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    The AJ Bell London Triathlon 2016

    How was your weekend? What did you do? Today, I’m able to answer those questions with something more interesting than usual as I completed the Olympic Distance at the AJ Bell London Triathlon. This may be the second time I’ve done the event (catch up on my first blog post here) but it’s the first time I’ve done it since becoming a mother just 17 weeks ago.

    Or is it? Unbeknown to me, I was four weeks pregnant when I did the same triathlon in 2015 but at that time my baby was the size of a poppy seed inside a fit, rested and trained body. This time my body’s had nine months of being stretched and kicked, followed by major abdominal surgery with an emergency c-section and then a distinct lack of sleep due to a newborn’s demanding milk schedule.

    Anyway,  I did it and I have a medal to show it:

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    So how did I do it? First of all, I was highly motivated by some goals:
    1) I enjoyed the triathlon last year and wanted to get a better time
    2) I enjoy the training. I find that exercise cheers me up and makes me feel human and I don’t want to neglect myself just because I’ve had a baby
    3) I was getting married 7 days before the triathlon and needed the training to help me shape up before my big day. I ended up losing almost 2 stone of baby weight in the 12 weeks that I trained.

    Secondly, I treated each distance as a unique event with a little break in between. This is reflected in the amount of time I spent in transition because I liked to sit down and have a rest and an energy bar or gel before biking and before running. This made me feel rested and it broke up the 3 hours that I was doing instead exercise. If I did it again, I’d probably have less of a rest as that amount of time in between disciplines did affect my overall time and some of that rest time was unnecessary.

    Finally, my third ‘general’ tip to anyone who is thinking of doing a triathlon and isn’t particularly fit is to just get on with it. On the day, I didn’t feel particularly healthy at all. Our start time was 710am, which meant we needed to be at ExCel London for 530am and this affected my sleep. I had a nightmare that I’d overslept and missed the start and found it difficult to rest after that. There was a lot of clock-watching that night and worrying!

    The lack of sleep meant that I felt physically sick by the time I started the swim. There’s a race briefing while you wait to be led down to the water and I wanted to rip off my wetsuit and go back to the hotel for a little sleep before driving to get my son at his grandparents. I also felt a bit selfish leaving my son with his grandparents so I could do an event and I felt nervous because I wasn’t entirely sure how my body would react to this endurance event.

    Before the swim, participants jump off a jetty into the cold waters of London Docklands and it was super cold. However, in hindsight I think that’s a good thing because it made me focused. My head cleared and I told myself that all I had to do was get up and down the water and then I could have a chocolate chip bar in transition (have you tried Clif bars – they’re sooo good!)

    Clif bar

    Last year, I visited Shepperton Lake to do open water swimming every week between May and August. This year, I only visited it twice because it was difficult to find someone to look after the baby at 7am when the lake opens and because it does take 30 mins in the car to get there plus 30 mins back plus an hour to swim and I’m not that much of a selfish mother to do it every week. However, I did make it to the indoor swimming pool each week to do 1500m or 2000m and I pushed myself hard during these sessions. I’d only done a bit of front crawl during pregnancy and so I was able to see my time improve with each session. I started off doing 13 mins plus for a set of 500m and got it down to under 12 mins per set – which would be more than 3 mins over 1500m. And it worked out as I ended up doing 1500m in just 32 mins on the day, which was 3 minutes faster than in 2015. I was so happy! Open-water swim practise is very important as you need to prepare psychologically for the dark, smelly water plus learn how to make the most of the buoyancy of your wetsuit. I would have gone to Shepperton Lake more often if I’d had the chance, but I’d have done the indoor sessions too. Last year, I only did open water training and although it’s a beautiful place to visit, it clearly wasn’t as effective as having an indoor and an outdoor session in training….

    shepperton

    But then after transition and my energy bar, it was time for the bike and I let myself down on that. If you don’t cycle much, then it will show in your time. To be perfectly honest, I’ve never enjoyed cycling. If you read my 2015 blog post about the AJ Bell London triathlon, you’ll know that I only learned cycling because of the triathlon, which is quite embarrassing. I was 32 and learning to ride a bike after a period of 22 years when I gave up after a childhood crash.

    Anyway, to cut a long story short, I went very slowly on the bike, mainly because I was frightened about crashing. My husband had fitted a speedometer on my bike, as he was worried about me going too slowly – I’m that bad! He told me to make sure I was above 12mph at all times and then I’d finish in 2 hours. The route is from the ExCel centre to Westminster and then another loop around the ExCel centre and if I didn’t finish it in that time, they were opening the roads to the traffic and stopping cyclists. This motivation made me complete the cycling in around 1 hr. 45. This is terrible when compared to my husbands time of 1 hr 07, but it means a lot to me. I didn’t get on my bike between August last year when I found out I was pregnant until May this year and I know that I could improve dramatically if I had more confidence from having trained more.

    I had another little break in my second transition, so much so that a marshall waved at me and stuck his thumb up to see if I was ok. I was fine and just enjoying a rest sitting on the floor while I stretched my legs in front of me. Most people take the transition so seriously and run through it all, meticulously laying out everything so they can save seconds. I’d rather conserve energy for the real disciplines like cycling and running.

    For running, my goal was to get round the 10km course. There was no point in setting myself a time goal because it would have stressed me out and I wanted to complete it and have fun rather than beat myself up about how fit I was (or wasn’t). Again, I didn’t run at all during pregnancy and when I started again I had to start slowly because of the abdominal surgery. I was slowly building up some speed over 5km in training but I’d only done 10km twice and both those times had an average speed of 10 minute-miles. To put this into context, I’d be running 8-minute miles comfortably pre-pregnancy. I went into the triathlon expecting this but I actually surprised myself and did 58mins for 10.5 km (6 miles) which is better than I did in training and it came after a hard 1.5km swim and a 40km bike.

    When I crossed the finishing line, I was a sweaty and wet mess as I poured lots of water over my head during the run to stay cool. But I was ecstatic. I couldn’t wait to drive to my parents’ house in Herts to give my son a big kiss and tell him that Mummy had done it! I would have loved to have seen him at the finish line but because our wave was so early, it wouldn’t have been fair to change his morning routine just because his parents wanted them to be a cheerleader.

    I’m thankful to my husband and my parents who supported me throughout my quest to get healthy post-baby and for trusting that I knew what I was doing when I told them I was competing in an Olympic distance triathlon so soon after giving birth.

    triathlon

    Other things I found helpful were:

    Sigma Sports – I bought all my triathlon kit here and felt confident that I was prepared in terms of gear, even if I had no idea! Staff from this  specialist triathlon shop spent ages helping me find a brilliant Zone 3 wetsuit. Once I’d bought a specialized bike, they fit it perfectly and I went back to get it serviced before the race.

    Shepperton Lake – I was terrified about swimming in the open water as you can’t see what’s beneath you. However, the lifeguards and staff at this lake are a calming presence and I felt safe there, knowing that they watch everything that’s going on. Also, the water is a lot cleaner than the Serpentine, where other triathletes practise.

    Clif Bars and caffeine gels – I used Clif products when I was training for the Istanbul marathon in 2014. I’d tried other brands of sports nutrition and I found these easiest to digest so I knew that I could rely on them if I ever did more endurance events. For the triathlon,  I took a mocha gel containing 25ml of caffeine during the run and it gave me the buzz I needed to keep going when I was exhausted. I also had a chocolate chip bar before the bike leg as they contain slow release carbs to keep me going over the 40km bike ride. Also, I’m a massive chocoholic and knowing I had chocolate after the swim might have made me swim faster!

    YouTube – I always feel more confident if I can visualise the course before I do it and you can find plenty of videos of it on YouTube. I also watched a few videos where the pros gave tips about swim technique, run technique and on how to finish safely. Before bedtime the night before, I imagined the course in my mind and visualised doing the swim, completing it, finding my bike, cycling to Westminster, running 10.5km through Docklands and then crossing the finishing line. I find that when I was actually doing the event, it felt more familiar because I’d done it so many times before in my head.

    Asics trainers and Fitter Feet orthotics – I am prone to Achilles injuries but I managed to stay injury free during the triathlon. This is because I paid special attention to my feet this time round. I visited Fitter Feet in London, where they diagnosed low arches that caused all my leg injuries and while I’m not convinced how my strange feet caused every injury I had, I’ve felt better since getting orthotics. I use them in Asics Cumulus 17 trainers as they have a neutral gait and brilliant cushioning (because I don’t run lightly)

    Will I do the event again next year? Never say never!

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  • VIP Fitness: Cricket Flour Protein

    As a girl who usually works out five times a week, I’ve consumed my fair share of protein shakes. Strong is the new skinny and if you want long, lean muscles you need to repair them after you’ve hit the gym (or jogged for miles).

    Me before pregnancy!

    Me before pregnancy!

    But did you know there’s now a new way to get protein into your system that’s a lot better for you – and the environment – than whey protein? I’ve recently been consuming Crobars, in which the protein source is from crickets.

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    From the photos above, you wouldn’t be able to tell that each bar contained 27 crickets would you? And yet they’re made using cricket flour, which is being billed as the next superfood.

    I’ve always been of the mentality that I need to look after my body as best as possible (as celebs put a lot of hard work into sculpting their trim bods). So I did some research about why cricket flour is good for us and found:

    • Crickets contain twice as much iron as spinach
    • 10 g crickets contain your daily dose of Vitamin B12
    • Crickets have an omega 3 & 6 ratio of 1:2.2, which is better than that of hemp, soy and whey
    • Animal sourced dietary protein is superior to that derived from plants. Unlike plants, animal protein contains all 9 essential amino acids

    An added bonus is these bars are gluten and dairy free so they’re suitable for vegans and those with dietary intolerances. The only catch is you’ll have to make a decision – do you like the peanut flavour or the cacao flavour the most! (Being a chocoholic, I’m all about the cacao).
    Want to try one? Visit the Gathr Foods website to see where they’re stocked and to find out more info.

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    VIP Fitness: The Color Run 2016

    Is one of your New Year’s Resolutions to improve your fitness? If so, you need to know about The Color Run presented by Skittles. It’s got a reputation for being the happiest 5km race on the planet and we can say from experience that it’s a lot of fun!

    The Color Run Presented by Skittles Blue Monday 3

    The dates for this year’s races, which take place in different locations across the UK, has just been announced on the Color Run website. Tickets went on sale on 2 February and I’m sure they will sell out quickly so get in there quick! Look at how much fun you could have:

    Taking its colour party on the road from June, The Color Run Presented by Skittles kicks off at London’s Wembley Park in  June, followed by stops in Manchester, Glasgow, Birmingham and ending in Brighton in September. This year, they will be adding an all-new Tropicolor zone on course, where participants will be bathed in a tropical array of colours. Personally, I can’t wait to see London lit up by colour.

    The Color Run Presented by Skittles Blue Monday 2

     

    The concept of the event is simple; to start dressed in white, run 5km with your friends, family or colleagues and finish the day head-to-toe in kaleidoscopic colour, having incredible amounts of fun along the way.

    Celebs like Pamela Anderson, Teri Hatcher and Jennifer Lopez all took part in running events last year and if we want to follow in their footsteps we have to start somewhere. You’ll find 5km is a manageable distance and time does fly when you’re having fun. With the mess and colour in this event, you’ll have more fun than you’ve had all year.

    More information can be found on The Color Run UK Facebook page, on Twitter by following @TheColorRunUK and on Instagram with @TheColorRunGBR. Are you up for it?

     

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  • VIP Fitness: Exerceo Training

    Albert Einstein classified insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting to see different results. So in a bid to get smarter with exercise, the Live Like a VIP team signed up for something completely new – Electronical Muscle Stimulation Personal Training.

    Exerceo Training is the leading place to do EMS in the UK and they currently have two studios in London. For city workers, there’s a studio close to Liverpool St station which is open early for pre-work exercise and closes late. We visited the venue in Parson’s Green, West London as we found that a more convenient location.

    Exerceo-Training-1

    So what is EMS? The Exerceo website sums it up as a full body training exercise using impulse current. EMS mimics the central nervous system, activating muscles, which it does through electrical impulses. These are delivered through electrodes above the muscles through the suit that you wear to train in. It’s an impressive piece of kit.

    exerceo-training-suit

    We’ll admit it’s not the most flattering outfit ever but it is comfortable and not as heavy as you’d expect. Leggings, t-shirt, the suit and a towel for the shower afterwards are provided so you won’t have to carry around a heavy gym bag if you work out here.

    And there’s another benefit long- term in that you will see results quickly if you do EMS. This is because the impulses reach deep muscle layers which are hard to activate through conventional training. Doing this three or four times a week could leave you with a tighter bum, firmer thighs and stronger abs in around 3- 4 weeks compared with 6 weeks of traditional gym work.

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    And did I mention that the sessions are short? All you need to find in your day is 30 mins and you can have a lot of fun doing it. Our trainer Sean Boynton explained to us that the suit was made of carbon fibre so that the impulses could be better conducted. They’re only as powerful as a mobile phone current so the’re not painful but they are powerful enough to make a difference.

    Exerceo-training-machine

    Throughout the session the impulse level is monitored and turned up as you warm up. If you have any problem areas you can focus the high intensity exercises on these areas to improve your bum / stomach / arms / chest.

    Exercises include squats with weights, resistance band moves, press ups and even boxing if you want an arm workout.

    exerceo-training-boxing

    Each exercise is repeated as much as possible for 7 seconds followed by a 3 second break and then that sequence is repeated 6 times to make it a minute. The 25 – 30 mins  passes so quickly that way! Here’s Sean taking us through some of the moves.

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    After the session, we were warned that there could be some stiffness as we were working muscles that don’t normally get used. That was definitely the case a couple of days later – you feel like something’s happening in your body, which can only be a good thing in the long run.

    Although EMS is popular across Europe, Exerceo is relatively new in London as director Tom Chance started the business 6 months ago. Getting in there now before the crowds may be one of the most clever things you can do when it comes to your health and fitness.

    SPECIAL OFFER: For a limited time, your first session will be FREE. Email hello@exerceotraining.com to book your place.

    After that, prices depend on whether you buy a package or a single session but start from £35 for a 20 session bundle. Remember this is for one one one or one on two personal training in central London! For more details visit the Exerceo website.

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  • A Girl’s View On Protein Shakes

    This is an OVERVIEW of the facts that helped me when learning about protein. REVIEWS will come shortly of different products that I have tried and tested myself…

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    On my quest to become more active and get a  lean, toned body, the subject of protein keeps coming up. It’s usually mentioned with a benefit, including: (1) It helps your muscles recover after exercise (2) It keeps you feeling full so you don’t need to snack (3) Eating protein regularly keeps sugar levels balanced so you crave less unhealthy food.

    BUT as a girl. I couldn’t help but worry when I started on my protein journey. Would it make me bulk up? Surely protein shakes are just for bodybuilders? How do they taste? And what the hell is the difference between whey and casein?

    If you’re feeling a similar way, then this is what I’ve learned. :

    Whey

    This is the most popular protein on the market. It’s good quality and it’s cheaper than other brands.

    Whey Isolate

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    Whey isolate is virtually fat-free for those wishing to eliminate as much fat from their diet as possible. It is typically lactose free for those few individuals who are very sensitive to the low-lactose levels found in whey concentrate. Whey isolate tends to taste slightly better than whey concentrate too, yet its consistency is a little thinner, without the fat.

    Whey Concentrate

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    Whey concentrate is more economical per gram of protein. It has a low lactose level that is well tolerated by most lactose-sensitive people. It has trivial amounts of fat and carbs relative to your overall nutrient intake, but it’s not as low-calorie as isolate.

    Casein

    Dymatize-Elite-Casein-healthvist

    Derived from milk (milk is 80% casein and 20% whey). The key difference between whey and casein is that whey is absorbed in the digestive system quickly, whereas casein is absorbed slowly and steadily. Taste-wise they are similar.

    Plant Based Protein

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    These are typically suitable for vegetarian or vegan diets. They’re also well tolerated by lactose-sensitive individuals. Among the vegetable source proteins, soy protein, rice protein and pea protein are by far the most popular.

     

    And then you can have mixtures – eg a whey isolate and concentrate blend. The whey part will get into your bloodstream fast to aid recovery, while the casein will keep your metabolism working and help you feel full.

    If you want to lose weight then isolate protein is a good bet, wheras if you are a vegan you only have plant based protein as an option. That’s the theory anyway – check out the upcoming reviews to see how I find them. You can also tweet me @livelikeavip as I get back to everyone!

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  • Sure Run To The Beat 10km: Review

    Would you ever take part in a running event with your boyfriend? When I told my friends, my boyfriend and I had both signed up for the Sure Run To The Beat 10km many thought we were mad. The barriers standing between us and getting through 13 September without splitting up fell into two categories:

    (1) We’re both too competitive. I accept that he’ll get a better time than me, but we could still have a competition about who could get the better PB.

    (2) My boyfriend doesn’t like early mornings and I don’t like being late. Having to be at Wembley to start at 10am could cause tension on a Sunday morning.

    wembley

    But after our friends had tried to dampen our spirits, I found I could reply that there would be more benefits than positives.

    (1) Competition is a good thing. I want a PB so if my boyfriend is the motivation, so be it.

    (2) Wembley is in North London, it’s not like we have to travel to Wales or anywhere. We could still get up at 8am.

    (3) We both like music and the Sure Run To The Beat is a course filled with live DJs plus there’s an after-party with famous DJs like Marvin Humes (below).

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    (4) We can go for dinner somewhere nice in the evening, safe in the knowledge that we’ve burned some calories earlier in the day!

    We signed up for the event in July (keen, I know!) and for the first few weeks everything was great. Seeing my boyf. come back from a training run when I had just got back from drinks at a party spurred me on to get up early in the morning the following day.

    The more training I did, following the training I did from the London Triathlon, really made a difference to how I felt about my body. My legs felt leaner, my bum felt more lifted and toned and I could feel my love handles shrink. Because I was training in the morning, I drank less at night because it’s impossible to do a good run on a hangover.

    And then….DISASTER STRUCK!

    I tore a calf muscle :(

    Running in the mornings is great, but not so great if you don’t warm up before you run. I was late getting out of bed and knew I didn’t have much time before I needed to be back and get ready for the day so I’d literally woken up, downed a glass of water, put my jogging kit on and sprinted out of my front door. It wasn’t long before I felt the agonising pain in my calf.

    I half expected my boyfriend to be slightly happy that he would beat me no matter what as I was out of the running, but he was very sympathetic. He said he would rather I could have run on the big day as he would have more incentive to push himself. So I accompanied him to Wembley and it was fantastic.

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    Whenever the athletes passed under a bridge, there was a different musical experience. I’ve rarely seen runners look so happy!

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    Celebs like Radio 1Xtra’s Sarah Jane Crawford and Made in Chelsea’s Fran Newman Young were taking part – both great role models of women in sport. Strong not skinny is definitely the way forward for those girlies.

    Sure Run To The Beat 2015

     

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    But the real highlight was the music. There was a festival atmosphere and I’d say it’s the first time I’ve heard Danny Howard play without an alcoholic drink in my hand. Endorphins are a more powerful high than artificial stimulants, trust me.

    danny-howard

    Meanwhile Jameela Jamil had all the hits so there was something to cater for all musical tastes.

    jameela

    When I arrived at the event I was disappointed I couldn’t run and slightly depressed. When I left I felt uplifted and I can only imagine that must have been a feeling multiplied by 100 for the athletes if my  boyfriend’s face was anything to go by. We still went out for dinner and I still had steak, as I figured I would have burned off some calories through dancing and cheering!

    One thing’s for sure, I’m doing this race in 2016. Want to join me? We’ll need to check the Sure Run To The Beat website in Spring 2016 to keep an eye on the entry open date.

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    Our Pics From AJ Bell London Triathlon

    Nothing compares to the feeling of accomplishment you get when you do something that’s frightening! It wasn’t the swimming outside that bothered me in the AJ Bell London triathlon, as weird as that sounds, and it wasn’t the 10km run despite a nagging calf injury. I hadn’t been on a bike since I was 11 years old after a nasty childhood crash and until 3 months ago I was petrified of riding a bike.

    Therefore when I crossed the finish line at the AJ Bell London triathlon, it made me appreciate the power of human will and determination. I must have been one of the slowest cyclists ever, taking 1 hr 50 mins for a 40km course (an avearage of 12mph) but I finished without accidents to myself or others. And for me, that was an accomplishment.

    If you’re considering a triathlon, let me talk you through why you should do London before any others:


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    (1) 13,000 people will take part in this event over the course of a weekend. You get to bond with strangers – the atmosphere is incredible. In the photo above, I’m smiling as I spot my mum and dad in the crowd of spectators. They made friends too.

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    (2) How often can you swim in The Thames? Never! It’s pretty cool to see Canary Wharf as the backdrop of the swim. Also, City airport is so close, I was swimming with a plane taking off above my head at one point. I felt like a Bond Girl in an action movie.blogZG 6

     

    (3) After the swim, which took me a reasonable 37 minutes, you can see your supporters up close. My mum held out a bag for me to put my wetsuit in. You have to have your wetsuit fully in the bag before you are allowed up the stairs to the Excel centre.

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    (4) The bike course is two laps of a 20km course and it is super flat (apart from a few speed bump measures). For most part, it is also wide so nervous cyclists like me could keep to the left.

    As for the route itself, Canary Wharf was interesting scenery on the bike course but it did get narrow at times in Canary Wharf! I liked when we were riding near traffic as the people in the cars most shouted support.

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    (5) The 10km run was probably my favourite part. It was 3 laps of a course around the ExCel centre with plenty of water stations and packed with supporters the whole way. There was loud music, there were hose pipes to run through to stay cool and did I mention the supporters? How could you give up when people are cheering for you non-stop?

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    (6) You get beer at the finish line. Shortly after this photo was taken, I received a medal and a pint of Erdinger. Here’s me with my medal in a bar in Docklands later on in the evening:

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    London has plenty of places to celebrate after the race and then I didn’t have far to travel home after the event. I could attempt sleep in my own bed (although my mind was racing) and I could get some cuddles from my Chihuahua.

    Celebrities including Lydia Rose Bright, Charlie Webster, Toby Anstis and Jason Bradbury did it, so it really is the triathlon for VIPs. If my photos weren’t enough insight, then you can watch it / record it on Channel 4 on Saturday 15 August at 7am.

    See the AJ Bell London triathlon website for details about how to register for next year’s race.

     

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  • Triathlon Thursdays: Running

    I always thought I was quite good at running until I tried to run straight after a long bike ride. I mean, running’s just about putting two feet in front of the other, isn’t it? Well, if your back is stuff after a 40km bike ride and a 1.5km swim it does affect how you can move.

    Ahead of the AJ Bell London triathlon on 9 August, in which I’m doing The Olympic Distance, I’ve been very lucky to receive training by experts in each of the disciplines. I received swimming tips from Swim Canary Wharf chief Ray Gibbs, I found where my Gluteus Medius were and how to engage them for the bike thanks to former gymnast turned cycling coach Chris Ball and now I’ve been given some running tips by previous winners of the London triathlon, Emma Pallant and Stuart Hayes.

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    Emma Pallant, the winner of 2014 London triathlon, says:

    • Everything with triathlon is about rhythm and keeping focused. It’s the world’s biggest triathlon but try not to let that phase you on the day. Keep doing what you’ve been doing day in day out with your training but use the buzz of the event to lift you when you need it.
    • Don’t change your diet in the next two weeks, stick to what you know and food that works for you.
    • Fail to prepare…prepare to fail! The night before you should get yourself as organised as possible, check everything off your packing list and make sure you know what time you need to be there, it’s important you’re as calm as possible on race day

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    Stuart Hayes, Olympian and 14-time entrant of the London Triathlon says:

    • Practice getting in and out of your wetsuit before race day – that’s vitally important!
    • Start hydrating yourself more about 3 or 4 days out, it’s been quite hot recently so make sure you’re not waiting till the day to get hydrated.
    • Make sure you get to the ExCeL Centre as early as you can, don’t leave it to the last minute and rush yourself – you’ll want to familiarise yourself with transition and get yourself prepared to enable you to have the best race possible.

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    And if that’s not enough tips that are specifically related to running, there were also some top technique pointers from Laura Fountain, a UK athletics run coach and author of the fab book Tri-Curious.

    Laura Fountain, UK Athletics Run Coach, Author of Tricurious, says:

    • When you’re out on the run, think about your form – when you’re tired the temptation is to hunch your shoulders and lean forward. I always see see a lot of people shuffling along at the end of a triathlon. But, if you can remember to stand up nice and tall, imagining you’ve got a balloon coming out the top of your head it’ll make both a mental and physical difference to your run.
    • To maintain power in the run, particularly if you’re doing Olympic distance, think about eating early on whilst on the bike so that you don’t start the run with a full stomach but have enough power to move you forwards.
    • If you’re feeling nervous, just remember that so many people are in the same position as you so the key thing is to relax and enjoy it.

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    The AJ Bell London triathlon is on 8 and 9 August, with my event – the Olympic distance – on the 9th. Please send me some love on Twitter @livelikeavip – I’m going to need it!

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  • How To Get That Perfect Celebrity Body

    If you could look like any celebrity, who would it be? You can pretend that you don’t have a celebrity in mind, but we all have that one celebrity that we aspire to look more like. I don’t mean that you want to go and get cosmetic surgery to change your lips to match theirs. What I meant was that we all have that one celebrity whose body we idolise and wish that our body could look more like.

    You might think that there is no way that you will ever be able to transform your body to look as good as a celeb’s, but you can. Yes, it will take hard work and lots of time and effort, but it is doable.

    Want to know more about how you can achieve a celebrity body? Here’s what you need to know:

     Don’t cut your calories

    A big mistake that many of us make when trying to lose weight or get in shape is cutting too many calories. Yes, we need to eat healthily and not eat too much, but cutting too many calories will only make achieving your goal harder.

    You see, when you reduce your calories down too low, your metabolism slows down, meaning that your body burns less fat. To get that celebrity body, switch to eating healthy, whole foods, but don’t reduce the amount of calories you eat by too much.

    Eat slowly

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    One of the main problems that many people, including celebrities, deal with is eating too fast. The faster you eat, the more food you consume. You see, it takes your body a while to register that it is full, which is why eating slowly, is important.

    By taking a mouthful of food and then resting for a few seconds, you give your body time to workout when it is full. Far too many of us overeat, and all because we eat too quickly.

     Be motivated

    When it comes to eating healthily and exercising, one of the worst things you can do is lack motivation. Far too often, a lack of motivation leads to you giving up and binging on your fave foods, putting you back to square one again.

    If you struggle with motivation, spend some time working on your mindset. The key to motivation is your mindset, if your mind is focused, you will find it easier to stay motivated.

     Get help

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    If you struggle to stay on track with your exercise regimes, it might be a good idea to get some help. Personal trainers are the best option when it comes to getting help with your exercise regime. Not only will they keep you on track with your exercise, but they will also help to motivate you.

    Don’t make the mistake of thinking that hiring a personal trainer is expensive, it doesn’t have to be. There are various personal trainers to choose from, each charging different prices. With a bit of research, you should be able to find an affordable trainer in your area.

    By following the simple tips in this guide, you can get your body toned and trim in no time. Within a matter of weeks, you could be looking just as good as your favorite celebrity.

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    Triathlon Thursdays: Cycling Tips

    ‘I’m going to help you find and engage your glutes’ is a scary thing to hear at the start of a training session. First of all, I thought I know where my glutes were – they stick out enough. Secondly, how was cycling expert and former gymnast Chris Ball going to engage my glutes? This sounded not only invasive but also painful.

    But after I’d laid down in the position below, I had a eureka moment. And trust me, it would help for not only cycling but running and swimming.

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    I’ll start from the beginning. There’s a muscle called the Glutes Medius, underneath the Gluteus Maximus, which controls stability and shock absorption and can offer more power than your quads. Utilising this muscle means you won’t tire out the quads, which is especially useful in a triathlon when you’re using them to kick in the swim, pedal with the legs or lift up your legs and run. If you only use your quads then you’re much more likely to burn out so it’s vital to switch on your Gluteus Medius. I’m doing the Olympic distance in the AJ Bell London Triathlon – 1.5km swim, 40km bike and 10km run – so I will benefit from learning how to engage my glutes!

    However, it’s easier said than done as most amateur triathletes have never used their Gluteus Medius and so they’ve either disappeared or become tight. As a direct result of too much sitting down from a young age – at school and at work – our hip flexors have tightened and our pelvis have tilted and we haven’t the range of movement to engage our bottoms.

    If you don’t believe me – get on a step in the gym and place it in front of a mirror. Stand at the edge of the step, flex your left foot and squat down to lower your left foot to the floor, heel first.

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    Do you stick your bum out? Do you stick your left hip out? How easy is it to go down in a straight line?

    Even if you think you can do this, everyone can benefit from strengthening their glutes because the stronger they are the better our performance. The way to do this is by mixing glute exercises with functional exercises – ie going from stretches to running / cycling.

    Do the following complete set 3 times:
    (1) Lie on your back with a resistance band above your knees (as we did in the first photo of this blog post). Have your knees bent up and your  feet as close to your bottom as possible. Open and close your legs as wide as possible 15 times.

    (2) With your legs open, lift your bottom to hip height and back down again 15 times

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    (3) Combine the two movements – with your bottom raised in the air, open your knees out and back. Don’t  sway from side to side and stay smooth rather than jerking from side to side. 



    Immediately afterwards, combine it with some cycling to engage the glutes you’ve just worked. Get on the exercise bike or the turbo trainer and pedal in a high gear at a low cadence (no more than 65 rpm) as you want to engage your muscles in the pedalling action rather than mindlessly spinning. This is us doing just that:

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    Do the whole process of engaging the glutes them cycling 5 times.

    Next time, try it in the park- doing the exercises at a bottom of a hill then running up the hill as that forces your muscles to work more than running on the flat. Again, do it 5 times so your brain has associated your bum with that movement.

    And to engage the brain further, have you thought about nutrition for the triathlon yet? We had an interesting talk from Maxi Nutrition and there’s an article on the Maxi Nutrition website about this.

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    I’m going to keep practising this over the next few weeks before the London Triathlon (on 9 August) as I think it will take a while for my brain to get into the habit of using my gluteus Medius, which has remained dormant for so long. Embarrassingly, my big bum is a sign that I have weak glutes as they wobble when I walk – I’m not stable enough. So these exercises will also make my derrière more toned.

    Which exercises / routines are you trying in the run up to a triathlon or endurance event? If you have any questions about this exercise or any other fitness tips then tweet me @livelikeavip or comment below.

    Visit The AJ Bell London Triathlon website for details about the event.

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