Run a 10 Minute Mile in My Shoes….

‘It’s not that your goals are physically impossible that’s keeping you from achieving them; it’s that you lack the self-discipline to stick to them. It’s physically possible to lose weight. It’s physically possible to exercise more’ – Daniel Goldstein

I’ll openly admit that I’m probably one of the messiest, laziest person you’re ever likely to meet, and I’m perfectly ok with that. It also wouldn’t be unfair to describe me as wishy washy or flaky. I can make up a million believable reasons not to do something if I really don’t want to. One thing you may not know about me however is that every now and again, I’ll decide to do something and I won’t stop until it’s done.

On example of that recently was saving up for a trip of a lifetime to Vegas with Meagan. Another was just before Christmas when I set myself a challenge of being able to run a mile in under 10 minutes. I’ve never been shy of the fact that I’m not a natural runner, I’m 5’4 – with only a foot of that made up of leg, and my thighs are as wide as they are long (think less Beyonce, more international sumo wrestler) but I do know what good exercise it is, it tones me up like nothing else, and as cheesy as it may sounds, that ‘runners high’ you get when you’re finished is pretty addictive.

I’ve challenged myself with exercise a few times in the past. In 2015 I did a ‘10K Everyday’ challenge I invented myself as a way to stay fit over the Easter weekend and it’s been on my bucket list for years now to complete a half marathon at some point. The reasons I decided on a 10 minute mile challenge were four fold:

  1. It was less time consuming than marathon training and was something I could tag onto the end of a standard workout
  2. It’s something that can be done in the gym – which in the cold winter months was a huge attraction
  3. I feel I have endurance exercise down, I can zone out on the crosstrainer for 90 minutes on a good day, but fast, high intensity isn’t something I do much of, so will be good to try something new
  4. The treadmill at my gym shows you running around a virtual 400m running track and when you grow up with Janine ‘Gazelle’ Weightman and Angela ‘School Cross Country Team’ Harrison as your best mates, I want to prove to 12 year old Helen that running round a running track isn’t the stuff of nightmares it once was.

So after about two and a half months training (about a month of being frustratingly stuck on 10:15mins), on Sunday 18th December 2016 I did it, I ran a mile in 10 minutes (in under 10 minutes actually) and it felt pretty bloody amazing.

wp-1483563593927.jpgPhotographic evidence: calories, speed, time, distance

What’s even more bloody amazing is I’ve managed to do it again every time I’ve stepped on a treadmill since then as well, so it wasn’t just a one off – yippee!

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More photographic evidence from 04.04.2017

It feels good to set yourself a goal and achieve it. Not just achieve it actually but work it into your daily workout routine. Now I need to start thinking about what I’m going to do next; it’s Easter weekend again soon however I reckon the possibility of me running another 10K every day this year is slim to none – still, it’s something I can tell the grandkids I did once…

Getting My Running Mojo Back

‘I don’t generally like running. I believe in training by rising gently up and down from the bench’ – Satchel Paige

I’ve always had a love hate relationship with running, well with exercise in general to be honest. I only ever joined the gym because i’d started Weight Watchers and realised that the more exercise I did the more I could eat. I started running in 2013 after we’d decided to try Insanity at home then realised that anything anything would be better than that medieval torture DVD.

So suffice to say that any exercise I’ve done is because it’s been the lesser of two evils. And however cliche it may sound, when I first started running, I literally couldn’t run to the end of the street. So with Dave’s help (who runs ultra marathons incidentally, so there really was no excuse for me not to try). I did just that. I ran to the end of the street.

Then I would run to the next lamppost, then the next one, then the bench by the pub, and before long, I’d done my first 5K. Not long after that I set myself the goal of running to the airport and back, which is bob on 5 miles. Achieving that felt like I’d ran a marathon. I’d definitely caught the running bug.

Problem is thought i’m vey much a fair weather runner and it doesn’t take much for me to take an excuse to just go to the gym instead; It’s too windy, it’s too wet, it’s too cold it’s too hot, or most recently, I don’t have the right trainers – there’s that path of least resistance theory again.

I’ve mentioned before that I have flatter feet than Donald Duck, makes me great at swimming, crap at running and as such i need decent trainers that mean I no longer have the gait of a Weeble and make me need to hip replacement at 34 . I got some brand new trainers for my birthday (my trusty Asics Kayanos and quite literally wearing the lining off my last pair) so there really was no excuse now. Besides, everyone in the world seems to have been training for the Great North Run this summer, and I like feeling part of a gang.

So i laced up my new kicks, downloaded some cheesy motivational running tunes and set out for my first 5k in about 4 months. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t the most pleasant experience I’ve ever had, and i was pretty much unable to move for 48 hours afterwards but i did it. And thinking how much effort it took me to run 5K not that long ago, the fact that I could run it reasonably ok after doing nothing other than crosstraining for 4 months felt like an achievement.

The main thing i like about running, other than it tones you up like nothing else (i swear I almost saw an ab once) is that it’s all you. The effort is all you. You’re not being helped along by water, or a machine, and yes sometimes you get lucky on a particularly windy day and get pushed home but other than that it’s you doing all the work and that’s why it hurts so much! But it’s also why it does you so much good.

So although my first 5k was a success it still feels like a long road back to 10K. Out all i needed to get my running mojo back was a new pair of trainers and to run out of excuses.

Ultra Dave’s Ultra Diary: St Cuthberts Way 100K

”Find the level of intolerance you can tolerate and stay there’ – David Horton

It’s been a few weeks since Dave completed the St Cuthberts Way 100K Ultra Marathon, here’s how he got on:

St Cuthbert’s Way winds its way from Melrose in the Scottish borders to Lindisfarne, or Holy Island on the Northumberland coast. It’s somewhat of a shame that the ultramarathon organised by Trail Outlaws runs the course in reverse meaning you’re running straight into the tailwind. That makes it a wind in the face experience with over seven thousand feet of climbing to be done. To be fair to the organisers this is less to with any need to be cruel to the competitors (take note High Terrain Events!) and more to do with having to run the part of the race which crosses the tidal causeway to the island at a time when the tide is out!

In the build up to the race I had tried to keep preparations a little more low-key in terms of my support. I’ve found having lots of people present, although lovely, can add a bit of pressure and a feeling of guilt that everyone is spending so much time out in the middle of nowhere following me slowly around the countryside. I was happy to just have Helen crew for me, but she wanted some company in the car and to share the driving so roped in bestie Angela, presumably with the promise of cakes or some other bribe (a day in my company is bribe enough – Helen)

The alarm woke us up at 4:30, race clothes thrown on and coffee drunk and we were on the road in our little Kia by about 5:15. Race registration was available at Melrose the night before, or the option we were going for, set up at one of the race checkpoints at Wooler Bowling Club, between 6:15 and 7:00 on the morning of the race. We got there just after registration has opened and went through the necessary motions. Kit check was first, no problems there, then I was handed my race number and the obligatory race shirt and even a free block of Kendal mint cake to add to my race nutrition. For the uninitiated, Kendal mint cake comes in a wrapper similar to any chocolate bar but is a sort of soft white mint block that seems to consist mainly of sugar. There is a chocolate covered variety but this was plain, it did make a nice change during the race though, definitely easy to eat!

We were one of the first to arrive on Holy Island and weren’t sure exactly where to park or where the race start was exactly. Other cars started to arrive, many equally unsure as us if they were in the best spot. A short walk took us into the village and to St Cuthbert’s cross where the race was supposed to start at 8:00. The organised coach bringing many of the runners to the start was delayed but the organisers eventually turned up and with a few short words of encouragement and not much fanfare, the race got underway.

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This was the first ultra I have run that did not feature a fully marked course. The way is marked all the time of course, because it is an official long distance walk, but it wasn’t long until I discovered that the marking was far from as well marked as the pre-race literature had suggested. I’d expected to just be able to follow the runners in front from the start for quite some time. However it wasn’t long before I came to an unmarked junction and the next group in front have disappeared from sight. I went a few yards down the right fork and decided it was probably the other way. The next couple of runners came along behind and confirmed my decision but I decided to get the map out of my bag at that point anyway.

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It seemed like no time at all before getting to the first real checkpoint, about six and a half miles in. I’d forgotten to take a tablet at the start to prevent my hay fever taking hold so was hoping my crew would have the tablets with them. Unfortunately they were in the car parked some distance away so I would have to carry on without until the next checkpoint.  (There’s always something I forget at the first checkpoint , always – Helen)

With fluids refilled, I carried on and began the days climbing. Once I’d gained a bit of height I turned around to take in the stunning views of Holy Island, where we’d started and hour or two earlier. I’d started at a very conservative pace and wasn’t running with anyone in particular so from this point on until late in the race, I was generally catching people in front of me rather than the other way around.

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By the time I got back to Wooler where we’d registered I had risen dramatically through the places to what I was told was about 13th. My parents had arrived to lend their support and quite a few people were around to clap me into the checkpoint. It is very supportive and well meaning, but can be a bit embarrassing when there is still so far to go.

Above Wooler there is a large forest, and this is where the day started to go wrong! Just before the forest the grassy track split into two. My new friend, who had come up from Leeds for the race was leading and took the right fork, I tried to check on the map while keeping up and it looked right, although the scale on the map wasn’t great for detail. The route still seemed fine for a while, but then we encountered a large number of downed trees blocking the route. I thought I recalled this being mentioned in a briefing email and that we should go around the root end wherever there was no obvious worn path. However we ended up clambering over things to the extent that we realised we must have gone wrong, although there were signs of other people having gone this way. I now suspect that we had gone wrong on the entry to the forest, and should have thought to go even further back. At the time our best option seemed to be to try and wider route through the trees to the right. All this had lost us at least twenty minutes and used lots of energy!

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By the time I got to the next checkpoint at Hethpool, still not even half way I was a bit down. My hamstrings were getting sore already, which had me worried and I hadn’t completely put getting lost out of my mind. My crew refuelled me though and the race organisers consoled me with the news that lots of people were saying that they had been lost at various point, so I wasn’t alone (I believe your exact words were ‘I suck at this’ – Helen) On leaving the checkpoint I dropped into rhythm with a couple of other guys and we marched up the hill together. Often pre-race advice from organisers suggests that grouping together for navigation is a good idea. However, I’m not so sure because there can be a bit of all following each other and nobody paying enough attention. The two runners together behind us had followed our next navigational mistake but realised earlier than we had. The result was all five of us cutting down a steep gully over rough ground and scrambling up the other side to regain the right path. More time and energy wasted, but I had learned my lesson this time and kept a sharp eye on navigation from then on avoiding any more major mishaps.

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I was on my own again by the time I ran into Morebattle and took a seat in the town hall, where my support team, now swollen by two more, ran around getting me plastic cups of coke and bits of food (Ang was particularly keen on making sure the Haribo Strawbs tasted ok before you had any – Helen). The last few miles before getting here was the only point in the race where I ran out of fluids and felt a bit dehydrated. I left without finishing the bag of crisps I’d started, but I took the rest of the bag with me having thrown some jelly sweets inside, not caring that the salty crisps and sticky sugary sweets would get all mixed together.

I’d crossed the biggest hills on the route and was starting to feel tired by the time I arrived at Maxton Church. There was still one large set of hill to get through before the finish, but thankfully the route was through a pass so didn’t go right to the top of the hill. By the time I got to the base of the climb it was getting dark, and in amongst the trees it was even harder to see. I pulled my new head torch and although it gave me enough light to run by, I had chosen a lightweight and inexpensive model so it wasn’t as bright as some. I navigated through the trees and spotted the lights of other runners up ahead. They had obviously chosen more powerful models as their lights lit up the ground in front of them like daylight. I caught them up shortly before getting to the top of the pass and exchanged a few words of mutual suffering before I went ahead.

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As the path came out of the trees the glittering lights of Melrose suddenly appeared below. They were unmistakable as Melrose is the only town of this size nearby. I could hear the other runners just behind me but didn’t look back as I realised I’d be faster than them on the steep decent in front of me. I shoved my earphones back into my ears and charged down the slope as fast as I dared, betting that my quads would last the distance and the pounding to the bottom. The abbey appeared in front of me, but while this was the end of the official path, it wasn’t the end of the race. I gave up looking for the final self chip which was allegedly tied to a lamppost (but I couldn’t see it) and followed a yellow arrow towards the race finish at Darnick Village Hall. I stumbled into the hall to clapping and congratulations. That didn’t include my crew though, they were in the pub!

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To be fair, they were following my GPS tracker but this had failed and didn’t show that I was close to the finish. I was given my finishers medal, I washed my face and hands and grabbed a celebratory cupcake before they burst through the entrance full of apologies for missing the big moment. We took a few photos and headed for home. The journey back wasn’t to be underestimated though, something definitely worth bearing in mind after an ultra. Helen was driving after Angela had done a great job of driving all day, but she had still been up since 4:30 so was very tired herself. It was all I could do to stay awake in the passenger seat to keep her company. It was nearly midnight by the time we got home, got a quick shower and collapsed into bed.

I found St Cuthberts tougher than the Wall particularly in terms of vertical gain and underfoot terrain, but the heat and extra distance of the Wall means I felt better towards the end on St Cuthberts. The Kielder ultra was probably a little harder in terms of terrain and looked intimidating early on due to the snow, but the 20K less distance made it easier.

I’m beginning to think that it comes down to the longer a course takes the harder it is, regardless of the other factors. Should make my next race (St Oswalds 100 mile in September)  interesting, since I expect it to take at least another 9 or 10 hours.

2016 Resolution number 6 – an Update

‘It’s not exactly the most relaxing activity, granted, but I always imagine I’m sweating out all the things weighing on my mind’ – Becca Fitzpatrick

Back in January it felt obligatory to jump on the blogging bandwagon that was doing the rounds that week and I created my 16 in 16. 16 resolutions for 2016 (god help me in 2072!). I remember posting it and getting a few positive comments about them and it was all lovely but I don’t think, if I’m honest with myself I was under any illusion that I would actually do any of them. Believe me I’ll say pretty much any old shit for the sake of a half decent blog post.

So fast forward a few months I  noticed on my stats page that for some weird reason, my 16 in 16 post was being read again, which made me read it again, if only to laugh at myself for spending 3 hours creating a useless list of half baked ideas that were going to somehow make my life better. The most surprising thing is, I have actually managed to do a few of them. Perhaps one of my resolutions should have been ‘be less hard on myself’?

Anyway, that gave me the idea to create a few posts giving updates on some of the things I said I would do, and low and behold I actually have!

Number 6 on the list was:

Get back into running – I still have a love/hate relationship with running. I don’t particularly enjoy it and I find it difficult, but I’ve always a bit of a masochist, I like punishing myself by doing things I don’t enjoy. Health wise nothing tones me up like running, it gives me the opportunity to discover new music, and it completely clears my head when I’m down. I know all the benefits it brings, I just need to get it done.

I’m not ashamed to say I’m a fair weather runner. I don’t find anything wrong with not wanting to run outside in the pissing rain, or snow, in fact I think that’s a perfectly normal attitude to have. Problem is, spring has sprung, the clocks have changed so we have more daylight hours, which means I have less excuses not to get off my fat backside and get out and get it done.

I haven’t ran properly since I did the Blaydon Race with Dave and Steph last year and it’s worrying to think that this time last year I ran 10k everyday over Easter weekend, there’s no way I could have done that this Easter weekend. No way Jose. That’s not to say I haven’t been trying to keep fit of course, I’ve started spinning semi regularly and still going to the gym almost 6 times a week. I just haven’t been running. So I decided 2 weeks ago to start up again.

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As you’ve probably gathered if you’re a regular reader of this blog, I don’t go particularly easy on myself. My usual comfortable distance always used to be 10K but I knew that trying to do that after not running for 8 months would be ridiculously hard and I would say really horrible things to myself when I was unable to achieved it. So I’m basically starting again. Well, starting at 5k at least, then building on that whenever I can.

So far so good, I’m trying to get out at least twice a week (weather dependent) and building up a kilometre a week. I figured that if I can maintain that level of ramping up, I should be running 10k’s again by the weekend of Steph & Chris’ wedding at the end of April.

Not that their wedding requires their guests to participate any form of distance running of course, that would be weird, but it should hopefully mean I’m back to a level of fitness that enables me to wear a very unforgiving bodycon dress I’ve had in my wardrobe for 18 months and never been brave enough.

I’m really hoping I stick with it and get back into it again, even if it’s just bashing out a 10k once a week when I have time at the weekend because when I’m fitter, I do enjoy running a bit more, and the better I get at it the more adventurous I can be by running in some areas with nicer scenery – like along the river Tyne, which is one of my favourite places to run.

I’ll be perfectly honest though, the main reason I like running so much is that it absolutely melts calories which means I can eat more chocolate and drink more wine!

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Ultra Dave’s Ultra Diary – A Spanner in the Works

‘You start without any problems, without any pain. All the pain comes after 30K. Sometimes, it’s possible to have pain even in the finger’ – Haile Gebrselassie

It’s been a while since Dave’s done an update about his ultra running adventures at the beginning of the year and it feels like loads as changed since then. From an outsiders point of view i.e. mine, its seems to be going well. He’s fitter now than he was this time before The Wall, and he’s managing to do some incredible distances practically 3 times a week. Here’s Dave to explain more:

It feels like a long time since Christmas and training’s been going really well since then. Now that all the indulgence of that time of year is out the way I’ve been able to concentrate more on my diet; eating more fruit, vegetables and fish to make sure I’m nice and light but still strong enough to tackle such long distances. The typical North East weather hasn’t helped and we’ve had  a much colder February than January, with more threats of snow and ice which has forced me inside to run on the treadmill – something I’m not overly keen as it makes a long run even longer and more boring.

 

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Getting some small sponsorship of some Argi+ from Angela at Versatile Aloe Vera has been a massive help. I’ve tried all kinds of rehydration drinks with varying degrees of success. Argi+ is probably the nicest tasting rehydration drink (mixed berries) I’ve had so far which sounds like a small point but when hydration is so vital, drinking plain water all the time gets very boring very quickly – taste is everything. Apparently it has two uses; to boost your energy pre-race or aide with recovery post race. I found it has a mild bloating affect on me so feel it’s definitely better suited as a recovery aide. I’ve found it incredibly moreish so really helps with getting the much needed electrolytes back in the body. The extra hydration means I’ve definitely noticed being less crampy after long runs. The little sachets have also proved useful as they’re small enough to fit in your running vest to take out with you in case of an emergency when you’re 15K from home and bored of warm, tasteless water!*

A real high point of training so far has been getting 70K done in one weekend (35k back to back on the Saturday and Sunday). Sometimes having a break between long runs can be worse than just keeping going as you tend to seize up or don’t rehydrate enough to go out and do it all again. To be able to manage this without much in the way of crampiness or fatigue really shows how far I’ve come with training. Sadly last week I seem to have tweaked a muscle in the top of my right leg which hurt to even walk on for a few days. I’ve given myself the weekend off and it’s feeling much better now. I’m learning that sometimes it’s better to sacrifice a weekend’s training to make sure you fully recover than to force yourself to keep on training and risking more permanent damage.

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Rather out of the blue at the beginning of February we got a call from Newcastle racecourse to say the big race; EnduRun24, the run I’ve been training so hard for has been canceled due to renovations to the course that won’t be complete by race day. This came as a huge shock and really threw me for a few days. I’ve got mixed feelings about it now though. I was psyched up for it and it would have been a massive achievement, and something completely different from The Wall I did in 2014 but on the other hand it would have been extremely mentally challenging. It would have been easy to stay hydrated and fueled up due to the lap nature of the course, but I feel it would have been mentally hard to keep going for such a long time round and round the same course for hours on end.

All that being said it hasn’t really changed my training plan really as I was always going to do the Kielder Ultra (100k) as part of my training for EnduRun24 so I’m still remaining focused on that. I also have my eye on the St Oswalds Way 100 Mile Ultra in September as it’s also quite local. Having EnduRun24 cancelled at least means now I can recover fully from Kielder and still have plenty of time to train for St Oswalds without running myself ragged, no pun intended!

*For more information on Arg+ products you can visit Angela’s site here or email her at: 

 

 

Introducing #SundayExerciseClub

Exercise is really important to me – it’s therapeutic. So if I’m ever feeling tense or stressed or like I’m about to have a meltdown, I’ll put on my iPod and head to the gym’ – Michelle Obama

Background

I had all the best intension at the beginning of the year, I was going to get back into eating right and exercising regularly. For the most part this has happened, but a nasty bout of gastroenteritis in the second week sapped any semblance of energy I may have had and seems to have pushed me back a bit.

One thing I have started doing is walking. There are loads of country parks round where I live so I’ve been sticking the headphones in and just walking around in the fresh air for an hour and a half. I was pounding the pavements this morning and as I waved and smiled at all the other walkers/runner cyclists etc it felt like we were all part of a sunday morning exercise club.

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Then I started to think what a good twitter hashtag that would make. We all like to feel part of something, to feel included to to surround ourselves with like minded people. My friend Suzie has already set up the very successful #sundayblogshare so I thought how nice would it be to have an all inclusive #sundayexerciseclub for anyone who wants to share their sunday morning success stories or look to others for motivation. A sunday seemd a perfect day to choose, as if you’re anything like me you may have had a few cheeky gins the night before and there’s strong temptation to sit on the sofa watching last nights episode of The Voice.

The ‘Rules’

The idea is simple really, if you want to talk about what you’re up to that day exercise wise this is the place to do it. Just simply tweet the hashtag #sundayexrciseclub and i’ll pick it up and retweet it at @sundayexercise.

No exercise is off limits, It could be anything from walking to the shops instead of taking the car, playing in the park with your kids, having a session in the gym, doing a workout video at home or training for a marathon. There’s absolutely nothing off limits. It’s not just about the success stories though, #sundayexerciseclub is also a place to go if you’re feeling unmotivated and need some advice or perhaps you want some inspiration to get out the house?

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Of course this doesn’t just have to be a text tweet, a screen shot of your running app, a motivational quote or a picture of the sunday dinner you’re rewarding yourself with, the more creative the better, just make sure you include the hashtag #sundayexerciseclub

So if you fancy being part of this new movement, you can follow us right here @sundayexercise

We look forward to reading all about your adventures!

 

 

New Activewear for 2016

The world wasn’t formed in a day, and neither were we. Set small goals and build upon them’ – Lee Haney

So I know social media has been awash with the whole ‘new year, new me’ stuff that get’s rehashed every year but the truth is, starting a new year is a good time to make all those changes or do all those things you said you always would.

In 2005 I joined weight watchers soon realised the more I exercised, the more I could eat so quickly joined the gym. I fast became a cross trainer addict, so much so that in 2010 I bought my own so I could work out at home. And I did for a long time. The problem with that was the cross trainer I had at home was getting old and rickety and I didn’t feel I was getting a good work out anymore, so I rejoined the gym.

When it comes to gym fashion, I’ve always been a joggers and t-shirt kind of girl; in fact when I worked out at home I was a joggers and sports bra kind of girl (my poor neighbours!). Of course now I’m back exercising in public again it would be unfair to subject my prosecco tummy to the great and good of Newcastle upon Tyne so I’ve used this new year as an opportunity to overhaul my gym wardrobe. If I’m going to look like a hot, pink, sweaty mess after 45 minutes on the crosstrainer, I may as well look cute doing it!

For me this year it’s all about the slogan t-shirt. After the festive over indulgence I need every bit of motivation I can get so that means cheesy words of wisdom emblazoned on my chest. On my bottom half, I’ve never been a fan of leggings, they don;t do my thunderous thighs much justice so I tend to lean towards cropped joggers – they’re a little harder to find but way more flattering than squeezing myself into spandex!

So here’s what I’ve found to get me through that painful first month back in the gym:

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‘Till you drop’ graphic tee – Forever 21 £11

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‘Days Off’ Muscle Tee – Forever 21 £9

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‘Yes You Can’ tee – Forever 21 (sold out online)

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‘Don’t Give Up’ t-shirt -George @ Asda £6