Winter miles make summer smiles right? But what if you live somewhere like Scotland, where summer is 3 days in March and winter is August, October, November, February, May and June?
It's tempting to sit on the turbo every other day, use the treadmill or stick to the pool, and they all have a place. Winter is the best time for utilising these tools along with strength training.
But if you're training for UK races you have to be prepared for any eventuality. Flashback to the Caledonian Etape May 2012, in what could only be described as a hurricane. A guy stopped me as I was flailing my hands about trying to get some blood back into my fingers so I could actually use my brakes. He offered me some handwarmers for my gloves because his wife had Raynaud's syndrome and he could tell I did too! (Still grateful, whoever you are!)
And let's not even discuss the horror that saw 2 degree water temperature in March 2018 for Red Bull's Neptune's Steps, at the tail end of the Beast from the East. My hands seized up completely after 10 minutes and they are still cold now.
There's really no telling what your race will be like in the UK and the only way to prepare for it is to get outside. You wouldn't enter a mountain marathon without at least running up a few hills in training, so why is braving the British winter weather any different?
Obviously there's a limit as to what is safe, especially on the bike and in the water, but generally it's best practice to get at one bike session a week outside at the very least and most, if not all, of your runs over the winter. And winter swimming, no matter how short a distance, will help you immensely over longer summer swims.
So if you've been hiding away in the gym all winter it's definitely time to think about venturing outside and getting some real vitamin D. Here are some tips to make it easier.
1. A rucksack. "A RUCKSACK Kate? You've lost your mind!" I hear you cyclists cry. "But how will people see my club colours?!". Ok, it doesn't have to be a rucksack if you can stuff things into bike bags and cycling jersey pockets, but I honestly think wearing layers is essential in our country, so what happens when you want to take one off? You need somewhere to put them! I am also obsessed with my arm warmers and thigh length leg warmers, which can easily come off if it gets too hot. They JUST about fit in my jersey pockets, but even better in a wee bag. A good, lightweight running bag with chest straps, waist straps and secure bottle holders is also a must for the longer runs, not just to carry fuel but to carry warm clothes should you need them.
2. Check the weather. I mean, sounds obvious right?! I really like Mountain Weather Information Service even if I'm not going up a hill. It gives a great, detailed overview and is updated daily (but it only really covers Scotland and the mountain regions of England and Wales). Really though, the best thing to do is go outside and make your own judgement! Sometimes a wet, grey, windy day is not actually as bad as it seems from the comfort of your bed, and isn't the rain refreshing 10 miles into your long run? And that 30mph headwind on the bike is the perfect strength workout.
3. Fuel accordingly. If you know it's blowing a hoolie for your long bike or it's freezing on your run, take extra food. How easy is it to head out with a lovely tailwind and speed away from home feeling like Bradley Wiggins, then turn round, feel the true force of the wind and have to battle all the way home, slowing down to a crawl. That's the moment when you need to be able to pop an extra Active Root in your water bottle, to make sure you don't bonk and end up freezing by the side of the road waiting for your other half to pick you up (not that I've ever done that!).
4. Humble brag. What's the point in braving our wonderful British weather if you can't boast about it on social media? Strava, Instagram, Facebook - make sure everyone knows you are tough as nails and enjoy the likes and comments as you sit back at home in your pjs with your cup of hot Active Root and maybe a wee biscuit to go with it! Remember, if it's not on Strava it didn't happen.
So, good luck and remember, stay safe and use common sense. The bragging rights are great but not if it's at the expense of your body or worse, your bike, hitting the deck on a patch of ice.
In January, many people were posting on their Facebook and Instagram pages the ’10-year-challenge’. Two pictures, side by side, 10 years apart. When I posted my own pictures, most people said “wow, that’s great”. Clearly, I have lost a lot of weight in 10 years and I’m happier and more active than I was then. Everybody loves a transformation picture.
But interestingly a couple of my friends said “Shut it, you were just as gorgeous then”. I responded by saying “but it’s not about being gorgeous – I was unhappy then and I’m happier now”. Simples.
BUT… IT’S NOT SIMPLE. First and foremost, I would like to categorically state that any happiness I have gained since that picture was taken 10 years ago is NOT because I look thinner. And I think, as a feminist striving for greater body acceptance in this world, that it’s VITAL I say, I did not magically become thinner overnight and immediately happy.
In fact, I went from being quite unhappy when that picture was taken, to progressively thinner and even more unhappy. I made the mistake many of us make, time and time again (and I made only last year AGAIN) – thinking losing weight will make your life better. I’m going to give you a brief overview of what life was like in between then and now, to really hammer home why you should never take transformation pictures at face value.
Below I have noted some key stages in this journey and rated my happiness level out of 10, one being about to jump under a bus, 10 being best-day-of-my-life level.
So, there you go, a long diatribe of 10 years of incredible change, both good and bad. If you’re still with me, the moral of the story is that being active contributes greatly to my happiness, but my size doesn’t define it. And if you’re still struggling with your weight, I hope you can see that too.
I was active and thin in 2010 but I was incredibly unhappy. I punished myself for eating instead of just enjoying my food as I do now and enjoying exercise for the sake of it. Over the years, even after I had Eilidh, I have let my size and shape affect my mental health. I bought into the notion that is continually forced down our throats that if I lost weight I’d be happier, and I never was. When I hit my pre-baby weight again in 2016, I remember really clearly feeling empty with the result – I still could barely walk and my dog was still dead. It made me realise more than anything that it’s the movement and lifestyle I enjoy, not the dress size.
I’m not sure it’s possible to ever be truly happy with your body – we all have bits we’d like to change if we spend time looking in the mirror. I’d like to have slimmer legs that moved significantly faster with no risk of injury. Maybe a smaller nose and no more spots. I’d also like to stop those grey hairs from creeping in and maybe not getting arthritis when I’m old.
And even though I preach it for fear of my feminist membership being revoked, I think you can’t just go from using the words “I feel fat” half your life to “ok I totally love my body now, cellulite and stretch marks and all”. It’s not as clear cut as that.
But from all of this I hope you see that being thinner does not lead to supreme happiness and if you think it does, if THAT’s the only reason you exercise or diet, you might find yourself sorely disappointed.
Before Eilidh, I had a pretty wild life. Wild in many ways but laterally wild in the literal sense – out in the mountains every weekend, out in the country and parks every single day of the week. Running, cycling, walking, swimming. I couldn’t sit still and I couldn’t pass up on any mini adventures whatever day of the week it was. I thought nothing of making a 10-hour round trip up north, leaving at 4am on a Saturday, and I had an Instagram-worthy life.
I assumed that would carry on when I had Eilidh. And honestly, if pregnancy hadn’t rendered me so immobile for 3 years I think I’d have had many more adventures to tell you about.
However, we do still get outside every day and we make time for day and weekend trips to our favourite places – Perthshire, Glencoe, the Trossachs and the islands.
We have a puppy who can’t walk miles yet and a toddler who is as wild and independent as the puppy (and me ). We take some incredible trips, carrying Eilidh or taking our off-road buggy, because my mental health would suffer immeasurably if we stopped. I think nothing of taking Eilidh and the dog to Loch Ard, an hour away, for an hour-long walk on an afternoon off, her dinner a sandwich in the car home. But it’s not all fun and games and Instagram pictures, as you’d imagine.
Firstly let me start by admitting I don’t have teenagers. I have no idea what to expect with THAT minefield so this blog is purely aimed at those of you with wee kiddies. If you have teenagers and handy tips, let us know!
Secondly, I need you to understand one very important fact (and I’m guessing you know it very well already): kids are really fecking hard work. When they are babies they scream all the time, when they are toddlers they strop all the time and get tired. When they are 5 they want to do their own thing (I think – we’re not there yet).
But you can still go out and enjoy Scotland’s epic playground without wanting to jump off a cliff. Ok honestly you might still want to do that but I would argue that I’d want to do that if I stayed in, so I may as well have those feelings in beautiful surroundings.
I’m pretty sure most kids just want two things:
1pm. Oh my god where is this finish line? I've been swimming for 3 hours. I should be done by now and I'm starting to really struggle.
The island I think is near the finish is not getting any closer. My shoulder is hurting and I'm getting very cold. I stop to ask the kayaker how far the finish is. He thinks another 1.5km or so (which is at least 25 mins of swimming now). And for the first time in my life I call it a day and ask for the boat back.
I see Chris at the finish and he's a bit shocked I'm in the boat. But not that shocked.
Rewind to, well, sometime this year. I've been having bouts of total exhaustion. "Well you're a mum now, Kate" I hear you say. But it's different. I've trained for Ironman distance races. I've had a baby that was awake between the hours of 1am and 5am every night. It's something more than that. And the past few weeks have been tough. I've been getting 9 hours sleep and trying to squeeze in a nap here and there, but still almost falling asleep at the wheel and losing my concentration easily.
As I wait for blood tests I considered pulling out of this event. It's not helped that I've replaced all my swim training with intensive physio on my pelvis for the past few weeks. Even the day before I was swithering. Chris was telling me to pull out, others telling me to give it a bash.
But I've done 10km before. Fuck, I've done 50km before. I've done a few 10kms in training this year and I've done 10kms well and I've done them badly. If there is one thing I know about myself it's that I can do anything I set my mind to. Swimming 10km, or the length of Loch Earn will be tough the way I'm feeling, but manageable surely? I'm Kate! I can do anything! My mum said so!
Things started to go wrong about 6km. I got really cold, after only a couple of open water swims this month and a steady drop in water temperature as autumn approaches. And then my rotator cuff, which gives me gyp occasionally started to hurt about 8km. But at least I only had 2km to go.
But it turns out the course is more like 10.4km (I'm still convinced it's more like 11km, as are others!) and by the time I got to 9km it was more like 10km I'd done. And I couldn't see the finish.
When the kayaker told me how far I had to go, I actually had less than 1km and not the 1500m+ he thought. But for the first time in my life I knew I couldn't physically manage any more. This was not a mental problem as so many of us endurance athletes face. I KNOW I can control my mind. But if there's one thing having osteitis pubis for 3 years has taught me it's that I can't alway control my body and today it just gave up. My body was freezing and mild hypothermia was creeping up on me (not really as bad as it sounds).
And for the first time in my life I thought I'd rather just sit down with a cup of coffee and a biscuit at the finish than try to battle my way to the finish line taking god-knows-how-long to get done. Everything hurt and I needed to make a decision before the cold started warping my decision-making skills.
And I don't regret it for a second! My friends were surprised, but some days just don't work the way you hope and I still managed to swim for 3 hours. I have that competitive type A personality that makes people think I'll be gutted, and yet I feel utterly confident and happy that I made the right choice for me. I had a lovely time swimming in an amazing location surrounded by incredibly inspiring men and women and I did my absolute best.
I'll get to the bottom of my physical health (I'm assuming it's just a vitamin deficiency or thyroid issue as is common with "women of my age") and I'll fix my osteitis pubis if it kills me. I'll still give 100% every time, and sometimes that 100% will be less than other times!
The lochs of Scotland will always be here, waiting to be swum.
Shout out to all my friends who swam today, especially David Barlow who is the King of Loch Earn! X
Hi, I'm Kate. I'm 36, a personal trainer, and a feminist. What has feminism got to do with being a PT? Well, a lot.
First of all, let's get the "oh I'm a girl but not a feminist" and "why do you hate men" shit out the way. Really? Feminism is a range of political movements, ideologies, and social movements that share a common goal: to define, establish, and achieve political, economic, personal, and social rights for women. If you don't believe in equal rights for women then no, I suppose you're not a feminist. If you do, you are. Sorry, not sorry.
So what has a lowly PT got to say on the issue? What has this got to do with macros, pyramid training and triathlons? Well, actually it's got a LOT to do with it.
I could go on about how women are paid less for the same sports. How men and women don't have equal access to sporting opportunities. How sportswomen are underrepresented in the media. How the fitness world is still massively sexualised and fetishised. I could talk about how women still feel incredibly pressured into having the "perfect body" - yes that's changing, but not necessarily for the good of the world; men are increasingly bombarded with mixed negative messages around how they should look.
What I want to focus on touches on my last point - that women still feel terrible pressure to look a certain way and that, despite "strong is the new skinny" messaging (equally damaging) and the body positivity movement, women still come to me to lose weight because they feel shit about themselves.
As a PT, it's my business to help them lose weight and gain muscle and move better. As a feminist it's my duty to ask "why do you want to lose weight, why do you think you should, why will it make you happy?". The two can't be mutually exclusive though.
As a PT I can say YES, exercising will help you stay mobile, it will lower your blood pressure, help prevent diseases like osteoporosis, and help to keep you sane in an insane world. I have a million reasons why moving more and eating well will have a positive impact on your life. But as a feminist I WANT to say "but you're beautiful, be happy with your body, love it, be kind to yourself, forgive yourself"...
Sometimes people come to PTs for clearcut health reasons - to reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol etc. But often it's sadness and anger at our bodies that motivates us to "get fit", whatever that means. And women say the same thing 99.9% of the time - to lose weight. And coming from a place of unhappiness can sometimes make it harder to reach your goals.
Yes men say it too, they want to lose weight, gain muscle. To look a certain way that fits with our social norms of healthy. But more often than not women are angry at their bodies, and it hurts my heart and yes I do blame it on the bloody patriarchy! It also makes my job exceptionally difficult, because I want to help them reach their goals but I want to do it in a way that allows them to make peace with themselves, and that's a very very hard balance to find. And honestly, I don't always get it right. My feminist head takes over and I want to shout "YOUR BODY IS AMAZING".
So, if you find yourself punishing yourself for eating an extra biscuit, or crying in the gym toilets (please say that was not just me!), or skipping the gym and feeling guilty so eating a tub of ice cream and feeling more guilty, or obsessively looking at fitness models on Instagram and wishing you could be bothered to workout like that, then here are some tips to help set you on a path to self love and self care.
I don't have all the answers. But I have finally come to a point in my life where I genuinely don't give a shit what I look like. Yes, I have a range on the scales that I'm comfortable in, but that's because I've BEEN overweight and I know what it feels like physically, and I honestly don't have time for that anymore! I've gained weight, lost weight, been pregnant, been injured, breastfed, had hormone issues, had post-natal depression, had PTSD. I've won fucking massive long triathlons and I've done shit in events I really wanted to do well in. I have felt guilty for foods I have eaten many, many times.
But now I'm interested in what my body can do. I'm annoyed that it's not working perfectly right now but I am NOT annoyed at any cellulite and stretch marks.
So if you want to weigh less, move more, gain muscle - AMAZING! Go for it! I applaud you and support you. But even better if you then go and burn your bra!
You may not think these are feminist issues. Maybe you think I'm being sexist looking at this across gendered lines. But honestly I think body confidence and self-care ARE women's issues. They affect women disproportionately due to our cultural and social norms. And yes, transgender, gender non-conforming people, and men, you have your own body image issues, but those are for another blog by a wiser and more experienced blogger.
Sarah Ogden Trotta, a writer at Everyday Feminism and psychotherapist says all this and more, much more eloquently than me, here:
I often re-read this when I'm having "a moment".
So, being out of action from my beloved triathlon, I have been desperate to do a relay just to enjoy the atmosphere again and get a wee bit radge! When my friends at TrueGrit launched Starman Triathlon this year - a half ironman staring at midnight in Loch Morlich, I knew I'd found something to be part of.
I can't imagine the work that goes into putting in an overnight triathlon, let alone recruiting a bunch of volunteers to stay up all night. I'm sure there were some last minute stresses but you wouldn't have known. The event was so well put together and the concept was amazing.
There was, of course, one thing that could put a dampener on the entire event - the absolutely torrential weather that battered Scotland at the end of last week. It was so brutal. And with some very tough hills on both the bike and the run sections, it could have been an very tricky race indeed.
So, Team Predator rocked up all bravado on Saturday to register in torrential rain wondering really if we'd made a mistake - my pelvis is pretty ruined so I was doing the swim, Stevie has a dodgy back so he was doing the bike, and Chris has got a dodgy calf and has been working 24 hours a day so maybe was a tad behind on training (like, no training at all). What could go wrong?! Should have called us Team Broken.
And honestly, this morning we are all a bit broken. Staying up all night and coming home to a toddler and puppy is not exactly relaxing.
BUT WHAT A NIGHT.
By the time midnight rolled around the weather had cleared and the stars really did come out for the inaugural Starman.
It was so awe inspiring to get in the water with our glow sticks on, the stars above us, to light our way round the surprisingly warm but dark Loch Morlich. I had the easiest bit of the entire event - 1900m swim. Ok, spotting is hard in the dark but the markers were lit up and in some ways that makes it easier than in daylight, especially when it's sunny. I had nothing to lose and, despite a stitch from not quite getting my pre-race food right, I tore round as fast as I could, stopping a few times to get orientated. It was 4 loops and there was a lot of support on the beach so I felt like a rockstar. I was out the water before anyone else and raced down the beach as fast as my shattered pelvis would take me to pass the baton to Stevie.
Stevie was able to smash his way out of transition and tare down the pitch-black country roads. He "may" have taken a slight detour at one point - in the dark you needed to be constantly vigilant for the turn signs and that one was a tough one. When we caught him to tell him (following him on a tracker), his bike chose that moment to have a wee break i.e. it broke. After much swearing and tugging at the chain we managed to set him off again in the right direction and he made a stellar effort around 90km of relentless hills in the dark. We followed him about the course for bits and had an amazing time - chatting to volunteers at the feed station and stopping in dark country lanes to marvel at the stars.
We left him fighting it out for 3rd place with another relay team member and shot off up to Cairngorm ski centre for Chris to get ready for the run. Stevie arrived and off Chris went, giving me plenty of time to chat with all the lovely volunteers and support crew, and help some of the racers with their transition prep.
I just love the camaraderie so much. Triathlon can be a lonely, aggressive sport even at amateur level, and I've loved being injured and reconnecting with the more friendly and relaxed atmosphere of open-water swimming. But Starman was special - most people were in good spirits despite the fact they still had to start 13 miles of mountains in the dark.
I got the pleasure of watching the athletes - including Chris, battling his cramping legs to stay in front of the bloke he'd over taken at the start of the second half of the run - come in on the beach back at Loch Morlich as the sun was rising and Aviemore was waking up (along with a few million midgies). No one arriving there that day, as a tourist or dog walker, would really understand what most of us had experienced that night: maybe they'd say it was "crazy".
But I know it was anything but. It was truly special and, in my view, a totally sensible way to spend a Saturday night.
Team Broken Predator smashed our way over the finish line, our own personal battles fought and won.
I hope to be well enough to do the entire event next year despite being scared of dark woods (GHOSTS! PSYCHOS!) where much of the event takes places, but if not we'll be back as a team!
Well done TrueGrit and well done volunteers, and congratulations participants for choosing to spend your time on this Earth wisely.
Follow TrueGrit for more fun adventure races and opportunities to collect good medals!
I often say "there's no "I" in team but there's an "I" in win". And I'm a bit serious! I have never been great at team sports. I like winning and I don't mean beating other people, I mean beating myself. I also like being by myself. I'm not able to think about others when I'm trying to focus on myself when exercising. I need the room in my head and physical space around me.
It can be difficult for relationships, especially the romantic ones. If you're more of a team player, it can be hard to be with someone so wilfully independent it seems like they don't need you, and if you're wilfully independent it can be hard to ask for your own space, and hard to get your head round being needed, and responding to those needs nicely! But of course it's not all black and white - you can be a supportive and loving friend / partner / family member without sacrificing your own cause.
It was amazing to watch something like this this in action on Sunday, when I arrived at Balloch shores and a fellow swimmer, Caroline, was 3 miles away from finishing her 21.6-mile swim of Loch Lomond.
Before I go any further I should add that I do not know Caroline and her husband Grahame that well so I'm really basing this on my own experiences, but it takes a certain kind of mind to be able to
It also takes a certain kind of person to be able to live with someone doing that, to come along to training sessions, hang about in the cold and rain, for hours on end, take responsibility for nutrition and hydration and, crucially, be there emotionally on the day. For any of you that have supported someone doing an endurance event - especially the first "big" one - it is emotional and nerve wracking. You'd give anything to take their fatigue away, you want to cuddle them every 5 minutes and tell them how amazing they are. But you can't, you have to stay focussed and let them get on with it! (Or maybe, like an ex or 2 of mine, you don't care very much and you're at home in your pants watching football 😂)
It was amazing to watch Caroline storm into Balloch shores like she hadn't just swum in shit conditions for 12 hours solid, but what made it so special was seeing how proud, nervy, emotional and excited Grahame was. He was SO proud of her and couldn't wait to see her in. It moved even my cold dead heart.
And it got me thinking about the importance of having a team when you have some fitness goals your trying to achieve - for many people that's simply to "get fit and lose weight". Our friend and dietician Nathalie Jones was explaining to us only last week about how, if you are starting a journey to lose weight (or swim 21 miles or run a marathon) those closest to you need to be on board. It's vitally important to sit down with them and tell them your goals at the outset and how you are going to achieve them. Explain to them why it's important to you and what you need from them.
For example, if you are trying to maintain a calorie deficit to lose weight, it's helpful if the people you live with don't bring home your favourite chocolate biscuits every day. Whilst you can't blame them for your decision to eat them, it's super helpful if they can help you with your journey. They may not be able to relate to your desire to kick the biscuit habit but hopefully they will understand why you're doing it.
Or maybe you want to do a marathon and need your partner to look after the kids when your train: sit down before you even sign up, decide on a rough training plan and agree that on, say, Saturday mornings you're out the house for 2-3 hours and that your training is going to increase as the weeks go on. Plan the days you need to give your partner a break and get a babysitter or Gran along!
It seems so obvious when you write it down doesn't it, but we hear over and over again "I'm trying to give up smoking but my friend keeps giving me cigarettes when we're out" or "I wanted to exercise but my other half brought home a takeaway so we watched Netflix instead". We must take responsibly for our actions (some colleague will ALWAYS bring in biscuits to the office, we don't need to eat them) but we must also communicate with our team members and make sure we are all on the same side! And ensure that we support our friends and family the way they support us.
I think we all just really want to be listened to and respected by those around us, whatever our personality type, whether we're a classic team player or a lone wolf, and deep down I think even the most independent of wolves needs a pal to see them through cold dark winters.
So congratulations Caroline on an epic swim and congratulations Grahame on providing epic support! You make a wonderful team!
I'm trying limit how many events I do this year, partly for financial reasons and partly to try to enjoy activity again and let go of the desire to smash it every single time - a lesson injury is forcing me to practice. Vigour Events are fairly relaxed - there are no prizes for winning - but they are always exceptionally well-organised and safe.
So when I saw Scotland's first-ever night swim advertised I knew I had to go along.
Honestly, I'm terrible at spotting (ie looking where I'm going). I've been known to swim in circles over longer distances. I'd say I swam 6km at my last 5km!! So I was a tad worried about following the 1km route without crashing into a moored boat.
For me there's something a bit eery about looking into the abyss in open water swimming. And I'm scared of the dark (honestly - if I'm alone in a new place I need a light on! Because ghosts!). So I was half expecting some ghostly figures to be swimming about under the water, waiting to tickle my feet, or drown me. Either or.
The night came and a few of us taking part went out for dinner, agonising over what to eat and how much. My pal Nathalie Jones is a dietician so I paid attention to her choices and tried not to over eat. It's a hard call and with the swim starting at 11pm to reflect the light nights of a Scottish summer, eating at 8pm would surely be fine.
When we arrived we were given torches to put in our tow floats and a glow stick for our hats so that the rescue team could see us. There was a relaxed, excited atmosphere! The usual "why are we going this?" and "what is the water temperature?"!
Well the water temperature was about 18, so boiling for Scotland, although the wind chilled is as we entered the water as the last of the twilight faded. It was some sight to see about 20 glowing beings enter a dark Loch. We worried about how to see where we were going but we had a lighted kayak follow.
We yelled at Robert to hurry up and start us. And off we went.
Just relax and enjoy it.
I tried for about 3 seconds. Then I put my foot down. I CAN'T HELP MYSELF! It's fun. If I know I'm in the front it's like a drug.
I tried hard to pay attention to the stars, the aeroplanes flying overhead, the glowing people behind me on the turns, the darkness of the water, the warmth. But with someone (Lesley!) on my tail I just rammed on and put a hard effort in.
My dinner came back to haunt me and I had a terrible stitch. Almost debilitating. It was actually hard to see where I was going too, despite the kayak, and getting to the finish line was even harder as the kayaker left me to it and I couldn't see a thing! I had to stop a few times to see where the hell I was but I made it eventually. Not my fastest 1km that's for sure but one of the most fun.
Of course I prance about saying "I won" to my family and Robert, the organiser, but I didn't really. Yes I fought hard to swim as fast as I could and I'm proud of that. But you can't win over a bunch of amazing people who are having a lovely time splashing about on a Saturday night, challenging themselves, fighting their own battles, addressing their own fears and living their best bloody life.
Rumours of another in the works abound so maybe I'll be doing at again this year and I'll be able to chill out, maybe do it without a wetsuit, and enjoy the stars.
As ever massive thanks to Vigour for taking care of us and to the amazing volunteers and kayakers keeping us safe and happy.
And if this hasn't convinced you to give it a shot, all Vigour events give you a Tunnocks teacake in your goody bag ("sold" I hear you cry!).
See you at the start line of the next event!
So, I'm not so interested in fashion. If I go out I dress like a 16-year-old from 2005: crop tops, platforms, glittery eyeshadow, belly button piercing, cute tattoos and no shame. Not becoming of a 36-year old mother.
But I spend an inordinate amount of time in activewear. The ability to wear leggings and old race t-shirts every day is essentially why I become a Personal Trainer. We've all seen the video (if not, see below).
I've surprised myself putting this blog together but fuck it. If, like me, you're motived to work out more when you buy a new item of active wear, feel free to show me your favourite stuff! I thought I'd pick my top 5 pieces for the coming months and focus on smaller UK brands. I still have a mesh fetish stemming from my 2008 Stella McCartney slutty trisuit but I'll try to move away from that for the purpose of this, as mesh is everywhere now.
ps sorry if you are viewing on phone and pics not beside description - I can't figure out how to fix it!
p.s I have not been paid or given freebies to write this. I just like the pretty shiny things.
I'm feeling depressed. There. I said it. I don't really say it aloud much. To me, admitting that is admitting to myself that I'm a failure, I'm not strong enough, that I'm selfish and self-indulgent. This is completely ridiculous because I would never, ever think that of anyone else who has depression. But that's the nature of it. Even as I type it I think "shut the fuck up Kate you're not depressed, stop being a selfish attention-seeking idiot".
I don't have the kind of depression that keeps me in bed, that makes it hard to talk to people, or that makes me have suicidal thoughts. I am very lucky in that sense. I don't feel like I need anti-depressants. I just have the temporary kind that sucks the joy out of you - you know, where nothing is exciting and you find it hard to muster up any enthusiasm about anything. You just sit about, procrastinate, eat shit and feel sad. Then feel guilty for all of the above.
It's just I've had a weird few years, and the last two have gradually ground me down into someone I don't always recognise - I'm grumpy, I'm harder on myself than ever, I'm less and less motivated for anything I used to enjoy.
Without offloading too much, my life just took a turn in a direction I wasn't expecting. I knew having a baby would be life changing but I saw myself becoming a PT, moving to Glasgow and living with my wonderful dog, taking my child on lots of adventures, and carrying on with half and full iron-distance triathlon. Everyone told me I would be that mother. I bought into it.
I didn't expect my dog to be killed by a train, and I didn't ever expect my pelvis to cause so many problems that I can't even really carry my child, and when I do too much I am in a world of pain. I also hadn't really expected the internal battles, guilt and resentment that go along with earning 90% less than my partner and being the main childcare provider and housewife! I hadn't excepted to find myself watching hours of TV whilst breastfeeding round the clock, and eventually choosing that over doing my physio exercises that weren't even working. I'm a hardcore feminist! I get out and achieve shit! I don't sit about feeling sorry for myself! I make shit happen!
Yes, if you look at my Instagram page I have an epic life. And I DO! I have a carbon copy child who we conceived easily, I have a wonderful partner who is supportive of my endeavours and poverty-inducing career change, and we live in a lovely house in a great area with lovely new friends. And we even got a puppy. And I am SO thankful for that.
But I have still lost my mojo, because I can't do many of the things I love the way I used to, and I've found it hard to let go of that. And the weirdest side affect is that I have found it incredibly difficult to find the motivation to do the things I AM allowed to do!
But having depression can do that to you. We all know exercising can make us feel happy, but when you're feeling low, or worse, how do you take that first step to leave the house, to move enough to get some happy endorphins, when all you want to do is drink a bottle of Sauvignon, eat a pizza and go to bed?
I certainly don't have all the answers and if you suspect you may have depression or any mental health disorder, the first step is to see your GP, and either start taking medication to help or be referred for counselling or therapy.
Once you feel able to, and crucially, once you WANT to, you can start making plans to move again. And honestly, you don't have to! Yes exercise is good for both physical and mental health but if you are really adverse to trying, then don't! Examine your motivations and come back to the idea in a few days or weeks or months when you are ready.
But if you do feel ready, here are some simple steps to help make it manageable:
So look, I know there's nothing new here that hasn't been said elsewhere (and more eloquently) but I hope it resonates and, for me personally, it helps to say it out loud. And that is a big motivator to get my butt into the pool later when I've already given myself 25 reasons why I shouldn't bother!
If you live in Glasgow, come and try Inside Out Fitness and Nutrition Coaching at the Pentagon Centre for 2 weeks for free - a safe and nurturing environment where we all have our own wee issues and some of us tell really bad jokes on a regular basis.
So thank you Chris for putting up with my moods over the last two years, sorry to everyone who has ever kindly asked about my pelvis and has gotten a misery-faced answer, and happy 2nd birthday Eilidh, despite the annoyance of pregnancy-related injury and post-natal depression, you are a Queen Bam and I'm forever grateful that the aliens at Area 51 graced us with your presence.
For more information on stress, anxiety and depression, see http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/Pages/low-mood-stress-anxiety.aspx