't. Will I run any marathon again? The answer is still no.

And I mean it this time.

I ran the London Marathon for the The Sunrise Appeal, part of the Ipswich Hospital Charity. It's not too late, you can still sponsor me here https://www.justgiving.com/Angela-Hope

London Marathon 2015 - One Week To Go

Denver Good Idea 2So how am I feeling? Pretty nervous actually. Not because I don't think I can do it. On the day, with the atmosphere and the support and the fellow runners. Hell yes I can do it, I'm just not sure that my leg can. Since the epic 20 miles two weeks ago, I've done absolutely no running with the exception of 9 miles a week later, and parkrun yesterday. I'd had a full physio session prior to this run, including more acupuncture, ultrasound and deep tissue massage - all of which were excruciating. I do think this perhaps exacerbated the problem, maybe for the greater good, if I had taken more time to run again. I was also strapped up again, this time in rather fetching blue K Tape.

The 9 miles was ok. I started off thinking I was going to have to turn round and go home. By the first mile I was moving slightly easier but felt like I was running with a limp. I got through but knew it would come at a price. Later on in the afternoon, I had a few funny turns as I had after the long run. Think it was a combination of the effort it took to run and the low sodium/dehydration factor.

I decided not to have another physio session after this week. I didn't feel that it helped enough (to justify the cost) and decided to just do the self-massage that I had been shown. Couldn't have a salty bath though - my ankle was still too raw!!

I wasn't going to run again at all but yesterday I did decide to head out to parkrun. Once again I thought that I was going to have to turn round and go home. I stuck with it and it did start to ease slightly after the first mile. I went on and completed parkrun, but ended with a very negative "I can't" head on.

I've got new running trousers, new sports bra, arranged a vest, made a packing list, booked my dinner table for Saturday evening...now I'm enjoying my last glass of wine until next Sunday! I intend to spend the week; keeping hydrated, fuelling well, and getting plenty of rest...and trying to find some hope.

I am running the London Marathon for the The Sunrise Appeal, part of the Ipswich Hospital Charity. You can sponsor me here https://www.justgiving.com/Angela-Hope

London Marathon 2015 - Better with friends

Saturday 4th April 2015 - 20 miles

20 miles is done. Next stop...the big day.

(sorry it's a long one)

IMG_4629It's been a slightly stressful week. Cats going missing, kids on school holidays, hotels being cancelled and injured legs.

Seeing the physio (again) this week, it was decided that my leg problem was the result of a repetitive strain injury. Therefore it was strapped up ready for my last big run on Saturday...this was Wednesday and I was told to keep it dry. No showers for me for a few days then! Teaching yoga with this all on was interesting!!!

Then, on Thursday morning, I received a phone call from Hotels.com to say that my booking had been cancelled for my marathon hotel. When they told me the hotel had been overbooked I was more than a little livid! Later I discovered that the original hotel had had some flooding so every booking needed relocating. Six phone calls later and the promise of a downgrade at no extra cost (yes really), I manage to get booked into the Radisson Blue in Canary Wharf, and definitely at no extra cost to me. Disaster averted.

I knew I was going to need help to get through the 20 mile run so it was time to call in the cavalry. A quick note on Facebook on Friday lunchtime asking if anyone wanted to join me for any of my 4x5 mile loops and I soon had 7 willing companions.

On the morning I tested out the Garmin Live Tracking feature. Using my Garmin and my phone I could post my whereabouts on Facebook. Pretty cool feature I think, it seemed to get people excited anyway. And if I was on my own I'm hoping someone would see that I had collapsed in a bush somewhere!!

Loop 1 - parkrun

It was raining first thing which was a little disappointing as I headed off to parkrun. Didn't stop the Kesgrave parkrunners though - 180ish I believe on Saturday. It's a great start to a 20 mile run, and I'm looking forward to getting back to just running parkrun! Alastair and Jessica accompanied me and it was slow, steady and comfortable. Straight through the finishing funnel and the additional 1.5 miles back to the car with Denise in tow this time.

Loop 2 5-10 miles

Sarah met Denise and I at the car park (she was running a little late so had a sprint down long strops to meet us - she needed a challenge anyway) and then it was a steady 5 miles. This loop probably contained most of the hills but I felt comfortable and completed the 5 miles without too many problems. If I'm honest, if it wasn't for the girls, I would have walked up those hills. I was beginning to get a problem with the strapping at this point, it was really cutting into my ankle, but I continued with it anyway.

Loop 3 10-15 miles

Picked up Alastair and Helen for this loop. This was probably the hardest overall of the 3 loops (nothing to do with the company I hasten to add) and it was the first time I walked (at about 14 miles). Helen had warned me she would probably drop out before the 5 miles but I had faith in her, and at my snail pace she had no trouble whatsoever. Alastair was a harder task-master, and it's probably what I needed...to man up a little bit. I did really struggle towards the end of this 5 miles and wasn't quite sure how I would do another 5. Carina met us on the way back for the final 5 which was a boost.

Loop 4 15-20 miles

Bridget also joined Carina and I for this loop, and I knew if anyone could talk me round it would be her. Legs were feeling a bit better but there was lots of walking and I kept getting cramp in my quad so there were lots of stops, I couldn't run through it. Karina and Jackie (from parkrun) had come out to cheer us on the way, which was amazingly supportive, I was so chuffed. Jessica met us for the final 1.5 miles so adding another dynamic. Got back to the car park and I was slightly under the 20 miles so we had to do a few loops of the car park to get the distance up...that was hell. Then finally we got there. Pretty much bang on 4 hours so I was more than happy with that, no tears and my inner demons stayed where they belonged, inside.

It was probably my most successful long run overall and not just because it was the furthest. Being with supportive, positive people every step of the way was a huge confidence booster. I couldn't have done it without them. But not only those that ran with me, all those and their kind words before, during and after the run. I really was overwhelmed and choked, and if you know me well then I need not say anymore.

I arrived home thinking I was relatively unscathed all being considered, other than legs screaming at me. I took off the strapping to discover most of the skin on my ankle had been removed. I could cope with that...or I thought I could until I had a salty bath the next day....ouchy!!!

It wasn't until later when I was preparing dinner that the fainting episodes began. I wasn't right at all; nauseous, dizzy, restless, loss of appetite. I was pretty sure it was low sodium levels that were the cause and this would explain the cramping as well. This lasted a good 24 hours before I felt right again. I have also inadvertently discovered why you shouldn't take anti-inflammatories before a race - because this also effects the sodium levels. So I will be increasing my salt-intake over the next 3 weeks.

It's done now and all I have to worry about is tapering the miles, getting plenty of rest and ticking off the days until this whole sorry episode is over.

I am running the London Marathon for the The Sunrise Appeal, part of the Ipswich Hospital Charity. You can sponsor me here https://www.justgiving.com/Angela-Hope

London Marathon 2015 - 17 miles...done

11072937_1615510528681029_7571277458397916119_n-2Sunday 22nd March 2015 - 17 Miles

The good news is...I have one more long run to do before the big day.

The bad news is...I have one more long run to do before the big day.

After last week's 16 miles I saw the physio on Monday. I had massage, I had acupuncture and I had ultrasound, all to try and fix this leg problem I have. Sharon told me that if I wasn't running the marathon she would tell me to rest until the problem had completely gone but since I am running the marathon then the problem needs to be managed until it is over. She also asked me if I took the week off instead of running, then would this make a difference to the 17 miles.

I honestly didn't think it would make any difference and I also didn't need asking twice to rest...it was bliss. Sadly, the leg felt no better as the week went on.

Today was hell. 17  miles of hell. I limped and grimaced all the way round.

I started off with parkrun, and it was very nearly perfectly timed so I could run straight through the start. Strange weather today, looked very overcast and promised rain, but it was disconcertingly warm. My parkrun time was 32.19. My next goal will be to get that time a bit closer to 30 minutes. I added a couple of miles on at the end to complete my first 6 miles.

Then I was done.

For my next 6 miles I ran to my sister Sarah's house. The wind had picked up and the traffic had picked up and I didn't enjoy these 6 miles one little bit. I was in a pretty dark place when I arrived at Sarah's and I wasn't sure how I was going to run another 5.

IMG_4610Sarah did the last 5 with me on her bike. And the hills!! Sarah lives in the Henley Road area, and man the hills!! Apart from down Valley Road, it was all uphill. By 16 miles I couldn't face Fircroft road and took a diversion. Anyway...arrived back at Sarah's house 3 hours and 27 minutes later.

Bottom line....it was a slog. I had to walk an awful lot in the last quarter of the distance and I'm begin to accept the fact that it's not going to be quite as easy to get a marathon PB as I first thought.

One long run to do...20 miles on Easter Saturday. I will be turning this into an "Angela relay" and will be on the look out for willing participants to help me through the miles.

Tonight...I will mainly be enjoying this...

I am running the London Marathon for the The Sunrise Appeal, part of the Ipswich Hospital Charity. You can sponsor me here https://www.justgiving.com/Angela-Hope

London Marathon 2015 - Pain and Jelly Beans

countdown
Sunday 22nd March 2015 - 16 Miles

Do I really have to do this again...three times???

I wasn't particularly hopeful, the leg has got progressively worse since the visit to the Physio last week but the first 6 miles were ok. I decided to use the placebo effect of jelly beans to get me through the miles. Every mile = 2 jelly beans. You should have seen my face after 1 mile...I was so happy! I was so over it by 4 miles! Too many jelly beans. Also managed to get lost on Martlesham Heath somehow and completely lose my sense of direction. Completed it in just over the hour. No huge dramas.

(I sat and watched 'Hop' with the kids this afternoon - I'm so over jelly beans!!!)14

The next 5 miles were a little less good. I did a repeat of last weeks final loop, thought I'd give it a better chance. I still keep insisting on running across the golf course, which is really unsheltered and blows your head off, energy zapping!!

My thoughts were all over the place today. I'd love to have a recording of my thoughts over the 3 hours. It is where I have my best ideas and my darkest moments. I write excellent blog posts in my head, just wish I could remember them. I plan my week ahead. I spend a lot time thinking what I am going to eat for dinner and I spend a lot of time reflecting on life and the universe. All this and I still have time to dwell on how much the legs are hurting!

The final 5 miles were hell. Legs were tired, shins were aching and I could have given up at any point. I grimaced my way through it but it was very stop-start. Saw an old flame at about mile 15. Can't have seen him for at least 15 years and when I do I'm a sweaty mess...typical!!

So, eventually, after 16 arduous miles, I limped back to my car. I spent most of those 16 miles dreading my next "long run" so I'm not doing great with my positive thinking!! I was so tired I fell asleep in the bath. I'm sat here writing this with a frozen tea towel on my legs. Fortunately I have another physio appointment tomorrow so I get to have a massage....if I can walk!

I am running the London Marathon for the The Sunrise Appeal, part of the Ipswich Hospital Charity. You can sponsor me here https://www.justgiving.com/Angela-Hope

London Marathon 2015 - Ticking off the miles

Tuesday 17th March 2015 - 6 miles

I've given up on the tempo/interval/marathon pace runs. I'm just running whatever pace I feel like, just getting through the miles. I despise these "short" runs now. The whole having to run thing is driving me a little crazy, always making sure I am drinking enough water, getting enough sleep and eating properly - none of which are really happening at the moment.

So another 6 miles done today, slightly painful in the lower leg but it definitely eased as the run went on. Had a few walking moments, mainly when there was any sort of an incline.

When the physio signed me off she said that if I have any sort of niggles whatsoever then I should make an appointment with her, she would get me through this marathon. Time to make an appointment because I am really not happy about this shin problem.

Thursday 19th March 2015 - 6 miles

Physio today and as I had thought, the deep muscles in my lower leg were incredibly tight, which was causing the shin pain. Not that my leg was about to snap off as I had hoped! 10 minutes of massage and ultrasound ensued and that was it. It's not good though is it when the physio cringes at your crunching knees!!

As the physio appointment had taken the slot available to run in, I had a choice of either running tomorrow, or running with the Hope runners. Only one of the group was available to run tonight, and that was the lovely Kirsty. By chance, her front door is exactly 3 miles from hers so I ran to hers, then we ran all the way back together. As expected, the first 3 miles were hell, but the second 3 miles we managed to chat the minutes away. It was the first run I had done in a while when there was no walking, so chuffed with that.

The leg is not happy but I do have two days rest between now and Sunday when I will be attempting a 16 miler. As I did last week I will be breaking this down into a 6 miler and 2x 5 milers. If anyone fancies joining me for any of these "legs" you would be very, very welcome. I will leave from the Farmhouse pub car park at 9.20am for the 6 miler, back for the first 5 miler at 10.25am and then the second 5 miler at 11.20am.

I am running the London Marathon for the The Sunrise Appeal, part of the Ipswich Hospital Charity. You can sponsor me here https://www.justgiving.com/Angela-Hope