The Lakes in 48

A guide to 48 hours in the Lake District; where to eat, sleep and run.

Not being from the Lake District I wanted to make sure that I made the most of my time there. My to- do list was simple: 1) Get amongst the landscape. 2) Eat the best food around. 3) Run.

If this sounds like your sort of thing then you are reading the perfect guide to the Keswick area.

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SLEEP

Let’s start with SLEEP. Not my usual choice of a starting point but as a pretty key factor in booking a trip away it seems a sensible move.

Two guest houses come highly recommended, neither can I say a bad word about. Tip 1 for booking this trip for yourself stay in either; both if you can!

Let’s start with Seven Oaks; run by the ‘team extreme’ of getting active in the Lake District, husband and wife duo Iain and Sue are a priceless font of knowledge whatever style of outdoor pursuit you are looking for. Based in a traditional Victorian style building just moments’ walk from the centre this property couldn’t get more accessible for days of walking and evenings of socialising. The rooms here are stunning, spacious and modern, Wi-Fi, teas and coffees, bottled water, biscuits you name it, it has it! They even own their own holiday cottage ‘Millside Cottage’ so if you prefer your own family space check it out.
You can see why Seven Oaks has won Trip Advisor awards, nothing is too much trouble and no detail has been spared. The breakfasts alone are worth an award in my book; pancakes, full English (that really should be full Cumbrian as both the bacon and sausages are sourced locally), fresh fruit, homemade muesli EVEN a daily smoothie!! What a better way to start your day!

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Now let me introduce to you Sandburne Vegetarian Guest House. The former house of the founder of not only the Vegan society but also the word ‘Vegan’ itself. This whole property is stunning, apologies for this sounding like a Rightmove advert and if they do decide to sell you will have to get in line! But this is a property in a huge plot, set back from the road that opens out to the stunning back drop of the mountains. From inside, windows frame the view in to works of art. Warm cosy sitting rooms with wood burning stoves and an almost library of local books, walks and sights welcome you after a day in the hills.
As a true foodie breakfast is an easy way to my heart and just like Seven Oaks these are not to be missed. Not being vegetarian nor vegan myself I understandably am used to meat taking the main stage, but here you’ll forget there isn’t any on the plate. Piles of pancakes, granola, fruit, the best balsamic mushrooms you will have ever tasted and vegetarian haggis! All awesome!

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So you’ve eaten your body weight in breakfast which means you have lots of energy to fuel your runs and I have two stunners to keep your training topped up whilst you are away from home.

Being from the Peak District I am used to the fells, the ankle rolling footpaths, climbing over stiles and the multi-tasking of simultaneous map reading and running. If this doesn’t sound like your normal day to day run then please do make sure you are fully prepared before setting off. So vital is this I’ve made it my all important Tip 2: Set yourself a ‘taster section’ a small first file1-3.jpegpart that lets you decide if you are feeling strong and therefore can carry on or perhaps it would be sensible to head back. Plan this stop before setting off and make it at a road junction so you can have an easier trip back in rather than getting stuck in a potentially dangerous situation. Running in glorious mountains such as the lakes is an opportunity not to be missed and are some of the most memorable I have done to date, but this terrain needs to be respected, it will not help you out, it will rain and it will get so foggy you cannot see even in mid-August. Be prepared and if in doubt head back.

Recky run – After a long drive up north I used this run as a bit of a leg stretcher as well as the chance to check out where I would be staying and to get my bearings for the next day. I find running around a neRecky.jpgw area something really unique and exciting. It can obviously only be done once but it is the only time that everything about it is new, you forget how much your legs hurt or how hard you are breathing as you are engrossed in looking around. You can’t be ‘not looking forward to that hill at the end’ as you didn’t know it was coming. When I go to a new place ill always do a rekey run to get ideas for the next days of training.

Skiddaw – Think of the Lake District, think of Skiddaw. Or at least I do, I did my DofE gold practice in the Lakes as a 17 year old and being little versions of who we are now we made it our aim to Skidaw.jpghit as many peaks as we could. I knew for this trip I needed to hit some trig points again.
For this route I took a walk to Derwent water and then on to Braithwaite as a decent warm up. It was a tough run but paid off being warm from the start, last thing I wanted was tight calves on the uphill.

EAT

After all those miles you are going to need some fuel inside of you, I am a huge fan of all food and often can be found munching as a walk along as well as always have snacks to hand.

My final tip Tip3: YOU MUST TRY ALL 4 OF THESE PLACES!

  1. Mrs F’s Fine Food Emporium: Does exactly what it says on the tin but also a brilliant little find as these guys will fill your water bottles for you if you are running low. How lovely!
  2. Laura in the Lakes: As it says on their menu ‘the biggest scones you have ever seen’ pop in here for a little afternoon pick me up, slather on the clotted cream and jam and enjoy.
  3. Java Coffee Shop: This place is a real gem, you can’t miss it, just look for the massive chocolate fountain in the window. Head in and you’ll find there is so much to choose from, the cakes here are superb but if you are feeling you want something lighter go for one of their veg smoothies. All made in front of you to order, choose from their menu or freestyle and DIY.
  4. Jasper’s: Lastly but not at all least my new favourite place. Named after two lovely little dogs, (who were also visiting when I was!) This dog friendly café has hit the nail on the head. In the time we were in Keswick we couldn’t help but eat there twice. These guys do the biggest sausage rolls ever and they are delicious, a real hunk of sausage meat in fluffy homemade pastry. Not to be missed.

 

So that’s that, the lakes in 48. I hope you have as much fun exploring these places and trying all that’s on offer as I did.

Happy running…and of course cake re-fuelling.

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Patagonia Women’s Nano-Air Jacket Review

‘Put it on leave it on’ is a bold claim from Patagonia and as the predecessor of this jacket had won a ‘2015 Outside Gear of the Year’ Award, I was keen to put it to the test.

First thing you notice is just how light it is and I’m talking really light (!) 252g to be exact. It has a brilliant women’s fit too, a nice cut with a long enough back to keep it from riding up when wearing a rucksack and sleeves with a bit of give. I am not a fan of tight cuffs; I like to be able to push them up, see my watch and not be restricted by my choice of jacket. On top of this the sizing I found to be pretty spot on, it had a good amount of give for layers underneath but doesn’t look oversized and baggy. All in all they have done a great job!

The Nano-Air sports a quite impressive list of technical jargon for those in the know and for those just concerned by the colour choices you can’t go wrong with any of the eye catching options.

  • Shell: 1.3-oz 20-denier 100% nylon ripstop.
  • Lining: 2-oz 50-denier 100% nylon plain weave.
  • Both shell and lining with mechanical stretch and a DWR (durable water repellent) finish.
  • Insulation: 40-g FullRange™ 100% polyester stretch insulation.
  • Knit: 6.3-oz 100% polyester stretch waffle knit with Polygiene® permanent odor control
  • 252 g (8.9 oz)

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The big question though – did I ‘Put it on leave it on’?

Impressively yes! I was putting this through its paces in the beautiful Lake District and had all the bag space and spare kit ready for when I thought I was going to be too hot and then too cold. On mountains runs I do always find it a hard toss up with what to wear. I don’t like to be too cold at the start yet I know the moment I’m on a uphill climb I’ll be boiling in the bag of my jacket and upon reaching the summit there you go its blowing a gale and chilly is an understatement again.

Impressively the Nano-Air held its own, underneath I had worn just a t-shirt ready for when I was too hot, but I am pleased to say it didn’t get a showing. In the wind it was warming and didn’t let too much of a draught through and on the uphill’s when I expected to boil, it was nicely wicking. It let the heat out and with only simple changes of the zip I was able to get all the cool air I needed.

I am impressed and this certainly is now a cold run staple of mine.

Patagonia’s bold claim has stood the test of the Lakes, it went, it ran and it conquered!

 

Karkoa Compartment Sports Bag Review

Karkoa – User Friendly Luggage- Compartment Sports Bag

 

Firstly let me introduce Karkoa, the new kids on the block when it comes to luggage, these guys based in France have seen what a mess we all get in to with our sports kit and have gone out of their way to solve it. Whilst doing this, they have not only solved the things I knew where annoying me but also provided solutions for problems I hadn’t even thought about!

 

Karkoa do a range of holdalls and backpacks as well as add on accessories to suit all tastes and needs. I opted for the 20L Plume in Emeraude Blue, let me show you around.4.jpg

 

  1. Main section – Accessed by one large zip this has a firm flat base, nothing like I’ve even seen in a sports bag before it’s like a shelf in the bag, designed to keep those smart work clothes crease free even when it is fully packed. Perfect for those of you who exercise on the way to work.
  2. Base section – I can’t be the only one who wraps their muddy, sweaty trainers in a carrier bag to stop them contaminating 3.jpgeverything else I have with me. Welcome to the end of those days! The Karkoa bags have a base shoe section, completely self-contained and accessed through a U shaped zip. The lining of this even pulls fully out making it super easy to tip out the dirt and wipe clean – it is even big enough to take shoes up to a size 12.
  3. Chilled drinks poc2.jpgket – Foil lined and again accessed through a separate zip to stop anything touching those precious work clothes you are desperately trying to keep smart. Mine holds my protein shake, something I didn’t even realise was much nicer cool as I’m so used to having it ‘changing room warm’.6.jpg
  1. Laptop and essentials pockets – They really have thought about these two, not only is there a specific laptop pocket as well as two other smaller pockets to organise your keys, phones and whatever else we all have in the bottom of our bags. They are both lined with a soft fleece material to keep everything safe, snug and scratch free.
  1. Dirty wash bag – Again I can’t be the only person who does this, I even do it on holiday. Everything worn goes in the ‘dirty wash bag!’ My husband is even now partial to this routine! Karkoa were clearly also drilled by my parents at a young age and have provided you with your own. A thick and durable plastic case to put all those smelly, sweaty clothes in and yep you’ve guessed it, its own section to keep it in quarantine until it can get to the washing machine.5.jpg
  1. If that all wasn’t enough, last but not least they also even throw you in another little waterproof zipper pouch for any lotions and potions you want for after your work out. Last thing you want is them slopping over your smarts, so again this is all zipped away safe.

 

 

The reoccurring theme of the Karkoa bags is organisation. If you are anything like me, busy people have to be organised and if something can make fitting in a work out around all the other throws of life that little tiny bit more straight forward then it is a huge win in my book. I love love love this bag!

Check out their website and video to find out more and join the dream organisation.

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Asics Noosa FF Review

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I have had these trainers for just under a month now and have loved testing them.

First thing you need to do is check out the swanky video featuring actual runners wearing the trainers including Candace Hill – the fastest female school runner of ALL TIME!!!!
I think its fab that Asics have used actual people in the promos, no acting here, people who do this running thing day in, day out.

What is the first thing you notice about these trainers? Colour right?! Thought so! Whether you choose men’s or women’s the designs are super eye catching and look incredible, but behind this is a pretty awesome shoe packed full of clever features not to be missed.
Pros – Normally in reviews like this I do 3 or 4 pros but with these I couldn’t narrow it down, so I’m afraid you got them all!

  • Colour choices –Like I’ve already said these catch your attentiwomens-banner-1.jpgwomens-banner-5on and the compliments of those around you – never a thing to turn down!
  • Sticky sole – The outer part of the sole is almost sticky to touch and to say these are not a trail shoe nor claim to be for off road, they have held up extremely well under the wet conditions I have had to throw at it (no fault of my own, it has rained a lot!)
    For someone like me who is multi-sport based and have to negotiate plenty of wet and slippy transition areas as well as change of terrain in runs these are going to feature in my race kit from now on.
  • Cushioning sole – I LOVE the Noosa writing in the sole but after aesthetics womens-banner-3.jpgthis is a knee saver. The whole sole is soft and durable and is like running on cushions. Their tag ‘Don’t run, fly’ is very accurate indeed.
  • Mesh outer – Luckily I am not someone who suffers from blisters on my feet, especially as in my Aquathlon races I am not going to waste time drying my feet after the swim in transition. (I cant afford the seconds!) These are made with no seams and with the breathable mesh outer I have found to wick the water away very effectively. They almost air dry your feet rather than some other shoes which the material absorbs the moisture resulting in a very heavy soggy run.
  • Heel tab – Simple but really effective. A really big tab in a nice grippy material just where you need it.

All in all these are a super Triathlon and Aquathlon shoe but even if you are just a runner these make a fab all round road and mixed terrain trainer.

Things to consider – I really struggled with this list on these and nothing about the shoe in its self stands out. If I am clutching at straws it would be nice to see these with an elastic lace option for the triathletes but of course its not too much trouble to add later on. Only other thing, be aware I have found they do come up large so order your size accurately. sportsshoes.com do half sizes which I always look for in a company and even better currently have an offer on where they are giving away a free pair of running tights with every order! £37.99 running tights for FREE how brilliant is that!

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Asics Finish Advantage Tights

Made with Motion Dry technology these tights are designed to not only compress to keep the oxygen flowing but also wick any moisture away from your skin to keep you feeling comfortable and your mind on your session.

I love running in compression socks and find they really help in the last set of the session. That set when your legs and lungs are burning yet you know it is this set that counts. These tights are super and are like whole leg compression socks. If you are a fan of running in compression socks you will suit these tights.

 

Pros –

  • Overall compression – Whole leg compression increasing the blood flow during your session, easing lactic acid removal, reducing post session aching.
  • Wide waistband – No cutting in here, these stay up through all the burpees, squats and sprints that you can throw at them.
  • Reflective detail – I love the big Asics logo and having it in reflective print is brilliant to keep your visible on your dark runs.
  • Men’s and women’s! – Find both here

 

Things to consider –

  • These tights don’t have ankle zips. Personally I prefer tights with zips, I find them easier to get on and off – perhaps that just me!
  • Remember these are compression so they are tight! Check the size guide and make sure you know your measurements. Yep I ordered the wrong size first time around.
  • Currently only in black which if you have read my Asics Zero Distraction Bra post you will know I love things as colourful as possible.

Day in the life…

…of me on a week day. If you follow me on twitter you will know that I am a teacher and so holidays and weekends go a little differently but Monday to Friday I follow a very set routine.

 

6:12 am – Africa by Toto starts my day not a moment later than 12 minutes past 6!

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Shower, dress, the usual. If it’s a smart day at work (i.e. no practical lessons and so I’m in a suit) you can be sure I’ll be running late as this is slower to get in to that tracksuit bottoms and a tshirt. I love a PE kit day!

6:45am  – Breakfast this is anything from overnight oats to bread and nut butter, eggs if I was quick getting changed, cereal if I was really slow. If I have had a hard session the evening before and have had a spare moment then I try to make something ready for the next morning. I spend week days dreaming of weekend pancakes.

7:10 am – Time for school

7:30 am – Arrive at school, chaos unfolds from moment one, I spend most of the time until 1:30 when lunch is trying to suppress the ever rising hunger. Numerous cups of tea might help take my mind off how starving I am but if determination is wavering then it might be the case of eating lunch at break time. Often this is of course out of ‘pre-planning from past experience’ as when one of the many lunchtime meetings arise it’s either lunch at break or lunch at 3:15, I’ll go for break time any day.

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3:15pm – So after morning meeting, assembly, two lessons, duty, two more lessons, lunch club or meeting, longest hour of the day aka P5, the kids finally stop shouting in my ear shot. Here I might have the chance to grab a snack, or of course lunch if it wasn’t eaten at break. Either way I am seriously flagging again here, before the next meeting, after school club or staff training. If it’s a snack I will have been looking forward to this since my last mouthful of lunch so I always make it good. Get Fruity bars are firm favorite. I LOVE my food and am always thinking about what I can eat next however I know this has to get me through training and out the other side to tea.

4:30 if I am very lucky, 5:30 if we have had meetings, 7:30 if it has been parents evening, options evening, presentation evening ect ect ect, I get to go home.

The rest is not so much governed by time but more energy levels and therefore my average working speed.

Make tea, this will be anything massive and filing!

Go training – This varies but a standard week includes 1 HIIT session, 1 intervals session, 1 long run, 2 swims, 1 weights/power session.

Eat tea, usually cold after training with left overs going as lunch for the next day.

Collapse in bed, sleep….

 

….and off we go again!

Asics Zero Distraction Bra Review

Asics Zero Distraction Bra

Asics have done it here! Ladies you NEED this sports bra! Zero distraction indeed, I actually forgot I was wearing it.

Now cards on the table here I am not the most well-endowed, shall we say up there and don’t really have the issue of having to keep them strapped down BUT I am that person who if the slightest thread is itching, annoying or even a hair is in my way I will notice every step of my session and couldn’t possibly think of anything else. This is a nightmare when it comes to clothes, especially new ones that I haven’t yet decided if they are ‘OK’, is it too loose, too tight? Is it itching, irritating does it move? ARGH!!

Simply put this is the best sports bra I own and it has made it to the top of the tablel in one foul-swoop after three wears. Well done Asics!

Pros –

  • Adjustable – With an adjustable back and straps this doesn’t confine you to either S, M or L. You can make it fit you.
  • Slightly padded cups – No embarrassing moments in those cold sessions, enough said about that.
  • Adjustable whilst wearing – Genius! The straps are adjusted at the front by little hooks, you no longer have to be a contortionist to get the straps the perfect length. On top of this not only are these soft to the skin but even have a layer of thicker padding over your collar bone to prevent it digging in. Seriously give this designer a medal!

Things to consider –

I actually don’t have anything to write in this list in terms of the bra its self the only tiny negative is that it only comes in black. Now I know black is slimming and all that (not that im sure this can work with sports bra) but everyone love a bit of colour. I hope this is something they bring out very soon. Fingers crossed.

Find it at sportsshoes.com here

 

 

Fuel up for the perfect traning session

When I’m training (that’s most of the days) or recovering (that’s the few days left )  I follow a pretty fluid structure in terms of how I fuel up ready for a big session. I like to call it ‘eat what I like/have in the fridge’. I am not someone who is on a diet, I have never been on a diet nor will ever go on a diet and I wholeheartedly believe in everything in moderation; you might not feel this works for you but for me its going ok. I wouldn’t want to spend my whole life craving something, eventually giving in to temptation, feeling guilty and then starting the cycle again. Life is for living and cake can fit in to that pretty nicely.

During the school week (I am a teacher so I don’t go to work I go to school) I avoid puddings, these are a weekend treat and it makes me look forward to them rather than have them out of habit at the end of every meal. Everything else is pretty much fair game. I genuinely like healthy food so it does make the job of sticking to a varied diet a lot easier, I have a lot of meat and veg with every meal but as I said I eat what I fancy cooking and usually what I haven’t had that week already.

The only part you could perhaps call a regime, superstition, or habit even is that I HAVE to have a caffeine boost before training to make me feel ready to go and a recovery protein shot of some form afterwards. Before every session I like Youth Energy, this gives me the boost I’m looking for with no added nasty’s or unnatural junk. I used to stick solely to coffee however couldn’t get on with the overly powerful ‘buzz’ and almost light headedness it gave me once it had kicked in.
Afterwards as part of my recovery I am partial to a protein shake or bar but don’t like to have the same thing every day. I find it helps me recover quicker setting me up for the next day. After all I do have 1400 students to cope with before I even start my session, I need every bit of energy available 😉

If you haven’t done so already you must give EnergySnacks a visit. These guys have jumped on the monthly box band wagon but in a superb way. Move over monthly make up or recipe kits, its time for real life training related stash!

Not only are they doing boxes of brilliant branded gels, recovery shakes, protein snacks  (even the GU protein and caffeine stroop wafel!!!!)  they are boxing up a ever changing mixture and delivering it to you each month to keep your cupboard stocked. If you don’t like sticking to one brand or get bored of the same flavour of protein shakes after every session then this really is the thing for you.

In conjunction with EnergySnacks I have created my ideal training box that they will be packaging up and selling as their box for runners. This focuses on the things I like and use I have deliberately chosen a wide range of brands as no one wants to be eating the same day in day out. I’ve also thrown in some extra Hydration sachets for that winter boost.

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Pre training energy

Clif Energy bar
GU Stroop waffle

Post training recoveryclif-barsuntitledskhh8-mg-1

32GI Recovery protein drink
Clif Builders bar
High Five protein hit
OTE any time bar
Torq recovery bar


Hydration

GU Hydration drink mix
Skratch Lab Hydration Mix

Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Haglofs Trail Shoe Review

Haglofs Gram Gravel Women’s Trail Running Shoes

Sportsshoe.com kindly sent me the Haglofs Trail shoe to review just over a month ago and I have been putting them through their paces. Any followers of my Twitter will know my training encompasses a huge variety of activities from hill sprints to burpees in the mud, sled pulls and weights. Think Cross fit style HIIT training outdoor regardless of the weather with trail running thrown in for good measure. It is the huge variety of things I do that I thought these Haglofs Trail shoes would make the perfect pair to provide me the grip I need throughout the wetter months.

Pros –

  • Good overall grip – Wet grass, shallow mud and frosty frozen ground; these have worked fantastically and allow you to put the power down without wheel spinning.
  • Cushioning – Excellent thick sole; especially on frozen ground this came in to its own, anyone looking for a winter knee saver this is the one.
  • Variety of colours – Looks aren’t everything however no one is going to turn down something that looks nice and does a fab job. This is that shoe, a wide range of men’s and women’s that look great and do the job. What more can you ask for?!

Things to consider –

  • These are not a fell shoe – Why would they be they don’t claim to be however this is noticeable when going through deeper mud, the grip does become quite easily clogged up.
  • Grip at the front of the toe is limited – I found when doing things like burpees or pushing up a steep incline when it is your toe that is making contact with the floor the grip is limited however once the ball of your foot hits the ground you’re flying!
  • Ankle area – The foot opening in these seems to be quite small and stiff making them a bit firm for uneven running or if you are prone to ankle rolling. This seems to be worse with lower ‘no show’ socks, higher or cushioning socks have solved this for me. Perhaps they just take a bit of time to break in.
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Haglofs Gram Gravel Trail Shoe

Weight training in winter = Speed in spring

Training for any multisport event comes with its questions and is always a difficult one to get spot on. Focus all your efforts on one disciple and the other suffers, try and split your sessions between both and you don’t improve at the rate you’re hoping to. I have tried something completely new this season and I love that’s it is paying off. The majority of my sessions each week have a high intensity interval training (HIIT)/circuits style focus with some specific run and pool sessions thrown in to keep the baimg_7269lance. These session are all outdoor, whatever the weather! Something about working in the mud and rain adds a comedy factor, you have to laugh at yourself doing chest down burpees in a muddy puddle…if I don’t, I think the other option would be to cry. Check out the ‘Caveman’ sessions at http://www.bodyforce.co.uk to see what i get up to
I truly do love doing these sessions, I have always thought that swim training and long runs are so boring and I thought this was how it just had to be if I wanted to improve. As a child I would always be in the pool with the swimming club and the best part about each session was before and afterwards catching up with my mates. It is so important that training is fun, regardless of if you are working towards the Olympics or simply to stay healthy, it has to be enjoyable or else you are fighting a losing battle.
The circuit sessions combine everything in one go and are by no means easy, sprints to improve lactate threshold play a major part and feature in large blocks. Your lactate threshold is the point where your muscle begin to react to the lactic acid in the blood stream, increasing your cells resistance to this allows you to work harder for longer. This is understandably vital for most athletes regardless of the disciple but especially for those in multisport or endurance events.img_3827
Glute and Hamstring conditioning is another favourite of my coaches’, not so much of mine as this means a killer session and jelly like legs. Exercises such as squats, deadlifts, kettlebell swings, and weighted runs all require explosive power from these muscles. Combine this with a starter of sprints and you really do have a tough workout on your hands. Throughout the winter season after races have finished my focus is always on strength, weight training in the winter leads to increased power and speed in the spring. It is combining this power with the muscular endurance from the lactate work that will allow me to push that little bit harder in the summer months and races.

Nutrition plays a large part in training and is often the aspect people forget about. How I train in the day affects what I eat in the evening as well as for breakfast the next day.  If my evening session has been cardio heavy I will have depleted glycogen stores these can only be replaced by having a carbohydrate heavy meal. Attempting to train with depleted stores is like training when you have a cold, everything is 10 times harder and you feel as if you never really have the energy to get going. If I have had an unusually hard session or am feeling run down after work I will have a protein bar after my evening session to replenish my body ready for the onset of work and training the next day. Training properly has to go hand in hand with eating properly your body cannot function without the energy it requires, if you are asking it to increase its exertion levels you have to provide it the fuel to do so.  Being a full time teacher and training seriously every evening I cannot afford to forget this, it is so important to give your body every fighting chance.

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Caveman conditioning by http://www.bodyforce.co.uk the Onley way to train!