21 January 2018

My Top 5 Insta Pages

For anyone who follows me will know I have a wide range of hobbies & eclectic tastes. So, it’s no surprise that some of my favourite Instagram pages are a bit left field. But why be dull I say, variety is the spice of life?

Anyhow, here are a few which are making me smile in a very grey January.

Sea Legs @sealegscartoon
I first spotted Sea Legs on @surfgirlmag it’s fun little surf wave based cartoons based on a surfboard enjoying life with his mates. For surf chicas & chicos, it can’t help but make you smile & dream about heading off in search of the perfect wave.

Celeste Barber @celestebarber
If you’re in need of a proper belly laugh, follow @celestebarber. Celeste is an Australian actor, comedian and all-round funny lady. Basically, she re-enacts perfect model/celebrity shots or videos with her own tongue & cheek interpretation. Watch her videos, you can’t help but chuckle.

Judy Andrews @spoonfulsugarco

I met the very funky designer Judy from A Spoonful of Sugar & Co last summer at Blogtacular. By day she works as a graphic designer in the same industry as me & runs her own business. Judy's creations focus on bright & bold typography across cool stationery, pins, jewellery etc all with a positive feel-good vibe.

Charlie - @therunnebeans
If you’re looking for a female running inspiration check out Charlie Watson from @therunnerbeans for a true down to earth account of the highs and lows of running. She’s also aiming to run her fastest ever marathon in London this year, so give her a follow and some encouragement.

Gaping Void @gapingvoid
Flipping over to the corporate world of insta pages @GapingVoid brings workplace culture stories to life in the form of daily cartoon/sketches. Based in America their posts are usually the first thing I see in the morning and are very relatable to office life.

What are your current favourite Instagram pages? I’m always on the lookout for inspiring, upbeat pages – pop them in the comments box below.

07 January 2018

Top Tips for Tackling Tough Mudder

Cider makes everything better....

So maybe your 2018 resolution was to sign up to Tough Mudder or some other obstacle race? Do something out of your comfort zone or set yourself a new challenge you might be thinking?

Yep, that was me last year when I fell in to peer pressure to sign up to Tough Mudder at Badminton Estate (also that place for that well-known horse event) in Gloucester. At the end of the day, it was for charity. I just tried not to think about the 10 muddy miles & 20+ obstacles. It’s like cross country for humans. Right?

In 2017 for about 6 months Tough Mudder dominated a lot of my conversations, before, during & after – so I thought I’d share some of my pearls of wisdom on how to get yourself to the start line.

How far out before the race should you start training?

I probably spent about 3 months trying to get myself into a good physical state & a couple of weeks trying to sort out my mental state & avoid pulling out!

TM produces several training guides to help you get to the start line… they do seem pretty full on. & I suppose with a lot of things it's taking the best from each & finding what suits you. However, if you like routine & are good at following a guide then this one is for you.

How fit do you have to be to take part in a Tough Mudder?

Running…

I’d say if you can comfortably run 5km without walking, then great. And if you can bust out a 10km without much worry even better. You’ll find there are people who’ll do no exercise what so ever & will suffer from the off or pay for it for the following week. Why do that to yourself?

There are loads of great apps out there to get you off the couch to 5km. Nike is always a good place to start & once you’ve got into the swing of things, get yourself down to a local parkrun. It’s free & actually pretty fun, plus it’s great to track your improvement week in week.

Join your local parkrun to help boost your fitness...

Or if you can run with friends or a local running club even better as they’ll help cheer you on as you progress over the weeks.

Running with friends is a great motivator...

On the day you’ll find that not everyone runs around the course which I was quite taken back by. The obstacles do zap your energy & you may only be able to muster up a little jog in between or fast walk. Just do what you or your teammates feel best. Definitely, listen to your body, & ultimately you want to make it round in one piece.

Strength & Conditioning

Now, this is an area I should have dedicated more time to, & would advise that at least 1 month out you go to a circuit or HIIT class. Alternatively, there are some good online PTs who put workouts online which you can follow in your own time & own home, I’d recommend Joe Wicks aka The Body Coach, Kayla Itsines or Emily Skye.

I joined forces with a local group who were also training for Tough Mudder & attended about 3 Sunday sessions which included a 5k+ run & 30+ mins of circuit style training – ropes, flipping tyres, weights etc. I’d do this & then run off to go ride 2 horses, so got an extra 2 hours of cardio!

Tough Mudder has just introduced some new 10-minute cardio sessions on YouTube which look good weather or not your training for TM or just want to get back into shape.

What trainers would you wear for TM?

Some people wore trail shoes, TM promotes Merrell trail trainers, which are currently on sale at £50. 

Everyone in my group just wore a pair of trainers they didn’t mind trashing. At the end of the course, there’s a place for people to ditch their unwanted muddy trainers.

Trainer heaven...RIP

What about the rest of your kit, what would you wear?

Long sleeve top & leggings to avoid getting scratched up. I wore my cycling gloves to help get a better grip on some of the obstacles & then took them off for the water ones. Running socks & a charity vest of course. We did debate knee pads but ditched them last minute as they were too bulky & we’re not that wussy.

What do you eat before the race?

If you’re anything like me, you’ll feel pretty sick the morning of the event. I managed poached eggs & salmon on toast; drunk lots of water as well as a Naked Superfood smoothie & Lucozade - more as a sporting ritual than anything.

It’s a good idea to carb up the night before – a good excuse to eat lots of pasta!

On the course, I took a bag of jelly beans for energy & something to nibble on, as we ended up out of course for about 4 hours!

What’s the atmosphere like?

Electric. It’s so much fun seeing people complete the course with great big the smiles on their face & hoping you’ll be the same. The warm-up pen is a really good laugh. We had a very exuberant presenter taking us through some dodgy warm-up moves, it got everyone in the mood for the event before we were let loose on the 10-mile course.

Is it really that muddy?

Yep… the first few obstacles are pretty nice, wooden struts, hay bales & then by the time you get to the 3rd or 4th obstacle you’re face down in the mud. The obstacles are mixed up between muddy & water ones, so you do have a bit of let up, but it’s definitely not for the faint-hearted. Especially when you have one obstacle called mud mile – prepare to get mud where you didn’t expect to!

Mud..glorious...mud...
Somewhere on the Mud Mile...SOS....

What’s the best way to tackle the obstacles?

Take each one at a time & teamwork is the only way to get around. You’ll see some amazing sights, people of all sizes & disabilities. I remember one group managed to get a guy who was a paraplegic round & it made us all man up just that little bit more! You’ll also find strangers helping one & other, so repay the favour.

What were your favourite obstacles?

Mainly the dry ones! I was pleased to run up Pyramid Scheme with very little help & Blockness Monster was fun – although half of that was in the water. Check out the current TM obstacles here.

And the least favourite obstacles?

Arctic Enema – the ice bath, literally took my breath away. I’m not the biggest fan of going underwater & this one gave me nightmares beforehand. & the last obstacle Electric Shock Therapy was brutal – especially as I got electrocuted twice face planting in the mud each time. At least there was a cider being handed out when we finished.

Electric Shock Therapy!!

Would you do it again?

Well, not Tough Mudder this year. It was an amazing experience & great to get around as a team. It’s definitely good for team bonding!! Although the memory of some of those obstacles are still pretty vivid. Maybe next year?

Happy...muddy..people...

What’s next?

Who knows… maybe another obstacle race or some trail runs. I’m ready for a new challenge that’s for sure.

Hopefully, I haven’t put anyone off Tough Mudder too much. It’s an amazing experience & something I’d recommend everyone doing at least once in their life. Once you get into it, you’ll meet people who do it every year & some that travel the world to complete Tough Mudder, so it’s pretty addictive.

For more information on Tough Mudder head to their website here 

31 December 2017

Reflections

It’s almost time to say au revoir 2017 & bonjour 2018….

Some folk find themselves in no man’s land between Christmas & New Year, whereas I kind of like those strange days as a way to say adios to the year, & enjoy looking forward & making plans for the year ahead.

Often when I’m out riding I daydream & earlier this week was a good time for reflecting on the year, thinking about everything that went pretty darn well & wondering what 2018 might hold.

I’ve picked out a few of my favourite moments…

Barley

Unlucky for some but finishing 13th at Aldon BE 100 marked the end of a long & winding road, recovering from a benign tumour in his foot. It was an emotional return to the sport we both love & as we stormed round the XC gave us a huge adrenalin rush which we’d been missing for some time.

Barley doing the thing he loves best at Aldon... knees up, ears pricked!
PC: James Pyne Photography
We’ll be wrapping him up in cotton wool over the winter & aiming at some British Evening & British Showjumping comps in the spring. He owes me nothing now & every time we head out I’m always grateful for being able to ride a sound & happy horse.

Jonty & Leo

We said a sad goodbye to Jonty in the autumn. After 7 years we knew deep down he just wasn’t going to be the eventer we so desired, so he’s gone off to a lovely home to become a dressage boy & strut his stuff.

Jonty strutting his stuff at Dorset County Show PC: James Pyne Photography
In November, we headed to Ireland & came home with a new addition to the family in the form of Leo a 4-year-old Irish Sports Horse. He’s one cool dude & we can’t wait to see what his future holds, so watch this space.

Oh hey there Leo!
SUP

SUP Yoga has become quite a thing in Dorset, so when Jez from Helios Colour Yoga started running SUP Yoga on the lake at Kingston Maurward College my friend Rachel & I jumped at the chance to have a go. It was pretty surreal to be striking a yoga pose whilst the sunset with swans swimming around you in the most amazing grounds.

Casually SUPing into the sunset with the swans as you do...
Once again I did a bit of solo travelling & headed to the Algarve in Portugal at the end of October for a week of surf, SUP & yoga as well as pretending I was 21 again with the gang at Tiny Whale Surf Lodge. One of the highlights has to be learning to SUP surf with Dave of Nowhere 2 Far SUP @nowhere2farSUP on insta, it gives you such an adrenalin rush when you ride a good wave into shore, I think I’m going to find it hard to go back to normal surfing!

Was worth the 5am wake-up call to see this sunrise...
Running & Tough Mudder

In the spring, I fell in to some friendly peer pressure & signed up to Tough Mudder. One of the main incentives apart from raising money for charity was that it was based on the hallowed grounds of Badminton Estate, so if I never ever get to go with a horse at least I can say I’ve been round on foot.

I actually got into my training & found my running mojo again, posting a new 10km PB of 51.25 at the Egdon Easy, & took part in my first night time trail race ‘Run from the Romans’ around Ham Hill with my bestie Rach.

Egdon Easy....was far from easy...
PC: Dazma
Night time trail running in the mud is fun when you have friends like these by your side...

Oh & I completed that little race called Tough Mudder, probably for the first & last time. It was a great experience… although plunging into freezing cold water & being electrocuted at the finish line isn’t really my idea of fun. However, I’m keen to do some other obstacle races…so if anyone has any suggestions – let me know!

We definitely earnt that cider!
PC: Tough Mudder
Blogging

I’ve had an up & down year with blogging. I sometimes had moments when I wondered if anyone really cared, does anyone actually read my posts & then when I do publish a new blog post & receive some lovely messages & my faith in blogging is always restored. At the end of the day, writing is one of my passions & makes me happy & if it can make some else happy too then that's a pretty cool thing to be able to do.

I attended Blogtacular the festival of blogging in the summer & it was a whirl wind of colour, chat & creativity – as well as some blimmin lovely folk who all cheerlead one & other on with their personal projects via Insta.

A sea of colour & creativity - can you spot me?
PC: Blogtacular

So, that was a bit of a quick low down on some of my best moments… I’ve left out some topics around love & career – as they’re probably worth a blog post on their own.

Anyways, 2017 you’ve been pretty okay, let’s see what 2018 brings with it.

What plans do you have for 2018? I love reading other people’s goals & resolutions so please feel free to drop a comment below.
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