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

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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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!