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Darphin Perfecting Body Scrub – Review

29 Apr

darphin-exfoliating-body-scrub

 

Last week, a confusing thing happened. I was looking out of the window in the morning, and there was sun. People were walking to work without coats. I couldn’t see one puddle. I turned to my flatmate in bafflement, because I’d actually forgotten what to wear in such circumstances. Do you need a jacket in 19 degree temperatures? Can you get your legs out?

In the end I did both, feeling incredibly adventurous by bearing at last 4 INCHES of leg above my ankle for the trip to work. Unfortunately the legs in question were pasty and dull, after a winter in which they only times they’d been revealed were during marathon training sessions (needless to say, I didn’t even bother shaving them for those outings). Undoubtedly, it was time for operation summer skin had to commence.

I’ve been sent loads of fake tans recently so I’ll be reviewing those one by one, but first of all let’s look at one of the items I’ve been using to prepare myself for all that tanning – Darphin’s new Perfecting Body Scrub.

One thing I love about this product is that it’s much more gentle than some of the scrubs I’ve tried previously – the apricot seed flakes are big enough to exfoliate effectively, but not so big as to irritate the skin. It also washes off very easily, so you don’t get out of the shower only to find you’re still covered in little granules.

The smell and texture are very luxurious – as you would expect of a product of this price – although if you’re the type of person you likes a really foamy, lathery body wash you might be disappointed. Another sticking point is the packaging – maybe I’m being stupid but the cap on the bottle is really hard to open, especially if you have slippery wet hands in the shower!

Overall though I’d definitely recommend this product. It leaves skin feeling refreshed and radiant, ready for the next steps of your summer-goddess prep (to be continued…)

£29, buy here

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Marathon Training: Dealing with Iliotibial Band Syndrome

2 Jan

Iliotibial Band Syndrome

I’m aware that the title of this blog post doesn’t sound very interesting but for some people it will be all too relevant, as I discovered while I was training for the Reading Half Marathon last year.

Yesterday I was chatting to a girl who did the London Marathon in 2012, who told me she’s been unable to run more than 6k since completing it because she’d injured her Iliotibial Band (ITB) at mile 20.

Now that scared me a lot because I too have been a victim of the ITB Syndrome and DAMN it hurts. It’s like a sharp pain on the outer side of the knee – I somehow managed to get it in both knees at once – and you feel it every time you bend your leg.

My ITB Syndrome struck me down in January last year, and was so bad I had to miss the Reading Half in March. In fact, not only was running out of the question, but also walking, swimming, cycling, cross training and most particularly, walking up and down stairs. It was INCREDIBLY annoying!

To give you a very non-scientific explanation, ITB Syndrome is caused when the band which runs between your hip and knee gets too tight and pulls things out of alignment, causing the sudden stabbing pain.

In my experience, the absolute best way to heal ITB Syndrome is to go to a physio and get a really good sports massage – finding the tight, knotted bits in your thighs and having them unknotted (yes, it hurts, but it works). In fact, when my physio suddenly found the particular spot in my upper leg where all the tension lay, it was like a sudden miracle cure for the three months of knee pain I’d been enduring (that was despite many hopelessly useless trips to my GP – they are so rubbish for sports injuries!)

This time, I want to catch the problem before it even starts, as I have less than 4 months until the London Marathon and can’t afford a load of time off. My top tips for avoiding ITB Syndrome are:

Don’t ignore the pain. When my knee first started hurting on a long run, I didn’t really think it was a big deal and happily skipped out for another 5k the next day. Halfway through the 5k the pain was pretty severe, but since I only had a short way left to go I thought it would be ok just to push on home. Was that last 2k what put me out of running for the next 3 months? Quite possibly, and it’s just not worth it. Don’t ignore pain.

Build up gradually. Another reason I got myself into trouble was by thinking that after three weeks off training over Christmas, I could just go out and run exactly the same distances I had been before without any system of easing myself back into it. Increase your mileage very gradually and, if you have more than a week off, make sure you do an easy run before tackling a long’un.

Foam rollers. Or instruments of torture as you will come to know them if you have ITB Syndrome. You can buy a foam roller from a sports shop or use them at your local gym. They are literally big rolls and foam that you put on the floor, then roll the outer side of your thigh up and down them to massage the ITB. Be warned – at first you will be gurning and grimacing all over the place when you do this, so make sure you’re not in front of any of the gym hotties.

Increase your strength. Building up your leg muscles and core stability will help a lot in avoiding injury because it makes you more of a balanced runner (i.e. not Phoebe off friends-style running, with legs flailing everywhere). Go to the gym and do some leg exercises, and take a Pilates class which is great for toning up your core. Also, it’s a nice change from running.

Get a massage. I’m planning a monthly sports massage as part of my marathon training. Admittedly it’s expensive (around £50 an hour in London), but if it means you can nip any problems and niggles in the bud, then it is definitely worth it. Find a well-qualified sports masseuse who really knows what they’re doing – mine also does physio for the London Irish rugby team who are apparently all absolute wimps when it comes to a good hard massage!

Stretch, stretch, stretch. I know this is really boring advice but it definitely does make a difference – I find doing my stretches in front of the TV makes it a bit less tedious although I hate to think what the boys in the flat opposite can see…Hold each stretch for at least 20 seconds and repeat if any area feels particularly tight.

So those are my tips – whether they work for me remains to be seen!

 

London Marathon – I’m in

18 Dec

Runners cross Tower Bridge during the 2008 Flora London Marathon.

I’ve gone and done something crazy. Crazier than the time I gave up a stable job straight out of uni to intern unpaid at The Telegraph and sleep on a floor for three months. Or the time I told the manager at the local Natwest that I wouldn’t leave until she gave me £100 and a bottle of Moet to compensate for accidentally cancelling my card. Both of those paid off so I’m hoping this will too. I’m only running the frickin’ London Marathon.

As someone who has run fairly regularly for a couple of years, including two half marathons, this is of course the natural progression. Except, of course, that by mile 9 of those two half marathons I wanted to lie down/cry/give up/faint and generally thought “wow, anyone who does double this distance must be a nut job.”

Now I’m a nut job.

However, as my mum informed me – and hell, haven’t we all come to realise that mums are ALWAYS right – if I don’t do it now, I never will. This is true – I’m 24, have pretty much no responsibilities, and can do what I want with my time i.e. spend every weekday evening and Sunday morning training to run a silly distance round London. I’ve printed out a marathon training schedule, and just looking at it nearly made me weep, but the good thing about getting a last minute place is that I don’t really have time to think about it. I just have to do it.

Also, the fact it is my first, and probably my only marathon means I’m not trying to beat a certain time and set a new PB – I literally have to get round and survive, even if that means crawling the last six miles (probably more likely than you would think).

So here goes – except some whingey running posts soon, but I’ll be damned if I don’t do this thing!

Keep on Running: How to Stay Motivated in the Winter

22 Nov

how-to-keep-running-in-winter

Running is brilliant. It costs no more than the price of a good pair of trainers, can be done almost anywhere, fits in with your schedule and is a great form of exercise to tone you up and calm you down. Without running, I get tetchy and stressed out – but even knowing all this, when the dark and cold nights draw in, I just find it so hard to get motivated and get out of the front door.

If like me, the idea of curling up on the sofa with some comfort food is just too appealing sometimes, here are my tips for getting yourself out there…

1) Use the ‘just 15 minutes’ plan – Often, it’s the thought of hours spent slogging around exercising that puts you off the idea entirely. When I really can’t be bothered, I tell myself that I have to run for 15 minutes – then I can either give up and come home or decide to carry on. More often than not, you’ll find that once you’re actually out the door, you want to carry on – and even if you do stop after a quarter of an hour, it’s certainly better than doing nothing!

2) Get the right gear – I’ve heard it said that there is no such thing as the wrong weather for running, just the wrong clothing. I agree with this, with the one caveat of icy pavements which are  a runner’s enemy and should definitely be avoided! However, if you are a fan of shopping (which you obviously are), see winter as an opportunity to pick up some new stash – long sleeve tops, waterproof jackets, gloves and hats, all in nice bright colours so you’re clearly visible. Having new clothes will motivate you to go running (“Hey everyone, check out my luminous yellow snood”) and make the whole experience far more comfortable – plus with shops such as Sports Direct and Decathlon, it really doesn’t need to cost much.

3) Join a running club – I have to admit, I’ve always been a bit fearful of running clubs because I was convinced they’d be full of hardcore sports nuts all capable of running 5k in 15 minutes. Luckily, I was wrong – having recently signed up to a running club that meets twice a week, I’ve been pleased to discover they’re all very normal people and there’s a variety of paces over the route. As well as providing a nice inclusive feeling, running clubs are great in the winter when dark evenings make solo running a bit scary, particularly if you’re running around the mean streets of South London! Local running shops will often have their own running clubs – try Sweatshop which has a number of stores across the UK.

4) Vary your routine – In the summer, light evenings mean you can happily go out for a run at 8.30pm and not be roaming around the local park in the dark, fearing for your life/iPod. In the winter, a bit more planning is needed. For example, from October to November, it tends to be the mornings that are lighter, so changing your routine to run before work could be a safer option. Alternatively, it may be possible to go in your lunch hour or choose a new route round the streets rather than the park. Even better, find a running buddy, preferably one who is freakishly strong and highly trained in self-defence (excuse my paranoia, this happens when you’ve had to fight off a mugger before!)

5) Download some new tunes – Music is a runner’s best friend – there’s nothing more exhilarating than speeding along to your favourite song. However, listening to the same old tracks again and again can make your run monotonous, so downloading one or two new tracks every couple of weeks will really help. Here are some of my favourite running tunes (WARNING: Highly uncool content)

 

Best running songs ever!

22 Nov

running songs

Yes I have eclectic taste (or some might say… no taste!)

We Found Love – Rihanna

When Love Takes Over – David Guetta and Kelly Rowland

Gold Dust – DJ Fresh 

Lose Yourself – Eminem

Domino – Jessie J

End Credits – Chase & Status

Beautiful People  – Chris Brown*

Fighter – Christina Aguilera 

Everytime We Touch – David Guetta

Survivor – Destiny’s Child

Like a G6 – Far East Movement

Memories – David Guetta

Mic Check – Hadouken

Stronger – Kanye West

Acapella – Kelis

No Tomorrow – Orson

Killing In The Name – Rage Against The Machine

212 – Azealia Banks

I Don’t Need A Man – Pussycat Dolls

Only Girl (In The World) – Rihanna

Whip My Hair – Willow Smith

Chop Suey! – System of a Down

Feel The Love – Rudimental

Don’t Wanna Go Home – Jason Derulo

Glad You Came – The Wanted

Give Me Everything Tonight – Pitbull & Ne-Yo

Spectrum – Florence and The Machine & Calvin Harris

Feel So Close – Calvin Harris

Pieces (Feat Plan B) – Chase & Status

Miami 2 Ibiza – Swedish House Mafia

All About Tonight – Pixie Lott

Moves Like Jagger – Maroon 5

Paradise – Coldplay

The Comeback Kid – B Reith

Without You – David Guetta & Usher

One More Time – Daft Punk

What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger – Kelly Clarkson

Wild Ones (Feat Sia) – Flo Rida

Super Bass – Nicki Minaj

Don’t Wake Me Up – Chris Brown*

Laserlight (Feat David Guetta) – Jessie J

Bounce – Calvin Harris & Kelis

Earthquake – Labrinth

Harder Than You Think – Public Enemy

Let Me Love You – Ne-Yo

Blow Me (One Last Kiss) – Pink 

Sweet Nothing – Florence and The Machine & Calvin Harris

Louder – DJ Fresh

 

*Stinky man but he does do good running tunes

 

Weights vs Cardio – what should you be doing at the gym?

5 Sep

weights gym

 

Earlier this year, I had a revelation. It came about in unfortunate circumstances – I had to pull out of the Reading Half Marathon after sustaining a knee injury which tooks months of physio to heal – proof, if needed, that you should NEVER just ‘run through’ pain.

Anyway, the knees were so bad that I could barely walk down the street to get food at lunch time, and any kind of cardio was out of the question. Even non-weight bearing stuff such as swimming and cycling was impossible, which was a stressful experience for someone who has always tried to maintain a good level of fitness.

To calm my non-gym-going guilt, I decided it was time to face the weights section –  a part of the gym I’ve always avoided because it seemed such a ‘man’s’ zone. Seriously, I’m yet to join a gym where the weights aren’t dominated by a collection of hulking, grunting, sweaty men, which doesn’t exactly make it feel very female-friendly.

Anyway, I asked the gym instructor to acquaint me with all the intimidating looking machines and free weights, in the hope that even if I couldn’t do any cardio, I could at least maintain some kind of muscle tone. I was amazed when after a few weeks of doing my new weights workout – around 40 minutes at a time with a mix of legs, arms and stomach – I felt a lot more toned than I had doing hours of cardio beforehand.

This enforced break from cardio has really changed my outlook on the gym.  Even though I can now go running again – and am training for the Bristol Half Marathon in a few weeks – my gym visits now are almost entirely focused on weights, lunges, sit ups etc. I find it a lot more enjoyable than just pummelling away on the cross trainer, and it’s definitely had a more positive effect on my body. Even if you are a big cardio fan, I would really recommend mixing it up a bit – and don’t be scared of all those posey blokes!

 

Do you have a signature scent?

22 Aug

selection of perfumes

It’s Sunday morning. I’m running. Or rather, trying to run, despite the sweltering heat that has hit South London and left me wheezing, sweating, squinting in the sunlight. It’s all very attractive. As I stumble along the pavement, with its confetti of dried chewing gum and the chip-and-kebab remnants of Saturday night, I swerve to avoid a lady walking in front of me. And suddenly it hits me – that perfume!

It’s a scent that takes me back to my childhood – visits to the countryside, firework night, sausage rolls and baked beans, kissing a soft cheek ‘goodnight’ before going to bed. To explain – that perfume was the same one my gran wore, right up until she passed away last weekend. Even in her final days at the nursing home, when her small, gnarled fingers could barely grip the perfume bottle, she always insisted on a squirt of her favourite fragrance. And running past a stranger in Clapham Junction suddenly made me realise just how powerful a signature scent can be.

Finding the right fragrance – one that works in tandem with your natural smell so well and delights your nose so much you feel like it must have been made for you – is an exciting thing. No matter how many perfumes are recommended to you, it’s something you have to discover for yourself. Like the perfect pair of jeans, or (I’m told) the man of your dreams, when you find your signature scent you just know.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t have a nice array of perfumes – a summery one (in my case Hugo Boss Orange), a sensuous one (Tom Ford Black Orchid) and maybe even one that makes you feel like you’re 16 again (Ralph Lauren Hot). But as a failsafe option – one that’s unmistakeably ‘you’ – the signature scent is indispensable

Discovered at aged 18, my signature scent is Christian Dior Pure Poison. Like my gran, I fully intend to be spritzing myself in the stuff until the very end.

Have you found your signature scent yet?

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