Bikini challenge

Do I, don’t I? I don’t know. I didn’t set out to lose weight or to firm up. I have instead gradually started paying attention to my food. I signed up to the Bristol 10k because I used to run and figured I could again and then tonight I found myself doing a workout from YouTube – something called Pop Pilates.

It was great and it hurt. It was the instructor from that who had just completed a bikini challenge and it inspired me.

So I’m thinking about it. Do I set out a bikini challenge to myself?

Life / wellness coaching

I talked to a wellness life coach recently and while I expected her to have all the answers, it turns out she was armed with the right questions and let me find all the answers for myself.

Linda Formichelli had an offer for some practice sessions and I contacted her about two things in my lifestyle that have been on my mind recently, my running and my diet.

She started the call by explaining that she wouldn’t just tell me what to do. This process was more of a listening one on her part and if she had suggestions then she would ask me if she could share them.

When I first got in touch I was sent a set of questions to answer about what I wanted to talk about and then given a second assignment to describe some bits of my lifestyle. By the time we started chatting she had a reasonable idea of what the session was about and I’d had some time to place myself in the same kind of context, as well. No matter how focused I thought I was about my topics, there’s something about putting it in writing that gives it a more solid grounding.

I remembered the last time I was feeling really healthy – it was in 1999 and I was running, eating properly and feeling extremely energetic. When I ran my first marathon over 10 years later, I’d done a lot of training but didn’t feel at my best. I somehow wanted to combine the two times and get to that stage again.

In the session, over Skype, I did most of the talking and Linda asked the questions. What do you want to achieve? What would help you do that? Is there anything blocking you? How can you make sure you follow through?

She also offered some suggestions of her own. For example, one of my biggest issues is eating the right things at the right time with a healthy, balanced diet. She asked me if I knew what that looked like and I said I did. Mainly vegetables, some carbohydrates, some meat and less dairy. How would I achieve this? Would it work if I bought a lot of food at the start of the week and then make the meals along the way? No. I know myself and I need structure so a plan would be better.

There were websites with lots of recipes. There are supermarkets close by and I had some time in the morning. I could cook twice the amount and freeze half and some other suggestions as well. Most importantly, the suggestions came from me and that’s who I felt accountable to. I had no need to lie and I had every reason to make sure that when I said nothing was blocking me from doing these things, that I was telling the truth.

It was a fascinating experience and it feels positive so far.

Linda has a few more sessions which she is offering on a free basis in exchange for feedback. Check out her site at Happy Fit Coaching and see if there is any aspect of your wellness with which she can help. This isn’t about sorting out relationships or finances. The topics with which she can help are in the areas of health, fitness, diet, and wellness.

To sign up for your free wellness coaching session, email her at and you can set up a date and a time between now and October 31.

The digest part of the name

I seem to have acquired more than one blog. I have three more than one, two more than the two I had until this week and I’ll tell you why with a story that is one of my favourites from my running.

I was at the gym, a few weeks before my first 10k, running at a steady pace and finding it utterly exhausting. I hadn’t managed to run the full distance yet so it felt pretty important to get in as much training as possible.

I did my best but gave up after about five minutes. Instead I did some running at an incline and put the treadmill to the random setting. I increased the speed to as fast as I could go for as long as I could run and then walked for a bit and generally chop and changed my routine for about 40 minutes. It was brilliant fun.

My housemate and I then went to Tampopo for dinner and I pretty much zonked out on top of my red Thai curry with prawns. I was ill for the next three days with a throat infection so my body was probably right to want me to rest.

I don’t feel proud for tricking it, I’m just glad I put my last bit of energy to good use.

So how is that like having four blogs? Well, I don’t seem to have much energy these days and sometimes I want to post random things that are utterly meaningless but fun. Little posts with few words aren’t a problem on a blog that is filled with meaningless posts.

I also really like the picture on the Miscellaneous blog.

We’ll see how it goes.

The blogs I’ve been talking about:

Bristol Quays And Hidden Colston

And a picture of autumn because it caught my eye as I was browsing Flickr.

Some pictures from the Bristol 10km – 15 May 2011

A record number of people took part in this year’s 10km in Bristol and it was a wonderful turn out on quite a grey day. Thousands of runners headed off from just outside the Runner’s Village at Millennium Square, Park St and Anchor Rd in two waves separated by 15 minutes.

I managed to capture most of the runners and there are a few fun costumes and groups that took part. I’ll post some up here and the rest on my Flickr account. I have exported the photos in a low resolution jpeg format so if you see yourself and want a better quality image then get in touch on

Were you one of the Subway sandwiches or sumo wrestlers running for charity?

See more photos on Flickr.

Something with which I struggled in 2010

Physical mobility was my biggest challenge in 2010. Near the end of January I over exercised my right knee, while running with poor form, and I hurt / irritated the area.

This was pretty bad news because I had just signed up for the London Marathon and I needed the training. On the plus side though, my running technique needed work and my muscles needed a lot of building up. I may not have been able to run the marathon at all without the injury getting me to see a physiotherapist.

Mobility issues were a big part of my life until the end of April. I couldn’t climb stairs, couldn’t walk more than 10 minutes without hurting, limping, needing to rest. Once the damage had healed I started to face different issues, namely my body having to handle the long runs and then build itself up again. Black toe nails, swollen toes, damaged knees, hamstring injuries (well, just one), general aches and pains.

It was fascinating. The only suffering, as opposed to pain, I remember, was the frustration at not being able to run. The pain itself was manageable and even enjoyable since it seemed worthwhile.

Once the marathon was over, there was the Bristol 10k on 9 May and I’m not sure if it was too soon or not but I completed it in 1:00:17 but with a painful, spongy feeling in my right ankle. The pain started at around 3kms in to the run and didn’t let up until the end. The physiotherapist said to give my body some time to get back to normal before we started to look at what to do.

On the 1st of June however I found out I was pregnant. I was fatigued for the first few weeks and went to the doctor to find out if I was anaemic or if I had caught some other kind of bug but no, it was a baby.

The next few weeks / months were taken up with fatigue and morning sickness. My body was completely unwilling to run and in the first six months I ran twice because I only felt well for two days. I had a month or so when I felt ok and then once I got to seven / eight months I started to struggle with walking again.

I am now 39 weeks pregnant and walking, sitting and sleeping are pretty painful. Standing isn’t much fun and bending down to pick things up is barely feasible.

I have been back to see the physiotherapist because of pelvic problems. My tendons and ligaments that keep the pelvis fused together have been relaxing to prepare for labour. This means that the bones have no support and the pain can once again be immobilising. I was offered crutches and told not to do too much and I told her I barely do anything. Two – three hours of the house every couple of days isn’t much.

She told me to try to stick to five minutes walking since I would have to walk another five minutes back. No housework and nothing like vacuuming or anything strenuous. I was a bit shocked. Five minutes? I couldn’t even picture that.

Once again, the suffering is from frustration and not from the pain but it has made me think a lot about immobility and patience.

To The Left

Running, What Carries You To The Finish Line?

Chrissie Wellington is an elite athlete. She has won the triathlon event, the Ironman, three years in a row in a race that is made up of a 3.8km swim, followed by a 180km bike ride, and then finishes with a marathon (26.2 mile run). Her record breaking time in 2009 was 8:54:02 and while that sounds like a long period of time, most competitors will be racing for over 11 hours.

The following section describes how Wellington managed to deal with all those hours competing.

As Wellington ran she used a number of mental tricks to propel her towards the finishing line. In her head she went over and over the lyrics from “Circle of Life” from the Lion King, Leona Lewis’s “A Moment Like This” and Queen’s “We are the Champions”. “Quite embarrassing, really,” she says. “Shows my total lack of taste in music.” She also recited stanzas from Rudyard Kipling’s “If” – a poem which was given to her by Sutton, the dog-eared photocopy of which she still takes to every race. “Because when you’re 30k into the marathon,” she says, “it’s not your body that’s carrying you, it’s your mind.”

Guardian – Chrissie Wellington interview: The iron lady, 2 January 2011

Singing songs and reciting poetry are the techniques used by this champion. What are some other techniques? Feel free to share what you do to keep sane and focused while competing over a long period of time.

Achieving My Resolutions in 2011

The new year has come and gone and I have managed only one resolution so far. I have jotted down some other things I’d like but there’s one strong resolution about posting every day while the not so resolute ones include generally broad themes such as be creative, sell an article, use HDR exposure in my photography and others. Writing a novel has drifted off the list somewhere after the last NaNo but it can quickly be scooched back in as can goals such as eat healthier, run a marathon in a below-five hour time, well maybe a half-marathon PB instead. All possible perhaps but none of them ardently pursued or explored yet.

I am probably not the only one with resolutions on my mind and in my wanderings around the internet I came across the following article with some great advice on how to create powerful goals / resolutions. I am passing the information and link on to you, gentle reader, so you may hopefully gain something useful from it as well.

The article by Lululemon is the fifth day of goals and resolutions so if you want to read about why we goal set and learn about tips for thinking about the ideal vision of your life go back and check them out.

Steps for this stage:

  1. Use present tense – This is meant to help you think about the goals as being part of your life already rather than out of reach.
  2. Use affirmative language – focus on what you want and avoid thinking about what you don’t want.
  3. Check that you can you measure it – if you can’t measure it then it isn’t a goal and otherwise how will you know when you have achieved it?
  4. Specific – be specific, concise and keep it all to 15 words or less without needing any justification.
  5. By when – dates keep you accountable so state a month. Not all new year’s resolutions need to be for the end of the year.

These tips seem like a good start to me and for more information do check out the original article at Lululemon.

First step in being creative, cross stitch components


Running Blog: Steve’s Kenya Training Diary

Bristol & West Athletics Club athlete Steve Mitchell will be pounding the dirt tracks of the Rift Valley in January after being invited to the High Performance Training Centre at Eldoret by Kenyan athletics legend Kip Keino. Read about his experiences on his blog.

Mitchell’s new blog was mentioned on Bristol Running Resources by Mike Taylor. He also mentions that Bristol will be the Kenyans base in 2012 when they come over for the Olympics.

I’m looking forward to reading more from both blogs. If I can’t run, then vicarious thrills will have to do.

Running among the umbrellas, Bristol Half and

Baby B: Carefree and Kicking Around

Ain’t thinking ’bout love today
Lost in the sunlight
Walking down memory lane

I don’t think about running any more. I spend too long trying to waddle to work, find some comfort on the couch, sleep without pain, put socks on with some measure of grace, impossible.

I dream about running instead. I wake from training for marathons, running effortlessly along the Ashton-Pill path, cycling down the Portway, and find myself heavy and unresponsive instead. I wake up knowing that I am pregnant with little surprise. The bump is hard to ignore and the heaviness even more difficult.

Child In Our Time says that some babies can recognise music played to them while in the womb after birth, and may even be able to distinguish between voices and recognise them once born. They recommend playing a melodic song twice a day so I have been playing some in the morning. So far the baby kicks along and wriggles to Pearl Jam’s ‘Just Breathe’ and is mostly chilled to the rest.

Ain’t thinking ’bout you today
People from the past that I knew
Are slowly slipping away
Seems so long ago
Since we were carefree

I played Jamie Cullum’s ‘Pointless Nostalgic’ to the baby but there was little response, unlike to Die Hard 4.0 where there was a constant stream of kicking and wriggling in response to all the gunfire and battles. I was thrilled for a bit but then wondered whether the baby was unhappy at all the noise and protesting. Did it then perhaps not like Pearl Jam? Maybe something smoother was the way to go. Katie Melua, who provoked no response at all may be the better song to choose. I don’t know.

Photographs lost in time are all I see
A pointless nostalgic-
That’s me
That’s me

At 24 weeks the baby is now ‘legally viable’, meaning that if born now it would have a chance of survival with specialist care. Also as the baby gets bigger, I have begun to get more breathless, as hormones relax my lung muscles and the growing uterus pushes up against my diaphragm. I don’t miss going out and I don’t miss wandering around Bristol for hours since the mere thought of it only reminds me of the exhaustion that’s sure to follow.

Thoughts running round my head today
Times from the past popping up where they’re from I don’t know
Reminiscing my cares away
Wishing I could go back and change the points that were low
Till I’ve realised what life’s meant to be

I had morning sickness until week 18. On average it’s meant to last until the beginning of the second trimester at 12 weeks and my colleagues would try to suggest that it would soon pass but day after day it was still there. One thing that helped was constant eating but not everything was suitable. I couldn’t touch porridge from about week six to week 19 and I still haven’t been able to eat any bananas. Nutella sandwiches became breakfast and were the only thing I knew that I could eat. I remember feeling so bad one day that I ran to the bathroom holding a nutella sandwich in one hand and an apricot in the other. I couldn’t eat because I felt so bad and I couldn’t go into the bathroom because I was holding on to food. Finally a colleague came by and she took me to the first aid room as I burst into tears.

Photographs lost in time are all I see
A pointless nostalgic;
That’s me

There are also the happy tears when I receive clothes for the baby that seem too tiny to be true. My housemates mum has knit some white booties and a hoodie cardigan. Colleagues have given me two bags of clothes that include some tiny mittens, pink corduroy trousers, bibs, little dresses and onesies.

I don’t miss the running, the socialising, the alcohol, the caffeine or the few foods I can’t eat. I do wake up occasionally though and wonder about the girl with no bump who is happily running around Bristol.

Pointless Nostalgic by Jamie Cullum

Running, not so much

There is a sentence in my post-marathon write-up which kept coming back to me around the time of the Bristol 10km. “After those 10 miles it would be the last 10km and I could run that distance even feeling unwell”. Nearly a month after I wrote that, I am not so sure at how much it holds true. It was true on the day I wrote it and it felt true while I was running in London, but today it doesn’t feel so believable.

I have run twice since the marathon. I ran the 10k on May 9th and I ran 3km around the harbour last weekend. I didn’t manage to run the whole way around. I ran to Cumberland Rd and started to walk when I passed Phidias Neo Classical marble merchants. They must be Greek I say to myself whenever I pass by. I have yet to go and find out. Nevertheless and distractions aside, the running wasn’t physically tough but I just couldn’t do it.

I managed to run the 10k at a speed of 1:00:17. For me, that is an official personal best so I was quite happy with it. I say official because I’ve run 10k in under an hour outside of a race. I had been hoping to do that again but I’m not complaining. About 3.5km into the run my right foot started hurting and while it didn’t slow me down, it also wasn’t of much use in my attempts to speed up.

The ankle injury was a remnant of the marathon aches and pains so I didn’t mind too much. For about 10 days it had hurt but less and less. On the morning of the race it felt fine. All better now luckily but I still don’t have the heart to go out and run.

Someone wrote on Twitter that ‘post-marathon life was fun’ and they mentioned some wine they would be enjoying. I was surprised. It doesn’t feel fun for me. I felt quite aimless for a bit and now that’s become a slight curiousity about what happens next.

I entered the ballot for the 2011 London Marathon but there’s a lot of competition for places. I wondered about whether to try to do the New York Marathon this year but that idea didn’t catch on. I’d like to do it one day so maybe next year I will enter the ballot. The Loch Ness marathon sounded nice when I first researched it last winter. I’ll wait to see what happens though and if I get a bit more excited about it I think I’d enjoy training for it.

I think that this may be the come down from the training and the worry and the travel and the running. I hope that wasn’t the only highlight of my year because there are still over six months left. However my enthusiasm needs a little bit of work. Just waiting and seeing for now.

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