31 Jan- Shame on You, Under Armour

Yesterday I was delighted to see that I had managed to be placed in the top 9% of the 104,000 worldwide runners, undertaking the Under Armour ‘ You Versus the Year’ challenge.

I had entered as another means of keeping my motivation high for my own Alzheimer’s Challenge of running the year.

Seeing my position in the leaderboard, such as it is, I looked up what was happening with this challenge. There are various monthly prize draws, where you may win Under Armour gear if you’ve achieved certain milestones. Great, I thought that’s another little fillip to my efforts.

Except it’s not, you can be accepted to the challenge, no matter where you are in the world. But you only get to win the gear if you are in the USA.

Bah humbug, I have no issue with Under Armour limiting the prizes geographically, just don’t open up the challenge to all the world. Under Armour – this is a rubbish thing to do, I didn’t want the prizes necessarily, it’s just the principle of the thing.

Are you just doing a Donald and trying to make America great again? This doesn’t work for me – it makes you look closed to the world. I will continue with the challenge, because I am motivated so to do. But seriously, is this the way you encourage people to try your gear?

Let’s just compare tactics shall we? Lululemon encourage people to set goals and recognise them locally. UA have a worldwide challenge, where only folk in the USA can win…

So UA, have a guess whose running gear I am likely to be buying.


17 Jan – Am I The Only Person With…


Vampire Kettlebells in my wardrobe?

Today is a running rest day and I was meeting a fellow C25Ker Razouski for a well-earned coffee and Portugese Custard Tart. As I was choosing my coffee workout gear with care, the kettlebells winked at me. Each night they prey on my sleeping bod and syphon away any will to use them, so each morning I look at them and think ‘mmm must work out how to use them’, but never quite have the physical or mental strength to lift them off the shelf. They are exactly like Dracula, because they’ve never seen the light of day with me.

Purchased before Christmas, expressly to use both here and in Italy. I carefully decided that the two smaller ones should stay in London (space and time issues), with the two larger weights 6 and 8kg taken to Italy, on the premise that I’d use the smaller ones throughout Winter and graduate to the big girls’ version in Spring/Summer in Italy.

The reason for me thinking about them again, is  that my C25K buddy Razouski is ‘running’ injured and so as she can’t run, she is going to the gym and using kettlebells. Although I am rather alarmed at an exercise she described, which seemingly involved swinging them around at head height, especially as a guy in her class dropped his, it does seem quite an effective strengthener.

Today’s coffee and PCT session was not only fun but a great kick up the bum. Here we go –  another resolution coming up,  I will use my kettlebells on at least one exercise type, every other day (alternating with my running days).

I just have to work out which exercise it is…, and as I tried (with Mr JCR) my first ballroom dancing lesson last night, it is self evident that exercise requiring lots of coordination is out.

Anybody got any recommendations on a simple, JCR-proof exercise with Vampire Kettlebells? Oh and mentioning the word push-up, isn’t in my mind at all, Razouski described that exercise too and that sounded horrible. She is definitely a fitter, more focussed person than me 🙂

Strictly Come Kettling – here I come





The Twelve Days of Christmas – Day Seven


Boxing Day

On the Seventh Day of Christmas

We are here in Italy

Seven laughs a minute

Six Fano Views taken

Five courses eaten

Four stockings readied

Three lots of shopping

Two people cleaning

And the house was only one degree


Today is Boxing Day and another late start for the JCR family and friends. This is becoming quite a habit… 🙂

Another late breakfast/brunch, a bit of mooching around and then our good friends M&G join us for the shit-present gifting session. The deal is this:

Each couple gift the other either a joint or individual gift, which must cost as little as possible – we have a £10 or €10 limit and make us laugh. It has to be rubbish and serve no useful purpose whatsoever.

M&G, G&J and the JCRs swap presents. I get a pair of mittens on a string, baby-sized as I always complain about running and having nowhere to keep my gloves…. Mr JCR gets a Star Wars light sabre to help him be visible and fight off thugs when cycling in London. M&G get a Mummy Christmas tacky outfit and a tinkly sweater. Mr JCR then  gets a bum bag, flesh coloured with hairs painted on it and a hairy belly button , for when he cycles with his club the Pansers (play on the word stomach) – this is perfectly revolting. I get a face exercising sets of lips – think plastic Lesley Ash type to insert and use as a face exerciser. J&G then get a basket of awful items which have stupid meaningless brand descriptions – this harks back to a famous whisky they had called ‘Old and Rare’ . Their goodies basket included such wonderful items as ‘Crock and Soft’ ‘Chip and Gadget’ ‘Long and Shine’. M&G then receive a full set of Santa themed Christmas toilet set covers, including a home made bucket toilet and chocolate poo. We laughed for ages and M&G’s children were generally horrified at all the presents. Job done – what a hoot.

Dinner is cottage pie and veggies and it is quite nice to be eating ‘normal’ food again, after all Christmas’s excesses.

I flip through my two running books and decide Jo Pavey comes first – after all she is an Olympian and an older lady who runs – yes not as old as me but still…

Oh yes, JCR when exactly are you going for a run?



3 Similarities Between me and Tom Cruise – 30 November



He was born in the 60s –

  • so was I (just)

He is not very tall – 5ft 7inches and according to many press/magazine articles wishes he was taller –

  • I am short, but 5ft 7 inches sounds tall to me

He has brown hair, although his stubble is grey, suggesting help from a hairdresser…

  • I have brown hair, aided carefully and knowingly by Richard my hairdresser

In the pic above, he is seen at the premiere of a Jack Reacher film. I love Lee Child’s books, but I don’t buy Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher. In fact the only film line of his I can recall is not from Jack Reacher at all, which brings me nicely onto today’s run.

‘ I feel the need, the need for speed’ – Maverick says in Top Gun and little did I know that was how I was feeling today.

The duvet was warm, the mug of tea was hot, Mr JCR was all kitted up for cycling. ‘Going for a run?’ he enquired ‘mmmm’ – non committal grunt came from the depths of the duvet. Eventually the tea cooled down and was emptied, the duvet was bunched and scrunched up, and my trainers were winking at me. I got out of bed, walked to the balcony and did the temperature test – ouch can it be searingly cold?

Okay, that is fleece leggings, base layer, over layer and running top, hat, buff and gloves. Phone – yup, music – yup, earphones yup, key yup. Absolutely no excuse for not running then. The apartment block is in a sheltered narrow lane, so I didn’t feel the weather immediately on my warm up walk, but hitting Moorgate aarrgghh it was cold, so I upped my pace on the walk. It has to be said most of the good folk in the City were wearing substantially more layers than me, and I did feel draughts in places one shouldn’t.

Mechanical Voice Lady from Map My Run, kicked in and told me to start exercising, and maybe because it was so cold, my pace was a lot faster than usual. It felt fast, and as I ran up to Silicon Roundabout (which still makes me laugh because California has Silicon Valley and the best we can manage is a roundabout), I did wonder what pace I was at. My first kilometre prompt came up and I’d done 6 mins 01 second.  The hat came off at this point. Usually my first km is about 6.5 to 7 minutes, so I knew I was going faster then normal. And then on the second km, I continued at quite a pace and managed 5 minutes 36, which is by far my fastest km for 2 years. The buff and running gloves came off. Now I need a velcro top so I can attach all these unneeded accessories to it, so my hands remain free.

Then came my Maverick moment – I thought I’d continue the run at that speed until I ran out of puff. So whilst I may have felt the ‘need for speed’ my little legs weren’t quite up to the task and I ran out of puff, with a very painful stitch at 2.93km. At that point, I decided to slow down and finish off on a walk home. After all my thoughts last night about going a long distance, it turns out I fancied a short cruise through the streets instead. And as Tom and I both know just because it’s short doesn’t mean it not worth much! This is the pace I need to maintain to do a sub 30 minutes 5k… mmm I think that means more interval and sprint training coming up.


No idea – new phone and I obviously didn’t set up the Map My Run linkage properly!


Distance 2.93km

Time 17.24

Elevation Gain 22 metres

Squats 3 sets of 15 reps – and just taken delivery of kettlebells – that’s another challenge
























Photo By Dick Thomas Johnson from Tokyo, Japan – Jack Reacher: Never Go Back Japan Premiere Red Carpet: Tom Cruise, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=60386378

When Shopping Doesn’t Replace Running – 19 October

A week on the injury couch, after having suffered Stupid Tart Syndrome and I am decidedly antsy at not being able to run, which I suppose is a good thing…

Am in London on a flying visit for a body MOT, and I have a mini shopping list for running stuff, it’s not a huge list, but I reckon buying running stuff is almost as good as running, except buying isn’t that straightforward either.

Three things on my list:-

  1. Socks X three pairs
  2. Kettlebell (don’t ask)
  3. Lightweight wicking running top with hood

First stop a combined cycling/running sports chain in the City, first observation is it’s really a cycling shop with a bit put to one side for runners, let’s be honest actually more aimed at male runners – females about 3 racks worth. No customers except me and apparently the trainer display warrants more attention….aaarrrggghhh, why work in Retail if you don’t want to talk to customers.

Second stop, Gap as they often have decent sports kit, but it’s all summer stuff on sale and no hooded tops to be seen, nor socks and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Gap branded kettlebell.

Third stop M&S, as they’ve branched out into sportswear, but it is a bit dreary, quite nice running tights, only they’re not on my list. Only fleecy type jackets, no hooded tops.

Somewhat disheartened go home.

Thursday morning, I had promised myself a little runette/jogette to see if my Stupid Tart Syndrome injury had righted itself after a week of rest. Alarm goes and I am up and out of the door in minutes. I am a woman with a mission as am returning to Italy mid-afternoon, I have to buy piggy treats from The Ginger Pig at Borough Market which is a couple of miles away. Warm up walk is fine, then a few ginger steps into a run and yippee no twinges, twangs or alarming snapping feelings. I am running through the City, through hordes of worker ants, all dressed in varying shades of grey, charcoal, black, silver, grey, navy blue, grey, black, grey, pinstripe, white, grey. Grey seems to predominate regardless of gender, so to play my part I am wearing a grey top, but just to add a little colour to a grey day I am wearing rather fetching harlequin pink and blue leggings.

I run past charity collectors on the street, who are getting rather a lot of donations in their buckets, running towards Borough Market over London Bridge and the 2km warning comes up. I feel fine so continue past Borough and towards Blackfriars, where I note with some sadness that there are anti-terrorist bollards across the pavement, causing all the worker ants to be funnelled through little openings. Londoners truly have the patience of saints to cope with this. There’s little room anyway and now your access routes are constrained even more. Shame. A quick loop round the back of Blackfriars and I re-cross the river on the wobbly bridge, alongside Bankside and just at Clink Street the 5km warning came on. I feel fine, but am not going to tempt fate so keep my run to that. Shaggy and Boombastic comes on my playlist – to be back running feels boombastic.

I arrive at The Ginger Pig spot on opening time, buy my piggy treats and walk home, back along Bankside an oncoming commuter sees me and smiles. I think it was either the combination of incongruous face, grey top and multicoloured leggings that did it, or maybe the fact that I was very red (monarch red in fact) and carrying a serious haul of Ginger Pig sausage rolls that perhaps didn’t look the height of healthy eating and living.

Either way I am happy so I don’t care, run done, no recurrence of Stupid Tart Syndrome, oh and I ran the 5k quite quickly too…. On the way back I spot another runner specialist store – it has publicity blurb saying something like ‘understanding everything runners need’, so in I pop with red face, warm sausage rolls and my credit card. I go through my list of running needs, and as they understand it all!!!, I am not in the least bit surprised when all I manage to buy is some socks, because apparently kettlebells are only available at their other store and lightweight hooded running tops definitely fine for men and children, just not for women. You can’t win them all.


(cocked up on the music front… Map My Run doesn’t record the list from Spotify)

I Ran – A Flock of Seagulls

Talk Talk – Talk Talk

Runnin’ Down a Dream – Tom Petty

Tainted Love – Soft Cell

I Ran – A Flock of Seagulls

Boombastic – Shaggy


Distance 5.09km

Time 32.44

Average Pace 6.25 mins/km

Elevation gain 35m

Best km split 5.57min/km – this is a personal best, this year!

And which look better – the leggings or the sausage rolls???

Old Enough to Tie Your Laces Correctly?

I really thought I was, after a number of decades on this planet… I can recall clearly parents both telling and then showing me how to chase the lace through the loop.

Truth be known I can’t remember that many catastrophes in my life as a result of untied laces, or even incorrectly tied laces, but still a risk is a risk.

Fast forward decades later when I happened upon Ted Talks and like most people do, I decided that viewing the top 20 talks would be a good introduction to Ted. Who knew what I had been missing? In 2005 this Ted Talk, changed the face of human lace tying…. (actually I am certain it is only humans who tie laces)

How to Tie Your Shoe Laces Correctly…

Having never fallen over before as a result of incorrect shoe lace tying, I was sure my life would be transformed by a new safe, secure, non-slippy form of lace tying. Never again would I fear social ostracization over an unkempt, untied shoe lace. I have had 7 or 8 safe, secure years of good lace management. In all that time, I have been able to hold my own in polite society.

Then I started running and  to my horror found out that the eminent Ted can’t actually be trusted, it does not in fact represent the World’s best foolproof method of tying your laces. There are more and specific methods for tying your trainers. Slippy heel issues, wide forefeet or high insteps, this is the definitive guide:-

Tying Laces for Running

Now you know, different strokes for different folks. I just hope to goodness I now don’t fall over on a run….