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Friday, 1 May 2020

Nutrition: The Alternative to Eating Your Bodyweight in Chocolate and Cheese during Lockdown

I have FOMO. That’s fear of missing out. Whether it’s an exciting sounding new event, a party with friends or trying out a new restaurant. I have to be there. I have to do it. Or I sulk. 

Unfortunately this also extends to food whether that’s ‘other people’s cheese’, a new coffee or chocolate in the fridge. Side note: I don’t truly believe that cheese can belong to other people. It’s mine. It’s all mine. And chocolate in the fridge has a rule in our house: if it’s been in there for over 24hrs whoever put it in there can’t REALLY want it. So it’s fair game. 

And during lockdown this can be dangerous. Especially when the fridge is what’s full of what is technically other people’s snacks. And I have FOMO. What if it’s REALLY GOOD chocolate and I never try it and then I miss my chance and I will NEVER find out how it tasted? 

That's MY cake. Not yours. MINE.

As you imagine, living with me is a delight. Particularly if you expect to store things in the fridge. 

I therefore have a few strategies to cope with FOMO or as my husband calls it my ‘kleptomania around other people’s food’. 

  1. Be vegan. Chocolate AND cheese is now off limits. 
  2. Never ever open the fridge again. NOTE: But how will you get at the hummus and carrot sticks?
  3. Persuade your family never to keep stuff in the fridge unless they’re ok with it being eaten by you. 
  4. Work out how far you’d actually have to move to work off that Easter egg. Run HOW FAR? Not so tempting now is it?
  5. Tell everyone to get you a pot plant for Easter instead. Congrats you now have a house full of plants instead of tasty tasty chocolate. NOTE: Check for triffids.
  6. Every time someone offers you a snack do a lap of the back garden. You’ll get your miles in despite the lockdown AND you won’t have to worry about extra pounds. Note: husband may take advantage of this to take control of the remote control and keep you running while he relaxes with a beer and an episode of WWE. 

Here. Have some manky bananas.

But seriously I do feel better when I eat healthier.  And I tend to move a bit quicker too. Particularly useful when I want to beat my husband and child to the fridge. And for racing too of course.


  1. I track my food. It makes me more accountable. I use MyFitnessPal but there are plenty of decent apps out there. It makes me a bit more mindful of what I’m eating and I’m less likely to treat the fridge as a buffet when I’m going to have to write everything down.
  2. I did ACTUALLY go vegan. It’s a lot harder to eat the cheese and chocolate when you’re morally not supposed to … I’d like to say I went vegan for the animals but actually my little sister dared me to do it and I found my recovery times were really improved when training so I stuck with it. 
  3. I feel much better when I eat food which is better for my body. There will always be a place in my heart (and hand!) for chocolate but I know I’ll feel better if I eat a few squares of dark chocolate rather than an entire box of Celebrations. 
  4. Be kind to yourself. Lockdown is new to us all. Does it really matter if we have a few treats and don’t get to train as well as usual? Not at all. It’s strange times. So long as you and your family are healthy and happy, training can wait. There will be other things to try if you fancy them - online yoga has been interesting, Zwift has been a revelation and homeschooling has been a challenge … but we’re coping. 

I hope you’ve enjoyed the article. Clearly it’s a bit tongue in cheek but don’t forget to smile and try something new if you get the chance!

Thursday, 12 March 2020

Sundose Supplements: Sunshine in a glass or placebo?

Sundose contacted me to see whether I wanted to try their supplements. As a rule I try to avoid supplements as I want to get everything I need through my food, plus as I race so often I don’t want to have to worry about anything nasty ending up in a test should I be tested (in the slim chance that all the really fast ladies fall off their bikes and I somehow end up at the front and eligible for a test!). 

However, I also eat plant-based only foods which means that I do need to be aware of what I could potentially be missing out on. I believe that I should be able to get virtually everything I need from my food … but do I actually get it? I’m sometimes lazy … like most people I juggle, family work and training and sometimes it’s easier to eat the same thing for breakfast, lunch and dinners as it’s one less thing to have to think about in a busy lifestyle.

I take an off-the-shelf multivitamin I picked up off the shelf at my local supermarket but does this really contain everything I need? You know what? I’m not sure it does.

Sundose is quite pricey compared to an off-the-shelf multi-vitamin but the reason for this was that my daily supplement is tailored to me, my lifestyle and my desired result. I had to answer a health survey which asked me basic biological details, whether I excluded any food from my diet, fluid and caffeine intake, diet including sugar intake, how man meals I eat and whether I make these, general immune system, lifestyle including sports and intensity, alcohol consumption, stress and whether I suffer from ‘odorous gases and plenty of other questions and finally my health goal. I chose I wanted to have more energy. The questionnaire is in-depth and it took me around 5 – 10 minutes to complete. 

… and then I just had to sit back and wait for my order which was scheduled to arrive within the week.

When the parcel arrived, it was well packaged and the supplements were in a box with a flip up lid which made them easy to store as I wasn’t dealing with 30 days worth of individual packets. The supplements came in a daily sachet, one half was powder which I mixed into water (I’d chosen the orange flavoured option) and took as a drink and the other half of the sachet contained 4 pills. There was also a list on the bottom of the box specifying what was in the powder and what was in each capsule.

The powder which was white in the packet turned grey when I first mixed into the water but after stirring, it went bright orange and looked like fresh orange juice. I was a bit dubious but it tasted how I’d expect fresh orange juice to taste if it was made from a powder. There was a slight aftertaste but it wasn’t bad and it was smooth - there was no unpleasant texture. It did however take a second stir to mix the powder that had settled to the bottom of the glass. I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to drink. 

I had 4 daily pills in my supplement packet and I don’t have any problems taking pills but they were a decent size, around the size of a large capsule.

So How Did I Get On?

Same as you, I have a busy life trying to juggle family, full-time job and commute and training and trying to remember something in addition can be difficult even if it’s something small like remembering to take a supplement! The first few days I set a reminder on my phone and then I fell into the habit of having the supplement when I had my breakfast so one reminded me of the other which was handy. Doing it this way meant I had an additional drink as well as my coffee (which is good as I know I don’t drink enough!) and also meant I didn’t have to remember to take different pills from my cupboard. I also took a handful of the supplement packets with me to work for the days I had a silly early start at work, so I could have one with my breakfast there. I found I had to try and make new habits to remember.

Week 1
I remembered to take the supplements every day. I did notice that my training was going really well and it was nice not to have to even think about the multivitamins in the cupboard as I knew I was getting what I needed from these supplements. Not sure I can say that the good training relates directly to the supplements at this early stage but if the placebo effect works then I’m happy to take it! 

Week 2
I’ve have taken a handful of sachets to work as they’re easy to stick in my bag. I work shifts so it can be difficult to take the supplements the same time every day. Training still going well. Feeling pretty good about it all. Missed a day by mistake but didn’t take a double dose the next day – just skipped that day. 

Week 3
I’ve caught a cold – or at least I have that stuffy blocked up feeling. I’m blaming a day of being out on the bike in a hailstone storm. I’d hoped that being so good with my supplements would stave off the inevitable British winter-time cold but maybe not to be! Took a few training sessions off the schedule and gave my body a bit of a rest. At least I know I’m getting the vitamins I need … as well as all the coffee I’m drinking! Actually quite look forward to the orange drink in the morning now. Guess I must usually have been a bit dehydrated without realising it. 

Week 4
The cold disappeared a lot quicker than I’d expected and I’m back training normally. Not sure I can thank the supplements for such a quick recovery but they seem to have helped. I’ve been pretty good at taking them every day (although I missed a couple of days when I had to dash to work early) which probably also helped. Coming to the end of my 30 days trial and very tempted to carry on, particularly as a vegan and with all the training I do it’s been nice not to have to think about what supplements I need and when I need them.

In Summary

I liked not having to think about what supplements I needed to take and work out what days I needed what vitamins and which minerals – that was all worked out for me and taken out of my hands. The drink tasted decent and although the pills are a fair size, I didn’t have any problems with either of them. I did find that my training was going really well and my cold cleared up really quickly although this could of course have been a placebo effect or me looking out to see whether I could see any effects of the supplements. However, whether placebo or not – it was a definite benefit! A downside of the supplements is that they are quite pricey but if your health and training are important to you then it’s a serious decision to consider!

Sundose have given me a code to share which gives £20 off your first order: ‘sarahb’
You can visit the Sundose website here

Note: Sundose didn’t pay me for this blog, they just offered to send me a 30-day trial and asked me to write impartially about my experience. I was curious so accepted! :)

Learning Squash: Should I have brought a helmet? #SquashGirlsCan

You all know I love an adventure … even if I don’t know EXACTLY how it’s going to go. But sometimes that’s part of the fun. Apart from those adventures which involve long runs and ornamental gardens … 

So when I was contacted by England Squash to ask whether I wanted to have a go at playing squash I said I’d love to … but I didn’t know how. And not only that, I didn’t know where or what or even whether being squashed was a necessary part of the game. 

Luckily, knowing how to play wasn’t part of the requirement. England Squash offered to help me get started by sending over some kit to use and set up a lesson with Ginny and 2 other ladies who were also fairly new to squash too. 

Massive nerves on my way ...!

England Squash were keen to challenge misconceptions around squash,and encouraged us to go to an all girls’ session so we could see how much fun it was, and join in with the 
 #SquashGirlsCan campaign. They also wanted people to see how easy it was to start the sport and get going… however, if you know me, then you’re aware that my coordination is a bit hit-and-miss. In the past, I’ve seen grown men run to get out of my way when I’ve picked up a tennis racket. Hopefully, I’d be a little more successful at squash. 


I turned up to my lesson in the correct kit, but clearly I was a shining example of ‘all the gear and no idea’. I knew next to nothing about the sport and I’d deliberately not researched it prior to my lesson as I wanted to start with a clean sheet. I was a little bit concerned that they may have underestimated my (admittedly amazing) ability to completely mess things up and hoped they’d warned the coach and the other ladies attending the lesson that I was a bit uncoordinated (*cough* VERY *cough*). Perhaps I should have brought everyone helmets and shin pads … I decided I should probably stand a long way away from everyone else and try to avoid wildly swinging the racket. 

I met Ginny who was the coach and she introduced me to Zoe and Reema who were being coached. Everyone was friendly and chatty and normal. No-one expected me to know what to do or to be good at the sport and Ginny told me that we could all go at our own pace. It was nice to know there was no pressure and that I was playing with people who weren’t expecting big things of me (like being able to hit the ball!). 

Reema, Ginny, Zoe and Me!

We started off with a warm up which was some very gentle jogging, a bit of galloping (I love a gallop!) and some dynamic stretches. Ginny then asked us to play a game. She told us the names of the lines on the wall of the court and gave us one of the squash balls. Our game was for the first person to throw the ball over the service line, the next person would allow it to bounce once and catch it and throw it under the service line, the next person would throw it over … we had three lives each and would lose a life every time we threw the ball in the wrong place or fumbled a catch until only one person was left. My coordination isn’t great … but put a bit of competition into a game and I am ALL OVER THAT. We laughed and had a grand old time and got used to the bounce of the ball. 

So the lines have names ...
I was surprised that the ball wasn’t half as bouncy as I’d expected. I’d thought it would be more like a tennis ball but it hardly bounced at all. Ginny explained that there are different balls for the game depending on the level of the player and really good players would play with balls which hardly bounced at all which would make for a faster paced game as you’d have to really run to get to it. 

Ginny fed the ball to us for the next part of the lesson by throwing it at the wall and we’d have to return it forehand and backhand. I was surprised that I found backhand much much easier! To hit the ball to the correct place I had turned so I was facing the side of the court with my shoulder towards the front wall. 

It took me quite a while to get used to this as it initially felt like I should be facing forwards but once I got it, it made it much easier to return the ball. 

We played another game to get used to returning the ball which was to try and keep the volleys going between us. It was really exciting to be able to feel as though I was playing the game – when I’d arrived today I hadn’t even picked up a racquet or squash ball before! 

Ginny taught us how to serve… and I got it in theory … but was just completely incapable in practise. Not only could I not hit the ball with my racquet, when I finally did, it flew up into the air and bounced off the lights! Twice! Ginny spotted what I was doing and I was throwing the ball, rather than dropping it – I was clearly getting too enthusiastic! 

I even hit the ball!

We were having so much fun, I was disappointed when the lesson ended. We did some gentle cool down exercises and stretches and then Ginny announced she’d baked some banana bread so all we went to enjoy that and grab a coffee. I’d planned to go home straight after the lesson, but was having so much fun with Ginny, Zoe and Reema that it seemed a shame not to spend some more time there! I’d expected to learn some squash, but some new friends was a definite bonus. Besides, we’d worked hard and the banana bread sounded amazing! 

So … will I go back? Yes definitely. I had a brilliant time and not only did I get a great workout in, I made new friends and am on my way to learning a new sport! I was also surprised that it wasn’t as pricey as I was expecting – I’m going to go along to one of the ladies only sessions which is every Sunday and £2 per session and mixed abilities. 

If you’re interested in having a go at squash, take a look at the England Squash website. There’s a whole section for women new into the sport here for the Squash Girls Can campaign where you can find a venue, lessons or where you can go to watch to build up some confidence. 

Ladies only mixed ability sessions ... AND cocktails! I'm in!

As mentioned at the top of the post, I wasn't paid for the post but Squash England gifted me the kit and set up the lesson for me to try :)

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Sarah Attwood: An Interview

SARAH ATTWOOD super runner and all-round speedy triathlete tells us how she juggles working as a doctor, living on the Isle of Skye and smashing in the wins! 

I’ve known Sarah for about 7 years since we met at a Runners World and ASICS event and she has been constantly inspiring me with her relentless training and determination. It’ been really interesting to speak to her about her training and lifestyle and she’s provided some great tips for everyone from experienced triathletes to beginners. 

Where did the love for triathlon come from and what got you into triathlon in the first place? 

I had been a runner for 6 years and fancied doing something different. Lots of people I knew were getting injured so I wanted to try and prevent that by cross training and also have other sports that I could do and enjoy should I ever become injured and unable to run. 

Around this time a friend sold me her old road bike when she immigrated to Cyprus and another friend had represented GB in an age group duathlon so this inspired me to try and do the same. 

How do you fit all the training around work and life? 

Since moving up to Skye I’ve had a much healthier work life balance and have managed to fit training in well around work and home life. I believe in quality over quantity and luckily my coach feels the same which significantly helps. I try and do three sessions of each discipline a week when in peak training, swimming is normally before work on the days when I have a later start or my husband is around to walk the dog. Running is normally in the evenings and biking tends to be on my days off (or in the evenings if it’s on the turbo). I’m lucky to only work 4 days a week. 

Running and triathlon? Do you find one takes over? How do you balance the events? 

As I’ve always been a runner and it’s the most convenient thing to do (you don't have to wait for the pool to open, have decent weather or transport your bike around) running does tend to take over. As it’s my strongest discipline I probably need to focus more on the other two areas but it is difficult when I keep on entering running races! At the end of last year I did two marathons so as soon as I did my middle distance triathlon I just ran for 5-6 weeks. I thought I would have loved it but I actually missed swimming and cycling. 

How do you plan your training? 

I have a coach. I signed up with Performance Edge just under a year ago and I let him do all the hard work. I just do as I’m told on the days I’m told to do it. I send him my work timetable so that he is able to work it around that. It really works for me. I have a rest day when I’m on call (roughly once a week) which I think is important and then the rest is determined by the hours I’m working and the event I have coming up.

If you could be good at any other sport other than triathlon, what would you choose? 

Biking! I’ve really started to enjoy biking especially mountain biking but I needed to get more bike fit and more confident going down hill and cycling in the wind. 

Hydration? How do you manage to balance this? 

I drink loads. I always have done. On a day when I’m not exercising I drink 2.5 - 3 litres of water a day and 2 - 3 coffees. I always take water to the pool with me to sip and I tend to run with water except when it’s really cold or wet or I’m only running up to 10k. If I’m carrying water on a run I tend to have a sip every mile. When biking I do have to remind myself to drink and try to to do so every 5-10 miles. 

Avoiding a Code Brown when racing ...

I’m quite lucky to have a regular body clock so on training days I don't have any problems as long as I don't eat grapes in the day! For races the adrenaline tends to sort out any problems before the race starts!

Do you carb load before and recovery eating afterwards? 

I have carbo loaded before marathons and ultras when I first started doing them however I didn't find it helped that much and it just made me feel a little bloated and sluggish. Now I just eat more calories than usual (roughly 25% more) the day before a big race but as a mixture of proteins and carbs rather than just carbs. That seems to work well for me. I did recently read in 220 Triathlon magazine about carbo loading not working as well for women as men. After a big race or training I use to have a milk shake (Frijj) however since discovering Voom protein recoverfudge I tend to have one of those and then a proper meal within an hour if I can.

Do you have a special diet?

I follow no specific diet at all. I’ve always tended to eat quite healthily, having lots of fruit and veg so I’ve just stuck with that. At times I do crave certain foods e.g. red meat after a busy training week so I try to listen to my body and have that presuming that my iron stores must be low. The rest of the time it tends to be white meats, fish and dairy products where I get my protein from. 

Do you avoid certain foods to aid training?

I don't avoid anything, I think everything in moderation is good for you. The only exception to this is when I’m training for or racing age group triathlon and then I will use food products for fuel rather than gels or other sport drinks/nutrition in case they have anything in them that's banned.

Can you recommend any essential kit for beginners? Is there anything you’d tell a beginner to avoid?

Tri is such an expensive sport, ideally its good to try before you buy some of the expensive kit. My first bike was second hand and my first tri was a pool swim (Bassetlaw Sprint Triathlon) therefore I didn't need to invest in a trisuit or wetsuit to do it. I also just wore running trainers on the bike. Once I discovered that I enjoyed triathlon I started to buy kit then. My first tri suit and wet suit were from a sample sale and cost £15 and £89 respectively. Since then I have bought a better tri suit but I continue to use and love my wetsuit. Once I had been cycling for a year I upgraded my bike using the Bike to Work scheme (saving on tax) and bought proper bike shoes with cleats. 

Most essential piece of kit?

Hmm … for the run it has to be trainers (I don't dare run barefooted), for the swim,  goggles (especially as I wear contacts) and for the bike the bike. 

What bike do you ride? 

My first bike was an aluminium Claud Butler which I still use today on my turbo and in bad weather. My second bike is a Boardman Team Carbon and my latest bike is a Scott Foil which I love.....I’ve also got a Scott mountain bike. 

What trainers do you run in? 

For 10 miles or less I wear New Balance 890, for longer runs Nike Pegasus (or On Cloud) and off road it's Inov8 Mud Claws. I’m just trying out some Trail Talons at the moment as an ultra trainer for when I need an off road trainer with more cushioning as my Mud Claws are not good if there’s too much road involved. 

Any other top kit picks? 

I love my Zoggs Predator goggles. I’ve tried so many that leaked but these have been great 

Any preferred brands and sponsors? 

I like Nike, New Balance, Inov8 and Ron Hill for running. Biking has to be Gore and Scott and Sealskinz. Swimming all my kit is Blue Seventy. I’m a member of Skye and Lochalsh Running Club and Scottish Athletics, British Triathlon and I’m a Voom Champion.

Which element of tri is the most challenging for you? 

I’m petrified of open water so that is the most challenging however it also gives me the most buzz and that's why I’m still doing it rather than moving to duathlon. I love the run bit because I tend to do the best in that bit and pass a lot of other competitors. 

What’s been your best/worse race experience so far? 

I’ve had so many good races im not sure I actually have a best. I’ve enjoyed most of them since starting tri. Worse race experience was probably Aberfeldy Middle Distance Triathlon last year as I wasn't 100% well and on antibiotics, the weather was awful, the waves in the loch panicked me (I thought it was going to be non-tidal with it being a loch but because it was that big and windy it had tides) and I felt nauseous for the last three miles of the run (possibly due to under fuelling on the run or the antibiotics)

Are you better at one than another? 

Compared to other triathletes I’m poor at swimming, ok at biking although probably a little worse than average and good at running. I’m one of the last out of the water, I catch some up on the bike but not many but then pass a lot on the run. I have been slowly improving in the swim and bike catching up with other familiar faces and names in my ages groups and clubs. 

What races would you like to do?

I would like to do a full distance tri soon but I feel that I need to do another middle distance first with Abberfeldy going so wrong. There’s no real reason why I have to do it except that its one of those things to tick off the bucketlist to say I have done. I think the best distance for me will be standard or possibly middle and I think that a full will be too much - but I just need to do one!

What motivation do you use to get through the tough parts of the race? 

I normally need motivation at the start of the swim when I’m feeling nervous and towards the end of the race when I’m exhausted. For the swim it’s usually the money and time spent training and travelling to the event. Telling myself that I can’t back out now as I’ve invested too much into it. Towards the end of the race its normally thoughts of "You've worked so hard to come this far! If you give up now it’s all been a waste of effort!" and that tends to keep me going. 

How does your husband/partner feel about being a running widow? Is he an awesome supporter or is he a bit crap? 

Hahaha a bit of both. He’s supported me well in some of my bigger events e.g. age group races but for others he’s tended to stay at home and out of the way. Initially I don't think he liked me training and racing so much but with time I think he’s realised that it keeps me happy so he tends to not mind as much and lets me get on with it (probably for a quieter life). He gets lots of holidays out of it which I also think he enjoys. 

What support do you need from other people? 

I’ve a few friends that I go biking and open water swimming with...without them I would never open water swim and I wouldn’t have been on as many amazing rides. 

Worst thing ever to happen to you while training? 

A friend fell over whilst running injuring and lacerated his knee. I had to run for help as he was unable to walk. Luckily it was all superficial in the end and he was ok. 

What are the top 3 little things you do top prevent injury? 

Cross train, stretch/pilates, avoid over training. I use to get regular massages but they’re not as easily accessible up in Skye so I rarely have these, having to rely on my foam roller, massage stick, band and pilates instead. 

How are you improving on your past training in order to get faster? 

I’ve just been trying to swim and bike more to get better at these whilst maintaining my running fitness. Previously I use to swim 1-2 a week and bike 1-2 a week. By increasing them to 3 times a week and the sessions being more structured with speed work/efforts in them I have improved in both disciplines.

For further inspiration you can follow Sarah on twitter @Attwood7Sarah or instagram @attwood_s or to see her in action, she’s racing Outlaw X Middle Distance Tri, Clumber Park Standard Distance Duathlon, Sweden ETu sprint tri (although it’s not an A-race for her) and in many of her local road races!

Sunday, 26 January 2020

ISPO Show: Surprise Product - DAHLIE Supreme Wool Jacket

Have you heard of the ISPO show in Munich? I was lucky enough to attend the show a few years ago and stayed in contact as it was such an amazing experience. It’s the largest trade show for sports businesses and has more than 2,800 exhibitors showing the latest sports products from everything from snows ports to health & fitness. As a result, when they asked for testers for some of the products that won awards at the show I jumped at the chance and was chosen to be the ‘female first’ tester.

The product that I was chosen to test was the DAHLIE Supreme Wool Jacket

What Did I Think?
I did an unpack of the jacket on instagram @mia79gbr which you may have seen (if you didn't I've uploaded it to YouTube also here). What I deliberately did was to NOT read up on the jacket. I didn’t want anything to influence my test. It helped that there was very limited information that came with the jacket so I didn’t have to worry about that!

My first impressions
When I opened the box and held up the jacket, I immediately got the impression of good quality. The jacket was a mix of 3 colours; white, orange and grey and the design was very pretty. It wasn’t over-detailed but it was a nice mix of block colours. I felt it would suit both males and females. 

It felt soft to the touch and the fabric felt a decent quality, I didn’t wasn’t rumpled from being in a box for a few days which was a very good start for a running jacket which would be put through it’s paces! I need my running jackets to perform well and take abuse as I need to concentrate on performance and not on how I fold my kit! 

As I looked through the jacket, I noted a few small things that I liked. For instance, there is a  rubber tab on the main zip. This is a small thing but when you’re racing long distances in the cold with gloves on, you don’t want to be fumbling with zips or having to take your gloves off. It’s a small thing but it can make a BIG difference. 

The waistband is adjustable so the wearer can make it a tighter fit. This doesn’t matter so much for me as I prefer my jackets to hang rather than be close fitting around the waist, but it could be good if you’re a runner who prefers a closer fitting jacket or who may be running long distances with temperature variations for instance from day to night. 

The jacket is slightly longer at the back so you don’t get a gap at the waistband between the jacket and your running tights. I like this – and who wants a draught on their back while they’re running? Particularly if it’s cold enough to warrant a jacket.

There are reflective stripes on the upper arms of jacket which are quite small – about 3 inches long and there are 2 on each arm. These are the only reflective sections on the jacket.

There are pinhole sized holes in the back of the jacket – typically where I sweat when I run. These pinholes appeared to increase the breathability of the jacket and to allow the evaporation of the sweat. If I wore a running backpack, these would also help to avoid overheating here which may occur if the jacket was the same thickness here as on the rest of the jacket.

The pockets are a decent size. Big enough for a phone, keys and snacks should I wish to carry these in my pocket. A pocket in each side of the jacket and the same size pocket on each size. 

Something I noticed when I turned the jacket inside out is that the fabric is interestingly textured on the inside in almost a honeycomb pattern. Looking at the fabric more closely, it had a shine indicating a water resistant or water-proofing quality.

There is quite a lot to it for a running jacket. I’m used to lightweight, packable style jackets. This jacket is almost too beautiful to be scrunched up in a pocket if I get too warm halfway through an interval session at the track. 

I also noticed that it is dirt-repellant. Despite having fairly large white blocks of colour on it – they don’t attract the dirt and any marks can easy be wiped off to leave no stain which I was very impressed with.

Challenges … or Opportunities?
About two days after I received the jacket, I went away with work and during a training exercise, I fell and sprained my ankle very badly. This meant that although I had run with the jacket, that I would not be able to do further running tests due to not being able to run. So what did I do …? I tested the jacket as an every day jacket also! No problem … turn the problem into an opportunity.

What do Dahlie say?
After I had tried the jacket and made up my own mind, I had a look at the Dahlie website to see what they had to say:

A technical women's jacket for cross-country skiing, intended for training at moderate to high intensity in colder weather. Made up of a 3-layer softshell material with wind and water-proof front.

Jacket Supreme Wmn with wool is a technical top jacket for cross-country skiing, designed for training at moderate to high intensity in colder weather. Made in a 3-layer softshell material with wind- and water-proof front. Lining of wool blend, with no less than 47% wool, for optimal temperature control on colder days. 

The wool blend material is upgraded with a new composition, which provides a better ventilation as well as improved insulation. Elastic stretch panels made of polyknit mixed with wool under the arms and on the back for good mobility and ventilation. Stretch panel on the back has tiny holes to optimize moisture wicking and venting. Reflective details for increased visibility on the front and back. Tailored sleeves for an ideal fit. Two hand pockets with zippers on the front. Bionic Finish Eco® provides durability to the material both in the form of long-lasting colours and the ability to withstand harsh weather.

  • Fluorine free
  • Water-repellant
  • Dirt-repellant
  • improved colour fastness
  • Quick dry
  • breathable
  • weather proof
  • Possible to reactivate with heat after wash

Would I buy this jacket? What would I change?
I would make larger reflective strips. The strips to be almost only added as a formality. They’re so small as to almost make no difference and it is unlikely that they would make the difference to someone being able to see someone wearing the jacket on low-visibility and not seeing them. 

I would add the rubber zip tabs onto the pockets also. The tab on the main zip is brilliant and means I can undo the zip without removing gloves, but this would be handy to have on the side pockets too. I’d also like a rear pocket. 

I did really like this jacket. I’d be able to use it as a high-performing jacket to wear to long-distance events particularly ultra-marathons and timed distance runs.

It also works as an every day jacket as I found out when wear it while injured. It is smart enough to wear to work or to the office and socially and it is warm enough to wear instead of a light jumper. 

Any Downsides?
A downside, is that it is expensive unless you have the funds to fully prepare for a big event and want a premium jacket but in which case, it is a great quality, high performing jacket and it looks as great as it’s performance.

The jacket can be purchased from the Dahlie Sports website and retails at 299 EURO. 

**I was allowed to keep the jacket after the test but said exactly what I thought of it. I’m not getting paid to write this review.**

Friday, 27 December 2019

Some good news and some pant-wetting terrifying news ...

So some good news and some pant-wetting terrifying news. Same news.

I’ve qualified to represent GB in triathlon in middle distance for 2020.

Not really the start to the year I’d hoped, having tripped over a brick and sprained my ankle so hopping like a hoppy thing at the moment. A kangaroo but a bit more pathetic. Wallaby? Anyway. I’m going to be doing some awesome racing in Austria. Good news is that it’s the same course where I raced before a couple of years ago so I know the route. Bad news I had a really shit race last time. 

But open the plus side so long as I don’t forget to drink, don’t run over my drinks bottle and try not to look like I’m channeling some kind of zombie this year then it has to go better than last time, right? RIGHT? 

And just to cheer you up here’s my photo from the race last time.

Yeah. It really WAS that bad.

If you want to laugh at my misfortune in 2016 full story is here

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Puig de Sant Salvadore: Accidental Mountain Biking in Mallorca

So I cycled up Puig De Sant Salvadore ... by accident. On a mountain bike. Because I wanted to have a look at the cross on the hill.

You know when you’re travelling on a train or bus and you see something interesting, but you can’t stop to look at it? Well I had that this year when I was on holiday in Mallorca. I was on the way back from a market on a bus and there was a cross on a hill. A big cross on a big hill.

I couldn’t see much before it disappeared off to the side as the bus continued its dusty journey back towards Cales de Mallorca. But I marked the place on the map and decided I wanted to try and find it.

The next day, I popped into the town to see if I could hire a bike. I could. There was a choice of precisely two bikes. A mountain bike with flat tyres or a mountain bike with no brakes.

I decided that I’d take a chance on a puncture rather than not being able to stop and chose the bike sitting on the flats. Pumped up the tyres and gave the vendor a tenner and I was off.  Well almost off. There were no bottle cages on the bike so bought a child’s rucksack, so I could pop a drink in it. It would have been hard work cycling in 35*c with no water.

I set a route using google maps which gave me a bike route. It took me out of the town and down a small rutted dirt road. Maybe I had been lucky that there were no road bikes. The road was quiet and dusty with an occasional low residence set back from the road. I cycled past these quickly half-expecting a mean dog to rush out of the open gates and chase me down the track. After a couple of miles, Google Maps directed me up a drive with a padlocked gate. I dithered and finally decided it wasn’t worth the owner chasing me out with previously-mentioned mean dog and turned my mountain bike around.

The bike tyres had stayed pumped up and the bike was comfortable although there was a surreal moment when I heard a violin in the middle of nowhere. I'd stopped on a hill to check the maps and heard someone playing badly and quietly. I listened for a while as couldn't place the direction and realised it was the brakes rubbing. It sounds stupid, but it sounded exactly as if someone was playing the violin badly. It was very eerie.

Cycled on a main road for a while and then maps directed me onto another dirt track. All seemed to be going well until I passed a sign. I had NO CLUE what it meant so dug out Google Translate (as Google was clearly on my side today *cough*) and apparently, I was in a private hunters’ reserve. Oh. Maybe it’s just a road going through a reserve. The road on the map looked ok and Google HAD directed me through here. I carried on, cycling even quicker past the occasional residence than on the previous road in case the owners had mean dogs AND shot guns. Until the road ended up at a massive high fence with barbed wire on. OK then. Another U-turn back to the road.

Decided enough was enough. I decided that I was staying on the tarmac and ignoring Google. Twice was enough. I'd had a free pass on two of the roads but wasn't going to give it a chance to land me in the middle of an ordnance testing zone next time.

The tarmac roads were smooth and hilly and the drivers gave me loads of room and were pretty courteous. I could see the cross on the hill now in the distance. Checking the map I would go past it on the same route as the bus when I had first spotted it and then circle back around. I'd then have a bit of a hill to cycle up to see it. 

I found the turnoff and suddenly the road started climbing. It was a steady incline, past a dry looking field with goats in it. The first corner turned to the left with what looked like a fountain at the corner. I propped the bike up and went to try and fill up my water bottle as it had been a hot, dry ride so far, but I’d been mistaken and it appeared to be a memorial. No water in this stone.

I still had a few inches of water left so no drama. If it was like England, there would probably be a church near the cross and these always had a water tap. I’ve been helped plenty of times by spotting a spire or tower when out running or on my bike in the heat. 

I set off on the trusty mountain bike and the climb intensified and the road became alpine style switchbacks. Divine to cycle and the views were absolutely glorious! I could see the plains spread out below me and with each corner I could see further and further. 

However, I knew I had probably bitten off more than I could chew when a man leant out of his car window and shouted “Allez! Allez!” at me and I started noticing the paint on the road cheering cyclists onwards ...

And there I was on my borrowed mountain bike (which I had to blow up the tyres before I started and reconnect brakes!) and no bottle cages trying to get up this climb.

The climbs kept on coming. They were fun to cycle, and I only had a mouthful of water left in my bottle now. I was pretty sure there would be a water tap or something at the top and I hadn’t passed any shops on my way here, so my only bet was to keep going and see if there was water at the top because I knew for a fact there wasn’t any at the bottom.

An occasional car passed. The road was narrow, but they gave me plenty of room and the views kept me going. It was stunning. With every switchback and every climb, the view got better and better. Mallorca was laid out below me like a patchwork quilt. The climb wasn’t too bad - it was 5km long, but it wasn’t particularly steep, so I could just dig in and enjoy it. And I did.

The climb got steeper as I got closer to the top and I could see the cross above me growing larger and more glorious. The final turn took me around a steep corner with the cross on my left and a tower in front of me.

Was this it? Apparently not. The road carried on climbing towards a monastery and looped around one more time towards the gates. 

Divine views all around me. Stately stonework and stunning buildings.


On the left.

A bar. And the best tasting Coca Cola I have ever tasted.