Rebecca with her blue Ford KA

This month is National Car Care month and it is obvious by neglecting maintaining your car will cost you more in the long term with larger repairs which will likely result in devaluing your car or even worse causing an accident that could have been prevented.

For those of you that are long time readers of my blog, you may remember me talking about when I passed my driving test on my fourth go. It was incredibly stressful but I was so happy when I could drive around in my Ford KA and now in my Ford Fiesta without having someone with me! I was contacted recently by KAP Motor Group to talk about how I care for my car and today’s blog post is all about what checks I do and what I get a car mechanic to do.

How I maintain my car

I always do my tyres in one go whilst I am at a petrol station putting air in my tyres. To make sure I know the correct pressure beforehand I check on Google. I do a quick check with the tyre tread as well by doing the 20p test. If you can see the outer band of the coin then you need to get your tyre changed. I also check for any nails, other wear or tear or bulges, all stuff that you had to revise for the driving practical test.

The oil, screen wash, brake fluid and engine coolant are checked to see if they need topping up. I also check that all the lights are working, I do this when either my partner is out with me so he can check or when I get home and it is dark. I tend to have in the car a spare bulb so I can change a light if I need too and wipers I change when I notice they are not working as well when I am driving.

When I go to the garage

I take my car to the garage if there is an odd noise or if something doesn’t feel right when I drive, also if my tracking needs doing, changing my tyres or the battery.

If you are looking for a reliable local garage, get your car serviced with KAP Motor Group.

Do you perform your own checks or do you go to a garage?

 

*This is a sponsored post but as always my opinions and experiences are my own. 

 

Images of medals with text overlaying the top saying Latest Marathon Training Update

If you read this blog often you will know that I was going to run the Birmingham International Marathon in October and I was documenting it on my little corner of the internet. I was so excited to run the Birmingham International Marathon, I had ran the half last year and I also work in Birmingham so it really meant something to me. I didn’t just want to run a marathon in a random place that I didn’t care about.

However unfortunately the Birmingham International Marathon has been cancelled. It was cancelled due to ongoing building and road works. I was gutted when on the same day the Stafford Half Marathon was rescheduled due to poor weather.

Turns out it was probably for the best, before the cancellations I had been off sick the last week with a very bad cold. I am not usually off sick with a cold but I just felt terrible. The next week after I was off sick again and since then I have just been ill. I have an upper respiratory tract infection, which is just a fancy name for a cold but my lungs are painful, my glands hurt and I generally feel unwell.

I have not been able to exercise for over a month now, in a way it is a good thing the marathon has been cancelled as it would have seriously dented my training schedule. Due to this I have also decided to not run the Stafford Half Marathon. Again something I am gutted about, but I am just not fit enough and I really do not want to get ill again.

I have been asked whether I will run another marathon but I am not sure now. I have other projects that I am currently completing but what is most important is that I want to run on a route that means something to me. I haven’t even started looking at other marathon’s yet because I feel so poorly the last thing I want is to look at marathons.

However I do have some challenges lined up, I have put my name in the ballot for the 40 mile RideLondon, I am also going to do the Wolf Run in June. I am still going to do the Great North Run and Great Birmingham 10k. I am going to try and cycle a lot more by going out on my mountain and road bikes.

It is a disappointing blip but I will get there.

Image of four running medals

In my last blog post I spoke about that I was going to run the Birmingham International Marathon in October. I said I will update you on my progress every two weeks. This is to help keep me on track and I like writing.

Since I have last written my post the running has fallen by the wayside a bit. I was constantly tired as my legs were constantly aching. The weather really stared to grind at me, the coldness was just getting at me. Cross training at the gym increased as I wanted to keep my fitness up. Then last week, I was just disinterested in exercise, I would usually do at least 5k on the treadmill. Then I just caught the worse cold in the world –  which has just wiped me out and has kept me wiped out since. I had to run to catch my train the other day and I noticed a difference in my lung capacity. I was embarrassed!

As my half marathon is next week, I am getting worried about it. I know I will run it but it was meant to be a test of my training and fitness up until this point. It won’t be an accurate reflection and I am gutted about that.

Food and the marathon training community

In terms of food, again in that department it has slipped. I have been trying to live a more vegetarian lifestyle. At home I have really kept that up but at work it has slipped, I bring tonnes of food in but once that has gone I struggle to get anything that doesn’t have diary in. In the last post I also said I would spend time looking at twitter feeds for other people in my position who are running their first marathon. I haven’t done that because I have been busy with my blog. Hopefully next week I will be back on track and have something more positive to report.

Image of trainers and a grey sports shirt for the marathon

Since the Great North Run ballot has been announced and I got in, I felt it was the right time to talk about my training for my upcoming races this year concluding with the Birmingham International Marathon in October. It will be my first marathon and I decided to undertake the massive challenge as I really wanted to push myself.

The idea to run came in October last year when I completed the Birmingham Half. Unexpectedly I found the half quite easy and it made me think whether I should push and do the full marathon. I had also completed a dualathlon and triathlon through GoTri and this had given me the confidence to push myself. Hence in January I decided to bite the bullet and enter the Birmingham International Marathon, I have no desire to ever do another one, I just want to see how I get on and raise some money at the same time.

My running history

As a kid I was always good at cross country running rather than track, living up to my personal mantra of slow and steady wins the race, and I represented my school in cross country when I was 11. I took up cross country running later in sixth form and I got incredibly fit. I remember in lower sixth I was running every week and I came sixth in the school’s annual cross country run. I didn’t go to cross running in the next year and noticed a massive difference that I actually moved 10 places down to 16th. It was there early on I learnt about the importance of maintaining fitness.

Fast forward 10 years, before last year I wasn’t really a runner I was more of a cyclist. Cycling many miles around Stoke and later South Staffs on the weekends and weekdays in the warmer months. What made me switch to running was that it was quicker not having to get all the equipment ready and also a lot of people I knew had taken up running, mainly by taking part in Park Run. By running it meant I could get involved in the conversations and even enter in races together. My first race was the Manchester 10k and since then I have done the Cannock Chase 10k, Race for Life 5k, Stafford Half, Birmingham International Half Marathon and a couple of virtual 5k runs.

In terms of fitness I have always been fit and I have always kept up with regular exercise since my school days. I aim to exercise at least three times a week but now for the training I have upped it to five times a week.

So why Birmingham?

I did put in for the ballot for the London Marathon but I didn’t get in (surprise, surprise) and I wanted to do a marathon in a place which meant something to me. I had recently started a new job in Birmingham and I live in the West Midlands so felt that to complete a marathon where I live would be ideal. It also means I don’t need to worry about accommodation. As I had ran the half marathon last year, I knew the route would be similar so it feels even more achievable.

So what about training?

I know that to succeed, I need to stick to a regular training schedule. After looking around on Pinterest I found one by Women’s Running, it is a 12 week plan and although the marathon is more than 12 weeks away I thought it would be good to keep me motivated, allows me to see where my weaknesses are and gives me more time to work on them. Also if I felt like having an extra rest day, I could afford too. My training has upped to five days a week which I am not finding to be too much of a massive difference but it is early days!

How is the training going?

I am more or less sticking to schedule, I keep a diary which lists everything that I eat and exercise and I tick off the chart as I go along. I got given for christmas a Garmin vivosmart 3 which has been handy in keeping track of what fitness I do. I have used Strava for a very long time now so I use this as well, I do have an obsession with seeing where I have ran by the red line and seeing if I have beaten my personal records.

I have found it at times to be quite a lonely process, training on my own. I tried joining a run club but they were all faster than me and because I was travelling further for my job, there really wasn’t any point. I am planning to look for run chat groups on twitter to talk about training and keep me motivated.

It is a huge undertaking in terms of time. In the evenings after I have been to work, ran, showered it is pretty much time for bed. I really don’t do much else.

What are you wearing to train?

Since I do quite a lot of sport quite regularly I already had quite a lot of kit. For outdoors I alternate between a small Primark scarf I got years ago to a free buff I got from a mountain bike magazine. I tend to wear an long sleeved top (Aldi do some cheap ones) and a long sleeved cycling top (purely because it is reflective) I alternate between some leggings I got from Nike a few years back and these gymshark ones which are amazing! The best leggings I have ever brought, they fit so well! I recently brought these by gymshark also so cannot wait to try them out! My trainers are Adidas Falcon Elite 3, I brought these ages ago but you can still get them online. I brought them originally as I wanted a trainer that was an ‘all rounder’ as I did a lot of circuit training. They are serving me well but I will invest a pair of running shoes before the marathon as I am taking running more seriously and with the miles I am putting in, the shoes won’t last!

What are your aims for your next three weeks of training?

I aim to have nailed a pretty decent warm up and warm down routine by the time my next blog post goes live. I always skip a warm up in the aim to get outside and get it over with as fast as possible, when I get back I would just quickly stretch, protein shake and then shower and the next few day’s I would really feel it. I am feeling it in my knees more as well. I will also try and make some time to get involved more in chat groups on Twitter. By week six I should have ran 12 miles so it will be interesting to see how well I do. Finally I want to look more into which charity I want to support.

Run Schedule

Sunday 18th March – Stafford Half

Sunday 6th May – Great Birmingham 10k (with team University of Birmingham)

Sunday 9th September – Great North Run

Sunday 14th October – Birmingham International Marathon

Are you doing the Birmingham International or running another marathon, let me know in the comments below!

Woman posing in front of a blossom tree

Veganuary has become really popular at the moment, so many people want to try it either for a healthy diet or for environmental or ethical reasons. My sister, Miranda, has been a vegetarian for years and has been a vegan for a year. Today my post focuses on why Miranda became a vegan and her experience being a vegan.

How long have you been a vegan and what made you make the change

I have been a vegan for coming up to a year now and it was the best decision I have ever made! Not only for my body but for the environment too. Together, we can reduce the amount of animal and animal based produce that is being consumed, in turn reducing the amount of land we use to produce e.g. corn for the cattle to eat and the emissions that are being pumped into the environment.

Documentaries on Netflix opened my eyes to what we are all eating. For example, I did not know that there was a percentage of puss that is allowed to be consumed in our dairy products, I did not know that puss filled cysts were being popped on meat and still being placed on our shelves and tests on meat found that pharmaceutical medications that are being used to prolong animals lives and keep them ‘healthy’ are also found amongst the meats on our shelves, including faecal matter may I add! Who wants to eat that? No wonder why we all feel unwell, sluggish and lethargic!

Not only that, I do not support animal cruelty and the conditions that these animals aren’t kept in to then become our rashers of bacon and beef burgers is disgraceful. Therefore I again, do not and will not eat meat or any product from an animal again.
Eating vegetarian includes products such as egg and milk and as I’ve said above, it’s not good for us and it’s cruel to the animals and therefore I do not eat it.

How hard is it being vegan?

It’s not hard to keep yourself healthy when eating vegan. You can buy good, wholesome products and vegetables from your supermarket that does not break the bank!
Recipes can be as simple or as complicated as you fancy and it’s not as difficult you think to use alternative products in cooking or baking. For example you can use egg replacer for your pancakes and cakes that taste just as good! Granted sometimes you end up spending more on items such as chocolate or toothpaste that’s vegan and cruelty free but it’s so worth it and so empowering that you’re not supporting the unethical production of products.

I can’t lie that at first, I had no idea what I was doing when cooking as I had it in my head that it was a lot tougher to eat vegan than not. However, it’s just as easy and the stereotype that we don’t eat enough or are not healthy as vegans is just daft as we probably have the healthiest diet around and can eat just as much as everyone else!

Have you always been environmentally conscious?

I don’t really know when I became environmentally conscious. I have always enjoyed being outdoors and for example, have always put litter into bins etc. but wouldn’t really say anything significant spurred me into being as how I am today.
Watching documentaries on climate change and where our food comes from certainly changed my thoughts on the world and how fragile, special and unique it is, how everything can be linked (e.g. mass breeding of cattle to produce meat – adds to the issues with global warming and the reduction of natural land that is available), how unhealthy it all can be (poor methods of producing and keeping food and the effects of co2 emissions to our bodies) and finally, just how cruel we are as people to the world and to natural habitats, the wildlife, animals, each other and beyond! Knowing what I know now from that and from what I’ve seen further caused me to be more conscious and protect the earth and ourselves too.

I got involved with the fracking demonstration in Nottingham as just as other happenings in the environment such as the plastic in the oceans, it is a really important issue! Not only from increase in traffic causing more congestion to the roads, to the contamination of water, small tremors, the lighting used during the night confuses nocturnal animals and more!
I do not support this and therefore I play a part when I can in the peaceful protests against this.

Woman and a group of people protesting against fracking

At the moment I’m not a part of any other protests or groups that campaign various issues but I am constantly reading about what’s happening in the world that campaigns against fracking, treatment animals, anti whaling in Japan etc. and to me, that’s just as important as actually participating in demonstrations as it keeps you in the know and it allows you to spread the word to others which in the long run, can educate others of the issues that are occurring in the world and can promote/induce alternative attitudes towards them and thus stand against them for the better.

What would I say to someone who wishes to become vegan or vegetarian?  Go for it! You may find it difficult but gradual change is change for the better and sticking with it until meat and dairy is a thing of the past is so satisfying and empowering! You feel more at one with nature and the earth and it opens your tastebuds to all these flavours and meals you might never have tried or have wanted to try before! Some products (at the moment) do not compare to non vegan products but by trying alternative products you become accustomed to it and what’s to say that these vegan products that are the alternative to meat or dairy products, are how they really should taste!

My final ‘take home’ message is be the change that you want to see. Just because you are one person does not mean that you cannot change anything. Together, we can turn things for the better, not only to the environment, to the treatment of animals, to ourselves but also to the world. It all can link and there is only one earth. We do not live on a stable planet, it is dying, we are all dying and we are destroying our true place called home.

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