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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Snot Rockets: The Definitive Guide & How To - GUEST POST

Hey, I’m Fiona and I blog over at Scallywag Sprints. Recently Sarah wrote a post about the 4 Horsemen of Running Apocalypse: itching; chafing; blisters; and poo. However much I agreed with her assessment, I couldn’t help but wonder if she was missing another insidious bad guy: snot.

I cannot be the only runner whose nose starts dripping the second I get outside and get sweaty. It’s like the sheer effort of exercise has made my brains melt and drop out of my nose in reckless abandon. This effect is a thousand times worse if it’s too cold, or too hot, or windy. So essentially if there is any weather, at all.

I used to just wipe my nose on the inside neck hem of my running top; or on gloves if I was wearing any. An instructor even once told me that waterproof gloves have a fabric stripe for that exact purpose. However there are issues in this method- it feels nasty rubbing up against your own nose goo; its only really a use-once option; like wiping your nose it’s a matter of seconds till it needs done again; and lastly, if it’s cold enough the snot freezes between your skin and the top and you will end up stuck to it. Truly disgusting.

However there is a solution: snot rockets. I can hear your protestations, and yo, people, I'm really happy for you, I'ma let you finish, but snot rockets are one of the best ideas of all time! One of the best ideas of all time! Kanye out. Seriously though- snot rockets may sound abhorrent, but if executed well they are clean; environmentally friendly; and weirdly satisfying.

[From Adidas campaign 1999/2000]
So how do you execute a snot rocket so wonderful that they will crown you the patron saint of nose clearance? When your nose is a free flowing waterfall and you can’t breathe through one or both nostrils; start with the confidence that something must be done. First, check you are outdoors. Hopefully you are not surprised by what you find from this appraisal. Snot rockets are not for the gym- just go to the bathrooms you lazy butt. Ideally you keep running whilst rocketing, but for your first few attempts I suggest pulling up into a halt or a walk and moving to one side of the path. Don’t get cocky.

Check your blind spots and the wind direction. You do not want to snot onto a passer-by. You should approximate about a 3-foot blast radius; larger in the direction the wind is going. If you have safe clearance distance, it is time. Breathe in through your mouth sharply. Close one nostril with a finger or with a bent knuckle- make sure this is firmly sealed. Concentrate. Exhale sharply and explosively through the open nostril while tilting head down and out away from your body, particularly your shoulder. You should witness a meteor-like snot trail fly from your nostril into the distance. Watch it in wonder. If this is your first time you may feel almost tearily proud; as if you were watching a spaceship take off at NASA. This is completely normal. Repeat on the other side if necessary, though I do often find its just one nostril that is leaking. Your nose will feel gloriously clean.

“If executed well”? Ah… You heard that. See, if executed badly snot rockets will end up all over your face; or all over the face of the person next to you. No one is going to love that. The most common issues are:
  1. Not exhaling hard enough, then the snot runs down your chin.
  2. The exhalation being too long and slow- the snot will spray in a much wider distribution, so you are more likely to get some on you or someone else, and have a much larger danger radius.
  3. If the exhalation is too hard and you’ll get a bleeding nose for your troubles. Also lends a note of caution to anyone who gets nosebleeds easily.
Friendly fire will happen to you at some point; so at least whilst you are a learner always have a backup glove or tee handy. You will also almost certainly experience judgement. If it’s another exerciser; feel smug that they do not know the glory of the well-executed rocket, or even worse have tried and just can’t do it. If it’s a different passer-by, just think of how many paper hankies they have used in their lifetime. It’s like they want climate change. Bastards. Snot is biodegradable.

You are now fully prepared for any nose running trauma. You never again have to try to surreptitiously rub your nose on your sleeve, or work out how the hell to blow a nose on a sports bra, or taste the weirdly oil-like saltyness of snot dripping into your mouth (don’t say you haven’t, everyone has). You have been freed, by the underrated, hidden from polite society, unfairly judged, snot rocket.

If you loved this post you can follow Fiona on Twitter @ScallywagSprint and on her blog here.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

4 Horsemen of Running Apocalypse: Itching, Chafing, Blisters & Poo

It is fairly widely known that there are 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Yes, everyone knows that, right? War, Famine, Pestilence and Death. 

4 Horsemen. Source
But did you know there are 4 Horsemen of Running?
  • Itching
  • Chafing
  • Blisters
  • Poo

These are all unpleasant in their own way and who hasn't been in a situation where your pants are riding up, your trousers are riding down and there’s a label itching away and pretending to be a strip of sandpaper? What is it about running that means that there is always something itching or being annoying? And usually in some place you can't really sort out in public?

And the law of running means that when this happens there will ALWAYS a crowd of people behind you. It could be the rest of your running club, a horde of runners in a race or simply a busy bus stop. When is it appropriate to simply stick your hand down your pants and sort it all out?

I imagine the Mr-Average-In-The-Street might not get away with sorting out their underwear in public but we’re runners. We can run away when the screaming starts, right?

But it’s not always as easy to sort out as a quick rummage. Chafing is sneaky. Quite often this goes unnoticed during the actual running but waits until you step into the shower before digging barbs into your unsuspecting, flayed flesh. As if sandpapering your nipples off wasn’t enough, Chafe appears in the most awkward places. Underarms? Thighs? Undercarriage? Sneaky, sneaky chafing.

And I’m sure every runner has suffered the irritating sore, itching pain that is a blister that out of nowhere on a previously unmarred foot, has popped up to ooze and irritate. And stick your sock to your foot with blister-pus.

And Poo. If Poo was a person he’d be a traffic warden. Poo waits until long runs in the country when the nearest toilet is 11 miles and 2 massive hills away. Or else the 2nd to last speed interval, where he asks you whether you’re a gambler. Go find a loo now and leave your run session unfinished. Or finish it and gamble with The Brown Shorts of Shame.

There's a distinctive lurching gait usually accompanied by a staring, thousand-yard stare when a runner is desperate to get home and is moving as fast as they can without soiling their lycra. It’s a terrible, terrible Catch 22 situation. The faster you move, the more you need to 'go' but if you go slow or walk, you won’t make it home in time. Speed Vs Time. Do you feel lucky today? And can you face your neighbours tomorrow if you misjudge it and have to return a wave with brown thighs and a stiff-legged walk.

If you’ve been running any length of time then you’ve probably encountered one or more of these Horsemen already. They're like headlice at primary school. Sooner or later they WILL happen to you.

They’re waiting for you and The Horsemen, like black toenails will appear out of nowhere. All you can do is arm yourself with the available weapons: a liberal application of Vaseline, a generous wad of loo roll & plasters and a practised high-speed zombie shuffle and the location of the nearest loo.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Evil Plans, 'Poo Face' & Mars Bars ...

I’m ill. Am rubbish at being ill and hugely envious of all those well enough to be doing their training. And there are LOADS of you. Marathon training, triathlon training … everyone seems to be all healthy and doing great training. You evil, unsympathetic GITS. 

So as a way to make myself feel better, while actually being a bit sick (cough, cough) I devised some ways to enjoy myself. Which don’t involve much exertion and which make me feel better about you lot training and being all healthy.

Hide in a bush and when a runner comes past bark REALLY loudly and with extra growly bits. Extra points for getting the runner to do ‘poo face’ and getting them to sprint to the end of the road extremely fast out of fear. Then shout “Surprise Speed Session!” They’ll be really happy* about their impromptu speed interval. 

Hide in different bush and bang two massive cymbals together when a cyclist comes past. MORE points if you can get them to fall off / cycle into wall / do ‘poo face’. Then say in a patronising voice, “Cycling is SO dangerous.” Then tut. 

Do lots of pretend coughing next to runners tapering for races. Try to do ‘hacking up a lung’ noises. Tapering runners LOVE this. 

Draw lots of contagious-looking spots on face and turn up to parkrun to ‘support’. Try and hug the winners.

Dress up as police officer and make a speed camera out of cardboard and stand on cycling time trial route. Don’t forget to make some 5MPH signs too. Shout “You’re nicked …” when they come past.

What would you think if you saw one of THESE in the swimming pool? Source

Drop some melty-looking unwrapped Mars bars into the swimming pool … and wait for the screaming to start. Then blame old person /  spotty youth / small child and tut at their incontinence. For extra kudos for hook the mars bars out and eat them. Warning: spectators WILL vomit.

Go to track session and throw trainers at the athletes and shout “Ha ha ha ha ha! Attacked by the very things that you love!!” Note: May need fast getaway car as can’t run away very fast when ill. Note 2: Use OLD trainers as runners may keep trainers. Runners hoard them you know. 

Ok. I’m off now. Got to practise my coughing and buy some Mars bars …

*may not be EXTREMELY happy … 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Hiring an Athletics Track or Not Poking Small Children Off Bikes

I had a tempo run. I was grumpy. I DID not want to do 20 minutes at my 10k pace from April when I was all fit. I’m not all fit now but that didn’t matter. I was still expected to run at a pace which would make me feel all vomity. In fact run at a pace that I ran my last parkrun at. Ugh.

I sulked publicly on twitter. Autumn and Fiona told me to woman up and get it done. Paul offered to hide me from my coach but I’d have to pay for my keep in Nutella. 

There was no excuse.

I was going to have to do it. 

First things first. How do I make this session at easy as possible? What would stop me from going at speed?

Things determined to stop me:

  • Irritating people walking slowly and blocking the pavement. These people really DO move in herds. 
  • Yappy snappy dogs with extendable leads. 
  • Small, sticky children weaving around on pushbikes and intent on running over my feet. 
  • Broken, bumpy pavements and gooey, sticky mud.
  • Teenagers with dead eyes and massive headphones on.

Potential 'Poking-Children-Off-Bikes-Stick'. Image

What can I do to stop these things from slowing me down?
  • Wave an axe to scare everyone out of my way.
  • Drugs for the dogs. And probably the teenagers.
  • Invent a mud hoover and borrow a steamroller for flattening down those dangerous pavements.
  • Get a big stick to poke the small children off their bikes.
  • Hire a running track.

Having a lack of drugs and feeling that waving an axe might slow me down, I investigated hiring Rugby track.

£4.15 for as much running in circles as I could manage. Perfect.

Love how I have been charged for '1 Athletic Track'. Amazing.

No stress about dodging around people, having to cross roads or lumpy paths, I could just run. And I did.

Like a hamster in lycra, I circled the track. 20 minutes later, tempo run done, I had my smug face on.

And without drugging anyone OR having to poke any small children off their pushbikes.

Am obviously ALL heart. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

MuleBar Curry Energy Bar Review: Curry Burps & A Clean Front ...

I was running. And I had the ‘Curry Burps’.

*Burp* Pardon.

Yep, definitely a ‘Curry Burp’.  I carried on running … and munching on the curry flavour energy bar I was carrying. 

Yep. Curry flavour. 

I hadn’t known what to expect when I’d read that MuleBar were making 'Eastern Express' - a curry flavoured energy bar. Don’t get me wrong. I’m ALL for snacks on the move, but the idea of my weekly takeaway making it onto my long run – even in bar form – was something entirely unexpected.

This didn’t mean I was adverse to giving it a go though. Curry in a snack form. Could be my new favourite thing. 

Opening the wrapper, it looked much like any other energy bar ... except slightly orange. And with neon green pistachios. Ok. It looked like any other energy bar IF you were colour blind.

But taste-wise, it was winning. 

It was definitely something new. Every mouthful had a zing of curry and the pistachios gave it a nutty balance which wasn’t unpleasant. In fact it was downright tasty. And reminiscent of Friday nights. If they could make a naan flavoured bar which I could eat as an accompaniment, I may even be tempted away from ‘India Kitchen.

The curry burps whiled away a happy hour or two on a long canal path run. I got to have a run, look at some nice scenery and enjoy the equivalent of a a curry on the move. And without the worry of spilling it down my front. 

Curry on the run ... pre-curry burps.

I will be buying these and alternating them with my usual flapjack bars. And when I’m running long miles in the dark and cold, I can pretend I’m sitting in the warm on the sofa with a takeaway on my lap. 

Fancy some MuleBar Eastern Express on the go? Available here:


  • You WILL burp curry …
  • The bar is NEON coloured.
  • There isn’t yet a pilau rice or a naan bread flavour to accompany it …

  • Curry burps are NICE. 
  • It’s a lot tastier than many other energy bars but it’s not overly sweet either.
  • The bar is slimline. I could fit a lot of these in my race vest. 
  • Packs a good amount of calories despite the slim size. Great for ultras when I want some calorie dense food on the run. 
  • Eco friendly - all the MuleBar energy bars are wrapped in a unique compostable wrapper.
  • Fairtrade ingredients are used in their energy bars & ReFuel protein bars.Organic ingredients accredited by the Soil Association are used in the MuleBar energy bars and Kicks energy gels.

About MuleBar
The company started after Jimmy and Alex went on a trip to the Andes in 2002 and were supplied with some energy bars by their guides which made their stomachs bad. They decided that they could make a better product than these … so they did!
  • Winner of The Natural and Organic Awards 2010 for Best New Sports Nutrition Product.
  • Awarded 10/10 by Cycling Weekly.
  • Cycling Plus 2010 Nutrition Awards.

*MuleBar sent me a pack of their Eastern Express bars free. As per usual I was 100% honest. I liked them. If they tasted like curry vomit I would have said so. They didn't. Curry burps totally win. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

My body likes ice cream and adventures ...

Scallywag Sprints wrote a brilliant post about body perception. She touched on how she’d hated her own body and how she’d never realised that it was ok to NOT hate, that it was ok to like, even to love your own body. She has come to the conclusion that she respects her body and that is good.

We’ve had our ups and downs, but I can genuinely say I love my body.

I DO love my body. It carries me to the top of mountains, to the finish lines on marathons and on silly, crazy, wonderful adventures with friends. Some of which may involve running. And swimming in lakes. 

Beer & ice cream adventures ...
But I didn’t always love it. I disliked how my thighs were curvy at the top and disliked the freckles on my face. The strange toes and the knobbly knuckles.

Chicken hat adventures ...
But as I’ve got older, I’ve softened. Towards my body. I’m kinder. Familiarity has brought love. And acceptance. And gratitude. 

People my age die. Their bodies succumbing to illnesses, diseases, cancer.

But I go moving forwards. Stumbling onwards. Literally stumbling a lot of the time. I DO love my body, but accept that grace and coordination will probably not be attributes I will ever possess physically. I don’t need coordination that much. I can kick like a mule. Run like the wind. But you don’t want to see me dance.

Very, very flat adventures ...
My body and I go on adventures. We discover new trails, swim in the sea, eat ice creams together. I am thankful for my body. I am grateful to my body. And when I die, I will be glad that I have lived in this wonderful home.  

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Crying, Trapping Fingers and De-Eyeballing Self: Setting up your Turbo Trainer

How to set up the perfect turbo trainer for a road bike.
  • Unpack box. Look at everything for a few moments to check is packed properly. 
  • Unpack box and lay out separate bags.  
  • Use scissors to carefully open bags and lay parts out on top of bags so I can see everything and check items off from part list with special ticking-parts-off-part-list-pen.
  • Start assembling parts carefully. Double-checking each item. Successfully put turbo together with all correct components and it DOESN’T FALL APART.
  • Decide am like super engineer. Just call me Isambard.

Isambard Kingdom Brunel - Super Engineer

  • Get all smug and decide to put new saddle on bike too so have comfy bottom for turbo training session. 
  • Look at old saddle and decide that I will need an allen key to undo bolts. Have EXACT allen key in special bike tool kit. Am definitely Good at Engineering.
  • Use allen key to undo saddle. Bolts promptly fall off and washer disappears never to be seen again.
  • Move all furniture and lie on floor trying to find washer. 
  • Decide washer is mainly for show anyway. And may not actually have been on bolt to begin with. 
  • Remove saddle like a pro. (Lifts off saddle).
  • Unable to remove new saddle from packaging. Try to gently lift new saddle off of cardboard backing. Cannot remove saddle. 
  • Attack packaging with nails. Does not work and am in danger of ruining nails further. Use scissors to hack apart cardboard packaging to finally remove new  saddle.
  • Realise I don’t have measurements to put new saddle back into correct position of old one.
  • Attempt to sit on saddle to check height and fall off as it isn’t done up. Check no-one saw. No-one saw.
  • Position saddle randomly between ‘stop’ measurements and put bolts back in with allen key.
  • Saddle is slightly wonky as no washer. Decided this is probably how it is supposed to look.
  • Job well done.

Frank Whittle - Jet Engine Inventor
  • Next job is to attach cadence sensor to bike so I can tell how fast I’m pedalling and how far without having to count or actually go outside. Sounds like magical unicorn cycling. 
  • Look at sensor instructions. They tell me to fit Bit A without telling me what Bit A is. There is no part list.
  • Instructions are talking about parts of the bike I’ve never heard of. Stupid instructions. Suspect instructions are making words up to confuse me.  
  • They tell me to attach *madeup word* to the bike ... but without telling me where on the part of the bike. Resist urge to tear instructions into confetti and sprinkle around room and stamp on them. 
  •  Am organised and calm. I can do this. 
  • And why are there are only 2 bits ... I’m sure there are meant to be 3. Oh. They’re all stuck together. This bit has to ... might go ... there? 
  • Is like a 3D jigsaw puzzle without a picture. Or a clue as to the shape. Is this a TRICK?
  • Attach part to bike with cable ties.
  • Cut part off bike with scissors. Stupid instructions. 
  • Moment of epiphany: There really IS a YouTube video for everything! 
  • Attach parts to bike. 
  • Parts fall off bike. Attach tighter. Bits stay on. But wibble a bit. Ignore wibble.
  • Am technology guru.
  • Get watch to pair with sensor. It works. It totally works. 
  • Am definitely technology guru.

DeLorean DMC-12
  • Decide am doing so well, I will set up bike specs on watch for super-dooper accurate information. 
  • Weight of bike. Am I allowed to ask a lady bike that? 
  • Decide to use power of the internet. Log onto bike website (which is inexplicably hard to find) to find out they won’t tell you the weight of the bike as “we want you to try it.” You utter bastards. Weight of bike appears to be unavailable anywhere on entire internet. 
  • Sigh.
  • Moment of epiphany. Get bathroom scales, weigh self then weigh again while holding bike. 
  • Would have been smug at ‘thinking outside box’ if I hadn’t noticed that 6lb of Xmas pudding and Quality Street appears to attached itself to body. Huff. Knew there was a reason I’d been avoiding scales.
  • Wheel size. Huh? Well it says 700 on the tyres. I’ll just put 1400 in. That should be ok, right? Odometer. Huh? *Googles odometer*. *Leaves ‘odometer blank* 
  • Sorted. 

Sony BetaMax
  • I’ve set up turbo, put saddle on, attached and calibrated cadence sensor and set up bike specs. Am obviously amazing and this and destined to become a turbo trainer hero. *Starts mentally designing superhero costume and cape*
  • So all I need to do now is put the red training tyre on the bike and I’m good to go! 
  • ... Seriously. Do they superglue these things on??
  • *Open YouTube* 
  • Use tyre tool and manage to wedge it under the edge of the tyre. Tyre isn’t coming off. Attack tyre in different place with 2nd tool like man on YouTube who removes tyre with ease.
  • *Swear at YouTube* It ISN’T that easy!
  • Stupid man. Stupid YouTube.
  • Catch fingers. Cries.
  • *Tyre tool pings off*
  • *Nearly lose eyeball to tyre tool*
  • Start swearing.
  • Swearing helps and I get first edge of tyre out of rim. It’s called a bead apparently. (Get me. Am all technical and stuff) 
  • So the inner tube. Does that stay on or do I take it off with tyre and then put it back on with turbo tyre? 
  • Take inner tube out. Get confused. Poke it back in again. 
  • Bizarrely road tyre then comes off easily like a magic trick. 
  • Remove turbo tyre from box. It’s flat. It’s red. It's like an anorexic salami. THIS is supposed to go on the wheel?
  • So this turbo tyre. Why's it flat? How do I get it on? Do I just lie it on the tube? Attempt to bend tyre into tyre shape. Start poking tyre-shape tyre over inner tube and moving along rim ... as I do this it’s coming out the other side. Notice this after circling tyre twice.
  • Use knees to hold tyre in place and crouch to keep hold of wheel. Have discovered new yoga pose. It’s called Upward Tyre. Don’t think it’s going to catch on.
  • But it’s working. Finally have 90% of tyre on rim of wheel.
  • However hit a snag. There is NO WAY the rest of this tyre is going on.
  • Check box. Yep right size.
  • Look at tyre. Look at wheel.
  • It’s like Lola Ferrari trying to put on my bra. It’s never going to happen.

Lola Ferrari
  • Try to push on tyre quickly to catch wheel off guard. It’s not fooled.
  • Attack with all tyre levering tools. Tyre attacks back  and pings tools back at me. 
  • Catch fingers in tyre again.
  • Sit down in huff. It’s now 11:30pm and I haven’t even started my turbo session.
  • Try and roll tyre onto wheel. It rolls back off again.
  • Eat crème egg in frustration. 
  • Huff some more.
  • Give up and call The Mr. *Silence* Call him and tell him to get out of bed even though it’s 11:45pm as am in peril from tyre attacks.
  • Grumpy The Mr comes into room and inspects wheel.
  • He tells me the tyre isn’t going to fit. Then he rolls tyre onto wheel. Like magic.
  • Embrace The Mr and he grumbles off back to bed. 
  • Pump up tyre. Flat.
  • Cry. Actually cry. 
  • Take the tyre off and start again. Repeat steps 43 – 72. Whilst sobbing. 
  • Attach pump to tyre valve. Which doesn’t work. Discover through experimentation that valve has a rolling bit to stop tube going down.
  • Discover this again after pumping tyre up and when trying to put valve cap back on tube.
  • Pump tube up again.  TYRE STAYS UP.
  • Have bike. Actually have bike. That works and has turbo tyre on. AND I have turbo trainer. Finally.
  • Take off wheel skewer so bike can be attached to turbo trainer. Spring disappears as though dropped into black hole. Lie on floor looking for spring. Get up as temptation to lie there and go to sleep overwhelming as now past midnight. 
  • As I am getting off floor spring embeds itself into knee. Remove spring from knee and put back on skewer. 
Sir Clive Sinclair - mastermind behind the Sinclair C5

  • Put bike on turbo. 
  • Bike fights back and oil from chain is distributed liberally over fingers and arms.  
  • Decide bike is just being stubborn and jam on turbo trainer. 
  • It’s on. Bike is finally on turbo trainer. Would throw streamers and blow party squeaker but just too exhausted.
  • Realise there is still another attachment: the gear shifter.
  • Look at gear shifter attachment.
  • Look at manual.
  •  4 more A4 pages to attach gear shifter.
  •  Who needs to change gears anyway. *Tosses gear shifter and massive phone book size manual into box*
  • Get on bike and start pedalling. Wheel sensor starts clinking. Adjust it. 
  • Garmin sensor now refuses to recognise pedal. Poke pedal sensor. It promptly falls out of cable tie. 
  • Swear like a sailor. Cry. Tie it back on.
  • Wheel sensor begins clinking again. Poke it. It stops working. 
  • Poke everything except pedal sensor which will fall off if I poke it.
  • Carefully adjust wheel sensor. 
  • Carefully adjust Garmin sensor and reset it until it‘s so sensitive it can detect a butterfly fart. In France. 
  • Everything working. 
  • Wheel sensor starts clinking starts again.
  • Turn music up until I can no longer hear clinking. 
  • Start turbo training session.  I will beat technology by sweating on it. 
  • Finish turbo training session.
  • Get off bike. 
  • Put on Smug Face as remember to unclip shoes.
  • Fall over as have legs of jelly. Land on sections of cable tie I cut off earlier and find missing washer as it imbeds itself in arse. 
  • Lie on carpet relishing opportunity to lie down and do nothing. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Women In Sport: My Protein New Womens Site

When I think of sport at school, I remember 4 things:

  • Being made to run around a massive field three times and feeling like I was going to DIE (Ironically the PE teacher called this form of torture The Marathon. But where were the medals, the supporters? The fully laden checkpoints?)
  • Having to play hockey in the icy cold on a frozen field and getting my cold fingers hit by hockey sticks. The pain! It was the finger equivalent of stepping on an upturned plug.
  • NOT being chosen for the netball team (I had HEAPS of enthusiasm and absolutely no skill at netball.  I had bouncing around like a jackrabbit down pat but apparently this wasn’t a ‘required skill’. Sulk.
  • All the girls being herded into the showers, cold and clutching our towels and trying desperately not to make eye contact with anyone else for fear of being branded “A Lesbian” by one of the rough girls. Although what that was we didn’t know, because no-one actually explained, except that you automatically became one if you made eye contact in the showers. Apparently.

Needless to say when I think back to sport as a young woman, it isn’t the most pleasant remembrance and a result of all of these torturous PE sessions was that as soon as I got to 6th form and was allowed to drop PE ... I did. 

I did no sport at all from about 16 upwards apart from a short foray into rollerblading bringing scabby knees and baggy jeans briefly back into my life. But as soon as I got to university I swapped exercise for drinking. 

As a student, I didn’t think more than a day ahead at a time and poor eating, dramatic amounts of alcohol and a kebab every evening was quite normal. Drinking is the complete opposite of exercise. You feel great while you drink, then feel like hell the day after.  Whereas with exercise you feel terrible while you do it but feel great afterwards. 

Although one thing they have in common is that both running and drinking photos are usually horrendous.

I was out of sports for at least 10 years before I started running again and now I was being conscious of my health there was a whole new set of questions. Although luckily no more shared showers.
  • Do I need to eat special food? And if I eat chia seeds do I magically get quicker?
  • Do I need supplements? Like special tablets that make my toenails grow faster to replace all the ones that keep falling off?
  • What about specific women’s sports and exercise products? Do I need more iron? Are there supplements to help me ‘chick’ the boys across the finishing line? If so, I want THOSE. 
I learned a bit from books and a bit from other people. But the information was a bit hit-or-miss. How do I actually find out what I need? And when your local supermarket doesn’t even stock protein bars it can be a bit of a challenge. 

So when nutrition and supplement websites like MyProtein have a specific women’s section it can be really helpful. The company had been recommended by a couple of friends for sports products and they’d found them to be pretty good.  If you haven’t heard of MyProtein they’re Europe’s number one sports nutrition brand.

I was pleased to find them and even more happy to be contacted by them to say they’d just launched a new Women’s Section of their website and would I like to try a range of the products?

What? Try some women specific sports and nutrition products? Yes please! 

I browsed the new section and was pleased to note it wasn’t garishly pink OR be-decked with flowers OR patronising. And it was easy to navigate. I had a brief moment of “How rude!” when I read that the women’s sports bottles were ‘easy clean’ ... then I checked the main website and noticed that this was a selling point on there too … phew! So they weren’t having a pop at the old housewife cliche then …!

I found having a women’s section great as it helps people like me who aren’t too sure what they should be using and steers them in the right direction towards things that might be of interest. If you’re confident about your sports nutrition, then it probably wouldn’t help you as much but it was definitely helpful for me. 

I didn’t feel it excluded women from the rest of the site, but rather it saved me having to filter the products to make the choices more tailored to me. Maybe if you were more supplement-savvy, you may find this patronising, but for me I found it really useful and it was genuinely helpful.

The selection of products I tested:

Beef Jerky

I was drawn in by the 98?% protein claim and the thought of being able to munch the equivalent of chewy bacon after a long run and not get told off for it being ‘bad for me’. Also quite liked the idea of being able to chew jerky like a trucker.

When it arrived, I was pleased. It was tasty and sweet-bitter. Perfect. I munched it all the way home in the car on the way back from 10 mile race. It was an easy snack and a quick protein blast.

Cost: £2.24 (usually £2.49 - now on special offer)

Would I buy this again? Yes but probably as a treat. I liked it but probably wouldn’t be eating it every day. 

Instant Oats Banana flavour:

I loved the idea of banana porridge. I adore bananas AND porridge and had a vision of a flashback to the days of good old banana medicine and ready brek and I was hoping that this would be like a dreamy mix of the two. 

When it arrived, I started mixing it up and it turned a bizarre colour, kind of a ‘Nuclear Yellow’ which was slightly concerning and had me wondering whether I’d be glowing in the dark after trying it. However, it smelled AMAZING. 

The oats are fine milled which is how I like my porridge. Am not keen on lumpy food after 18 years growing up with my Mum’s gravy so the consistency should have been great but I couldn’t get it smooth. This probably says more about my culinary skills than about the instant oats but the random bananary* lumps were a bit offputting and I did end up with a few teeth-stuck-together moments.

The taste took a bit of getting used to as is very bananary* but it had a lovely aftertaste which was totally worth getting my teeth stuck together for. I wasn’t too keen on it as a breakfast porridge but I will be putting it in my porridge oat biscuits and putting a scoop on top of natural yoghurt to give it a bit of a kick!

I’m not entirely convinced that the 3 Bears would approve but it was nice as a change.

*May be making up words again …

Cost: £4.99 for 1kg

Would I buy this again? Probably not. 

Protein bites

I loved the idea of these snacks. When I come in from a long run or a speed session I don’t always want a large meal. But I LOVE snacking. Running and snacking are two of my favourite activities.  So when I saw Protein Bites I couldn’t resist them.

I’m always ravenous after swimming and have to make sure I have a snack on hand to save me from the petrol-station-chocolate-bar-stops so I popped a packet of these in my bag for afterwards. The bites looked like a cross between pork scratchings and dog biscuits but tasted like creme cheese and onion heaven. 

There was only 110 calories in the bag but the packet really filled me up. I'd definitely buy these again.

Cost: £5.99 for a box of 6 packs

Would I buy this again? Yes … and have just placed an order! So convenient for after a run or a swim.

COCONPURE (COCONUT OIL) Certified Organic Virgin Coconut Oil

Having read about coconut oil and its unique combination of fatty acids and amazing health benefits including fat loss and better brain function, I have been meaning to try it for ages. So when I saw it available on My Protein I decided to give it a go.

I’m hooked. There are a multiplicity of benefits but just as importantly to me it tastes good. And goes with everything. Who would have thought coconutty* cheesy omelettes were the way forward? They really are. 

Benefits: coconut oil contains Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) – which are fatty acids of a medium length which can be used by the body as a quick source energy or turned into so-called ketone bodies, which can have therapeutic effects on brain disorders like epilepsy and Alzheimer’s. Also the medium chain triglycerides in coconut oil have been shown to increase 24 hour energy expenditure by as much as 5%, potentially leading to significant weight loss over the long term. Source

*Making up words again …

Cost: £9.99 for 640g

Would I buy this again? Yes. Definitely. Tasted amazing and the pot has lasted me AGES. I’m now using it as a substitute for all the other cooking oils I’d previously used. 

Peanut Butter:

I LOVED that all that was in this was peanuts. I compared the ingredients to the brand I usually buy which was full of things I didn’t really want in my peanut butter.

It tasted good. The consistency in the tub was slightly runnier and I was used to sweeter recipes (with far too much added salt and sugar)  but it tasted great and was lovely in my fish and coconut oil recipe. (Which basically consists of steamed white fish put in a pan with a tablespoon of coconut oil and a tablespoon of peanut butter and all mushed up. It looks like baby poo (hence why I haven’t added a photo ...) but tastes like unicorn tears and mashed up angels.  

Peanut Butter test: Did it stick my teeth together? Yes. It’s a winner. 

I would definitely by this peanut butter again.

Cost: £5.99 for 1kg (which is a great price and comparable to the most popular supermarket brand)

Would I buy this again? Yes definitely. Ingredients were 100% peanuts compared to my usual brand which has 5 or 6 additional ingredients.

Note: my Protein gave me a voucher code and let me choose the products I wished to try from the Women’s Section of their website. So I went mad. Free fitness stuff? To eat? Yes please!!! NOM!