November 2014Eclectic Cake: November 2014

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Run. Rinse. Repeat.

I spend most of my spare time getting dirty – somehow covering myself in chalk from trapeze, splashing mud everywhere when I run trails, not to mention all the sweat! – but not much thought goes into getting clean. I shower, of course! I'd be thrown out of society if I didn't wash after a few workouts but at home I use my husband's shower gel, a post-RUNch wash is with toiletries stolen from hotels and who really has the time to moisturise?!

Then I got a brilliantly-timed delivery from activbod. I'd just returned from running 20k through mud and rain. I was cold, looking pretty grotty and in need of a good scrub. What better time to test out a new skin and body care range designed especially for active people?!

Workouts aren't just hard on your insides but they take their toll on the outside, too. Wind, rain, sun and sweat all have an effect but the activbod range has been developed specifically to look after your skin before and after a workout, preparing it for exercise and helping it recover quicker. From the turn up the heat roller gel stimulating muscle rub to the feel great shower concentrate, every product has been carefully considered to fit nicely into an active lifestyle with lightweight, gym bag-friendly packaging and un-loseable lids.

I came out of the shower feeling super scrubbed and relaxed. The game changer face scrub removed all trace of the salty grime from my mug and the cooling finish lotion dried so quickly there was no sticky post-moisturising struggle to pull on my clothes, perfect for a quick lunchtime run!

The activbod range is good. And they're doing good, too, 10% of their net profits will go to Women's Sport Trust, a charity that aims to raise the visibility and increase the impact of women's sport. This is a brand truly interested in helping people become and stay active. Now all I need is a hiding place, so my husband doesn't start using my shower gel!

The activbod range will be in Boots stores from January and is available to buy online now, here.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Wet and Wintry Cycling

Any chameleon will tell you, in the natural world, the weaker species has to hide from the bigger beasts to survive, and camouflaging is often the way to do it. But when you're a two-wheeled commuter and the beast is a hurried ton of moving machinery, survival tactics need to be a little different.

Rather than disappearing into winter darkness until you're face-to-face with a windscreen, I prefer to peacock along the road with as much neon as my eyes can handle. "Be safe, be seen" as the ads from my childhood declared. But besides dressing up for a road-side rave, how else can you protect yourself on your cycle commute?

The LV= winter cycle checklist (beard and bobble hat optional)


After decorating yourself, make sure your bike is in full christmas tree attire, too. Add fully charged front and back lights and clean your reflectors of any grime, so they work at their very best.


When the roads start to get a bit wet and icy, you want to know you can rely on your bike to grip properly. Wider tyres have more surface area to grab onto the road and having a slightly lower air pressure will maximise this.


Breaks take a little longer to work in wet weather, so give them a fighting chance and check they work before you head out. Mudguards will help keep them (and your rear end) a little cleaner and drier.

For more tips on safe winter cycling from LV=, check out their great infographic here.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Remember, Remember

Throwing himself into hill running!

On the 5th of November, rather than gunpowder and treason, I was remembering my brilliant friend and the ten short years we'd had together. Tom was unexpectedly stolen from us and it's still only just sinking in.

For those left behind, he'd built up an amazing group of friends who are supporting each other through every day of this difficult time. They've also been great in reminding me just how privileged I was in knowing a guy so willing to please, so modestly funny and so infectiously enthusiastic. It was hard not to want to join him when you saw Tom throw himself (sometimes literally) into something he loved. 

Life, it turns out, can be extremely short, so it's his enthusiasm for the things he loved – motorbiking, climbing, despising mushrooms, tennis... – that I will try to carry with me, always. If I'm only half as excited about my hobbies as he was about his, I'd say I'm spending my time right. If there's ever a day with no glimpse of a childish giggle of glee when I'm running through mud or splashing in lakes or swinging on the trapeze, then it's time to look for alternative entertainment.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Brr...illiant Motivation

The clocks have turned back, offering up the last few hours of sunlight before we get plunged into darkness. Before you know it, both morning and evening will be swallowed by inky black night. Our bodies will start to slow down and it will seem so much harder to force ourselves outside. And that’s before the cold and wind and rain kicks in! But, because hibernation is apparently socially unacceptable, here are a few ways to motivate yourself to face winter training…

It’s a lot harder to let down a friend than yourself. Make your winter workouts a social appointment and you’ll feel more obliged to turn up. Arrange a session with a friend or find a run club with lots of people that will keep you accountable. And anyway, chatting your way through a sweaty session helps to distract you from any screaming muscles.

Having something to aim for is a sure fire way to get you lacing up despite the cold and with endless races available, you're not short on motivation. But if you fancy something a little less structured, how about a challenge with a difference? Join the Running Bug community and add your miles to their Run to the Moon challenge – that's 238,855 miles in just seven weeks, all in aid of Great Ormond Street hospital. At about half way, there's still plenty of time to get involved!

You can sign up for the Run to the Moon challenge here.

Having regular sessions planned into your week will make it easier to keep active throughout the winter. Once it’s a habit, it will feel normal for you to crawl out of bed on a Monday morning for yoga or do that pitch black run on Wednesday evenings. Make sure there’s still some flexibility built in, though, there’s no need to feel bad if you just don’t feel like running into a freezing head wind.

Running, lifting, cycling, it’s all fun, right? Make sure it stays that way, despite the weather and sign up for something novel. The London Winter Run is perfect, with polar bear hugs, snow domes and even a cozy winter warmer finisher zone to make things ever so slightly less serious.

You can register for the London Winter Run here.

If you’re still finding it hard to get outside, look no further for incredibly inspiring running stories than Like the Wind magazine. Filled with tales of adventure, amazing illustrations and photos, just a page will be enough to get you lacing up.

You can buy Issue 3 of Like the Wind here.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Class Review: Rock the Barre

Music is so personal. I almost lost my best friend over musical differences – she bought a Westlife CD the same day I bought The Prodigy! What rocks my socks may not make your hip hop. Me? I love a dirty guitar riff, not-quite-perfect shouty vocals and the odd ripped t-shirt. So, boasting the likes of Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Kings of Leon on the playlist, Rock the Barre at Gymbox was the class for me.

The familiar beats were enough to make me (almost) comfortable at the barre. With absolutely no dance background, besides bouncing around a club like a loon at 3am, I perhaps belong at a different type of bar but it turns out that thing is a good friend! Grip it tightly to keep yourself upright as you fling a leg in the air, let it keep you steady as you lower yourself towards the ground and use it to haul yourself back up. 

That's not to say it will do all the hard work for you, though, oh no! Using ballet as the inspiration, you’ll pliĆ© and arabesque until your core trembles. Besides the odd crazy first pump when the choruses kick in, this class is all about control – using every inch of your strength to make each movement precise (and to stop you tumbling over your own feet). Think long, long, lean ballerina legs and beautifully sculpted abs with the flexibility to headbang an inch above your toes.

I’m not cracking out the black, studded tutu just yet, though. We were taken through a combination of moves, building them up to dance it out to a final track but when it came to putting it all together, my goldfish brain settled for a large section of ‘freestyling’. In my head I was a rockin’ Darcy Bussell, in reality I was probably more a mosh-pitting mess. Either way, finishing with the ring of drumming in my ears, covered in sweat and slightly battered, as with the end of a gig, was a sure sign I’d had a blast!

To book onto a Gymbox Rock the Barre class, click here.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Race Report: National Trust Night Run

WHAT:  7k trail night run
WHERE:  Osterley Park, Middlesex
WHEN:  25th October 2014

The National Trust aims to preserve some of the country's most beautiful and historically important spaces and open them up to the public. Now they've made night trail running accessible, too. With 12 races across the UK and an option of two distances – Explorer route (1-2km) and Adventurer route (6-9km) – anyone of any age, any experience, anywhere in the country can have a go at some off-road running in the dark.

I arrived at the very first race in the series at Osterley Park just as the sun was setting and the excitement was beginning to buzz and with just enough time to admire the beautiful 18th century house and its grounds, before we pinned on our bibs and pulled on our head torches. Our longer 7km group set off first, letting the 2km family runners admire the lit pumpkins and glow-sticks before they started what was, for some of them, their first ever race!

Charlie, Zoe, Leah, myself and Sophie ready to run!
With a relaxed atmosphere and no timing chip, I chose a relaxed pace to make the experience last longer. Running with friends, we took a break from chatting to ooh and ah at the Halloween pumpkins dotted along the course and to single-file down the narrower tracks. The completely flat terrain was perfect for a non-intimidating trail run and wavered between gravel and firm, tree-rooted mud. Although it's not a challenging route, a head torch is a must to prevent anyone going bump in the night.

Not being familiar with the park, it felt like we were adventuring as we ran in the dark – the course was well marked with cheery marshals at every turn but I had no idea where we were going or what was ahead, besides the dot of lit trail in front. I didn't even realise we were doing a second lap until we passed a familiar-faced pumpkin. It would be really interesting to return to Osterley for the weekly parkrun to explore the grounds in daylight.

Neon shapes in the dark
As the finish arch peeked between the trees, I considered hiding for a bit or slowing to a walk. I'd had a blast and wasn't quite ready to stop but it was a joy to join the other finishers with their glow-in-the-dark medals(!) and soak up the excitement of the mini adventure.

Glow-in-the-dark medal!

For a full list of the National Trust Night Run series venues and to register for a race, click here.