Sport Relief

Currently the UK is gearing up for Sport Relief: a weekend in March where fundraising is focused on sports activities. There are events across the country for people to participate in – running, swimming, cycling – with all proceeds going to Comic Relief. Half is spent on disadvantaged youth in the UK, and half is spent on international aid for disadvantaged children overseas.


As a concept, I really like it: it encourages the public to get up and do something themselves rather than donate after seeing a moving tribute during a long telathon on a Friday night. It could encourage families to try and raise money together by running a mile, and they might discover a new hobby that they really enjoy. Plus, actually doing something to raise money always feels better than just answering the call of celebrities asking for donations through the TV screen after having visited an impoverished area.


Of course, to boost the profile of Sport Relief, the celebrities do get involved. Except for Sport Relief, instead of taking a troop of cameramen on a trip, they too actually do something. In 2012, David Walliams swam the Thames, and John Bishop did an ultra triathlon of sorts over the course of a week from Paris to London. This year, Davina McCall joined the men by doing another ultra triathlon from Edinburgh to London. Next month, Jo Whiley will spend 26 hours on a treadmill in a glass box outside the BBC, like a bad-ass, female David Blane.


Walliams gives the Thames a double thumbs up

Walliams gives the Thames a double thumbs up


I always follow these celebs on their events in awe. I can’t imagine what it must be like to run, swim and cycle across the UK in February. I like my fingers, and losing them to frostbite in Lake Windermere is not a risk I want to take.


These celebs are made very vulnerable as they dig to the very depths of themselves to carry on, and all under the continuous scrutiny of the Daily Mail and its media friends. They show what the human body is capable of, and it’s a call to all of us to get up and do more, not just for fitness but also for charity. One thing Davina said really struck me: for her, it was ‘for women and children living really hard lives, not just here but all over the world. It was a really important cause for me to help other women’.


But. And I feel like a huge grump for writing this. But a tiny, small, cycnical part of me wonders whether such huge physical challenges are the right way to go – only a small part, mind, but enough that I wanted to explore this more. Seeing Davina being pulled limply from Lake Windermere – is that a positive message to send out? Yes in the context of pushing yourself to the limits, no if someone at home is too intimidated to go and do something because it’s not ‘big’ enough.


The end is in sight!! Davina on Millenium Bridge

The end is in sight!! Davina on Millenium Bridge


I know you can’t please everyone, and the money raised and the help this brings is soooooo positive, but maybe this platform could be used to tell us all about how they trained, what they did, how they prepared themselves, as a means to encourage others too. David didn’t just jump into the Thames one day and have his people call the media, he would have put some serious preparation in the months leading up to it. As a way to really encourage the public to take part in Sport Relief – and a way to encourage fitness in general – maybe some more focus on this would be good too.

John Bishop in Paris- before it got all tough...

John Bishop in Paris- before it got all tough…


Having said that, I don’t in any way want to undermine what these people have done, or the money these activities have raised. These activities are amazing achievements – and for a wonderful cause – but I personally would love to hear a little more about their training. How did Davina prepare for a 500 mile challenge in Winter? What is Jo Whiley doing at the moment? What is she eating? What will she be eating? How do you prep for 26 miles on a treadmill? What happens when you’re walking in a glass box and you see someone watching you eating a McDonalds at 3am?! Talk about challenging yourself!


What do you think?


Ellie B

Training Week 3: Things I remembered about long runs

This week I had a licence to kill run. I was back with a vengeance. The bitch was back. And any other movie tag lines that I can use for running.


Here is a summary of my week three:

  • Monday: 5.5 miles/9km in 49 mins. This wasn’t on the training plan, but I wanted to get some distance done to get out of my funk.
  • Tuesday: 7 miles/11km. 1m warm up, then 4m fast with 400m recoveries (approx 3 mins), and 1 mile cool down
  • Wednesday: 5.5  miles/9km with the Striders
  • Thursday: rest
  • Friday: Metafit, then 4 miles/6.4km in 32 mins
  • Saturday: rest
  • Sunday: 10 miles/16km in 90 mins

Total miles: 32

On Friday I was feeling pretty pleased with myself for doing both Metafit and a 4 mile run. ‘The rest of the class was core work, so that wasn’t too bad for my run’ I wrote. Famous last words. On Saturday my legs – particularly my poor adductors – were mighty sore. I forgot about the lunges and squats we did in the euphoria of finishing a class.


Sunday’s run was the first 12k-plus run I had done since the half marathons back in September. I really need race goals to keep out there I think. SB ran the first three miles with me, running alongside the river and towards his gym.

Lovely Durham River Walk

Lovely Durham River Walk


About 2 miles in, I remembered the things which make a long run more bearable:

  • If it’s windy outside, don’t opt for the high-ponytail-healthy-girl look, unless you enjoy eye-whiplash for the duration of your run
Sharapova knows this pain

Sharapova knows this pain

  • Running into the wind will almost certainly mean that you will run with the wind. Running into the wind will challenge you more, and make you a more effective runner and all that stuff, but running with the wind is 1000% better. Fact.
  • Don’t be a hero. If you pass a bathroom, it’s never good to gamble unless you want an uncomfortable remainder of the run. And that’s all I have to say about that
  • A good playlist will help you get in The Zone, where miles pass easily and your thoughts are deep.
  • Never set out without an idea of where you’re going – you’ll almost always want to cut it short. If you know where you’re going, you can prepare for  the distance, the route, and how long it will take.

At one time during Sunday’s run, I may or may not have had to deal with all of these. The final one is key for me: I hate running, and checking my distance, to find that I have to run another 3k before I reach my distance. By this time in the run, I’m thinking about finishing, and to have to ‘find’ another 3k is mentally hard, which then needs more strength to finish.


We had friends to visit this weekend, and on Saturday we went to Beamish – an outdoor mining village museum set in the year 1913. We saw old cars, pigs and heard the air raid siren (everything is 1913 except the farm, which is 1940s, obviously). It was a good visit.



Ellie B

Friday Update

I love the feeling in a run when it all ‘clicks’ and you feel like you could go on and on until either the sun goes down, or until you run past a Nandos and get distracted (we are having Nandos tonight and I can’t wait).


That happened to me today. I did 4 miles/6.5k during lunch, and for the first mile my legs felt like match stick that could snap at any moment. As soon as I crossed the 1 mile mark, I felt like I was flying. It was such a lovely day to run as well: the sun was out, there was a breeze to keep things challenging, and I had my favourite podcast to keep me company.


I have decided to switch one of my runs for a metafit class, to give my legs a chance to get stronger. My adductors are really weak, so they need some work to make sure I can make 26 miles. So I’ll have one more rest day from running, but do a Metafit then. Apart from today, because my first class was this morning. Remember what happens when I go to Metafit: I turn into a tomato.


I’ll sleep well tonight!


We did on-the-spot sprints with high knees, which were surprisingly really hard, and explains why my legs were brittle later on in the day. The rest of the session was core work, so that wasn’t too bad for my afternoon run.


So, after feeling a little down last week, this week is back with a bang! I have one more run scheduled for Sunday, and the will recap the week – I bet you can’t wait 😉


Happy Friday everyone! Hope you all have a wonderful weekend.


Ellie B



Matter over Mind

Last week I lived like I was still in my early 20s. London, Stockholm, late nights, early starts, presentations, dinners, spas, massages, cocktails, prosecco and nights out. It was like a real-life Wolf of Wall Street, but without the drugs, pyramid scheme, yachts, $$$…. actually, it wasn’t so similar.


The result was, as I thought, I didn’t get much running in. To be honest, the thought of waking up at 5.30 to run before a 14 hour work day made me want to cry. During the week I was 100% ok with this choice – but when I returned home on the weekend, the dreaded comparisons came to bite me on my ass.


It seemed that everywhere I looked I saw people doing sport – and doing it better than me. People running further. People with flatter splits. People with stronger and prettier pole moves. I hadn’t the time or the energy to do any of that, and it made me feel low.


However, amongst all this, there are positive messages out there too, and I should have focussed on them instead. I’m still reading this book called ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’, and habit number one is ‘be proactive’ i.e. know that your choices play the biggest part in your happiness/effectiveness, and take responsibility for them.  I also saw this on one of my favourite running blogs which made me think:


Happiness formula = Do YOUR best and feel good about it

Unhappiness formula = Compare yourself to everyone else

So, basically, choosing to sit on my ass and focus on everyone elses’ successes as a negative comparison was a huge waste of energy. What I should have done is get back out there and run for me rather than to keep up with the Farahs Joneses. And, equally as important, I want to choose to celebrate the successes of others, and be happy for them, rather than view them only in comparison where I’m at. It may seem like a shock, but the whole world doesn’t revolve around me you know 😉


Yesterday was my first training session that challenged me (that’s what happens when you miss a whole week though). I did 1 mile warm up, 4*1 miles fast with 400m recoveries, and 1 mile cool down, totalling 7 miles. On the run, I quickly realised that my chosen road had an incline, and so two of my miles were much easier than the other two! I mis-read the exercise before I went out, and thought I had to do the fast miles in 6 mins, but was stoked when I came home to  find the plan said 7:30. My splits were:

  • 6:48
  • 7:50
  • 7:25
  • 8:00

So, a bit all over the place. That pacing again. Guess which were running up the incline?!


It felt good to push myself, and I think there was still a bit of a mental hangover from last week – it felt very cathartic to get my little legs going as fast as they could. Now there’s a baseline for my speedwork, and honestly, it’s a relief to know that I can (kind of) keep up with the training plan I chose!


So this post could have also been called ‘Movin on Up’, but I’m not really into MPeople, and would hate for that to be my theme tune. However, from here on in there will be no whining about how I couldn’t get much running in – if I didn’t, then I will really try to accept that it was my choice, and that it was made in good faith at the time. And to know that as soon as I go for another run, it’ll all feel right again.

feel good


Ellie B

Lake Tahoe


The final stop on our tour of the US was Lake Tahoe for some R&R and skiing. It’s about a three and a half hour drive from San Fran so an easy trip to make. And make it you should – it is lovely up there. I slept on the way up and arrived as Fran was about 5 minutes away. Sorry Fran. It was amazing to wake up to all the snow and tree dotted landscape after falling asleep in downtown SF. The hotel greeted us with a roaring fire and warm apple cider and we knew we were in for a good time!

There are a bunch of ski resorts in Lake Tahoe and we decided to stay at Squaw based on some friend’s recommendations. California had been experiencing a drought until the Thursday we arrived but it started snowing when we were there – luck of the Irish!

The hotel is located in a ‘village’ at the base of the mountain. This meant our hotel room was a 5 minute walk from the first lift. Awesome! All the ski rentals, shops, cafes and so on are all there also so no need to go far to get an Irish coffee over lunch. The food in the village was surprisingly good. We ate in a pizza joint, an Irish bar – awesome sausages – modern Californian food, Mexican and casual café style. All were really good and great value.


Happy Fran taking a break from skiing

The skiing was great there as well. There are hundreds of runs and squaw shares ski passes with another mountain so you can go between both. Neither of us had been skiing in ages so it was lovely to get the opportunity to do so again. We’re mad to go on a full skiing holiday now. Japan anyone???

I also did a yoga class one evening – the windows were huge so you could see out to the snow as you did downward dog. It was vinyasa yoga and I think I finally found a class I enjoy! Or maybe I have been enough now. Either way I would go again.

Before we knew it our last leg of our tour was over and we were on the road back to San Fran and home. I’d love to go back to Lake Tahoe in the summer, it’s incredibly beautiful and there is so much to do. Some day!

Thanks for reading. Gilly J