5 minutes, 5 (awkward) questions with Pixie Trails


This week’s 5 minutes, 5 (awkward questions) victim is Helen over at Pixie Trails. Helen is a newbie runner – she started running in summer 2012, going from not doing any significant exercise in the previous 10 years, to running or working out 2 to 3 times per week. She’s currently on a quest to find out how many adventures she can squeeze in to her hectic life, whilst working her butt off at the same time. For that, we salute you Helen!

Now here are her answers:

What type of exercise/sport are you not good at?

Ha – well, running, but I am working on it! I wouldn’t describe myself as good at running, but I am faster and stronger than I was a year ago, and love that I can set my own goals, rather than needing to compare myself to other people. I also suck at anything requiring throwing – I was rubbish at rounders at school!

What do you do when you have a bad running day?

I usually just accept it and feel pleased with myself that I went for a run in the first place. Even if it was hard work/slow, going for a run is much better than sitting on the sofa all evening.

What does your partner think about your running?

He’s proud of me! He runs as well, so it is great that this is another thing that we can do together, even if he is a lot faster than me. He’s also seen the positive effect that having fitness goals has had on me (such as increased motivation and energy levels), so it’s definitely a good thing from his perspective.

What’s your guilty diet-/exercise-related pleasure?

Sourdough bread! I’ve done well to cut out many white carbs (such as pasta, potato) but I’m a sucker for artisan bread, especially when toasted and buttered. I try to restrict eating it until after a workout, though.

What’s your usual excuse for avoiding exercising?

It’s usually work-related. My job can have unpredictable working hours and often involves travel and evening work or entertaining, so sometimes it is just not possible to work out, either because I am working, travelling or just very tired! I try and work around this (eg by taking gym kit on the road with me), but sometimes I find that it is just better to focus on my other commitments and accept that, even if it is not ideal, exercise sometimes has to take a back seat.

Thank you Helen. Do go check out her fab blog here.


If you would like to have a go, please do leave a comment on this post or email here: dashingdivasuk@gmail.com.


Hiking’s most wanted

Following on from my post last week about my love of hiking, here are picks of the kit to invest in:

First up is the Deuter Furura 30 litre day sack. This rucksack will suit you for any trip, from hiking in the UK to climbing mont blanc. If my Deuter could speak, it would have many stories to tell – what happens on the mountain stays on the mountain though!


Deuter Futura 30L SL Ladies Backpack – £85.00 from Craigdon Mountain Sports

Next up are the boots – I adore my Mammut hiking boots they are like putting my feet into slippers. They are perfect for my high instep and I’ve not had one single blister from wearing them.

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You can purchase these Mammut Womens Mt Cascade GTX Boot from Cotswold Outdoor for £115 in the sale.


Hiking wouldn’t be hiking without a Sigg water bottle, which can hold both hot and cold water. And, you can get Star Wars ones and everything! (too geeky?). £17.99 from Sigg.

Rab is to hiking, what Nike is to running. If it’s a choice between other makes, then choose Rab – they really make the best quality clothing. This wind-proof jacket is an absolute beauty. It’s the kind of pink I like – bright, not pastel.

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The jacket is available from Taunton Leisure for £58.50.


How do you know when you’re addicted to supplements?

protein shake

I don’t really know the answer to this, but looking at the huge pile of supplements I take daily I’m starting to wonder if I am a little obsessed with them myself. Let’s look at the evidence.


On a daily basis I take:

– 1 multivitamin and iron – because running can leave you anaemic.

– 1 x calcium and vitamin D – for bone strength.

– 1 x yohimbe HCL – mild antidepressant and for fat loss.

– 1 x l-arginine – for its anti-anxiety properties.

– 1 x conjugated linoleic acid – to increase lean muscle mass.

– 2 x glucosamine and MSM – for joint health.

– 1 x green tea extract – to increase metabolic rate.

– 1 x cissus – for ligaments.

– 1 x Omega3 fish oil – overall health.

– 3x HMB 3x a day (when I remember!) – increase lean muscle mass.

I also have a protein shake after every workout. Now that is a LOT of supplements!

Do you take any supplements? If so, which ones do you take?


This month I am…gym surfing

cross trainer

I’ve just started freelancing again working from home so with all this flexibility I’ve decided to gym surf. Gym surfing is my take on sofa surfing – it’s where you take advantage of free week’s passes, or pay a small amount for a week’s introductory pass and then attend as many classes as you can to get your money’s worth!


This week I’ve been to Bicester Hotel Golf and Spa. The setting is gorgeous – it’s just outside the beautiful villages of Chesterton and Little Chesterton. For £25, I bought an introductory pass and I’ve been to the fully kitted out gym, attended X-fit – probably one of the most hardcore classes I’ve ever been to, I have body pump this morning, Astanga yoga tomorrow and then Tight Thigh and Tums and Boxercise on Friday. You can check out the amazing list of classes here.

So far, I feel like a celebrity attending this gym – it’s luxurious to say the least. I’ll let you know the verdict later in the week.


The forgotten exercise – walking


So many people are all about running, sweating like a b*tch in the gym, and working out until they collapse, that walking – something so simple and so good for you – often gets overlooked as an exercise. I love to hike, feel the wind on my face, smile and nod at passers by and gaze at the views. There are so many pretty places to walk in the UK and you don’t need to be super fit to do it either.


On Sunday I went for a hike around the Surrey hills to test out my map reading and navigation skills. We did a nice brisk 12k walk over varied terrain – some road, some flat and some hilly trails, through forest and fields.


With all the running I’ve been doing lately it’s nice to spend some time appreciating the scenery at a slower pace.


So here are my tips for hiking in the UK:

  • Find a group: walking isn’t just for oldies, there are lots of companies offering walks. I often do the 17-mile walks offered by Trek Hire UK on Saturdays starting in the beautiful village of Shere. I’ve met some of my best friends doing this walk. At £15 it’s a great way of meeting people and a good value day out. For more information, visit the Trek Hire UK website here.


  • Always carry a waterproof coat: The weather can be quite unpredictable in the UK, so always carry a rain coat just in case. Something like this Rab Women’s Momentum jacket is ideal to stash away in your rucksack. Available for £130 from Cotswold Outdoor.
  • Wear decent walking boots or approach shoes: Trainers aren’t going to cut if in rainy and wet conditions, and to prevent ankle roll, decent walking boots are a must! Look to spend at least £110 on a decent pair. Something like these Scarpa Mythos GTX boots would be ideal for walking in the UK. Available for £130 from Cotswold Outdoor.
  • Carry plenty of water: Lots of people think ‘I’m walking in the UK, they’ll be a shop nearby and I won’t sweat much so don’t need much water’ – think again! Always be prepared and carry at least a litre for a day’s walk.
  • Take a packed lunch: Unless your route convenes at a pub at lunch time (if so, good work – I like your style!), then take plenty of snacks and a packed lunch with you. I love Eat Natural bars and pistachios.
  • A decent hiking rucksack with hip support: I swear by my Deuter rucksack. It has travelled everywhere with me, from Kilimanjaro to Mont Blanc and is still going strong. LD mountain centre sell this women’s Deuter Spectro bag for £84.99.
  • An extra hoody or fleece: In the cooler months, not so much now, I carry an extra layer just in case it cools down, especially towards the afternoon/evening.
  • In my bag: I always carry sunglasses, sun hat/cap, pain killers, camera, phone, sun block, tissues and nappy sacks, and my purse.


Get walking people!


Yoga for non-yogies

I’ve never been very good at yoga. I’ve tried so many classes and always been the numpty at the back of the room doing the wrong thing, or unable to get into the simplest of positions. However, I’ve been keen to try again over the last few weeks to help strengthen and stretch out my ridiculously tight leg muscles. In a last-ditch attempt to learn to love yoga, I hired in the help of the lovely Kristine at Bicester Hatha Yoga. I told her that I needed help sorting my knackered old legs out after the craziness that was trail running in Chamonix.

I’ve had four 1 to 1 sessions and it’s been wonderful – it’s been so lovely in the evenings we’ve even done a bit of al fresco yoga. Although, not sure what the neighbours think to the ‘Ommm, shanti, shanti, shanti’ chanting.

I’ve always liked the idea and the results of yoga – let’s face it most yoga teachers look amazing, but I’ve never really liked the execution of it, thinking that it as too slow and easy. I am eating my words now as by god it’s tough! Kristine largely practises core strength Vinyasa yoga, which has had me grimacing at times (in a good way)! She’s tailored the sessions to focus on my legs too so she has built in a few hamstring, calf, quad and glute strengthening and stretching poses.


My favourite poses are downward facing dog (above), which is great for stretching out tight calf muscles and this plank exercise below (not sure what it’s called, but it’s a killer for the core). I also adore the half pigeon stretch for the glutes too.



I am already seeing the results – just four sessions have massively improved my flexibility in my calves! It seems I am a yoga convert!



5 minutes, 5 (awkward) questions

question2So once a month I would like to feature a fitness blogger, reader, or whoever wants to take part on my 5 minutes, 5 (awkward) questions slot. It will feature a short bio and the same quick fire questions every month. I’m hoping some of the answers will be really unique and interesting! It should be a fun way of finding out more about each other and also might even introduce you to some new cool people!

So here are my answers:


What type of exercise/sport are you not good at?

I am rubbish at cycling – they say you never forget how to ride a bike, but I beg to differ as I suck. Three years ago I bought a mountain bike and after trying to get on the thing and falling off several times and a scary down hill bike ride, I haven’t used it since! I would love to do a triathlon though one day so I really need to get my bike riding sh*t together!

What do you do when you have a bad running day?

I usually throw a hissy fit (I have a bad temper), but then once I’ve calmed down I try to put it down to just being a bad day and pick myself up and try again the next day.

What does your partner think about your running? 

He runs a bit, but I think he thinks I am bonkers for entering as many races as I do and for even contemplating running beyond 8 miles. He is very supportive though and attends all my races as a spectator, which is lovely.

What’s your guilty diet-/exercise-related pleasure?

I alluded to this yesterday, but I love to exercise (usually on the bike or hand weights/core) whilst tuning in to some sort of diet programme, particularly ‘Secret Eaters‘ or ‘Supersize vs Superskinny‘ – I find it a great motivator!

What’s your usual excuse for avoiding exercising?

‘I’m too exhausted’, especially if I come in late from a long day at work!


If you would like to be the next victim (ahem, participant), please get in touch here: dashingdivasuk@gmail.com or leave a comment on this post.