Amazing Amongst Us - Steph Harrison

Every month in our newsletter we feature someone who is Amazing Amongst Us. This month it is the turn of someone very well known in Sevenoaks. Most of us will at some point have the privilege of assisting her fundraising either with SLJ on our annual October Pink Run or through the multitude of other fundraising events she is involved in ...and that lady is Steph Harrison.

Steph, through hard work and dedication, has raised the most extraordinary amount for Breast Cancer Care and she has recently been awarded the KALC community award for her fundraising from Mayor Roderick Hogarth.

Over 10 years she has raised over £175,000 with a natural ability to inspire so many to assist her in her goal with Pink Week and year round fundraising this is as well as volunteering for events such as the Blenheim Breast Cancer Care Pink Ribbon walk.

Over a decade she has pushed her fundraising from around £11,000 in the first year to an astonishing £40,000 last year. We have seen the shop windows of Sevenoaks dressed in pink for Pink Week and it’s a great source of pride that the club hosts the SLJ Pink Run every year to help Steph launch her fantastic Pink week! She was heard to say last year that it was the best Pink Run yet , but in true Steph style she has great ambitions for it to grow again this year.

So this year the Pink Run, on 5th October, will be bigger and better inviting more local clubs to join us than ever before with the emphasis on this being an event that is open to all and very much a family event. Steph’s goal this year is to get her total fundraising to rise from £175,000 to £200,000….watch this space for announcements on our SLJ Pink Run coming this October and let’s all help Steph to smash her target!

steph.jpg

SLJ's Favourite Recipe - June 6th 2019

This months tried and tested SLJ Favourite Recipe is for Wild Garlic Pesto and comes from Sam Palmer

Ingredients
100g wild garlic leaves
50g parmesan cheese or 50g nutritional yeast for a vegan and veggie friendly version
50g toasted pine nuts - if allergic to Pine nuts then other nuts are fine.
1-2 tablespoons of olive oil, Lemon juice & Salt and pepper

Method
Wash wild garlic leaves thoroughly.
Place the leaves, Parmesan, olive oil and pine nuts into a food processor and blitz. You could do this with a pestle and mortar if you want to be more traditional
Add more oil if you want to have a thinner pesto.
Add salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste.

Pesto.jpg

Beautiful Bluebells

As you will know from our recent newsletter we were simply inundated with your beautiful bluebell photographs and we wanted to display them all as we loved each and every one!

We feel truly spoilt this year as we have seen so many beautiful bluebells in the woods and fields when we have been out running and walking.

Spring is undoubtedly one of our favourite times of year as we move towards lighter evenings and longer days. Seeing the flowers burst into life only makes exercising outside more pleasant.

We hope that you love the bluebell photographs as much as we do and that they inspire you to spend even more time outside during spring.

(pictures/captions below)

SLJ's Favourite Recipe - May 2019

This month’s favourite recipe has been kindly shared by Maria Martyn who says it is a firm family favourite adapted from a Hueys Kitchen recipe, which they have enjoyed served with rice or in a pita bread. We are all aware of the benefits of plant based foods so this is a great option for a midweek meal. Omit the yoghurt and it is Vegan too! 

Turkish Turlu Turlu - which is Turkish for 'All Sorts'! 

  • 2 courgettes cut lengthways and into wedges

  • 2 aubergines cut lengthways and into wedges

  • 6 baby potatoes halved or sweet potatoes

  • 1 red onion sliced fairly thickly

  • 2 peppers seeded , cored and thickly sliced, red or yellow

  • 2 medium carrots cut length ways into wedges

  • 1 large garlic clove , crushed

  • Olive oil

  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin

  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander

  • 1-2 tspn chilli paste

  • Sea salt

  • 1 punnet cherry tomatoes quartered or tinned peeled tomatoes

  • 1 can chick peas - rinse well and drain

  • 2 heaped tbspn chopped fresh parsley or dried

  • 2 heaped tbspn chopped fresh coriander or dried

  • ¼ cup plain yoghurt

Preheat the oven to 200ºC or 180ºC fan.

Toss the courgettes,aubergines,potatoes,red onion,peppers, carrots and garlic with a good slurp of oil in a large heavy bottom baking tray on the stove top on a medium heat.

Add the ground spices with the chilli paste and a pinch of salt. Toss until coated well and cook briefly.

Then cook in the oven for 20-30 mins until the veggies are tender and well coloured, tossing now and again and adding more oil if needed.

Add the tomatoes and chickpeas with the chopped parsley and coriander. Gently toss and cook in the oven for another 10 mins. Then transfer the veggies to a serving dish and sprinkle with yoghurt.

Serves 4

The Benefits of Outdoor Exercise

After a beautiful walk last night across the fields, I was able to take a moment and notice how magical it is when you can feel spring in the air and see everything coming to life after the winter. It reminds me of why exercising outside, at any time of the year, is so restorative to mental, as well as physical, health as you really feel like you are engaging with nature at the same time as improving your fitness.

 The benefits of exercising outdoors are many and far-reaching but it may be a while since you exercised, or you may not know where to start. Read on and hopefully you will be inspired to lace up your running shoes and head into nature with SLJ!

 Mood – being outside and exercising are both recognised ways to help improve low mood and anxiety by increasing feel-good endorphins and increasing serotonin levels (often referred to as our ‘happy hormone’) 

Interestingly a studycarried out in 2015 by Stanford University, found that students who walked for just an hour outside every day improved their health by feeling less anxious than those students who did not. There are countless studies and anecdotal evidence to show that people have benefitted from being outdoors and have recorded lower incidences of stress, lower BP and lower cortisol levels (which is one of markers used for measuring stress in the body)

 Vitamin D– We need this essential nutrient to ensure that our bones, teeth and muscles remain healthy. 

 If you live in the UK then you can only absorb Vitamin D through sunlight from the end of March/early April until the end of September. It is important to note that vitamin D can only be absorbed on bare skin, so apply the SPF after the skin has had a decent exposure to the sunlight (around 30 mins) ensuring that you do apply SPF afterwards!

 At SLJ we very much advocate the benefit of group exercise as well as being huge fans of outdoor training and there has been much reported on the positive effects of training in a group. Group exercise helps with motivation, loneliness, compliance and general enjoyment. We are social creatures and sometimes a session in the outdoors with a group of like-minded people can feel like therapy. We come away feeling mentally and physically restored. 

 These are just some of the many reasons why SLJ remains so popular. Sign up for one of our forthcoming courses and, as well as joining a fabulous and inspiring group of women that will help you to reach your exercise goals, you will also be able to download our ’14 days to get you fit’ plan for FREE.

 What are you waiting for?!

Does my Bum Look Big in This – Part One.

Yoga tights

Last month, as we were stretching at the end of the run, we were discussing where we buy our running tights. There are so many options now it can be difficult to know where to buy and how much to spend.

We discussed the ones that slip down so you feel like you did when your mum sent you to school with tights on that were too small, remember that feeling when you had to constantly hitch them up. Someone mentioned a pair that they had bought that rode into unmentionable places, giving a most unsatisfactory appearance at the front not to mention to accompanying soreness in the nether bits.

We talked colours and styles, long ones and short ones but as I listened I noticed that no one had talked about ‘The Transparent Effect’. The TE is what a fitness instructor may notice but be far too polite to mention. It happens when bending over, perhaps to stretch or maybe in downward dog.

see through tights

Without meaning to be too coarse in some cases you can actually see as much as a midwife might.

Yes – everything.

Well when I mentioned this there was a look of horror on everyone’s face – they were all stretching their hamstrings at that point and hurriedly stopped so as to make sure their dignity was intact. 

See through Yoga tights

The moral of this story – when you buy a pair of running tights, hold them up and stretch them between your hands, if you can see through them, so can your instructor!

And in the name of full disclosure here is a picture of me doing just that. 

Look for helpful words such as Opaque in the description, unfortunately as with most things, the more you spend the better the quality of the fabric. 

Then we won’t know if your bum does or doesn’t look big in them!

INSPIRE for Change - 7 keys to healthier exercise in the Menopause

In September I will be hosting a FREE INSPIRE for Change workshop in Sevenoaks. If you'd like to come along or find out more click here!  

INSPIRE for Change - 7 keys to healthier exercise in the Menopause

1 Smile

At this point in our lives I believe we shouldn't be doing something that makes us grumpy. A class we hate, an exercise that isn't  POSITIVELY making us feel GOOD, a race that is too long. Think about what makes you SMILE, is it dancing, watching your dog bounce through the long grass on a walk, swimming outside in a freezing lake ( yes some people just love that).

Choose something that makes you feel good - you are more likely to stick to it.  

 

INSPIRE for Change - 7 keys to healthier exercise in the Menopause

2 Sweaty

I know we are all fed up with sweating when we don't want to be, but exercise that makes you sweat means you are working your heart, and increasing your metabolic rate. Heart Disease is still a big killer for women in their 50's so making sure that muscle is regularly given a good workout is important to prevent that occurring. 

 

INSPIRE for Change - 7 keys to healthier exercise in the Menopause

3 Short

DROP the 60 minute workouts if they don't work for you. It is amazing how effective a 20 minute workout can be and if you are new to exercise it won't seem so onerous. Find a class near you with an instructor who understands the changing needs of women in the menopause or, if you live nearby, come and try my Hi Met class! 

 

INSPIRE for Change - 7 keys to healthier exercise in the Menopause

4 Strong

Not skinny. As we age so our muscles get smaller and bones lose their density. The BEST way to reverse both of these issues it to do weight bearing exercise. This means you are  using your own body weight. Running is a great option for some women,  it provides a multitude of benefits for the mood, as well as the positive effect on bone and muscle. If you HATE running - then it won't be right for you, so think about fast walking at a pace that makes you puff. It will have a similar affect without you dreading it.

 

INSPIRE for Change - 7 keys to healthier exercise in the Menopause

5 Slow and Stress Busting 

In addition to the sweaty stuff, it is VITAL to include some kind of recuperative exercise such a Yoga, Thai Chi, swimming or walking. The aim of this type of exercise is to reduce our stress hormone - cortisol, and learn to slow down and relax. This type of exercise can easily be built into a normal day if we plan ahead. Make the dog walk a slower one, follow an online Yoga video if you can't get to a class or have a weekly genltle swim with a friend.  

 

INSPIRE for Change - 7 keys to healthier exercise in the Menopause

6 Specific to YOUR needs 

In this phase of our lives I recommend you find a class or instructor who understands your needs. Make sure they give you a range of options so that you can start at a level that is right for you. Anyone who tells you that 60 seconds of start jumps is fine - should be avoided in my opinion. 

 

an exercise that isn't  POSITIVELY making us feel GOOD.

7 Sociable

This may be the last in my list, arguably it could be the first and most important. Having someone to be accountable to makes us more likely to succeed. Find a partner to go to a class with or go for a walk or run with, join a group or a club - and enjoy meeting and sharing with others in the same boat as you. 

 

 

Today I Went Jogging; NB: I Am Not A Runner….Or Am I?

Today was the first session for my second attempt at the SLJ Beginners Course. I was unable to complete the course last September as I had to step out due to demands on my time from family and some personal health issues- now resolved thank goodness. For some reason I had worked myself into a fine old tizzy and was more anxious second time around than I was last year. Seriously….why was I so worried? The welcome was as warm and open as ever it was last September and naturally I was not alone in my anxious state… my fellow beginners were equally dubious about what that they had signed up for.

Knole Park entrance

Our coach Hazel was immediately reassuring and swiftly gained our confidence as she led us off to the ‘Hole In The Wall’ entrance to Knole Park.

The warm up walk was reassuringly easy and a great ‘nerve settler’ and there was just enough breath to spare as we introduced ourselves and generally jelled as a group, a few knee high steps raised body temperature sufficiently for this menopausal member to strip off a layer before we even reached the first hill! The advice to dress for the second mile of your run is sooooo spot on!!

Our walk up the hill was made more interesting with just the right amount of challenge as we formed a single line, with the person at the back striding forward to overtake fellow groupies to take the front spot, this process was repeated in turn until the crest of the hill was achieved and we all had a lovely, healthy glow! A few moving stretches and then we were ready to start the business of the day: jogging!!

The deer don’t take any notice as we start our first little 30 second jog, alternating with walking so that an impressive amount of ground is covered almost without us noticing. The park is stunning, the sun is shining, the temperature crisp and exhilarating, the company is great and the experience is quite simply wonderful! We trot up and down dale, around the boundaries of the majestic house and its inner grounds, through woodland and open spaces: it is all beautiful and feeds the soul.

Now that we are on the home stretch and nicely warmed up we run for two minutes straight and remarkably no one is collapsing and we all share a high five moment as we celebrate our achievement! We return to Hollybush thrilled with the information we have just run and walked three miles…. yay for us!

On a personal note I have managed to exceed my daily fitbit targets with over 10,000 steps and 76 active minutes before its even lunchtime! Now that, my dears, is a result!!

Diary of an aspiring half-marathoner! Final Blog

Diary of an aspiring half-marathoner!  Final Blog

So, tomorrow is the big day, its finally arrived & here I am, calmly drinking coffee at Hollybush, post run with SLJ (post run for them, not for me – my morning has largely consisted of getting my nails done so far!) listening to encouraging words from the coaches and other ladies (“you’ve got this”, “all that training will pay off tomorrow”, “you’ve worked so hard – remember to enjoy it”, “Good Luck” etc..) & on the outside I’m smiling, nodding & making all the right noises in response desperately trying to carry off what I hope is a cool, confident & excited look.  Inside my head however…

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Diary of an aspiring half -marathon runner - week ten.

Diary of an aspiring half -marathon runner - week ten.


I don’t know about anyone else, but I always find the midweek evening training sessions much harder than the Saturday morning ones.  I’ve tried to tweak them so they suit me better – for instance, I now start earlier so that I pretty much run straight after work (so no danger of sitting down when I get home & then staying on the sofa for the rest of the evening!) which also means I have the chance to get home & cook a proper meal afterwards without it getting too late to eat (so therefore resorting to a takeaway). 

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Diary of an aspiring Half Marathon Runner - Super Saturday!

My targets for this week:
1. Run at least twice.
2. Try & cover at least 14 miles combined.
3. Longer run target = 9 miles – eek!

I’ve just had a reality check moment – here I am, starting off my blog like most weeks – I’ve already run the midweek session (5 miles, nothing out of the ordinary to report & as usual, took a while for me to get going!) and I’m taking advantage of a quiet moment on Friday morning, and I’ve just written the words “9-miles”. Wow. 9-miles. Just the thought that I’ll be running this distance tomorrow morning has made my heart beat that little bit faster, and my palms a tad sweaty.

This is the first real milestone week for me, and how it goes is likely to have a big impact on the rest of my training. I think I mentioned previously that apart from some 10K’s and a few 7 mile runs – until I started this training I’d only ever run further than this one other single time – an 8.5 mile run with SLJ on their increase your distance course (after which I decided I really wasn’t cut out for longer distances and promptly ditched the rest of the course & went back to my comfortable 4-5 miles).

So this week – 9 miles (oops, there goes my heart rate again!) will be the furthest I’ve ever run.  I’m trying my hardest to stay positive – it helps that last week I had a really good run & I honestly felt that if somebody had turned round to me at the end & said, actually – let’s keep going, I could have done. But there is still that niggle of doubt – that negativity that we all have within bubbling just beneath the surface, laying in wait for that opportunity to pounce – and today with the memory of that 8.5 mile run (which felt like hell itself) to fuel it, its whispering louder than usual “what if you can’t do it?”.

So in stark contrast to last week, where I was really looking forward to the 8-mile run, this week I am dreading it to be truthful.  On the one hand, my competitive streak is sniffing the air in anticipation of establishing a new distance record on my Garmin, but as exciting as this prospect is, I am worried that my previous conclusion that “I am not cut out to run long distances” is correct.  Never in my life have I ever wanted to be wrong as much as I do right now (and I don’t like being wrong!), but I honestly believe that if I can have a successful run tomorrow it will give me the confidence needed for the longer distances yet to come, as I can lay that demon to rest.

Even as I write this I am sitting here arguing back & forth with myself – “what if …” – “stop it, stay positive – you can do this” – “but, what if…” – “nope, don’t go there – it’s not the same. This is training with a real goal in mind – that was just having a go at something” – “but…” – “lalalalalalalala I’m not listening!” No doubt this will continue as in reality there is only one way to settle it – I guess we’ll find out the winner tomorrow!

____________

… So its Saturday morning and as I eat my breakfast & watch TV before setting off, I am catching up on the events overnight at the Olympics hoping to draw some inspiration from the amazing team GB before I head out the door.  Just as I’m about to lace up my trainers, one of the presenters asks a question “will this be another SUPER SATURDAY?”  I know that they are not actually directing this at me through the TV! But still, I feel in a way they are as it pretty much sums up how I’ve been feeling this week – I really, really hope it will be a Super Saturday!
Tune in next week to find out….

… only kidding!  As if I would leave you all hanging like that!  Well, I only went & bloody did it!  9-miles (9.2 actually!) me!  No problems on the way round, no collapsing at the finish line feeling like hell – I felt amazing – actually, I felt like an Olympian!  Very briefly, followed by feeling like a bit of a wally after jumping around like a complete loon in the golf club carpark when I heard the buzz of my Garmin indicating that I had done it!  I think the golfers thought I’d lost the plot!

I know that I will still have ups & downs.  I know that I’ll still have the odd run that doesn’t go according to plan & I know that I’ve still got a way to go yet before I’m ready for the big day itself – but I honestly believe I can do it now!