A Bit Of An Running Update

Fitbitches : The September Run Down - a bit of an update

I've not blogged properly in a while and it's been a long old time since I did a proper Fitbitches update - May to be exact.  But we'll come to that in a minute.  First I want to tell you a little story about someone who has made me burst with pride recently and she's forever moaning about me not mentioning her on the blog so I'm dedicating most of this entry to her *ahem*.


Fitbitches : The September Run Down - a bit of an update - my running wife, Lesley
This is Lesley (sporting the purple wig - that's not her real hair).  She's my running 'wifey' and we have come a long way together.  We met when she joined my group to start the C25K plan back in March 2015. On week 3 she felt very under-confident about her running and wanted to join a 'slower' group as she thought she was holding the rest of the group back.

That's simply not how I work when I help motivate people through the C25K plan. To coin a couple of clichés, we're all in this together and my group supports each other through thick and through thin.  My favourite motto is 'We Start As A Team, We Finish As A Team'.  It's not about having slower/weaker/faster/stronger members - it's about including all people and using their talents to make your team stronger.  I promised her that we would always look after her and that she wasn't holding anyone back, or letting anyone down, least of all herself.

And this is exactly what happened... Group 6 - my team - became almost inseparable. We volunteered together, we progressed up to 10k together, we ran races together and we marshalled at events together.  As other members of our group went on to run further distances, myself and Lesley promised each other faithfully that we would stick to 5k and 10k distances because this felt manageable and tested us just enough.

Friends... only one of us kept that promise. (hint : me)

After taking on - and completing - a huge challenge of walking the Three Peaks, Lesley decided that she was going to do the Great North Run to raise money for the Anthony Nolan Trust. A bloody half marathon.  THIRTEEN POINT ONE FRIGGING MILES IN ONE GO.  OK... to most serious runners, this is something that happens a few times a year. But us? No siree.  However, she said that it was just going to be the one though - for an important cause and a personal challenge.

I watched her progress through the half marathon training plan whilst also helping out with a running group in her home town, joining in her fitness and healthy eating group, juggling all the usual day-to-day pressures... and stepping out on that 'long run' once a week on her own - something that we've both found really hard work - running alone. I saw the Strava updates, the Relive videos, the little updates shared on Facebook and was hugely in awe of every step she was taking.  It's something that I thought I might want to do one day but it scares the living daylights out of me, mainly because of all the training hours that you have to put in but also because I cannot imagine running constantly for 2-3 hours after all the 'issues' I've been having recently, mentally and physically.  I tracked her on the day using the GNR app on my phone and literally cheered and cried a little when I saw that she'd crossed the finish line in just under three hours!!

I'm so bloody proud of what she's done - and everything else she's achieved over the past few months too.  And I'm not the only one that's noticed.  Lesley has also been nominated for, and has won, a local community sports award that recognises local sporting achievements!! This is for all her hard work helping people get back into sport by being involved with the aforementioned running group and a fitness/wellbeing group and she receives her award next month.

We occasionally run together from time to time - not often enough though - and that 'one half marathon'? Yeah, I've lost my wifey to long distance running now.  At the last count, she had entered at least one half marathon for 2018 and had her eye on another two. I am now a running widow (sort of). But a bloody proud one!


So where does that leave me now?  If we look back at the May edition of Fitbitches I'm very 'woe is me' but at least I was making plans to go back to the place that got me running in the first place - GroupRun Blackburn - my 'couch to 5k' home. I joined in the 'Celebration Run' on 3rd June for the Spring Plan but it didn't feel much like a celebration.  Every step felt heavy and it was Such Hard Work.  I got talking to Andrea during the run and we were both in a funk with our running.  There and then we agreed to volunteer for the next 5k Plan and co-lead a group together.

And that was the start of the next chapter in my running journey.

I'd love to cut a long story short but it's just not possible.  Andrea and I have 'history' when it comes to running and my experience with her is what keeps me going and gives me that drive to keep digging in.

When I first started with GroupRun (Summer Plan, 2014) we used to run in the local country park, so it made sense to have an option to run 5k from around week 8. It was a sunny Thursday and I decided to give it a go but struggled for the last kilometre. The end was in sight but I had nothing left inside me so I was going to walk it. Someone came up beside me, spoke some encouraging words and then ran me in for the last few meters, all the time shouting "YOU CAN DO IT.... JUST A FEW MORE STEPS... COME ON... " It was Andrea - she gave me that boost that I needed when I felt like I couldn't go on any more. Almost exactly a year later, I ran my first 'official 5k race' - Run Preston. Blackburn Road Runners were marshalling and on the finish line, giving out medals. There was Andrea, yet again - an arm full of medals and an encouraging smile. I lined up for her to present me with my first ever medal and felt like I'd come full circle.

Fitbitches - The September Run Down - Group Run Blackburn, Summer PlanTo have her volunteer with me for 9 weeks - along with such an awesome bunch of runners, and a collaboration between two groups - gave me that much needed boost once again. I'm not sure I believe in fate or karma but I do think that things happen for a reason - and you make what you can from a situation.  I chose to take Andrea's infectious sunny nature and use it to keep my own positivity at a high level.

It changed the way I felt about running again. It gave me confidence and a drive to want to challenge myself again... to want to run those 10k distances again.  But how to keep that balance between enjoying being a motivator in the GroupRun programme yet including runs that would increase my distance was a difficult one to consider.  I knew that Blackburn Road Runners held an 'open run' session but this was on Monday's and clashed with my C25K commitments so I bit the bullet and joined their 'Wednesday Club Run' sessions knowing that I'd only be able to run with them for four sessions and then would have to apply to join the club...

That was at the beginning of September.  We're now at the end of September.   Does this mean that I'm actually going to go official and join a running club?  Now there's a story for the next instalment of Fitbitches.  Stay tuned...

Oh, and the 10k races... the Lytham Windmill 10k and the Wesham 10k. I've done both of them twice before (2015 and 2016) and I'm comfortable with the routes.  It's going to be tough but I think I'm ready for it.  Bring it on!


Read other Fitbitches blog posts from this year
January | February | March | April | May | June
July | August | September | October | November | December


Top 3 movies you must watch on Netflix today!

Well, unless you’re travelling to a different country like Canada or the UK and are wondering how to watch Netflix abroad, you’d know how easy it has become to watch any movie or TV show through platforms like Netflix and the kinds! These movies, TV shows etc. are all ready to be fetched and played at any time of the day/night. But selecting the right title, fitting your mood can be the most difficult task! What more, whichever title you choose, must also go down well with your couch companion, significant other, friend or whoever you’re watching it with. Let’s make things easier for you and tell you about at least 3 good movies you can watch on Netflix today!

The Prestige

Starring Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, Rebecca Hall, Scarlett Johansson, David Bowie and Andy Serkis, this one was directed by Christopher Nolan. It’s an essential Christopher Nolan film that highlights his overall storytelling philosophy. It has the same theme that you see in all of the Christopher Nolan films. The Prestige is also among his best movies till date. The film is set in the late 19th century, wherein Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman are magicians who approach their craft very differently from each other. So when Bale’s character comes up with an almost impossible trick, Hugh Jackman’s goes crazy trying to find how it works. It’s a story that has plenty of devotion and obsession, as well as a non-linear structure, making it a must watch for everyone!


This 2007 David Fincher film had popular names like Robert Downey Jr, Mark Ruffalo, Jake Gyllenhall, Brian Cox and Chloe Sevigny in its cast. An impeccably directed drama film, Zodiac chronicles the hunt for Zodiac killer in the San Francisco of 60s and 70s era. Jake Gyllenhaal plays the role of a cartoonist employed at San Francisco Chronicle. He gets obsessed about learning the identity of the Zodiac serial killer, and puts everything else in his life at stake by doing that. The movie has terrific performances from Anthony Edwards, Robert Downey Jr and Mark Ruffalo too. It’s a highly absorbing film that takes the shape of a dark comedy at some times, and is definitely one of the best from David Fincher.

Top 3 movies you must watch on Netflix today! Picture credit : Lloyd Dirds // Unsplash

The place beyond the pines

Directed by Derek Cianfrance and starring big names like Bradley Cooper, Ryan Gosling, Eva Mendes and Ben Mendelsohn, ‘The place beyond the pines’ is the director’s follow-up film after Blue Valentine. It’s a highly ambitious crime movie that is shown in three different parts. It starts with a chapter wherein Ryan Gosling plays the role of a bank robber who also has a baby son. In the next chapter you see Bradley Cooper playing a cop, and then the concluding chapter focusing on their respective sons. The overall story is highly emotional, thrilling and epic to say the least. Its narrative is unlike anything you may have seen before.

This is a collaborative post. Please see my disclosure policy for more details.

Simple Design Tips to Reinvigorate your Home

Simple Design Tips to Reinvigorate your HomeDo you find yourself thinking that your interior designs are growing stale and dreary? Do you avoid having guests round due to the state of the décor? Do not fret. This is a position many find themselves in. Designing an interior is difficult and even if you think you have crafted something to be proud of, it may feel old after a month or two. Here are several tips you may want to try, bringing new life to a space.
  1. Plants
If you are tired of your current ornaments and trinkets, how about switching them out for plants. Foliage literally brings life to a room and the myriad of shapes, colours and sizes means you will be sure to find a plant that fits to the space. With a painting or a sculpture, they are constant and stay forever. Plants grow and change and ultimately fade. This means your room will constantly be changing through the life cycle of your plants, preventing the same stale feel from plaguing your space.
Some plants I love to use for decoration are delicate orchids that make the centre piece of any space with their elegant petals; dwarf banana plants whose broad, round leaves look rather tropical; and the areca palm, a miniature palm tree that brings back memories of the summer.
  1. Lighting
Simple Design Tips to Reinvigorate your Home
The whole look of a room can be altered really simply with a change of lighting. Light can create a dimmer homely effect or a bright morning glow, you can spotlight certain parts of the décor, you can create striking shadows, light is really one of the most versatile design elements in your arsenal. A lighting vendor I have been really impressed with is LampCommerce, selling luxury lamps from Italy, stocking brands such as Artemide and Fabbian.
An easy way of reinvigorating your room is to layer your lighting. Having wall, ceiling and tables lights creates pockets of lights in various areas of the room, spotlighting areas of interest and creating a homely feel.
  1. Mix Patterns
Simple Design Tips to Reinvigorate your Home
A good way to spruce up a space is to add some visual excitement. Drab and dreary are too adjectives you do not want assigned to your home. However, there is a thin line between exciting and overstimulating. You can’t have too much going on. I like to select two patterns or textures, in your colour palette, whether that be Aztec diagonals or faux fur shag, and then discretely add that into your space in varied locations. For example, a furry pillow and rug, contrasted with a natural wood table and lamp. Fit this method to your style and you should be good to go!

  1. Add Personality
A problem a lot of people have is they try and craft a room as if it were in a model home. The issue is a model home is made to be impersonal and un-lived in. This is not the style you want. Adding photos and other personal touches can actually bring your rooms to life. Who gets bored of looking at their family? One way of adding personality I really like is to have a piece of glass cut to the exact dimensions of your table top and then placing photos and other thin mementos underneath. This provides you with a canvas that can be constantly altered as you take more photos or get bored with the old ones.
  1. Declutter and Refine
Simple Design Tips to Reinvigorate your Home
As the saying goes, “less is more” and it is certainly correct in many interior design settings. Start by removing anything that does not suit the room or is in the way. Many people hang onto sentimental items that have no right being in that space. Be ruthless. An effective way of looking at this is a strict one in, one out” policy as this will prevent you from doubling up on decoration. As your home ages, accumulation of stains, chips and scratches will occur, especially if you have kids. The little imperfections can be fixed easily. However, in many cases you will have issues that are unfixable without removing that piece of furniture or decoration. To refine your space, think about smart ways of covering these imperfection, effectively giving a new lease of life to damaged furniture. Throws look great on sofas and these can hide any stains or scratches. If the carpet is frayed, think about re-positioning your furniture over it.

9 Ways To Keep Your Car On The Road

9 Ways To Keep Your Car On The Road - in collaboration with Kwik-Fit
I travel a fair distance to work each day and have to make sure that my car is in superb condition, especially during the winter when I'm driving to and from work in the dark. Here are my nine top tips to help keep your car in the best condition. 

Get your car serviced

Regular car maintenance, on top of your annual MOT can help prevent car problems.  I know how to check my oil, water and tyre pressure but you could also get your car checked by a professional such as kwikfit.com for a little peace of mind and then you can keep on top of it yourself.

Check your car battery

We use our heaters and lights more during the winter months so this will put extra strain on the battery.  If you haven't used your car in a while, you may need to recharge the battery.  If you need to replace your battery it can prove expensive so shop around to find one that's good value.

Check your tyres

In the UK we don't have to change tyres in the winter but, as mentioned before, I know how to check my tyre pressure and carry a mini-pump at all times. It's worth checking them every couple of weeks as any temperature and weather alterations can cause the pressure in the tyres to change.

Get under the bonnet

Again, it's always worth having a little crash course from someone who knows what they are doing so that you know how to check your oil and water (there are minimum and maximum levels) and ensure that you have the right mix of anti-freeze in your water.

Check your lights

They all should be clean and in full working order. Check your fog light and full beam, as well as  your hazard lights. These could be crucial in a breakdown situation.

Check your brakes

During the winter, your car's ability to stop in a shorter distance can significantly decrease if the roads are wet or icy. Your brakes should be kept in a good condition - if you're unsure, get that friendly professional to give them the once-over.

Check your wiper blades

Are your wiper blades squeaking? This usually means that they are damaged and need to be replaced. Make sure your wiper blades and windscreen are clean and top up your screenwash (this needs anti-freeze in too!).

Have a car kit

9 Ways To Keep Your Car On The Road - an emergency car kit
Here is my own "emergency car kit" that I keep in a little zip-up bag in the boot of the car (it doesn't take up much room at all) along with a first aid kit. It includes:

  • Hi-vis vest
  • Torch
  • De-Icer
  • Heavy Duty Tow Strap
  • Ice Scraper
  • Blanket
  • Portable Charger

Get the right cover

Breakdown cover is very important, especially during the winter months so ensure your policy is up to date and alway carry your membership card and the breakdown company's phone number with you on your journey. 

If you are in any doubt about your car, please seek professional advice however I hope these top tips have been useful for you. Let me know in the comments if you have any to add. 

This is a collaborative post. Please view my disclosure policy for more details
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