I remember when I first started running, everyone said how accessible it was – all you need is a pair of trainers and some old clothes and you can run. Which is true, unless you want trainers for distance. Trainers for speed. Trainers that stop your arches collapsing. Trainers that return the energy from your footstrike. And what about if you want to do a HIIT class? Or lift some weights?

Inov8 have just brought out their latest pair of trainers, the All Train 215, which come with the claim that you can use them for pretty much anything. So can you really just have one pair of trainers for all activities? I got a pair from [Kit]Box to find out.

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inov8 All Train 215

The Technical Stuff

One of their lightest shoes yet, the inov8 All Train weighs just 215g (or a whopping 240g if you’re a UK size 8.5 like me!). The lacing pulls in a cradle around the sides of your foot, locking you in and supporting side to side movement. The sole has triangular shaped cleats to help with grip in any direction. A firmer heel and reinforced heel cup support you during lifting and squatting. And a meta-flex groove provides the flexibility for plyometric movements.

Firstly, I’ll say that Inov8 have comfort down to a T in all their shoes. Every pair of Inov8 shoes I’ve owned (including my lifters) have been incredibly comfortable and the All Trains are no different. These guys know how to do feet! Having said that, I do find them a bit of a pain to get on – you have to loosen the laces quite a bit to be able to slip your foot in the back without squashing the heel cup down. But, once they’re on they really do feel like a supportive second skin.

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In Action

I wore the All Train 215 trainers to CrossFit to test them out with a variety of movements (moderate-weight power snatches, skipping, wall balls, etc.) and also running along the river in quite muddy conditions.

Personally I wouldn’t wear these for dedicated lifting as I always prefer the extra stability of a pair of lifting shoes, but in a workout where you’re mixing lifting with other exercises they hold their own on the platform pretty well. I found I shifted forwards onto my toes quite a lot when snatching, but this might be because they’re so light. For wall balls (squatting with a medicine ball and throwing it to a target overhead) I found them really good – they helped my feet stay grounded while giving me enough freedom of movement to easily jump to throw the ball.

For running I loved them – they are super light and comfortable and felt grippy even in the mud. I wouldn’t recommend them for heavy heel-strikers as the firmer heel and minimalist feel probably wouldn’t provide enough cushioning. However, if you want to get yourself away from a heel strike then these may be a good way to help reinforce good running patterns! I’m a forefoot striker so these were perfect for my running style.

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When I’ll Wear Them

I’ll be slipping on the inov8 All Train 215 shoes whenever I’m going to a class that has a mix of cardio and strength exercises, such as Re-Shape at 1Rebel, Barry’s Bootcamp classes, F45, Grid, etc. I’ll probably still go for my dedicated CrossFit shoes for CrossFit classes – purely because they have a flatter sole that I think just has the edge for lifting – but I’ll definitely keep these as the trainers I take to work for lunchtime workouts or runch!

Does One Shoe Fit All Activities?

So, can you just have one pair of trainers? If you’re a fitness class addict or love variety in your training but don’t want dedicated pairs of trainers for each workout style, then the inov8 All Train 215 shoes are a really good choice as an all-rounder that will support a little bit of everything.

With the best bits of all trainers; the inov8 All Train 215 is a running shoe you can lift in, a lifting shoe you can dodge and weave in and an agility shoe you can hit the trails with.

Pick up a pair of the women’s in0v8 All Train 215 (the ones in this post) or the men’s variety, from [Kit]Box for £84.99 (price correct at the time of writing!).

Photos taken with my Olympus PEN E-PL7*, 17mm f1.8 lens* and 30mm f3.5 macro lens*.

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Disclaimer: I was given a pair of inov8 All Train 215 trainers for review by [Kit]Box. As always, my opinion is my own and not affected by payment, or items/services gifted to me. To find out more about my policy on this and other matters, see my Disclosure page. * Affiliate link. Affiliate links do not affect the price that you pay, but any commission earned helps me to pay the costs of running this site. To find out more about my policy on this and other matters, see my Disclosure page.

Many runners spend a lot of training and effort trying to get a quicker base pace. Endless reps, laps round a track, fartlek training and more. All of this is great for building on your cardio fitness and pushing your lactate threshold higher to be able to cope with faster speeds and higher heart rates, but often people forget the importance of posture and technique on running speed.

In this post, I’m going to give you a really simple childhood song to help you remember proper running form and teach you how to run faster… so let’s get back to basics!

The Phases of Running

Picture Usain Bolt, the fastest man in the world. Now picture a marathon fun runner. Lightening bolt pose aside, there are some marked differences in the running style and form between each.


Support/Absorption Phase

In the above photo Bolt’s right leg is reaching for the ground, where it will be in the “support” or “absorption” phase of running. Once his foot touches the ground, the knee of that leg, and the hip of the opposite leg, begin to flex (bend) in order to absorb some of the forces that occur when the foot touches the ground. As Bolt’s foot comes closer to the ground the contact will actually be met with the ball of his foot, in a forefoot running style, this also engages the calves in absorption of forces.

Toe-off/Propulsion Phase

Moving on to the second photo, Bolt’s right leg is in the “propulsion” or “toe-off” phase, this is the next phase on from absorption. In this phase the knee extends (straightens) along with the hip, leaving the toe in contact with the ground as the force is applied by the quads (your thigh muscles). You can also see plantar flexion (pointing) of the foot, meaning that the calves are also activated, adding more power to the stride.

Recovery Phase

In both pictures the other leg is in the “recovery” phase, where the movement is generated more by transfer of forces rather than conscious action. However, the amount of hip flexion (bending) achieved in picture (b) of the right leg, and the hip extension (drawing the hip back) and knee flexion (bending) achieved in picture (a) of the left leg, will only be made possible by additional muscle power.

The Marathon Shuffle

In contrast, most (non-elite) long-distance runners develop a running style often nick-named the “marathon shuffle” where the feet stay in close proximity to the ground all the way through the running phases:

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London Marathon Masses

 

Absorption Phase

In the absorption phase a lot of people touch the ground with their heel, instantly applying braking forces because of the foot being so far ahead of your centre of gravity (lower abdomen, towards the hips). As well as this, the knee is more stiff allowing less flexion to occur, meaning forces are absorbed elsewhere, i.e. the bones in the lower leg and ankle, potentially causing injury as well as slowing you down.

Propulsion Phase

In the propulsion phase, there is less likely to be plantar flexion (pointing) of the foot, because the ankle joint is less flexible. This leaves the quads (thigh muscles) to do all of the work on their own, and with the knee not being flexed in the absorption phase, there is a much shorter length left for the quads to contract, instantly losing power.

Recovery Phase

Finally the recovery phase. In distance runners, the feet are often left much closer to the ground throughout the movement, with less hip flexion in the forward swing, and less hip extension and knee flexion in the backward swing.

Granted, no-one is expecting you to run a marathon at the speed of Bolt, but there is a lot we can all learn from his powerful running style, and most elite marathon runners look more like Bolt than you may first notice.

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Elite Marathon Runners

If all of that was like learning Japanese then read on for a really simple and memorable way to improve your posture and hopefully make you a better and more efficient runner… it involves a childhood song you may remember!

Sing while you run…

Do you remember that childhood song “head, shoulders, knees and toes”? You know, when you learnt what your different body parts were? Well:

  • Head: keep your head up, looking ahead rather than down. Try to think of a pole running along the length of your spine and up behind your head – imagine your head resting back against that pole. You should have a slight forward lean with your entire upper body, not just your head!
  • Shoulders: pull your shoulders back and down, so your shoulder blades are flat against your back. This will help with the swing in your arms, assisting with transfer of power to the opposing leg.
  • Knees: on the forward swing of your leg try to lift your knees up, using your hips to lift rather than your knee simply swinging forward.
  • Toes: on the backward swing of your leg, flick your toes up behind you… but not excessively, you’re not doing aerobics! Use the power in your glutes and hamstrings (your bum and back of your thighs) to really pull your leg up behind you.

Just these four simple adjustments could make such a difference to the speed you run at and make you more Bolt-like, and who wouldn’t want that?

Featured photo by Will Patrick photography.

If you follow me on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter you’ll know that I’ve fallen a little bit out of love with running over the last year or so, or since my stress fracture. I can’t justify or explain why, but I guess it has something to do with the fear of being rubbish, or it being really hard or painful!

Realistically though, this fear is mostly unfounded; I do CrossFit four or five times per week, where we do a little bit of running or rowing and plenty of high intensity workouts, so technically I should have enough general fitness to carry me through a short- to mid-distance run. But in practice, how does this style of training carry over to running, something people usually train very specifically for?

CrossFit for Cardio Endurance

There’s no denying that CrossFit has made me the strongest I’ve been in my life – I can do bodyweight pullups, throw 70+ kilos above my head, and pull nearly double my bodyweight off the floor in a deadlift. I’m sure, in some ways, I’m fitter too; I’ve clocked a 1:51 500m row and quite often push myself to the limits on high intensity WODs, but how does that compare to more endurance based exercise, such as running?

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As is CrossFit’s aim, you should be capable of doing almost anything you want or need to do, simply with doing regular CrossFit classes. Taking the running example, strength work makes your muscles able to deal with the demands of uphill inclines, and to generally carry you the distance. Metabolic conditioning (met con) keeps your cardiovascular system ticking over and coping with a certain amount of lactic acid build up. And the mental toughness required to push yourself harder makes the world of difference when it comes to those moments of every race/run when you just want to give up!

By building on general strength and mobility, CrossFit is able to help make you a more efficient runner – taking longer strides, generating more power out of every step and helping to prevent damaging movement patterns like heel striking, overpronation and valgus knee collapse. I found evidence of this myself after going for a gait assessment with Asics a few weeks ago – I am now a neutral runner after years of overpronation!

The Proof is in the Pudding

Over the last year I’ve had two fairly standout moments that have made me think about CrossFit’s effect on my running performance. The first was at the Hatfield Broad Oak 10k race at the end of May bank holiday in 2015. I had signed up to run with a couple of my husband’s friends and, despite best intentions, only trained two to three times, max 3 miles, in the lead-up to the race. But even with this lack of specific training, I clocked a time only 2 minutes slower than my 10k personal best time set in 2012 (when I was marathon training).

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The second standout moment was only a week ago when I managed to force myself out for a run for the first time in months. I started off feeling nervous in anticipation of a struggle round the 5k route I’d set myself, but soon realised that, actually, my pace wasn’t too bad and I was feeling pretty decent. I pushed myself for the last mile, and finished 2.5 minutes slower than my 5k PB… with NO specific training.

CrossFit x Run Training in Practice

In an effort to kick-start my running motivation I thought I’d book myself a race to give myself a reason to run. Rather than pushing myself for a half marathon distance, which would require a fair amount of training and dedication, I thought I’d go for something more realistic for my sporadic running attempts… the Vitality British 10k in London. An achievable distance, 10k pushes me to train a little, even if only to finish without hurling.

I love running in London, and I even got a training run in while attending an event with Stance Socks last week. Stance combine art with performance in their running socks (which you can buy from Whatever it Takes, Pro:Direct Running or [Kit]box), and we wore some for a tour with Alternative London of some of East London’s best street art, including Banksy, Roa and Ben Wilson, as part of Stance Socks’s European Street Art Tour. One of the finds that amazed me the most was Ben Wilson’s chewing gum art – he paints tiny little scenes on chewing gum that people have dropped on the streets, turning something ugly and thoughtless into pieces of art protected with varnish! Next on the street art tour is a run in Copenhagen on 25th May – you can keep up with the tour using the hashtag #stancerun.

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I wonder if I’ll see any of Ben’s work on the British 10k course? Even without street art, the course looks particularly scenic, passing landmarks including the London Eye, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. Starting on Hyde Park Corner, the route takes in Piccadilly, Regent Street, Pall Mall, St James Palace, Trafalgar Square and Embankment too. Having never gotten into the London Marathon (despite many, many attempts!), it’s my only chance to really take in the sights on a run. 

In terms of training, I aim to complete just one to two runs per week… my only specific running training. My priority will be a distance run, which will amount to between 4-6 miles, and if I can fit it in, then I’ll also do a tempo run of around 3 miles. Normally, if I was to train specifically for a race, I would aim to complete a third run each week, which would be speedwork or hill based, but with CrossFit taking me to a high intensity regularly, I feel as though I could sacrifice this quite safely. Any more than three runs per week seems to be a waste to me anyway (unless you’re looking to build really high weekly mileage into your legs, e.g. for ultra training), and I’d much rather get my CrossFit sessions in for strength training, and a yoga class in for mobility.

So my training programme should, hopefully, look something like this:

Monday – CrossFit 6am

Tuesday – CrossFit 6am

Wednesday – CrossFit 6am, Run 6pm (or Midweek League race)

Thursday – Yoga 6pm, or Weightlifting Club 7:30pm

Friday – CrossFit 6am

Saturday – Weightlifting Club 10:30am, or Run 9:30am

Sunday – Rest day

8 Week Countdown

So now I’ve signed up for the British 10k I’m committed to racing it… I don’t want to put my foot in it by stating a goal time, but let’s just say I’m hoping to prove I can run just as fast off the back of CrossFit as I can with months and months of specific training in my legs. I have another 10k race, plus some running club midweek league races that I can do to get the timing practice in between now and race day, and 8 weeks to do it all in. Watch this space!

Are you a running CrossFitter? Have you noticed a difference in your running training since starting CrossFit? How do you think strength training helps your running? Comment below!

This post is sponsored by Vitality British 10k. Photos courtesy of Lucy Rakauskas, ContreJour Photography and Stance Socks.

The Virgin Money opened its ballot today for the 37th London Marathon. Like hundreds of thousands of others, I submitted my application. However, only 50,000 runners are accepted each year, with the knowledge that around 40,000 will actually line up. Of this 50k, a certain percentage will be charity runners, securing a place through gold or silver bond charities, some will be deferrals from the previous year, and some will be Championship (elite), Good For Age or competition/media places. With a record 247,069 people entering the ballot last year, and so few (comparatively) places allocated to ballot entrants, it’s worth looking at those alternative means of entry.

The Elusive Championship (Elite) Marathon Qualifier

Most people who run their first marathon aim to “just get round”. You might set yourself a secondary goal of a certain time, and you might even hit that goal first time. I know when I ran Brighton Marathon back in 2012, I set myself a challenging, but realistic, goal of getting in under 4 hours. Unfortunately I missed out by 7 minutes. Even though I said I’d never do another marathon, the bug took hold and I started thinking about whether I could do it all again to get my goal.

Some may aim for milestone times, like 4 hours. Others for named goals, like Good For Age (GFA) or a Boston Qualifier (BQ). Jared, who runs for my local running club, Harlow Running Club, on the other hand, always has his sights set higher. A Championship place, a.k.a. the elite. So just what does it take to run a Championship, or elite, London Marathon qualifier*? I caught up with him after the race to find out.

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Jared after his Championship qualifying run. His nipples suffered after two marathons in a row!

You just ran an elite qualifying time at the London Marathon, what was your race experience like?

My experience running London always has left me feeling like I have achieved something great. This is because it’s the biggest and the best marathon for me. I have run it for seven consecutive years and each one has its own story. My best was my first by far! But Sunday was amazing after completing Brighton [Jared ran Brighton just a week before, finishing 15th in 2:45:36]. It’s the challenge for me.

You ran Brighton before London, was London your goal race? Was it always the plan to race the marathon distance as part of your training for London?

I wanted to test my limits and after entering both I realised that I would need to “choose” which one to race. Surely I can’t race them both with little rest in between? Well, that’s what my tactic was in the end. I recover quickly from physical activity and I wanted to race BOTH. So I did! And because I’ve been able to maintain a high level of exercise I don’t worry or stress too much. Consistency is the key and if you look at my marathon times, particularly London, they are all consistently under 3hrs.

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Jared’s 2016 Brighton Marathon finish. He came 15th.

What was your training plan for this marathon? How has it differed from previous marathon plans you’ve followed?

Due to the nature of my work being a personal trainer, I fit in “my training” with clients. I join in with them at classes, PT sessions and find it helps motivate them to challenge themselves. I do follow a strict training plan which does mean I do very early morning runs and also late night strength conditioning sessions. Training with someone quicker than you to keep up is the challenge and most people shy away from it.

You’re a personal trainer and run fitness classes, how do you supplement your running training?

My PT sessions and classes are in addition to my running and I find it helps keep me strong and also reduce any risk of injury. It also gives me a opportunity to strengthen in other areas that are key to a successful marathon.

Jared Running London Portrait

Mid-race… no time to smile for the camera!

How do you fuel your body for the amount of activity you do? Do you feel as though your nutrition strategy was important to your race plan and how it went on the day?

I eat three meals a day and snack on fruit and nuts between meals. I also drink plenty of water. I train my body glycogen depleted to become more efficient, particularly early morning running. I consume fewer carbs towards end of the week so I don’t feel too heavy. My body is also very efficient at using body fat as a source of energy. I do not have protein shakes and have never used them.

How many marathons have you done? When was your first race at the marathon distance and how did that go?

I’m not sure on exactly how many, but could be 30 something. My medals are in a shoe box in the cupboard! My first was London in 2010 for St Clare’s Hospice. I raised loads of money for them with my wife who also completed it and then I proposed at Trafalgar Square. We’ve been married for five years this year! I’ve also raced marathons abroad. My PB is 2.41 at Nice, the Cannes Marathon in 2015.

Jared and Susie London Proposal

Jared and his now-wife Susie, just after he proposed!

Have you always been a natural runner, or do you feel it’s something you’ve really had to work for?

I have always enjoyed running. I ran from school years and played football up until my mid 20s. I really enjoy competitive racing events, that’s why I always try to be better than previous races/years.

What would be your one biggest tip for someone aiming an elite qualifying time?

Come and train with JB FITNESS; I know what it takes to achieve the elite qualification time!

Final Thoughts

You may be excused for thinking that elite times come easy for Jared, having always been into running, but there’s no denying that running a consistent 6:17 minute/mile is no mean feat. Jared trains hard, putting aside the time around his personal training business in often unsociable hours to fit in his run training. Whether you’re aiming for a Good For Age time, or a Championship place, the target is there… you’ve just got to work for it!

Have you ever run a Good For Age or Championship time? What are your top tips for racing this fast? Have you entered the London Marathon ballot? Comment below!

* Championship entry for the Virgin Money London Marathon is currently a sub 2:45 marathon, or sub 1:15 half marathon, for men; sub 3:15 marathon, or sub 1:30 half marathon, for women.

 

It’s no secret that I’m a bit of a wuss when it comes to cold, dark runs. I suddenly realise about a hundred other things I could be doing, and do them slowly… basically finding any excuse not to have to go out in the cold and run.

Cold weather forms a unique problem for runners, because you can easily layer up and get nice and cosy before starting your run, but, if you’re anything like me, you’ll soon start to overheat and just become uncomfortable. So what’s the trick?

How do you dress for winter running?

In the past I’ve gone for layers:

  • A base layer to wick moisture away from my skin
  • A middle layer for insulation in very cold weather
  • A top layer to protect me from wind, sleet or rain

But in all honesty, I run quite hot and unless it’s verrry cold, layers just end up making me feel positively toasty! And it can’t just be me who gets annoyed by the rustling of top layer jackets when I run?

So now I turn to tops that I can wear on their own, but that are warm enough to make me feel comfortable stepping out that door! I’ve got a couple of thermal tops that I bought years ago when I was marathon training which soon became my staples for cold runs, and Pearl Izumi kindly offered to send me a thermal top and tights to try out this winter, which are now amongst my favourites to wear.

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Pearl Izumi Thermal Running Clothes

If you don’t know Pearl Izumi, they’re primarily in the triathlon market. I saw their stuff dotted around at races, and when looking up kit for my own triathlon training, but never actually picked anything up – mostly because I just happened to be drawn to other choices when looking for specific items. But now I’ve tried some of their pieces I’ll definitely be looking more closely at their kit in the future.

The stand out point for me is the fit. From the moment I put the tights and top on I felt like I was getting a nice, big thermal hug. When you run, there’s nothing more annoying than clothing that doesn’t fit properly – whether it’s a top riding up, or a seam twisting, it’s enough to drive you loopy! But, as should probably be expected from a quality brand like Pearl Izumi, every seam and curve is in the right place.

Fly Thermal Run Top

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The top has perfectly long sleeves, complete with thumb holes, which is saying something as a 5’8″ girl who almost always struggles to get clothes with the right length sleeves! A half zip means you can cool yourself down a bit as you get into your run, and tapered seams with strategically placed fleece make for the softest feel against your skin.

I’ve only ever worn this on its own, but you could layer up with a vest or base layer if you’re the type to get really cold.

You can buy this top in purple, aqua blue, or the pink (pictured), but if I’m completely honest, the two brighter colours are better as they then double up as high-vis items for those dark runs. Pearl Izumi have even introduced something called BioViz into their clothing, which is a way of using human biology to make for super-safe visibility. It uses fluorescent colours, the motion of the human body through strategically placed reflective markers, and contrasting patterns and blocks of colour to really catch motorists eyes. Something that the tights display very well.

Heard of #BioViz technology? @pearlizumiuk are making waves with it in their running and cycling gear! Click To Tweet

Fly Thermal Tight

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A reflective strip around the top of the calf, partnered with the fluorescent pink colour block, aren’t just there for show – they are place strategically as a marker of pace, helping to identify you as a human while out running. They also happen to have a nice compression-feel to them, which is great for me as I have particularly tight calves.

A back pocket is there for the essentials, something quite often overlooked in running leggings, and the waist band is nice and high, but comfortable, meaning a fit that doesn’t budge… even in the most testing of wears!

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Where to Buy

You can pick up Pearl Izumi running kit from most running retailers, or direct from the Pearl Izumi website, along with their cycling and triathlon ranges too. The Fly Thermal Run Top is £59.99, and the Fly Thermal Tights are £49.99 (prices correct at time of writing).

Shop This Post

Pearl Izumi Fly Thermal Run Top ¦ Pearl Izumi Fly Thermal Tight ¦ adidas Ultra Boost (similar colour)

What do you like to wear for winter running? Are you a layer-up and go kinda girl or guy, or do you prefer to keep it light with just one layer?

Photos taken by the lovely Elle of Keep It SimpElle, using my Olympus PEN E-PL7* and M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 45mm 1:1.8 Lens*

Disclaimer: this is not a sponsored post, however, I did receive the running top and tights for free to put to the test. As always, my opinion is my own and not affected by items gifted to me. * Affiliate link. Affiliate links do not affect the price that you pay, but any commission earned helps me to pay the costs of running this site. To find out more about my policy on this and other matters, see my Disclosure page.

I’ve read quite a few fellow bloggers’ “Year in Review” posts, and I’ve really enjoyed them. Some reflect on their favourite races and running accomplishments, some highlight their favourite blog posts of the year, giving an interesting round up of experiences. Most include the good and the bad. I’m going to call mine my “2015 Storybook” – a summary of my highlights, and the not-so-good bits. I feel as though it’s an opportunity to look back, reflect and learn.

2015 Goals

I started off with best intentions, setting myself a big ol’ list of things I wanted to work on in 2015. I chose things from each area of my life, whether that was work, blogging, social or family, and many people told me I’d taken on a lot… they were right. Fast forward to now and I haven’t kept up with my goals. Yes, things went wrong along the way, which didn’t help, but I now realise that I didn’t plan well enough – I was trying to focus on too many different areas at once, rather than tackling one thing at a time, then moving on to the next.

My Storybook

Family and Friends

My family grew quite considerably in 2015. There were two big weddings in my life this year – the first was my dad’s, giving me a step-mum and four step-sisters, and the second was my own, giving me a husband and a mother- and father-in-law.

After my parents’ divorce in 2012 it seemed a challenge to keep my time balanced between mother and father. I didn’t want either to think that I was spending more time with the other. And I don’t see my friends as much as I like. I know the answer is making time, and not just hoping for it, so I’m actively looking for ways to see my family and friends more in 2016.

Keeping up with everyone all of the time is just not possible, but I hope they can see how much of my life goes into making something of myself, not just for me – but to make them proud.

Relationship

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I married the love of my life in October. Yes, wedding planning was stressful at times, but we made an effort to keep calm and not let the planning take over.

Now I can honestly say that things just couldn’t be better. Perhaps we’re still in the honeymoon period, quite literally, but I don’t think that’s it – I genuinely think marriage has made our relationship stronger and we are more in love than ever (sorry for the soppiness!).

Work and Blog

 

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I’ve put these together as I see them both as the “professional” elements of my life. Work is going really well – the team I work in is great to be a part of, and I feel I get a good balance of being given direction, while still working somewhat independently.

The blog has been, like many things, up and down. I’ve been fairly consistent in posting, but had two to three months in the year where I dropped off the radar a little. Sometimes I question whether I still enjoy it or not, other times I wonder why I ever thought that. What it has brought me, though, is some fantastic opportunities.

This year I’ve been proud to write for various different publications, including big websites and print and digital magazines. I took part in a photoshoot for an active wear company, and was shortlisted for top fitness blogger lists and awards. I was also featured and interviewed as a top fitness blogger for a national magazine.

Education

As you may already know, I’ve gone “back to school” this year, picking up degree study with the Open University. I’m working towards a BSC Hons in Sport, Fitness and Coaching, with my current module on Sports Psychology, and it’s so interesting! I’m also part way through my Personal Training qualification with HFE, which I’m loving, and I hope to complete this early in 2016.

Studying on top of a full time job, keeping up a house, blog, relationship and social life is not easy. But I think education will always factor in my life – I love to learn and take in new information. If I never had to work again, I would probably be a full time student!

Fitness

This has been where most of my ups and downs have come from. I seem to have a continual love-hate relationship with fitness. Working out can make me feel both on top of the world (when I achieve a new skill, or get a personal best) and at rock bottom (when I get injured, or struggle with something I should be able to do). I’ll split my fitness storybook into four main sections – what makes up my fitness DNA.

Running

 

 

 

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I had races booked up throughout the year, from 10k to Half Marathon and everything in-between. With a fun start of the year of the London Winter Run and a last-minute appearance at the Brighton Half Marathon, I started to rack up the medals on my new medal rails. I then tackled Reading Half – achieving an almost PB – took on yet another obstacle race, the Warrior Adrenaline Race (something I may have to make more time for!), the Colour Run, and ran the very novel Wings for Life race (chased by David Coulthard in a catcher car!). I ran my fastest 10k for years, again narrowly missing out on a PB time, and then my mid-point race became my last race of the year with an injury sustained half-way round. My second stress fracture.

From there, running ceased. I’ve now run a total of twice since – though one of these times was at a really fun adidas event ending in a rooftop photoshoot! I don’t know if I’ll pick up running to the same extent again. I’m considering sticking to obstacle races because, despite them theoretically being more risky when it comes to injury, I think they’re perhaps better for me with the broken up sections of running interspersed with stuff to climb over/crawl through/jump off. I’m undecided.

 

CrossFit

 

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Ahhh, my one true fitness love. CrossFit has been a constant for me over the last couple of years, and is still the place where I feel the strongest sense of community. I took part in the CrossFit Games Open for the second time, finishing 808th in my category in the UK. I also did my first Weightlifting Competition – something which definitely gave me an ego-check. I started looking more scientifically at CrossFit, and have been working hard to try and position myself as a point of trust in the UK community, helped by my articles for PT Magazine, Breaking Muscle, MyProtein and more. I hope this continues into 2016 as I have big plans for my blog in this area.

Unfortunately my injury mid-way through the year put a bit of a halt to my fitness goals for this year. I was getting really close to achieving my first full strict pull up, but when I stopped training for five weeks, and then only went back once a week for a further six or seven, this regressed considerably. I have also been pretty down on myself for not achieving skills that, in my opinion, I should have nailed by now. I started having Personal Training at the end of October, for precisely this reason, and I had a little whinge to my coach the other day about my lack of skills. He’s given me some advice which I aim to put into practice from now, and I WILL be nailing those skills this year.

Yoga

 

Having finally found a class that was both convenient and enjoyable towards the end of 2014, I was sure that yoga was going to be a regular in my life. But, unfortunately, the class was cancelled in early 2015 through lack of attendance. The instructor, Paul, is brilliant, and still teaches loads of other classes around the area in which I live, but unfortunately they aren’t as easy to fit into my schedule and so I’m not sure how consistently I’ll keep going.

I have, however, found Yoga Gym – the yoga training book written by Nicola Jane Hobbs, complete with home training programme – which I will be tackling to try and make yoga a more consistent part of my training.

New Fitness Concepts

I always say how much I love to try new classes and ways of working out, and this little section is devoted to that. I have tried an eclectic mix of classes and fitness venues/concepts, including:

And that’s to name a few! I will continue to try as many new and interesting ways to work out as I can – you never know what you might enjoy doing, or when what you currently enjoy might not be so much fun anymore.

Body Image

I thought I’d end on this topic, as it’s probably where most of my insecurities come from. This year I feel as though I have truly said goodbye to diets. I opened up massively in June about my body hang-ups and my troubled history of dieting and a minor eating disorder. Honestly, I received the most overwhelming response to this post – and I can’t thank you enough for every kind word I got. I’ve yo-yo dieted for years, and tried everything from intermittent fasting and detoxes, to meticulously counting calories. And quite honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever been as happy as when I HAVEN’T been on a diet.

Finally now I’m starting to accept my body for the way it is: cumbersome (because I’m quite tall!), slightly squidgy, but strong and capable of almost anything I throw at it. What I’ve learned the most is that we all have “fat days”, it’s just learning not to beat yourself up about them that is the important part. As soon as we can learn to love our bodies for the things they allow us to do, the better. And I have an exciting project I’d like to get off the ground in 2016 in that respect too… watch this space.

Looking Forward to 2016

I haven’t settled on my goals for 2016, but I think I’m going to learn from this past year and take them as they come. Things change – goals change. And that’s ok.

First up? Pull ups… it’s time to really devote some effort and focus and get shit done!

Happy New Year!

Have you written a year in review post? Or decided on your goals for 2016? What have your biggest achievements been? Please feel free to post them in the comments below so I can have a read!