At the end of 2016 a good friend of mine, Lisa, asked me if I wanted to go to a taster session of a Muddy Obstacle Course Run. At the time, the thought of running through woodland, jumping over tall walls, and crawling through muddy ditches didn’t appeal to me one bit. People did this for fun? After a few times of Lisa asking me to take part in an OCR event, I made the loose promise that I would sign up to the first one of 2017. I didn’t realise Lisa took me seriously and held me to my promise as she booked me onto Nuclear Races Rush in May 2017. This was a 12k run complete with over 100 obstacles. 12k?! I hadn’t run in about 10 years and the last time I went for a run I couldn’t even complete 5k without stopping. Weights are my thing, not running!
I decided one of my new year’s resolutions was to get running again. I dusted off my running trainers and every Monday morning decided to start running at least 5k. It took a while to get back into it, but having Nuclear in mind I knew I wasn’t going to quit this time. Within a few weeks, I started to increase the miles on the road and managed to run 10 miles. The running was no longer the issue.
I have never been able to do monkey bars or climb over walls. Despite having a good level of strength, my upper body was a lot weaker than my legs. In April, a month before the race, Lisa booked us and 8 others into a private session of the PT Barn. A unique training venue filled with monkey bars and rigs and they specialise in helping you with your technique for such events. After the 2 hour private session I had conquered monkey bars, turns out my lats are stronger than I once thought! The walls were still an issue but I knew on the day there would be people helping me get over any obstacles I needed help with.
13th May – the day had arrived. The nerves kicked in as soon as we arrived at the site. I signed in and picked up my timing chip. I was part of a team of 12 people, and I was the only newbie. During the warm up it started raining, oh great that’s all I need, until I realised I was about to be throwing myself in lakes and mud so a bit of rain really isn’t going to make an issue. During the course, I had been over walls (by climbing on people to get over them), crawling through muddy bogs, riding zip wires into the lake and even managed to throw myself down the death slide. When I ran through the finish line and was presented with my finishers medal I was relived it was over, but also pleased with what I had accomplished. I enjoyed every minute of it! It's surprising how many fears you accomplish when you do an event like this.
It was then I become part of the Mudd Queens. An online community of likeminded females who devote their time to entering and training for these events. Everyone offers tips and hints on what to wear on race day, down to training. The encouragement you get from these legends is unbelievable and I am proud to be a part of the team. They post up about events they are doing and it makes me want to do more and sign up too!
It’s down to the Mudd Queens that I have found a new love for OCR events and running. My OCR events calendar is now filled Nuclear Blast, Nuclear Blackout, Only Fools Ride Horses (Blast and Blackout both on 16th September and Only Fools Ride Horses on 17th September – again what was I thinking?!) and Nuclear Fallout to finish out the year. In terms of running I have a 5-mile charity run this year and 2 half marathons next year.
It’s great to be able to tell my clients about the events I am doing and I have even managed to persuade a few of them to come on a few runs with me too!
I would encourage anyone who is thinking of doing an OCR to sign up – it’s definitely worth the mud, water and bruises!
As a singer, dancer, rapper, model and television presenter, Alesha is used to the demands of a busy schedule and maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle is important for whatever life throws at her. In between rehearsals, performances and training with her long term PT Janet Malinowska three times a week, Alesha has her three-year-old daughter to keep up with alongside taking her five dogs on regular walks.
With the help of Garmin’s vivo range, Alesha is able to stay on top of her busy schedule, track her activity and maximise her training sessions. Alesha is a keen runner and incorporates a mix of cardio, yoga and strength training into her activity alongside maintaining a successful career as a performer and presenter.
Alesha said: “It’s fantastic to be working with a brand like Garmin who are so passionate about fitness and helping people to achieve their goals. Keeping fit is a huge part of my life, and with the vivo range I can keep track of every part of it – strength training and the rep counters are really useful things for me to have, alongside contactless payment and smart notifications when I’m on the go. What’s more is that they look great too, so I can still wear them when I’m performing or in front of the camera.”
Boasting a range of smart watches and fitness trackers, the new vivosport, vívoactive 3 and vivomove HR has been designed for those who choose a healthy active lifestyle, whether you run, swim or go to the gym. Alesha’s campaign is part of Garmin’s global Beat Yesterday campaign, which is about inspiring people to push yourself faster and further than yesterday, competing with no one but yourself.
Richard Daish, Head of Marketing UK and Ireland, said: “Alesha embodies everything that it means to Beat Yesterday through her active lifestyle and challenge driven attitude in everything she does. Her genuine passion for fitness and thirst for life is infectious and she is a great example of how you can achieve anything you set your mind to – making her the perfect ambassador for our wellness product range.”
Sarah Outen MBE rose to fame after spending 1,676 days looping the globe by biking, rowing, and hiking. Her London2London adventure was a huge feat and took its toll both mentally and physically, but she is still enjoying a life full of adventure. She updates us on what she's been up to.
After a very frustrating six months of ill health at the start of the year, spending five weeks in June celebrating my honeymoon in Alaska and the Yukon was a perfect time to unwind and recharge. It was also a time to start rebuilding my fitness. My wife and I used our borrowed truck as a base for covering the big miles and then camped or slept in hammocks if we weren’t out on biking or canoeing trips where we camped on river beaches beneath spruce-lined skylines. We cooked over open fires, improvised shelters, hunkered down through rain storms and hail, washed in rivers and lakes, and watched wildlife watching us.
One of my favourite things about being outside and on a trip like this is the chance to reconnect – with nature, with others, and with myself. The pace and the simplicity of life unhurried and where the main tasks of the day are to find somewhere to sleep, something to eat and something to drink leave space for a settling mind and growing sense of calm and balance. It is definitely my happy place.
Coming home from a journey I often struggle to maintain that balance and sense of headspace and often find myself promising to put my health first. It’s so easy to let that slip and get swamped by being busy and making excuses.
I’m really pleased that this time I have managed to sustain the progress and balance I found in North America. Since coming home in early July, I’ve made it my routine to start the day with meditation and yoga, grounding myself physically and mentally. On the days when I’ve been away from home and unable to do yoga, I have missed it physically. On returning home and restarting, I realise my mind misses it too. For in some way, perhaps yoga gives me something that being outside also does – that connection to myself, mind and body balancing and grounding, and just a simple task to focus on. I think it’s something about being, coming inside of ourselves to see what’s going on for us in that moment. Becoming aware of ourselves.
A year ago I was in the midst of a breakdown: the fragile antithesis of everything I am right now. Afraid of myself and of the darkness that had engulfed me, I struggled to look after myself and complete even the simplest task. Bit by bit, daily meditation, yoga and exercise helped save my life at that time and in the months to come it helped me regain some sense of balance and connection. While I wish I hadn’t had the turmoil and terror of another breakdown, I am grateful for the insight it gave me and the renewed reminder of what’s important. That is to stay connected to myself, aware and grounded if I am to maintain balance and peace.
Lee Patmore is a Sundried ambassador who suffers from life-limiting illnesses. Along with his band of brothers, he took on the impressive challenge of travelling from Land's End to John O'Groats on a hand-cycle. Lee talks us through his incredible experience, which was in aid of Help For Heroes.
About The Challenge
In May 2017 I started on a journey that would take me from the northernmost point of the UK to the southernmost point. The legendary John O’Groats to Lands End adventure, but not the normal route that is around 874 miles, this journey has a major twist. I’m a military veteran and also a Help for Heroes beneficiary, and belong to the group within Help for Heroes know as Band of Brothers. Along with two other Band of Brothers and a support crew, we took on a journey that would see us cover 1,300 miles, along with close to 60,000ft of climbing. On our route we visited the Help for Heroes Recovery Centres and a number of active military bases. We started on the 1st of May and finished on the 29th of May. For me, it was all about arm power and the mental battle to push myself beyond limits I’ve never been to, and the daily battle just to get out of bed and get in my hand-cycle.
We started our journey in John O’Groats, which was very cold, very windy, and just miserable weather. Approximately two and a half months before we started, during what should have been the peak of my training period, I had a major flare-up with my Fibromyalgia. This ended up leaving me bed-ridden for two weeks. When I say bed-ridden, I got out of bed once per day to go to the loo, and the rest of the time I was in extreme agony with tiredness and just couldn’t function. The flare-up came without warning and basically ended my training prematurely along with removing the ability to tap into the full level of fitness I had achieved. At this stage, just before we set off, I could just about manage 2 miles in one go on a flat route. Nothing like the 40 to 60 miles per day needed, especially when you start in Scotland and know the terrain is anything but flat.
The first three days were hell.
The hills were relentless and seemed never ending. There were some great downhills that saw me coast at speeds of up to 40mph, but these were short lived and nowhere near enough time for a recovery to tackle the next hill. It was clear that I needed some help getting up the hills. The guys with me would get off their road bike and take the weight enough to allow my arms to continue to power myself uphill.
At this stage I had a theory. As long as my arms could physically move and power the cranks to get me up the hill, I was still working. If my arms failed (and they did) I would get off my hand-cycle and with a locked out left leg, I would drag my Handcycle and weak leg up the hill as far as possible. If my legs failed and I couldn’t get myself and my hand-cycle up the hill by my own doing, I would call it for that day and we would then need to decide if we stayed within the time frames and planned stops or if we would move the stop and then try to make up the time later on. Thankfully, it never came to that, as we made all the planned stops and even managed to get in a double-leg to give us an extra day's rest towards the end.
The real turning point was day five. Out of nowhere, my fitness came in again, and as much as I still needed the short recovery stops, I was not given help from this point on.
Day one was the farthest I’d ever cycled in one day, and day three was the first time I’d cycled more than two days in a row.
The never-ending hills
Before we got to Colchester, we had some of the worst sets of hills on the way to Catterick. We are talking a couple of miles with gradients staying between 10% and 15%. With many short recovery stops I took on each hill and made it to the top. My speed was very slow, cadence was also very low, but I powered up each hill and sections of each hill under my own power and was determined to not be beat.
The scenery was epic.
A memory to hold forever along with the achievement of the journey. I have photos that spark a memory, but I was in such a tired state each day that it was only about completing that day’s route. I wasn’t interested in where I was or what I’d just ridden up, it was about how far we still have to complete that day’s route.
For me, it was about each day was its own day, and a unique challenge in itself, with good friends and excellent support.
This winter was dedicated to swim training and running XCountry. In fact I ran so much XC, my senior school PE teacher Mrs Mantell would have laughed her head off if she had still been with us. I used to hate XCountry at school - always got a stitch... I thus dedicate my season to her.
Here my schedule!
- Essex XC Relays - Ladies 3rd Team
- Couple of South Essex XC League races with my old club
- 5 mile Winter XC Handicap - 1st Lady
- Chingford League @ HQ - 5th Lady
- Chingford League at Hog Hill (in the pitch black!!)
- Essex XC League 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 - Bronze V45!
- Ranelagh Mob Match which was run for the 90th time!
- Essex Vet XC Champs - 5th
- Chingford League at Ally Pally on my birthday - flaming steep hill!!!
- Olympic Park 10k with PB
- Essex Senior Champs - Bronze Women's Team!
- The Mercury (10 miles) - 6th Lady
- Southern XC Champs at Parliament Hill - enormous race!
- Blackheath Mob Match - Orion won!! - tough run...
- Chingford League Relays - Ladies team won!
- Cambridge Half
- Brentwood Half - new PB of 1.38
- Essex 5 mile road championship - Women's Team Gold and V45 Gold!
- St. Clare's Hospice 10k - 2nd overall
So a lot of running. Managed to win the Women's Division 2 at my running club and promotion to Division 1, which is the candy for all that effort! The other big project was some swim training with Cedric Lassonde (French Ironman) x6 in order to sort my swimming stroke out. Definitely seems more efficient. Let's see what it is like in the open water in a few weeks! I have also joined a new club that is nearer to me, so I can actually get to some club training, namely East London Triathletes. A very friendly club of like-minded people. I get to swim on Tuesday evenings at 20.00 which works much better for me and I enjoy the challenge of swimming with others, trying to lead the lane as much as I can. The trainers are from Swim4Tri so we are getting great coaching. Just need to try and get a new trisuit to represent them in the upcoming season!
Racing this much is hard on the body. I have had to work really hard at my muscles during strength training. Wonking glute meds have plagued me a bit, but I have come out the other side with some great rewards. Time in the gym is critical, folks, and you have to keep working at it. Rock on 2017 season!