TentMeals Review

I tried some of the TentMeals products for the first time over the weekend. The Almond Jalfrezi main meal was amazing and really quick and easy to prepare. Breakfast was the Cashew and Goji Berry Breakfast.

Both just involved boiling water, adding the product, stirring, and leaving for a few minutes.

I’m so happy to have found these products as they are vegan (not all their range is) and the company’s mission is for their food to be as natural as possible, without additives.


A Snow Day Doesn’t Have To Be A S’No Training Day!

Cornwall (amongst other parts of the South of England) is officially snowed on today and many people are at home and taking an enforced snow day from work.

I am working from home today but have what would have been a 3 hour commute today as ‘extra’ time. I can use some of that time to add to my training to compensate for what I would have been doing today (which was due to be several hours of MTB riding with a group).

If you have a Wattbike, turbo trainer, treadmill, or your own swimming pool then crack on. No excuses for you. Here are a few other ideas to keep your training on track whilst the snow lasts.

  1. Go with it and embrace a winter sport as cross-training. I’ve just seen a great photo of someone skiing in Wadebridge!
  2. Take a hike somewhere. Advice currently is stay off the roads but if you live near some footpaths, moors or hills that you can access without driving then get yourself out walking. Or walk to the nearest swimming pool for a session. You might have a lane to yourself.
  3. Get your yoga mat out. Yoga is great for strength and conditioning. Do some rounds of Salute to the Sun and generate some heat in your body. You can work as hard on the mat as you do off the mat.
  4. If yoga is not yet your thing do some bodyweight or plyometric exercises.  Squats, push-ups, lunges, burpees, hopping. All those things you know you should do but don’t because you would rather be out running or cycling. Today’s the day.
  5. Plan ahead for the next weather-related challenge to your training. Check out the indoor training options for your sport or fitness choice. I find having a Wattbike and treadmill is a really useful addition to options in poor weather conditions but is also useful at other times. I find it much easier to do an interval or tempo set indoors than outdoors. Check out the offers on at the moment and consider what is an option for you. (After you have finished training that is!)

Embrace the opportunity to meet this challenge to your training by not giving up. Whatever you do, stay safe and enjoy what you do.

How To Return To Training After Illness

Last month my training was entirely lost to the lurgy. My respiratory system was hit so breathing was a challenge. I coughed so much my diaphragm hurt and I was so lacking in energy that just keeping the basics of life going was enough. Had I attempted to train during that time my immune system would have been even more severely challenged and my health further compromised. (Not that health was something I thought I had at the time!)

My decision last month was to not train. My next ‘A’ competition is May so a break in December for a few weeks was a sensible choice. Normally I keep ticking over with training at a lower level at that time but stopping entirely was the sensible choice this year. My only activity was daily dog walks and very restorative and gentle yoga. Even these were of minimal duration and dog walks absolutely didn’t include cough-inducing hills.

The Christmas and New Year break allowed for rest and healing. Each day the dog walk became a little longer. The track to Little Mis Tor (pictured here) became a gentle introduction to increasing intensity. On the first day of walking there I had turned back long before reaching the top as my body was so weary and my coughing so violent. A week or so later when I could reach the top without coughing I knew I was ready to begin working towards proper training again.

I didn’t rush in with a full week of training. Since I had been fairly inactive for a few weeks I began by increasing my yoga practice to include a stronger and more sustained practice. This allowed me to lengthen all the muscles which had tightened whilst ill, to restore efficient movement patterns throughout my body, and restore muscular strength and condition throughout. I then added a couple of trail runs, without wearing my Polar. It was about the joy of moving rather than measuring my performance. The runs felt comfortable enough so I added in a few hours of tennis and an MTB ride over the weekend.

This week I begin a full training week working through my principles of healthy return to training after illness. My principles are:

  1. Rest for as long as you need. Your body will lose more fitness from prolonging illness due to not resting than it will from resting fully and returning only when ready.
  2. Recondition the body before adding intensity. Inactivity causes muscle tightening and muscular atrophy. This can be easily restored but easy to forget in the rush to return to doing what you were doing before illness. Take the time to spend a few days building back strength, stretching tight muscles, and ensuring that your body is moving with good alignment and movement patterns before you return fully to training to avoid risk of injury.
  3. Start your return with a light week of all the activities you enjoy. This is not training and doesn’t need to include your training activities. Don’t worry about performance. Just enjoy being able to move again. Measure your performance by comfort and the pleasure of being able to be active.
  4. Use the first week back as a ‘benchmark’ and accept whatever it is. Return to your training plan and its full range of activities but keep the intensity or duration at a lower level than it was before your illness. Don’t agonise about being slower or weaker. Accept what it is and trust that your fitness will return.
  5. Build intensity, duration, frequency and type of training gradually. Your immune system will still be lowered so avoid doing too much too quickly. Use the next few weeks to add an appropriate increase in intensity but with awareness of how your body responds. You may need to repeat a week if you are not ready for the next increase.
  6. Reflect on what caused you to be ill and learn from that to not repeat. When you body is really hit hard by an illness it is often due to stress, whether physical or psychological. Reflect on your lifestyle, your work, your diet, your training to consider what you could do to improve your immune function to avoid a repeat illness.

For the record, this week’s training is planned to be:

  • Monday – rest day
  • Tuesday – 1000m swim
  • Wednesday – 30 minute MAF run
  • Thursday – 60 minute road bike ride on rolling hills
  • Friday – 1500m swim
  • Saturday – 75 minute mountain bike ride with intervals
  • Sunday – 35 minute run

Plus of course plenty of yoga, daily dog walks, and the activity involved in some days of cycle coaching delivery.

Happy Winter Solstice

A thought on resilience for the winter solstice and the time for re-energising and renewal which this time of year can allow – if you let it.


In the midst of hate,
I found there was, within me,
an invincible love.
In the midst of tears,
I found there was, within me,
an invincible smile.
In the midst of chaos,
I found there was, within me,
an invincible calm.
I realized, through it all, that…
In the midst of winter,
I found there was, within me,
an invincible summer.
And that makes me happy.
For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.
-Albert Camus

Lurgy Recovery Recipe

I am currently well and truly ‘lurgied’. As a consequence this month’s fitness goal has been reduced to being able to breathe effectively again.

A few days ago I was introduced to this little concoction which, whilst undeniably unpleasant (at least when I made it), does seem to get stuff moving. It’s a simple mix of lemon juice, ginger, chilli flakes (possibly not as many as I put in the first one) and honey. I share this with you for anyone similarly struggling.

My 7 Top Tips To Enable Your Winter Cycle Commute (More Often Than Not)

  1. Be prepared. Check the forecast for the morning and get everything ready the night before. You’ll know then whether you are dressing for cold, ice, rain. If that affects your choice of bike or clothing you will have time to prepare when you are not in a morning rush. In my experience, it is sometimes the lack of one vital bit of clothing or equipment which causes you to give up the intention to ride and jump in the car instead.
  2. Keep bike light chargers where they are easy to use. In winter you are likely to be using your lights for every commute. Make it easy to recharge your lights when you get in ready for the next day.
  3. Invest in quality waterproofs and cycle-specific warm layers. There are now a few items in my cycling ‘wardrobe’ which make wanting to ride more appealing whatever the weather. I invested (at least five years ago so feel I have had my money’s worth) in a pair of Assos sturmNuss Rain Shell waterproof over-trousers. They are the most comfortable and unobtrusive waterproofs I have ever encountered. So comfortable that I am sometimes happy to wear them even when it is not raining just as a wind-proof layer or to protect from surface spray. The top of me is now comfortable in either a Castelli winter weight jacket or an Endura FlipJack Jacket. Topped with an Assos or Endura waterproof if needed. Gloves are essential and for comfort should be insulated and waterproof. A skull cap will keep your head and ears from freezing.
  4. Keep a spare set of clothing at work. I ride with a minimal amount of change of clothing for work in a waterproof bag within my rucksack but always keep a complete change of clothes at work just in case I and my rucksack get completely soaked.
  5. Keep your feet warm and dry. I’m hankering after a pair of Northwave Flash Arctic GTX Winter Boots. If your budget (like mine) doesn’t run to these then the addition of waterproof overshoes over your usual bike shoes will keep your feet dry and warm.
  6. Wear a hi-viz top layer and helmet. Make yourself visible and safe. You will only get to cycle commute tomorrow if you survive today. The light is low at all times of day in winter. When the sun is to be seen it is often low and dazzling. Be seen and be safe.
  7. Commit to an attitude of gratitude that you are able to ride to work. Yes at times it will feel cold and wet but you are one of the lucky ones who can contribute to their fitness simply by travelling to work. Those winter commuting miles will make next year’s sportives, races, or cycle tours so much easier and so much more enjoyable.

Variety is the spice of work

It has been a great few weeks since I launched my new website and coaching identity. The result has been just as I hoped. I am receiving offers of work which allow me to use all of my skills and coach all of the activities I love and engage in.

The last month has seen me leading young people on the National Citizen Service scheme in climbing, abseiling, and mountain biking sessions, and teaching a variety of yoga classes and workshops. Yesterday I had the privilege of working with young people from Shanghai in the UK for a few weeks at Summer School at Plymouth University. They got to experience Dartmoor in its sunny guise and then its torrential rain guise. Both are beautiful but one definitely resulted in more shrieking than the other! The photo above was taken just before the rain started. The contrast of very much below usual level of water in the reservoir and threatening skies tells its own story.

During the last month I have also made some great contacts with companies offering a variety of coaching, leadership, and adventure activities and am looking forward to working with them in the future.

Variety keeps each day feeling fresh and exciting and truly is the spice of work.

New website … new approach to coaching

I’ve decided it is time to put all of my coaching experience and services together in one place. It will take a few days to get this website fully up and running so if you are viewing it in its initial stage please do visit again when completed. I will also be adding a link to join my email mailing list.

Exciting times. I hope to share them with you.