Resolution Substitution

I hate new year’s resolutions, and only partly because I’m terrible at sticking to them. Past failures have included doing a sun salutation every morning (I lasted around 11 days), writing a novel (something of a work in progress), and getting at least 7 hours sleep a night (ooh cat videos you say? It’s 11:43pm but let’s watch 20 in a row!).

The fact is, why are we all setting ourselves up for failure at the very beginning of the year when we’re all full of chocolate fudge brownie Wensleydale cheese (yes, that is actually a thing) and missing Prosecco being a socially acceptable breakfast? We’re out of money, it’s cold, and the sparkle of Christmas has pretty much gone. That’s hardly a recipe for a good time to make successful life changes.


Apparently, you have to do something every day for 66 days before it becomes a habit. If you start on January 1st that’s March 7th people. I don’t know about you, but that seems like a really long time. And this is coming from someone who already has plans with Theemiddlesis for March 2017. In a nutshell, this is why I think new year resolutions suck. Why do you want to limit bettering yourself to just one day of the year, and a potentially hungover one at that?

It was on the 13th January 2015 that I signed up for my first ever triathlon. Back in April I decided to start taking my running more seriously by getting a coach in the form of Alan “Baldrick” Baldock and starting this blog. In August I joined Ely Runners. Around this time I also wanted to try adding more yoga and foam rolling into my regime. But rather than say “I will do this daily!” and feel crap when I failed, I decided to aim for two times a week. And sometimes I do it twice, sometimes five times, or sometimes not at all when life gets a bit busy. But the point is I didn’t set myself unrealistic targets, and by doing even a little bit it’s an improvement on what I was doing before. I’m now a whizz at doing crow pose to headstand and then back to crow pose, and I’m even managing a wobbly one legged wheel pose on a good day. By not setting myself a whole bunch of ridiculous (unreachable) targets all at once, I’m getting stronger and faster, bit by bit.

I guess the point I want to make is that we shouldn’t be so strict with ourselves. If you want to make a change, don’t wait until one day out of 365 to do it. Just do it when the time feels right for you. And don’t set yourself such rigid boundaries either – often it’s the small increments that matter in the longer term.


(But if you fancy taking up running and want a buddy to come with, give me a shout!).


Coming Back from Christmas

It’s the last day of my Christmas leave today, and I’m wondering how my body is going to react to that first early (for me anyway) alarm and that 50 minute cycle-train-cycle commute into work tomorrow morning. I’ve become way too comfortable with lying in until 10am. But luckily, I did my utmost to stay active over the Christmas break, because really it’s just a natural way for me to be.

Recently, my other half and I have started playing badminton together. At first I was super cocky, convinced that my weekly session with my office bestie meant that I was the superior opponent. Oh how wrong I was. It turns out that the OH coached badminton to beginners as part of his Duke of Edinburgh award. Brilliant. Now my competitive side does not enjoy losing. It enjoys being thrashed even less. But this is what is happening to me repeatedly every time we play. My best score has been 9-15, and the worst 0-15. On average I manage 4 or 5. Mortifying. But with the extra sessions we enjoyed over our fortnight break, I’m making the OH work a little harder for his wins if nothing else.

The other thing I kept up with over the break was (surprise, surprise) running. On the 20th December I took part in the annual Ely Runners Christmas Run for the first time (wearing one of my Sweaty Betty sale bargains!). Unfortunately my work Christmas party was the night before so – um – dehydration was always likely to be an issue. And although I found it tough, I really enjoyed it. Pete and I, being complete newbies, found ourselves at the back of the group, and as the first couple of miles are single file your position is pretty much set from the get go. The terrain is muddy and undulating with a fair few short, sharp inclines (and the inevitable declines) but being out in the quiet countryside with just the odd dog walker to give you a tip of the hat was awesome. After the first mile or so Pete and I were mostly on our own, but we kept each other going (he had to work harder than me on that count) and after the first 7.5 miles we debated whether or not to do the next 5, but in the end we stuck to our original plan and got the coach back to Ely with the promise that we’d do the longer distance next year. Who knows – maybe we’ll even be convinced to do the full 18.5! If that happens I think I’ll be the designated driver at the 2016 work Christmas party.


On the coach home

On Christmas Day itself I went for a quick little 5k around Ely. Now I know that doing this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and I totally get it. But the OH and I always spend Christmas Day just the two of us, and Boxing Day is usually our day for seeing family. So I like nothing more than just doing a really quick run around my lovely quiet city on the big day, and seeing all the houses lit up and full of people just enjoying being with their families. Yes I’m nosey. What of it?!

And finally on New Year’s Eve it was time for the Ely Runners’ NYE 10k. I last ran this in 2013, where I finished in a time of 48:38 (you can read all about it my friend James’ great blog here). I found it pretty tough mainly due to the fact it’s so flipping exposed. It’s just a loop around the Fens so as you can imagine there is no hiding from the wind. So I was pretty nervous last Thursday, which was not helped by a terrible night’s sleep thanks to a health issue I’m currently trying to get a handle on (I won’t bore you with it here – it’s frustrating rather than serious and just proving tricky to get to the bottom of).

NYH - The Team

NYE 10k Team 2013

Luckily I had my friends to calm me down (mostly through laughing at me with a bit of reassurance thrown in), and after a final pee stop (yes I’m a nervous runner) we set off.

To  be honest, I found it tough. Really tough. I set off too fast and after that I lost count of the times I wanted to stop and walk from the 2k point onwards. At one point I nearly burst into tears. I don’t know if it was the lack of sleep, the nerves, the cold, the wind, or the fact that the runners became so spread out that I was on my own for nearly all of it. It was probably a combination of all of those things. But the thing that kept me going was the brilliant support of all of the Ely Runner marshals. Quite simply, I didn’t want to let them down by stopping. So I battled on, and I finally finished in a time of 44:38, exactly 4 minutes off my time from 2 years ago but nearly 2 minutes off my PB.

At first I was pretty emotional. I don’t like it when a run is that hard. It’s not so much the time I finished in (although I was a bit disappointed with it), just how difficult it was to get there. But then I got a bit of perspective. I had done a tough interval session with Ely Runners on the Tuesday, I’d had a terrible night’s sleep, and I’d run a 10k without a water bottle for the first time (a big deal for me). And 2015 has been an incredible year for my running, so how can I really be disappointed?  Yes it’s always nice to end things on a high, but there are always going to be tough runs. You can’t control everything when it comes to running. It’s just the nature of the beast. I just need to try and learn from the experience and come back stronger. And the celebratory glass of wine I had afterwards certainly helped with the more positive attitude.

NYE 10k Team 2015

Part of NYE 10k Team 2015  

So my Christmas break was pretty busy, and I was constantly inspired to stay active by those around me – Pete and Rach who played doubles badminton with us (I don’t think Rach and I will be a team any time soon), Lucy who ran her first ever 10k in an astonishing time of 52:06, and my friend Emma who completed the advent run streak, covering 66k in 24 days and who is now a fully paid up member of the running bug club. It’s hard to sit on your backside when all that is going on around you.

I’m not sure any of it is going to help with that alarm clock tomorrow though.

10 Best Gifts for the Fitness Fiend in Your Life

With the big day now less than four weeks away (yes, you heard that right!) you may be looking for the ideal gift for the fitness fiend in your life. Now I promise this isn’t just an excuse for me to get my own Christmas list out in the public domain, but needless to say I wouldn’t be sorry to find any of these things in my stocking on December 25th.

Sweaty Betty Accessories

It’s no secret that around two thirds of my workout gear is Sweaty Betty, but if you’re looking for some stocking fillers, you can’t go wrong with their brilliant skinny headbands. They don’t budge from my head (although my sister says they don’t work on her “torpedo head” so, if your gift receiver resembles a conehead you might want to give these a miss). I’m also a big fan of their super soft trainer liners, which they do on offer for 3 for £15.

Foam Roller

Foam rollers are quite honestly injury-preventing little cylinders of genius. Ok, I can’t promise they’ll keep the fitness fiend in your life totally injury free, but they will allow them to give their muscles a deep massage without the help of a pricey physio. Just five minutes a day on one of these bad boys can make a huge difference. I credit mine with keeping my IT band healthy.

Sweaty Betty Hairband – £6, Foam Roller from £11.39

High Vis

It’s winter. It’s dark out. For the love of all things festive and holy please make sure that if the one you love is exercising outdoors, they’re wearing something that will make sure they’re seen. Honestly, the number of times runners and cyclists have suddenly loomed out of the darkness all in black and made me slam on my brakes is frightening.Get them a vest or an armband or a bright yellow top. They don’t have to cost the earth and they are so important at this time of year.

Medal Holder

I keep all of my medals in a tiny box (I reckon my sister has a storage unit somewhere) but I think this medal holder from Siop Gardd is a lovely gift. Plus it can be personalised which I always think is a great touch and shows you’ve put a bit of thought into it, rather than just buying whichever perfume was on offer the day you went shopping.

Ronhill High Vis from £10.80, Medal Holder £24.50

Trail Trainers

As the weather gets colder and wetter, it’s not a bad idea to get the runner in your life some trail trainers. These are “grippier” than your standard running trainers, so will set them up right for an off road running session (at Wandlebury say….)! I can recommend the Asics Fuji trainers.

Training Log

It’s always good for the serious fitness fan in your life to keep a log of their training. I’m not brilliant at doing this it has to be said (I ran out of space on my scrap of paper that had my weights programme on it and haven’t been keeping a record since – sorry Tristan!) but if I had a runner’s notebook like this lovely one from the Quirky Gift Library from Not On the High Street I might keep better records. It can be personalised and also comes with chocolate – what’s not to like?

Asics Fuji from £34.95, Runner’s Notebook £15

 Fitness Band

If you feel like splashing out and your fitness fiend likes a bit of tech there are a lot of fitness bands out there. There’s Fitbit, Jawbone and Withings, but I personally have my eye on the Microsoft Band 2. The band has a continuous heart rate monitor to track heart rate (d’uh) calorie burn and sleep quality, and email, text, social updates and call alerts can all be viewed. 11 sensors include GPS, UV monitor and barometer and it’s compatible with Windows Phone, Android and iPhone.


I wrote a review of the FlipBelt a few months ago, and I’m still a huge fan. I’m confident that anyone who does long runs on their own would find this a real asset for storing their keys and phone without it hindering their running in any way.

Microsoft Band 2 £199.99, FlipBelt, £25

Personalised Running Achievements Print

This may well be my favourite item on the list, because it’s not only incredible stylish, but it’s the most personal item here. Mrs L Cards’ print can be designed for a range of running distances or times, and is available in two colourways. I adore it. It’s available on both Not On The High Street and Etsy.

A Running Top

It’s a festive running t-shirt for crying out loud. Just buy one immediately. Alternatively, the awesome RedBear also do this brilliant sugar skull one.

Running Achievements Print £15, RedBear top £29