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    VIP Fitness: Yoga On Top Of Tower Bridge

    If you want that VIP body but get bored of the traditional ways of working out then I have news about something that is going to make you reach for your sports kit.

    Taking exercise to new heights, I’ve just got back from a yoga class on top of the glass walkway on Tower Bridge.

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    I was on a glass walkway 138ft above the Thames (41 metres) while boats, cars and pedestrians were going about their business below me. At the start, I felt really squeamish but I was assured the walkways original steel lattice structure has been preserved under the glass so I wouldn’t fall to my death in a downward dog.

    Although when I sat on the floor, I did wonder if people were looking up at my bottom!

     

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    It was part of a class led by Billie Woodcraft, an experienced yoga teacher with her own business, Billie’s Yoga.

    The classes are kept small so we could all fit on the 11 metres long glass walkway and meant Billie could check we were in the right position (as you can see below)

     

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    This is what it’s possible to do (if you’re more flexible than me)

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    If you want to get involved (which I highly recommend) then Book your spot on the Tower Bridge website.

    Four classes were initially scheduled for February 16, February 23, March 2, March 9, but sold out within days. However, more sessions have now been scheduled for February 18, February 25, March 4, and March 11.

    Classes begin at 7.30am and last 50 minutes.

    Namsate!

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    VIP Fitness: London Marathon

     

    I’ve signed up for the Virgin London Marathon 2015 :)

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    Until a few years ago, the only running I did was to the bar when the barman shouted last orders. Then I was walking past a bar near my home in Bermondsey and stumbled across London City Runners – a free running club. I decided to join them and discovered that running could be an enjoyable way to de-stress plus it meant I could consume more champagne and chocolate as I’d be burning if off.

    I decided to sign up for my first marathon (these things are addictive)  because I was inspired by the celebrity runners, who were raising money for charity. My grandfather had just died following a stroke, shortly after my grandmother died after a stroke. I knew I wanted to raise money for The Stroke Association and I’d been aware of celebrities making money through running. As I’d just started running a couple of months previously it was an ambitious goal but I got round in under 4 hours. With more training I went on to do better times in the Istanbul and New York marathons, despite the hills and bridges on those courses.

    That’s the thing about running – the more you do, the more you learn. You learn about what trainers to buy, how to gradually increase training, how monitoring your heart rate stops you from hitting a wall, the importance of eating protein…I’m constantly finding out new things. This week – 12 weeks before the marathon – there was a lunch for the media at Roux, Parliament Square, the restaurant owned by marathon running chef Michel Roux Jr.

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    I grabbed the chef to get his top 5 running tips and rather excitingly, as I’ve always been a huge fan, I cornered Paula Radcliffe too. Paula ‘multiple marathon winner ‘ Radcliffe!

    Michel Roux Jr, photographed with me, advises:

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    (1) Eat fats! There is nothing wrong with butter or cream – your body needs this. (My body particularly adored his monkfish raviolo in chicken consomme – wow!)

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    (2) Avoid sugar at all costs. We’re starting to realise sugar is the worst food ever. I’ve known it for a while. It’s literally a killer.

    (3) Stretch. Before exercise, after exercise, when you’re watching TV. You can never stretch too much!

    (4) Stop as soon as you get injured or you can make it worse, speaking from experience.

    (5) Plan it into your weekly schedule. If you don’t commit to what days and what times you’re running, life will get in the way and you might get distracted from your running.


    Paula Radcliffe advises:

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    (1) Follow a training plan. You can find these online. Google your distance and time and ‘plan’ and you’ll find what you need to do to reach your goal.

    (2) Warm up and warm down. I know it sounds stupid, but if your muscles don’t warm up you are more likely to get injured.

    (3) Buy a foam roller – your muscles need relaxing. If you only do it for five mins a day its better than nothing.

    (4) If you’re training for a big distance then you need at least one sports massage a month.

    (5) If you’re aiming for a certain time then you need to include track running into your sessions to build up your speed. You have to do sets of 200m or 400m with a short rest in between. You need to practise running fast to achieve  it.

    The Virgin London Marathon will take place on 25 April 2015. Visit the Virgin London Marathon website for training guides and spectator information.

    Keep track of my progress by checking out the running section of Live Like a VIP. I’ll be writing a couple of posts a week about what exercises I’m doing with my trainer, the GB triathlete Gary Spencer.

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    VIP Running Training: Anti-Oxidants

    On 16 November 2014  I will be running a marathon. I’m travelling to Istanbul to run the only marathon that crosses two continents (Europe and Asia) and I’m aiming for a Personal Best. This will be tough given that I ran the New York Marathon in 2013 in 3hours 36 minutes, but I’m going to train as smart as I can, have the most efficient kit and treat my body nicely on rest days. I’m also keeping a running diary packed with new things I’m bringing into my routine. Today I’m looking at anti-oxidants and dietary nitrates.

    ‘Anti-oxidants’ and ‘nitrates’ sounds pretty scary, doesn’t it? The pre-Marathon Zoe would bury her head in the sand if she heard a word she didn’t understand, but I’ve been doing a lot of research this time round and these two words keep popping up again and again.

    30ml-Sachet-Box_Open_Angled_2014CherryActive is a way to get anti-oxidants and top sportspeople have raved about it, so I felt I needed to see what the fuss about. The research I did suggested that we need anti-oxidants for recovery. Exercise, especially endurance events, causes free radicals which can lead to cell damage and disease and even ageing. However, anti-oxidants fight the free radicals and strengthens the immune system.

    Of course, you can get anti-oxidants in fruit and vegetables but a 30ml serving of Cherry Active gives you about the same free radical quenching ability as the equivalent of over 20 typical portions of fruit and vegetables. It’s super simple to drink and portable. Add the sachet to your water bottle and you can get it into you straight after the gym. A serving has approx 100cal, which is less than a typical sports drink like Lucozade or Gatorade and those don’t have the same anti-oxidant properties.

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    I wasn’t sure what to expect from the taste as it’s rare that things that are good for you are palatable but this was absolutely delicious! I’ve always loved the taste of cherries and this tasted like fresh cherries – the summery ripe British ones, not the ones that have been imported in and lost their taste on the plane. YUM! I love running anyway, most of the time, but it might give me a lift while I’m out to think I have a glass of something tasty waiting for me at the end.

    Now let’s move on to nitrates, which can be found in CherryActive’s sister product, BeetActive.

    30ml_BeetActive_Concentrate_Front_2014_WEBThe research I did suggested this supplement could help me perform better in the marathon. Taking before running (as opposed to after like CherryActive) it could improve my marathon time by making me a more efficient athlete.

    Consuming dietary nitrates can increase natural nitric oxide (NO) production by the body. Nitric NO works by relaxing and widening blood vessels, so blood pressure is reduced and blood flow is increased to organs and tissues – delivering increased oxygen and nutrients. Also,  NO can reduce the damage that can build up from oxidation during exercise so it helps with recovery and prevents against lactic acid build-up.

    It will also turn urine purple, something Sir Chris Hoy has Tweeted about :) But then look at all the medals he’s won – its worth it!

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    The research I’ve done also suggests to take the drinks in advance of the race so I’ve started straight away. I have a week to get it going round my system. The science part of it makes sense, now lets see how it works in practise!

    Visit the CherryActive website for more details and articles about the benefits of anti-oxidants and nitrates.

    Consuming dietary nitrates can increase natural nitric oxide (NO) production by the body. Nitric NO works by relaxing and widening blood vessels, so blood pressure is reduced and blood flow is increased to organs and tissues – delivering increased oxygen and nutrients – See more at: http://www.scienceinsport.com/sports-nutrition/sis-endurance-nutrition-sis-go-energy-nutrition-articles/nitrates-for-endurance/#sthash.SOoWIcFq.dpuf
    Consuming dietary nitrates can increase natural nitric oxide (NO) production by the body. Nitric NO works by relaxing and widening blood vessels, so blood pressure is reduced and blood flow is increased to organs and tissues – delivering increased oxygen and nutrients – See more at: http://www.scienceinsport.com/sports-nutrition/sis-endurance-nutrition-sis-go-energy-nutrition-articles/nitrates-for-endurance/#sthash.SOoWIcFq.dpuf
    Consuming dietary nitrates can increase natural nitric oxide (NO) production by the body. Nitric NO works by relaxing and widening blood vessels, so blood pressure is reduced and blood flow is increased to organs and tissues – delivering increased oxygen and nutrients – See more at: http://www.scienceinsport.com/sports-nutrition/sis-endurance-nutrition-sis-go-energy-nutrition-articles/nitrates-for-endurance/#sthash.SOoWIcFq.dpuf
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    VIP Running Training: Nutrition

    On 16 November 2014  I will be running a marathon. I’m travelling to Istanbul to run the only marathon that crosses two continents (Europe and Asia) and I’m aiming for a Personal Best. This will be tough given that I ran the New York Marathon in 2013 in 3hours 36 minutes, but I’m going to train as smart as I can, have the most efficient kit and treat my body nicely on rest days. I’m also keeping a running diary packed with new things I’m bringing into my routine. Today I’m looking at nutrition, in particular healthy snacks and superfoods.

    It’s important to get your diet right if you’re training for an endurance challenge. If you eat too much fat or sugar then all the training won’t stop you from gaining weight. If you don’t eat enough then you leave your body open to illness and injury. Super foods are a way of protecting your body and Creative Nature has been one of the leading protagonists in the super foods world for over six years. 

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    When I hear the word super food I think of something that’s good for me but tasteless or with a taste that makes me grimace (eg Wheatgrass shots).  But I honestly think the Heavenly Cacao bar with goji berries tasted just as good, if not better, than a chocolate bar. With a chocolate bar, I always feel a bit guilty after I’ve eaten it and the sugar makes me feel a bit sick. With the cacao bar, I felt energised. The goji berries were a great contrast to the rich chocolatey taste and it was lovely and moist, just like a brownie but with about a quarter of the calories (each bar has just 130 Kcals).

    I think a good pre-marathon strategy is to reduce calories while getting as many nutrients in your body as possible. Now that mid-afternoon chocolate bar that I find myself reaching for every afternoon may give me a short-term buzz but it’s not giving me any nutritional benefit and its got twice as many calories as one of these bars. There are four flavours and I’ve tried every single one and photographed them so you know what you’ll get. The cacao above is my favourite, closely followed by the Tropical Treat bar with ginger and pau d’Arco tea.

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    Eating this bar does make you feel like you’re on a tropical island somewhere – all the ingredients are raw and 100% natural and you can tell. What’s more it’s naturally detoxifying and great for the digestive system.

    The Blissful Berry bar is award winning, voted Tastiest Cold Pressed Superfood Snack Bar of 2014 in the Good Taste awards.

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    It’s literally jam-packed with berries – goji berries, cranberries and a hint of strawberry. This makes it high in anti-oxidants and also  taste lovely and sweet even though there’s no added sugar, sweeteners or preservatives. Therefore it keeps you feeling fuller for longer as there is no sugar crash.

    Finally, there’s also Sublime Seed. This is good if you need some extra protein as it contains hemp protein and peanuts. It would make an ideal post workout snack – you could pack it in your gym bag and eat it straight after your workout as it’s recommended to eat within 30 minutes after finishing activity. However, you need to like peanuts as it has a strong peanut taste.

    – seeds-creativenature

    I thought I would miss my mid-afternoon chocolate bar when I decided to swap it for a mid-afternoon Creative Nature bar but I don’t miss it one bit. So much so that  I’m going to continue eating these bars after the marathon. They’re good for me and tasty so why wouldn’t I?

    And that’s not all! If you’re training for something or simply going to too many Christmas parties and find yourself reliant on caffeine then Creative Nature has another alternative. This is guarana powder.

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    You add 3g to a protein shake or your morning smoothie and it really perks you up. I added some to greek yogurt, which wasn’t bad at all. It has a consistency like cinnamon or cocoa powder so it dissolves into the yogurt or smoothie easily. It did turn my yogurt a bit brown but it didn’t detract from the taste and it made me feel amazing. There’s no added caffeine either so it doesn’t dehydrate you like coffee can.

    There’s still more! Have you heard of pink Himalayan salt?

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    White table salt is devoid of nutrients and used for flavouring purposes without giving anything back. However, pink Himalayan salt contains the full spectrum of 84 minerals and trace elements just like Mother Earth intended. It is an unrefined, unprocessed “raw” salt that’s hand-mined from abundant salt caves that were formed 250 million years ago as ocean salt settled in certain geologic pockets around the earth.

    Runners, or anyone that is exercising a lot, needs to replace the salt they lose through sweat in the body. Table salt is not providing your body with what it needs – the minerals your body needs can only be found in pink salt. It tastes just the same (to me) and it looks so much prettier. I was told you can also bathe with it, but I haven’t tried this yet as I like to have Epsom salt baths after a run to help my muscles.

    To sum up, I’ve learned that cutting out on calories can mean improving on taste and I’ve learned how to keep up my energy levels and mineral levels while I exercise. Bring on the marathon – I’m feeling good about myself now! Check out the Creative Nature website for more info and to buy online.

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    VIP Fitness: Edge Cycle

    Six weeks ago, I wrote that I had found a spinning studio that I not only enjoy but I look forward to going to. Looking forward to exercise. Am I mad? Yes, actually, I am mad keen about Edge Cycle.

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    It’s not a place you come to pose and look pretty (as you can see above) but once you’ve finished a 45 minute class – or an hour on Saturdays – you’ll have burnt close to 1,000 calories. After you’ve finished class, you’ll look pretty – slimmer, healthier and happier.

    I started doing Edge because I’m training for a marathon in Istanbul and hoping to get a personal best. The last time I ran a marathon was in November 2013, when I ran 3: 36 in New York. Since then, I’ve managed to put on 10lbs in weight and although some of it is muscle, every lb will add minutes to my time. My thinking was that if I can burn the calories at Edge it will make running easier. But the more classes I did, the more I found that calorie-burn isn’t the only benefit of going to Edge Cycle and the trainers put my obsession with weight into perspective. Let me explain the benefits in a list:

    (1) It’s a full body workout

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    Edge is the only studio to offer Bootcamp classes as well as straight cycling classes. In bootcamp, half the time is spent on the floor doing squats, arm exercises and core-strengthening moves. Above you can see Edge trainer Belinda Shipman in a plank – there are quite a lot of these helping you get rid of that muffin-top.

     (2) The trainers specialise in indoor cycling and they’re inspirational

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    Edge’s instructors aren’t just qualified to teach (unlike at some other spin studios) they are super-qualified and are champions in their own right. I never knew that there were levels of qualifications for spinning but there is and the Edge team has the best you can get. Belinda has taught indoor cycling for more than 20 years and she is a triathlete. Gary Spencer is a GB triathlete. They’re all super lean and muscly and this makes me want to do what they do because it’s worked for them.

    Sitting down with Gary after a class, he told me that the important factors for marathon running was hydration and relaxation and this made me think. If I’m stressing about my weight or my kit or what everyone around me is doing then I’m not going to get a good time. I went into Edge hoping to sculpt my body…I ended up improving my mind as well as my body.

    (3) It’s like a nightclub with lights and great music…most of the time

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    I mean, look at the photo above. The lights change colour, the music can go up super-loud and there are lots of gorgeous people. If you wear anything a bit fluorescent (or have a fluroscent water bottle) it will shine in the dark. All of the trainers have different music so maybe check the Edge cycle website to check up in advance. The reason I say most of the time is they do like to sneak in a bit of cheese at the end. Think Elton’s ‘I’m Still Standing’ in Gary’s class or maybe Taylor Swift or Justin Bieber in Belinda’s class. When you hear this, you know the hard work is over.

    (4) You never know what to expect 

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    In one class Gary, above, turned up in face paint. That was the class where he split the room into ‘A team’ and ‘other A team’ and made us do step ups on the stage as well as squats, squats, more squats and boxing punches. In another class, Belinda decided to make it 15 minutes longer. Some bootcamp trainers like to give you two short floor sessions whereas others focus more on bike work. At Edge, you’ll never get bored. There’s always a nervous feeling before class…which translates to more endorphins afterwards.

    (5) You’ll work harder than you thought you would and find out you’re stronger than you imagined.

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    At Edge you can set your own pace – there are no strict rules – but seeing everyone else work hard is motivation. Also, the trainers can spot if you’re working to your limits and may well come and turn up your resistance. With the rhythm from the music and the lights something happens to make you connect with the bike and before you know it you’re sweating, even if you planned to have an easy session. The more you come, the more you’ll find yourself hitting higher speeds (up to 130 rpm) and turning up the resistance because your legs are stronger. Trust me, this does happen!

    (6) Most importantly – you get results.

    I lost 5lbs in 6 weeks. (It would have been more if I stopped drinking Champagne, but I only have myself to blame for that. I do have to Live Like a VIP sometimes…)

    After the marathon, I will be back at Edge. If you want to lose weight, feel good about life and find an exercise you enjoy not dread, then I hope I’ll see you in class. Visit the Edge Cycle website for more details.

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    VIP Running Training: Warmth

    On 16 November 2014  I will be running a marathon. I’m travelling to Istanbul to run the only marathon that crosses two continents (Europe and Asia) and I’m aiming for a Personal Best. This will be tough given that I ran the New York Marathon in 2013 in 3hours 36 minutes, but I’m going to train as smart as I can, have the most efficient kit and treat my body nicely on rest days. I’m also keeping a running diary packed with new things I’m bringing into my routine. Today I’m looking at clothing / layers.

    In my head I know the key to improving my PB is training more and training smarter but in reality it’s not easy to fit into my day. I find it difficult to run at lunchtime as I can’t justify taking an hour or so (plus changing time) out of the working day and I can’t train after work as I don’t have a traditional 9 to 5. Therefore I have always done my training runs in the morning…as long as it’s not too dark or too wet.

    However, as I live in London and my marathon is happening in November, if I stayed in every time it was dark / cold I wouldn’t get out at all. Grudgingly I drag myself out of bed and potter about the house, trying to justify reasons why I can go back to bed. This is wasting time. If only I had something to make me look forward to running more.

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    What makes you look forward to running? For me it’s a combination of an inspiring running music playlist (which I’ll cover in a separate blog post) and new gear so I feel good and fresh. If I have new running clothes and I lay them out the night before, it does motivate me to get my brain and body into gear quicker. It means I don’t have to think about things, which means no to time to think negative thoughts :)

    At first glance, the Kalenji 3-in-1 Elioplay running jacket (above) looks like a pretty standard jacket, right? Although I love the colours, it didn’t seem that different to any of the other items of running clothing I own..until I examined it closer. Look what I found:

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    You can use it as a running jacket when you start off, then as you warm up you can take off the sleeves and use it as a gilet. However, you could also add the sleeves to whatever running top you normally use and wear it as a bolero.

    Here I am trying it out before a morning’s run. Excuse my lack of make-up and bad lighting – this was taken at around 6am!

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    The jacket has a pocket – for energy gels or a credit card / coins. (I always run with this just in case I need to stop for water / get a bus in an emergency). But most importantly, I found you can rip off the sleeves without needing to stop, which is good if you are timing your training run. There’s even a pocket at the back that you can put your sleeves in.

    At £44.99, it works out cheaper than the comparable Nike and Adidas jackets and it’s more functional. I’ll definitely be taking this to Istanbul with me – wish me luck!

    If you need some rain / wind protection on your own runs then you can find this jacket at Decathlon Happy Running!

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    VIP Running Training: Fuel

    On 16 November 2014  I will be running a marathon. I’m travelling to Istanbul to run the only marathon that crosses two continents (Europe and Asia) and I’m aiming for a Personal Best. This will be tough given that I ran the New York Marathon in 2013 in 3hours 36 minutes, but I’m going to train as smart as I can, have the most efficient kit and treat my body nicely on rest days. I’m also keeping a running diary packed with new things I’m bringing into my routine. Today I’m looking at fuel.

    It’s a medically proven fact that our muscles can only store enough glycogen to fuel two hours of exercise at marathon pace. Not even Mo Farah can run a marathon in two hours and most of us are looking at a time of around 4 hours, which means we’re probably going to need to take some fuel on mid-race.

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    I say probably as I have run three marathons before and never had a fuelling strategy. In both my London marathons (3 hours 56 mins and 3 hours 52 mins) I was boosted by jelly babies and jelly beans handed out by spectators in the crowd. It’s the only time I would accept sweets from a stranger – I was desperate! New York (3 hrs 36) I enrolled in the marathon late, with two months to go, so my main priority was increasing distance and I left it too late to try a gel. But having researched fuel and how our bodies keep going during a marathon in full, I do believe I can get a better marathon time when I run Istanbul in November 2014 if I give my body more power to get round the 26.2 mile course.

    I’m a complete novice so the first step of my fuel plan involved going to a specialist running shop and looking at the gels and blocks available. It blew my mind so I left with nothing and went back to my computer to do some research.

    The first thing I typed into Google was:
    Do I need gels before a marathon?

    This took me to a lot of forums, which I had to read a few times to work out what people were saying. People have strong opinions about their favourite methods. However, I deduced the following things:

    1) When your muscle glycogen is depleted then you don’t always need gels. You can get energy from burning fat and using that as fuel as well as taking on a gel. If you can train your body to use glycogen slower while using more body fat then you will be able to hold marathon pace for longer. The key to this is training, especially long slow runs as the body is better at using fat during low-intensity exercise (see here for an interesting article)

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    2) If you want to run at a faster pace it’s harder for the body to metabolise its fat stores. Therefore taking on glycogen in the form of gels is advantageous. However, you need to practise. When your body is stressed the digestive system can shut down so if you haven’t practised taking on small amounts of fuel then your body could reject the gels.

    3) Gels give you a psychological boost. When you’re down and feel like you want to give up then a gel will wake you up in under 15 mins and it will be more of a powerful boost than you could get from a sweet like a jelly baby or jelly bean. As I want to run at 3 hours 30 mins, which is a fast pace, I’m going to need a gel and therefore I should practise with one.

    Then I asked Google:

    What is the difference between Shot Bloks and Gels?

    1)     Clif Shot Bloks are solid so some runners find the texture more pleasant than a gel. It’s like eating a stronger version of a gummy bear and they do taste like candy. However, they do require more hydration than gels as your stomach needs water to digest them or it’ll lead to cramps.

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    2)     The benefits of gels mean they don’t need to be chewed. It’s not easy to chew and run fast

    3)     Why not try both? It’s recommended to consume between 100 – 200 calories per hour of the race (more if you weigh more). Eating the same thing is boring I find, so why not start off with a blok and switch to a gel?
    Clif shot bloks are nutrionally designed so that a packet is equal to two energy gels. Half a packet has 100 calories so you can break off three cubes and nibble on them for a decent source of fuel. Alternatively, if your stomach feels upset you can have one or two and then put it back in your pocket, which you can’t do with a gel as you have to eat all the gel at once.

    I wasn’t sure what to expect when I tentatively broke open the packet on my first training run, but I ended up enjoying the taste of the mountain berry flavour. So much so that I looked forward to the following hour when I was legitimately able to consume the other half of the packet.

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    Also, I was intrigued to discover that I got a psychological boost  almost straight away.  This was especially useful on the second shot consumption because I had run 14 miles at that point and I was planning on doing another 6.

    On the following week’s training run, I tried a Clif shot gel that contained espresso coffee. As a complete novice when it comes to gels I have to say I was shocked at how sticky the gel was and I was a bit frightened at the idea of trying to suck a sticky goo out of a packet. However, after a couple of minutes it was all worth it as I felt the caffeine kick in. The  buzz from the caffeine lasted quite a long time, probably longer than the lift from the shot bloks. There was a couple running in front of me and the caffeine even gave me a kick to push past them and overtake. I felt energised for a lot longer afterwards than the boost I got from the Bloks and I later found out this was because the espresso gel contained 2 shots of coffee, while half a shot blok only has 1/2 shot of coffee.

    I’m going to keep practising a lot more and my next run will involve a more constant fuelling strategy, using both the gels and the bloks as I’m concious I still fade towards the end. On race day I think I’m going to start with a gel, to get it out the way, and move on to a blok that I actually enjoy eating. I feel if I have something to look forward to it will make the race go quicker.

    These Clif products are all currently in my house, so I have a selection to choose from. (The flapjack style products are more for cycling, as well as being a good ‘recovery’ food).

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    Am I doing the right thing? If you know more about running and training for a long distance race than I do then please message me on Twitter @livelikeavip or use the comments box below.

     

     

     

     

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    VIP Running Training: Trainers

    In a little over four weeks – 16 November 2014 –  I will be running a marathon. I’m travelling to Istanbul to run the only marathon that crosses two continents (Europe and Asia) and I’m aiming for a Personal Best. This will be tough given that I ran the New York Marathon in 2013 in 3hours 36 minutes, but I’m going to train as smart as I can, have the most efficient kit and treat my body nicely on rest days.

    I’ll be updating this training diary regularly – at least twice a week – with details of things I’m trying to improve my running. Each blog post will focus on a different tactic. In my first blog, I wanted to start with trainers.

    adidas-boost1

    Trainers are a subject close to my heart because I learned the hard way. In 2009 I ran the London Marathon with an inflamed Achilles tendon. This was because I trained for the run in some Reebook classics. I’m not even sure they were sports trainers, but back then I thought all trainers did the same job.

    How wrong could I be? It wasn’t until the doctor slapped his forehead and laughed out loud at me that I realised I could have avoided my Achilles injury with better trainers. I felt so dumb!

    My injury occurred 3 weeks before the marathon and while I did go and buy a pair of proper trainers (more about that later), the pain was so bad I could hardly put my foot on the floor. My pre-marathon training consisted of watching my diet so the lack of training wouldn’t make me heavier, putting my feet up with frozen peas up every night and taking a lot of ibrurpofen. On race day, my mental determination powered me round to get a time of 3 hrs 56.

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    Some people would give up with a sub 4 hour marathon, but I knew I never gave that race my all. I was injured, my trainers hadn’t been worn in and I had no idea about how to pace myself during a race. So, I vowed to do it again.

    In New York I ran 3 hours 36 minutes thanks to speed training at Barry’s Bootcamp, (below), a London gym that mixes treadmill sprints at 12.5 mph with resistance and weight-based work on the floor to strengthen muscles. My legs started to feel what it was like to run an 8 minute mile, which I’d need for a time of 3 hours 30, and I managed to get up to 19 miles in a pre-marathon training run.

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    In the New York marathon hydration was a big issue for me as there is an art to sipping water from cups as opposed to bottles (and I’ll blog about that in a separate post). My trainers, Ascs, kept me injury free but I started to wonder if Asics was the right brand for me.

    I think there is a lot of trust involved in buying trainers. I bought the Ascics in a sports store after walking in and saying ‘I’m running a marathon and I have no idea what to buy.’ If you went to a garage and you said the same thing they’d probably try to sell you the most expensive thing without really caring if it suits you. Now I’m not in any way implying that’s went on in that sports shop as they did film me running on a treadmill to assess my gait (apparently I’m neutral) and measured my feet with a very technical electronic device but I was only given the choice between Asics or Brooks. And as Asics had slightly more cushioning and I had the history of injurt with my Achilles, I went for the Asics.

    However, I started hearing things about Adidas Boost trainers, which also promised to offer cushioning. Why did I not get offered those? Also, why did I not get offered Nike? I did some research online and found some information about Adidas Boost that enticed me:

    • Three-times more temperature resistant than the standard EVA foam commonly used in most running shoes over +40 to -20 degree tests. Guaranteeing a more consistent running feel.
    • Upper arch with adidas Techfit technology, providing optimal comfort and support to the entire foot while in motion.
    • Energy capsules in the midsole store and release so efficiently that performance benefits will be noticeable from the moment you set off.

    So I got some Boost 2.0. How amazing is the packaging? (It gave me a pyschological boost!)

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    I’m pretty sure they worked immediately to boost my physical performance as well.  In fact, I had  a result within 30 minutes of tying the laces for the first time. I did a 5k race in 22:54 which is a PB by 12 seconds and the only time I’ve cracked the 23 minute mark.

    Of course, this could also be down to the fact I’m also training hard so I’m getting quicker. Therefore,I put the trainers to the test the following day when I did a 17 mile run. I could definitely feel more bounce in the heel, which boosted me psychologically as it was such a new sensation.  I haven’t fully worn them in yet, and I’m not sure if I will have to change my running stride to take advantage of this heel boost (eg kick back more and lift my leg higher at the front) but it’s something I’m working on. I’ll keep you posted.

    If you like these trainers, they’re currently available at Wiggle in pink and black or turquoise and white.

    If you have any tips please tweet me @livelikeavip You can also follow my progress on Instagram livelikeavip

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    Train Like A VIP: Fight Klub Review

    Fitness instructor Troy Dureh is a record breaker. He’s broken a world record for teaching the largest ever boxing lesson with more  than  500 people turning  up to take part. He’s not just any fitness instructor, he’s got groupies. That’s totally VIP!

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    At Live Like a VIP. we always like to try the best and so we jumped at the opportunity to take a Fight Klub class at Gymbox Holborn. This is where Fight Klub began in 2003 when Troy was asked to think of new ideas for classes. He realised that while people like making combat with Tae-Bo, Body Combat and Boxercise, they did not always like being hit when holding pads. He introduced the concept of freestanding punchbags and Fight Klub was born.

    Now it’s a global brand in five countries with over 30,000 people per week participating in lessons in their local gyms and health clubs. They’ve just launched a day of dance and fitness classes spread over six hours called Super Saturday, which is touring the UK (inc Ashford 18 October, Heston 22 November and Stevenage on 28 March 2015). Visit the Fight Klub website to find out more dates.

     

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    So what can you expect? At Fight Klub, you’ll do various high-tempo combinations of jabs, hooks, front and side-kicks, then squats, sprints on the spot, a few sit-ups and then more punching and kicking.  Two or three people share a punch bag so you feel like if you stop to take a breath you’re letting your team down. Your heart-rate is operating at the max, which means you’re burning tons of calories :)

    What I also liked is that this was that Troy, the instructor, seemed to burn just as much energy as the rest of us in the class. He’s constantly moving round, appearing next to you to check you’re doing it correctly, shouting the rhythm of the moves and generally lifting the atmosphere in the class to a frenzied high. There’s a genuine nightclub atmosphere with the added bonus you can punch someone without getting arrested. Just imagine your enemy / ex-boyfriend on the punchbag and the class has a different twist! Oh, and if you see someone near you punching a bag hard you’ll probably want to punch it harder (or is that just me being competitive?)

     

    FightKlub

    The classes last 45 minutes and it’s a full body workout with all the punching, kicking, squatting and sit-ups.

    Follow @Fight_Klub on Twitter to find out when they will be near you or book tickets now if you live near Ashford or Heston (Hounslow). Tweet @livelikeavip or tag us in Instagram livelikeavip and let us know how you get on!

     

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    Train Like A VIP: Jim Kerr Bootcamp

    If you find it a chore to fit exercise into your weekly routine then maybe the exercise you do isn’t fun enough? While exercise is a must if you want a VIP body, it doesn’t have to be like medicine. I’m on a mission to find ways of working out that I actually look forward to attending.

    In London, I’ve heard several friends talk about Jim Kerr’s Bootcamp. He offers several ways of training – group classes and private one-on-one tuition – but the one thing that’s consistent is he’ll get you doing exercises you have never done before. I tried a one-on-one session in Pure Fitness Shoreditch.

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    At first glance, I thought it looked like more of a movie set than a gym. This is because there were markings on the floor, two ropes known as battleropes (which I’ll explain more about later), a weighted jacket that looked like a bulletproof vest, gymnastics rings and a giant cinema style screen by the treadmills, meaning that you can feel like you’re part of a music video or the news as you warm up.

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    We did quite a traditional warm-up with squats, star jumps and burpees until my heart was pounding. I probably wouldn’t have pushed myself that hard on my own, which is probably the point of having a trainer.  Jim said he wanted to give me a full body workout and my heart sank…as I thought that meant I would have to work super hard and it would be a sinister process.

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    We started with the legs, as I balanced a weighted bar on my back for walking lunges. The markings on the floor made it easier to mentally work out how far I had to go. Jim spotted my technique and suggested improvements and if I did something right there was praise. I found this so much better than those scary, nasty, always-shouty bootcamp classes!

    Lifting the bar above my shoulders made it all more difficult but when I heard it was good for the butt I gritted my teeth and carried on. I would never have thought to pick up a bar like this if I was on my own, I would have been way too scared! But after a few reps I realised I may actually be stronger than I thought.

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    With my legs burning, it was time for the upper body workout with battleropes. Jim demonstrated the correct starting technique.

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    Then he showed me the wave making movement. The idea is to lift it up high at then slam it down. It works out the legs and glutes as well as you squat when you slam it down…

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    Another option is to incorporate a jump into the movement, which is even more work for the legs!

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    If you follow me on Instagram LiveLikeaVIP (and if not, then why not?) you’ll see a video of my attempts. Admittedly, I was shocking, which you may also be able to guess from the photo below, but everyone has to start somewhere, right? As I said I’ve never done this before and I loved the challenge!

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    The ropes made me work up a serious sweat but it didn’t end there! We did a couple of sets of Tabata training, which is 20 seconds of extremely hard work and 10 seconds of rest. In both sets, we did one exercise like situps and then one like squat jumps and repeated it all for four minutes. We even did a Tabata set on the battleropes, making waves for 20 seconds then doing squat thrusts. When was the last time you ever did Tabata on your own at the gym?

    I think what made this fun is both the variety of equipment and the variety of exercises – I never knew what was coming next! There was never any down-time, which meant the session passed quickly and I was almost a bit sad when it was over as I wanted to see what Jim had planned next.

    If you want to make exercise more fun, then visit  Jim Kerr’s bootcamp website to see what packages are on offer. There are outdoor bootcamps, bootcamps for new mums that offer a lot more variety than traditional mum bootcamps focused on abs, plus the one-on-one sessions in the state of the art gym. Tweet us @livelikeavipif you have any questions.

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