2014: The year I got fitter, healthier and faster!

Ten years ago, if you’d asked me to run a marathon I would have politely shown you my index and middle fingers and told you where to go. Today, as I write this blog post I’m already three weeks in to my Paris Marathon training plan, smashing my PBs and feeling stronger than ever.

Stretching it out! #ParkRun #nikeplus #running #fitfam #health #yoga #parismarathon

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Paris will be my second marathon, my first was Brighton earlier this year which I ran with my dad for charity. Shortly after and probably still high on the endorphins and adrenaline the ballot for Paris and London came up and applied hoping that fate would do me the honour of determining what would be. I was delighted when I got the news I had a place and then quickly discovered my brother and sister would be joining me too. This will be the first race we’ll all be running together!

Running hasn’t always been my friend. We’ve been through the good times, the bad times, the battles and the tears but we’ve got to know each other very well. Charity fundraisers were my driving force in the most part until I realised that each time I stopped running my hips and belly promptly expanded and my habits of eating well slipped away. So in 2013, I decided to hold of raising cash for causes and put myself first taking on a personal challenge of three 10kms in May and a 5 mile circuit of Queen Elizabeth Park finishing to the sound of ‘Chariots of fire’ playing in the tunnels and a sprint finish on the track inside the Olympic stadium. I felt great, but old habits soon came back and I saw more of the sofa that the road.

In January 2014, my little sister had to give up a place in the Reading half marathon so I stepped up to the mark and ran a steady and confident 2:32 which I’d trained for in just about 8 weeks and then I saw this little tweet… It was the Brain Tumour Charity asking for runners to take part in the Brighton Marathon in 6 weeks’ time. So I thought, hey, why not? To make life a little easier I enlisted the help of a personal trainer – lavish I know but I don’t go out boozing or partying so this is my guilty pleasure. I ran with my dad and got through in just shy of 6 hours having had the most incredible of experiences.  Don’t get me wrong I walked like a cowboy for about 2 days after but I loved it nonetheless.

#runbennettsrun I did it!

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26.2 miles down, I wasn’t done yet and completed the Bupa 10k, the Nike Women’s 10km, the Gosport Golden mile and 5km and my PBs were dropping all the time. Then although my body was working well my mind thought otherwise and I experienced not one but two epileptic seizures. I ended up in the hospital for a few days and was out of action on the running front for a good few weeks.

Started my app early so this could well be sub 30! #nikeplus

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My PT was great and got me gently back to strength but I didn’t quite seem to have the same energy as I did before. I ran the Great North in September which was more of an adventure than a PB and once on the run, I had to stop and start all the way round. Not great, right? Next up a nasty, wheezy cough got me! After three weeks, I approached my GP who decided inhalers would be the best way forward. And do you know what? He was so right!

Since picking up training again in October, using my inhalers and focusing on building my total body strength as well as running with a training plan, I’ve broken three PBs, am stronger than ever and now have ‘fit girl problems’ which include having arms and legs with definition that don’t quite fit the high street sizes!

Warming up (them not me)! #ParkRun

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Running training in the winter can be tough to stay motivated but the weather hasn’t been quite as cold as it was last year, but I swap my tube commute home for the road once a week and I’ve joined my local ParkRun in Gunnersbury Park to get me out of bed on Saturday mornings and having good kit always makes you run faster, stronger and longer. I got myself some thermal leggings and a head band from Sweaty Betty which I love that are perfect for these conditions. However, I was recently approached by the team at Helly Hansen, to try out their LIFA Stay Dry long sleeve running top, and leggings as well as a cute little reversible beanie.  I’ll be reviewing my new kit very soon.

 

Helly Hansen are also doing their bit to keep runners motivated with the #WinterDuel challenge which encourages you to compete with a friend over five weeks to see who can go the distance. Janey and I are currently clocking up about 27km between us over 2 weeks and in 24th position overall. I’ll keep you updated in my tweets, Instagram pics and blog posts that follow as to how we get on. Oh, and if you’re looking for me on the Nike+ App, I’m Steph’s Bubble, obviously.

 

Here’s to a fast, fun, fit, and fashion focused 2015!

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