23 December 2021

Fit in your 40s with an office job?

brightonfit bike commute

I write this post from many tried and tested methods to integrate a full time desk job with a desire to retain a fully fit and functionally strong body. Having spent 20 years on my feet all day every day at work, I found the transition to a desk job extremely challenging. At the start I could not even sit for more than 1 hour without an aching pain in my buttocks! After some time (about a year) this discomfort eased and I was able to sit for a day, around the same time I began experiencing lower back pain. Flashbacks of my clients complaining about lower back pain over the previous 2 decades popped into my mind and I realised I had gone from someone whose body was not subjected to the physical restrictions that modern life and work choices brings to someone that very definitely was….and in an amazingly short period of time.

I then tried all sorts of training schedules and styles in order to regain what I had lost which was predominantly functional strength and a decent fitness level. What ended up becoming a sustainable pattern for me combines an active living approach with sessions I dedicate to exercising. I ride my push bike (pictured) into work every single day (5 miles) come rain or shine (having invested in some Gortex waterproofs!); I aim for speed without stopping. I go straight to the gym and workout for an hour predominantly weight lifting except for one weekly HIIT session I put in on a day that I feel energetic! After work I ride home for food and maybe to tie up some work hanging over from the day. I try and get out every evening after this; I will take my mountain bike out alone or with friends or go to my local indoor climbing centre for a couple of hours. These types of fun, social sessions are best for me at this time of the day since I’m tired and it’s often dark and wet/cold so it takes something like this to get me out of the house. Of course once I’m riding around in the woods feeling alive and connected to the earth doing what I love, the thought of sitting on the sofa seems like a crazy alternative.

Weekends are a mixture of active and relaxing activity but intentionally without the routine of the week. The result has been that I have returned to pre desk job fitness and strength levels and I feel that both my brain and body are fuelled in an equal way. Of course I realise that having kids would make this much harder but not impossible if motivated enough….the key message here is that I encourage you to find something that works for you. If it means getting up earlier, preparing bags/food the day before, getting bike tyres pumped or climbing wall sessions booked it will all be worth it once you are in the groove – you really can have it all!!

2 July 2018

Have fun in the sun workout

summer workout

Do you remember when you were a kid and you played outside for the whole summer holiday? The sun and the summer went on forever and ever, well why does it have to be any different because you’re all grown up? This weekend we spent on Dorset’s Jurassic coast, on a Famous Five themed birthday weekend. No one thought consciously about getting exercise in or burning calories but we all spent the day outside charging around in the sunshine. We biked up and down hills and kayaked in the sea, the sun shone and we all had a jolly spiffing time.

What does it take to get 15 like-minded adults away from the grind of family, work and city lives to enjoy these simple pleasures? A few months of planning a big birthday and a lot of logistical juggling to get the kids sorted….and how often to we get the opportunity to do this? And should it be this hard?

Really we should join up these precious moments in the wonderful tapestry of our rich an diverse modern lives instead of them being peppered with days like these every 10 years! We need to remember what is important and include more of this in our day to day. How can we get together more often with those friends who make our cockles warm and get outside and run and laugh in the sunshine? Why do we have to be serious and mundane and how did that become what we are most of the time.

The train grinds to a halt as you get off into the rain on the platform and fight with the swell of commuters for a bus or cab to your grey concrete office building where you sit in front of a fluorescent screen all day. Punctuated with a rubbery lunchtime sandwich in plastic wrapping and a weak coffee from the machine in the hallway your cortisol levels steadily rise throughout the week until you hit Friday and decide to ‘treat’ yourself with sweet alcholic beverages and saturated fats until Monday arrives….OK so this is a bleak version of most people’s weekly reality but why are we mainly revolving around this format, why cant it be more like:

The week starts with an early morning jog along the seafront with dogs breathing in the fresh air and an effort at lunchtime to at least walk around town before heading home after work and making an effort to engage with people who you are stimulated by so that we don’t fall out at the end of the week feeling lucky and grateful to have got there but instead comfortably arrive at Friday with a full sense of wellness and all around health…..We all make choices, is it time to re-frame yours?

12 May 2018

E biking in Sardinia

Finally the sun has arrived on our epic (400km) cycle ride from the North (Alghero) to the South (Pula) of Sardinia. I have been too depressed until now to document our trip as the weather has literally drained our spirits away:

mountain biking

This was supposed to be our cycling path; we had to carry our bikes across the river that formed as the the rains have been torrential. Last week many of the roads were washed away, towns and businesses flooded, we found Sky news reporting in one we rode through as locals were frantically sand bagging their shop fronts!

We have hired electric bikes before and although it is a complete cheat in many ways it does really allow you to cover huge distance and see much more than you may ordinarily do….and they are so much fun…so we were delighted to see the sunshine yesterday at last:


Note my ‘delighted’ face!

The bikes mean that even if you are not a confident cyclist it is still possible to explore and get a real sense of adventure. They look like a normal bike except although they are significantly heavier with the motor and the battery on board; we had 10 gears which act like ordinary bike gears. Added to the gears you have an odometer into which is built a control for the amount of assistance you would like (eco, tour, sport or turbo). The odometer will also inform you of the range you have left in the battery if you were to drain it using the selected assistance level so that you can gauge how much or little you can rely on it until your next charge.

In eco mode the pedal assistance is quite mild but still noticeable, in particular up the hills where the assistance just takes the edge of the puff and pant. The assistance on any mode cuts out over 25km/hr which is to try and avoid you going uncontrollably fast (and a legal requirement I think as the brakes are only normal bike small disc brakes). As you increase the assistance level you can really feel the motor tugging you along and there are times where you feel like you really put very little in for example in sport or turbo modes on the flat! Which makes it really fun as you can accelerate very fast from a spot in these modes, added to which up a hill in turbo at 25km/h is hilarious! Especially when you overtake very serious road cyclists!!

The island is extremely varied; quite undulating and a mecca for off road mountain bikers with many short and long single tracks and cross country routes. But we have been mainly sticking to smooth tarmac paths and minor roads which has taken us through some sleepy towns. We stop when we see a nice cafe or restaurant, the food is wonderfully fresh and the people are very friendly, before hopping back on our steads and heading off….I highly recommend this form of transport, the mild exercise and the Italian food of course!

27 December 2013

Women’s European kickboxing title fight summary

So that you don’t have to scroll through this post to the end ill give you the details at the start; I lost on a split decision. This means that we didn’t knock each other out nor were the judges unanimous in their scoring. In fact of the 3 judges one had me win and 2 had my opponent win the fight.

Continue Reading

20 December 2013

The calm before the storm

imagesTomorrow night I fight for a European kickboxing title. I feel apprehensive having been out of the ring competitively for a while, my last fight was for a British title 8 years ago. But I have nothing to lose and everything to gain so feel peaceful in equal amounts. I have an audience full of friends – I have been touched by their support, especially the ones who have to travel to get there.

Challenge keeps life fresh and makes me feel alive, challenging myself is the hardest fight so this should be easy in comparison. I will of course write up the night here asap…

6 November 2013

Flight and fight


OK a brief (I’m sure you are not that interested in my personal training life?!) update:

Running speed is up for longer distances now – knocking out 8-10miles @ 7min 15sec averages this would give me a 1hr 35min half marathon if I ran it today. I would be pleased with the time, however I still have a couple of weeks of training left and think I may be able to do better and get closer to my 7 min mile pace for that distance.

In the meantime an opportunity to pursue my kickboxing training has materialised. I am planning on fighting for the vacant WKMA European women’s kickboxing title on the 21st December – with only 2 months to train for a 7 round full contact fight and a week away racing in Cyprus right in the middle I wasn’t sure if this was wise. However much consideration and discussion has gone into this and I am game on with nothing to loose!

So….without further finger tapping I am back off to the gym now – see ya

15 October 2013

Faster, but is it enough?

speedI feel training this week hasn’t really been what I wanted. I’ve missed a couple of runs that I wanted to get in and have felt like my sleep has been poor quality which has had an effect on the sessions I have done.

On the plus side I finally hit 7 mins per mile this week – it feels fast for me! I was only able to hold it for 4 miles, the idea of running 13 miles at this pace currently seems a little unrealistic, however I may just have time to work on that!

I need to do some more roadwork as I have been mainly training off road which I prefer, however the event is on hard ground rather than the soft ground I’ve been running on. It is easier to get better speed on road although I dislike the impact and unnatural environment.

The dogs featured a bit this week – on a tempo run and a hill session. They are amusing on the hills, it takes them about 30 mins before they realise that you are only going up and coming down again so they don’t need to follow you each time and can stand in the middle of the hill and still not lose sight of you!

Focus next week is on getting some longer distances in


9 October 2013

Training update


Training has gone so-so this week. I have started to worry on two counts; Firstly that the half marathon is the day after an 11km hill run and secondly that my half marathon time goal was only achieved by one female runner in this event last year and she was a Common wealth champion!

I managed to kick out a 1hr 20min 10 miler yesterday which although isn’t fast enough was entirely uphill for the first half and still would have given me a 1hr 45min half marathon time assuming an average pace of 8min miles….It’s 7min miles I need to be running so I’m remaining optimistic with 6 weeks training left!

Unfortunately my running companions (2 dogs) are unable to accompany me anymore, the older one who has featured heavily in the “running with wolves” blog series (see much earlier entries) is now 12 and arthritic so despite a huge desire on his part is unable to keep up for more than about 20mins. The other, a 5 year old collie cross who very often is perfect company for these sorts of sessions doesn’t cope well near traffic nor on a lead and I have started to run off AND on road to imitate the race route.

I don’t mind soul searching running, in fact I quite like it, but yesterday I somehow managed to set my Adidas mi coach to report my stats every 1 minute instead of every 10mins. As you can imagine, any thought process and or music track being interrupted every minute by a shrill voice telling you your speed and distance covered would become very annoying, especially as she seemed to take ages to report the info and there was hardly a gap between the end of one report and the start of the next. I practically dreamed in numbers last night!


29 August 2013

Tour de Champsaur



Arguably one of the most beautiful ways to see the valley of Champsaur in the southern French Alps is by bicycle. We decided to ride a slightly condensed version of the “tour de Champsaur” towards the end of August.

The weather has been perfect – almost cool for the time of year we’ve been told at around 25 degrees max and much cooler throughout the mornings until late lunch time.

So with little expectation we hopped on our hired bikes yesterday to start our day combining stages 1 and 2 of the traditional route meaning that we were embarking on a 50km ride with a 1600 metre ascent. I think that we didnt really understand quite what this meant – firstly as women on male cycle saddles, and secondly the challenge of ascending on alpine paths.

After about 2 hours we had covered 15km, which in itself was quite demoralising. But what was perhaps harder to swallow was the fact that it was really hard ascending chipped stone single track sometimes with inclines of 20 degrees – but having ascended we were often insulted with a descent on the other side – which almost made our lung burning, leg busting efforts seem in vein. Of course we knew that all metres up were chipping off the 1600 that we had to do that day.

By lunchtime we had covered 25km, we felt pleased to have cycled half of our journey given the challenges that we were presented. Our saddles were splitting us in half, this was a complete oversight and so we were unprepared with padding or vaseline either of which would have probably saved us. The terrain was undulating – stunning but none the less extremely undulating – I’m not even sure if this was actually what was so draining physically or whether it was the shards of rock that constituted a lot of the paths, but the combination made for tough cycling. As I pedalled madly in low gear up and up and up drive after drive of bumpy track I tried to remember what it had said in the brochure. I admit to reading “intermediate to advanced” in the brochure for the 6 day route and then asking them to join days together so that we could do the route in 3! I also remembered her suggesting it may be tough and then the bike hire man laughing at us and shaking our hands as he wished us “bon chance” when we told him what we were planning on our first day. And realised that I had no one but myself to blame for the fact that my bottom was now so raw I couldn’t even allow air to change pressure underneath it as I rose out of my saddle and into it, or that my shoulders felt like someone was tugging my upper arm out of my shoulder joint.

And so it was with great relief that we arrived at lunch where I proceeded to order and consume 2 main courses, much to the amusement of the hotel staff. Fortunately our afternoon was not as arduous as our morning cycle and after a puncture and a few choice words we ended up at our auberge just in time for dinner.

When we looked back at our long day we realised that the cycle although very challenging was totally perfect for us. It was stunning, jaw droppingly stunning. And the scenery changed constantly – so one minute we were cycling through grassy prairies and the next we were flying down crazy slate cliffs – people we passed were mountain folk, walkers we brushed shoulders with while we filled water bottles at mountain springs and other lovers of the outdoors – all a delight to exchange pleasantries with and often we would bump into them as our paths crissed and crossed.

Evening meals here are to die for, volumes are huge as they seem to understand the work you have done in order to arrive at the table, and of course it helps that we are in France where everything is full of butter and cream calories. Not.

Overall 10/10



25 July 2012

Taking life into my own hands at Bikram

My next instalment comes at day 65 of  84. Spurred to write this by a friend who asked me how I was getting on with my 3 month yoga/joint mobility/body weight circuit program. Her inference was that knowing my personality how in the hell was I lasting the course of such  inner strength training rather than my usual full on physical stuff. I replied truthfully which is that I have noticed terrific gains in range of movement and mobility since I started this, that I have now increased the intensity and sophistication of movement for the body weight circuits 5x since I started, way more than I set out to do. But that my mind was wandering during the yoga section and it was that section I wanted to improve upon. Hearing myself explain to her I’d added weight lifting and sprint training to my routine I couldn’t help be disappointed in myself weights and running is what I have always done, it keeps me in my comfort zone, I know it inside out. What’s wrong with me I mean how hard can it be to stick a poxy yoga program at the end of some flipping around??

The next day I signed up to 30 days of Bikram yoga. That will take me nearly to the end of my 3 month experiment and if I cant find the motivation to chuck a few poses into my routine I have a yoga school down my road that will make me do it. My sticking point with yoga is in it’s stillness-I tire mentally too easily, I get distracted and my mind wanders when I should centre it. I race through the poses without breathing correctly to get it over with so I can hop into the shower and get on with my day. I chose Bikram because it was supposed to be the more physical of the yoga varieties and less “hippy”. Let me tell you that if listening to a teacher whilst contorted discuss the merits of the poses massaging our ascending and descending intestines is not hippyish then I dread to think what a hippy class would be like. I managed not to laugh out loud, not because it didn’t seem ridiculous but because expending an electron of energy over what was required from us in that blistering heat definitely wouldn’t have been wise! After she told us we may become emotional upon exiting the camel pose I stopped listening and decided if I was going to come back there was no way I could listen to that.

On about day 45 of this experiment I managed to take a full face smack from an 11 year old at my boxing club! Somehow it caused further damage to a fragile area in my neck and a disc bulge that squashed a nerve running down my arm into my hand rendering 2 fingers completely numb ever since. Chiropractic treatment is gradually resolving the issue however the disc inflammation will reduce in its own sweet time, leaving me currently in a state of limited neck mobility.

About 20% of the poses in Bikram yoga entail full spinal extension with emphasis on looking behind you as you bend backwards. This is a horrific movement for me and causes intense discomfort. After that the compensation pose they get you into involves lying on your front with your head one way, ear to your mat. As well as this being nearly impossible for me it is the number one rule of chiropractic to avoid these positions with neck and back problems, so there was no way I was going to be able to play here either. Pushing so hard in the heat was one thing but damaging an already damaged area was all together another.

Leaving the studio I thanked the teacher…and although I will return and it does sound that I hated her, I felt that she did a fantastic job at motivation and instruction and seemed to have a great understanding and pedigree in yoga. As I walked out she told me that my neck injury (she saw it on my admission form but didn’t know what it was) would go away if I continued practising, I didn’t ask her where she plucked that wise advice from, but next time I’m able to mutter words upon exiting the studio I might tell her yoga cant save everyone but Ill give it a damn good shot before I’m beat!