Paris – you were great!

I’ve never really liked Paris. I don’t know why. It’s always seemed a bit grey.

Rewind to early November last year. Lucy, a great friend of mine, didn’t make it into the London marathon but had secured her place for Paris. We started just running for run and that’s when the seed was planted. Maybe I could run Paris marathon with Lucy!

Now, I have run many marathons, in many locations and my last marathon was at the end of Ironman Vichy in 2017 and I vowed never to run a marathon again, famous last words. I know what that distance feels like – it’s a long old way on your legs. Anyway, before I knew it, I had entered Paris!

And so the training began in earnest in January.

We had a structured training programme of 3 runs a week. Building the mileage up very slowly to avoid any injury. Adding some tempo, steady and interval runs in as well as making sure our long runs on Sunday included plenty of hills. Hard to believe, but Paris is actually quite an undulating course.

We had so much fun during our training. Despite the weather on some of our long runs, including torrential rain and strong winds, snow – we got out there – as one coach once told me, it could be like that on race day. The furthest we ran was 30km – the marathon would be another 12km.

And then, the training was over and we were making our way to Paris.

There were things we had to do in Paris, collect our number, familiarise ourselves with the start and finish locations, which were conveniently, very close to our apartment. We ate plenty of pasta, drank plenty of water and chilled in readiness for Paris Marathon on 14 April 2018.

10.10 – our start time for the Paris Marathon. We were aiming for 4.30hrs and we waited patiently in our pen and then we were off. Time to put everything into practise that we had done on our training. The key thing was not to go out too fast, we had a long way to run so we had to pace it just right. We had our gels with us (all 9), our camelbaks (with 2:1 energy drink) and we could stop at the water stations for plain water if we needed to. The first part of the run was on cobbled streets and was very congested and seemed to be a very gradual climb. Bit by bit the kms ticked off. I don’t really remember much of the marathon to be honest. I remember running along the River Sienne, down and up through the under passes, and there being one big climb that almost had me, stopping at the Eiffel Tower to take a selfie and then for the last 7km or so, running through a park where it seemed like everyone had taken to walking. Not Lucy and I – we still had enough energy to keep our steady and consistent running to get us to the end. I was keeping a close eye on our pace and time.

The selfie at the Eiffel Tower!

And then, there was the end – we had done it. We had finished Paris Marathon in a respectable time of 4hrs 33. Lucy had gone from 10km in September, to 10 miles in February and to her first marathon in April. She was determined, focussed and did it!

The walk back to the apartment was an interesting one, a very slow one!

I loved running the Paris Marathon and would highly recommended it – superbly organised.

Maybe now, I do like Paris!

This marathon training lark…

So, on 14 April, I will be in Paris, running the Paris marathon! I hate Paris! So, why am I running a marathon and in Paris?

My friend, Lucy – it’s all her fault!

Lucy wanted to run a marathon – I started to run with her before her training plan started (coached by me of course!) and we had a few chats and all of sudden, I am running Paris Marathon!

We’ve completed the first 4 weeks of training and this week we have started week 5!

There have been giggles on the way, there have been a few swear words too, there have been some very sore legs and bodies, but we’ve stuck to the programme and this weekend we completed a comfortable 13 miles training (half marathon to some) in a respectable time whilst keeping our heart rate under 150bpm (our Zone 2) and enjoying the lovely gels and Blok shots to keep us fuelled on our journey.

Lucy and I have a special friendship – we get each other and we are able to run at the same pace – it helps. We are open and honest with each other on how we are feeling – some days are better than others. We are able to motivate each other on our runs and the absolute rubbish we can talk about sometimes is something else! We put the world to rights, encounter some miserable car drivers on the way, we smile at other runners and try to enjoy ourselves.

My job is rather physical being a Personal Trainer, I won’t lie, my body does feel very tired some days and I do need to look after myself just a little better (note to self to add some more Pasta on my food shop!)

The flights and accommodation are booked for Paris.. and just another 72 days until we stand at the start line – Me and Paris running buddy, Lucy – we’ve so got this!

What a year…

As I sit here and try to reflect on the year, a year that seems to have flown by so quickly, it’s been a whirlwind year with many great bits!  Have I achieved anything – is life about constantly achieving things – pushing yourself to try new things and to challenge yourself?  It’s a question I really need to think about.

Reflecting on the year, the most memorable was representing Great Britain at the World Triathlon Championships in Australia – always a dream and one that I got to live.  Memories were made and won’t be forgotten.   Thank you to all of you who supported me and helped me get out to fulfil my dream!

I found a lot about myself this year – I love to train for events, I love the discipline of a structured training plan.  I really don’t like the competing bit.  But without a goal I struggle to train so I need to work on my mindset in readiness for competing if I decide to race again.

My only fitness goal for next year is Paris Marathon in April.  I said I would never run a marathon again, but you should never say never.  I am looking forward to running with my buddy Lucy over the winter months and heading to Paris and doing some sightseeing whilst running a marathon!

My Personal Training business has grown in strength over the year, having only been running for just over 2 years.  I will be developing it further with some new and fresh ideas being planned for next year.   Watch this space!

I have my good health, my family, my friends as I finish this year.  That’s far more important than anything else.  The things I have done this year have made my life interesting and varied, but without my health, family and friends, I couldn’t have achieved any of it.  Thank you.

Do more of what you love!  Feel free to share what you will be focussing on next year – for me, I will be taking more time to look after myself, some quiet time, the simple things in life, long walks with my buddy Percy and Matt (he doesn’t know this yet!), cups of tea with cake, with no pressure to please anyone but myself.

Wishing you all a wonderful time over the festive period with loved ones.

Miss V

Changing my mindset for running

I used to love running – I have completed plenty of marathons, half marathons, 10kms, 5kms.

We didn’t have strava, we didn’t really have smartphones – I would plot my run and go run it and see how long it would take me.  Nobody knew how far or fast I ran.   How many hills I climbed.  I would just run.

Now we have gadgets and smartphones that tell us everything from pace per min / cadence / elevation / temperature / average stride length / vertical oscillation etc.  These are great to have if you are focussing on something specific.

Last year, I trained for my Ironman and the data was needed especially training in Heart Rate Zone 2 and again, for this year’s challenge, the World Triathlon Championships.

But now what?

Part of me feels like everyone is watching me and thinking.. oh, she’s not running as fast as she was earlier in the year.  She should be better than that.

But I have come to realise,


The problem is our environment, what we hear, listen to, the voices of expectations others have for us and our own expectations cause unnecessary pressure to reside where it most certainly does not need to be.

What is bad is when you get caught up in the expectations of others and then have to start explaining yourself if your race didn’t go to your standards (or their standards).

I have realised that my mindset for running should be one of calm and confidence – something that I haven’t had for a long time but I think I have found it.

Living up to other’s expectations of me is not part of that equation.  At the end of the day, no-one really cares about how well I do in a race, really.

Yes, loved ones care, as do your friends and family.  No matter how fast we run, it doesn’t dictate our worth.  My loved ones will care about me regardless of what time I run or what place I come in at a race.

I have spent too much time, caught up in trying to impress others that it’s taken the enjoyment of running itself.  But this is going to change.

I have a great friend who has moved locally and we’ve been out running this week and last, no agenda, just to go out and run and have a good chat.  I have loved every minute of those runs – no set distance or time, just go out and run.   We understand each other, there’s no pressure, we can run slower or faster if we want.  The time goes by so quickly as we chat, putting the world to rights.

I don’t have a goal and right now I don’t want one.  I am happy just to go out and run, just because I can.

Miss V

Just a little bit out of my comfort zone…

It’s okay to be out of your comfort zone just a little bit… right?

Miss V loves her job, loves teaching Kettlebells, Personal Training, triathlon (not so much the running bit though) but being self-employed I can’t sit still, I need to keep developing.  Delivering what people want.

I attended a weekend course mid October on Freestyle Fitness Yoga – it really wasn’t what I was expecting.  I do have high expectations, and this didn’t even come close.  I learned some stuff but just not enough to deliver a successful Stretch and Relax class that would be up to my standard.  So, I have had to use my knowledge, my ability, research and plenty of home study to deliver a great Stretch and Relax class.

Stretch and Relax – this really isn’t me.  Or should I rephrase that, it really wasn’t me.  I have too much energy to calm down

I don’t do slow.  I do cardio.  I like to workout.

It’s something I have always dismissed.  I do a little bit of stretching after exercising but just not enough.  I know it’s important.  But let’s admit, who really does enough stretching?

I have been practising Stretch and a little bit of relax at least 3-4 times a week over the last month.  I have noticed a massive difference.  My flexibility has improved greatly.   My standing strength in some of the postures is strong.  I have also noticed the range of motion in my hips has improved and my range of movement doing squats has improved.  I have actually seen the benefits of regular stretching and I actually quite enjoy it!

On Tuesday, a few of my Kettlebell class stayed behind as my guinea pigs so that I could practise my forthcoming Stretch and Relax class.  It’s so different to teaching Kettlebells.  I felt out of my comfort zone – I was nervous.  I delivered my class.  It was a fun class – that’s what I want it to be.  I don’t feel I need to be the best in everything I do.  We are all very different especially when it comes to range of movement.

So, on Tuesday 6 November my Stretch and Relax launches, 17 people already registered – no pressure Miss V. I have 3 days left to practise and deliver the best class I possibly can.

No luck needed.. .I am prepared!







I didn’t cycle… should I feel guilty?

The weather forecast said today was going to be lovely – it turned out to be a beautiful warm autumnal day.

I had planned to cycle this afternoon, my day was going to plan and there was time to get out and cycle.

But I didn’t.

I didn’t want to.

Instead, I took Percy for a lovely long walk and enjoyed the warm sunshine.

It’s not always about pushing yourself – or thinking you have to swim, bike or run.

The walk was good for my mind – it let me think about things, things I need to focus on.  I wasn’t focussed on my speed or my heartrate or thinking… ouch my legs!

I do have goals – I need to have goals but my goals are soft goals and business goals.  There are a few fitness related goals in there too but nothing that requires too much time or effort.  I will enjoy the winter months focussing on my swim – there’s always room for improvement there.  I will try to find my love for running (Ellie Barnes you will chuckle at this!).  I will focus on my business and the launch of my Stretch and Relax classes from November.

But first up, I need to paint the spare room – that’s tomorrow’s job!

Miss V



My trip down under….

I am back – back from representing Great Britain at the World Triathlon Championships.

This is going to be a very frank and open blog about my race… so grab a cuppa and settle down.

We landed in Brisbane after a long flight, there were other athletes on the flight, all wearing their kit – I was not.  Why would I?

The GB Athlete hotel was different.  It was on the Gold Coast in Surfers Paradise.  A strange place – like the Blackpool of Australia.  We unpacked the bike and took a wander.  It still remained a strange place.

Monday morning – after a terrible nights sleep, we checked out the area, picked up some food and then headed over to the race venue.  There was an amazing Olympic pool nearby so we gave that a go – 50mtr outdoor pool, what more can I say.  We took a slow run back to the hotel.

Tuesday morning, it was time to meet the other athletes and hop on the bikes and check out the bike course.  Nothing too challenging.  I felt nothing, no excitement.  Matt and I  were tourists for the day and took ourselves up the Skyline to check out the views of the Gold Coast – that was fun.  Late afternoon, I had to go to the Team GB briefing.  I felt intimidated, I felt like I didn’t belong there.  We had a team photograph and then Matt and I went back up the Skyline to watch the sunset over the Gold Coast.  Still a strange place!

Wednesday was another busy day, it was swim familiarisation, registration and bike racking day.  I checked out the swim course without my wetsuit as there was a 50/50 change it might have been a non-wetsuit swim.  It was fine.  I still felt nothing.  We registered and then I racked my bike.   We headed to the opening ceremony that evening and ate pasta.

Thursday morning – Race Day – it was here.  I felt nervous now.  I didn’t feel excited.  We made our way to the race venue.  There were athletes everywhere.  Some people had already started their races.  My race time was 11.30am.  I popped into transition to drop off my running stuff, helmet, glasses etc.  After a short while, I headed back just to check everything was still in order, my sunglasses had gone.  I will presume they had been stolen.  Apparently, this is quite common as I later found out.  I was very angry.  I headed out to find Matt who, thankfully, had some with him, I borrowed them.  I was still very very angry.  There was nothing I could do.  We found a little quiet spot and I got ready for my swim, wetsuit on, and then the emotions surfaced, I cried.  I didn’t want to race.  Matt told me I had nothing to prove and just to go out and enjoy it.  I so didn’t want to race.  I felt a like a joke.  I didn’t belong there.  I couldn’t let those that had supported me down – so off I went.  I headed to my pen with all the other ladies in my age group.  I so wanted to run away.  I met a lovely lady, Rose, from Mexico.  She felt the same.  I later found out, she had a panic attack on the swim but still finished.

It was time to race.

I made my way to the water – stood there thinking why am I doing this and before I had time to come up with the answer, it was time to swim.  I swam well, I could have swum faster, but overall was super happy with my time.  I exited the water and off to find my bike.  Matt was cheering me on.  I found my bike – there were other bikes still around me so I wasn’t last!

Off out on the bike after a long run through transition with the bike.  The bike course was flat but it was very windy.  I was out there on my own for most of it and my mind was telling me to quit, I found it tough but I kept going… I still had the run to go.

I got back safely, with no mechanicals back to transition and yet another long run with the bike to find my racking spot… time to go out on the run.

It was hot, my legs were not working.  It was two laps of 2.5km.  I ran the best I could and the happiest part was coming into the race venue after lap 2, seeing Matt, grabbing the GB flag and getting over that finishing line.  I had finished.   I was so glad to see that finishing line.  I had done it.

I got my medal, I got some watermelon and found Matt.

We hung around to watch some team mates come in and then sat and had a little picnic.  I felt like a joke.  How the hell had I made the team.  Those that were racing were super fit,  I didn’t belong there.

I had raced hard, given it my all and my overall time was the fastest to date I have done for a sprint triathlon.  But yet, I felt nothing, I didn’t feel happy, I wasn’t proud.
CaptureWe picked up my bike mid afternoon and made our way back to the hotel.  It was a slow walk.  The race was over and now the holiday could begin.  Matt had been so supportive leading up to and during the race.

We watched the Elites race on Saturday and Sunday and then headed up the coast for some quiet time together.  We visited a Wildlife sanctuary, did some Whale watching and visited Whitehaven beach.

As I sit here and write this, it all feels very surreal, and yes, I still feel nothing.  Maybe that’s just me.

Would I do it again, probably not to be honest.  Been there now, time to find my next goal.

In the meantime, I am going to take some time out, focus on things that I have neglected over the last few months including myself a little.

Thank you all for all your kind support to get me to that start line.  It was an amazing experience to be there, to see everyone race, team mates as well as the Elites.

If I can do it, anyone can!


This is it…

This time tomorrow, I will be sat comfortably on the plane with my noise cancelling headphones (thanks Lillian) with my super comfy superior travel comfort pillow (thank you Lucy) and my chocolate 🙂

The training is done – there’s nothing more I can do, but to get my head in the zone, get to the start line and enjoy every moment of it!

Thank you to everyone who has helped me get here, from the Tri20 coaches and club mates, my Kettlebell class members, my friends, and my family – thank you!

Just a small matter of getting my bike into the bike box – how hard can it be?

This is it… whooooahhh!  Australia, World Triathlon Championships here I come.

Miss V (GB Athlete!)

1 week to go – time to see what I can do!

Reading Triathlon – a triathlon run by triathletes – just the best!

It’s my local triathlon run by my Triathlon Club – Tri20- it’s not my club, but I am a member 🙂 .  It’s such a friendly club and they really know how to put on a great Triathlon!

Today was the 35th Reading Triathlon and I used this to practise my race strategy for Australia.   Thinking about swim placement at the start of the swim, nutrition on the bike and pacing and the run – we all know I don’t like that bit so much – so I just got myself around on that one.  More later on that!

It was a super early start and I cycled down.  Set up in transition and met a few fellow GB Triathletes heading out to Australia.  It was nice to put a face to the name – they were so friendly.  They have been part of the GB team for a while.  It was nice to see many of my club mates helping out with the event as well.

The swim – the swim can be quite terrifying but you need to position yourself well in the water.  I decided to start on the left, mid way in the pack.  Off I went… I could see some swimmers to my right and headed to the first buoy.  But there was no-one near me – where were they?  I could see 2 white caps further ahead but no more.  I carried on swimming.   And carried on swimming, still no-one around me.  I exited the water in 3rd place – I’ll take that one – thank you very much – 12mins 5 secs for 750mtrs.  That was a good swim and I didn’t even draft!  Happy with that!

Now to find my bike and get ready for the bike leg.  I was unsure whether I would have my bike shoes on my bike and took the decision today to not.  So I put them on and then ran to the mount line – it was a long run in bike shoes.  Lesson learned.  The bike was great fun – I felt strong and my time and speed reflects that.  I drank my drink – all of it!  I decided to do a flying dismount, where you take your feet out of your bike shoes whilst still moving and then you can run with your bike to transition ready for the run.  It was a good bike!  Average speed 30.5kph – 43 minutes, 43 secs for 21.8km.  Great speed for a non draft legal race for me!

Now the run – my least favourite of all 3 disciplines and I knew this would be hard.  It’s not a road run – it’s off road, flat but not that great underfoot.  I ticked along just nicely, talking to myself – you cannot walk V, you mustn’t walk V.. just keep moving.  And, so I did, I kept moving.  I finished.  28minutes, 18 secs for 5.3km.  It’s not fast, but it was consistent.

My transitions weren’t too bad – there is a room for improvement on T1 (the swim to bike bit) but overall happy with those.

I crossed that finish line – knowing that I had done it – I had executed my race to perfection.  I came 4th in my Age Group and 7th overall out of 63 females who took part in the Sprint – not a bad day in the office if I do say so myself.  I cycled back home, very very slowly!

I won’t lie, I feel absolutely shattered typing this and this week I will be keeping my training light but sharp and packing for Australia.

A big shout out to both Kate Hulcoop-Allen and Nicky Rogers, who I coached to their first triathlon – they were awesome – well done ladies!

Less than one week to go before I fly to Australia!

Miss V (GB Triathlete)