I Run, Therefore I Am A Runner

As I make my slow return to running, I’ve been thinking a lot about the term ‘runner’. You see, as I’ve been away from running since the start of April, and have to very carefully ease myself back in on my still-healing ankle, I’ve been feeling like a bit of a bad runner.

And then it hit me.

If I go out and run, that makes me a runner. It doesn’t matter if I go out every day, or once a week, or even less often than that, taking part in the activity of running makes me a runner. It doesn’t matter if I run for 1 minute and then walk for 1 minute. It doesn’t matter if I run for 1 mile or 10 miles. I have never been a fast runner, even at my peak, but d’you know what? A 15 minute mile is just as far as a 7 minute mile.

I’ve never taken running overly seriously. I’ve always written my own training plans, changed things up on the fly, and if I’m being perfectly honest, last year I didn’t really train for any of the half marathons that I ran. I guess I’ve always been lucky to be able to get away with it, but things are different now. I’m finding it hard being so set back from where I was before, and feeling the pressure of my upcoming marathon, but it is just that, a setback. Setbacks are made to be overcome.

But despite all this, I’m still a runner. I don’t have to run a 10K every day to call myself a runner, I don’t have to have a precise training and nutrition plan to call myself a runner, and I don’t have to be a fast runner to call myself a runner. Anyone who gets out and runs is a runner, and that’s what counts.

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Starting Over With Fitness

During my physio session on Monday, I finally started my ‘return to running’ programme, yay! This isn’t an instant all clear for me to hit the pavement again, but its the biggest step in the right direction I’ve made since breaking my ankle back in April.

I’m excited, and also super nervous. I have less than 6 months until my first marathon, and now instead of building up from already being able to comfortably complete a half marathon, I’m now almost back to square one in that I haven’t really don’t any running since before my accident. The exception to that is a 5K fun run I did back in June (which my physio do not know about), and that was a huge shock to my little legs, so the thought of doing that 8 and a bit times over continuously is somewhat terrifying.

On top of returning to running, my fitness game has been somewhat weak of late. I’ve been having to adapt so many of my favourite workouts to not put too much pressure on my ankle, and quite honestly its just not been the same. Throw in stress eating from moving house, and the fact that now I don’t even have a gym to go to, I’ve gained quite a bit of weight recently, so its not even just getting back to my routine, I also need to shift the extra weight and get my fitness levels back to where they were.

So its time to get my butt back into gear, and first on the agenda is just getting active again. I want to start off with low impact workouts, and avoid going straight back into the sort of weights I’m used to using in the gym, so I’m going to start off with some of my favourite home workouts from YouTube – Tone It Up, Blogilates etc – as well as using Pinterest for inspiration, just to get my body back moving. I’d also love to get some swimming and cycling in for low impact cardio. Matthew and I are planning on turning our garage into a gym eventually, but as its currently jammed full of boxes and rubbish, it’ll be a bit of time before we’re able to do that, but once they’ll be no excuses to not go to ‘the gym’ in the morning!

Once I’ve got the all clear from physio, I’ve got a marathon training plan all ready to be put into action, although I’ve had to tweak it somewhat to account for the fact that I’m not able to knock out a quick 5K or 10K without much thought as I could at the start of the year. My physiotherapist will be starting me off on the anti-gravity treadmill (not quite as cool as it sounds, but a really useful bit of equipment) so I’ll get a little bit of a head start before I actually hit the roads myself.

It feels like I need to make so much progress in the next 5 and a bit months, but I’m ready to get started and push myself!

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My Current Favourite Workouts

So its been ages since I’ve blogged anything fitness related, and that’s been for multiple reasons. Firstly, I’ve been struggling a lot with talking about fitness for a number of reasons, which I talked about in this post, and secondly because at the start of April I broke my ankle and I’m still very much in recovery.

Even after the ankle situation happened while I was at the gym, I was itching to get back. I actually can’t imagine my life without being in the gym at least 3 times a week and it was torture being on crutches, then having to wear the ugly boot cast, and I got so desperate that I actually went to the gym in my boot several times. Problem is, I’m still not fully healed, and I’m still going to physiotherapy, so my marathon training has also been thrown really out of whack, and I’m even having to adjust my usual gym workouts so I don’t put too much pressure on my foot and cause any more damage to myself.

Its forced me to try some slightly different things, and in doing so I’m finding some new things that I love, and also seeing results I didn’t expect!

Sit down bike

I’m trying really hard to keep up some cardio activity while also keeping my body weight off my feet and keep any impact to a minimum, and cycling has been great for that. Its also got some strength back in my thighs (which are seeing some shape come back as a result as well btw!) and the movement is helping stretch out the ligaments in my foot that are healing at the moment.

Boxing

Little known fact about me is that I’m actually a black belt in Taekwondo, but I had to give that up when I was 18 because of hip problems (isn’t my body fab?), but it does mean that this girl knows how to throw a punch! I’ve been doing a lot of boxing with my PT lately, because it gets my heart rate up, works a lot of my body but also doesn’t have to involve moving around on my feet too much.

Lunges

I’ve never been that much of a fan of lunges, but for a long time after my accident I wasn’t able to squat, so I switched to lunges, and they’ve become a really important part of my physiotherapy exercises because of how much they stretch out the ligaments and are helping to increase my flexibility again

Battle ropes

I’ve always liked flinging battle ropes around the gym, but I’ve just found myself using them a lot more lately and loving it. I can also feel how much stronger I’ve got because I used to get tired with them so quickly!

The road to recovery isn’t easy, but I’ve been so much happier getting back into things, and even though I’m not where I want to be right now, its all about those baby steps!

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Why I’m Struggling to be a Fitness Blogger Right Now

Fitness is a big part of my life, and I’ve always tried to include that side of my life in this blog, but the keen-eyed regular readers would know that its been quite some time since I posted anything properly fitness related. I mean, I’ve done a few reviews, and a handful of retrospective posts over the last couple of months, but that’s been about it, and while I miss writing about a subject that plays such a big part in my life, I’m struggling for a few pretty good reasons.

I personally feel like the fitness industry itself is so massively flawed. We’re forever having ideas pushed upon us like fad diets, ‘skinny’ products, how we need to look like this celebrity or why those extra pound we’re carrying are the worst thing in the world, and I don’t believe in any of this.

I’m a firm believer that fitness and healthy living is for everyone, no matter how old you are or how much you weigh. I’m a firm believer that you shouldn’t be creating negative associations with certain foods because carbs are super important and some fats are healthy and the world is trying to convince you that the only thing you should eat is kale but you can absolutely have that pizza and enjoy it and not feel like you need to spend the entire next day in the gym hating yourself for it. I hate the terms ‘cheat’ and ‘treat’ and anything that suggests that enjoying life is unhealthy. I believe in body positivity and I cannot stand for ‘fat shaming’ or ‘skinny shaming’.

I don’t believe that the sole purpose of fitness is about losing weight or changing the way your body looks. I think that just wanting to get a bit more active, or become a little bit stronger is absolutely enough if that’s what you want to do. You can run that 10K and have the takeaway without having to justify it as something that you ‘earned’.

Its because I believe in all this that I’m finding the words so difficult to get out, because I would hate for anything I write to sound like anything I don’t stand for. I would never want anyone to think that I believed in or encouraged any of the damaging things that the fitness industry preaches, and I’d rather not say anything than say the wrong thing.

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Fitbit Flex 2 Review

So a couple of months ago I decided to expand my little Fitbit family by purchasing the Flex 2, in addition to the Charge 2 I’ve had for almost 18 months now. Yep, I’m that crazy, but I had my reasons.

I love my Charge 2, it does everything that I need it to, but the only occasional both is that its a little on the large side, and as it can only be worn on the wrist, its not always the most stylish option, even though I have multiple different coloured straps to colour co-ordinate it! This is where the Flex 2 comes in.

The Flex 2 is the smallest of all Fitbit’s trackers – its even smaller than the Zip, which is the cheapest tracker option, and the first device I owned. It comes with a wrist strap that you can just pop the device into, or alternatively you can get a clip for it (not official Fitbit merch but super cheap on Amazon), and if these options aren’t pretty enough for you, Fitbit also offer a bracelet and pendant that the device slots into, and no-one would be the wiser that you were wearing a fitness tracker! I bought the bracelet, although I bought an unofficial version from Amazon because the official ones will set you back £79..

But how does it stack up as a device?

Being one of Fitbit’s cheaper devices, it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles; I think had I not owned a Charge 2, I’d have been more impressed by it. Of course it counts your steps, and it does auto-track some activities quite well, and unlike any other charger (minus the new Iconic) the Flex 2 is swim-proof, so if you want to be able to track your swimming, this is the only device you can get, and this was another one of the reasons I chose it as recently I have been swimming a lot more. Other features of the device are sleep tracking, and you can set it up for reminders to move and also call and text notifications.

The main difference, however, between the Flex 2 and its family of devices is the display – its the only tracker that doesn’t have a proper digital display, instead just having a little row of LED lights that light up according the your goals; if you have your main goal as being steps, for every 2,500 steps you do, an LED lights up, so when you hit your 10,000 steps for the day, all the lights will be lit. This means that you can only keep track of one particular focus, and you can’t use your Flex to check the time, like I keep trying to do.. Now of course if you’re wearing it in a pendant or bracelet, or even clipped away somewhere, this isn’t going to bother you all that much, but for me I find this a little annoying.

The other features that the Flex 2 doesn’t include which my Charge 2 does is heart rate monitoring, stairs climbed and it doesn’t have any sort of GPS, so when it comes to running, my Flex stays in the gym bag.

Personally, I think its a good little device if you’re just wanting to keep an eye on your steps and activity, and it works great in the water if you’re a swimmer, but as I’ve mentioned previously, I think if I didn’t have a Charge 2, I would have been much more impressed by the Flex 2. I do use it, of course, but I tend to wear it on days where I want to make sure my steps are counted, but I’m not doing any other sort of workout, apart from swimming, obviously! I also sometimes interchange my trackers during the day, so I’ll get up and go to the gym in the morning with my Charge 2, and then switch it for the Flex to wear to work – and if you’re wondering, this all works fine in terms of syncing with the Fitbit app as it combines the data from the two trackers!

The RRP of the Flex 2 is £69.99, but you can find it as low as £40-50 if you shop around!

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Kayla’s Bikini Body Motivation & Habits Guide

Now I’ve never believed in the term ‘bikini body’ or ‘bikini body ready’ – for me, a bikini body is any body in a bikini, simples. I’ve also never really trusted these fitness influencers or Instagrammers as I’m very wary of some of the products and diets that they endorse, so when it comes to Kayla Itsines I’ve generally not paid much attention.

However, I saw this book in the supermarket the other week; Matthew pointed it out as we’re trying to keep healthy and active in preparation for our trip to Hawaii in April, and at first I kinda scoffed, but then I had a little flick through and noticed that despite the title suggesting otherwise, at least half of the book is recipes, and I’m a sucker for a good recipe book, so it ended up in our basket.

Spoiler alert, I’m now treating this book like my bible.

The book is actually so insightful. The first part talks about habits and motivation, and some of the psychology that goes behind it, and how you can combat the set-backs and hurdles that many of us face day in day out. I must admit that I haven’t read all of this as I’ve got a lot of other books and journals that I use for habit tracking, so I didn’t feel this was particularly relevant to me, but after this bit, the book gets really good.

The next section of the book is all about nutrition and meal-planning. I went into this with a pinch of salt ready to read things suggesting certain foods are really bad for you, or you should cut down on this or that, but there wasn’t any of that and I did a little happy dance. Everything written is informative, well researched and completely balanced, and the nutrition part covers everything from your basic food groups to micronutrients to non-dairy, vegetarianism and veganism, so it covers a pretty good range of dietary needs, but what I love the most about this book is the meal planning.

Now the book itself has a 4 week food plan, including 3 meals and 2 snacks every day over the 28 day period, so if you like to follow something by the letter, this is absolutely great – it even includes your weekly shopping list! However, if like me you struggle to stick to an exact plan day in day out, Kayla also includes an example meal plan, that is a guide of how many portions of what food groups you should be eating each day, and how you can mix and match these to suit. Did I mention how much I love this?

Also included is a big glossary of example foods for every food groups, and portion sizes, so if for example your meal is going to be 2 grains, 2 veg, 1/2 dairy/alternative and 1 meat/alternative, you can simply flick to the back of the book, have a look at what these could includes and make up a meal from there. This makes everything so flexible and easy, and there’s absolutely no calorie counting, or cutting out certain foods – its all about getting the portions and proportions right. Its a meal plan, not a diet.

The recipes offer so many options, and not only have you got every recipe for the 28 day meal plan, there’s also extra recipes that you can substitute in if whatever’s on the menu doesn’t take your fancy! All the recipes are quick, easy, and based on a single portion, which is great because I hate having a recipe designed for 2 or 4 people and having to go through and scale all the ingredients down. Oh, and there’s also a section at the back for desserts!

I have been following the meal plan, in my own way, for two weeks now and I’m already noticing a difference (along side my regular gym workouts and running). Some meals I haven’t changed at all from what I was eating before, but I’ve just got a better balance in what I should be eating and the size portions I should be having. Its so easy to break down every meal into groups, so all I count is the number of portions of each group I’ve had – absolutely no stressing over calories or not eating this or that. Most importantly, I feel so good within myself because I’m eating well.

The final section of the book is workouts, and you get a little 28 day workout guide poster that you can follow along with your meal plan – again, given that I go to the gym 4-5 times a week as it is and know my stuff quite well, I wasn’t so bothered by this, but it is a good little plan.

So while the title of the book didn’t endear me to it in any way, I guess its just proof that you can’t judge a book by its cover!

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Fitbit Flyer Earphones Review

I have been a Fitbit girl for about 5 years now, give or take some time off in between killing my little Zip in a washing machine and replacing it with my current Charge 2. I have always loved their fitness trackers, so much so that I have never been tempted to try any other brand, and so when they announced last year that they were releasing their first pair of wireless headphones, I was pretty convinced that I was going to want them. Lo and behold, they came in a copper/rose gold kinda colour, and I knew that I wanted them.

I got the earphones for Christmas, and have been using them for running/working out at the gym ever since, although I tend to alternate a little bit with my Urbanista headphones when at the gym, but I guess its been about 6 weeks of using them at least once or twice a week.

The only real concern I had with these, or any wireless earphones for that matter, is whether or not they would stay in my ears. Typically in the past I’ve never bothered running with earphones because of the endless struggle of having to push them back into my ears every 30 seconds, and I really didn’t want to be doing the same with these. However, the great thing about the Flyer is that they have an interchangeable design, so each pair comes with a few different sizes of the ear buds, and then also two sizes of both ‘fins’ and ‘wings’, which are both different fittings to help the earphones stay in your ears. I’d watched some YouTube reviews before deciding whether or not to take the plunge with these, and more than one review said that the fins were not great, but that the wings were awesome, so I’ve always used the smaller of the two wing sizes.

The wings tuck underneath the little inner loop of your ear – when I googled it, I saw a lot of websites referring to it as the rook, but that was mainly in terms of piercings, but maybe you know what that means! Because they’re rubbery and flexible, this means that they bend to fit the space and then keep a pretty firm grip there, and as soon as I tried this type of fitting I knew this would be the best type for me. What I really like about this is that there’s nothing going around your ear, like many wireless earphones have, so you don’t feel any real weight or pressure on your ears.

There’s a little on button on one of the ear pieces, and whenever you turn them on a little voice tells you how much charge the headphones have, which is really handy, and if the battery is running low during your workout, it will also pop up to tell you, and also tells you roughly how much time you’ve got left, which is pretty neat. There’s a little control panel on the adjustable cable for volume, and you can also press and hold each of the volume + or – to skip tracks, so you can keep your phone tucked safe away.

I’ve not had a single problem with the Bluetooth connectivity, and can easily walk from one side of my gym to the other before experiencing any sort of skipping. Before getting these, I have on occasion used my boyfriend’s Beats wireless earphones, and found that they skipped a lot more than the Fitbit, even when in close range with my phone, so that’s something! Once set up to your phone, they instantly connect every time you turn them on, and I’ve never had to faff around with having to reconnect them if I’ve not used them in a few days.

Sound wise, I have absolutely zero complaints. The music is clear, there’s no distortion from the rubber buds and they even do a little bit of noise cancelling too. Apparently there are actually two different sound settings, but I’ve always been pretty happy with how mine have sounded so I’ve never looked into how you change settings or what the other setting gives you!

Overall, I’ve been pretty happy with these earphones, and I certainly haven’t experienced the annoyance of constant readjustment and pushing them back in every time I go for a run. The one thing I would say is that it does take a little bit of time getting used to how you want the fit in terms of the attachments and the strap, so there’s a bit of trial and error in the first week or so, but honestly I do think these are a great pair of fitness earphone, which is ultimately what Fitbit designed them to be. My colour is officially called Lunar Grey, but there’s nothing grey about them, and I think they’re a really good looking pair of earphones, and they do also come in Nightfall Blue if the copper thing isn’t really your style.

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