Category Archives: Kit

Bank Holidays & Buffs

Whilst I’m on a little training sabbatical, as my bike is out of action and so am I, I thought I’d share a bit of what I got up to on the recent bank holiday. With exams having taken priority of late and time with James having revolved mostly around eating, sleeping and training, we wanted to take the opportunity to head out somewhere pretty for a long walk together.

We headed out to the recently decorated North Yorkshire moors, near Rosedale Abbey, where the Tour de Yorkshire recently snaked through. This time, there was no peloton in sight though, and I even got James to leave his bike at home and avoid the temptation to tackle Rosedale Chimney, a famous local climb that has a frankly ridiculous gradient- it starts steep, only gets steeper and has a few nasty, twisting hairpins in it. Not today thankyou!

Instead, we headed out on a scenic 12-mile loop that took in some gorgeous moorland, some beautiful views and plenty of scrambling about. We sauntered along, both enjoying the novelty of fresh air and beautiful scenery that we had chance to enjoy, without being focused on pace or heart rate, just enjoying some rare quality time together.

 

 

We walked for ages, even when the wind started to pick up and get chilly, which is when my choice of short shorts for hiking in was laughed at rather a lot- but when Lululemon is so comfy, why not? I also tucked my ears up nice and cosy in the gorgeous Buff that Kitshack sent me to try out lately. I’ve always loved Buffs, and think they’re super useful for toasty ears in winter and a sweat saving headband in summer, and I especially love the new designs in the summer collection. It remains to be seen whether this beauty, as claimed, will protect me from insects, but it did keep my ears pretty toasty, and as you’d expect from a Buff, it’s soft and silky and fits like a dream.

Eventually though, tummies growling at the length of time it had been since snacks, we headed into a cosy little pub on Blakey Ridge, where we absolutely devoured a yummy steak pie and lingered over coffee before we walked back to Rosedale.

 

 

Full bellies, tired legs, flushed cheeks and toasty ears- the perfect way to spend a bank holiday!

Kitshack kindly contacted me and offered me a new Buff, a product I already know and love, to try out. I wasn’t paid or sponsored to write this post, and apart from the one dubious selfie, all photos were kindly taken by James

 

Shoe review: Salomon X-Scream 3D

Hybrids of anything tend to worry me a little. Hybrid bikes always seem a little rubbish compared to sleek, sexy road bikes. 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner does neither job very well. So when Salomon sent me their X-Scream 3D shoe, which I understood to be a good ‘door to trail’ shoe that would handle road and trail equally well, I was somewhat sceptical.

I have a pair of Salomon Speedcross pure trail shoes that I absolutely love. They’re supportive and stable, yet light, nimble and absolutely brilliant for trail running, as well as being hiking shoes- they handled a snowy hike up Pen-y-Ghent brilliantly. The other feature I love is the QuickLace system, which is easy to tension perfectly, and then you can forget about laces, confident they won’t come undone during a muddy romp on the trails.

Salomon X-Scream 3D

 

I’ve had the X-Scream 3D for a couple of months now, and to say I thought I’d hate them, I’ve found myself reaching for them a lot. My house at the moment is situated a mile from an offroad canal path, and a mile from a set of trails, and I’ve always struggled with sliding on pavements if I run there in trail shoes, or sliding on the trails themselves if I run in road shoes. These offerings from Salomon bridge the gap pretty well- they’re light, nimble and pretty quick on the road, feeling like good, light road shoes, but on easy trails, they feel perfect- grippy and stable. Now, I’ve not tested them through full-on Yorkshire mud or on highly technical trails, but I don’t think that’s the niche these are for.

For once, a hybrid seems to do the job perfectly. Since I got them, I’ve put in miles and miles in these shoes- long trail runs, short speed sessions on the canal, and the odd road run as well, and they’ve performed well across the board. I can’t tell you much of the technical side of shoes, but I can tell you these feel good on my feet- they’re light, comfortable and fasten securely, as well as running similarly in size to my other Salomons, New Balance & Brooks shoes- a UK 7.5 was spot on. I don’t even object to the pink, which is rare for me, though I do think like all trail shoes, they look better muddy. I think they’re made for neutral runners, but I tend not to worry about these things too much, and they feel good, so I’m sold.

Salomon sent me a pair of the X-Scream to test out in my everyday training and write my honest opinions about. I’ve run around 70 miles in them to come to my conclusions, and was not paid to write this review. 

While I’m away…

As you may or may not have realised (ie heard me whinging about on Twitter), I’m currently midway through sitting my medical finals, so on a bit of a blogging break. It’s similar to an ultra; it takes perseverance, many snacks and healthy doses of sane company to get through, but with a positive mindset, plenty of caffeine and frequent breaks it’s doable.

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The light is at the end of the tunnel now, and I have sunny days on my bike within my sights, as well as a crisp, cold G&T or three. I have a few more exams, three weeks of shadowing, a mountain of paperwork and some very scary GMC documents to get hold of, but with a bit of luck I’ll be swapping Miss for Dr as a title rather soon.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a little blog I wrote for the Vulpine website, about learning to love cycling in Yorkshire’s playground.

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TTFN! x

Find your passion & share it

Dating a fellow athlete has its pros and cons. The major pro is that they completely ‘get it’; the need to squeeze in your run or ride for that day before you come home and have dinner together. The need for masses of pasta and an early night before weekend adventures. The post long session state where you want to laze around in your sweatpants eating everything in sight.

The downside is that unless you’re very well-matched in ability and training goals, you don’t actually get to train together very often. James is an absolute monster on a bike compared to me, so more often than not, we carb up of a morning and head out separately, him on a century with the boys and me on a more sedate social ride with the club. Sometimes, however, I get lucky and he needs a recovery ride, where he’s more than happy to ride at my speed. It just so happened this Easter weekend was one of those times.

On Friday, on the way home to my parents’ for the long weekend, we stopped off in Gargrave at Orbit Tandems to learn more about tandem riding and whether it could be the perfect way for us to ride together without me getting dropped! We met John and Ruth, resident experts on all things tandem, who run the UK’s specialist tandem store and design their own Orbit range.

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After a quick lesson in the car park with the very patient Jamie to teach us how to actually ride tandem (it’s harder than you’d think to co-ordinate and being the ‘stoker’ on the back can be quite scary actually, and you get frequently accused of not pedalling when you are. AHEM.), a few wobbles and a few yells of ‘PEDAL!!!’ flying about, we were away, and took the very swish racing tandem above out for a spin. Once we got the hang of it, it was enormous fun, and despite our initial skepticism about it, we had a blast: if you remember to talk to each other about what you’re doing, choose a good route and both look after each other, it’s brilliant fun.

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After being unable to resist putting in a sprint effort to smash a Strava segment (some things never change) and a quick lunch pitstop at the yummy Dalesman Cafe, we headed back to Orbit with massive grins on our faces, feeling like we definitely ‘got’ tandem riding and vowing to buy one ourselves when we have the cash. John and Ruth’s obvious passion for tandem riding, combined with an incredible level of knowledge about cycling, makes theirs the only choice if you want a tandem for anything else than a little spin to the shops- their showroom alone is well worth a visit!

Saturday came around, and when we awoke to beautiful sunshine forecast to last all day, we couldn’t resist getting out for another ride together. I decided to try my longest ever ride whilst in the relatively flat lands of West Lancashire instead of Yorkshire, but we also wanted to make a trip to the beautiful Trough of Bowland. With as many snacks as we could fit in our jersey pockets, we headed out together, and enjoyed the feeling of the sunshine on our skin, as we rode through beautiful countryside and spent some quality time together.

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We whizzed along flat bits, and when the beast of the climb up the Trough of Bowland itself came, and I got my gears wrong and my legs wouldn’t turn the pedals any more, it was no big drama. When I got back on my bike and finally joined James near the top of the climb, he was enjoying a picnic in the sunshine, and we took some time to admire the scenery. Fostering confidence on the roads and on these big rides is far easier when your ride mate is patient and kind, that’s for sure.

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63 miles later, and I was done, my first ‘century’ (100km) in the bag. My legs ached, my shoulders hurt from my position on my bike (it’s becoming increasingly obvious my bike is too big), but my face couldn’t stop smiling and I had a great time. It’s rare I get to share these rides with James, but I love it when I do.

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Find your passion & share it!

We were invited as part of writing for PedalNorth to test out some Orbit Tandems, but this wasn’t sponsored. All dubious selfies our own…

Book review: Tricurious

I have long been a fan of Laura Fountain’s blog. It’s the main reason I took up running and blogging a few years back, so it’s fair to say it led to some pretty awesome things happening in my life. Then, she wrote her first book, The Lazy Runner, which I really enjoyed, so when her and Katie King announced they’d written a book, Tricurious, I was instantly just that.

My copy arrived last week, and over the weekend, as I settled back under the duvet with my breakfast, I eagerly started reading.

Tricurious

Just 3 days later, and I’ve finished the book. That should really tell you all you need to know, but I will expand.

In the position I’m in, just starting out in triathlon, there are hundreds of articles, training plans, magazines and websites I can consult for help, but sometimes the know-how of triathlon needs livening up a little; to feel more like a pub conversation than a technical lecture. That’s what Katie and Laura have achieved perfectly with their book; it’s warm, witty and above all, practical. They both trace their triathlon stories back to the start, through funny tales of mishaps and muddling through, dispensing masses of helpful advice along the way.

The bottom line is, Tricurious has something to offer everyone, from the total newcomer to triathlon, right through to the seasoned competitor that will chuckle aloud at the vital questions the book answers, mainly: Do I get to wear a sports bra for triathlon? Is it polite to wee in a wetsuit in company? Is it true that time clocked up wearing cycling chamois all counts as training?

Buy it, read it, love it and share it. It’s that kind of book.

I received my review copy of Tricurious from Summersdale Publishers to write about, but all opinions here are my own. As is the Nutella supply- hands off!

 

#ashmeiambassadors selection day

If you’re on Twitter and follow a few fitness types, chances are you couldn’t miss the #ashmeiambassadors takeover for the past few days. Ashmei, a gorgeous running clothing brand branching out into cycle and triathlon clothing, invited applications for the third running of it’s ambassador scheme, giving a small number of athletes the opportunity to wear their gorgeous kit for a year, test prototypes and be involved in showcasing the brand.

I submitted an application, along with I suspect hundreds of others, and then promptly forgot about it- after all, such great opportunities are popular and there are some very worthy athletes out there.

So, imagine my surprise when an email from the lovely folks at Freestak landed in my inbox, informing me that I’d been shortlisted, and invited down for the #ashmeiambassadors selection day in Hertfordshire!

After bribing James with cake, the promise of bacon on the way and chance to seek out some monster climbs down in the Chilterns, he gave me a lift down, and after a long drive, I finally arrived at Ashmei HQ, which was packed full of fellow runners, cyclists and triathletes. Some were familiar faces from Twitter, finally met in real life, and some were new people to meet, with some pretty awesome experiences under their belts and races in their calendars.

#ashmeiambassadors

After raiding their carb supplies, we settled in for a presentation from Ashmei owner and founder Stuart, about the ethos of the brand, the design process for the kit and the #ashmeiambassadors programme itself, before we kitted up in some of the world’s softest socks and headed out, half of the group with Stuart and Georgie for a bike ride, and the rest of us for a beautiful trail run around the grounds.

#ashmeiambassadors

Softest socks IN THE WORLD

We ran, we chatted about upcoming races, and I think most of us would agree, completely forgot that we were ‘competing’ to be selected: there were world championship qualifying triathletes happily rubbing shoulders with complete amateurs like me, and admiring the beautiful scenery of the Chilterns.

#ashmeiambassadors

Photo courtesy of Lenka from Freestak

We also took many selfies, of course- put a bunch of social media savvy athletes together and naturally selfies have to happen- kudos to James though, who took it one step further, running with a GoPro on a selfie stick and then creating this awesome video of our run. Isn’t it gorgeous?

#ashmeiambassadors

Mad selfie skills from Lenka!

Check it out- you might spot a familiar runner in a lilac top windmilling over the hills!

So whether or not I’m lucky enough to be selected, I had a great day learning about a gamechanging new brand on the sportswear scene, and met some truly inspiring athletes, from the weekend warriors like me all the way to the Kona qualifiers and the international ultra runners. Thanks Stuart and co for having us!

 

 

Winter running & cycling lifesavers

February is finally here, and with it seems to be coming some more springlike weather- thank GOD, right? I thought those long, dark nights were never going to end, and that venturing outside without 54515 layers of thermals was never going to be possible. Fortunately though, bit by bit, winter is giving way to spring, with sunny days becoming more normal, and the days getting steadily longer. It feels like winter has lasted forever this year, and a few bits of kit have felt absolutely indispensable, so here they are in a handy list (a mix of paid for and review kit, where items with a * were sent to me for review).

Cycling overshoes
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Until I was given a pair of these gorgeous Castelli overshoes for Christmas, I couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. And then I cycled in them a couple of times and fell in love. They act like little windbreakers to stop those highly ventilated cycling shoes turn your feet into blocks of ice, they bridge the gap between socks and the ankles of your tights perfectly, and as far as I’m concerned, every cyclist should have a pair. End of.

Feetures! socks* & CEP thermal ski socks
I was sent some gorgeous Feetures! socks at the start of winter, and I’ve worn them for almost every run I’ve been on since- they’re toasty, wonderfully soft merino wool socks, that haven’t given me the slightest hint of a blister all winter, and have kept my toes very happy. Thumbs up. I also won a pair of CEP thermal compression ski socks on Twitter, and when added to the Feetures! socks & the overshoes, have meant cycling through January has been a joy. They’re also the BEST post-run recovery socks if you live in a cold house with laminate floors like I do.

New Balance 1080v4 running shoes*

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I was fitted for a pair of these babies when I attended the opening of the Leeds Runners Need store, and having now run in them for a few months can happily say that they’re perfect. They were comfy straight from the box, and are that rare combination of lightweight but supportive: I’ve worn them in comfort for long runs up to half marathon with no issues, but also reach for them instead of race flats for tempo runs sometimes. They run similar in size to Brooks, where I always go a half size up and find they fit perfectly.

 

Nathan heel clip*

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Nathan sent me a box of various goodies as part of their #fireupyourrun campaign, and though initially I struggled to see the point of this light that clips onto your heel, it’s been so handy, and I’ve reached for it time and time again in winter. It’s a nice extra touch of visibility if you run in black tights like me durning winter, and I wear it a lot for cycling, clipped on my right heel, for that extra bit of visibility (every little helps!).  It stays put on your shoe perfectly, is easy to move between shoes and it can be set to flash (rave shoe time!) or just stay on.

Haglofs Lim Proof Q Shell jacket

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Before this winter, I didn’t own a proper waterproof jacket, but with the White Rose Ultra on the horizon and a waterproof with taped seams on the kit list, I got one for my birthday. This jacket should have been shockingly expensive, but with a decent dose of googling & bargain hunting, I got it for £84, and it has been worth every penny. It’s super lightweight, possible to run in without feeling like you’re wearing a binbag and sweating to death, it’s actually long enough in the body, has a hood and a zip pocket, and best of all, folds up really small to tuck in the pocket of an ultra vest or a cycling jersey pocket. It’s also roomy enough in a size small to pop a hoody under and wear to go hiking. Versatile!

Helly Hansen Pace 1/2 zip long sleeve top & beanie hat*

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As part of promoting their Winter Duel app, which lets you rival other runners, log your miles & motivate yourself through winter (all aboard another nerdy app that’s sometimes more fun than Strava!), Helly Hansen sent me this top and beanie hat to keep me warm whilst I run, and they’re brilliant. I’m not one for pink kit normally, but this top is supremely comfy, and flattering enough to wear for cake and coffee afterwards, as well as being warm but not bulky- perfect! I’ve never run in a hat before either, but for truly icy days, it’s been ace for keeping my ears toasty.

Believe Training Journal

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I bought one of these for a friend but couldn’t resist treating myself to one too, and it’s beautiful. It’s written by a pair of pro runners including Lauren Fleshman (fangirl alert!), and is a beautiful space to record your training and stay on track, as well as being full of useful advice and a really handy pacing chart. It’s intended for running but it’s working perfectly for me for triathlon training too!

Lululemon All Sport bra*

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I received one of these gorgeous sports bras to test back in April when I visited Lululemon Richmond with Cat, and initially thought it would only be good for yoga; it’s soft and comfortable, easy to put on compared to the monster engineering of a Shock Absorber, and not adjustable- all the hallmarks to me of a sports bra that’s for style over function. However, since then, I’ve only really taken it off to wash it. It’s come with me for an ultramarathon, countless bike rides, including seriously sweaty turbo sessions like the one above, and even a full triathlon including the swim, with zero chafing or bounce, just endless comfort. I’d buy another one in a heartbeat (and am accordingly planning a raid on the Lululemon store when I get my first paycheck as a doctor!)

Sufferfest videos

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Sufferfest training videos for use on the turbo spark a bit of a love-hate relationship amongst cyclists. My OH will do literally anything he can to avoid riding on the turbo, but since I lack the confidence and bike handling skills he has, I take to the turbo more readily, and since I got given a set of Sufferfest videos as a present, I’ve learned to love it in a perverse, thrashing myself into the ground in a sweaty mess, kind of way. There’s no denying that they’re incredibly hard work, but they’re engaging, and likely to make you work as hard in an hour indoors as you might in 4 hours out on the road- and you can also put in sprints and efforts without worrying about junctions and being taken out by cars. Just for the love of god, equip yourself with plenty of water, a towel and a mat for your floor. You’ll see why if you do one.

Vulpine polka cotton cap

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Okay, so the face is nowhere near as cute as the cap, but this Vulpine baby has been keeping my head toasty for ages now. It fills in the vents from the helmet, stopping the breeze as I ride making my head cold, and the peak handily helps deflect rain from my eyes so I can see when it’s raining. Small investment = massive increase in comfort.

Disclaimer: All of the items with a * were given to me either for testing and review or as part of a project with a brand, such as the Winter Duel app with Helly Hansen. I wasn’t paid to write this post, and all of the opinions are my own. As are the dubious selfies.

Raynaud’s phenomenon and running

Ever since I was about 10, each winter has been a bit of a struggle for me, like it has for a lot of people living with Raynaud’s phenomenon.

For the lucky few that aren’t in the know, Raynaud’s phenomenon is a condition where a change in temperature of your hands and feet causes spasm of the small blood vessels, causing the circulation to shut down, resulting in numb hands and a characteristic colour change from white (as the circulation disappears) to purplish blue (as the lack of circulation really sets in), to bright red (as the blood flow returns).

It’s generally an annoyance, but in terms of trying to run and cycle through winter, it’s downright annoying, and in the case of cycling, a bit dangerous- I don’t particularly like the feeling of cycling down a steep hill, with hands so numb I can’t feel my brake levers or tell if I’m braking…

Over the years, I’ve learned a few things that have helped to stop it being such a nightmare, so for all the cold-handed ones on Twitter who wanted to know, here goes:

Think about your hands and feet when you’re heading outside

Raynaud's phenomenon

Whether it’s my hands or my feet, taking the time to make sure they’re wrapped up well makes a great deal of difference to keeping the blood flow alive if you have Raynaud’s phenomenon.  I’ve generally found two layers of socks or gloves to be the best, as they trap a layer of warm air between them and help to insulate better, so for this winter’s runs, I’ve been lining my normal socks with a toasty pair of merino wool Feetures! socks*. They’re soft and warm, and have been super comfy for running and cycling thus far. With gloves, ‘liner gloves’ that are thin are a brilliant addition if normal gloves just aren’t keeping you warm.

Pre-empt the temperature change

I only realised this year that it was the temperature change that provoked my hands turning blue, and not the absolute temperature, so I’ve started pre-empting the jump in temperature by getting my gloves and socks on for a while (like 15-20 minutes) before I leave the house, and it seems to help- whether it’s that the air layer between my gloves and socks warms up or what, I don’t know, but it seems to help…

Go and seek some help for it

Raynaud’s phenomenon is both incredibly common, especially in women, and incredibly annoying, so no GP will be annoyed if you go to see them about it, and there are things they can do. For the first time this winter, I’m trying Nifedipine tablets, which work on the muscles of the blood vessel walls to keep them open and keep the blood flow to my fingers and toes alive. They’ve been an absolute godsend so far this winter; I managed to run a 30 mile ultra in November without gloves on and without wanting to cry at the state of my numb, useless hands. Granted, they’re not suitable for everyone, as they can make you pretty dizzy if your blood pressure is low, but they’re worth asking about.

But if you’re taking Nifedipine, stay hydrated

As I mentioned before, Nifedipine can drop your blood pressure a little, so as I learned the hard way, if you take it when you’e dehydrated, it’s falling over and fainting time. So, now when I’m taking it, I make sure I stay hydrated. When I’m loafing around at home, I tend to do that with water, but out on runs or rides (or when a bit hungover), I’m still a big fan of nuun*.

Tasty, easy to drop in a bottle of water whilst you’re out and full of electrolytes to replace what you lose in sweat.

Thaw back out slowly

If these measures don’t stop your hands doing the horrible thing, then for goodness’ sake don’t come home from your ride or run straight into a scalding shower or to hold a steaming mug of tea to thaw out. You need to let the blood flow come back slowly, or like if you thaw a frozen pipe too quickly it cracks, the tiny blood vessels can burst, which is at best painful and at worst, leaves you with horrendously black, bruised hands. (Yes, I have learned this the hard way). So thaw out slowly and let yourself come back to room temperature slowly, before you jump in that super hot bath or shower!

* Both Feetures! and nuun sent me their products to try out recently, and I have used them both in training for a while now. All opinions are my own. (And I’ve been a vocal fan of nuun long before the freebies).

 

The Fit Girls’ Christmas Gift Guide

If you have a fit girl in your life, and I mean one who is into endurance sport and not in the manner of ‘you’re fit but my gosh don’t you know it’ (shut up, you love The Streets too, that song is well catchy), you might be racking your brains for what to buy her for Christmas. Fear not: step away from the baby pink running kit and endless socks, and take a look at some marginally cooler ideas instead.

 

1. Big Balls Beanies Beanie Hats, £15-20Big Balls Beanies
For winter sportsing, whether that’s cross country racing, chilly bike rides or swim sessions, nothing feels toastier when enjoying coffee and cake afterwards than a good beanie hat. Big Balls Beanies are a recently launched Manchester brand, making super-cute beanies in some really nice colours, like this one, particularly perfect if you know a member of Serpentine RC in London… I’ve hardly taken mine off since I was sent one to try out. Toasty AND cool.

2. Lululemon Run Swiftly Long Sleeve, £62

Lululemon Run Swiftly

Pricey, yes, but now I own a Lululemon top, I can totally see why. My short sleeved top feels like it was knitted out of a mix of magic and the world’s softest fabric, so any fit girl in your life would appreciate one of these to cosy up in on those long winter runs, as a cycling baselayer or you know, just on a chilly pub trip.

3. Crumble Club subscription, from £12

Crumble Club subscription

Okay, so we ain’t all fortunate enough to live near Cat, but if your fit girl does and is training lots over winter, a Crumble Club subscription would be the perfect gift for her. Hand baked in Richmond by the lovely Cat (an absolute running boss), Crumble Club crumble is delicious, and the perfect way to refuel after a long, cold winter training session.

4. YOU GOT THIS Nicola Rowlands badge, £2.90

YOU GOT THIS Nicola Rowlands

If you need a little stocking filler for your fit girl, how about a little pocket confidence boost for before her next race? Nicola makes some seriously awesome gifts, and her pocket mirrors are cute, a little bit different and guaranteed to raise a smile, or even better, motivation, before a race.

5. Bike Maintenance Classes at Edinburgh Bicycle Cooperative, from £25

Bike Maintenance Classes

One of, I think, the most intimidating things about taking up cycling is learning your way around the bike, what the hell all the parts do and how to repair it. Beyond a simple puncture, I’m screwed and end up invariably needing a man to fix my bike, so I (and I bet loads of other women moving into cycling) would love a voucher for a bike maintenance course. It would be a super thoughtful gift that would keep on giving!

6. Believe Training Journal, £12

Believe Training Journal

Most female runners I know are big Lauren Fleshman fangirls, and I for one have wanted one of her Believe training journals for AGES, so imagine my excitement when a pal pointed out they’re on Amazon, with free delivery in the UK, and are out in time for Christmas? So, why not buy your fit girl somewhere to track her training in style? Strava might have trophies but this book looks gorgeous. I *might* have already bought myself one for Christmas. Oops.

7. Morvelo Hemisphere Gilet, £72

Morvelo Hemisphere Gilet

Let’s be honest, we all know hi-viz is important when running or cycling in winter, but it’s rarely stylish- which is why this Morvelo gilet makes a nice change. It’s made in Britain (kinda nice these days),  weather-resistant and has loads of pockets, including a zipped one, which I think makes it a great piece of winter training kit that I for one would love to be waiting under the tree!

8. Gore Running Wear Air Thermo Tights, £80

Last Christmas I got some Gore thermal tights, and I lived, died and ran my first ultra in them. They were super comfy, fit like a dream and kept me toasty warm. Then I ripped the knee to ribbons in a bike crash and life in the winter hasn’t been quite the same since. These are an ace addition to any woman’s winter training wardrobe!

9. Selle Italia Womens Gel Flow Saddle, £55

Selle Italia Lady Gel Flow saddle

 

A bike saddle might not feel like one of the most special Christmas presents you could buy the fit woman in your life, but trust me on this one, she will thank you several times over if she can return from a long bike ride without feeling like she’s had an intimate massage with a rake. It’s early days for me and this saddle that I gave in and bought, but so far so good. However, it equally might be best to buy her a gift voucher and then she can go and be fitted for a saddle herself, as every woman’s anatomy is different and saddle comfort varies hugely.

10. Liv Avail 3 Bike, £649

Liv Avail 3

Bit frivolous to stick a bike on a Christmas gift guide, but this is my party. Liv, a new bike brand that is the female-only sister of Giant, is launching a range of bikes designed specifically for women. No ‘shrinking and pinking’ here- the bikes aren’t shrunk down men’s bikes with a bit of pink on them, they’re actually made for women’s bodies and riding styles, and I for one would bloody love to try one!

So you’ve seen what I think a fit girl would like for Christmas… But what would YOU like? Drop me a comment and let me know!

Apart from receiving two free beanie hats to wear and tweet about, I wasn’t paid by any of the people or companies in this post- they’re just things I would genuinely like or have already ordered.

Keeping going in winter

There are a whole host of posts out there about training through winter, and I’m not going to trot out the usual slightly patronising stuff about wearing bright clothes and keeping warm, as I don’t think I have anything to add. I have, however, run through three winters now and found a few things that really help- because no amount of fluorescent clothing will convince you to get out of bed when it’s cold and dark, or get you off the sofa when it’s raining.

Consider how you wake up

Lumie Bodyclock Active

Nothing makes me wake up cursing and swearing more than an iPhone alarm, and I’m 80% likely to just snooze it and sack off a morning run anyway, but was dubious about other ways of waking up. I’d read about Lumie clocks but was sceptical, then I got one sent to me*. Oh. My. God. I’m not going to say I positively bounce out of bed each morning, but the clock gently wakes me with a sunrise, and it feels far more natural than a blaring alarm. The Bodyclock Active version comes with a radio too, which is really useful! I’ve been testing the clock for a couple of months now, through dark mornings and waking up after minimal sleep, and it’s honestly been a game changer.

*Lumie sent me the clock to try out for free, but I wasn’t paid to write about it- I just really, genuinely love it and would happily pay for one out of my own money now I’ve tried it.

Then don’t stagnate

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This applies just as much first thing in the morning as it does when you get back in from work in an evening. When the alarm clock goes off, or you walk through the front door, don’t stagnate. If you get straight out of bed without thinking, or straight into your running shoes, you’ll overcome that precious 10 minutes where it’s really easy to talk yourself out of a run, and find yourself still under the duvet, or glued to the sofa. Shoes on, out of the door. GO.

Make it easy to train

Sure, sometimes you really do need to get out late in an evening to squeeze your training in, but if you can fit it in before then, you can spend a cosy, quite smug evening knowing you’re done. Could you cycle or run to and from work on a recovery day? Commutes are the perfect place for easy miles, and it’s two birds with one stone- it’s free, you beat the traffic, and by the time you’re home, you can be smug that you’ve done the day’s training. You could even squeeze in a lunchtime run or swim if you get lunchbreaks and are speedy about it. Just don’t forget your clean pants for post commute (shut up, we’ve all done it).

Make a commitment

As a fundamentally quite lazy soul, if the only promise around training I’ve made is to myself, and it’s freezing, raining or I’m just knackered, it’s really easy to skip training in favour of naps, TV and general laziness. I know this, so I deliberately commit to things; I volunteer to lead runs, I arrange swim sessions with my friend Hannah, and I’ve signed up to a cycling club to get myself out on the bike. If someone else is expecting you at training, it’s far easier to make yourself do it.

So over to you: how do you get yourself out training in winter when it’s dark, cold and miserable?