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    Fuelling Long Runs With High5 Energy Gels

    Gels always scared me. I didn’t know what to expect, and figured they’d just be really weird and sickly. That wasn’t the case!

    Fuelling Long Runs With High5 Energy Gels

    I’m sure we all know by now that I’m training for a half marathon. I mean I say training, but you know, it’s one of those where I feel like I’m doing stuff and then I see everyone else on twitter/instagram getting out WAY more than me. Also, here’s the disclaimer… I was not asked to write this for High5, I simply got a selection of the gels when buying a new water bottle and figured what the heck, they seem interesting enough!

    Why I’m Using Energy Gels On Runs

    I would class myself as a very middle runner. Not fast, but not really that slow either. I’m fully expecting my half marathon to take between 2h-2h30 to complete (and hopefully not more!) and that’s a long time running for me. So far in training I’ve run 1h45 (with a 2h run planned as this is posted!) and I’ve discovered that I do need something mid-run to keep my energy up.

    If I’m honest, I’m not great at fuelling before hand. I don’t like to eat too much before a run as I don’t want to upset my stomach and whilst this is fine for shorter runs, after an hour I start to feel like I need something. A lot of people use gels for longer runs so I figured it was time to try them.

    They are basically just a quick boost of carbohydrates, suitable for vegetarians and vegans and without lots of added nasties. It’s advised to take them every 20-30 minutes during a long run, but what I’ve been doing so far is just taking one just after the hour/10km mark. As I hit 2hrs, I’ll try taking another after the 30 minutes to see how I get on with two gels.

    You can’t really see properly, but the nutritional info for the orange flavour is: 0g Fats, 56g Carbs (with 7.4g sugars), 0g protein and 0.12g salt. Citrus is the same but with 6.2g sugars and I guess all flavours will differ slightly in that regard.

    Fuelling Long Runs With High5 Energy Gels

    Texture and Taste of Energy Gels

    It was weird actually. Not as gloopy as I imagined, but still a little thick. It was kind of like eating a yoghurt, except not creamy at all. Just very fruity with a little bit of a twang. So far I’ve only tried the Summer Fruits and Apple flavours but I’ve enjoyed them. Wouldn’t say they’re extremely delicious, but they’re definitely palatable. The Summer Fruits was probably my favourite out of the two as it was a little softer tasting – we all know how tangy apple can be in sweets and stuff right?!

    High5 also do IsoGels. They are basically the same thing, just with a higher water content. This makes them a lot closer to a drink rather than a gel, but do make the sachets heavier and harder to carry when running. I was going to try some, but that put me off as I don’t really have a belt designed to properly hold gels.

    Do Energy Gels Make A Difference?

    I would say so. They’re obviously not miracle workers and key to hitting a PB, but I definitely felt the energy release and my legs felt a lot lighter afterwards. Maybe it’s all mental, but even so it still works. You do have to make sure you’re properly hydrated and all beforehand, as the gels won’t do that for you! I think they’re definitely worth giving a go anyway.

    Ever used gels before? Other brands I should try?


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    Lifestyle, Personal

    Life Lately

    Oh it’s been a funny year so far! It feels like we’ve been in 2017 forever, yet I also feel like I haven’t had time to do anything. I’m just being dramatic because y’know, I do waste countless hours in bed morning/night scrolling through Instagram…

    Life Lately | lifeofkitty.co.uk

    Life

    Oh life. I feel like all I’ve been doing is working, eating and sleeping with the weekly outing with friends or my boyfriend to fill in my day(s) off. In the grand scheme of things, I am actually happy with where I am. I would of course like just one full time job instead of two part time (because splitting myself between two can be exhausting!) but I love the people I work with and I do (for the most part) like my jobs. Not including the awful woman who shouted at me over the weekend because she booked a ticket for the Saturday and tried watching the film on Sunday… fun times.

    I’m 24 now. I thought I’d be close to moving out to be honest and I’m not, but I’ve accepted that. My savings have finally been started and I feel like I’m at least heading in the right direction… Someone, please help me to adult!

    Fitness

    This is one thing that has pretty much stayed on track so far this year! I mean I’m still mostly only hitting two runs a week, but I’ve done a 13.5km and 15km run now so I know my legs have it in them. 30 something days until the half marathon, and whilst I feel like I’m way behind on training, people have told me I’m doing well so you know, that helps! I also managed to hit a PB in my 10km time in the Blackburn Winter Warmer so that’s all good!

    Blogging

    Well, blogging has taken a bit of a back seat hasn’t it?! I’m working odd shifts and on my days off, as I mentioned above, I’ve been out with either friends or my boyfriend so photo taking, writing and the like hasn’t been as easy as I’d like. Same with blog reading. I’ve read a few when I’ve spotted them on Twitter but I’ve been so awful at keeping up and I apologise for that!

    My aim over this weekend (in between shifts – because a 1-9 and 9:30-3:15 make things difficult) is to try to at least write a couple of posts and read a few posts. I’m not sure I’ll manage to get any photos because of the lighting but we’ll see. I have loads of ideas, it’s just getting them written down which is the problem! Fear not though, I am still here. Posts will continue to be sporadic but I am hoping to get two a week up. Fingers crossed!

    2017, you are a weird year.


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    Fitness

    Blackburn Winter Warmer 10km Race Recap!

    I went into this race fully blind as to what the route was like. Oh, Buncer Lane was a shock to the system! I loved the whole day though, and I would definitely think about doing the Winter Warmer 10k again! This is a long one.

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    5th February 2017. Sunlight streaming through my room, I checked my phone to see it was 7:40am. I’d woken 15 minutes before my first alarm was due to go off but hey, no point attempting to get back to sleep! I was actually so awake at this point, and just excited. It was my 24th birthday, but honestly the most exciting part was that I had my first race of 2017 – the Blackburn Roadrunners Winter Warmer 10k!

    Let’s go back to mid-January. I was thinking about my birthday and realising that it was on a Sunday I knew that there would be a race somewhere. Turns out there were quite a few down south! I managed to find the Mad Dog run in Bolton, and this one in Blackburn. Unfortunately the Mad Dog 10k sold out months and months ago, so I went for the Blackburn one. A little further away from me than Bolton, but still only about a 40 minute drive away as it turns out. Don’t ask me why, but I just really wanted to do a run on my birthday, and a run with a medal at that! Sad or just a little insane? I’ll let you decide ha!

    The drive was really easy and we arrived in no time. There were plenty of marshalls already about, directing cars for parking and then directing the runners to the pick up areas. Getting my race bib and chip took minutes, and I was really impressed with their organisation! It was only when I got back outside and showed my number to my mum that I realised I’d been given number 24. On my 24th birthday. It can’t have been coincidence, I signed up late! Once that was done, we headed back into the arena and soaked up the atmosphere. There’s just nothing better than the nervous excitement that race day brings! Oh and my mum told the guy doing all the race commentary it was my birthday so he only went and bloody announced it to everyone! Embarrassing.

    As we were there early, we got to see the younger runners doing their 2km run first. Some of them were absolutely tiny, and it was lovely to see them all running. Honestly I felt a little emotional when they all started coming back in to the finish line, all red-cheeked, tired looking yet so happy with themselves!

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    11am, time for the 10k! The start and finish was on the track, so all runners headed around the track and we all lined up. Pacers were helpfully dotted about so I quickly found the 60 min pacer and tried to start near to him. I thought this was really great – the pacers all carried a badminton racket with their time on it so you could easily spot them throughout the race. Better to keep up with them! (Also my mum was so proud of herself for getting this photo of me as I ran past!)

    Uphill struggles

    I mentioned at the beginning that I was not prepared for Buncer Lane. Well nope, I certainly was not. The first 1-3km was completely uphill. It was nearly like 20 minutes worth of uphill running. Horrendous. There was one point and I was like ‘Yes, we are turning left instead of going up that hill!’ and then we turned left, and went up the same hill just at the other end of the road… As I got to the top my stomach felt so tight and if I’m honest I thought I was going to be one of those people you hear about collapsing and having a heart attack whilst running haha. It was awful!

    But then the 1:05 pacer went in front of me and that was all the push I needed. There was no way I was taking more than 65 minutes to finish this 10k! That said, I really didn’t think I’d be able to hit a PB at all by this point.

    Going on Down!

    Thankfully, the next 4-6km was all downhill. Still pretty tough on the legs, but you can sort of just let gravity do the work and pull you down… I definitely managed to pick back up some time here and also spotted the 60 minute pacer a few minutes ahead of me. Still, it was a very distant few minutes away. These kilometres were definitely a lot more enjoyable, and I was feeling really good by this point. We did hit another small uphill challenge at around 7km but soon enough we were back to level grounding.

    The views were incredible though, we were running through country lanes and could see pretty far at some points. It was nice just to run through long country lanes though and see all the houses and areas around there.

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    Photo thanks to Michael Rawsterne (https://www.flickr.com/photos/147287852@N06/)

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    Photo thanks to Michael Rawsterne (https://www.flickr.com/photos/147287852@N06/)

    Nearing the end

    I can’t honestly remember much from the last 8-10km. As we got back to Witton Park we ran through football fields where plenty of matches were happening. It felt a little surreal actually. I think to be honest I was just completely knackered by this point! Someone did spot my number though, and I guess from the commentator announcing it, they remembered it was my birthday. Got a big happy birthday shout as I ran past. I mean, that cheered me up! I also spotted my dad just before getting back onto the track.

    Final 400m lap of the track

    This was actually torture. We got back to the track, had to run past the finish line and around the 400m before getting back to the finish line to finish. I could see the 60 min pacer about 100m in front of me so I tried so hard to get that last sprint to catch him up. As I crossed they read out my number/name and I didn’t hear it but apparently the guy wished me happy birthday again!

    As I came to a stop, I felt SO tired and sick. I really pushed myself in the last half of that race, and although I didn’t know for certain, I was pretty sure I’d hit a new PB. As it turns out, I finished in 01:00:03. A 30 second PB, but so damn close to that sub-60. If only I could have pushed that little bit harder! I’m still annoyed but hey ho, Manchester 10k that sub-60 is getting done. I was the 120th female and 398th finisher out of 600 so I’m happy with that.

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    20170205_120752

    I of course took advantage of the free massage afterwards… When it’s there, you can’t say no! It was also one of the most painful thing ever – on par with those uphill kilometres haha. Legs felt great after it though! Overall I thought the Blackburn Road Runners really put on a fab race. There were SO many marshalls in and around the arena, out on the course and easily on hand if you needed anything. It’s great when so many volunteers can come together to make a day run so smoothly. It seems like a really great club to be a part of, and if I lived closer I wouldn’t think twice about joining them!

    And here are my stats in case anyone was interested! Just look at a visual of that awful hill incline!

    Untitled-2


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    Life in...

    Happy Things in January ’17

    I am aware that it is the 5th of February now (Happy birthday to me!), BUT I realised that I hadn’t done a ‘Life in…’ post and honestly I feel like something is missing. I’ve decided to switch it up a little, so here we have a new series for each month – happy things. I just want to list all the good things that happened each month to look back at. Simple.

    Happy Things in January '17 | lifeofkitty.co.uk

    January has felt like the longest month ever, but it’s actually been a pretty good start to the year I’d say. There are things that I’ve listed here that I’d almost forgotten about – they just feel like so long ago!

    + Hitting a park run personal best of 29:05.
    + The quiz team got back together for the first time since December!
    + I managed to hit a 13.5km run for the first time.
    + Plenty of days/nights out with friends!
    + Two staff showings (Split, T2) and a viewing of La La Land. (Loved them all!)
    + Watching the Sherlock finale in cinema with friends.
    + Oh and watching Fantastic Beasts again.
    + We had a few blue sky days.
    + Managed to run 74.95km for the month.

    Happy Things in January '17 | lifeofkitty.co.uk

    For me, January really feels like the month of running for me. I’ve well and truly fallen back in love with everything about it, and I’m so proud of myself for actually keeping it up as consistently as I have! Minimum two runs a week for me is good! Now I just need to get it up to 3-4 runs per week and then I’m laughing.

    It just feels good to actually be working towards something and getting it done. There’s also other things going on in my personal life so that’s made the month a good ‘un too! Here’s to a fab February eh?

    Is your 2017 off to a good start?


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    Currently Tasting

    Currently Tasting #3

    Oh well, it’s been a while since I did one of these right?! I haven’t been trying all that much lately, but I definitely need to change this. Mostly need to look at new high calorie (but healthy!) snacks to try out. I have tried a few things though, and these are my thoughts…

    Currently Tasting #3 | Juicy Fuel Cola

    Juicy Fuel Cola Drinks*

    In 2016 I attempted to give up fizzy drinks, and I did well for the first couple of months… The latter end of 2016 was abysmal, and whilst I got myself onto pepsi max for the most part instead of any full sugar drinks, I was still drinking too many. For 2017 I am trying again. (And I’ve been doing okay! Last night I went to a pub and had a glass of water and a glass of juice!) Fizzy drinks are not good, and they don’t even taste that great to me any more.

    Then I was contacted by Juice Shed about their Juicy Fuel Cola and discovered the healthier fizzy drink options. Each can is one of your 5 a day, how amazing is that? The 100% natural craft cola has been made with real fruit and doesn’t have any added sugar or sweeteners. (It does of course still have natural occurring sugars from the fruit though!) The ingredients literally consist of carbonated water, fruit juices, and natural flavouring, with the cherry flavour also including natural colouring too.

    Yeah so if you’re a coca cola addict, then obviously these do not taste the same – but I think they’re a good replacement. Honestly I would definitely buy these again! The cherry one is very fruity, whilst the plain cola one kind of reminds me of cola flavoured laces/sweets.

    Currently Tasting #3 | Freedom Mallows

    Freedom Mallows

    I was never a huge fan of marshmallows before becoming vegetarian, though I did enjoy the occasional flump… However these were sent to me by the lovely Lauren and I did actually try them a few weeks ago but they didn’t really fit into any blog posts. Until now!

    As they say on the website, Freedom Mallows are not only vegetarian, but they are vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy free, fat-free, GMO free and nut-free. I mean that’s pretty amazing right? And the great thing is, they taste just like regular marshmallows if not better. (Because I didn’t find them as sweet/sickly as the usual ones were!)

    Currently Tasting #3 | Nutty Snacks

    Whitworths Toffee & Pecan Shots and Nature Valley Peanut Protein Bar

    Another thing I don’t particularly like (or so I thought) is sultanas/raisins. They’ve just never appealed to me. When I first bought this shot snack I saw toffee and nuts and figured yep, that sounds fab. Then I discovered it had sultanas and dates. Well I do actually like dates (so surely I must like sultanas?!) so I gave it a go and haven’t looked back. These are the perfect mid-morning snack when you feel like you’re flagging at work. The toffee makes it chewy and sweet, whilst the nuts and fruit fill you up. 100% would recommend. This is actually my second box of them… There are quite a few different kinds too, though the fully fruity ones don’t appeal to me to be honest.

    This Nature Valley bar is also a great mid-morning snack, and very filling. If you don’t like peanuts, then I would avoid because this is very peanutty. Obviously. I wasn’t so sure at my first bite but it got nicer as I ate it. The chocolate definitely helps… Each bar has 10g of protein anyway so it’s a winner for me on that front.

    Have you tried anything new lately?


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    *Items included have been sent for review, but as always all opinions are my own.

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    Fitness

    Half marathon training: Winter Running and hitting PRs

    Just over 7 weeks to go now. 50 days. January still seems to be taking an age (how is it still not pay day?!) but the race feels like it’s coming fast. Soon enough I’ll be running 13.1 miles for the first time and yeah, I’m scared!

    Half marathon training: Winter Running and hitting PRs

    Running Schedule and Fitting Things In

    I’ve said it before but I don’t doubt that I can do it. I know I can. It may not be the fastest time, but I know I’ll be able to finish the Half Marathon. If Park Run has taught me anything, it’s that I can push way harder than I generally do and I have that determination in me. Speeding up on 5k runs is obviously a lot different to slowing myself down and being on my feet for more miles, but you know, the mentality needs to be strong for both. I’m getting there.

    My schedule at the moment is generally a long run on Tuesdays, Park Run (or random 5k) on a Saturday and then a shorter 20-25 minute run on either Monday or Friday depending on my work shifts. Running on Weds/Thurs is the hardest thing to do, and really these are the days I really need to add in cross training. I am struggling to get the third run in some weeks though which is something I especially I need to work on!

    My next long run needs to be around 1h30 so I’m going to plan a good scenic route to keep my mind happy! I also could do with trying out a gel mid-run, as I may need it once I hit the 2 hour mark and I don’t know how my stomach will react… Water alone probably isn’t enough! I am fully expecting the half marathon to take me up to 2h30 to finish but we’ll see!

    Half marathon training: Winter Running and hitting PRs

    PRs and Nutrition

    Back on the subject of Park Run, I’ve now completed 10 altogether and I’m really loving taking part each week. It’s hard because I work Saturdays so occasionally don’t get the morning off, but I’ve had a good run this year! I’ve ALWAYS struggled with getting my 5k under 30 minutes. It’s got to be a mental thing, because I’ve proved to myself over these past few weeks that I can run it under 30. And I can run it under 30 on a 3 lap course that has two horrible hills to contend with!

    My Pennington Flash 5km PR is now 29:05, and I’m super happy with that. I feel like my weekly long runs have definitely helped with being able to increase speed on my shorter runs, and it’s obviously paying off! Just to keep it up now!

    One thing I am struggling with is food. Eating enough. Not just after my run, but also when I’m working. Most of the week I could be working late shifts, like 5pm-11pm and I just don’t eat proper meals on them days. I need to sort out proper meal prep to get actual meals in on those days. I’m most likely going to do a full post on this once I figure it out myself! (In the meantime, if anyone doing a lot of fitness has any tips, send them my way!)

    Half marathon training: Winter Running and hitting PRs

    Contending With The Weather

    The weather lately has been pretty horrible to be honest. Absolutely freezing on some days, making it hard to get out. When I can, I’ve been running at midday because it’s generally warmer and that’s the time I’ve managed to finally kick myself out of the door…! Park Runs have been icy, icy with rock hard ground, or very wet with ankle deep muddy puddles. No in between. This is where I’ve always struggled in the past with keeping up my runs, but I think Park Run especially is keeping me going. And hey, occasionally you’ll get a gorgeous sunny morning like the above and that makes everything better!

    Isn’t that an amazing view though! ^^


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    Organisation

    Planning for 2017

    Three weeks into 2017 and I’m ready to share my planner set-up for this year (so far). I’d like to say that these three weeks have flown by, but seriously it feels like we’re on day 100 of 2017 not day 21. That’s not to say it’s been a bad start to the year – I’ve actually had a pleasantly good year so far – it’s just dragged. (Might be because payday is still a week away…)

    Planning for 2017 | lifeofkitty.co.uk

    I was in two minds about restarting a planner set up for this year because I simply wasn’t utilising it enough to be worth it before Christmas. Something wasn’t clicking and I just rarely looked inside the planner. I figured that a bit of a change around would either reignite my love for planning and writing things down, or it would prove that I just didn’t really need it any more. So, 21 days in…

    It’s getting a lot more use than last year, so that’s a positive. I’ve started tracking different things, things that I know are useful and will keep me writing them. The bullet journal idea is still very much incorporated into my planning format, and it’s working really well. So my tabs include: Diary, for all weeklies/planning pages; Misc, for all collection style things; Lists, obvious really; Lang, because I want to start back my Spanish learning; Notes, just for random notes. Simple is the key.

    Planning for 2017 | lifeofkitty.co.uk

    The diary section starts with a year on two pages spread, just for future planning. It currently lists my birthday, races planned and holidays booked. Then we’re straight into the weekly pages. I designed my own as usual, and have kept it fairly similar to last years. The schedule on the left page just acts as a place to list my work shifts and any other things I may do. The addition on the right is for my fitness tracking. Being able to write a good amount of info about daily work outs is great, and it’s easy to see how I’m progressing each week, how little/much I’ve done etc.

    Planning for 2017 | lifeofkitty.co.uk

    In my Misc section I currently have a few different things. There’s a half marathon running plan (which you can see below), a page ready for listing all the races I complete, notes on good lower half exercises, a page with the Marvel film timeline (because I want to try watch them all) and a few blogging ideas. So it’s a little random, but that’s what I wanted. Just a place to keep long-term lists/notes.

    Planning for 2017 | lifeofkitty.co.uk

    The Lists section has in a few lists already like things to watch, restaurants to try etc. This is the messier listing section, for those that I don’t really need to look at very often and don’t need to go into the collections section. It makes sense to me.

    The Lang section is pretty much empty at the moment. It just has a page with the days/months/numbers in. Same for the Notes section, not really used yet. I don’t know whether I’ll keep this one – will have to see how used it gets!

    Lastly, you’ll notice there are two extra tabs… They’re not really in use, but I do have one thing behind the first tab. It’s a place where I can write down any personal earnings for this year – as in, blog earnings and the like, not job earnings. I created a little card cover thing so that you can’t actually see any information until you open the rings and open the covering. Makes things nice and private and was easy to do. I mean obviously it can be easily opened, but information won’t be visible to those just flicking through. You could use this for all sorts.

    Planning for 2017 | lifeofkitty.co.uk

    Planning for 2017 | lifeofkitty.co.uk

    So far this is working for me and I’m actually opening my planner to see what’s going on. I think incorporating most of my blog/fitness information into the one planner is definitely helping – last year I used a separate blog planner and whilst it was great, I think that’s why my regular planner got forgotten. It’s just easier to have everything together.

    Are you using a planner this year?


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