The February Run Down

Fitbitches - The February Run Down

So I'll start with the negative from this month. I had the worst run (mentally) around three weeks ago. It was a normal Monday 3-mile run with my usual running group and some of the route was to be torchlit (it mixes things up a bit - here's the stats from Strava).  I don't suffer from panic attacks however I struggled with pace and I had a bit of a moment half way round where I struggled to breathe, felt physically sick and got a bit tearful. My running pals talked me through it and got me to a point where I felt as though I could carry on.

After getting home, I had a bit of a think about what had happened and felt as though I had been building up to this for a long time. The decision to run further and faster over the winter was a tough one to make. I was leaving my Couch To 5k community group comfort blanket behind, running with new people - many of whom were already great friends with each other - and pushing myself to do something that still feels so unnatural to me. The runs with this group are tough but I can already feel the difference in my stamina and pace in general and that's the positive I'm taking from this.

Moving forward, we are on week 7 of the latest 5-10k Progression Plan and this is the third time I've been on this plan. As mentioned earlier, it's a challenge for me to be out of my comfort zone but I do organise the weekly optional extra run on a Saturday which is anything between 3 and 5 miles. I've also got the Stroke Association Resolution Run (10k) booked for the beginning of March and there's a few of my running mates taking part. I have also registered for another virtual 10k during March.

Blackburn Road Runners Winter Warmer 10k

I had been mentally preparing for the Blackburn Road Runners 10k Winter Warmer for a while. It's our only local 10k and includes my nemesis hill - Buncer Lane.  The route is tough in general, with the first 3k being totally uphill however the views are spectacular. The organisation of the event is second to none with BRR members as pacers and marshals - and this is what helped me have such a good run as I know most of them personally as part of my extended running community. My run was full of shouts of encouragement, high fives and hugs.

Fitbitches - The February Run Down - the BRR Winter Warmer elevation chartFitbitches - The February Run Down - BRR Winter Warmer at around 7k - photo credit : Claire Young

At around the halfway point I fell into a matching stride with another runner and we ran the second half of the route together, giving each other little pep-talks, chatting about our running achievements and goals for the year and generally helping each other along for the last part of the race. Because of this, I totally ran through my usual wall at 7-8k but definitely hit it for the last kilometre when I was back in the park and could see the finish line. My new-found running buddy stretched out for the final leg and we finished around a minute apart. Photo credit : Claire Young

Fitbitches - The February Run Down - BRR Winter Warmer overview, route, medal, running number
I'd set myself a goal of completing the course in 1hr 20min as I knew how long it would take me to run that first section but my chip time was 1:17:22 - yes it's slow but it's the first time I've not felt like I was running for well over an hour and that was simply down to my own personal experience with this race and the people involved.


The last few weeks have been spent thinking a lot about the Fitbitches ethos and how I can grow this into the meaningful, altruistic community that I want it to be. The Facebook group has doubled in size but I'm still determined to ensure that there are only proactive members who are focused on encouraging each other, regardless of fitness level, exercise discipline or personal goal, and all with no sales pitch as I'm looking more at the community atmosphere. As individuals, these goals are always so different but we all need that little high five or pat on the back to keep us going, don't we?

Fitbitches - The February Run Down - Fitbitches is not about being better than someone else, its about being better than you used to be
Along with the original members of Fitbitches, I organised a February Virtual Event. We were all looking to move more in 2017 but I always find having an actual target is the best way to get to the next level.  I saw that Virtual Runner UK were offering a medal in February where you could run or walk either 5k or 10k to achieve that medal.  It was the ideal goal where we could all be involved, so we signed up for it, agreed a day when we could all do the activity near our own homes and kept in touch via social media for mutual support. It was such a good feeling to actually see my friends achieving what they'd set out to do and enjoying the time they were spending doing it! Huge congratulations to Tanya, Kirsty & Clara and Penny (links to their Instagram so you can follow their updates).  If you want to follow our progress then we are using the #Fitbitches hashtag on Instagram - that hashtag isn't exclusive though so I might have to create a unique one moving forward... EDIT - THE HASHTAG IS #FitbitchesMOVEment - see all the posts here.  Leading on from this, Tanya has absolutely SMASHED another personal goal by power-walking 21k in a week - you can read her update here.

We are all now contemplating what we can do in March and we are slowly introducing more people to the group who can help mould this unique community in the way that I want. This is more than completing just one 5k or chatting on a Facebook group or selling fitness advice in the form of e-books that isn't tailored to the individual. It's not blogging, it's not tweeting... it's doing. It's a MOVEment.

Stories That Have Captured My Interest This Month

Fitbitches - The February Run Down - Ron Hill
Most distance runners will have heard of Ron Hill and many other runners will know of him through his sport clothing range as he was a pioneer of various products, but mainly the reflective strips that are now found on most sports outerwear.  I knew of him long ago as he was the first winner of the Freckleton Half Marathon (my home village - and, if it ever came to it, the only half marathon I'd ever run) and he still holds the course record after 50-odd years!

Born in Accrington, Lancashire, he was a multi-gold medalist marathon runner and recently ended the longest recorded running streak in history, finishing at 19,032 days where he ran at least one mile for every single one of those days. I honestly can't imagine how that feels as he has said that he mentally wants/wanted to continue but, due to illness, his body just couldn't do it any more.  The Guardian shared a video of his achievements which I've embedded here for you to watch.

Fell running is so far off my radar that I cannot even contemplate the dedication it takes to train for such events. This article about Ricky Lightfoot appeared on my Strava feed a couple of weeks ago and is a must-read. He talks about the Bob Graham Round, which is the Lake District's most historic fell running challenge and the input that is needed for this endurance feat. As an aside, the photography accompanying this article is too DIE for!!

And I'll finish with yet another excuse to embed a Casey Neistat video where he examines his addiction to running. The mini-film is under 3 minutes long so well worth a watch.

What I'm wearing this month 

Adidas Duramo 55 - discounted at Sports Direct (although their staff are worse than useless) - bought a half size bigger which is recommended and laced for high arches. This has completely eradicated the pins-and-needles feeling I regularly have in my foot and I've had fewer calf twinges this month too.

Wild Bangarang - I wore my Anne Stokes Gothic Skull leggings when running the Winter Warmer  which are definitely my favourite pair from all the ones I own. If you're ever ordering from their site you can use the discount code TYPECAST15 for 15% off your order.

Blackburn Road Runners buff - I joked that I'd only entered their Winter Warmer so I could receive the logo'd running buff in the goodie bag... but they didn't include one this year!! My friend, and BRR member, Lisa kindly bought me one as a gift and I've worn it every time I've been running since - it was brilliant as an 80s style sweatband on this weekend's 8k run (pic here)!! 

Total distance for 2017 so far

123 kilometres
I should be up to 140 km this week to be on track for my goal of 1000 km this year. I'm not too worried about being a little bit behind but I really can't let it slip much more as it will become too challenging later in the year

My focus for March is to catch up on the missing mileage and to be more positive about my runs. One day, I'll nail this.  (PS... read January's Fitbitches Run Down here)

Read other Fitbitches blog posts from this year
January | February | March | April | May | June

July | August | September | October | November | December 


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How Can I Get A Good Night's Sleep?

Sleep... it's a sore subject in this house

The cause? My husband's snoring! One pillow, two pillows, on his back, on his side, using an anti-snore pillow, whatever. And he sleeps so deeply that he has no idea that he's doing it either. He protests by saying that I snore too but I know I don't...  I'm too ladylike to snore. Cute little piggy grunts, maybe, but not loud enough to wake someone from their slumber and prevent them from nodding back off again.

You would think I would be used surviving with no sleep. When my youngest child was born (and before was diagnosed with ADHD) he used to sleep for anything between half an hour and two hours then stay away for the next eight hours. This went on for approximately two-and-a-half years. In fact, I was so adept at surviving of little or no sleep that I laughed at the idea of the reality TV Show, "Shattered" which involved a number of contestants going without sleep for a week (I'm sure I am the only person who remembers this. Dermot O'Leary presented the nightly updates).

Nowadays, I sometimes manage a lie-in at the weekend but I am usually awake before it is absolutely necessary to get up and can never settle back down again. That's a sign of old-age, isn't it?

Sleep isn't something that you can store in reserve for a time when you need the extra push, so what can you do to ensure a better night's sleep? Hopefully this video below from Adjustamatic will provide some advice about sleep position, pillows and how the position of your spine is all important.

And feel free to share your top tips about sleeping well - I need all the help I can get!!

This is a featured post. For more details please read my disclosure policy

7 New Hobbies to Kickstart 2017

It’s a new year, a fresh start. Resolutions have been made, goals have been set. Things are looking up. You feel energised, revitalised and somewhat uplifted. The thought of starting afresh gives you a spring in your step. Or does it? Isn’t that what a new year is supposed to make you feel like?

7 New Hobbies to Kickstart 2017For many of us, as the new year rolls around, we find ourselves stuck in the same old rut, wondering what all the fuss is about. We’re stuck with the same pile of credit to pay off, in the same boring job, with the same responsibilities as we had last year. For some of us, the new year brings about barely any excitement.

So how can we work to make 2017 the year of change? What exactly does a new year’s resolution entail? Is there a fun way to turn our routine from being a total snooze-fest to an exciting and inspiring routine that will help invigorate our lifestyle? The answer is a firm yes.

By taking on any of these 7 exciting hobbies, we’re confident that you’ll kickstart 2017 into a whole new gear.

Arts and Crafts

What better way to express yourself than to take up a hobby working with a glue gun and some paint? Let your creativity soar as you create watercolour works-of-art, or as you decoupage more tissue boxes than you could possibly ever need. Now is the perfect time to take on a project that will help you get in touch with your creative side.


This project requires a little more dedication and vision. Visit your local mosaic shop to browse the tile selection as you draw inspiration for a colour-scheme and picture you’d like to run with. After working on your mosaic masterpiece, we’re sure you’ll never look at a cracked tile the same way again.


Our all-time-favourite past time, BINGO! Who can resist playing this classic game? Why not make bingo a new hobby this year? This is one of our favourite hobbies because there are endless rounds of bingo games to play, so you’ll never find an excuse to be bored again.


Yes, boxing is more than a competing sport. It’s a fun form of exercise. (Yes, we used the word fun and exercise in the same sentence). This is a great way to let off some steam, get your adrenaline pumping and build on your strength.


While the idea of taking part in a dance class can be a little intimidating to some people, we swear by it! It’s time to lose your inhibitions and let loose! Sign up with friends, a family member or your partner and get your body moving and grooving to the beat. We’re sure that you’ll find yourself having a giggle or two as you dance your socks off. Our recommendation? Try out a salsa class!

Cooking club

Who doesn’t wish they could whip up a slap-up meal without breaking a sweat? Book yourself in for a cooking class or join a weekly cooking club to share ideas, recipes and to tuck-in to some tantalizing tasters.


Start a DIY project that you can work on whenever you have a bit of free time. Build your dream coffee table or start on that bookshelf you always wanted. Look for inspiration, by surfing the net, watching tutorials online or by visiting your local DIY stores.

Whatever hobby you decide to take on, make sure to make 2017 the best year yet.

This is a featured post. For more details please view my disclosure policy.


Soundtrack To My Life - Songs That Sound Alike

As mentioned last month, I'm taking Soundtrack To My Life on a different journey this year. Each month is going to have a different theme and this month is an train of thought that has been almost 12 months in the making but I was unsure how to approach it.

I have a mixture of theories about music (to be expanded on in another blog post in the very near future)... bear with me and I'll try and explain *deep breath*

There are eight notes in an octave and the human voice has a specific range, only reaching to extremes in very few people, Therefore, there must be a finite amount of ways in which those eight notes (and the higher/lower scales) can be arranged into a song. There also seems to be a 20-year recycle point for popular songs - this is when they will be released as a cover version or 'sampled' within a new arrangement. I totally believe that this is because of influence in our younger years - our first experiences of listening to music will probably have been the collection of tunes that our parents owned. This will then lead onto creators wanting to try and emulate those first glorious, nostalgic emotions, and will insert those memories into their next mix.

Over the past year or so I've been hearing more and more songs that sound alike so I'm attempting to see if they fit into my theory. Come with me on this aural journey; maybe I'm using a little bit of poetic licence here and there but there's definitely some influence (and blatant copying in at least one case) but let me know what you think. I can't be this weird all by myself!


Bruno Mars versus The Whole Back Catalogue Of Music Ever (slight exaggeration)

I suppose you could say that this digging around started when comparisons to Bruno Mars' songs were flying around. You can hear from these cleverly mixed examples that he was probably influenced by my aforementioned theory. 


Now my own examples aren't this well edited (I mean, how much time do you think I have on my hands?) but I hope you get the gist...

Phil Collins versus Amy Winehouse

It was my youngest son that highlighted this about six months ago. We were in the car and the intro to Phil Collins' version of You Can't Hurry Love came on the radio and he started to sing Valerie by Amy Winehouse, then looked at me in amazement when he realised that he was singing the wrong song. See what you think...


The Rolling Stones versus The Rocky Horror Picture Show

I heard Sympathy For The Devil on the radio a few weeks ago and actually had to stop myself from singing the lyrics to Sweet Transvestite. It is entirely possible that Richard O'Brien could have taken inspiration from The Rolling Stones as their song was released in 1968 whereas The Rocky Horror Picture Show was a 1975 production.


Elbow versus The Smiths

This recent match must have been something you've heard yourself? When I first heard Magnificent (She Says) on the radio, in the car, I felt as though I should know the words already. I was convinced it was a Smiths song that might have been a modern remix or a B-side, even though I knew it wasn't really possible. I can't pinpoint exactly which Smiths song it sounds like but I think the Dream Academy's cover of Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want is the closest.


Cornershop versus The View

This is one of my favourite 'matches' as it's probably not too obvious but once you've heard both Brimful of Asha and then Same Jeans one after the other (that's how they appeared on 'shuffle' on my mp3 player a few years back) you can't not hear the similarities!


Stevie Nicks versus Destiny's Child

I'm not even going to try and fight for this example. There is no way that you can deny that Edge Of Seventeen and Bootylicious have the same intro. Note for note, beat for beat.


I have loads more stashed but I wanted to test the water with this selection. I can bring you comparisons of Queen and Bananarama, or what about 10cc and Erasure? There's even a Cameo song that sounds like something Prince would have released so I'm wondering if he had a hand in the composing or the production? 

But, for now, I'll leave you with another interesting fact about music and how it can trigger your subconscious. Did you know that there is a method used in advertising campaigns to impact on certain people? Research has shown that we were probably at our most influential at sixteen years of age. If a specific age bracket is to be targeted in an advertising campaign, the background music will be of the era when the target audience would have been age 16 as it evokes and unlocks that weakness in us. Genius!


Soundtrack To My Life  - Motivational Songs For The New Year
Well done for reading down this far. Soundtrack To My Life is an occasional series on this blog where I talk about music that's influenced my life or I invite people to talk about the same. Read/Listen to all the previous Soundtrack To My Life entries here or follow the dedicated Pinterest board. Find out more about participating by >> clicking here <<


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