Climbing Toubkal and Exploring Morocco

Who goes to Morocco to climb a mountain? When most people think of Morocco, they think of the desert. And to be honest, after reading about mountaineering for the first time, I definitely considered doing a camel tour instead… But climbing the highest point in the Atlas Mountains was way too intriguing.

The Atlas Mountains separate the Mediterranean and Atlantic coastlines from the Sahara Desert and spans over three African countries: Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. The highest point is called Toubkal at 4,167m above sea-level, located in southern Morocco.

Amina, who grew up in Casablanca took charge and planned the whole thing, which was amazing. We knew we wanted a guide, a night or two at the refuge and that we’d want to relax afterwards to recover and enjoy the warm weather. We were in Morocco for 5 full days (28-Apr to 3-May) with an epic itinerary: 2 days in the mountains with Toubkal Voyages and then 3 days by a lake to relax and recover.

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Brighton Marathon 2017

THE SUMMARY

I signed up for the Brighton Marathon with the intention to train for a “Good for Age” finish time so I could race the London Marathon in 2018. Good for Age is sub 3h 45m in my age group, so that was my target. I finished the Edinburgh Marathon in 2013 with a time of 3:55 so I knew that with some dedicated training, sub 3:45 was within reach.

I built out my training plan and in January I was ready to hit the ground running – literally. Unfortunately in week 2 of training I managed to fall down a set of stairs and sprain my ankle…. I tried walking it off but there was no walking this one off. My ankle took 6 weeks to fully recover. I got running again at the end of February and managed to develop runner’s knee (too much to quick). All this, and I am convinced I can qualify. I knew I was stronger and faster than I was four years ago, and I figured that if my fitness fails me I’d at least have the mental toughness to make it through.

The result? I TOTALLY miss judged how tough a 42km race is. To my surprise (and probably me only), I am disappointed to report back that I didn’t get sub 3:45 as planned. But all things considered, I am actually really happy with this race. Here’s the breakdown…

  • 10k split: 52m 56s
  • Half marathon: 1h 50m 37s
  • 30k split: 2h 41m 25s
Total Time: 3h  55m 02s 
Gender Position: 350 of 4825

Eat Sweat Play – Why our twenty-first century obsession with exercise is all wrong

Anna Kessel’s book, ‘Eat Sweat Play’ covers everything from gender stereotypes and the societal view of women in sport to common sporting taboos such as periods, pregnancy, motherhood and menopause.

It is jam-packed with facts; to the point where I found myself flagging pages that had interesting viewpoints and writing down athletes names that are mentioned throughout the book so I wouldn’t forget to follow them on Twitter and read more about them afterwards. Eat Sweat Play covers so many different angles and aspects of women in sport but the topic that resonated with me most discussed why our twenty-first century obsession with exercise is all wrong.

The twenty-first-century notion of exercise being the whole #fitspo fashionista image where expensive juice bars, gyms and classes result in picture perfect toned legs, arms and abs.

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Swimming with World Champion and double Olympian, Katy Sexton! 

DCIM100GOPROI’m not sure what I else I expected, but wow Katy swim’s fast! Mind blowing-ly fast.

Last Saturday, Katy and I met at the Guildford Spectrum Leisure Complex and started the set doing 8 lengths front crawl as a warm up. I obviously wanted to make a good impression so I attempted to swim at a decent effort-level to avoid being categorized as a “loss cause”. What actually happened… me thrashing-about in the pool trying to not look slow, while Katy effortlessly glides through the water and laps me in the process.

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Pumpkin Muffins

These muffins are quick to whip together and they are so nice and warming as the cool weather settles in. Spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice, its like the best part of a pumpkin pie is in muffin form making it totally acceptable to eat for breakfast. Prep: 10 minutes
Bake: 25 minutes

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Should you pace your next run with a GPS watch/ app?

When I was preparing for the Edinburgh Marathon I lived by my Garmin – I used it on every run and kept track of ALL my stats. I was borderline obsessive about my pace and my progress.

After the marathon, I stopped training for a couple months and by the time I decided to get back into a training regime, it felt like I had lost so much fitness. All of the sudden, I hated my stats. I was slower; it was harder; and it was annoying how quickly I lost fitness after working so hard to build it up. As a result, I started to dread going for runs. Something I loved turned into something I avoided… I quickly realised that if I want to keep running, I needed to leave the watch behind.

There are many benefits to tracking your runs though and I’ve recently tried to get back into the routine of it.

If you’re wondering whether you should start tracking your runs, or if you should step back from obsessing over your running data, check out my list of pros and cons below…

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