November 2015Eclectic Cake: November 2015

Monday, 30 November 2015

Fire Up Your Run

I almost ran over a hedgehog. It was dark and those prickly guys aren't exactly known for their fluorescence. Luckily for him (and my toes), I avoided crushing it but this mini non-incident made me look at my own night-running attire – almost all black. Great for camouflaging into the darkness, like Mr. Tiggywinkle, but not so great if I also wanted to avoid being squashed whilst running across roads and along shared pavements and bike paths.


And then a giant matchbox, full of luminous treats from Nathan landed on my doorstep. Within seconds, I'd blinded myself playing with mini lights, torches, a reflective bottle and a t-shirt bright enough it could direct planes to land. 


Of course, when I was at school, the words "be safe, be seen" were all over the notice boards and my mum would make me wear a reflective snap band on my arm in winter – highly embarrassing when you're the only 6-year-old wearing one. She had a point, though. You might see that bike hurtling towards you on the shared pavement but, unless you've donned the high-vis (you know, lit up like a Christmas tree), then they most likely won't see you until they have to pull you out of their spokes.


Wearing all the Nathan lights would possibly be considered a dangerous distraction on the road, rather than a safety measure – there are a lot to choose from. Although, you could possibly start your own rave. It's good to know there's an option for everyone.


I'm not sure I could ever wear the reflective vest without feeling like Jodie Marsh's sportier sister. And carrying a torch or bottle, no matter how cool (in both senses of the word – the insulated layer keep your drink cold), feels a little awkward. But when I run with the LightSpur though, I feel like I'm racing in Tron. The mini lights are so easy to slip into a pocket, in case you find yourself suddenly plunged into darkness and they don't weight you down like a head-torch could.


After what felt like a lifetime of running in Summer sun, suddenly being plunged into the cold and darkness of autumn has played havoc with my training. It's a little less appealing to step outside when it's pitch black and every muscle in your body tells you it should be asleep, so it tends to happen less often. It's good to have something to brighten up each dark run.

Browse the full Nathan visibility range here.


DISCLAIMER: Nathan kindly sent me a selection of their visibility range to trial.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Run Wild with Brooks

Running the concrete jungle can feel a little dull sometimes. The roads, the buildings, even the skies can lack that certain something the true wilderness offers, so Brooks has injected some wild into our runs with their new limited edition Urban Jungle collection.


There are three shoes available, each with its own jungle print that will bring out your animal instincts. Cushiony, structured Ghost 8s – with zoomy zebra print for men and speedy leopard print for women – and energising women's Ravenna 6s in a vibrant green print. The same brilliant Brooks shoes, just a little wilder.


I tested them out in what can only be described as an urban rain forest, a very soggy ZSL London Zoo during a scavenger hunt to find the wildest animals. It turns out that even the scariest of animals don't like the rain though, so it was down to us to bring the spirit of the jungle to the city.


Win Wild!

For your chance to win a pair of limited edition Brooks Jungle Collection shoes, follow these steps...

1. Take a picture of your wildest run.

2. Post it on Instagram before midnight on Tuesday 17th November, making sure you tag @eclecticcake and @brooksrunninguk using #winwild.

3. Keep your fingers crossed until the winner is announced on Wednesday 18th November.

(UK residents only)

DISCLAIMER: I was generously gifted a pair of the Women's Ghost 8s by Brooks

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Never Stop London

It's hard living in the city when your heart is in the mountains. Yes, there are ways of getting high up in London but scaling an oversized glass tower doesn't even compare to climbing a beautifully brutal natural giant. Until I win the lottery and can afford a little hut in the trails, like most of us, I'm stuck living where the money is and weekend visits.

That’s why, together with The North Face, I'm creating a hub for like-minded London explorers, that will host community activities to help you escape the concrete jungle and explore the great outdoors. Each event will be based from the new Regent Street flagship store and will be completely free.



WEEKLY OUTDOOR TRAINING

Prepare you for the mountains with weekly outdoor strength and stamina conditioning. Whether you’re a trail runner, climber or snowboarder, these sessions will help to improve your fitness so you can enjoy every minute you get in the mountains. 

Gather in store for an outdoor workout, starting with a short jog to a local park to warm up. There our expert trainers will lead us through exercises, which target the areas of the body required to be strong for all explorers.

Every Tuesday, 6:15pm–7:30pm
The North Face, 290 Regent Street, London



MONTHLY INSPIRATION NIGHTS

Feel inspired and ready to explore with monthly evenings set to fill your mind and soul. The sessions will be different every month. Watch a dramatic adventure film that will get you planning your next adventure. Listen to one of our incredible athletes speak of their greatest challenges. Or learn new outdoor skills in our workshops, from foraging for food to navigation



MONTHLY EXPLORATIONS

We know our weekly workouts and inspiration evenings will leave you itching for adventure, so once a month we'll take the community out of the city for a weekend exploration. From trail running to hiking, climbing to skiing, there’ll be something for all mountain lovers at any level. 

Together with our partners, we’ll show you great new places and ways to explore outside of London, where you can put your new found fitness and skills to the test under the guidance of our experts. 


For more information on the events and the community, head to the #NEVERSTOPLONDON Facebook page.

Monday, 2 November 2015

Race Report: Trailscape, North

WHAT: Trail half marathon
WHERE: Newport, Essex
WHEN: 31st October


As it was Halloween, it was appropriate that this run was a little scary. Dressed as a sweaty pumpkin in my bright orange Trailscape T-shirt, I'd spent the first few miles lugging myself through the sticky mud, shocked at just how unfit I felt. 


I hesitated at the turn off for the 10k route, tempted to shorten my run and avoid what seemed like my inevitable fate – having to stop and set up camp in a self-built mud hut, living off acorns and poached woodlice, until I mustered the energy to continue running the half marathon because the way I was running, it would take days. Probably weeks!


I guess it's part of the adventure of trail running. You're at the mercy of the elements, the test is not how fast you finish but how you deal with what's thrown your way. On this occasion, we were chucked into slippy, slidey mud that sucked your shoes and your energy each time you put your foot down. It was tough.


Somehow, I made it to the half-way point and the first check point – a chance to pause, fill my face with Jelly Babies and Jaffa Cakes. And get a reality check.

The three volunteers, marshalling that table of sugary joy were having fun. They'd probably been up since the first glimpse of light and had been standing on the trails waiting for us to arrive for hours, yet they were laughing, joking and having a great time. I needed to lighten up.


Once I accepted that this wasn't going to be my fastest half marathon, I relaxed and settled into running. The longer I was out, the more fun I'd have, right? I happily splashed through puddles and hopped over mud, enjoying the appropriately spooky mist that blanketed the essex countryside, the wonderfully windy course and the company of other runners. Anyone who passed me no longer brought dread of getting slower but a new opportunity for conversation.


I'd come out the other side of grumpy doubt and was having fun, so it was a pity that the end came so quickly. I emerged from the trails, back over the railway bridge and straight into the gathering crowd of finishers, with a mission for the next three races in the series. Come back stronger and smile!


The next Trailscape race is in Cuxton, Kent on the 5th December. You can register here.

DISCLAIMER: As an ambassador for the Trailscape race series, my race entry is paid for by the race organisers.