I am a chocoholic. It runs in the family, my Mum, Aunt, cousin, even my Godmother and her daughter – we are a big group of chocolate lovers.
A few years ago my Aunt and Uncle gave up chocolate for lent and I thought they were bonkers. Well now I’m about to tackle the same challenge. I rely on it far too much, seriously I eat it at least once every day, and it would be fun to see if I can make it through the 40 days without a taste of the good stuff.
It’s going to be tough, especially as I’m going skiing and love nothing more than a piping hot chocolate on the slopes.
As well as giving something up, I think it’s actually more important to take up something beneficial – whether that’s something good for you, or for others, it’s a nice way of remembering what Lent is actually all about, whether you celebrate or not. Amanda and I are going to take up giving blood, and we’re booking in for our first donation next week (not that she knows this yet).
I’m hoping that giving up chocolate will force me to think about what I’m snacking on rather than reaching for the 4pm Twirl or that dark chocolate and cup of tea that has become my standard evening wind down option.
Have you given or taken anything up for Lent?
I haven’t done a shoe review for a while, but I couldn’t not let you guys know exactly what I think about these well publicised new Adidas boosts. These little beauty’s have been all over Instagram & Facebook as well as print media. You’ve probably seen them- they’re bright pink and blue, and have a floating arch…they’re hard to miss. They also have a rather gorgeous black pair, and a white/grey pair, plus a Stella McCartney for Adidas print pair.
Let me give you a bit of background first, these women specific shoes have taken 3 years and 100 prototypes to come to market, from original brainstorming to actual conception. As I’ve mentioned they have a floating arch, basically a hole between the shoe upper and the sole which feels pretty snug and looks cool. Women’s running style is a little different to men’s, with more flexible ligaments, a greater angle is created in the arch of the foot than in men. The infamous floating arch provides a sock like ‘hug’ and supports the arch in a way that other Boosts don’t.
They are amazingly light, and feel very cushioned (as all Boost are with the brilliant Boost technology). They’re a neutral shoe but even still feel like they’re more minimalist and less supportive than the Boost and Ultra Boost. Personally I wouldn’t be able to run more than 3-5 miles in them, and Adidas themselves recommend building up the mileage slowly in them. By the end of a 5 miler I could really feel the ache in my feet!
Let me warn you, the shoes come up SMALL! I usually wear a side 5.5-6, I’ve got a pair of 6.5 UK and my right toe is right up at the top of the shoe and I wish I’d chosen a 7.
The front and the sides of the shoes are really bouncy and comfortable however the back comes up rather high in my opinion and rubbed my ankles when I was wearing ankle socks, and I know I’m not the only one they felt this way.
Nonetheless, with high enough socks the shoes are very comfortable, and so lightweight that you can almost forget you’re wearing them. They were perfect for my 1Rebel workouts this week, as well as my strength and conditioning PT session- apparently you could literally see my foot wobbling within the shoe whilst I tried to balance doing TRX lunges. These will become a firm favourite for treadmill workouts, HIIT style classes and definitely during Barry’s Hell Week but unfortunately they just aren’t supportive enough for training runs for me.
Adidas Pure Boost X were released on 1st Feb and retail for £90-£150.
Photography by Will Patrick
There are over 300 studios in London on ClassPass, and yet I seem to go to my same favourite 10 over and over again. In an attempt to try a new studio, the ClassPass girls and I signed up for one of the Aerial yoga classes.
Tucked off a side street near Chalk Farm is the cute Skylab studio (which actually doubles as the instructor, Astra’s flat!). We joined an open class, suitable for all levels – although I think we were the only beginners in our class. The sessions are small, with only about 6 in an average class – crucial for teacher attention when you’re learning technical skills.
We were upside down within moments of the class starting!
We used the silks/hammocks almost in place of a TRX for a full body workout, working the arms, abs and glutes/legs. After practising a few inversions, we moved on to a core workout, completing planks, press ups and crunches whilst hanging upside down. It was as hard as it sounds and we worked up quite a sweat!
The felt really supportive although they were a little uncomfortable, especially in the groin area! Plus my hands were really starting to hurt from pulling myself up on the fabric – I think one of the girls in our class had special gloves on!
We didn’t have as much hands on instruction as I thought we might, perhaps because we picked it up quite quickly? For once, having some strength rather than flexibility worked in my favour in this yoga class- although not quite as much arm strength as required!
The best and worst part of the class was the stretching portion, there was a lot of hip opening and hamstring stretches that I am always in need of.
One of the best bits of any yoga class (in my opinion) is Savasana aka corpse pose, and this was no exception. Cocooned in the hammock, I could have drifted off to sleep quite easily! But I had a Lululemon sale to go to, and another more advanced class was coming into the studio – we watched them for a few moments as they practised a lot of fancy and impressive tricks in silks and hoops!
Give Aerial yoga a try if you’re looking to try something new, in need of a new challenge, or love yoga and want to explore another side of it – it’s a brilliant class to try with some friends or would make a fun hen party activity. However it’s probably one to avoid if you don’t like being upside down or have high blood pressure/injuries/heart conditions! Classes are included on ClassPass or cost £15 for a drop in.
A few weeks ago I was asked to contribute to an Argos article about ‘How to Perfect the a Good Night’s Sleep’ and wrote about how fitness helps me sleep better – I always sleep deeply when my body is exhausted! However I try to avoid anything too high energy late at night as it works as a stimulant and keeps me awake, opting instead for low impact workouts.
Thinking about sleeping and exercise had me thinking about how sleep affects exercise performance.
They say that two nights before your marathon or goal race is the night where sleep counts the most. Pre-race nerves, an early start and carb loading will probably affect the night before your race more than you know, and so it’s important to log those hours in the days leading up to your run.
But what about the weeks beforehand, the months of early morning training runs, of foam rolling late into the night. What do you think happens to your body when you put it under immense stress and then don’t treat it to enough hours of zzzz.
According to the US National Sleep Institute, the quality and quantity of sleep that athletes get can often be the key to winning. REM sleep (rapid eye movement sleep, accounts for about 20-25% of our total sleep time) is the most important in terms of providing energy to the body and brain. Quality sleep improves decision making skills, accuracy and crucially for athletes (even recreational athletes) helps the body to maintain speed and endurance. Not to mention the muscle recovery that occurs whilst we’re sleeping.
Studies have also shown that a lack of sleep can increase the body’s production of the stress hormone, cortisol, plus a decrease in production of glycogen. In fact in just four days of sleep deprivation, your body’s ability to use insulin properly becomes disrupted – not what you need when you’ve got marathon hunger already!
Got a hard speed set to complete, or a long run? Well, research suggests that sleep deprived individuals are more likely to give in impulses, have less willpower and self control, meaning that you’re more likely to quit on those Yasso 800’s before you’re finished.
At this time of year, with the temperatures dropping, it’s important to keep you immune system strong. Sleep deprivation decreases your body’s ability to fight infection, meaning you’re more susceptible to the office cold when you’re tired. Sickness can play havoc with your training plans, and your workout performance in itself. Another surprising side effect of lack of sleep is the effect it has on your ability to sweat, reducing your body’s natural air conditioning system.
Luckily, for most people, when they’re training hard they find it easier to fall asleep at night. We should be aiming for around 8 hours of sleep a night, which means going to sleep at 10pm if your alarm will be going at 6am for your training run. Try not to have too much caffeine before bed, and create a calm, organised bedtime routine.
Photos by Will Patrick. Wearing Sweaty Betty run kit, Adidas Ultra Boost trainers.