5 Ways to Get Movement Into Your Day

Before I emigrated to the countryside, I – like many others – was office-bound, spending many hours sitting down staring at a screen. Ironically though, I was at my lightest then because I was an expert at getting exercise into my day without really trying. Here are my tips for getting some exercise into your working day:

1. Get off the bus/tube earlier

Although I worked in Chancery Lane, I used to get the train to Liverpool Street and walk the thirty or so minutes from there, instead of getting the tube. It only added 15 minutes to my commute and walking down the road, listening to my music, was far less stressful than trying to cram myself into a tube with dozens of other people. It also saved me money, as I only needed to buy an overground ticket, not a tube one. Result.

2. Go to the gym at lunchtime

Just as Londoners are never more than four feet from a rat, the same can be said for gyms. Maybe not quite as near as four feet away, but there are gyms all over the place and I had one an approximate one minute walk from my office, so I used to go there at lunchtime and spend 25 minutes on the rowing machine (you get less sweaty on a rowing machine than, say, the treadmill, so you don’t go back to work completely minging).

3. Go for a walk or run at lunchtime

On the days I didn’t go to the gym at lunchtime, I’d go for a walk down the Embankment. If you’ve ever been down there, you’ll know it’s (excuse the pun) overrun with runners, so if running’s your thing, you could squeeze a few miles into your lunchbreak (running at lunchtime never appealed to me – I’m not sure why).

4. Do a running commute

Although I never fancied running at lunchtime, I used to do a running commute most Tuesdays (other days are available). Not only do you get your miles in, it’s liberating not being tied down to public transport. London gets a lot smaller when you walk or run around it and don’t spend your life underground.

5. Take up office yoga

If you really can’t leave the office to get some exercise in, you can do yoga in your chair. Personally, I’ve never done any office yoga, but the infographic below can tell you all about it. Ommmmmmmmmmm.

Office Furniture experts Furniture at Work bring you Office Yoga with how to stay healthy at your desk and chair
Share your #OfficeYoga tips on Twitter @Furniture_Work (via Furniture at Work).

4 Things to Think about If You’re Thinking of Renting Out Your Home

cohabiting-rights

I’ve been renting out my house in London for seven years now and while the extra money has been welcome, it’s been a pain at times (the renting out bit, not the money). Here’s what I’ve learnt so far and what you should think about if you’re thinking about renting out your home.

1. Consider using a letting agent’s full management service

Because my first tenant came via the council, I received a full management service for the price of their standard letting fee (where they charge you for finding a tenant and sorting out the agreement and stuff but then leave you to collect the rent/sort out any repairs, etc.) As my at-first-perfectly-fine-tenant turned into the tenant-from-hell, this service came in handy (although, it could be argued that I wouldn’t have needed a full management service if she hadn’t been such a rubbish tenant in the first place).

Although – touch wood – my current tenants have been fine, I’ve recently had some costly repairs to make to the bathroom and the roof. Sorting out contractors can be stressful, so it’s been good to let the agency take care of this.

Of course, you might want to skip the middle man and put an ad on Gumtree and hope for the best but the letting agent will vet your tenants for you, collect the deposit and rent and arrange any repairs for you (they don’t pay for the repairs though, unfortunately). And if the worst should happen and you have to evict your tenant, they’ll do all the paperwork for you, including arranging for the bailiffs to visit the property and *ask* the tenant to leave and then change the locks (be warned though, it can take months for all of this to be sorted out – it took me 9 months to get rid of my tenant).

2. Read the agreement carefully

The letting agent will draw up an agreement for both the landlord and the tenant (and the cost of this is usually split between you). Read this carefully as it sets out what is expected from both parties. Also make sure the letting agent doesn’t try and sneak in a clause about allowing the tenant to keep guinea pigs without telling you (as mine did).

3. Get a deposit

I hadn’t realised my first tenant’s deposit was only guaranteed for two years (coincidentally, this page was missing from the agreement the agent sent me. Funny that. See above about reading the agreement carefully and make sure there are no pages missing). Because my tenant had been fine and had lived there for two years with no complaints and because she (or so I thought – I hadn’t realised she’d moved in her boyfriend) was a single parent, I let her stay there with no deposit. BAD MOVE! As soon as I did this, she became the tenant from hell. She complained about doors falling off, radiators falling off the wall, the stair bannisters being broken and I had to pay for all of the repairs, even though they were obviously caused by her as these things don’t happen by themselves. When I eventually got her out of the house and went round to check the damage, my neighbour said she’d been having parties every weekend. The (once cream) carpet was black, there were cigarette butts on the floor, and she’d somehow managed to smash the bathroom ceiling light. She wouldn’t have seen a penny of her deposit had I taken one from her. So much for trying to be nice.

4. Have some back-up savings

As you can see, letting out your home can be costly. There may be expensive repairs to make and the house may be empty for a few months while you’re cleaning up after a previous tenant and finding a new one. So, while you’re spending money on repairs, you haven’t got the rent money coming in and so you’ll need some savings to fall back on.

I’ve probably put you off ever renting out your home but it’s not all bad – I’ve had a good income from it over the last seven years and all houses need repairs done to them now and again.

 

 

This post was in collaboration with homelet.co.uk who have an ebook coming out this month (August). Here are a few ebook quick facts: 

 

  • HomeLet are launching the second edition of their ebook series that offers advice to local landlords.
  • The first edition of the ebook focused on three key UK regions (Greater London, South East and North West).
  • Issue one featured key tips from current and past landlords and had contributions from Tessa from the Landlord Law Blog, Jonathan from The Money Shed, and was featured on HomesGoFast.com.
  • It reached over half a million organic impressions online and was also endorsed by Henry Pryor, leading UK housing and property expert.
  • August’s edition of the ebook is a collaboration of top industry professionals, including useful, insightful and expert information on the effect of Brexit, the importance of good tenant referencing and using HomeLet’s unique rental index data.

 

 

 

3 Myths About Running Shoes

Asics Cumulus 15

The 16 year old goth me would be horrified

Unless you’re Zola Budd (if you’re under 40, ask your parents who she is), you’re going to need to wear something on your feet (and I don’t mean Heelys or rollerskates like the ones you can buy at Skate Hut). When I started running, I bought a cheap pair of trainers from ShoeZone for £10 and although I don’t recommend you do that, there are some common myths about running shoes. Here are 3 of them.

1. There is a ‘best’ running shoe

There is no ‘best’ running shoe – what might be best for one person might not be the right shoe for you. So, while there’s nothing wrong in asking what other people like, you’ll only know what the best shoe for you is by going into a specialist running shop and trying some on, and ideally trying them on a treadmill/running outside in them too. When you try on the shoe for you, you’ll know.

2. You have to buy pink shoes if you’re female

Yes, okay, I have a pair of pink shoes. I like pink. I spent years being a goth and only wearing black but now I embrace my inner Barbie (if Barbie was a complete scruff with dyed red hair, black eyeliner and a nosering). But, despite sports shops apparently thinking all women like pink and therefore mostly only selling pink shoes and clothing, there are other colours available, you just have to dig deep beneath the sea of pink.

3. You have to keep buying the same brand until they go out of business, or you die – whichever comes first

My first ever pair of proper running shoes were Saucony and I thought I had to keep on getting Saucony but when I went to get my second pair of running shoes, the man gave me an orange (see, not pink, hurrah!) pair of Asics. My word, were they comfy or what? Ever since then, I’ve been a complete Asics fan girl and I’d love to stay loyal to them, but sometimes when I’ve gone to get a new pair of running shoes, others have suited me better.

Haraka Trail S Women's FusciaConcord A005494_076 CAT

So, what it comes down to really when you’re shopping for a new pair of running shoes is not the brand, the colour or what your best friend prefers, but what’s right for you. Remember though, every sport has their own type of shoe and you need to buy the shoe for that particular sport – so don’t try to run in cycling shoes or football boots.

If you prefer hiking or off-road running then it may be better to buy some specialist off-road trainers like those by Hi-Tec. They’re sturdy, rugged and designed to protect your feet when walking over rough terrain. If you’re running on trails, all running shoe shops will be able to sort you out with a pair of specialist running shoes.

Infographic: Breakfast v No Breakfast

I used to smoke my breakfast. But, when I say ‘smoke’, I’m not talking mackerel, I’m talking cigarettes. Yes, my breakfast for my entire adult life until I was thirty-six years old was as many cups of tea and cigarettes I could fit in before leaving the house.

I’d like to say that now I no longer smoke, I’m up at dawn making myself a big healthy breakfast to set me up for the day. I’d be lying though because I rarely have breakfast and if I do, it’s just a smoothie (or Nutriblasts as I call them now I’ve got a Nutribullet – you can see my review of it here on my food blog) and nothing more substantial than that.

Although a smoothie is undeniably healthier than a cigarette for breakfast, it’s still not ideal but I can’t face eating first thing in the morning, despite the benefits it would bring, as shown in the below infographic.

Infographic supplied by MOMA

Infographic supplied by MOMA

 

Infographic: The Anatomy of a Golf Swing

I come from a family of champions. I won a trophy made out of tinfoil when I was about 5 for being a chess champion. My younger brother won a scholarship to go to a public school, and my eldest brother came home most weeks with trophies he’d won by playing golf.

I won my trophy by being a sneaky, devious 5-year-old and getting a book from the local mobile library that showed me how to checkmate my opponent in three moves. My younger brother won his scholarship by being a cleverclogs and my eldest brother won his trophies by learning how to play golf properly.

And on that note, I leave you with this infographic that shows you how you can improve your golf swing. If you feel inclined to improve your golf swing, that is. Personally, I’m in the ‘golf is a good walk spoiled‘ camp*.

(*I’m not really – I just like to quote stuff)

The anotomy of a golf swing infographic

Infographic supplied by Golfscape

A Poem for the Dymchurch Marathoners

After being hideously slow during the Folkestone Half a few weeks ago, I knew I wouldn’t make the cut-off for Dymchurch Marathon tomorrow so, to do my bit, instead I wrote a poem for those who are.

Good luck to Helen, Cassie, Louise, Rachel and anyone else doing Dymchurch tomorrow. You’ll have earnt those medals!

A Poem for the Dymchurch Marathoners

A marathon is a lot of miles
and I hope you’ve done your training,
because a marathon still goes ahead
even if it’s raining.

It’s not due to rain tomorrow,
although you should expect a gale,
and it’s probably best to cross your fingers
you don’t get caught in hail.

I’m sure you’ll think I don’t give a fuck
when I’m not there to say good luck,
it’s just that I’m extremely sad
I won’t be getting a goody bag.

The medal is so very cool,
you’ll all have deffo earnt it,
by running in the wind and cold
knackered, feeling shit.

I hope you like my little poem,
it only took a minute.
So go and run the race tomorrow,
and I’ll stay in the warm, innit.

The JogBlog Guide To Training For Your First 10k

Rainforest Regents Park 10

Me on my first 10k. My gadgets have got smaller since then.

If you followed my guide to training for your first 5k, you undoubtedly would have a) won it; and then b) got home and immediately started looking for your first 10k. So, here’s my guide to training for your first 10k.

Get a training plan

You may think, ‘I can run 5k, I don’t need a training plan, I just need to run a bit further’. Which, yes, is true to an extent but a proper training plan will get you running further and faster better than if you just tag a couple of extra miles onto your long runs now and again.

Personally, I’m old-school and like something I can print off so I can cross out the days I’ve done with a pen; my favourite plans being those from Hal Higdon but, if you’re not quite that old school, you can also generate an iCal file to import Hal Higdon plans into your calendar.

If importing a plan into your calendar is still too old-school for you, there are loads of apps you can use, such as the 10k Run Ready app from Kiqplan. This app contains everything you need to train for your first 10k, including advice on snacking, meal planning and how to get more sleep.

Stick to the training plan

Let’s face it – 10k (6.2 miles) is a long way to walk, let alone run, so do stick to your training plan if you don’t want to hurt too much on race day. And, while we’re on the subject of hurting on race day, when you’re running the actual race, try not to fall over a football, like I did during my first ever 10k.

Think about nutrition

The better your diet leading up to the race, the better the race you’ll have, so you might want to have a look at using sports supplements such as protein shakes and creatine (which is especially good for those of you who, like me, are vegetarian). If you’re not into supplements, just make sure you eat a healthy balanced diet with plenty of protein to help your muscles recover after training. No need to be too strict though – you can still have your takeaway at the weekend; everything in moderation and all that.

On race day

Don’t worry about any special breakfasts or anything – just have what you normally have, whether that’s a massive bowl of porridge or just a cigarette and a cup of coffee. It’s only 6 and a bit miles and if Mahatma Ghandi can go three weeks without food, you can go without for an hour or so. But, although there should be a water stop during the race, you might want to take some water with you, as a 10k can make you thirsty, especially if it’s a hot day.

There are always massive queues for the toilet at races, so get there early enough for a wee, unless you’re a bloke, then you can just do it in the bushes (don’t tell anyone I said that). And if you’re a Billy-no-mates with no one to look after your bag, get there early enough to put your bag in the baggage drop too.

So, there you go then. There’s my guide for training for your first 10k. Good luck!

The JogBlog Guide To Gear and Gadgety Gifts

IT’S CHRISTMAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAS.

Just kidding, come back, I have things to show you! Pretty things! Please?

You’re still here, hurrah. Good, because below are a few things you might want to put on your list for Santa, or buy for yourself.

 College Custom Sports Clothing

College Custom Sport Clothing

Embrace your inner (or not so inner) narcissist with customised clothing. College Custom are a Brighton-based company that designs and creates custom made hoodies and sports-wear for schools, colleges, and universities; as well as sports teams and societies. Luckily, they’ll customise sportswear for bloggers too, as you can see from my fab bag. Nice, innit?

As well as looking great, as you can see, it’s made by Nike but what you can’t see because of the crappy lighting conditions what with it being November and that, is its functionality.

This is a large bag – ignore what it says on the College Custom website about it being 14cm long – it’s approximately 18″ x 9″ x 10″, which means you can fit a ton of stuff in it to take to the gym.

As well as the spacious main compartment, it’s got a zipped front pocket and in that zipped front pocket are two more zipped pockets, and a clippy thing for, um, clipping things onto. There’s also a zipped shoe pocket on the side into which you can put shoes and/or sweaty gym kit to stop your shopping getting minging if you nip into the supermarket on your way home.

I can’t fault College Custom’s service. After I chose my bag, they sent my logo off to their design team and then sent me back a pdf with a mock up of my bag with the logo in yellow, red, and white. I liked the yellow one but couldn’t quite decide between that and the white one. I showed the mock-up to Shaun and he said the yellow one was best.

But, because I’m indecisive I asked if I could be a pain in the arse and see another mock-up showing the bag in pink and purple, and they were happy to oblige. Then I still couldn’t decide and apologised once again for being a pain in the arse and asked if I could see it in orange and a new mock-up was sent to me without even a hint that I was being a pain in the arse (which I totally was).

And as you can see from the photo, I went for yellow. Yes, the first colour I looked at. Yes, the colour I liked first. Yes, the colour Shaun liked. Yes, the colour in which I got the bag that I’m very happy with. I’m sorry yellow for doubting you. Yes, I am a div.

If you’d like a bag – or other sports apparel – like mine (you don’t have to get JogBlog printed on it but if you want to give me free advertising, I’m not going to complain), visit the College Custom website to obtain a quote.

Epson Pulsense Heart Rate Monitor

Epson Pulsense Heart Rate Monitor

There’s so many heart rate monitors around, aren’t there? And they all do the same sort of thing don’t they? They all measure heart rate, anyway.

The Epson Pulsense Heart Rate Monitor is, yes, yet another heart rate monitor but unlike other heart rate monitors I’ve owned in the past, I’ve actually been using this one.

The reason I’ve been using the Pulsense and not others I have is because it’s so easy to use. For a start it doesn’t have a chest strap or an armband; it has a sensor on the underside and you simply wear it as a watch.

 

Epson Pulsense Heart Rate Monitor

Sensor means there’s no need for a chest strap

As well as measuring your heart rate, the Pulsense also acts as a normal watch and it’s small and comfortable enough to wear all day, which is just as well as it counts your steps too. It looks so nice, one of the instructors at the gym stopped me and asked me about it.

You might be able to pair it bluetoothly with your phone. I couldn’t, as I’ve only got an iPhone 4 and no recent apps seem to support the iPhone 4 because it’s obviously so antiquated and should be consigned to history along with the Nokia 3210.

You can look at all the pretty graphs and stuff online though.

Epson Pulsense Heart Rate MonitorEpson Pulsense Heart Rate MonitorEpson Pulsense Heart Rate MonitorAnd you thought Epson only made printers, eh?

For more information on the Epson Pulsense Heart Rate Monitor, visit the Epson website.

Miiego AL3 Freedom Wireless Headphones

Miiego AL3 Freedom Wireless Headphones

One thing my stoneage iPhone 4 can connect to is the Miiego AL3 Freedom Wireless Headphones. I don’t know how many times my headphone wires have been ripped from my ears when I’ve been on the rowing machine but it’s more than once. It’s probably more like fifty, and each time it’s a) bloody annoying; and b) embarrassing, because when it happens it makes me jump and everyone turns and stares at me (they don’t really).

So, wireless headphones are ‘yay’ for when I’m on the rowing machine. They’re also ‘yay’ for any other time you don’t want wires in the way when you’re listening to music. I wouldn’t advise wearing them on the train though, as there’s quite a bit of noise leakage and people who wear leaking headphones on the train need booting off the train at the next station, if not before.

The Miiego AL3 Freedom Wireless Headphones are easy to pair with your phone and easy to control using the buttons on the headphones themselves. They also come with a cute little carry case.

For more information on the Miiego wireless headphones, visit the Miiego website.

Chaffree Underwear
Chaffree underwear

Not the kind of undies for *that* sort of hot date

Chaffree Underwear is something you’ll probably want to buy for yourself, should you need it. That is, unless you don’t mind letting people know you’re a sweaty chub-rub sufferer.

Personally, I don’t suffer from chub-rub but I’m not going to pretend I don’t sweat when I go to the gym. If you’re not sweating at the gym, you’re either a) not putting enough effort in; or b) you’ve had all your sweat glands removed and if you fall under category b) you probably have some kind of medical condition that means you shouldn’t be in the gym in the first place.

Chaffree Underwear is seamless underwear that relieves chafing and sweating. These are Bridget Jones-esque big pants but, let’s face it, no one goes to the gym in sexy underwear, do they? Or do they? Wouldn’t that be taking a ‘hot’ date a bit far?

Chaffree underwear is available in women’s knickerboxers, women’s briefs (as pictured) and men’s boxers. For more information, visit the Chaffree website.

Cellulite Crusher Leggings

Cellulite Crusher leggings

Now here’s a weird thing. Leggings with 1200-1600 little wooden beads sewn into them to massage your thighs, improve your circulation and eliminate cellulite, while you’re working out.

You can wear them while cycling, running, walking, yoga, pilates or just doing the housework and while any physical activity happens, the pressure of the beads increases as your muscles contract against them.

They’re heavier than usual leggings but you don’t notice the heaviness once they’re on and they’re comfy and fit well. I did briefly (okay, for quite a long time) wonder if I looked stupid and if people would stare at me but I decided to be brave and wore them to the gym. No one stared at them or even gave them a second glance, so yay. They were slightly uncomfortable at first as I used the rowing machine but I soon stopped noticing them and I didn’t notice them at all in the spin class. In fact, I forgot I was wearing 1200 little wooden beads until I took the Cellulite Crushers off and saw my legs covered in little round indentations.

The washing instructions say to handwash only, but I’m not handwashing anything – let alone sweating gym kit – so I put them in the washing machine and they seem to have survived.

For more information, visit the Cellulite Crusher website.

I’ll be giving away a pair of Cellulite Crushers soon (and also a pair of (unworn, don’t panic) Chaffree knickers), so keep a look out for more news on that.

Thanks go to all the above companies for sending me their products to review. All opinions my own and honest, blah blah blah. 

 

 

Infographic: Sleep Like An Athlete

If I ever get a phase of sleepness nights, I know exactly the reason why – it’s because I haven’t been exercising enough (unless it’s a Friday night and then I can’t sleep because I’ve stuffed myself full of battered halloumi, onion rings and chippy chips, all covered in curry sauce from Tesco).

If you want to know how to sleep like an athlete (hint: it doesn’t involve eating battered halloumi, onion rings and chippy chips), then this infographic will be of interest to you.

Infographic supplied by www.mattressnextday.com

Infographic supplied by www.mattressnextday.co.uk

The JogBlog Guide To Why You Should Use Fitness Apps

6 reasons to use fitness apps

Although I’m always downloading apps and trying new ones out, I keep forgetting to use them. They’re a great fitness tool though, and here are six reasons why:

1. You can unleash your inner (or not so inner) geek

Fitness apps are great for geeks. You’ll get hours and hours of fun from all those lovely charts and stats and graphs and stuff and, if all those lovely charts and stats and graphs and stuff start showing you’ve been slacking, that should shame you enough to unslack yourself.

2. You can unleash your inner (or not so inner) competitive streak

Most apps let you hook up with your friends who are also using the same app so you can spy on how they’re doing and silently set yourself up in competition with them and overtake them. Or, if you want to be less sly, a lot of apps will let you set up challenges with other users of the app, whether that’s by way of a leaderboard or as a one-to-one challenge (such as this one Warriorwoman and I undertook last year).

3. Accountability

Accountability. Now there’s a word that makes my teeth itch but apps do keep you accountable, it must be said. Miss a day’s training and there’ll be a little gap in the calendar to remind you that YOU ARE A SLACKER. And you wouldn’t want an app calling you a slacker, would you?

4. They’re convenient

Smartphones are great, aren’t they? No longer do we need to carry round a Garmin, a phone and an iPod; we can just take our phones out with us and have our GPS device, our making-phone-calls device and our music device all in one handy shiny black rectangle. And, as an added bonus, you don’t even need to look like a dick by having it on your arm in one of those armbands, you can get a handy pouch for them, like this Roosport Fitness Pouch.

5. They’re fun

The main reason for using a fitness app. They’re fun. Some let other people join in the fun by allowing you to link the app to Facebook, then when someone ‘likes’ the post that appears automatically once you start the app, you get a cheer through the headphones. Make sure you turn it off though if all you’re doing is walking the dog and don’t particularly feel the need to have people cheering you every five seconds.

There are apps that are also games, like the Zombies, Run! app. I have tried this and am rubbish at it. You’ll probably be better than me.

6. They’re free

Okay, that’s a bit of a fib. Most are free, although some don’t give you all the features you’d get if you paid for the premium version, while others have lots of features and are totally free, like the Superbody app, which is a personal nutritionist and workout coach.

So, there are a few of my reasons for using apps. Feel free to let me know which your favourite apps are.

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