Monthly Archives: September 2010

Running In Wimbourne

Went for a jaunt down to Dorset at la weekend to visit The Boy’s famille. After two roast dinners, apple pie, cheese, fruit cake, carrot cake, flapjack, doorstep sandwiches and cookies I was gagging for a run. I’ve been having a crisis of confidence of late, after doing an 8 mile run that I struggled with to the point of giving up, so I was desperate to get back out and prove to myself that I will be able to tackle the Nike Women’s San Fran Marathon.

Not knowing this part of the world at all, The Boy took me on a tour of the woodland, streets and villages that surround Colehill.

We took in very a many hill and some glorious sights along the way. Mot notably Cannon Hill Woods where I fleetingly admired these Alice In Wonderland-esque toadstools:

don't eat me

Being a country girl at heart I miss the woods. Scampering through the leafy green trees took me back to being a little’un:

This is me after 14 miles, feeling strong and attacking a slow incline.

And on the final stretch, powering out towards a home finish.

Miles completed 15.9.

Time: Approx 2 hours 10 mins, with a stop halfway for The Boy to swap from feet to wheels and complete on his bike, and a second pit stop for Lucozade at the local petrol station.

Things I learnt about myself:

I no longer fear hills, in fact The Boy noted that I speed up when attacking them. Not a conscious decision but it seems to be working.

I need to refuel with an energy drink or similar every hour when running long distances.

Eating copious amounts of food the day before a long run can be beneficial. To the run, not my thighs.

All the hours, struggles and blisters are slowly becoming worth it – I feel strong and positive.

An ice-bath really does promote muscle recovery – following mine I was free from aches and pains.


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Tempo and Hill Training

I’m not much of a morning person, or so I’ve been told. So, cycling down to Oxford Street on a Thursday morning at 7am, is for me, an achievement in itself. Completing a 50 minute training session straight after, quite frankly deserves a gold medal.

I’ve had one other personal training session with Brian Cochrane, Nike’s Master Trainer. But nothing quite prepared me for my introduction to his tempo and hill training techniques.

20 minutes of tempo training is designed to challenge anaerobic limits. If you want to follow our tempo training session, see below.

Tempo Training on the Treadmill:

Set the treadmill to a 1% gradient to mimic road running.

Running patterns follow four, one minute cycles.

After a two minute warm up walk at speed 6.5 start jjogging.

Increase speed to 9 – run for 1 minute.

Increase speed to 10 – run for 1 minute,

Increase speed to 11 – run for 1 minute.

Increase speed to 12 – run for 1 minute.

Return to speed 9 and repeat. Complete 5k’s worth of intervals.

When you’ve completed your last cycle, increase the speed to 14 and sprint for 1 minute.

Cool down.

Try not to collapse.
Our second session of the morning was hill training. Doom.

Hill Training on The Treadmill.

In short this involves 20 minutes of gradual hill inclines.

Set the speed to 10 throughout (or a speed that is comfortable for you to run at).

Set the gradient to 1% and jog for 1 minute to warm up.

Increase gradient to 3% and run for 1 minute.

Then in 1 minute intervals as above keep increasing the gradient by 1%. So you’ll go through 3% to 5% to 7% to 9%.

We did three rounds of this, by which point, having already done tempo training, cycled to the gym, not eaten breakfast (am I the Queen of excuses?!) I’m feeling punished. By the end I am actually wailing at Brian that I can’t go on. Rather than listen to my girly moans, he amps the gradient up to 11% for my final minute and I truly feel as if my legs are going to give way and fall off the treadmill. Time is up not a moment too soon.

San Francisco’s hills have the potential to ruin me if I don’t practice climbing the damn things at pace, so although exhausting, this is the kind of training that I know I couldn’t do without having Brian there to stop me falling off the back of the treadmill. If you’re practicing this, unlike me, keep hydrated, it will help no end.


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This Week’s Hot List

Vouvray. Serve chilled, preferably in a garden in Suffolk. Sweet, light and way too quaffable.

Pamela. The stray cat we’ve adopted. There can not possibly be a more affectionate cat in history of felines. She’s not as keen on cameras though.

Nike Women’s Ultimatum Backpack. It’s been on my back all week like a bright purple snail’s shell ferrying my life around London.

Florals. But not just any old flowery tea-dress. Meadham Kirchoff’s A/W 10 collection channels the spirit I’d like to capture, part Moroccan Queen, part Romany daughter, part fairy tale and part eccentric Lady of the Manor.

Present – London. Grab a coffee, browse sexy men’s clothes, expensive candles and other artfully placed items. Not just any coffee, the best coffee in London, via Gwilym Davies, the 2009 World Champion Barista. NERD held the first UK playback of their album here last week too.

Images credits in order:

moi (hence the blur)
Mattias Bjorklund

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Possibly the most wholesome bank holiday in years. And with that statement I include a 12 mile run, staying up until gone 2am drinking sloe gin, throwing back champagne at 1 in the afternoon and eating doorsteps of cheese and chocolate, so before I look too smug in the face of Notting Hill Carnival hangovers fear not.

It was the type of virtuosity you get from visiting the family in the country, No I didn’t go raving, but I did eat my own bodyweight in (every type of ) dairy product and may possibly be sweating red wine for the next two weeks. But heck, I did it surrounded by floral bedspreads, open fields and 60s Jazz. So wholesome it most definitely was.

The aunt’s garden is a picture from The Good Life.

Plum trees drape – heavy with fruit, elderflower bushes stand perky ready for turning into wine and a hedge of sloes bursts with purple berries. There’s even a tree-house, for the nephews when they’re there. For a G&T when they’re not.

My uncle Nigel has been dedicated to his sloe gin, allowing a year for the love affair between berry and liquid to languish. We were willing taste testers. A sweet and sour flavour that’s perfect for sipping. A summery liquor that’s perfect for cutting through the foody layers at the end of a feast, perky enough to wake you up, but less heavy than whiskey. Or Sambucca, which is what my aunt usually favours.

We slept off layers of food, cheese, chocolate, the most delicious (if very sweet) white wine (Vouvray) I’ve ever had, in this beautiful little room decorated with Laura Ashley wallpaper.

In the morning we ate scrambled egg with home-made bread and home-made plum jam. I love that my family doesn’t so much as bat an eyelid when I pile butter on my toast so thickly it looks like cheese, then spread gooey jam on top, before spooning on buttery egg and then crushing salt in my fingers over the top. Hello heart attack.

All the greedy consuming filled me and The Boy with enough energy for a 12 mile run. I dragged the big sister along for the first 3 miles, am impressive effort, as she hasn’t run in yonks.

We ran along to Felixstow Docks, through bridle paths, along the coastal rocks, bumped into a 12 week old husky puppy, along county roads and past prickly brambles. It was forgiving on the knees to run on squishy grass for a change, but you had to have your wits about you – knots of craggy grass and protuding branches make for easy injuries. I nearly went down on some rough gravel while ogling a gigantic farm-house.

Before heading home from Manningtree, we feasted on fresh squid, hand-cut chips and a side of Suffolk samphire from The Mistly Thorn. Super staff, a wonderful menu and killer puddings (bourbon and pecan tart anyone?) Deelicious.

While waiting for the train, we admired the gorgeous gold-painted table in the station waiting room and were disappointed that the station bar was closed, as a whisky would have been the perfect antidote to the wind that had whipped up outside.

Highlights of the weekend include snuggling with Mr Chunks – the gorgeous British Blue addition to the St Johnston family household. Listening to live renditions of Sunslide. Lots of laughter with family over garden-fresh food and way too much alcohol. Can it be a bank holiday every weekend please?

Mr Chunks

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Nike Women’s Ultimatum Rucksack

I’m a lady of bags. Better than saying I’m a bag lady right? But the reality is essentially the same. No matter how hard I try I always seem to be juggling a bulging handbag, gym bag, an extra shopper for my Tupperware and balancing a bike helmet/jacket/coffee on top. Lugging around various baggage stresses me out, but I rarely seem able to travel light.

This week I’ve been testing out the Nike Women’s Ultimatum Backpack. The last time I had a rucksack (aside from a giant backpack on travels abroad) was at school. Even then I opted for a rainbow striped canvas one as opposed to a sturdy, multi-functioning kids one.

I’ve never really been one for a jack-of-all-trades, zip-tastic, sport-style rucksack. But the pink and purple upper of the Ultimatum caught my eye, so I throw caution to the wind and unloaded my life into it’s many compartments.

The rucksack is a triumph for people who like their belongings to have specific homes. There are sections galore, all illustrated with dinky symbols to let you know what is intended as cargo. My favourite bits are the foil-lined area for food and drink (or as I discovered – lipstick on a hot day), the velveteen section for jewellery, the ventilated compartment for trainers and the reinforced pocket for a laptop. Handy with a capital H.

I managed to consolidate the contents of my daily life into this perky rucksack with ease. I enjoyed knowing exactly where my keys and phone were each time I wanted them – rather than aimlessly rummaging around, feeling for the familar shape of something in the depths of my overflowing handbag. And when walking between meetings it felt amazing to be able to talk on the phone, sip a hot drink or just wave randomly at people (doesn’t everyone?) without fear of dropping my stack of belongings.

I wore it on my back when cycling and the thick, padded straps felt comfortable even over a thin tshirt. But given the option I’d still cycle with it in my basket, as I found wearing it on my back it made me pretty sweaty – in this muggy weather at least.

In the bag …
Lots of handy compartments • Foil compartment for storing handy things like chocolate • Waterproof • Comfy and so far as backpacks go, cute.

Out of the bag …
Encourages me to pack extra things ‘just incase’ • Chocolate in a gym bag – the irony is not lost on me. A small drink/gel could be stored here too, but too tiny for lunch. Unless you’re Nicole Richie. • It’s still a rucksack at the end of the day – as snazzy as it is, It won’t be coming with me to fashion week.

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Harissa Carrot Salad

The rain seems to be having a positive effect on the roof garden. The little pots are now overflowing with green foliage. We’ve accidentally broken the padlock that gives access to the roof, so getting out there now involves climbing out of the skylight in the attic. Both things together mean the vegetables have been left to their own devices for the past week.

We nipped out yesterday morning to pull up some crops and it seems that leaving them alone to guzzle water has given a prize-winning harvest. Obese carrots, plump spring onions and chubby tomatoes were the fruits of no labour.

The carrots were turned into a delicious Eastern inspired dish that goes deliciously with grilled lamb, roasted courgette topped with grated parmesan and a dollop of tzastiki. I don’t have a name for the dish but I’m going to call it Harissa Carrot.

How to make Harissa Carrot Salad

• Whole garden carrots, boiled until just soft

• A pinch of cinnamon, salt and pepper and cumin

• Four cloves of roughly chopped garlic

• A healthy smattering of harrisa or red chilli if you have none

• Pulp the carrots, throw in everything else and stir/mash with a fork

• Drizzle with olive oil, a generous squeeze of lemon and a drop of rose water

Garnish with fresh mint if you fancy. Crumbling feta over the top makes a nice alternative too – taking it from a side dish to a main event.

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