The JogBlog DIY Hot Soup Dash

Five years ago, I took part in the Isle of Oxney Hot Soup Dash (now called the more descriptive, but not as pretty, Tenterden 5). It was cold, wet and windy, with a never-ending hill in the middle, but they gave us soup at the end and I will always run for soup.

I had planned to do it again this year but I’ve been reviewing a Bodychef diet plan over on my Planet Veggie blog and, as well as running for soup, I also run for roast lunch and beer and, unsurprisingly, no matter how hard I studied the diet sheets, nowhere did I see roast lunch and beer mentioned.

So, I decided to do my own 5 miler here and have a cup a soup after. I told Facebook I might even make myself a medal.

My run was slow and muddy (made slower by the interruption half way by Shaun checking up on me on his mountain bike on his way out to buy some eggs but, let’s be honest, I don’t really need much of an excuse to stop running) but the weather was perfect – not too cold, sunny-ish and barely any wind.

After a shower and some dicking around on Facebook, it was time to make my lunch, which – with it being the Hot Soup Dash – had to involve some cup a soup. I made it in my new Helly Hansen mug which is black-ish when it’s cold.

Helly Hansen mug sans soup

Helly Hansen mug sans soup

and reveals a picture when hot liquid is added.

Souped up mug

Souped up mug

As you’d expect from a Helly Hansen mug, it has pictures of sporty things, like this girl out running who, if you look at it from far away and squint between a tiny gap in your fingers, could be mistaken for me running through Ashford.

Will run for soup

Will run for soup

And yes, I made myself a medal, too.

JogBlog bespoke medals are available by arrangement

JogBlog bespoke bling is available for commission

I’m going to send this off to the London Marathon medal design dudes. They’ll be sure to commission me to make theirs in the future.

Stats

Race: The JogBlog Hot Soup Dash
Distance: 5 miles
Pace: sloooooooooooooow
Interruptions by Shaun going to buy eggs: 1
Cup a soups: 1
Bespoke medals: 1

Daisy Print Running Tights? Oh Yes!

On the way to the pub after the Ashford & District 10k a couple of weeks ago, Helen and I stopped to look in the window of Sports Direct (don’t ask me why this was more important than the pub. We must have been feeling athletic after our race or something) and I saw a jacket I had been eyeing up a few months ago had been reduced in price so we went in to have a look.

The jacket wasn’t the same jacket I thought it was but look what I found instead.

USA Pro daisy print running tights

Don’t cha wish your running tights were hot like these?

DAISY PRINT TIGHTS, BABY!!!! They were £17.99, which is more than I’d usually want to pay in Sports Direct, but… you know… daisies…

Flower print running tights

Stop looking at the mess behind me. Nosy.

I went for a run in them today and they’re thick and comfy but they don’t have a drawstring and they do slip down a bit, although not as much as some tights I’ve worn in the past so they’re okay to run in but may be better suited to the gym.

You can buy similar ones in Tesco for £14, although they’re a lot thinner. I was tempted to buy some when I saw them the other day but I’d already bought my SD ones but yesterday when I went into Tesco, I bought some fab bright pink and black ones which I’ll model for you another time.

I bought my daisy print tights in-store at Sports Direct, but here’s the link if you want to buy some online.

Isn’t great that we can get tights more interesting than plain black now?

 

Octane Zero Runner Review – No Impact Running

Octane Zero Runner

Octane Zero Runner – sold exclusively at Fitness Superstore

 

Back in 2007, I ran on a treadmill for 90 minutes. Because of the impact on my joints, this caused an injury which left me barely able to walk for about two months and, as any runner can tell you, getting over a running injury can take time. Lots of time. So, my advice to you is to not run for 90 minutes on a treadmill (unless you’re a nutter called Phil Anthony who ran 100km on a treadmill in 6 hours and beat the world record. Sorry – did I say ‘nutter’? I meant ‘superhero’). Obviously it’s not just treadmills that can cause an injury – road running puts a lot of pressure on your joints, too, and so the folks at Octane Fitness invented the Zero Runner.

As the name suggests, it’s a running machine with zero impact on your joints. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s a cross between a treadmill and a cross-trainer though – it’s not. The Zero Runner has mechanical hip and knee joints that replicate human biomechanics in running and the user controls the motion, with the Zero Runner following the runner’s movement.

It’s been around for a while in the US and has now been brought to the UK, where it’s sold exclusively by Fitness Superstore, who invited me to come along to one of their stores for a demo.

On my arrival at the Tunbridge Wells store, the manager, Malcolm, greeted me, along with Ricky who set me up on the Zero Runner and talked me through it. The first thing I noticed about the Zero Runner is its size. Considering it’s for home use (you won’t find them in gyms), it’s a big machine, but, as Malcolm pointed out, compared to a treadmill – which are a few feet long – the Zero Runner’s footprint is actually quite small. On the plus side though, because it’s self-powered there’s no motor which means there’s no need to plug it in which in turns makes it quiet while also not increasing your energy bills.

Smartlink app from Octane Fitness

Smartlink app from Octane Fitness

You can link up the Zero Runner to Octane Fitness’ free SmartLink app on your iPad and set up programs and workouts and watch videos that will walk you through everything. If you don’t have an iPad, as you’d expect, the Zero Runner has a console that shows basic stats such as pace, speed, calories burnt, distance, etc. It also has wireless heart rate technology for Polar, ANT+ and Bluetooth.

Octane Zero Runner console

Octane Zero Runner console

So, what is it like to use? After a quick demo from Ricky, I hopped on to the Zero Runner and tried to make the paddles move and failed. I ended up kind of scissoring my legs without bending my knees. I asked Ricky how long it takes to get used to it and he said it’s usually around a minute or so, so I persevered for a while longer before jumping off and asking Malcolm (Ricky had gone to help a customer) to show me how it’s done. This time I paid more attention to his leg movements and when I went back on for another go, I quickly got into the swing of it. As I mentioned above, the Zero Runner isn’t like a cross-trainer. It doesn’t move for you – you make it move and it follows your movements and, once you realise you can make a natural running movement, it’s really effective.

When I’d finished my demo, I was so impressed I wanted one. Space is at an issue at the moment with the conservatory (where the rest of the home gym equipment is) currently being used as storage for kitchen stuff (the kitchen’s currently being demolished/decorated) but also The Zero Runner isn’t cheap at £2,699 at the time of writing. No decent piece of gym equipment is cheap though and this is a multi-purpose machine which, as well as a running machine, can be used as a cross-trainer (you can change the resistance on the arms) and skiing machine. You can also strength train on it with the included resistance band which can be attached at 7 points.

Strength training workout on the Smartlink app

Strength training workout on the Smartlink app

To summarise,

Pros:

Zero impact to protect your joints
Replicates road running
Fully customisable flexible stride options
Ideal for runners who want to avoid injury or are coming back from injury
Great supplement to outdoor training
Multi-functional
No motor/quiet
No energy bills
More fun than a treadmill

Cons:

It’s a big machine
I can’t afford one

To see the Zero Runner in use by someone who knows what they’re doing, watch this video.

The Zero Runner is exclusive to Fitness Superstore. To arrange a demo at one of their stores in Leeds, Manchester, Tunbridge Wells, Frimley, Gloucester or Northampton, contact them on 01604 673000 or visit their website at www.fitness-superstore.co.uk/zero-runner for more information.

The Bells, The Bells…

Hark! Is that the sound of bells heralding the end of Janathon? Why, I do believe it is. Unless you haven’t done yours yet – in which case, GET OUT THERE YOU LAZY SLACKER.

I know I’ve been the slackest of you all and it’s such a shame as, in the first week of Janathon, I HAD ALL THE ENERGY. Yes, all the energy, even yours. Then it went. Gone. My energy kaputted itself out of existence. Bye bye energy. It briefly came back over the last couple of days and I would have made more of an effort today if I hadn’t spent the day saving escaped bunnies, being a plumber’s assistant and making up stupid names for cottage pie.

But I did do some kettlebells later on in the day. Here they are.

The bells, the bells... (Yes, I know... I already made that joke)

The bells, the bells… (Yes, I know… I already made that joke)

So… thank you to everyone who took part in this year’s Janathon – I hope you enjoyed it and reached your personal goals whether that was to do one mile without stopping or to do one hundred miles over the month (or to do 400-odd like that nutter in Australia). Thanks also to those of you who took part in the DGDVC and I’ll embed the videos into a blog post some time next week and let the public vote for their favourite. If you haven’t done a DGDVC but still want to give it a go, feel free to send a youtube link to me over the next few days and I’ll add it.

Special thanks to Deputy Helen for being Deputy and helping to arrange some of the prizes and – more importantly – accompanying me to drink wine and eat pizza. But because we’re so hardcore, Helen and I haven’t even finished Janathon yet, as we’re doing a 10k tomorrow.

Wish us luck!

Review: Polar Loop

Polar Loop

Considering my original review was going to consist of simply, ‘Fuck it, can’t be arsed’, the Polar Loop is my new favourite glorified pedometer (also known as wearable tech).

So, what caused my initial angst and frustration?

This, that’s what.

Adjusting the wrist band on the Polar Loop

Meccano meets wearable tech

Before you can play with your new toy, unless you have wrists as big as your thighs, you’re going to have to cut the wristband down to size and reassemble the buckle with pins and stuff. I spent about a quarter of an hour trying to get the damn buckle on before feeling like I was auditioning for a job at Timpsons and giving up and throwing it at Shaun when he got home to put together. Shaun, of course, put it together in about thirty seconds (after re-cutting down the buckle three more times – the measuring guide that comes with it isn’t accurate).

After it was ready to use, I started to really like it. While it was charging, I had a play on the Polar Loop website and found out I could stalk people all over the world.

Polar Loop world map

Been spendin’ most their lives, livin’ in the stalka’s paradise

You can zoom in on any of those little dots in squares and see where people have been running and cycling and walking and stuff. When I say ‘zoom in’, I mean ‘zoom in’. You can click on any of the people who appear in the column on the right hand side and click on ‘relive’ and it’ll replay their activity. RIGHT FROM THEIR HOUSE AS VIEWED IN STREETVIEW. Blimey. I clicked on a local man and had a nose (if you’re reading this, hello, you have a nice house) at his house and said ‘ooh’ when I was taken past the park in which the local parkrun is held. Obviously, it would be a rather sad person who – when given a zoomable map of the world to play with – only stalked their local area, so I also had a nose at a man called Igor in Russia. Russia seems rather bleak, I must say. I thought I’d get some marathon tips from a Kenyan, but the only person I could find near Kenya was called Keith. Cue disappointed face.

I should point out that all my stalkees had Polar-something-elses, not Loops, so you can’t relive your Loop steps on here, as it’s not a GPS device, but if you want to spend some time looking at the beautiful lake a girl in Tanzania ran round, then you can fill yer boots on the Polar website. I should probably also point out that it’s not the whole route that’s replayed in Streetview, just the beginning and a couple of points in between.

Anyway, enough about Igors and Keiths, what’s the Loop like? I love it. What I especially love about it is that it also functions as a watch and if it wasn’t for my Bounts points* that my FitBit and Jawbone UP collect for me (Bounts isn’t linked to the Polar Loop), I’d ditch those and just use the Loop instead.

The Polar Loop has a clear LED display which can be tapped to show different screens: Time, calories, steps, activity, and to do (which shows you what you can do to reach your daily target).

As with all these wearable tech thingies, you’ll have access to the bit we all love the most – yes, I’m talking about stats. We all love stats, don’t we? All those pretty charts and graphs and, um, inactivity stamps to humiliate you.

Stats and stuff

It’s low because I take it off when I wear my Garmin. I can only wear so many pieces of tech at once.

Ignore the bit about sleep – I haven’t set it to monitor my sleep, unless it knows when I’m asleep.

The activity stamps of shame

The inactivity stamps of shame

To sum up then; if you want a multi-purpose bit of wearable tech with the added bonus of stalking people all over the world, then the Polar Loop’s for you. As with all these things, there’s an accompanying app but only for iPhone 4s upwards (and some Android devices), which meant as I only have a lowly iPhone 4, I couldn’t play with this. Whatever happened to backward compatibility, huh? Still, there’s plenty on the website to keep you occupied if you haven’t got a compatible smartphone.

Thanks to LV for sending me the Polar Loop to review.

*Points add up really quickly on Bounts – I’ve just ordered my fifth £5 supermarket voucher. If you sign up with my referral code (white1136), we’ll both get 100 points. Hurry though, Bounts are going to start charging for membership soon – at the moment it’s free and will stay free for anyone who signs up before they start charging. Although you can’t link to the Polar Loop (they keep adding stuff though, so they might in the future), you can link your account to FitBit, Jawbone UP, Strava, MapMyRun and plenty of other apps and gadgets.

There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing (or whatever the saying is)

‘Everywhere you go, always take the weather with you’, sang Crowded House. This isn’t a sentiment I entirely agree with as, although, yes, it would be nice to bring back a bit of sun from your summer holiday, all those English people lazing about by the pool in Barbados in December won’t be best pleased if you rock up after your long haul flight from the UK with a bit of British cold wet winter weather, will they?

So, no. Don’t take the weather with you everywhere you go. Instead, dress for the weather you currently have. Take this morning, for example. Although the sky was clear and blue and, from the warmth of my centrally-heated room, the world outside my window could almost have been mistaken for summer, I knew it was going to be cold outside and I’d promised Facebook I’d go for a run (mostly to stop The Running Goth picking on me by calling me a slacker every three minutes) and so I needed to dress appropriately. Hello, thermal top from Blackspade.

Yes, I'm holding my stomach in

Yes, I’m holding my stomach in

This top is lightweight, comfy, warm, has a high neck (if you like that kind of thing – personally, I don’t like things round my neck so I undid the zip a bit) and, as you can see, is quite long and stays in place.

This isn't me, but you probably new that

This isn’t me, but you probably knew that

I also wore it out walking a couple of weeks ago (you can see a pic of the pretty countryside in which I walked here) underneath a body warmer and it kept me warm then, too.

I changed out of my slippers and put walking boots on, honest

I changed out of my slippers and put walking boots on, honest

I’d also wear it out cycling so, all in all, it’s a versatile top. If you would like a top like this, in the absence of anyone bringing back some winter sun to warm you up, the Blackspade Winter Thermal Sports Top is available from Amazon (this link takes you to one which is identical except there’s no zip on the neck).

And remember kids, ignore what Crowded House say and don’t take the weather with you – leave it where it is.

Shamed Into Blogging

The Running Goth has outed me at least three times in different places over the last couple of days for slacking, so before she finds anywhere else to shame me,  here’s an update.

On looking at my Running Free Online calendar, it’s not as bad as I thought. Okay, so the blogging perhaps maybe kind of a little titchy tiny bit slightly got a tad slack but I have sort of done some exercise. Look.

rfo-19Jan I think the 10 minutes last Monday must have been some kettlebells, the 4 miles on Wednesday was, in fact, a 6 mile walk in the countryside (my Garmin doesn’t like pausing too often and when it does it robs me of my mileage. Stupid Garmin). This countryside, to be specific.

countryside

The bike ride on Friday was cycling to the station before I went pizza-making with Helsbels where we put in further Janathon effort by kneading the dough for our pizzas. It counts. Shut up.

waitrose-pizza

The bike ride on Saturday was me cycling home after the pizza-making class, after midnight.

Okay, so I was slack last week – I admit it and I did annoy myself by being so slack but after such a promising start to Janathon where I had an immense amount of energy, that energy just seemed to disappear last week.

I promise to do better this week.

PBs And The Gods Of Sloth

The Gods of Sloth were looking down on me last night as I was searching for a reason to drink wine. I knew drinking wine would prevent me from getting up early enough to go to my local parkrun but I really fancied some. It didn’t take long for me to find a reason – two reasons, in fact. The first was when I saw the weather forecast predicted 25mph winds and the second – which had me opening that bottle of wine faster than you can say ‘corkscrew’ – was when I saw parkrun had teamed up with a charity that tests on animals. Bad parkrun, bad bad bad!

Still, Janathon doesn’t care about windspeed or any other reasons for not running so I decided to do a parkrun distance on the treadmill at the gym and I must have ran like the wind because I GOT A MUTHAFUCKING PARKRUN PB, WAHOO! Okay, so I didn’t actually get a parkrun PB what with it not being done at an actual parkrun and it probably wasn’t accurate what with it being on a treadmill, but it’s the fastest I’ve run in at least five years and so I’m keeping that wahoo. It’s mine – all mine.

Oh, and in case you think I’ve been slacking the last few days – I haven’t. I’ve just been slack with the blogging but I’ve been gymming and body pumping and cycling and spinning and stuff and if you don’t believe me, here’s my calendar on Running Free Online.

Slacker? Me? Nope.

Slacker? Me? Nope.

Getting Fit With Best LDN Walks

A little while before Christmas, the Joe Blogs Blogger Network invited me to attend a tech walk in conjunction with Currys and Best LDN Walks. This involved being given a gadget, so obviously I was on that train to London quicker than you can say ‘HS1′.

I met up with Helen, who had also been invited (you can read her post about it here), and we headed over to  Green Park to join the rest of the bloggers who were taking part in the walk that day. On our arrival, we were handed our gadgets – a Jawbone UP for me (they originally gave me a Fitbit but as I already have one I asked if I could have something else and they kindly obliged), a Garmin Vivofit for Helen and various other techy things for the others. The purpose of us being given these was so we could track our steps while we were shopping to see how many calories we’d burned off during our afternoon’s mooching.

Charbonnel et Walker

Where Her Maj buys her chocs

After my initial embarrassment at being paraded like a tourist around the town I’ve called ‘home’ for the past 45 years, I relaxed and enjoyed the walk. Our guide was excellent – friendly, entertaining and informative. She led us through the streets of Mayfair and Piccadilly, visiting the finest independent shops, including Charbonnel et Walker, where the Queen buys her favourite violet cremes; James J Fox, who sold cigars to Winston Churchill; and the charming Berry Brothers and Rudd, the fine wine and spirits merchants who supplied the Titanic (maybe the captain was drunk and that’s why it sunk? If so, they kept that bit of information quiet).

James J Fox

Winston Churchill liked a puff in here

Halfway through our walk, we had a break in a pub for some warming mulled wine and a chance to check our gadgets to see how far we’d walked and I was surprised to see I’d stacked up a couple of thousand already.

Suppliers of alcohol to the Titanic. They overdid it on the ice

Suppliers of alcohol to the Titanic. They overdid it on the ice

For a fun way to burn off some calories and to help reach your daily step target, I’d definitely recommend going on one of the Best LDN Walks. They’re offering some of their walks at a bargain £1 at the moment – including a Haunted Pub Tour, which is definitely up my street.

Thanks to all involved for a great day out.

 

Workout To The Beet

Did you watch Food Unwrapped last night? The girl with the bad hair (okay, so I’m not going to be offered a part in a Timotei advert any time soon, but I wish she’d sort that bale of hay on top of her head out; it’s worse than that restaurant critic woman on Masterchef’s hair) checked out the benefits of beetroot by checking out the muscles on some rugby types and also by having her stamina checked on a stationary bike – once with having beetroot before and once without. The results showed she had far more energy after having the beetroot and so I put it to my own scientific test this morning by having some beetroot juice (I would have gone for the checking-out- the-muscley-rugby-types method but, alas, we were all out of those and, to be honest, rugby players just don’t do it for me anyway).

No, it's not vodka and cranberry juice.

No, it’s not vodka and cranberry juice.

This juice is made of 2 apples, 1 beetroot, 2 carrots, 3 celery sticks, 1/2 a cucumber and 1″ ginger and it really energised me. It energised me so much I lifted heavier weights while doing body pump this morning, despite me not having done any strength-training for weeks, if not months (if you don’t count the 20 minutes of kettlebells I did the other day).

Beetroot works!

%d bloggers like this: