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Reflecting on 2018, The Year of Self Discovery.

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Reflecting on 2018, The Year of Self Discovery.

It’s that time of year again when many of us reflect upon the last 12 months and consider the high and lows, what we’ve achieved and perhaps start to think about setting new goals as we head into a new year. 

Personally I’m not a fan of the ‘new year, new me’ attitude. Whilst I understand that it’s a good time to start fresh, I also wonder what stops people from wanting to better themselves at any given point in time. Perhaps in a world full of diet pills, starvation diets, cleanses, skinny coffees, celebrity exercise dvd’s and transformation programmes, conflicting advice can leave us feeling confused and torn in different directions.

For me, it’s about simplicity and choosing just one or two things to focus on otherwise I start to feel swamped. In previous years I’ve been that person trying to do too many things and not really excelling at one thing in particular and therefore I’ve never really given myself a chance to figure out what I could be great at.

So this year I had two main goals:

1. Complete 100 miles

2. Get faster over longer distances.

If I had to throw in a third, it was to achieve the first 2 without any serious injury which is easier said than done when I was already carrying existing aches and pains from 2017. I’m happy to say that I’ve just about survived the year with only a few physio appointments, an X-ray and mri scan on my foot... that’s a good year for me. 

I’m not going to list everything I’ve done this year (my Instagram does a good job of that) but only to say that I achieved what I set out to do. My ‘A’ races were the 100 miler (race report here), Centurion Chiltern Wonderland 50 (race report here) and Abingdon marathon (I’m yet to blog about this but it’s in my plan).

How did I do it? I asked myself how badly I wanted it. The answer to this wasn’t immediately apparent but as I progressed with my 100 mile training I started to realise that my mental strength and desire to be great was growing week by week. I developed a real hunger to see what I could do and this in itself drove me to keep pushing. Previously, if I had a last minute cancellation  from a client then I’d use the time to pitch up in a cafe and do some admin work, but instead I started to use the extra time to throw in shorter runs here and there. I found that the quick blasts became just as significant to my training as the longer steady paced runs.

Outside of my longer training runs, I noticed I was getting much faster and starting to PB again after a long dry period of slow progress. Aside from the fact I had increased my weekly mileage, I had also started the year off with heart rate zone training which had now taken full effect. By year end I went onto PB in 5km (20.47), 10km (42.15) half marathon (1.38), marathon (3.29) and 50 mile (9.53) distances.  

I also had a secret weapon in my training partner, Caroline, who was also doing the West Country Ultra. That woman has a drive and tenacity akin to a big African cat with its eye on its prey. it’s quite a sight to behold! So running with her has always given me that extra push and whilst I quite often hate it, I’m always grateful to her once I’ve had a glass of coconut water and packet of ready salted crisps, my go to post run snack, and caught my breath again. I probably don’t give Caroline enough credit for the real effect she has on my training, so if you’re reading this Caroline, a massive thank you for being every bit as crazy as I am and more! 

I’m not doing a great job of summarising my year in this post but I guess what I’m trying to say, albeit somewhat cliché, is that as long as you have just one tiny cell of self belief then it will multiply and grow, the more you nurture it. 

Completing the West Country 100 mile ultra marathon is most certainly one of my biggest running accomplishments to date, but the journey leading to it and the road that followed on from it continues to build my confidence and ability to achieve more than I ever dreamt possible. 

So here’s the thing, when you set your goals I beg you please don’t make it just about the faddy diet, cleanse or 30 day shred but ask yourself how much do you want it and more to the point, think beyond the intial programme and make a longer term plan that’s realistic and sustainable around your lifestyle.

Furthermore, look closer to home, look inside yourself and DO believe, DO dream big and DO reach beyond impossible... you might just discover something quite remarkable. 

My goals going into 2019 are to build on my new found self belief (I still have a long way to go) and make sure I always remain firmly outside of my comfort zone. I also have bigger, more important goals, and they are to find a better balance with my family life, be a better mummy and focus more on my clients requirements. 

I’ve just recently joined the Salomon Ambassador family so I’m looking forward to establishing myself within the role which involves delivering workshops and hosting trail runs as well as showcasing what the Salomon trail running community has to offer.

I’ve also made the huge leap outside of my comfort zone and I’m committing to sharing my story with the hope to inspire others through public speaking.. my first two engagements are in January and yes I’m terrified but also looking forward to something new.

Finally, I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone in my support network who have been a part of my running and fitness journey. My incredible family for putting up with my silly antics, my clients and friends for always listening to the aftermath, my incredible RUN LIKE A GIRL members who inspire me to be the best leader I can be and also to those friends who I’ve made along the way - the ultra running community really is something quite special and I can’t wait to see what further adventures 2019 has in store for me. 

2018.. over and out.  

 

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Polka Dot video production

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Polka Dot video production

Back in March ‘18 I had the opportunity to be part of a short film produced by Worcester videographers Polka Dot Production .

Jo and Duncan Cox are a husband and wife team who direct and produce some of, if not THE finest wedding videography I’ve seen - seriously check out their work, it’ll make you want to get married just so that you can have them make a film about it. 

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Fortunately for those who are already married or those who just don’t fancy it, Jo and Duncan also make promotional videos and this is where I came into it. Polka Dot Production wanted to expand their portfolio by adding a short film to their arsenal of high end video production and they had very clear ideas about how they wanted to do that. 

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So in short, I spent a few hours running around the South Warwickshire countryside while Jo and Duncan filmed me both from the ground and using a high spec drone. I’ll let the film do the rest of the talking but let me just wrap this up by saying that these guys were a pleasure to work with. They were professional, creative and made me feel very relaxed. 

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Letter to my younger self

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Letter to my younger self


Dear young Lauren 

I know things are tough for you now, being an adolescent is definately one of the more challenging life phases we’ll go through, but I  can absolutely 100% guarantee that we’re going to be ok. Here are some little nuggets of hope for you..

When we were in our mid teens, our PE teacher kept entering us into the inter schools cross country trials even though we hated every single step because she saw great potential, not because she had it in for us. This will scar is for years but we come good in the end.

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The sporty girl teasing and laughing at us about our running style (you know exactly who I mean).. in about 20 years we’re going to bump into her at the gym and she’ll be unhealthy, depressed and hugely overweight. We won’t laugh back at her though, because we’re better than that.

It’s ok to be at the back.. and no, this is not how we’re going to die today. One day we’ll become an ultra marathon runner where the race is nothing to do with pace but going the distance... and that we can do! Hang out at the back, it’s going to be fine.

Tell Mum about our unhealthy relationship with food now! She’ll save us sooner. Binging and purging now is going to shape the way we look at food for the decades to come. It’s not ok to starve ourselves and use lunch money for cigarettes to surpress our appetite. But please know that it won’t always be like this, we win in the end!


One day in the future we’re going to start up a women’s running group and it’ll fast become one of the biggest groups in the country and win awards - that seems so crazy right? We hate running!! So don’t worry too much that we’re not doing so great in school. There’s more to life than algebra!

So hang in there little Loz, life gets really good as you get older, I promise you that. What I can also tell you is that there are more difficult times to come, but don’t worry, as we grow older we also grow stronger, both mentally and physically. We will learn to surround ourselves with a strong and positive support network by way of family and friends. We’ll never be alone.

I’m signing off now, I can’t give it all away because we like surprises, right? Furthermore, I can only tell you what I know for the first 39 years of our life, there’s more to come which I don’t know about yet!

Be kind to yourself little Lauren, trust your instinct and don’t get too drawn in by the wrong crowds. 

Take it easy

Older Lauren


What would you tell your younger self if you had the chance?

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Muddy Stilettos Awards - WIN!

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Muddy Stilettos Awards - WIN!

So it seems that quite a few of you folks believe that I'm kind of alright at what I do.. you only went and voted for me to win the Muddy Stilettos Award for the Best Fitness Instructor (Warwickshire) category! Huge thanks to all that voted, I honestly feel so honoured to have received such a prestigious award.

I was invited to attend an award presentation at Hilltop Farm where I was greeted with a glass of champagne and the friendly team at Muddy Stilettos Warwickshire HQ. It was a lovely afternoon spent networking and meeting the other award winners, all hardworking, inspiring women in business and truly deserving of their win.

Click here for more information about Muddy Stilettos and their fantastic lifestyle blog.

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