I cannot actually believe it but I am now only days away from running my first ever marathon. Up until now, I have mostly avoided thinking about the big day and just focused on following the training plan one week at a time without peeking ahead at what was coming up. But there was no avoiding getting caught up with watching the coverage of the London Marathon and some exceptional running by the winners, Brigid Kosgei and Eliud Kipchoge, who were simply flawless. They both looked completely relaxed as they powered over 26.2 miles, making it look incredibly easy. Of course, my eyes were also glued to the tens of thousands of other runners who were trying to make it to the end, including an exceptionally tall Big Ben on legs.
While the days tick off, I am officially ‘tapering’ which is said to be one of the most important parts of a marathon training plan. It seems counterintuitive to cut down on the training but reducing the mileage is supposed to allow your body to fully recover before the race so that you can reach your peak performance for the actual marathon. However, I am finding out that tapering means different things to different people.
Many people will have started the New Year with the best of intentions by making a change in their diet or taking on a new challenge. Whether it’s Dry January, Tri-January, or Veganuary, if you’d made this far it is about to become even trickier. Almost 3 weeks in, you will be about to meet a fork in the road right when the shiny appeal of your commitment is beginning to wear off. At this crossroads, most are hit by the sudden stark realisation that what you signed up is difficult and must face the mother of all confidence wobbles.
The temptation to take the easy route and give up can be almost overwhelming. It is always going to be more comfortable going back to the familiar territory of your old habits. There will be many others alongside you doing the same. But if you are still up to the challenge of your New Year’s resolution, how do you find the motivation to take the more difficult road, especially when it’s an unknown route?
It can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the onslaught of Brexit news and political shenanigans at the moment that reaches you with every notification ping of the latest breaking news story. Therefore, I almost missed the fact that it had been Sugar Awareness Week. This year, Action on Sugar focused their campaign on banning all milkshakes over 300 kcals. Their main target is a sugar monstrosity known as the Freakshake. A Freakshake is unlike anything ever seen or even dreamt up before and is more than some ordinary milkshake having its moment in social media. It is an indulgent, calorie dense, sugar loaded mash-up of 3 different puddings in one. It is also an absolute feat in pudding engineering and pushes the boundaries of sickliness to extreme limits. Continue reading
Although some may think this is controversial, I am just going to come out and say it. I absolutely love Halloween! I cannot help it. After growing up in a country that celebrates it and spending much of my childhood counting down the months leading up to it, it was sort of inevitable. I could think of nothing better than spending hours trying to decide what to dress up as or figuring out the most strategic routes for trick or treating. It paid to be prepared because the more candy you had, the more of an advantage you would gain in the next day’s sweetie trading wars. But Halloween wasn’t just about hoarding candy or even eating pumpkin pie. The night was filled with ear-splitting fireworks displays, the smell of sparklers, running around with your friends in the dark, impromptu parties, grown-ups acting silly and everybody staying up far too late whether it was a school night or not.
Of course, I haven’t mentioned the Halloweens when things didn’t quite go according to plan. Like when the Vancouver torrential rain destroyed our homemade costumes made of cardboard in minutes and we had to ditch them and trick or treat in wet pjs. Or when we managed to go to every house in the entire surrounding area that only gave out boxes of raisins. Or when we ended up trapped on a street between houses, in the middle of a standoff between older boys who were firing Roman candle fireworks at each other and hurling lit jack o’ lanterns.
Like many parents, I spent the last few weeks of the summer holidays trying to stretch out the days whilst dodging the inevitable back to school preparations. Ultimately, time caught up with us which meant that I no choice but to shop with my children en masse. Admittedly, we’d left it a bit late this year but we obviously had blocked any previous memory from our consciousness of back to school shopping hell. Because why else did we choose to shop at a time when the stores are full to brimming of other late starters? Oh, the joy of shopping alongside other panicking families, scrambling around in search of missing school uniform and stationary. There was nothing quite like shopping for the Holy Grail of school shoes, ones acceptable to parent, child and school, whilst in the surroundings of other stressed out families. I lost count of the number people we witnessed losing the plot after hearing the fateful words of ‘out of stock’ one too many times.
Ready or not, the new school year waited for no one despite many of us still trying to deal with one of our child’s most important pieces of kit. Of course, I am talking about sustenance and the annual guilt-laden dilemma of school lunches: to pack or pick?