Tag Archives: Spirulina

Catching up, CrossFit, Ironman Dublin 70.3, Marafun, stir-fry and Santahampton.

7 Dec

I’ve been so busy recently that I’ve not had enough time to blog. I hope that I can find more time in 2015 – I think that perhaps I need to be more productive in my lunch breaks. As I’m struggling to find enough time, I’m trying to add more frequent social media updates:

One of my aims for 2015 is to focus a little more on my diet and nutrition. I’m good at sticking to a training plan, so I think I need to be as rigid about what I eat to try to stop me from making unhealthy choices. I’ve got a few ideas up my sleeve… more will be revealed later.

I’ve been busy for several reasons – one of which is work, but the main one is that I’m trying to get back into regular training, so that it’s not too difficult for me to pick up my half marathon training in January. I’m also desperate to get a 5km PB before the end of the year as I feel like I’m making some progress with my running. I’m also back to Run Leading/coaching with Lordshill Road Runners. I now regularly help Ben on a Wednesday, which is great. It means that I get a rest day in the middle of the week whilst helping other people to achieve their goals.

A month ago, I blogged that I had achieved my best ever race pace. Later I looked at my run on Strava and was surprised to see how well it ranked against my other runs:

Strava results

I know that I’ve run 1 mile faster than 7:32 (my PB is 7:27), but I’ve never run 5k in under 25 minutes! πŸ™‚ This is great as it means that I’ve a little hope that I might get a 5k PB before the end of the year.

I’ve also been doing a lot more training with SUTRI. I’ve regularly been attending Tuesday night spinning classes. They’re quite different from what I was used to at Bournemouth University. I used to do 30 minute classes and these are an hour, but I don’t find them as challenging – I think this is because I’m fitter and now ride a bike every day. The music is also very different from what I’m used to.

I’ve also been going to SUTRI strength and conditioning classes which are led by Ollie at the local CrossFit box. CrossFit seems to be a Marmite activity, as it divides people into those who love it and those who hate it. The lovers enjoy the group mentality and camaraderie about working with others to push yourselves to the limit; the haters point out the extreme risks that are taken in some gyms where the instructors have received minimal training and rhabdo is common. What we’re doing is a modified version of CrossFit that is tailored to triathlon. Also, I’m confident that the coach knows what he’s doing and isn’t going to get anyone doing multiple reps of an exercise that they don’t understand with a weight that’s too heavy for them.

So far, I’ve been to three strength and conditioning classes. The first one was the day after Gosport Half Marathon, so my legs were a little bit tired. We did a whole range of things that I’ve not done for many years including some pull ups using rings and some squats… lots of squats. There were squats with a medicine ball, squats throwing a medicine ball and just plain squats. I’ve no idea how many squats I did, but the next day my legs hurt and by Wednesday I wondered whether I would ever be able to stand without groaning again!

In my second class, the focus was on inversions. This was much safer territory for me. I stopped doing gymnastics in 2008, but muscle memory means that I still know how to do a handstand. We did a variety of handstands in groups of three and also had to walk up the wall into a handstand position for me. It felt good as I knew that I could do it. We also had to balance in crow position (from yoga). I used to spend a lot of time doing various balance on the beam and have practised this position in yoga, so it was something that I knew I could do. I felt great when the class finished and was pleased that I did not ache afterwards.

Last week, my friend Roelie came along to the class with me. I’m significantly older than the other participants, so it was great to have a friend who’s not in her early twenties to train with. The focus of the session was using kettlebells. A few years back, I did a kettlebell workout with my karate instructor, Sean, but I’ve not used them since then. We spent quite a bit of time working on doing a Russian/Turkish get up (as demonstrated in this video). We also had to do knee-lifts, which involved working the lower abs by raising our knees to our chests whilst hanging from a bar. We had to do this in sets of 10. My biggest concern was whether I’d be able to reach the bar. Some of the taller blokes could reach up and touch it with their hands, whilst I was hoping that I would be able to jump high enough to reach it! Fortunately, I managed it, but it’s a long time since I’ve done anything like that, so my hands didn’t like it!

The only frustration that I’ve had so far is that each class seems to have some burpees in it. Unfortunately, my low blood pressure means that I’m not allowed to do burpees as I always end up fainting. I’ve been told to do the burpees slowly, but I’m not convinced that it has any benefit for me and just makes me look like I can’t do them 😦

Ironman Dublin logo

On 24th November, entry to Ironman Dublin 70.3 opened for people who had pre-registered. Stuart and I were fortunate enough to get places, along with three of our friends from Southampton Tri Club: Suzanne, Huw and Steve. Unlike Weymouth, I won’t be able to train on the course in advance, but I’m more confident now and I’m hoping that I’ll head into HIM training on the back of some successful half marathon training. My aim is to finish in under 7 hours, which will require me to improve on all disciplines. I think I wasted a lot of time in T1 at Weymouth and my run was poor, so they should be easy places to lose some time.

On 29th November, Rob and Stuart agreed to pace me at parkrun. I had several aims:

  • Beat my fastest time at parkrun this year (25:45)
  • Beat my Southampton parkrun PB (25:12)
  • Beat my 5k PB (25:08)
  • Finish in 24:59 or faster

I’ve blogged about how it went – I didn’t achieve all of my goals, but it was my 3rd fastest ever parkrun and I’m confident that with some consistent training and a healthy diet I’ll get there.

I’m now running again with Lordshill on a Monday evening. The pace of the groups is a little inconsistent at the moment, so it’s not always easy to work out which group to run with. I was dithering about joining Stu’s group (Group F) for some sprints when I was asked to help out with Group D on Monday. I agreed to tail run, which was probably a good decision. Before we started running, Teri got me to pose for a quick photo with James who won the Best New Male Athlete award by Southampton Tri Club. Teri humorously referred to us as the ‘king and queen of tri’ – I’m not sure I’m at that level yet, but I’m still proud enough to keep polishing my trophy!

Celebrating my tri club win with Jmes, who was awarded best new male

Celebrating my tri club win with James, who was awarded best new male

After running, I headed down to swimming. It had been cold outside, which meant that the pool felt warm for a change… the pool at The Quays is always really cold! It was a tiring session, but it’s always hard to swim for an hour when you’ve already done an hour of strength and conditioning, an hour of running and have spent nearly an hour commuting by bike!

On Thursday evenings, I’ve been running at the track with Huw from STC. He’s a great coach – I find him very supportive and motivational and I love running on the track as it has such a lovely bouncy surface. This week’s session was 600ms. We had to jog/walk/recover for 200m before running 400m at 5k pace followed by 200m at faster than 5k pace. I managed to do six reps before calling it a day. It was a tough session, but I know that it’s what will make the difference when it comes to getting a 5k PB.

On Friday evening, I did a 750m swimming time trial that I’ve blogged about. It was tough!

Yesterday, I didn’t go to parkrun. I’ve been considering having laser eye surgery for a while, so I booked a consultation for Saturday afternoon. I was not allowed to wear my contact lenses for 24 hour beforehand, which meant that I couldn’t do parkrun as I cannot run with my glasses on. As an alternative, I went swimming with STC. I knew it would be tough as it was only 12 hours after I finished swimming with SUTRI.

I hardly ever swim with STC on a Saturday morning, so I had no idea who would be in my lane or what I could expect. Fortunately, it wasn’t too busy and the other people in my lane were not significantly faster than me. I was quite proud of myself for managing 4 lengths of butterfly (my previous best was 1/4 length). It wasn’t great – I’m quite surprised none of the lifeguards tried to save me – but I didn’t drown. Sadly, Garmin thinks I was doing freestyle… but at least it recognised that it was a swimming stroke! I should probably admit that I had fins on… But I also had to do another 4 lengths single arm without fins, at which point I nearly died! Afterwards, we went for a hot drink with some of the others swimmers. It was so difficult to recognise people without their swimming hats and goggles on!

On Saturday evening, I made a lovely dinner: sesame, honey, ginger and tofu stir-fry.

Sesame, honey, ginger and tofu stir-fry

Sesame, honey, ginger and tofu stir-fry

It’s based on an old recipe that I had for cabbage stir-fry.Β  Ingredients:

  • 1 chopped clove of garlic
  • Small piece of chopped ginger
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • Some sesame seeds (I used a mixture of black and white seeds)
  • Any stir-fry veg (I used mangetout, red pepper [capsicum], baby corn, spring onions [scallions], broccoli spears and a red chilli
  • Tofu

It worked out really well πŸ™‚

Today has been a busy day. This morning, Stuart and I ran up to The Common for another training run with the Marafun crew. I dithered a bit, but went into the 9 minute mile group again. If I’m going to get a PB then I’ll need to manage faster than that pace on race day!

After we finished the group run, Stuart and I ran home, where I made some spirulina smoothies.

This afternoon, we joined Coach Ant’s fun run: Santahampton.

We arrived a little late, but it was easy to see where we needed to go as there were plenty of people out with costumes on:

Arriving at Santahampton

Arriving at Santahampton

The local newspaper had sent a photographer and also a journalist (who turned out to be one of my former students. I love it when I hear about my people I’ve taught doing well).

Coach Ant briefed everyone about the route, and then we were off.

Ant starting the run

Ant starting the run

I jogged with some people that I know – we were at the back, but that was fine as it was a fun sociable event. I really enjoyed having a chance to say hello to people that I know.

Afterwards, we were all rewarded with a mince pie.

Any with Sandra and her huskies

Ant with Sandra and her huskies

My favourite Christmas elf

My favourite Christmas elf – Liz and her medal.

Secret Santa (aka Rikki)

Secret Santa (aka Rikki)

Papping the photographer - a quick snap of Jules

Papping the photographer – a quick snap of Jules

How’s your week been? Have you got any festive runs scheduled?

Spiru… what? Pond gunk or superfood?

7 Dec

Recently the lovely people at myprotein.com sent me some spirulina, so I thought I’d give it a try.

The first time I heard of spirulina was nearly a decade ago whenΒ  crazy “doctor” Gillian McKeith talked about it on ‘You are what you eat’. McKeith’s credentials have since been rubbished, but that doesn’t mean that everything she talked about was wrong – few people would argue with eating a healthy diet including plenty of fresh fruit and veg.

Spirulina has been described as a ‘super food’ as it is high in protein, iron and vitamin B12 – as a vegetarian, this is great news. The benefits of spirulina are described below:

Spirulina for good health

http://visual.ly/track.php?q=http://visual.ly/spirulina-good-health&slug=spirulina-good-health

But what is spirulina? It’s an algae or cyanobacteria, which doesn’t sound particularly delicious, and I’ll be honest, it doesn’t look terribly appetising.
So, what should I do with the spirulina? I knew that most people use it in smoothies, but what should I combine it with? I turned to Pinterest for inspiration: http://www.pinterest.com/nutrexhawaii/spirulina-recipes-we-love/
Unfortunately, I’ve not done my weekly shopping yet, so I had to choose a simple recipe that included ingredients that I had in my house:

Spirulina Green Juice

1 cucumber
2 medium-sized apples
1 small lemon or lime
1 teaspoon Spirulina powder

Adventures with spirulina

I gathered together the required ingredients, which was easy enough. There were no instructions with the recipe, but I figured that it should be easy enough to make a smoothie. I don’t have a juicer, but that didn’t worry me. I chopped the ends off the cucumber and cored the apple. I decided that peeling the cucumber and the apples was probably unnecessary. Then I got to the lemon – hmm, what should I do with it? I carefully zested it and then cut off the pith and removed the pips.

I chopped the ingredients a little and then threw them into my blender with a little water.

After I had blended the ingredients, I added a teaspoon of spirulina powder.

My spirulina smoothie

My spirulina smoothie

I will admit that the finished result looked somewhat like the murky water in the lake that I swim in :-S On the plus side, it did smell good.

Tamsyn with a glass of smoothie

Ready to taste it…

Tamsyn drinking a glass of smoothie

Delicious πŸ™‚

I took my first sip and was pleasantly surprised. It tasted good πŸ˜€ There was enough for two glasses, so I gave the other one to my husband, Stu.

Stuart trying my smoothie

Stuart trying my smoothie

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Stuart was a little more wary, but I think his feedback was generally good: “It tastes of lemon, but has a green thing texture. It’s a bit chewy.”
Overall, I think it was a success, but I probably need a better blender and adding a little more water may have helped! I sipped the smoothie before adding the spirulina and although I noticed a slight difference, it wasn’t unpleasant.
If you’re thinking of improving your health in 2015, there are plenty of free courses (MOOCs – Massive Online Open Courses) that are available online. I’m thinking about doing ‘The body matters’ on EdX: https://www.edx.org/course/body-matters-mcgillx-body101x#.VIHfd9aAYzwd
Have you tried spirulina? What did you think of it? Can you recommend any recipes?
If you’d like a discount on spirulina, visit: http://www.myprotein.com/voucher-codes.list
To find out more about the myprotein.com Spirulina, visit this site: http://www.myprotein.com/sports-nutrition/spirulina/10530515.html

Mmmm maple protein pancakes

25 Nov

As a vegetarian, I’ve had an interest in protein for a long time. There’s lots of conflicting information about the healthiness of vegetarian diets, with some people arguing that it’s not possible to get enough protein from plant sources. I disagree with this, but as a very active person who is trying to lose weight, it is preferable for me to increase the amount of protein in my diet, so that I’m relying less on carbs to curb my hunger. Protein is also good for building muscle, and with the cross-training sessions that I’ve been doing, that’s definitely something that I need help with!

The lovely people at myprotein.com recently sent me some protein pancake mix and some Spirulina powder to try.

Myprotein box

What a great slogan – I’ve got lots of ambition and it definitely needs fuelling!

IMG_3655

I’ve tried protein powder before, but have only used it in a smoothie or porridge. I’m not a great baker, but I love pancakes, so I was excited to try the protein pancake mix.

On Sunday morning, I went out for a training run withe the Marafun people. I ran up to the meeting point, and then we went out for a 10.5km run. The group I was in was being led by Rob, a coach from my running club, and Pete a Run Leader from my running club. They’re both lovely guys and experienced runners. Rob is a firm believer in Maffetone training for endurance sports – this is aerobic training (low heart rate). Unfortunately, it’s a tough kind of training to start off with as it involves lots of slow running initially. My husband is trying it at the moment – I hope it works out as well for him as it has done for his friends.

It was cold and wet when we were out running… and I felt even colder after we had stopped for a chat at the end. Fortunately, we had a short run to get home and help me to warm up again. Overall, I ran just over 15km, with most of it at quite a fast pace… which meant that I felt I deserved a treat. Maple protein pancakes were on the menu.

I was pleasantly surprised by how easy the packet was to open and even more surprised by the heavenly aroma that greeted me. I had expected it to have a synthetic smell; instead, it smelt exactly like a jar of maple syrup – delicious.

IMG_3657

The next step in the process was to weigh out the powder and mix it with milk or water – I decided to go for a combination of milk and water. A true chef would have weighed out the powder and then slowly added the liquid whilst stirring to form a smooth paste… but I’m not a true chef, so I weighed out the protein powder in my measure jug and then topped it up with the liquid. It was a bit lumpy and took a bit of whisking to smooth out the lumps – oops! I think it would also have been possible to mix it in a smoothie shaker, but I don’t have one.

IMG_3658

I heated some oil in my omelette pan and added the mixture. It smelt so good that I was desperate for it to be ready. It was looking great until I tried to turn it over… my culinary skills let me down, so it didn’t quite go as planned.

IMG_3659

At this stage, I must point out that this is what always happens to my pancakes on Shrove Tuesday. I have never fried a perfect pancake first time, but I usually get it right before I run out of batter!Β  I also believe in the authenticity of my blogging – this is my real life, it’s not just someone’s beautifully staged instagram account – so I thought I should share these images with you.

IMG_3660

I dished up the pancake anyway, as I was desperate to try it. It tasted a thousand times better than it looks. I had thought that it might not taste as good as it smelled, but it was much better. I thought it might need some additional maple syrup, but it was perfect as it was.

Fortunately, there was more batter left, so I was able to make some more pancakes, which turned out much better:

IMG_3661 IMG_3663

I made up the mixture as described on the packet and was able to make 4 large pancakes. They all tasted really good, even if they didn’t all look perfect.

So, next up is the Spirulina… I’d love to hear whether you’ve tried it before and what your recommendations are. I’m hoping to be able to make some delicious smoothies for after training.

If you’d like to try some myprotein.com products, there are some discount codes available here: http://www.myprotein.com/voucher-codes.list