Cycling in the City with B'Twin

Cycling in the City with B'Twin - A Pretty Place to Play

I've flirted with the idea of a bike for as long as I've lived in London. When I first moved here I had an ancient hand-me-down set of wheels and got spooked by a bus the one time I hit the road. Many years later I acquired another ancient hand-me-down which I pootled around town on but knew was not exactly roadworthy (it was very not roadworthy), and knowing your bike isn't totally safe doesn't make the idea of riding it particularly attractive. So there've been a few false starts on the bike front, but the idea of zipping around town still holds major appeal. And I think Doris might be the ride to get me into the habit. 

Doris is a beautiful little red folding bike (a B'Twin Tilt 120 to be specific). She is just as comfortable wizzing along the cycle superhighway as she is nestled in a corner of the tube. She's a bit of a head turner, but I don't have to worry about her staying out all night because she fits so neatly into that space by the table in the living room. She is perfect. 

Cycling in the City with B'Twin - A Pretty Place to Play

I chose Doris after a lot of thought about how I live my life and what I want from my wheels. In the past I've had full size town bikes which I've found bulky and cumbersome. They had to live in bike stores and I'd have to haul them through corridors and doors to get them out to the street. Then if I needed to stop my bike had to be locked up, usually outside, with a complex array of locks. It just always felt like a mega faff, which isn't really what you think of when you think about the freedom of cycling! No, this time I wanted something that worked with my life. A bike I could keep in my flat, take with me into the office, take on the tube if needed. A foldie ticks all those boxes. 

I won't lie, the idea of cycling in London can be scary, it definitely was the first time I tried. But these days I'm older and wiser, a few years ago I went on a course all about how to cycle safely in the city (I can't for the life of me remember who it was with!) and it really helped my confidence. I picked up so many tips and generally felt much more prepared to head out on the roads, it's definitely something I'd recommend all cyclists do! Cycle infrastructure in London has also come a really long way - the cycle superhighway is life changing (and life saving) and CityMapper is ace for finding safer routes around the city. I've uncovered so many quiet routes I never knew existed using that app, it's awesome! It's changes like this that have encouraged me to cycle, and help me feel more confident doing it.  

I can't wait to start exploring London with Doris, we've already discovered so many cool routes and it's only been a couple of weeks! Follow our adventures over the next few months using the hashtag #AdventuresWithDoris and let me know your tips for city cycling! 

* Doris was kindly gifted to me by Decathlon, but as always all opinions are my own.

Protecting Your Eyes On The Run

Protecting Your Eyes On The Run - A Pretty Place To Play

Last week, while looking for advice on running when the mercury rises, I came across this post from Amanda. It has a lot of great advice, including something I’d never really thought about - the benefits of wearing sunglasses when you run. Ok, so maybe I’d thought about it a bit, after all I’m rarely seen without my Goodr sunnies and no one likes squinting, but Amanda put a new spin on things...

‘As the sun rises and you being to squint, your brain is working hard to help yours eyes, which has been shown to zap your energy…yup it all adds up! Relax the face, give your eyes a break!’

It’s never crossed my mind that something as minor as squinting would affect my energy levels and in turn my run, but actually it makes perfect sense! These days I’m paying more and more attention to the impact variables like hydration and nutrition have on my run, why should my kit be any different?

Protecting Your Eyes On The Run - A Pretty Place To Play

I’ve run in all sorts of sunnies in my time, from my RayBan wayfarer shades to super-light weight Adidas running sunnies which disappeared from my face one run (seriously, I had them and I didn’t, it was weird) and these days I think I know what I’m looking for when it comes to to the perfect running sunny.

Lightweight

You don’t want something that’ll weigh you down when you’re focused on your run. I know it sounds OTT, but it really does make a difference, when I switched from my RayBans to a specialist running sunny it was the first thing I noticed.

A comfortable fit

Nothing is more annoying than glasses that need to be pushed up every 5 minutes, so a comfy fit is essential. Try shaking and nodding your head as well as running on the spot to see if the shades stay put. Of course you also need to be careful not to go too tight and risk discomfort, but as with so many things in life when you know you know.

Grips in all the right places 

This is what sets running specific glasses apart, they’re designed to stay on your face and often have specifically engineered grips on the arms and bridge to help things along. The grips are discreet, but they make all the difference and your glasses won’t bounce off your face!

Durable design

Think about what your kit goes through when you run, you want glasses that are going to be up to the job and won’t shatter if you drop them/shove them into your race pack/generally treat them with mild disrespect. A scratch resistant treatment also really helps.

UV protection

This is a big one, but after all the point of sunglasses is to protect your eyes! Look for polarised lenses that offers 100% protection from UVA and UVB rays. Polarised lenses help prevent glare, especially handy for road runners.

Protecting Your Eyes On The Run - A Pretty Place To Play

The thing that’s always held back running sunglasses is their looks. Until pretty recently they were, let’s just say pretty ugly. But things move on, and these days there are some amazing shades out there! These are some of my favourites.

Protecting Your Eyes On The Run - A Pretty Place To Play

Goodr

My current sunnies of choice, I love that Goodr makes awesome looking affordable glasses that tick all of my boxes when it comes to performance. I've been rocking a pair called Sunbathing With Wizards which I understand both Gandalf and Dumbledore are fans of. I'd definitely trust their opinions. Goodr sunnies aren't widely available in the UK, but thanks to a collaboration with 361 you can pick the up online!

Protecting Your Eyes On The Run - A Pretty Place To Play

SunGod

So many people I know have been wearing SunGod glasses this summer (including lovely Tasha!) and every time I've seen them I've been so impressed, they look awesome! What's really cool is that SunGod glasses are fully customisable - so you can wear something totally unique to you! Plus they're designed for active lifestyles, so tick all the performance boxes too. 

Protecting Your Eyes On The Run - A Pretty Place To Play

Tierra Sunglasses

Corey wore these glasses on a shoot recently and I was pretty taken with how great they looked! I was even more taken with their price point, just $20! These would be the perfect choice if you're prone to losing or breaking glasses (you know who you are!), or if you want a pair for every day of the week, which would be easily done with all the cool designs on offer!

*image of Corey by Anna Rachel Photography, image of Tasha shamelessly lifted from her blog.

July Training Recap

July Training Recap - A Pretty Place to Play

July you have been epic! There've been travels and trails and sunshine and races and all of the good stuff. I don't really know where to begin recapping it, but I do know that I feel immensely grateful for everything I've experienced and how awesome training feels right now.

July Training Recap - A Pretty Place To Play

The first week of July was spent out in Menorca on holiday. A proper holiday. Time when I could do whatever I wanted, or nothing at all. I've not stopped since we went to India in January and it was great to have some time to hang out with Mike and take a breather. While we were away I discovered that I really love swimming! I swam every day either in the pool or out in the sea, exploring some of the island's beautiful bays, and I loved how strong spending time in the water made me feel.

July Training Recap - A Pretty Place to Play

Exploration really sums up my runs this week. In Menorca I spent some time exploring the Cami de Cavalls, a path that stretches along the entire coast of the island and is amazing if you fancy a bit of trail running! The 10km stretch I did was tough, but I loved the challenge of running on a whole host of different terrain. I even made a little video of my adventures but I've been terrible at editing, I promise it'll be up soon! 

July Training Recap - A Pretty Place to Play

Love Trails was another opportunity to explore. This time we got to play outside on the beautiful Gower Peninsula in South Wales. It was a lot of fun heading out with the Mikkeller Running Club to run up some hills and drink some beer, and it's defiantly inspired me to check out their monthly runs from Brew Dog Clapham. The whole weekend was immense, Mike discovered a love for trail on the basis that every run seemed to end with a beer and even got competitive in the legendary Beer Mile Relay. I don't think I've seen him so in his element in a long time! We'll definitely be back next year.

July Training Recap - A Pretty Place to Play

After months of structured runs and illness it's been really nice to spend time running for fun. Hitting ParkRun with Backpackers, catching up with friends on a run around London, taking part in the Epic London Relay, things I might've passed on at other times in my training cycle. It felt good, and it was nice to mix things up. 

July Training Recap - A Pretty Place to Play

Strength training continues to be a joy. I love every moment of it. Yes it's hard, but it's also an amazing learning opportunity. How often do we really try and understand our physical weaknesses and then work on them? Yes we might try to run faster, or longer, but what about strengthening your lower back so you can hold your form? The whole process is fascinating and I love feeling the changes to my body. Getting stronger is awesome. 

July you've been fun, you've taught me lots, you've got me excited for the future. August you're going to take all of that and make me a bad ass. 

How's your training been this month?