48% of girls saying getting sweaty is not feminine. Be proud of your sweat. Be in the 52%

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Use it or lose it. That’s how the mantra goes.

But what you don’t hear often enough is that too much ‘using’ can make you lose  it as well, unless that is, you look after yourself.

The downside is that this means incorporating stretching into your routine, become friends with the foam roller and golf ball for myofascial release and getting the odd sports massage or physio. All of these cost time and money (unless you have a handy sports masseuse as a friend) and worse still, causes a considerable amount of discomfort which can make it easy to find an excuse not to do it. I’ve been adding all the above to my daily and weekly routine but my legs are resolutely tight and causing me issues and my trainer gave me a ticking off for not doing enough. So, I will have to up the time, increase my pain threshold…it hurts my quads sooo bad…and finally I must bite the bullet and actually ATTEND a yoga for runners class rather than just write on it on every ‘to do’ list I ever write.

Do you find the foam roller staring at you feeling unloved in the corner of your room or are you a fanatic about muscle hygiene?

Natural Movement Wildfitness Style

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Screen shot 2014-04-05 at 13.48.31

When I bang on about Wildfitness this is what it means…less gadgets, more being outdoors and hopefully a bit of a laugh. I tend to hate see myself on screen (and working in TV I had to think up many excuses to avoid it) but for some reason in this it’s not so bad at all.

Can you tell I have leg problems?

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Can you tell I have leg problems?

Since fracturing my leg almost exactly a year ago I have been beset by injury. Wearing a boot for two months impacted the way I walked, creating new strains and stresses over the rest of my body. I lost a significant amount of muscle on my left side so my balance sucks. For about 4 months towards the end of 2013 I kept on spraining my ankle because it was so weak, I’d managed two weeks of exercise then have to go back to rest again.

All of this has taught me the importance of muscle hygiene. I now foam roll most nights and release the muscles in my feet with a golf ball whilst watching the evening news. It’s become a bit like brushing my teeth – an automatic thing I do. Now it is almost April and I’ve been running pretty solidly since the new year. I’ve got lots of races lined up and I’m loving being back on the pavements of my city. The only niggles now are my lower legs, which I’m hoping are just that. For now I will carry on the foam rolling and keep the mileage low and cross fingers they will sort themselves out.

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Wildfitness Kenya





Last year I got properly fit. Not just run a marathon fit but whole body fit. In doing so my running times improved immensely and I felt better than I ever had. Feeling so happy in my life meant that I could no longer to put up with a negative work situation and I finally found the courage to jack it in. I was suddenly unemployed and totally free to go anywhere and do anything. I wanted to do something that was going to consolidate my fitness, not ruin it with nights out drinking vodka martinis and ranting about my old boss, so I chose on the spur of the moment to attend a course that my old personal trainer was now teaching out in Kenya. I’d never been on a fitness holiday, never been to Kenya, never really contemplated doing such a thing, but suddenly two weeks later I was driving up to Baraka House and about to embark on a nine day kickstart. And it really did kickstart everything. I had an absolute blast waking up at 6am, exercising three times a day, learning to box, to run barefoot and swimming 4 kilometres in open water, a feat I previously thought impossible. I also made great friends, laughed a lot, ate fantastic food and discovered that East Africa is a very, very unique part of the world. I loved it so much I’m going back in a few days to try and improve my fitness levels after my stress fracture in a safe and varied environment…and of course drink a few Tuskers at the end. 

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When I first started working out I always wore basic black. It was the easiest thing to roll out of bed, jam on a pair of leggings and a top and leave for the gym or a run without worrying about things mismatching or standing out. As I got more confident about my exercise abilities I began to seek out louder workout gear, items that made me feel great as well as performing properly. By the time I started doing Crossfit even the instructors began to comment on my seemingly endless array of patterned leggings and matching / artfully clashing trainers, it was a proud moment indeed when one trainer said I was the best dressed woman at Crossfit. But not as proud as the moment I managed my first T2B (toes to bar).

Sadly, many of the items of clothing available on the market aren’t that inspired and definitely cater to the customer I was five years ago when I just wanted to slip under the radar in basic black. It’s hard to find exercise gear that really stands out and does the technical bit too. I haunt the Nike running shop in Covent Garden but often find it uninspiring and a bit same-y, Sweaty Betty sometimes produces a colourful outfit, Stella McCartney for Adidas is way too expensive and overly flouncy. I have found Black Milk a good source of out there leggings for the gym (but alas they aren’t quite so comfortable for long runs) and Sports Direct, whilst not glamorous, is always good for a rummage for cheap Nike kit and high vis jackets (when you’re training for a marathon in the winter months you need more than one).

So when I was in Australia last year the discovery of Lorna Jane was one I embraced wholeheartedly. Patterned leggings and matching bra tops, singlets with inspirational quotes to get you going, vests with a bit of detail and neat accessories like headbands that actually stay put all went into my suitcase home. The company have recently started to sell their wares in the UK and for a fortnight recently opened a pop up store where I couldn’t resist a rather fabulous floral zip up shell for the winter months that will soon be upon us. I have only one complaint – why is so much of the stuff handwash only?

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Preaching Paleo

A month of eating paleo. Just some of the meals I wolfed down.

A month of eating paleo. Just some of the meals I wolfed down.

Last year I lost quite a lot of weight – around a stone and a half, by following Weight Watchers  and adding Crossfit to exercise regime (I already ran quite a bit). After six months I weighed under 10 stone and felt fitter than I had in years but the Weight Watchers thing was getting me down.

Yes, I undoubtedly weighed less but I was still eating unhealthy foods – you can splurge on chocolate and booze or eat a microwave meal as long as it is within your daily points limit. So, when my Crossfit gym suggested a paleo challenge last November I thought it sounded like a way of eating that was worth exploring, moving away from processed foods and getting back to basics. It was a month that had a profound impact upon the way I eat. For a start I don’t think I’ve eaten a microwave meal since. I rarely eat any form of grain or legume (unless I’m in a fancy restaurant and the bread is really good or I’m on holiday in Italy and turning down the fresh pasta seems like a sacrilege), my egg consumption has gone up and they have become an integral part of my diet,  I’m beginning to like kale (it’s a learning curve) and when I do eat diary I eat the full fat version. I think more about my food and what I’m cooking and I notice the hidden horrors in all kinds of foods you wouldn’t think contain it (did you know that even M&S plain peeled and cooked prawns contain added sugar…?).

In July, after a particularly decadent fortnight in Italy and a trip to Africa where I thought it would be churlish to turn down good food given to me, I needed to get back on track, so I did a month on the Whole 30 to re-programme myself. I was nervous about the challenge as I have always thought of myself as a bit of a chocoholic. A month without chocolate, heck no added sugar at all, was daunting but in reality I found it surprisingly easy. I never found myself in the grip of a sugar mad lust for a Galaxy bar or a packet of Harbio and to my surprise a date really did cut it when a slight sugar craving hit. Doing the Whole 30 takes some research, a good chunk of commitment and lots of discipline when it comes to cooking your meals or preparing food to take with you when you’re out and about. There were ‘rules’ I fell foul of on the first week when I was still getting to grips with it (carrageenan in almond milk, ‘paleo’ pancakes being off-limits, a slight misunderstanding about peas) but ultimately I think I did pretty well to stick to the letter of the challenge. The only real difficulty for me was not having any booze. July was the hottest month in England in quite some years and not being able to enjoy a cold class of white wine on a summer evening or a beer with friends at a festival at times felt like torture but the fact that is was so hard convinced me it was worth persevering with.

Since finishing I have had a drink or two and even a celebratory Magnum ice cream, enjoying the relative freedom to eat something in a restaurant without asking them to omit butter or substitute salad for fries, but already I feel sluggish compared to a month of eating really, really well. Ultimately I need to remember that don’t feel deprived of food when I eat paleo foods, any deprivation I feel is usually social and clearly my relationship with food is deeply rooted in the communal experience and its bonding abilities. There are still some bad habits there but these are ones that I am in control of that little bit more than before. Hopefully.

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Goals for 2013

Six months ago my fitness goals for this year would have been different than they are now. I would have listed possible achievements that centred around speed – a sub 21 min 5k, a 1:45 half marathon and a 3:40 marathon. I had reached a level of fitness and confidence that meant these were within reach. However, with the current state of my ankle these will not happen this year.

Short term goals:

  • Run 5k distances regularly without pain.
  • Deadlift more than my body weight – 70kg seems like a good number to aim for.
  • Add a weekly session of yoga or Pilates or at the very least an hour of stretching at home.
  • 5 strict press ups.

Long term goals:

  • Unassisted pull ups! Still my fitness holy grail.
  • Pistol squats – darn near impossible but all the more reason to practice.
  • Take part in an ultra in 2014.
  • Run a 6 minute mile.
  • Do a Colour Run and a Tough Mudder.
  • Add more sports to my routine. I’d love to spend more time rock climbing, playing squash and swimming front crawl at a decent pace.

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Sporty girl problems…or where to get a decent bra that won’t kill me or cost the earth

Sport and boobs are not the best of friends. ESPN recently covered the issue and I must admit it’s an area I’m always surprised isn’t looked at in more depth.



Most running magazines always spout the old mantra that all you need to run are a pair of good trainers and the great outdoors. I sit there thinking ‘Er, hello, and a sports bra for your female readers’. Somehow this vital bit of equipment is often missed off the list and in an industry that is always releasing the latest running shoe with ‘ultra lite’ this and ‘energy cell’ that or new fandangled sports watches that can make your dinner and track your mileage, the lack of adequate support for the ladies is one the rankles for me (don’t even get me started on tri-suits and the tens of thousands of women who have to swim in their sports bra under their suit…oh the indignity). 

Sports bras always seem to come last on the kit list. They tend to be pretty pricey and as a result many women plump for cheap high street alternatives from the likes of Primark, especially when they take up sports. I know this all too well because when I first started exercising I also wore these £4 bras and they didn’t work properly. I see women with their boobs bouncing all over the shop when I go out for a run and wince in pain as I pass them. I want to chase them and give them my hard won knowledge but that’s socially unacceptable so I will do so here.

I have tried many brands over the years. Some chaffed me to pieces, others looked nice but did precious little to keep me in one place, one particular brand almost killed me it took compression to the extreme. I will not talk about these. In five years of running, triathlons and crossfit these are the best bras for a C/D cup as far as I’m concerned:

1) Moving Comfort Fiona – by far the most comfortable of any sports bra I’ve ever worn, it’s also the easiest to get on and off. It won’t win awards for beauty but it’s not terrifying looking either. 

2) Moving Comfort Juno – a great bra for the fuller bust but be warned – you need to be a contortionist to get it on and off. I swear sometimes I feel like I’ve had a full workout just getting this thing on in the morning. You could wear this all day which is just as well because you might need a rescue team to get undressed. 

3) Shock Absorber Run Bra – this is the market leader in Britain I believe and with good reason. It’s not the most comfortable bra but it does stop those bad boys moving and you can buy them in pretty much every major sporting outlet. You do feel very gussied up however which is why I don’t list it as my favourite – the first thing you want to do when you get home from a run after wearing this is to take the bloody thing off. Now. I also don’t like the way they are done up. If you are not very flexible clipping the darn thing up above the shoulder blades could be near impossible to achieve by yourself – I can do it no problem but I think my 60 year old Mum would be in A&E before you could say ‘boobies’. I have also had a problem with the adjustable  shoulder strap clips coming undone during a run and having to take my bra off under my top in doorways to readjust. About the most humiliating thing ever. Especially in rush hour London. For this reason I only ever wear these bras when I know someone is with me that can help me reclip it if this happens. 

So, there you go. My top three sports bras. I have others in my collection but I would never run in them. Crossfit perhaps, cross-trainer yes, cycling by all means. But running and jumping? No way. 

Oh, and final tip – don’t buy white sports bras. Ever. Stick with black or darker colours, they wash better and look fresher for longer. 


The Day The Running Stopped

Me, a stress fracture and an aircast boot.

Me, a stress fracture and an aircast boot.

I truly never appreciated being able to run until I couldn’t do it. I loved running but I took it as a given. Other than the twisted ankle, slight pull or tight IT band I hadn’t suffered a real injury.

This year has been a lesson in understanding the frailty of my body and the discipline it takes not only to get my fitness back but the patience you need in order to do so too.

Without any experience of real injury I assumed my slightly bruised and sore outer ankle was as a result of a knock or bump and ran a half marathon on it. Most runners will tell you that they run on a niggle and is usually sorts itself out during the run, the kind of niggle that presents itself on or just before race day is often psychosomatic – the manifestation of pre race nerves. By mile 6 I knew my ankle was hurting more, not less and this wasn’t a phantom pain brought on by expectation of the event. Sure enough, by mile 9 I was limping heavily as I ran. I told my Dad, who I was running with to run on as I was slowing significantly and ran / walked for the next 3 miles. But just before the last mile on a downhill stretch the pain became too great and I dragged my left foot the last mile like Quasimodo, taking almost 20 minutes to complete that home stretch. When I got home I went through the usual Ice, Compression, Elevation routine but I knew it wasn’t going to be that simple. The next day at 7am I got a cab to A&E. It took two weeks on crutches, X-Rays and CT scans to finally diagnose a stress fracture of my tibia just above the ankle.

It’s been four months since that day and, whilst the pain is no longer there, I’m still not running again. I’ve tried the odd jog of a minute or so and one 10 minute session on the treadmill but otherwise I’ve become expert at researching on the internet what I CAN do in the gym and tried to forget about what I can’t do. To begin with I concentrated on weights – sitting down or kneeling and working on my upper body. Then I progressed to kettle bell swings with a low weight to try and get that cardio feeling back, shallow squats and later the stair master when the boot could come off for a few hours a day (going up stairs was no problem…down was another matter entirely). Once the aircast boot came off altogether I added in HIIT on the cross trainer and walking on a steep gradient on the treadmill and in the last three weeks I started squatting with weights on the smith machine and working my legs with free weights and the machines in the gym. Whereas before I only used one or two areas of the gym I can now say I use the entire gym…even the free weights room that is usually the preserve of the guys.

I can’t pretend I haven’t been mightily pissed off at times – I get jealous when I see people running outdoors and I really miss Crossfit, especially the social side of having people to work out with. On the plus side however I have begun to understand so much more about fitness training as I had to seek out exercises I could do. I have discovered a weird admiration for the stair master and my arms are definitely more defined than they were back in the beginning of April when they took a back seat to running  and running and more running. I can’t work out to the same intensity these days and I’m longing for and dreading my first proper run because what if I get injured again? After this experience I think that fear will always be in the back of my mind, but maybe it’s a good thing and will stop this ever happening again. Here’s to hoping!


The first things about getting fit

1) Stop worrying about what other people are thinking. Right now. No, stop. Don’t ever think you can’t run outside because people will stare at you. I promise you if anyone is looking and they aren’t also running they are marvelling at just how badass you are or a thinking about when they can do their thing and be badass too. Give no more thought to other people in the gym, unless it’s to be nice to courteous to them. No one is laughing, you’re getting fit and that’s something that is never to be laughed at. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, who is exercising automatically belongs to the club, congratulations you’ve joined, smile on your way past.

2) Record what you do. If you just go and half heartedly press a few dumbbells or jog on the treadmill for a few minutes you’ll never get anywhere. Trust me, I’ve tried that. Fitness is about progress and progress needs to be tracked. Use your iphone, a notebook or if you have the capacity, your memory, and make sure you’re pushing yourself onwards.

3) Which brings me neatly to – goals! Have them. Try not to make it “I want to feel good in a bikini”, because that isn’t a goal, it’s a state of mind. It might happen after reaching your goals, but it’s not a goal in itself. Perhaps you want to run for 10 minutes without stopping or do a pull up.  It might seem small but it gives you something tangible to work towards. By all means add bigger goals like a marathon or a crazy time  for ‘Fran’ but make sure you keep sight of the small stuff – it really is where the sweat reaps the rewards.

4) Eat well. That Pret sandwich? It’s not healthy, put it down. Say hi to your kitchen and start using it. Cooking my meals from scratch MADE THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE. It takes time, sure, but it’s time well spent. Try and make it a habit – when you’re cooking one meal why not add more veggies so you’ve got them cold for tomorrow? Or also pop those chicken breasts in the oven as you’re making your pasta? You’re already cooking, so cook more and eat it for lunch or dinner when you know you’ll be late home and thinking a pizza would be quick and easy right now.

5) Stick at it. It took me years to get in the habit of exercising daily but now it’s something I just do. Eating was easier, after about 6 months I changed the way I eat permanently and although I have the odd slip or fortnight off when on holiday I more or less stick to it. Don’t give up after a month, keep going, it’s worth it, it really is.