Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Everywhere Aches

After the hectic w/end we had a delightfully quiet Monday. Gave the dogs a lovely walk - remarked that the forest park now shuts at 3:30pm due to the change in the clocks... 3.30! Pah.

Tuesday (30th) was all go. I knew I wanted to go for a run - anything between 4 miles and 10k. I mentioned this to TheO and she wanted to go to the gym and do a good indoor bike session. We made a plan, a plan based on me doing a long run.

7 miles in 10.35 pace all the way into town. I think my little legs were quite shocked. But the last two miles were the fastest so they didn't let me down. I'd only had toast for brekkie (normally I'd have porridge when doing anything over 10K) so sipped away at some Lucozade Sport before heading out. Managed to do the whole run without a gel - this was a big step forward for me; I just waited to see if I would need it - I didn't. A real first.

After a late lunch and a little rest we met up with Hermitina for Aquafit. It felt harder than last time (and my arms ached the next day signifying it really was harder) but maybe a run before hand will do that. There were loads of leg exercises too - more than last time, typical. We then went to the DCA for dinner - it was lovely. Simple food, good chat and a little cocktail to relax those aching muscles.

Today (31st) the plan was to have a rest day but TheO looked in good shape from the exertions of yesterday so I badgered to go climbing. A gentle nudge in the right direction. (I mean - my direction. :-) ) Called Avertical World again and luckily they did have an instructor free - Dave: The ambulance car medic doing Modern History at Uni whose 2nd job is climbing instructor! Obviously set to be an over-achiever. He was lovely to us - clearly explaining things and challenging us to some new and old routes.

We tackled a 3++ course after going round the walls at a low level to warm up the muscles. Luckily it was nice and easy. We were shown how to tie the basic 8 knot before you attach the rope to your harness and then a few points of finesse were given to us. Pah! Finesse - just getting up and clinging on for dear life were still my highest priorities.

We went and did the into-a-corner route (probably has some fancy-schmancy climbing name) and were told how to use your legs further apart across a corner and lean your head in to give your arms a break. Worked like a charm.

Now for my nemesis - the round-a-protruding-corner route. Last time I fell off one of these - some mental block about not being able to see my limbs. This time I made it up with only a tiny cheat on one coloured block. Bah. Still not very comfortable on this type of route. Dave was trying to get us to use the natural features and to grip with our feet. Progress on this was v slow for me - still like the nice safe holds. TheO was quite happy to trust the wall and put in some really great footwork. Dave was happy.

Then - after a tiny water break - we tacked the overhang we did last time. Piece of cake in comparison to the 3-4 goes it took me last time. Really pleased. Might have used a foothold from the wrong colour once (or twice)... keep telling myself I didn't cheat.

Our penultimate route was the hardest - a 5. Given that it goes up to 9C you can see that it's not that hard really. TheO suggested that 9C must be like: climbing up a polished block of ice; Dave corrected this and said, "an over-hanging polished block of ice!" So, something to never build up to there then! But, back to our route: It looked fairly innocuous but was a complete bastard. You had to keep tiny weeny hand holds (to a beginner) and practically hoist your legs to armpit level whilst not falling. It took forever - and I had to cheat using some of the other route handholds. Challenging but fun. My thighs - already slightly achy after the run and aqua-fit - are not going to be thanking me tomorrow.

After this Dave took us back to a nice easy route and suggested we use some finesse to get up it. I dragged my now weary carcass skyward merely happy not to be balancing on a penny. He then declared that (despite TheO's view that my belaying sucked) we were competent to become members. Result! We got our membership, discount cards, and wended our way homewards happy but exhausted.

Tomorrow we REST!

Tuesday, 30 October 2007


Can't imagine why Runner's World are taking so long deciding on the winner of their 'design a technical t-shirt' competition.

Mine obviously rocked.

Off for a long-ish run and just procrastinating.

Monday, 29 October 2007

Burn Him, Burn Him!

That was the cry that briefly hurtled upwards into the cold night air by a few hardy Scots. Unfortunately the rest of the hideously repressed crowd (myself included) remained tight-lipped on the matter of his fiery punishment. Old stick-face was going to bite the lit end of a torch whether we yelled in wild abandon or not. And he'd rather we didn't mention his rather 'thick' thigh muscles. Must be a cyclist.
After a quiet morning on Sunday TheO got that look in her eye. The one that means I should pack the car swiftly and remember to bring the camera - we have to GO SOMEWHERE. The only place we found after searching t'internet was Archaeolink Parkabout 30 miles north-west of Aberdeen. They were, we were told, having a wicker-man burning and human sacrifice. I can only say that their advertising was only half accurate. (And damn it, if Sunday isn't Sunday without a human sacrifice!) However, having been a little uneasy about such a long drive I was thoroughly over-excited about the wicker man. (There was some historical stuff too - we looked round - it was good.) Despite some general milling around the organisers had timed the lighting of the wicker man to perfection and the light against the dusk was stunning. He took light quickly and was soon dropping showers of sparks over some badly placed spectators.

Pottering homewards the car filled with the delightful aroma of wood smoke. We took some quiet (if a little trying at night) little back roads and made it home in good time. A brilliant day.

Today 29th - I behaved a little more like a petulant brat. After being told by TheO that we should wait a week until we climb again I was pretty excited (it really doesn't take much) that today was 'a week'. I duly called and booked - got places on the evening course, cheaper - brilliant! Then we headed out for a dog walk. TheO was feeling the pain (in her back and neck) I promised a neck rub and anything helpful. Eventually it became plain (mostly by being told in words of one syllable) that we shouldn't go climbing*. I sulked. V quietly. It was mean and unfair as I know she wanted to go climbing. I knew it was ridiculous but I was just disappointed. I don't deal well with that sort of thing.

Never mind, at least we got some chores done - a new fancy-er airbed has been purchased; and we discovered that the West Port has a lovely menu.

I now know what to do. Grasp the nettle. If we're both feeling good we do something waiting is utterly pointless. Sometime this week we'll be stuck on ropes hauling ourselves across almost unimaginable rock faces, and I'll be glad to have had the extra day's rest.

*By 'we shouldn't go' I mean that this is something we're going to learn and do together - therefore one of us getting more advanced than the other in the learning process is ridiculous. TheO said I should go on my own - bu that would have defeated the point.

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Reluctant activity

Been a busy few days.

26th - after some cajoling from TheO who was heading to her usual squash games - I actually made it to the gym. A new record was broken. I tried a fast mile - 7.19 - this is so incredibly exciting for 2 reasons. 1) I've finally (more than) halved my original time for a mile when I first ever ran. (It was 15min of death.) 2) I wasn't dead at the end - I managed to set the machine to 8.2mph and just keep running, plus a little bit of sprint at the end. Obviously this lack of death made me think I could have tried harder and therefore beaten the 7min barrier ... I would be kidding myself though. Baby steps. Then did all the weights - was knackered.

The 26th was also our anniversary - 9 years - 9 whole years ... how did that happen? Well, I was crap and did nothing for it (unusually) so in return I was spoilt with great gifts. *Beams uncontrollably!* The only hilarious point of note is that we split a half-bottle of champagne, "so we don't feel all grouchy and headachy after exercise". Pathetic.

Today (27th) TheO was feeling restless so instead of heading-off to the wilds for a few days (kyboshed by me who's having an I LOVE BEING AT HOME moment) we headed off to Perthshire for a 'proper walk'. The book suggested it was an unchallenging 7 miles and should take 3-31/2h. It was the Den and Hill of Alyth walk found in the Pathfinder guide series No 27, if anyone should care. The first mile and a half was stunning: through a tiny valley with Autumnal trees turning the sky golden and the ground a burning red. The dogs ran freely up and amongst the trees and down, taking full advantage of the stream. It was deserted and completely peaceful. The next mile and half was on roads - a little trickier with the dogs but we only saw a few cars and we were still in the midst of a lovely deciduous wood.

This is where things began to go awry. The book stated we would find a sign to Hill of Alyth Walk - we didn't. There was a sign for a different walk. But after a v small detour we decided to ignore the written instructions and stick with the OS map image. Luckily this was a good decision. Further instructions told us to turn "half-left" when the signs, road and OS images clearly suggested it was turn RIGHT. The final fury being: "walk down this road", neglecting to mention there was no 'road', only a deep,rough, grass track with multiple gates. These irritation led to a bit too much book reading and at times slightly frenzied discussion. However the length of walk was just right - only 6 miles completed in 2.50, and we all (both four and two footed) had a lovely day. Stopped on the way home at the old Alyth station - now the Belmont Arms Hotel where they gave us great coffee with shortbread and mints (I'm easily impressed) and the food looked good, possibly a place to remember.

Now recovering from take-away related indigestion. Knowing I brought it all on myself doesn't make it hurt any less. :-(

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Autumn Loveliness

On the 24th TheO and I went for a run together. It was really lovely. Misty and quite cold to start with but I soon remembered why I love this weather to run in - I don't overheat and feel horrible about 30min. We did a great 4 miles up to a tiny hamlet and back - nice and hilly and a good steady pace of 12min/mile. Really enjoyable - nice to get an outdoor run done, v proud that TheO managed 4 miles easily after quite a few weeks without a proper run. :)

25th Today (even though we're past the midnight hour) I managed to get a good deal of work done. Go to the doctors - boo hisss. And go bramble picking (blackberries for southerners and others) - is was so lovely and autumnal. We got a good basket full and might get a few more in the next few days, but it really is the end of the season. The dogs came with us and were only slightly put out by having an on-lead walk (spoilt brats). Saw lots of country things: flocks of birds, bursting hedgerows, tractors trundling past, horse riders waving hello, and dog walkers. Made you glad to be outside. Then TheO built a big fire in the living room and we decided not to go to aquafit... too cosy to move.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Reach for the Skies

Well - starting at ground level - we went for a quick swim and try of the aqua gym in Dundee on Sunday. Aqua-Gym was rubbish - just designed for those coming back from injury etc. Dundee training pool was a revelation. A pool - where you're only allowed to swim lengths - with no children or old grannies doing widths! Brilliant! Did a nice wee 500m and then stopped. Not a great workout but better than sitting on my arse at home.

On to the skies. Picked up a free local mag and discovered that Avertical World had an offer on for beginners during the day - managed to get the last day! We've been talking (as a group of friends) about trying climbing for a while - this seemed like a great chance to give it a go close to home.

We turned up and it was in the obligatory old church - I really love to see these buildings being used. Our instructor was a nice lass (off to film school soon - about 6 years younger than us - good hair) who gave clear instructions and was delightfully encouraging. Like all vaguely 'extreme' sports it's got its own lingo - all of which is v silly. Knackered forearms = PUMPED. Having to shake out said arms = shakin' down. She said, and I hope with some irony, "that's what all the cool climbers do!" Hilarious.

But, onto the climbing. We started with some bouldering - was only aware of bouldering because pre-camping trip we were in Tiso and I saw the baby crash mats and just had to ask. So, bouldering is climbing without ropes at a low level, trying tricky moves, and landing on crash mats. (Not the official explanation but it'll do.) We were doing it to try and get a feeling of being on a wall and how the holds might feel in our fingers. I hated it at first. It felt unsafe and weird. Also I turned round whilst still looking at my wall and discovered that TheO was at the very pinnacle of her wall having scaled it like some mountain goat.

Ooooo - the kit - I forgot to mention.
1. Weird moulded rubber soled shoes, designed for people with triangular toes. Strange at first but soon quite comfy.
2. Helmet - ick.
3. Harness. Essential and quite comfy when not attached to the ropes. Surprisingly painful when all my (vast) weight is resting on two straps horribly close to my lady bits. But, like most things, you get used to it.

Back to the actual climbing.
After being taught how to tie the right sort of knot we approached the first wall. I had the dubious pleasure of being first. Our first wall was either straight up or a slight lean-to to help us up. It was tricky but a good sense of achievement to get to the top. Once I'd trusted to let go of the wall, abseiling down was amazing - whoooo hooooooo. Having something to focus on and being attached to both the wall and the rope really sucked the fear out of me. Thank god - I have terrible vertigo and thought this might be a step too far.

Was told when I got back to the bottom that it was a 30ft wall. Wish I hadn't been told as 'wall two' was the same height and I definitely had a shaky moment. It was a climb into a corner so you had to use two walls - one on either side of you and therefore your body was much further away from the wall. Knees had a moment or two but got there in the end. TheO was still making it look easy - practically sprinting up the damn thing - she deserved my applause at the end.

Wall 3 was straight up with some hold on the right hand side where another wall abutted against the climb. Can't really remember this one - think I might have been getting quite tired.
Did our first belaying on wall 3 too. The thought of being responsible for the person on the end of the rope is daunting, but just like being responsible for the passengers in a car when driving, you just do it - to the best of your ability, and paying the right amount of attention. It's all to do with rhythmical, flowing motions. One thing that really freaked me out was that I was so focused on watching TheO scale the wall in double-quick time, and taking in the right amount of rope, that I kept looking up - eventually the wall began to look flat - my brain just flickered in it's decisiveness for a moment and I wondered why I couldn't just walk up the surface I was looking at. Luckily I looked down and the brain being an incredible organ just adjusted again (then blew raspberries at my imagination for being so silly).

After a much needed coke break and sit down we tackled wall 4. This was round a corner so you were straddling the wall and using grips on both sides. I did fall off - TheO was paying attention and caught me on the rope with ease. Damn it was I mad with myself. Particularly at the moment I clung to the wall as if my left depended on it. Bloody instinct. But, despite that hilarious set-back I eventually made it there and back. Still over excited by the coming down.

Wall 5. Jeez. I'm not even sure I want to think about it. You had to go up and out over a small overhang. I say small - when you were face to face with it, it seemed quite gargantuan. I took 3 breaks just sitting in the harness in mid air before I got passed the bloody thing. I thought my arm sockets and hips might never be the same again. I winged and complained my whole way up. There were many moments when I thought I just couldn't do it. When I got back down the instructor described me as "a breather" in the fact I was breathing v loudly. Sounds hideous and made me feel like a bit of a numpty. It was damn hard work though - sweated buckets - deeply unpleasant.

At the end I was quite excited to have found something that we might really be able to do together as an activity. We should only need one more 1.5h session before we can register and climb together without an instructor. It feels like the perfect antidote to running - no impact, all stretching and loads of use of the shoulder and back muscles. Might have found a great companion sport.

Today I am feeling it - my triceps and shoulders are letting me know this was new terrain for them. Even pulling up my jeans gives a dull ache. Never mind - that'll pass. Quite excited!

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Holiday! It'll be just fine ...

Malta was great - it was lovely to see TheO's parents again. It was relaxing, a real break, a chance to get a little bit of sunshine and ultimately fab to be home again - the best sort of holiday. TheO has, as usual, outdone herself with a series (6 or 7) posts about our trip to Malta. If you want to have a look just go to her blog and you'll be able to check out the many sights of cultural interest we managed to pack into our trip.

I am just going to concentrate on the important stuff - the exercise. Jeez - my levels of sadness appear to be unbounded at present. But - onwards to the stats:

12th October - due to the fantastic pool TheO's parents have my first bit of exercise was a swim. It's an unheated outdoor pool of 11m in length (yes, I did measure it to find out). So I hopped in (finding it a pleasant but cool temperature as there had been just enough sun to heat it up) and did 100 lengths. Due to the pool being so short I tried really hard not to push off when in the deep end so I actually swam the distance rather than just glided every length. :) Kept up a good pace and felt delightfully wobbly when I got out.

13th October - this I had been dreading. A run. In the heat. My lovely friends were exceptionally nice to me and wandered round a garden/park for about 40min whilst I attempted a run. It was great to be somewhere safe with decent-ish paths - but it was still quite rough trails. That, combined with the heat, and the huge hill I insisted on tackling made for a really, really, hard run. I had to keep telling myself that even if no-one could see me - I would know if I had walked! So I did two loops which involved a big uphill and then a gentle decent loop and a simple flat section. These were a mile each and were completed in 12.20 and 11.40 respectively. (I think this shows the heat/hill affect.) The for the last 1.1mile I just pootled round the park finding flat-ish bits until I had plodded out the distance. 11.20 + 1.30. A total time of 36.50 was damn slow but I was just delighted to have done it.

15th October - Took my courage and decided on another swim - on a day with no sun -it was arse achingly freezing. Did 92 lengths (1012m) and called it a day. Not bad when moving but any slight stop was almost too cold to bear. Am obviously crazy.

17th October - Was beginning to despair. Malta - especially if you are out in the country - is not a good place to run. There are precious few pavements, poor street-lighting, and crazy driving. Road running would be suicidal on all but a few new roads. In towns you might be able to do some good runs round the outer sections - but you'd have to know your routes well. It was a busy last day with lots of footie watching planned (an England match on the tv; then Malta v. Moldova in the national stadium). Luckily for me we were heading into Paceville (Pa-che-ville) to watch the England boys get gubbed. TheO's Ma suggested I call the Hilton and ask about their gym. I was suspicious as I've tried this at home and no-where lets you use their gym without either a membership or an induction (how many inductions before I'm inducted to death!). Luckily Malta has different standards - bless! For the vast cost (let's not even talk about it) I could buy a day pass and just turn up and use their gym and pool. At least they give you a free locker and towels. :) So I went in and planted myself on the running machine to churn out a mind-numbing 5 miles. The machine was in K and a bit crap so I managed only to get it to do auto-start then alter the gradient to 1% and get the speed to 10kph - 5 miles/8K in 10min/miles was done - two quick stops with me randomly hitting buttons to get it started again - in about 53min. Apart from watching Sky news and the match I had an incredible view out to sea of the huge stormy swell battering the coast - it was stunning.

BACK in the U ... K
19th October - After a blissful sleep in my own bed - more like passing out having been up for 21hours straight the day before - we decided it would be a good idea to go to the gym. TheO went to play squash and I toddled into my local. Managed 5k in 27min was absolutely delighted - only 8 seconds off my fastest ever 5K - really feel like I'm coming back to form (even though I'm carrying far too many excess pounds). Then did all the weights except the tummy machine.

Hoping to have some quality weeks at home. Get loads of work done. Eat a healthy diet, get a few more pounds off before Christmas, up the exercise and appreciate all the things I love about home. Sounds slightly too good to be true.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

200 posts.

For my 200th post you'd think I'd find something fascinating to say.
This will have to suffice.


More scintillating tales soon.


Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Late summer - Summer Holiday.

Time just seems to be whipping by at the minute. After the hectic w/end where I celebrated another friend's 30th. (Fancy dress - I went as Buffy - drank nothing but bubbly wine all night - got overly competitive about giant jenga - had lovely food.) The following day we took a lovely, restorative, walk along the river Almond by Crammond in Edinburgh. Nipper took charge of Bridie and had a great time - both dogs greeted Nipper and his dad with delight; it was brilliant. Beautiful spot - few too many people but it was a lovely day. Glad to be out doors and alive. Time to chat - told them about the marathon entry ... really want to get in now.

After working feverishly for the last few days - designs to get done, gallery orders to fulfil - I've finally got some new designs to post. I LOVE LOVE LOVE these new pieces. They are quirky, cute, retro and quite evocative; well, maybe just to me - but then I did grow up in a house obsessed with the weather forecast. They are the "weather" items in Flickr. (Blogger wont let me up load at the mo.) It's nice to have some pieces I'm happy with. Just got time to post everything off or deliver it tomorrow before we go to MALTA.

After waking up feeling fat, standing on the scales feeling fatter I was delighted to make it to the gym today. Lovely bracing walk with the pooches first. :) Happy paws all round. Went to the gym for 1h - did a 4 mile run then a good, fast, hard, weights session. Managed to take the tummy machine up to 13 - a first.

My run was hard work but I tried really hard to keep a good pace and never let it dip below 6.2mph. I came away with 4 miles in 37.08 an average speed of 9.17 a mile - my fastest ever 4 miles ... faster than in a race, and faster than I've ever managed before. My much over used word - CHUFFED. This sets me up nicely for the hot, hot, hot runs I might have to do next week. Away in Malta for a week with TheO, Professor & RockGod - we get to celebrate TheO's 31st with her parents too. Should be a damn nice break.

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Tired & Happy

Some days a little miracle happens and it all comes together. Today was one of those days. I'd had a nice new route planned for Sat. but feeling a bit ropey it didn't seem like the right time to tackle a slightly hilly 9 miles. Today the sun was shining, there was a light breeze, and it was cool enough to be pleasant. Bliss

The first 3 miles were not new to me - they are hilly and involve a pretty tough ascent (for the fat and slow) of 200ft in 0.5 of a mile. Mile 4 was blissfully all downhill - having TheO with me made me take it easy and not push too hard on the downhill - I was grateful for this later. 5, 6 and 7 were fairly flat with the odd gentle rise or dip. Then came 8 and 9, which, whilst looking fairly flat are in reality a steady, leg sapping, climb up for 170ft. (Hmm, just converted that to metres (56ish) and realised it doesn't sound quite as 'leg sapping'.)

It was such a great run. And I say this even after the edorphins have calmed down and the legs are filled with dull ache.
Brekkie - 1 slice toast, porridge with brown sugar and the usual large coffee.
2h later (after a bottle of Lucozade Sport citrus) I was out the door with TheO on her bike to keep me company (and give herself a hard hill session to boot).

Total time: 1.38.10
9 miles
Avg speed - 10.55 - delighted - was aiming to keep it at under 11min/m so I'm chuffed!
Calories 1287 (drool - I hear an Indian take away calling me).

One surprisingly lovely Power Gel taken on the run (at 60min).


It was brilliant to do such a long session with TheO. I'm used to it being very solitary (which I like) but this was such a change, and so peaceful and brilliant I might be tempted to coral her support for many more long runs.

I've got a secret. Shhhh!
Despite many protestations, especially to RF, I've entered into the Edinburgh Marathon ballot. It gets drawn on my birthday (which seemed like a 'sign' when I was filling the form in) so it's a long wait to find out. If anyone knows what the odds are I'd love to find out. Fingers crossed - toes quaking in anticipation.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Not to make this run and run ....

That's what I call SERVICE.

Selaine from Less Bounce (yes, her who started the company) called me - mere minutes after the email was sent. She assured me that all the research was genuine. They checked it all, and they have used the same research centre and testers. She has tried the bra herself and was satisfied with the performance.

She knows these things are subjective and just wanted to let me know that they're confident about the research and the article written. I'm delighted that I haven't been swindled by advertising - and I can get a refund :). I've got my fingers' crossed for them as they have 'hundreds' on back order - let's hope that other peoples' boobs find it a more supportive home.

Once Bitten

Ah well, the Triumph arrived this morning. Please see the letter I wrote to the truly terrific online sports bra retailer Less Bounce minutes after its arrival.

Dear Less Bounce,

My new Triumph Tri-Action Extreme arrived this morning. As did an email from yourselves promoting the Daily Mail article.
It was this article (found online earlier in the month) that convinced me to try this particular bra - I've tried many others on their list and their comparisons and comments seemed fair.

I think you're about to get a flood of unsatisfied customers. I might be wrong, but having tried this bra, it does not stand up to comparison with many of the good sports bras listed. When taking it out of the packet I thought, "this doesn't look very supportive" but I thought I should, at least, try it on. I did. It's truly terrible: the sides are low and flimsy providing no real structure to the bra; the cups neither compress nor separate fully; the low scoop, two hook back is insufficient for a sports bra of this size; and the adjustable straps - even at their shortest - were too long for me, 5'6", and a woman of 5'8" (I got a friend to try it to check).

I was initially a little bit apprehensive when I called to order it and was told it 'hadn't been released yet'. That made me wonder if the Daily Mail article was really pushing a new product rather than doing a fair review. I now believe it was. (Please see post above for illumination.)

You are a respected and trusted retailer of sports bras and I have always thought your 'thumbs up' ratings turned out quite well - especially difficult in the very subjective world of sports bras. If you promote this bra with the Daily Mail article you will lose some of your reputation and respect.

I consider myself to be one of the first fools who fell for such an obvious advertising trick. I can get a refund (the bra will be posted back today) you will have to try much harder to rebuild your reputation.





In this article (Daily *spit* Mail - ANNA HODGEKISS -Sept 17th 2007) they asked Bridgitte Swales, of the Sports Performance Assessment and Rehabilitation Centre at Roehampton University, to analyse the most popular High Street brands. Each bra was worn by a runner with a 34D chest.Then, using specialist computer softwear, she was checked for horizontal and vertical breast movement. The reviews were as follows - all reviews from September 2007.

BERLEI SHOCK ABSORBER, £32.99 (Looks like a B109 to me - but they don't say.)
CLAIM: 'The Shock Absorber works with your body. Research has shown that a Shock Absorber reduces 3D breast movement by up to 74 per cent.'
MOVEMENT: Vertical 6cm; horizontal 2cm.
VERDICT: Bridgitte Swales says: 'This is an "encapsulation" bra, which research has shown is usually better at supporting the breasts during exercise than "compression" bras. Encapsulation bras look more like an everyday bra, with moulded cups to separate the breasts; while compression bras compress the breasts against the chest wall.
'The thick straps and the "racer" back provide good extra support. However, disappointing amount of movement.'
Rating: 6/10

ENELL: £37.99
CLAIM: 'This is designed to enable larger breasted women to exercise in comfort.'
MOVEMENT: Vertical 3cm; horizontal none.
VERDICT: 'A serious sports bra - one of the compression models. And compress it definitely does, to the point where I feared the tester's blood might stop.
'It's designed like a corset, with ten fastening hooks at the front. It was tight around the ribcage and left marks on the tester's skin, so could become uncomfortable. On the plus side, there was very little movement - the best performer in this test.
'High chest coverage means it cushions the pectoralis major (the muscle the Cooper's ligament comes off) and its thick, supporting straps make it good for big-busted women.'
Rating: 9/10

PANACHE £31.99.
CLAIM: 'Provides excellent comfort and support.'
MOVEMENT: Vertical 4cm; horizontal none.
VERDICT: 'The fit is extremely tight around the ribcage, which caused pain when running. Tightness around the ribcage is not good because it could put unnecessary pressure on the xiphoid process - a small piece of cartilage at the lower part of the sternum - making the exerciser feel sick.
'This bra did not fit the tester well - it was too big. But the fact it still only allowed 4cm of movement (one of the best scores) indicates it's structurally a good bra. It is cut quite high on the chest, so the pectoralis major will be supported.'
Rating: 7/10

CLAIM: 'The most comfortable bra you'll ever wear.'
MOVEMENT: Vertical 6cm; horizontal none.
VERDICT: 'This compression bra is very comfortable and resembles the more traditional crop-top-looking sports bra. It has a good depth at the side and a lot of elasticised "give" around the ribcage.
'Although it's one-size-fits-all, it's very stretchy, so probably will suit all shapes.
'However, it was not very good in the support stakes: the vertical movement while running was very visible and one of the highest in our test, putting unnecessary strain on the delicate breast tissue.'
Rating: 5/10

CLAIM: 'Gives great support for average-to fuller figures.'
MOVEMENT: Vertical 4cm; horizontal none.
VERDICT: 'Essentially a compression bra, but also slightly encapsulated and supports the breast well.
'The compression provides a good, snug fit across the chest, supporting the muscles.
'Thick, adjustable straps provide extra support. The fit is good and the ribcage is not compressed.
'The aesthetics of this bra don't do it justice - it had one of the lowest vertical movements.'
Rating: 9/10

CLAIM: 'Superior support and control you need for those high impact workouts.'
MOVEMENT: Vertical 5cm; horizontal: none.
VERDICT: 'The high chest coverage means the pectoralis major should be supported. Other pluses are the breathable mesh, sturdy support at the side and adjustable straps.
'But, surprisingly for an M&S bra of this size, it didn't fit well - emphasising the importance of trying a bra on before buying.
'Despite the problems of fit, there was no horizontal movement on the treadmill, and this bra ranked midway in the vertical movement stakes.
'However, it was difficult to put on because of the fiddly hook at the back, and you need to make sure the band around the ribcage is not too tight.'
Rating: 5/10

CLAIM: 'Firm wing support for stability and confidence.'
MOVEMENT: Vertical 4cm; horizontal none.
VERDICT: 'Unlike the other Triumph model, this is an excellent sports bra. The breasts are perfectly encapsulated and there is sturdy support at the sides and back. The gel in the thick straps also makes it comfortable.
'The fact this was slightly too big for the tester and still had one of the lowest movement levels means it's ensuring the breasts are moving with the body, so supporting the Cooper's ligaments and preventing breast sag. It also looks good.'
Rating: 10/10
They also reviewed Royce, Moving Comfort - Maia, and Triumph:Tri-Action Power Move. All of these scores were rubbish 1 or 2 /10 so I took them out.

I've looked at lots and lots of bra reviews over the last year. I find that in a batch of 20 bra reviews you find one 36D who says "it's the most amazing bra I've ever tried" and another 36D who says (of the same bra) "rubbish, no support, chafed everywhere". It's too subjective. I liked the above review as it gave simple, understandable statistics, showed a picture, and gave a concise overview of other factors (appearance, strap thickness, ease of catches etc). I'm about to get my Triumph and my Enell (to add to my Berlies and Champions) so I'll see if my own subjectivity (and boobs) agree with these stats.

Highlights and Lowlifes

Jehsus! As my delightful N'orn Irish friend would say. Is this what I have stooped to. I was whistled at today and - despite being a slightly arsey feminist with mildly ranting tendencies - I was bloody delighted. Why! What makes this acceptable? I tried to explain my joy to TheO (who luckily understood and was willing to let me witter and self-justify) by saying that just to be whistled at is complimentary; there was no leering, no intimidation, no attempt to engage in conversation - it was entirely harmless (in a sexist objectification type way).

They were obviously out without their guide-dog however as I was wearing quite tight running gear (in the post office on my way for a run) which does not my particular figure flatter. Ah well. I'm just taking this moment and appreciating it for what it was.

Now, the run itself was less of a joy. 2 bits of toast and a 4 hour gap does not a successful run make. When will I bloody learn?! But a nice 1mile loop was found in St. Andrews and I'd done 2.5miles by the time TheO turned up (a slow 27min). I was eager enough to stop so we just enjoyed the indian summer day (yes, albeit slightly cold) and walked some v happy dogs. Just being outside in real, sunny, daylight made me feel like a new woman. I can't wait for my next run now.

In more exciting news TWO different sports bras should arrive tomorrow. The famed Enell and a new Triumph Extreme which got the top review in the above article. Once I've got them I'm going to do my own tests on the ones which work best for me. Joy. Shopping & Running.