Vivofit thoughts

So, back in the summer, Andy’s brother was given one of these fitness bands for his birthday. I used to have a pedometer, but got a bit fed up of the noise, and also it counted steps while I was driving and things, so it was not that accurate.

More recently I read Anna’s review of her vivofit, and started looking into them. There are other bands out there, but the Garmin one appealed as I already have a Garmin GPS, so I could use the Garmin connect software to see all my activity. Plus, I did not want one that vibrated, or beeped or anything like that. Sometimes at work I have to sit still (long assemblies or meetings) so I liked that the Garmin one just had lines on the screen.

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I looked a few times on John Lewis (as I had some vouchers) and one day in half term I decided to go ahead and treat myself. I went for the grey, even though I really liked the green as I wanted it to go with everything.

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It comes with two straps- I went for the smaller one but on one of the largest settings as I don’t like really tight things.

Apparently you can wear them in the shower and everything, but I have been taking mine off for that.

Setting it up was so simple. I mean, I am a bit of a technophobe still, but I followed the little guide, turned on the bluetooth on my phone, and straight away it was there. You can add your height, weight and birthday and then it apparently works out calories used, but I would take that with a pinch of salt.

I don’t normally have my bluetooth on (it seems to drain the battery on my phone pretty quickly) so I tend to turn it on once in the evening, synch the band (you just press and hold the button until “synch” appears on the screen), add my sleep time and then turn it off again.

The strap seems pretty secure- I read some reviews where people had lost them after a few days, but I think perhaps they had not clipped them in properly. There is a little additional strap that goes around the part where it is fastened, but I wore it for a few days without and it stayed on the whole time.

The screen is pretty clear- again some reviews complained about it not having a lit screen, but I would not be looking at it while running in the dark anyway, so that doesn’t bother me at all. You can flip between the different displays (time, date, steps, steps til you meet your goal, miles or calories)- I tend to leave it on the time screen and wear it instead of my normal watch. But at home I quite like seeing the steps mount up. If you are inactive for a while a red line begins to show along the top of the screen, which gets longer the more you sit still.

Although I don’t think the mileage is very accurate -one day I did an 8 mile run first thing in the morning (listening to a Richard Herring Leicster Square podcast, which is well worth hunting out by the way- the Russel Brand one was hilarious and very disturbing) and it thought I had done 11 miles or something by the time I got home- it will of course track patterns and I can compare if I did more or less steps than the day before. Mondays are now a day spent out of class, mainly in front of a computer, and I walk loads less, but I have been making the effort to have a walk in the evening as I am more conscious of it now. These past few days we have had Ofsted at work and on both of those days I did over 10.000 steps (although I was at work from 6.40am-9pm)- this was more rushing about than usual although I do tend to walk about quite a bit when teaching.

I am really glad I got it anyway- would you be tempted by something like this? Andy has got himself an app on his phone that tracks when he walks, but it would not work for me as we are not allowed phones on us at work, so mine is in my bag in my cupboard all day as I am rushing about everywhere, but if you had your phone in your pocket all the time some sort of fitness app thing would be a lot cheaper than a band.

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside

Please, sing along if you would like. If you do not like, I apologise for putting the song in your head.

So on Friday after work we had dinner at home before getting the train down to Brighton. Originally we were going to go on Saturday, but there were rail replacement buses and we decided that once (Sunday) would be enough.

2014-11-15 10.49.22On Saturday we went out for breakfast (pancakes from Bill’s) and then had a wander around the shops in the rain. Then it brightened up so we had a nice long walk by the seafront.

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Some of the stones and seaweed had washed up all over the promenade- crazy!

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We did some shopping, had some tea and cake, and generally enjoyed wandering about.

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I got some super cute t-shirts in New Look!

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We went for a fairly early dinner (Pizza Express) before heading back to the hotel for some TV (Strictly and 8/10 Cats does Countdown)- good to rest the legs before the race.

2014-11-15 21.47.01I shall be very easy to spot in my luminous t-shirt.

Staying over before the race is such a luxury. The race started at 9.30am, so we got up at 8, had a clif bar for breakfast, and then took our time getting ready. We left at just after 9, and we were at the start 5 minutes later. Amazing.

This race is great- last year we ran it together and I got my first ever sub hour 10K. This year Andy was aiming for a faster time, so we arranged to meet at the end. The run begins near the big ferris wheel- you run east for 1.5k, turn, come back to the start and run west towards Hove, and then at 6.5k turn back along the seafront again to the finish. Super flat, nice scenery the whole way, and considering it is a fairly small field for a city race (I think 3500 runners) lots of crowd support too.

I had no idea about my pacing- I have been either running 5k’s at parkrun and Sweatshop, or much longer runs for my 10 mile race. My time last year was 56.14, so I wanted to beat that but didn’t know how my fitness compared. Plus last year I had Andy pacing me, which really helped. This year I was going to have to do it by myself.

I looked on the lucozade pacing calculator- to run 56 flat I would have to do 9.01 miles, and for 55 I would need to do 8.51. Those paces sounded quick, but the parkrun I have been doing recently is not flat, and is a huge range of terrain, so it is much tougher than a pancake-flat road run. So I decided to try and keep as close to 9 minute miles as I could, and see how long I could hang on for.

I kept glancing at my watch and was generally seeing 9.03. After about 3k I think ( I like miles, so really had no idea) it went up a bit of a hill and I dropped to 9.13, but I picked up the pace again pretty quickly. This year the course was moved to the road to help with congestion, but I don’t think it helped much as I was still weaving past people a fair bit. But no matter. Just before the 6.5k turning point I saw Andy going in the other direction- he was still looking happy which was good (he often sets off way too fast and the struggles), and after the turn I was seeing a few 8.xx’s on my watch. Soon enough the ferris wheel was in my sights, and a marshal was shouting “one kilometre to go” so I decided to push it a bit. I was on my watch that I was going to make a pb, but then the finish line seemed to far away- I ended up counting to myself (one count for every 4 steps seemed to work) and willing myself to push hard. I overtook a few people, but some people rocketed past me- I have no finish kick at all.
I was so chuffed when I saw my watch!
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My official time was 55.23- and my splits went 9.03, 9.02, 9.02, 8.59, 8.57, 8.39 and then 7.45 for the final .2. So another royal flush negative split :) I think it is catching on!
Something that Andy pointed out to me as well was that compared to last year I recovered so much quicker- last year I was a bit shaky and Andy was a bit worried about me (my breathing while we were running- I did explain that was just what I sounded like, but also I was pretty shattered after)- whereas this year although I was very tired (and my legs still ache today) I was much better, sooner after the race. Also, pacing myself was harder than having someone else do it for me so I am really pleased with my time.
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Hooray! I had some water and a bit of banana (they were a bit brown for me) and then we headed back to the hotel for showers (what a luxury again) before going for lunch. This time we went to Wai Kika Moo Kau as last time we visited it was too busy.
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I had a pitta with hummus and falafels and Andy had a wrap filled with chilli and served with nachos and dips. So good. I could not resist an almond hot chocolate from Iydea either.

Another wander around the shops, and then we had the joy of the rail replacement buses. At least we had podcasts to listen to- we both caught up with the radio 5 film podcasts (and I may have had a little nap on the train too).

I think this race is great. I love the smaller races, and this has all the pro’s of one- you don’t have to get there hours before, the marshals are all fab, the start/ finish area is nice and small so meeting up is easy. There are no goody bags, just a medal, banana and water when you finish, but you get chip timing, and there is lots of crowd support. Plus, it’s in Brighton and I never need an excuse to head down there for the weekend. Even with the bus replacing some of the train our journey took about 3 hours, so we didn’t have to spend the whole day travelling.

Brighton, I will be back for more!

Half term…

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Walking in the leaves in the rain.

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The park looks so pretty, even in miserable weather.

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Baking Christmas cakes.

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Seeing Dave Gorman.

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Runs in the daylight.

2014-10-28 12.02.31Muddy shoes (should have worn my trail shoes).

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A leisurely breakfast.

2014-10-29 10.11.09Tesco treats from my mum.

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A walk through the fields, spotting poppies.

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A haircut ready for a wedding. And yes, cake is the best part of a wedding.

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Baking cakes ready for the wedding.

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Don’t the cakes look stunning?



Oven baked risotto

Recently Andy’s mum gave us a vegetarian cookery book. We have tried a few recipes from it, and our most recent success is a vegetarian risotto. I am not a huge fan of rice usually, but I do like a nice flavourful risotto, although if I was out I would not often choose one as I worry about what sort of stock has been used.

The book is a Good Food book (101 Veggie Dishes) but the recipe is here too.

It is pretty simple to make- chop the onion and cook it in the oven a bit, add the rice, vegetable stock (we don’t use wine, we use a small carton of passata instead) and rosemary, and leave in the oven for more, then drain a jar of antipasto peppers (Aldi do a jar for 99p), add that and some spinach, and bake again.


Last week we bought a huge bag of spinach, so it would not all fit in the risotto- I added some to my plate so the warm rice wilted it a bit too. The recipe says to use vegetarian parmesan- style cheese, but we have just grated a little cheddar to melt on top.

Much easier than one that cooks on the hob and needs constant stirring.

We are ones to get stuck in a bit of a meal routine, so it was great to try something new and we have had this for a few weeks now, as it is lovely and warming on a chilly evening.

Have you tried baking a risotto before? Are you good at trying new meals or do you tend to stick to the same ones?

The Sock Mine (review) and other running ramblings

Hey peeps,

How are you all??

2014-11-01 11.14.39First up, I was sent some socks from The Sock Mine. They make a range of technical socks for different sports including running, hiking and even snow sports. They kindly sent me a pair of their Cool Runner with Coolmax ladies socks. First up, I love that they have the L and R marked on each sock.

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I decided to wear these on Tuesday night, when I went for a trial at a local running club. They were comfy, but they are fairly thin, so I think they will be perfect for warmer weather. I like the ankle style sock too (no gaps between my leggings and socks) but they do trainer liner style ones too if that is more your thing. The price is reasonable too- £10 for these socks, which is pretty similar to other technical socks out there.

So, the running trial. I decided to go this week as I had a course (which finished at 4) so it would not be a rush to get there after work. Well, I chose a pretty miserable day to do it- it was pouring with rain and pretty cold. I parked up about ten minutes before we were due to meet, and sat in the car for a bit but then didn’t want to be late! Only two people turned up (including the group leader). After we did a little warm up we started running and after a few minutes I was asked to run ahead of the group leader so she could assess me. Straight away she talked about trying to relax my shoulders- I know I am terrible at this but it was so interesting that she picked up on it right away!

After about a mile of gentle jogging we did a section of intervals/ fartlek running- we used lamp posts to walk to one, jog to the next and sprint to the final one- repeated several times. Those sprints were tough! Then we ran steadily back- I was a bit faster than the other person who came, so I was then told to run ahead two lamp-posts, turn around and come back. At one point I saw a baby hedgehog too- made it all worth it!

We finished with stretches (luckily the rain had eased) and I really felt a warm glow by that point. I think I am going to join anyway- how exciting!

I went to Sweatshop on Wednesday as usual- lots of fireworks were going off while we ran which was quite fun. Normally I am nearer the back, but a friend and I were right at the front – she is a bit faster than me so eased ahead at the very end, but I was pleased I kept up with her for that time, and even managed one mile beginning with an 8- not too shabby!

In half term I made some caramel shortcakes for work:

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I didn’t have enough of the round cases, so I made a few in little loaf cases too. On Thursday night I went to pump- last week I upped my squats weight and my legs were so sore over the weekend. I was going to wimp out, but once I was there I decided to go for it again- I reasoned that after a break the first week is always the toughest, so probably it would be the same with upping weights.

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It was super tough, and I enjoyed a cake when I got home. At least at the moment my legs are not as bad as they were last weekend.

This morning I went to parkrun- I tried to keep up with my dad for as long as possible, but at around 4k he went ahead. It was so muddy and squelchy- I was glad of my trail shoes but at times I was slipping a bit. My Garmin said 29.07 (which I think is quite accurate as I pressed “start” as they said it and not as I went over the start line) which would have been a course pb, but alas the timer malfunctioned so I got 59.59 as my official time. Ah well, it was a great morning for it- cool but before the rain. I even met someone from Sweatshop there (and another couple were marshaling).

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Then I had a go at making pumpkin french toast- an egg, a blob of pumpkin, cinnamon and a splash of almond milk with some brioche.

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Apples cooked in coconut oil.

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Then the toast (although I think maybe it would be better to cook the apples after).

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Oh yes. I think the recipe needs a little less pumpkin as it didn’t soak into the bread as much, but it was good all the same.

How has your week been? If you are in a running club, what do you like about it? Do you like ankle socks or trainer liner socks? (And do you like the L/R markings?)

* I was sent the socks in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.