#DropItLikeASquat – The End – Or is it?!

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Today marks the last day of Drop It Like A Squat; well done to those who have participated whether you went from day one to the end, started and didn’t finished or came onto the challenge from part way through. The fact that you did something is ALWAYS going to better than nothing at all. So to those who weren’t happy for any reason, please don’t be!

I congratulate each and every one of you and thank you for even jumping on the challenge to begin with; I put out some feelers on Twitter and Instagram and have had a really nice response from you all on and offline.

I am feeling much more toned and stronger in the glute, thigh and calf area and have definitely felt better with my running. I have decided to incorporate squats in my daily routine to maintain and possibly exceed my level of strength in my legs as I would really like to tone up my thighs and create the ‘teardrop’ effect above the knee and shred the sides of my thighs, possibly with the aid of deeper barbell squats so watch this space!!

Tomorrow on the start of 2013 it is the beginning of a new challenge with push-ups, so keep your eyes peeled out for that post during your hangovers.

Once again, thank you all so much for your support and I should wish you a Happy New Year, 2013 is going to be full of fantastic challenges I have set myself – I hope that you’ll take that journey with me and set some of your own. Let me know and I will do what I can to get you to the end.

Love and light

Angel. xx

#DropItLikeASquat … How is it going for you?

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Hi guys!

We’re 13 days into the challenge, getting into serious numbers now so I thought that I would check in on you all. I have had such a nice response seeing as I posted the original photo on Instagram and Twitter so thanks to you all. Special mention to my Instagram friends in the US @fit_digitalcurls and @Imsbs who have been really lovely, and a mention to Tennille, Hayley and Eliza who have been gung-ho with their training. Well done ladies!

So, how have you been getting on? It has been quite challenging and I definitely have had to focus on a few things, some days its been tempting to skip. But I haven’t and have actually done that days squats twice a day.

Just remember that your ass and thighs will love your hard work and you’re not doing this alone I am proud of each and every one of you.

I am always here for encouragement on Twitter/Instagram.

Love and light x

Are you up for a challenge?

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A week ago I saw a friend post on her Instagram a squat challenge for December, and as i like a good workout I have taken this on with both hands (thanks Redzy.)

With such a great response from you guys joining in, I mentioned on my Instagram that for the next few months there will be other challenges to see you into the start of 2013 with focus as well as toning up those problem areas.

So to put it out to you all officially, January will be a push-up challenge and February will be sit-ups. You know I love a good workout so I can’t wait for Fabulous abs in February.

I will post up a schedule for each month on the final day of the previous month’s challenge as well as a photo for correct positioning to ensure you’re not getting injured, it would be great seeing you post your photos and tweeting your progress so that we can all give each other positive encouragement.

(There will be a little prize to the most motivated folks at the end of the month too, I have been watching you all so watch this space ..) ;-)

December – #DropItLikeASquat

January – #PushIt

February – #AbsLikeAngel

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What a difference a year makes

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I just put my Amsterdam Half Marathon with the five others that I have collected over the past twelve months. To say I had a moment when I did would be a huge understatement.

This time last year I had just found out that I didn’t get a place at London Marathon (VLM,) I had just started to train after trying back in that March and kept getting injured so gave up. Wrong shoes (that’s for another post.)  I had decided on doing a bungee jump, a half marathon (Silverstone) and a full marathon. I almost gave up when things got really hard, but there was a voice in my heart that kept me going.

Fast forward twelve months and I have not only done those things, I have also added a second half marathon to that list, two 10ks and a five mile cross country a week after I ran Edinburgh marathon. My life has taken a real serious turn and it has been for the best. I will be finishing my level 2 Personal Trainer qualification next year, am in a permanent job and hopefully adding to the medal collection with the Paris Half, Edinburgh Marathon, running the VLM through the MS Society who I’ve already raised money for this year and the Royal Parks Half Marathon. Yes, an Ultra Marathon.

I cannot begin to tell you what my friend running has done to my life – as much as we have had huge ups and downs.  I have clocked up 400 or so miles in the last 12 months. Counselling has made a HUGE difference in my life and my spiritual journey has been nothing short of brilliant.

There are many people along this course who all have inspired, helped or even dragged me to certain points, but no-one has made me do any of this apart from me. It maybe crass to toot your own horn, but right now I am playing my own damn symphony and aint scared to play it loud!!

Here is to the next twelve months. If you have played a part in me getting to this point (you know who you are ‘cos I done told you so;) big up yourselves.

Ab Fab!

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I have been asked a lot over the past year, and particularly the last six months or so, about my core and what I do in terms of my workouts. I usually then send on a few components via email, which is usually well received.

Of late I have had loads of questions so thought it best to drop a blog with a 30 minute workout which I essentially do every morning before some yoga for you guys, and that way it’s out there and you can add suggestions or ask questions. If you need to start on a lower number of repetitions and build up as your confidence increases; do it!! Some is better than none!

I hope you like it!

One minute planks. (x 3)
Remember to pull your core in and keep a straight line from the back of your head, down your spine, all the way down your calves to your feet. Thirty seconds recovery then repeat twice.

Oblique leg Raises. (x 20)
Lying on your side (in side plank position) with your hand supporting your weight and the other arm either down your side or on the floor in front of you for balance.  With feet together, lift from the floor and hold for five seconds. Repeat twenty times then change sides.

Abdominal holds. (x 5)
Sitting up, hold your arms out to the front and lift your legs so that you are in a v position. Engage your core (pull your belly button in toward your back,) ensuring you aren’t slouching and hold for thirty seconds then repeat five times.

Scissor kicks. (x 50)
These are my favourite. (You may disagree!) Lie on your back with your legs up in the air. Ensure your back isn’t slouching and be careful with this or miss out if you have lower back problems (unless you consult your physician.) Using alternate arm to leg, swap sides and repeat fifty times each side.

V ups. (x 20)
While sitting, bring your knees to chest and hold with arms, release and whilst maintaining straight back with core engaged straighten legs until they’re an inch from the floor and lower back simultaneously. Repeat twenty times.

Russian Twists. (x 100)
Yes, grand finale time. The daddy of any bonafide abdominal workout. In “v” position with straight back and an engaged core, take arms across the body and touch the floor, repeat the other side. This is one repetition. Repeat one hundred times.

Thanks to Mr Trouble for the photo at the bottom of the collage.

When Angel met Gunnersbury

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Another random race, random location. Corey who leads Run Dem Crew West and Darren signed up and after Harvel and the fun we had on that excursion, I had to be a part of that action.

So after waking up at the asscrack of dawn on a Sunday, I got ready and met Corey and we made our way to Acton Town meeting some of the others from the crew along the way.

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Thankfully there was reception as it was apparent from the moment we made our way from the tube station, that there would be no signs. Anywhere.

Arrived in plenty of time, got our race numbers promptly and decided to change/go to the loo etc. With limited direction we eventually found the toilets. Dirty and far away from the start.

Back to base and after checking bags and a chat we were lead to the middle of the field where we had a group stretch and then started a few minutes after 11 with no visible start line. As there wasn’t a clock to show the time or anything we checked or watches/phones. Winging it dot com. I had already decided to take this as a Sunday race, with a tee and medal. Shrug it off dot com.

As we started (when the dude shouted “go” a la school) we all set off from the middle of the field to the edge and onto the pathway which led around the park. As usual it was about taking time, and it was my job to rein in a certain person who shall remain nameless (Corey, it was Corey)  from running too fast as we both had the British 10k the following Sunday.

It was apparent after a while too that Darren was going to take his time as the recurring ankle reared its ugly head.  With no real mile markers (spray paint on the floor, I mean c’mon man) we ran around and I barked at Corey ever so often to remind him to tek time.  I do take a few miles to get into the groove so I just kept on until that happened. By that time we had gone round once and things seemed to be going okay, water at the designated station and energy drinks in cups. We had a chat with a few people as we ran including a lovely lady from my end of town. I talked to her about RDC West and then let Corey do his thing. Second lap I got excited as the site stated two laps round the park. I quickly got told by the very man I was supposed to slow down … to slow down as we had one more blasted lap to go. Kiss My Teeth. I was hungry now.

Having slowed down a fair bit, Corey and the lady I recruited to RDC West with her partner took up their pace a little leaving Darren and I to take our time round. A fair few people around the park giving encouraging applause and words of encouragement as they were out in the park with their kids or dogs. Have to say despite any form of markings apart from marshalls pointing out the way Gunnersbury isn’t a bad park at all.

Speaking to Darren to encourage him for a little while I made sure I checked on anyone walking to make sure they were good. For me, those moments where you want to give up are often averted by the right thing said at the right time. Grumpy bag didn’t quite appreciate me asking if she was okay, nevermind innit. I expect if she weren’t so grumpy she’d have friends running with her offering encouragement. *blows a raspberry*

It was that time for the final corner, I put in a sprint for the last 300m and then waited for Darren to cross the line.

On reflection, it was a very nice course in terms of the park and was glad to be running en masse again with some of the RDC/RDC West folk, but mate I was not impressed with no lack of a clock at the start/finish line. Having someone should GO! and have a woman with a stopwatch record your time (which I’d like to point out a fortnight later I am STILL none the wiser) aint cool.

Verdict:

*How do people coming to the park from the station know how to get to the aformentioned park? Telepathy? And I don’t mean the jungle rave, either …

*No markers, spray paint on the floor? We aint in Hackney. At least laminated cards on a tree or something? No? Okay then.

*Tee was okay, although an option for smaller people would be nice.

*Medal … next!

Would rather pay a bit more money for that. Harvel was for around the same money and THEY managed to have all of this for a five-mile cross country race.

Take note, organisers. If you do, I may reach back.
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An Open letter to Charlie Dark and Run Dem Crew

Credit Tom Hull (look at my baby watching my other son receive his medal)

Dear all,

I have been a “runner” for just over a year now and it has been one of the biggest roller coasters one could imagine.

When I first started on this journey, I had a lot of crap going on in my life (nothing new I guess) but I was feeling restless, I was relatively fit, but my health was up and down, the condition I have means that I can be great one day and totally terrible within twenty-four hours.

Work was just the worst place to be and in general I was literally on auto pilot getting my son from A to B and home with very little energy to do much else. I felt the depression creeping up on me again and I was not liking it at all.

After watching the London Marathon again, I got a hair brained idea to sign up and train. Redfella and two others were harassed into signing up and for a month or two we ran together a couple of times, but with work or other reasons we didn’t all manage to train again.

Fast forward a Summer of not very much fitness and a lot of drinking and a little bit of Carnival and before I knew it I was in a funk. No George Clinton.

So when the commiseration booklet from Virgin London Marathon came through (what a cruel way to let you down, by the way *side eye*) I thought eff this, I want to still run a marathon and I WILL finish this ting. I had done some research on non balloted marathons through the Summer and decided to run in Edinburgh and Silverstone half as a “warm up” and a guide as to how the full marathon would go. The same time someone I knew had a relapse so I then decided to raise some money for the MS Society. I had taken note of your Twitter feed for most of that Summer thinking I’d love to be a part of that, but thought that I wasn’t good enough to go and run with experienced folk like you lot. I also signed up to be part of the Bangs n the Run crew, but didn’t make it in and that at the time knocked my confidence a little more.

Redfella and I decided after we sat for hours researching and sending each other emails that we would start a long run on a Sunday with a run in the week with another club, for a while it was okay, but the days where we weren’t running together we felt isolated. No one really spoke to each other when we turned up, it was as if you were running alone. My yearning to join RDC became a lot stronger and I know speaking to Redfella he agreed.

I contacted Bangs and we were told the place was full to the rafters until January, so we plodded on until then growing in confidence with distances but keeping an eye on RDC as an end goal.

When the time came for us to join you guys, it was the most exciting time and you did not fail to meet that expectation. I arrived and was made to feel like I was welcome from the moment i stepped through the doors and smiling at a few people I followed with them wondering who the hell was this little 5’2 chick grinning at. (that includes you Candice) but I didn’t business.

I documented that meeting here and I won’t bore you now as this post is already looking like a novel.

Every day since becoming one of the crew, I have felt as if I have been a part of this movement for a lot longer.

Charlie .. even with me smiling at you like a crazed stalker from Twitter (which I kinda was, you following me pon di Twitter ting was amazing. I respect you as a musician and from the Blacktronica era. before all of this) you didn’t get a restraining order, instead you were there to greet me as I sprinted back to you guys shouting encouragement.

Bangatron: You got me in, fam. I know you know how much that meant to myself (and Redfella) without getting even more corny, I kinda owe you one. Thank you.

The rest of you: What can I say? You guys are some completely bonkers folk from so many walks of life. Most of ya I have managed to speak with even briefly and few of you I have managed to become friendlier with due to us running together or going to Chaka’s class. (He’s a next person I have the utmost respect for. Want to know who helped cultivate the abs Charlie talks about? *Chaka voice* Come to class and do your homework!!  – I am lifting grown people and carrying them over my shoulders now yanna!! Don’t PLAY.) You all in your own way have made me realise my potential. I really wanted to give up when I was going through a really difficult period and the running and you lot made me remember why I am here and how foolish of me it would be to stop and then not be able to be with you lot. Amazing people like Shameek who has adopted me as his Mum and the fantastic Nathaniel. You are both wonderful young men who have worked so hard through various tribulations and not used excuses to do the easier thing and give up. All of you who have come to find me when sh*t has gotten rough and dragged me out that lull. So many to call by name, but I again thank you. You could never understand how much that means when you are at your worst/lowest point.

My sister who would never run for a bus is now running. She started the week after housekeeping and the ceremony for the Mc Run Dem Warriors and Bupa 10K crew who came home with medals after surviving the hottest day of 2012. She saw how much YOU people have helped me on my journey and the support that was shown for us running in that intense heat. The girl runs twice a week sometimes and is getting into it all. NONE of that would have happened had I not been at Run Dem.

That medal ceremony even now fills me with joy and release. Thinking about it as I write this is making me a little emotional (no tears, I have something inna mi eye *coughs*) I have always wanted to run a marathon, but never dreamed I would do it, let alone with energy to drag an injured man across the finish screaming and hyping up the crowd in the process. Like, really though?!

While I am not a long term member just yet, I really want you ALL to know that I am incredibly proud to be a member of this unorthodox bunch of misfits, shouting random street slang as I run, wearing my tee in random places Corey makes me sign up to, taking photos where the tallest person in the group blocks my damn face, cheering on weary runners in races hoping that they finish cos it means I am in a group of many other weird people like myself. I have four race medals under my belt with one to come this weekend, God willing and another in October. This time last year I wasn’t running more than 4/5 miles. Fricking hell man.

Life aint perfect, but I am a MUCH happier person than I was a year ago. Good job, training to be a Personal Trainer, feeling stronger physically and mentally .. That’s a start, right? Ya damn right it is!!

To the six of you that started this madness, thank you from my family to ours. Y’all rock.

Charlie. Calling you a friend is nothing short of a privilege. Salute El Captain.

One Love (with obligatory gun finger)

The last taboo

This post has taken me years to write. This particular attempt has taken me six months. I am not particularly slow with writing for the record, but the subject matter I want to talk about is incredibly difficult.

I was raped when I was fifteen by someone I knew and have only just let my loved ones know about it due to for a long time feeling ashamed and knowing it would change the relationship I had with those people, and I wasn’t able to have that attention. I wasn’t worthy of that. The same week the rape took place, I thought I was going to lose my mum as she fell incredibly ill and was in hospital for a long time. When she came out, my sister and I needed to help a lot until she was well enough again. So I kept quiet.

The person that assaulted me at the time held me down, looked me dead in my eyes and told me I was a whore, and for a very long time I believed it. I told one person as soon as it was over and they didn’t believe me, so figured “well if I tell the Police, they won’t believe me either and everyone else would think I was damaged goods.” So I kept it a secret for sixteen years.

I am not alone. According to Rape Crisis:

Only 15% of serious sexual offences against people 16 and over are reported to the police and of the rape offences that are reported, fewer than 6% result in an offender being convicted of this offence. This means that those who commit these very serious crimes may continue to pose a risk to the public.

From various conversations I’ve had or read, a lot of people haven’t told anyone. Why?

The reason why others keep it a secret is probably also down to the same feelings I expressed earlier, and this does make for alarming reading. But I understand it. We do all need to work together to ensure this is not a fact of life that we accept and get on with. Rape is the only crime I know where the victim has to prove their innocence and it makes me sick.

I have forgiven the person who committed the assault and the person I told in confidence who shrugged it off. I figured if I am to move on with my life, being bitter and angry was like me drinking poison and expecting them to suffer. But I didn’t deal with the guilt, shame and my relationships with men since then has not been all that healthy. Something that I am working on. Daily. I have recently taken up meditation and going for help, which is slowly unravelling the build up of hiding my shame and guilt for so long.

The impact of this all now means that I suffer with depression and have done unwittingly for at least six years before things got messy. It’s now been twelve years. And the more I think about things, the more I think it has been even longer than that. The familiar words “Cheer up, love” could have secured me a multi bedroom mansion if I were to collect a pound for every time I have heard it.

The need to ‘get on with things’ and worry about it when I’m out of that dark patch is always strong and very few people until now would never know I am having a bad time as I like most people are good at saying “I’m fine” when asked how I am.

When trying to write this piece in relation to how my physical activities really help I asked for people to send me a few lines in confidence to include in the post and it was very clear straight away that although it was fine for me to speak to those who replied about depression, it was not okay for me to include anything on the blog, and I totally understand why.

But the biggest help to all of this is my relationship with fitness. Before I became someone interested in running, my thing was the gym. I’d go two/three times a week for an hour. That pretty much got me through the day when at my last couple of jobs and any stresses the day would bring. Since I have been running, however it has meant that whether in a group, with my running partner Darren or alone I am forced to listen to my brain, as there are no external distractions. My World is put to rights when I put on my trainers and take out the days’ frustrations on the pavement and I can get on with sorting it when I get home and have my bath. I am not being dramatic when I say that running has saved my life. It really truly has.

I want to finish by saying to anyone that has been beaten or assaulted to please ask for help. Suffering in silence means that you carry this toxic thread throughout your daily life, and it seeps into everything unless you cut it out. It is not your fault if you have been assaulted and you are not in anyway asking to be treated so badly. Having spoken to my family and friends, I wish I had told them sooner.

What I’m saying is you CAN do this and while I’m no expert I know MY struggles and although it isn’t perfect talking to my family and fitness have helped me out of a lot dark periods of my life and it could work for you.

I do not need your sympathy or concern. I want you to help ensure that those around get the support they need, so they don’t suffer in silence. That all said and done, if you see that I’m becoming withdrawn do me a favour? Get me in my kit, shove me out the door and tell me to go for a run. ‘Cause it’s that time, again.

You can find help/advice from many sources including:

Rape Crisis | Refuge | Women’s Aid

(If you are outside the UK, search: “Rape Counselling.”)

When Angel met Harvel

No your eyes are not deceiving you.

Yes this is my rest period, post marathon.

Yes I ran a five mile cross country race Saturday, what can I say? I was just loosening off my legs.

I can tell you something from the jump, before we had even left our meeting point, I KNEW the day would be a special one. I met Darren, Candice and Ama at Sydenham station the only way I know how when I am with any of Rundemcrew. Gunshots from my gun finger. Moments Later Corey, the friend who kindly drove us to Harvel got out his car in his flip flops and socks to greet us. Before we were in the car, I had cried twice with laughter. By time we had arrived in Harvel, I was exhausted from laughing so much. But Harvel knew we had arrived, dubstep blaring out the car and the only “urban” folk to set foot in the quiet Kent village.

We arrived early so wandered up from the car park (a sh*t filled field – if you read last weeks race report, know I was a little peeved) to the area just before the start to collect our timing chips and come back for a bit to get changed/hydrate etc. before we headed back to the start area still catching far too much jokes along the way.

The other ladies who were coming from Rundemcrew’s West London group (which Corey organises) found us and we finished getting ready and headed for the start line.

Race started promptly at 2pm, which I am not used to. Any races I did in my time as a sprinter, Race for Life and in my current guise as a long distance runner has meant an early start.

That said, as I have said and continue to, it takes me a couple of miles to get going. Not good for a five miler, but hey. I decided straight away that I was not going to have any plan apart from treating this as a weekend run with a medal as my reward. The others pulled away early on and left Candice and I. She has had a well earned rest after London Marathon and recovering from injury. After a mile, I could feel myself pushing so I took up the pace and went with it.

Two miles in we had come off the country road and were in wooded area. It was very humid but the trees protected the sun which was trying to burn off the cloud. At this point I decided I need to invest in a pair of trail shoes as my feet were a little sore from last week and the tree roots weren’t sympathetic. Mid-way was refreshment in cups of water, jelly babies and cans of beer. I refrained, but it was a nice change from Lucozade!

A middle aged wrinkly dude with a beer hat in his club vest decided that he wanted to compete with me and proudly exclaimed that

“I am a male chauvanist and don’t like it when a woman beats me.”

Totally laughing it off as a joke, I ignored him and pressed on. I was there to have a fun run, get a medal and go home. It clear from that point on that this idiot thought different. Pretty much the rest of the run he would pass me, lose his momentum and when I passed he’d nastily say “you again” and then pass me. This was when he wasn’t blocking me *sigh.*

During this I managed to snatch moments to look at the stunning view in snippets of clearing and wandered if I tripped him up if he would roll down the bank into a tree. I blocked him out and took the old fart on the hill and left him in my wake for almost a mile before he was back on my tail again. These club runners are a lot, this man was thinking he was Mo Farrah. BLUD, I just ran a marathon.

Reminded myself where I was a week ago and left him to it as I didn’t want an injury, and the temptation of tripping him now we were back on the road a mile away was too strong.

Last mile was a blur, I felt myself pick up the pace and decided I would kick the turbo on for the last half mile as I was on course for a sub 50. Seeing the 400 yard sign, this turned into a sprint until I saw the finish and heard the crew shouting. Gunfinger popped off a few for my crew.

49:09. Not bad. Not ecstatic, but given its my first trail run a week after a marathon I can’t complain.

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Dinner at a beautiful village pub by a windmill overlooking the cricket green full of laughter and a couple drinks, we had a group hug and headed back to ‘the ends.’

All in all, I would go back next year and we all agreed. The crowds although sparce in some places were lovely and race well organised.

Not bad for a quick run to loosen off the legs ;-)

But if I run again in the next two weeks, you have permission to slap me.

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