29 January 2015


Remember the Cocoa, cashew and date snack bars I posted back in December? Well that recipe is back today but in a new form! Meet the ever so popular snack ball. Snack balls seem to be everywhere at the moment. From brands like Bounce Ball to homemade creations, they seem to be a pretty popular workout snack or something to battle those sweet cravings. Mine are incredibly simply and use the same recipe as my bars (so check out that post if you want to know how to make these). Instead of squishing the mixture down into a pan, roll it up and create this tasty little morsels.

The great thing about these is that you can make them using pretty much anything and all you have to do is blend the ingredients together. Cashews, dates and cocoa. Done. Or maybe you're a nut butter fan? Try peanut butter, almonds and a little bit of vanilla extract. Whizz it up and there you go. Or keep it simple with just almonds and dates.

The outside can be just as personalised as the goodness inside. Coat with oats, seeds, a ganache or coconut to add a little something extra to these tasty treats. These are incredibly simple to make and will definitely hit the spot when you're feeling peckish for an afternoon snack.

What combinations would you use or have you made these before? I'd love to know your suggestions so tweet me @afloralcrown and let me know your recommendations! 

27 January 2015


Last week I posted a first impressions review of my debut experience with the TomTom Multi-Sport watch. I talked about my experience of the initial set up and also how my first run with the device went. Yesterday morning I took it for it's first proper trial swim and thought I'd let you know my thoughts.

One of the main reasons I decided on a multi-sport watch was for a swim feature. During longer training sessions I find it sometimes quite difficult to keep track of my lengths midway through, as I begin to focus more on my breathing. It's handy being able to have something I can use to track my swim, whilst I focus on the swimming itself. On the feature you can have goals, set intervals and set laps. These are features I haven't yet tried out but will be looking at in the future.

I suppose the main question here is - is this accurate? As I've only tried it once so far I don't think it would be far to say it's completely inaccurate. I'm going to be doing a larger review in a couple of weeks time - so I'll update you more on it then. But for now it's something I can deal with. I counted my swims on this first go and the results were only a one length difference. I performed 70 and the watch picked up 69. I can deal with a one length difference, but mainly because I knew the actual number of lengths. If I was just using this without counting myself then I may worry slightly more about it's accuracy. As I can get a rough answer
that I know is fairly accurate, it's very handy at this moment to have something which works out my pace. I've been wanting to work on my pace for a while so having something that can work this out means I'm able to see improvements through training. If this inaccuracy continues, I can imagine it becoming increasingly frustrating if there are mistakes being make with the recording of my swims.

One thing I wish you could do is edit the training session post swim. It would super handy to be able to change the amount of lengths afterwards. This may help with the accuracy of recording whilst in the pool but also with the result of pace. As the recording is fairy similar to the actual effort there wouldn't be too much difference with changing this. It means that it will also be easier to keep track of training swims and an accurate account of mileage covered in the pool.

So there are my thoughts on it for now. Overall, it's a good start. Like I said, as I've only used it the once I don't want to give a definitive answer just yet. Accuracy could definitely be improved but I'm going to wait and see over the next couple of weeks if there are a whole lot of major differences between what the watch says and the swim session itself. 

If you've tried this out on the swim feature then please do let me know! Tweet me @afloralcrown.

21 January 2015


After months of being indecisive I'm finally the owner of a Tom Tom Multi - Sport watch! I've been debating getting a GPS watch for a while now and have been looking at a heap of different brands, models and price ranges. Some of the other major contenders were the Garmin 920XT and the Suunto Ambit3. However, due to both of these falling over the £300 mark I wasn't completely set on spending that amount of money at this moment in time. This is where the TomTom steps in. A functional piece of kit that suited my price range perfectly. Yesterday I picked up my TomTom, set it up and took it for a test run (literally a run!). As it's still brand new I wanted to write a quick first impressions post on setting it up and also how I found it on it's first outing.

Firstly, a bit about the watch itself. The TomTom Multi-Sport watch not only tracks runs but also swims, cycles, treadmill runs and also has a freestyle function. I picked up this model to help monitor and track my triathlon training. After deciding on the TomTom the next decision was whether or not to buy it with or without a HRM. I decided to purchase the one without as I already have one - and if worse comes to worse I could wear two watches at the same time. After a quick look at the instructions online it looks like I can use my existing HRM with this which is something I'll be testing out very soon.

Now for the set up - which was quick and easy. Simply, remove from the packaging and place in the unit into the dock (included) connect that to your computer and follow the instructions to download the MySports Connect software from the TomTom site. When you've followed through the set up instructions - including entering your DOB, height, weight, gender etc - you're good to go. When I first exited the software and went to open it again it wouldn't. But after a quick uninstall & reinstall, it worked perfectly from then. The software is clean and easy to navigate with nothing being to complex or confusing about it.

Now onto the run itself - a short just over a mile run around the block. It located my GPS in under 5 seconds, perfect if you're in a rush to head out and did not drop off once throughout my run. The system is easy to navigate (both whilst setting up and during a run). Using the toggle pad you can scroll through a number of views including current time, running time, distance and calories. I love the big display. It makes it very easy to see your current stats and the fact the display also dims meant that I didn't find myself constantly clock watching. In terms of accuracy it seems incredibly accurate - but I would expect this from a satnav brand! It also alerted me through a vibration that I had reach a mile mark which is very useful if you like to keep track of your distances. I used it on the just run setting but you can set it up for specific training as well as running laps. 

When it came to collecting and exporting my data it wasn't a problem either. I wanted to upload my result to Strava and I was impressed with how easy it was to do just that. You allow the TomTom access to your Strava and follow the instructions to export and upload. I'm someone that really enjoys looking at all the information gathered and having a record of my activities, so this is a fantastic way of collecting everything in one place.

That's it for my initial review. After one go I'm very pleased I finally decided to purchase this watch. I'm still figuring it all out and finding the best way to set it up for me but for a first go I'm very impressed. As I'm yet to have tested it for a cycle or swim, I'll update you on those when I do! 
I purchased my watch from John Lewis after comparing across a number of stores. The main reason was I could get a discounted price due to working for the partnership but also the gguaranteeis a big bonus when buying any technology. 

Have you thought about getting a GPS watch before and what are your thoughts on them? Let me know @afloralcrown on Twitter. 

19 January 2015


You may have seen me talk about this app a little bit before on my Twitter. This is the Nike Training Club app - another fantastic addition to Nike's collection of rather awesome apps (which also includes Nike Runningwhich is a firm favourite of mine!). There is SO much to do with this app that I'm not entirely sure where to start with this review?! So I guess it'll be easiest to start at the homepage.

Firstly you're greeted with the "Workout of the week". Workout inspiration right there. Ready at the touch of a button. No need to think of a routine and in a second you're ready to begin you're workout. This week's workout is "Sweat + Shape", a 30 minute routine where all you need is dumbbells (but you could always go without if you didn't have any). Having a weekly routine set for each week can be incredibly useful for those that need some regular workout inspiration or are pressured for time and struggling to think of what to do.

Little to no equipment needed
What's great about this app is it's equally great for working out at the gym or at home. Lot's of the workouts use your own body weight whilst others only use a few pieces of equipment. The equipment used are pieces that you'll find widely available at gyms such as dumbbells or medicines balls. Don't worry if you're not a member of a gym though as there are definitely a lot of other routines available that don't require this sort of equipment.

Videosphotos and step by step instructions
If you stumble across a move you're not particularly familiar with then it's not an issue. Simple flick through the steps with photographs or watch the video to follow the instructions. It's so handy having someone show you how to do the moves all within one app. You could then modify the moves to your level once you know how the move should be performed correctly.

Tailored workouts
Need a more structured program? Step in their 4 week long programs! Select from get lean, get toned and get strong. Then select whether you're a beginnerintermediate or advanced. (The level you chose affects the level or workouts you do each week). Review your program, click done and that's it. A tailored workout that will focus on the area you want to improve it. You can also sync up your runs to this feature so that it recognises these as extra workouts.

Specific targeted workouts
If you're not sure what sort of workout you feel like trying then hit the "Find Workouts" button on the homepage. It brings you to four choices - Get Lean, Get Toned, Get Strong and Get focused. Within each of these workouts you again has beginner, intermediate and advanced choices.
Get Lean - High interval cardio to slim down

Get Toned - Light weights nad intervals to add definition
Get Strong - Increased weights and reps to build strength

Get Focused - 15 minute workouts to target specific areas
Once you've followed through these two screens you'll be presented to a whole list of workouts to choose from. It'll tell you the length, what you'll need (if any equipment), the duration, allow you to set your music and also review (& customise) the workout before you begin.

My favourites include:
Vinyasa Rush
Dynamic Yoga
Solar Power Yoga

And did I mention it's all COMPLETELY FREE?! Personalised workouts, special guest workouts from athletes from a whole variety of sports - all right at the click of an app. I really cannot recommend this app enough. It has so many possibilities and I've personally only touched the surface of the number of workouts I've tried. 

If you've tried it out before let me know which workouts you'd recommend! And if you're in need of a little workout inspiration and motivation then definitely download this app. Need some new music for your workouts? Check out the Nike Women and Nike Training Club playlists on Spotify for some brand new music as well as some perfect classics.

17 January 2015


I LOVE making banana pancakes. After multiple attempts I've finally got them down to a T and they're a breakfast I make rather regularly now. Naturally sweet, light and oh so tasty to eat; they're a great light breakfast that are also naturally gluten free. As much as I love these pancakes somedays they aren't enough by themselves. For days when I'm doing (or have done) a longer or tougher workout I need something a bit more sustainable. or suitable for days where I've got a bigger workout. This is where the oats come in. They help thicken the pancakes while creating something that's a bit more substantial. Adding oats does mean these are no longer gluten free, unless GF oats are used.

All you'll need (to make around 4/5 medium pancakes):
- 1 brown/ing medium banana
- 2 eggs
- 25g of oats (you can add more oats if you're looking for thicker pancakes)

Heat a saucepan over a medium heat with a small amount of oil (I used some coconut oil). Mash the banana well, removing as many of the lumps as possible. Whisk two eggs in a bowl and add the banana. Once combined it's time to add the oats. Mix thoroughly and then it's time to cook! Use a couple of spoonfuls of the mixture for each pancake and make sure to spread it well in the pan. They'll take slightly longer than usual pancakes and are a bit more delicate, so take your time with them. Once the top is set then it's ready to flip. And when both sides are done it's time to eat! I really enjoy just eating these plain but top them as you like! If I've got a bit more time I'll add some slightly thawed frozen berries. 

And here's a quick video showing you how I made them! In the video I add the eggs to the banana and then whisk - but it really doesn't matter which way you do it. 

I'm going to try to add more videos over the next coming months to my YouTube channel so if you check it out please do let me know. Also let me know what you think of this recipe and if you would like to see anymore from me in the future!

13 January 2015


I've been writing this post slowly over the past couple of days trying to clear my head of all the thoughts I'm having at the moment. I still don't think I'm managed it properly now, but I'm hoping that this post makes some sort of sense of how I've been feeling on a couple of occasions lately. I've been thinking a lot recently. About my races this year, thoughts of succeeding, that I may be under prepared, crossing the finish lines and being the best I can be. I've not really been thinking negativity or had thoughts of quitting, but I have been worrying. I would say I'm perhaps naturally a bit of a pessimist. I sometimes think the worse because then you won't be disappointed if it does happen, right? But other times I'm hugely optimistic and raring to go.
In short am I too competitive and hard on myself that I need to achieve the best every single time I do something in order to feel I've done a good job? This may be my problem, causing that worry. The fear and worry of failure.

For some of my training recently I've had a little bit of a fear. Something niggling at me in the back of my mind, not pushing me but not holding me back much either. Keeping me in the same place. No progress forward or back. Last Sunday I was meant to go out for a training bike ride. For some reason I was too scared to go. Deep down I had a fear encase it didn't go well or I couldn't finish. I didn't go for the ride. Something was holding me back and I'm not happy that I let that happen. I wasn't ready for it then, but I am now. When the cycle comes it may not be my best one ever but I still went out and did it. I will make every effort to make it my best one and even if it's not then at least I got out there and did it.

Other times I'm feeling high on the variety of exercise c experimenting with new things, and improving on old ones. That high is what I need to remember. Not the days where things didn't go so well (we all have those). I can't dwell on the past when I have so much to look forward to and focus for on the future.

I'm not a quitter. I will push on.

Training may be hard. The goal is set but the journey is where you really have to dig deep and make every second count. Each day is a learning curve. Use each experience to improve, build and develop. That's how we progress in life. We learn from the areas we weren't so happy with and use them as tools to get to our destinations. Reaching any goal takes time. I have the determination to succeed (I always have) I just need to remember that. Leave the negative thoughts behind and let the positive ones through a lot more.

I have to build up to it. Dedicate the timehours and effort. I'm already doing that - so I will carry on doing that.

In the end it will all click. Every early morning, the sore muscles, all those hours spent training. They'll all fall into place. I'm looking forward to each arm stroke, each push of the pedal and each step hitting the floor as I run. 

All of it leading to the moment of sheer happiness, of success and crossing each and every finish line. The relief and feeling of pride that will occur knowing I've pushed my body and achieved something amazing. Whether it be completing a 10k c a half marathon or something bigger.

I am more than ready for the tears, ready for the pain and ultimately ready to succeed.

I know I can. And I will.

11 January 2015


Before we start, this takes a while. By a while I'm taking 2/3 hours of waiting (and trying not to eat it all). It is SO simple to do though, plus it's extremely tasty, that it's definitely worth the wait and patience!

Here's how to do it yourself at home.

1. Preheat your oven to gas mark 1/180f or the lowest setting it has.
2. Prep your mango by peeling and washing (if needed).
3. Cut the mango into thin slices.
4. Spread the slices evenly on a lined baking tray and place that into the oven.
5. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Flip the mango and place back in the oven for another 30 minutes.
6. Repeat this process for around 3 hours until the mango is crispy on the outside but still slightly soft on the inside.

Once it's all cooked, enjoy! I slightly over cooked some of the thinner pieces but they still tasted great as mango crisps.

If you give this recipe ago tweet me @afloralcrown and let me know what you thought. A quick video showing this recipe should also be up live later this afternoon on my YouTube Channel.

07 January 2015


Back last October I published a post all about my events and races I was planning on booking for 2015. Since that post was published I soon found myself entering a number of races. Now that 2015 has arrived I thought I would share with you a few of those ones that I'll be participating in this year, with hopefully more to add as the year goes on!

First up, The Cancer Research Winter Run 10k. Held on the 1st February, it's got closed London streets, snow zones and also polar bear hugs! This will be my first event of the year and actually falls the day before my 21st birthday. I am very excited to have the chance to run with some friends and can't wait to spend the weekend before my birthday in London and running! I'm hoping to get a new PB in this race but with a large crowd expected, and the fact it's going to be a seriously fun race rather than a serious push for a PB, I'm not entirely sure how likely that may be.

The next races falls on the 19th April. The Plymouth Half Marathon. This was my debut half marathon last year and I am ready and rearing to get going out on this course again. I'm hoping to really improve on my time for this half marathon but also looking forward to running my local half marathon once again.

And then the 31st May brings Plymouth Grande Fondo. A 100 mile event with 3500m of climbing and encompassing some incredible views of Dartmoor and it's surrounding area. This is my first ever cycling event - it appears I like to just throw myself into sports sometimes. It's going to be a great day and I'm hoping that the weather plans to stay dry for it!

So, that's three of the events I've got all entered and booked in for this year. I'm also hoping to do We Own The Night 10k, the Eden Project Half Marathon and perhaps the Royal Parks Half Marathon as well. I'm really hoping that this is going to be a very active year for me with lots of exciting events hopefully going to be entered. Of course, I will be posting about everything on here!

What events have you got planned so far for 2015? Let me know @afloralcrown.

05 January 2015


About a week before Christmas the awesome people at Speedo very kindly sent me a rucksack filled with some fantastic pieces of training equipment. When they said they'd like to send me a small kit I was just expecting a swim cap and perhaps some ear plugs. So, when I arrived home to all this it's safe to say I was extremely shocked! I can't thank Speedo enough for sending this kit over, it's going to be extremely useful for my training this year! I haven't properly road tested any of it yet, apart from the microfiber towel but I've got a couple of posts planned ahead. 
I was sent three training aids which I'm hugely interested in trying out - the pullbuoy was actually on my Christmas list! It's also extremely handy having one dedicated bag to head down to the pool with as I normally end up taking quite a lot of things. 

Huge thank you to Speedo again and I'll be sure to post some kit reviews in the next couple of weeks letting you know what I think!

03 January 2015


 *Photo of Charlie Watson - taken by me*
A new year means new opportunities and new chances to set goals. I didn't really have many fitness goals last year apart from I knew I was going to be running my first half marathon and I just wanted to finish in a somewhat reasonable time. I completed that goal and now, with two half marathons under my belt, I've got a desire to set new goals and set some personal bests.

I've got a post coming up about some of the races and events that I've already booked in 2015, but these are the smaller goals that I'm going to be working towards throughout the year. I've only got a couple at the moment but I'm hoping to be able to accomplish these and then add to them as the year goes by!

I've tried doing yoga regularly before but time and time again I can never stick to it! After Christmas I planned to start 30 days of yoga on the 1st of January. For the 29th and 30th December I did give it a go and really enjoyed it but took a break for New Years Eve before starting it again properly on the 1st. It's only day three but I'm really enjoying it so far. Yoga With Adriene is currently running a 30 days of yoga series so I've been following that but I have also been checking out the 30 days challenge videos on the Do You Yoga 30 Day challenge channel. 
Yoga is incredibly beneficial for both relaxing the body and also taking time to relax the mind. I find I can get quite stressed and tense, sometimes for no specific reason, so I'm using these sessions as a chance to relax and focus. I'm hoping to incorporate it a more into my routine, even when the 30 days is overto make sure I'm having a proper stretch in between my training sessions.

Pull ups

I say pull ups but my aim here is A pull up. Just the one. One little pull up - with no assistance whatsoever. No matter when I reach this goal whether it's in three months or nine, I will successfully complete a pull up completed unaided and I can't wait. I'm currently using an assist of 40kg which is a teensy bit to much for me at the moment, I could take that to a lower weight if I really tried, but for now it's a good starting point. Who knows, I may even be able to do more that 2 in succession by the time the year is out! 

Half marathon and 10k times

I'm already booked in for a half marathon and 10k races this year and I'm hoping to achieve a personal best in each of them. I feel a lot stronger now than I did this time last year and know that when I push myself I can do well with my times. The first 10k is at the very beginning of February and although I don't think a PB will be hugely likely, as this race is definitely going to be a lot of fun running with friends rather than a serious test, I'm looking forward to it either way. It will also be the anniversary of my first ever half marathon in April and there I am highly hoping, and aiming, for a new personal best. 

What are your aims for 2015? Do you have any events or goals you've got your eye on? And what are you planning to do differently from last year to develop this year? Let me know @afloralcrown on Twitter.

01 January 2015


Hello 2015! The year of:

- Half marathons
- 10ks
- A triathlon
- New adventures
And my 21st Birthday!

For once I'm pretty excited about heading into a new year. I never really have feelings either way towards a new January 1st but this time I'm feeling a little different and better about it. I'm not revamping myself or my style or anything like thatI'm improving myself and making me a better person. Not a new person, just a better one. More fitness, more photography, hopefully more travelling and more enjoying myself. Hopefully a lot of new content will be coming up this year. I'm also hoping to grow my blog and other social media networks more and sharing my content with a lot more people.

What are you looking forward to this year? Also, is there anything you'd particulary like to see more of from me on here? Tweet me @afloralcrown.