Posts tagged walk
We have been to Center Parcs a number of times in the last ten or so years. We’ve been as a couple, with a group of friends, with family. We’ve been in the cheapest villas and spent a bit more for some luxury. We don’t go every year but enjoy it when we do – it’s a relaxed way to holiday in amongst the trees without the need for a tent or a caravan.
It’s not cheap. The holiday will set you back a good few hundred quid. Especially if you need to go in the School holidays. Booking in advance and using voucher codes helps to bring the cost down. Then the activities are also expensive and so it is wise to plan carefully what you want to do and make the most of the free and included things when you are there.
This time we stayed in a Comfort Plus (the cheapest villa type but with towels and a dishwasher thrown in) villa at Elveden. We stayed with family – two other adult couples – in a three bedroom version, a couple of doors down from four more adults from our extended family who had a two-bed villa and about five minutes walk from some good friends who were also holidaying at the same time. The accommodation was clean and had everything we needed, although we all commented that it is actually quite run down – it’s not been decorated for about ten years and everything is looking tired and worn. The block opposite us was being gutted during our stay (it’s a shame to get industrial noises from dumper trucks and diggers when you’re in the middle of the peaceful woodland – especially at 7.30am!) so we can only assume the ones we stayed in would be done soon. They need it. The photo above was taken in 2007 and they’ve not changed a bit; apart from the fact there were fewer trees (some were felled while we were there) and much less ground cover thanks to the winter. A friend likened the blocks to concrete bunkers… they are a bit really, but they nicer once you are inside! The refurbished ones appear to be getting wooden cladding on the outside which makes them look much nicer in amongst the forest.
Thanks to my sister being a teacher if we want to holiday together we have to choose school holiday times, and so naturally Elveden was full of families. But we have to say it didn’t feel heaving around the Village at all, it was bustling in places, yes, and the pool did get busy at peak times, but it didn’t make much difference to the ambiance. Not having children in our party of ten meant we didn’t book any kids activities, so we don’t know how booked up they got.
I’m not going to go through everything we did on our break at Center Parcs, but having been a few times I simply wanted to bring you a few tips for enjoying your holiday. I hope you find these useful.
Arrival and Departure
You can get in to your Villa from 3pm but you can arrive before then and use the facilities – the same applies on the last day; you must be out of your Villa by 10am but you can stay all day if you like. We timed it just right this time I think; we got to the arrival booths at 2.50pm having met up down the road at Kings Lynn and had Pizza Hut buffet lunch, so we were able to drive straight round to the Villa. It can get very busy on the narrow Village roads on arrival and departure day – watch out for pedestrians and cyclists and when parking get yourself as clear of the road as you can.
Eating and Drinking
Center Parcs Villas are Self Catering, which is great because it means you can spend as much or as little as you like on food. But bear in mind the kitchens are small and only have the basics – they are not designed for cooking for big families! If you are cooking every meal yourselves then take a big pan and a baking tray with you! I did fajitas for ten; our Villa slept six but the frying pan would only take enough fajita filling for four (at a push) so we had cook in several loads and keep it warm in the oven – was a little stressful but loads of fun and we ate well.
Eating out is great – no more expensive than eating out in town normally but of course the bills can soon add up if you do it every night. Two informal and easy-to-eat places are the Sports Cafe and the Pancake House. Oh and the sweet potato fries at Dexters are very nice.
We highly recommend the bakery inside the Parc Market. Those cakes – especially those doughnuts and fresh cream Belgium buns – are amazing!
Take a reusable water bottle and a reusable shopping bag with you. Drinks are expensive (£2.50 for a large coke) and there aren’t any drinking fountains about that we saw (a great omission that really should be added), but you can refill in your Villa. Carrier bags at the Parc Market are 5p.
The Pool – Subtropical Swimming Paradise
Use of the pool is included in your holiday price, and it’s well worth going. We found the best times to go are first thing in the morning 10am or after tea 7pm – it’s busiest from about 11am to 4/5pm. The pool closes at 9pm (I’m sure it used to be 10pm) and it’s a great way to spend the evening.
You will need £1 for the lockers (returnable) – I had two of those trolley coins one of which worked fine and the other that didn’t because it was too thick. There is shampoo/shower gel provided in the shower area and plenty of space to get changed. If the cubicles are busy there are also communal changing areas which are often empty.
The rapids and new Cyclone ride at Elveden are great fun. At busy times we queued for probably 20 minutes for the Cyclone – it’s well worth it, it’s fast and fun, a great addition to the pool. They’re still doing work too; the area for young children was being refurbished while we were there. Oh and take our word for it – the plunge pool is VERY cold!
If you are wanting to book activities then the best thing is to get them booked online in advance; they get booked up and you don’t want to be disappointed. If you do want to book activities while you are there you can use the kiosks dotted about the Sports Plaza or if you have a smart phone then the website is great for mobiles – you just need your booking reference.
Activities can be expensive but they are well organised and great fun. Over the years we have done many of them – it’s one of the things I love about Center Parcs, you can try new things, have an adventure. I would especially recommend the Quad Biking, Cable Ski (that will get a whole post to itself sometime soon) and Aqua Sana Spa (a three hour session at the Spa is just £30 – money well spent for a very relaxing experience). If you like water then the lake is a great place to spend your time – you can get a Kayak or Pedallo without advance booking from the Boat House. Crazy Golf is also a nice way to spend a couple of hours, but like the Villas it could do with a bit of refurbishment – the “greens” are very worn and the course itself hasn’t been updated for years and years. Next time I think we’ll try the shooting and the segway experiences.
Of course you can cycle for free (if you take your own bikes, but hiring is also good value) and there are plenty of Village roads and woodland trails to explore. But if you are cycling then please learn how to use your bell… or at least say excuse me rather than barging past walkers. The paths aren’t that wide and a little courtesy goes a very long way. Oh and take a bike lock; cycle security is a known problem at Center Parcs and you can see signs everywhere warning people to lock their bikes up.
You are staying in the middle of the forest where Center Parcs has been set up for quite some time – you will see wildlife and it will be quite tame. You will see monkjack deer, squirrels, rabbits and various birds from the comfort of your Villa sofa.
A few of us got up for the Woodland Awakening nature walk that started at 7.30am one morning this time around. I associate Center Parcs with nature and there are a number of these things put on through the week – taking advantage of these activities is a great idea. We met up with one of the two Conservation Rangers who introduced us to ducks, geese, rabbits, birds, and most impressively a herd of red deer on the Warren just to one side of the Village. Spring hadn’t fully materialised yet, but we had a lovely wander in the woodland and learnt a lot about what was going on around us. And a mallard fed from my hand which was an odd experience!
You are in the middle of a forest somewhere quite rural – don’t be surprised if your mobile signal isn’t that great. There is wifi in the central areas (which is actually very slow – slower than my 3G connection) and in some Villas (but not in the Comfort Plus one we stayed in this time). But you are on holiday, it’s nice to have your phone to tweet and what have you, but relax and don’t worry about it!
Fashion? Really? Don’t bother! Leave the fancy outfits and nice shoes at home. The dress code is oh so relaxed and no-one cares – think trainers/boots and wellies, joggers and jeans, t-shirts and jumpers, waterproof coats. Outdoors clothing all the way.
I will leave you with this photo of something that made me smile from ear to ear – Mega Marshmallows. Available from the Parc Market they are seriously massive. Huge. I simply couldn’t resist!
The Salomon Comet 3D Lady GTX are a lightweight hiking boot designed with stability and support in mind. With a high-cut profile around the ankle, a protective rubber toe cap and gore-tex layer for waterproofing, they protect you from the ground and the elements. They are tested by and for women – with a specific last, collar shape and sole hardness based on women’s input.
I have been sent a pair courtesy of Snow+Rock to try out, and I have really enjoyed stomping about in them over the last couple of months.
The first thing to say about these is that they were immediately comfortable. They felt light on my feet and the positioning of the laces meant I got an excellent fit without any difficulty. That “from the box” comfort is down to this boot being fairly soft in construction – a mostly fabric upper with nubuck leather overlays and a flexible sole so you can walk naturally from the first step. This may of course mean that they are not as robust or give less protection than some other similarly priced boots, but you always need to spend time breaking in an all-leather boot, and stiffer soles would mean you feel the ground under your feet a lot less, so I would much rather go for something like these Salomons.
The waterproofing comes from a Gore-tex layer. Some people find the GTX layer mean your feet can’t breathe as well, but I haven’t found that with these; I think it’s the breathable layered upper that means my feet are very comfortable even after wearing these for several hours at a time – although it’s always nice to remove your boots at the end of a long day on your feet. And thanks to the recent weather I can confirm that these are definitely waterproof…!
Underneath I appreciated the well designed lugs which gave excellent grip. The soft sole meant I did have to walk a bit carefully on rocky ground, but on the paths and meadow-type-terrain I generally walk these gave me a good stable stride and I was able to forget about what was on my feet and enjoy the walking and the views.
What these Salomons provide is a nice looking waterproof hiking boot that is comfortable straight from the box. For the kind of walking I enjoy – countryside trails, muddy paths, hills, and a bit of gravel and tarmac thrown in, 4-10 miles at a time, these are ideal. I would also be more than happy to rely on these for a peak or two (or three!).
Find them on the Snow+Rock website for £140.
I have never been a girly girl. I don’t remember ever doing the pink thing. My mum can probably confirm or un-confirm this, but I’m sure that I have always much preferred green or blue or brown or black to pink, and have always preferred getting out and about than painting my nails or wearing dresses. It’s just not my thing; I always prefer a different option.
So when I opened my latest shoe box from Hi-Tec my first thought was… wow… they’re pink. So pink. So very pink.
These are the Hi-Tec Sierra Lite Original, a lightweight suede and mesh walking boot.
Colour aside, they have a great retro walking boot look to them, and are indeed very light. The suede and mesh upper is thin in most places, but they have a padded collar around the ankle for support and comfort. There is a removable sockliner for cushioning and a (bright white) rubber outsole for grip.
And did I mention that they are bright pink?
Hey, I’m up for pushing my fashion boundaries because let’s face it I’ve never actually been fashionable. So I got them on my feet, laced the bright white laces up, and went for a short walk with my sister.
My first impressions were actually very good. Our chosen route was four miles up a steep grassy path onto the ridge close to my house, along the muddy Viking Way, and back down the hill on a tarmac pavement. The mud meant the soles are not so white and the upper is not so pink any more, but they gave me good support and kept my feet dry in the squelchy conditions.
I want to give a specific mention to the laces. Strange, I know. But I found the laces on these boots were a) plenty long enough to tie in a double bow – something that is often not the case and then really annoys me, and b) sat really well on the boot giving me a good and secure fit. The eyelets are in exactly the right place – I had total control over how tight the boot was over the top of my foot and around my ankle, without one being dictated by the other.
Since that first walk I’ve worn them a fair bit around and about, including one Friday when I wore them to walk home from work. I actually ended up walking over seven miles that afternoon, mostly on pavement, and I found them very comfortable for that. I did have a problem with the rubber outsole, though… when it’s damp underfoot that sole turns any metal and even cobble stones into an ice skating rink. I had a few dodgy moments when stepping on manhole covers and nearly ended up on my backside when I stood on a metal strip embedded into the paving slabs – eek! It’s strange because on the grass, gravel and muddy footpaths I was provided with steady grip. Just be careful when walking on normal pavements in the rain…!
I don’t think Hi-Tec have designed the Sierra Lite for long distance treks across peaks or full day hikes on all terrains – they haven’t got the cushioning or support needed for that. What they are is a walking boot absolutely ideal for low level trails and rough ground over short to mid-distances. Think walking the dog across fields, Sunday afternoon walks in country parks and nature reserves, long strolls along coastal paths, that sort of thing. The price certainly reflects that – £49.99 is a perfectly reasonable amount to spend on a pair of decent walking boots for general outdoor use.
If I am totally honest I would never have chosen these for myself – colour aside, I would generally go for something with additional support and more cushioning. But I will say that I do like them. I like the retro-esque styling (they also come in a beige colour!), and they fit really nicely and are comfortable. I’ve even grown to like the pink. A bit.
We fancied a different kind of skiing holiday this year. It took us months to decide where to go. We’ve been to Arinsal in Andorra for a couple of years and thoroughly enjoyed it, but we have really outgrown the slopes and felt it was time to move on. With only a week of annual leave left the USA or Canada was not really feasible in our opinion, and places in the Alps can be so very expensive and incredibly busy. We wanted something fairly quiet, where we could ski nice blue and red runs, improve our skiing but not be pressured by busy crowds.
We eventually settled on Ruka in Finland for a week in January. We booked through Crystal Ski at Thomson, who have had all our ski holiday business so far; we find them very professional and approachable as a company. I still like to go into a Travel Agent to book a holiday package – something about it gives me confidence in what I am booking along with physical tickets and all the information I could need. They are really friendly in the Thomson branch in Lincoln and it’s a joy to go in there and discuss our next holiday destination… Obviously I spend many hours researching holidays online too. I actually found the online price was a little cheaper than the quote I received in the branch, so I simply asked them to match it; they naturally obliged.
The Sunday afternoon flight was around three hours from Gatwick into Kuusamo airport. They know how to deal with snow over there… good job really – the runway was covered and the roads, well LincsGeek and I couldn’t always tell where the roads were and where the verge was! The transfer was just 30 minutes by coach – absolute bliss compared to the four hour coach transfer from Toulouse to Arinsal in Andorra!!
Ruka promised to be a different kind of skiing holiday. Located within Finnish Lapland it is something like 20 miles south of the Arctic Circle and around 25 miles from the Russian Border. A quiet but well used purpose built resort with a range of hotels, apartments and restaurants, the village centre is right at the bottom of the main (front) slope. It’s small but has just about everything you need – a mini supermarket, a couple of pizza takeaways, a couple of fast food chains, and a good handful of restaurants serving a wide variety of food. Most of the village is pedestrianised too. And it is all covered in a lot of snow.
You know somewhere is going to be cold when the travel brochure warns you of the temperatures. I mean, this is a ski resort, it is going to be cold. But we’re talking Lapland here. Average temperatures at the time of year we went are -14 in the middle of the day. While we were there we had -22 on the Wednesday lunch time and it dropped to -28 on the evening we went on the Skidoo ride. Wow. Cold. Seriously, take lots (and lots) of layers, and make sure you have ski glove liners and fantastic socks!
The main thing about this part of the world was simply how beautiful it was. So much snow. So much ice. Everything was covered. The trees bowed under the weight of all the snow piled up on the branches. We were told that on the Friday night there had been something like 50cm snow fall overnight in some places – 20cm on the main slopes – which gave us the opportunity to practice our skiing in beautiful fresh powder. (For the record neither of us has experienced powder like that before; we had no idea what we were doing!!)
Skiing (and boarding) wise you have quite a large area to explore, with a good mix of blue and red runs and a few blacks too. There’s a good sized ski school with its own green slopes, and a couple of ski hire shops to get you kitted up. We used the Piste Rental Shop as this is the one Crystal use – we’d prebooked our ski hire when we booked the holiday. It seemed to be the busier of the ones in the village, but there was no wait when we went to get our skis. LincsGeek has his own boots so he just needed skis and poles, whereas I needed boot as well, but I was looked after by a great bloke who got me set up in no time. I always struggle with ski boots; my large legs mean I have a problem with certain boots as they don’t do up at the bottom of my calf. This wasn’t an issue thankfully as after failing with one pair of boots the guy in the hire shop could see the problem (“my legs are too fat” doesn’t always translate well) and without embarrassing me swapped my boots over and I was on my way. We were both told that we could go back and swap our equipment any time if we wanted or needed too, which was a good thing to know.
Slopes and Lifts
From Ruka Village you have the choice of two chair lifts – A and B – that are your doorway to the slopes. You can explore the whole resort by using a variety of chair, t-bar and button (platter) lifts. I don’t think we are unusual in that we really hate t-bar and button lifts, we will go out of our way to avoid them if at all possible, and thankfully the slope map showed a good number of chair lifts that meant we had plenty of kilometres of runs open to us. Unfortunately on the Tuesday the main chair lift – lift N – was closed for maintenance so we had to use a t-bar and a button to make our way back to the main slopes. We did it… but didn’t like it! The six man Ruka Express lift is a bubble lift and so has the canopy that comes down over you to keep you warm (well, warmer!) whilst sat still. The bubble means it closes when it’s windy, which it was for another couple of days, but by then we had worked out other routes around and only rarely had to use the dreaded t-bars! A good tip is to check the slope information on Ruka.fl each morning (also displayed on various screens around the Village) as they update it with any run/lift closures.
Once up on the slopes you are in amongst absolutely beautiful tree lined runs and the most amazing snow-covered vistas I’ve ever seen. No runs are very long, but they are really lovely, some are wide, others are narrower and take you into the forest areas. There’s also lots of off piste to explore, although we’re not quite ready for that yet! The slopes you can see from the Village are all red and black, the reds being perfectly skiable for an intermediate skier (even in the very strong winds we had a couple of days); but to help beginners there is a new green run that winds down the side of the hill to bring anyone less confident back into the Village. LincsGeek and I mainly stuck with the blues (the blues were very gentle, definitely on the green side of blue) and nice reds (a good mix of a little tricky and just fast), although we did both attempt a short black on the front slope which was a little scary!! I think it’s fair to say I’m stuck in the skiing rut that many people say is difficult to progress beyond – but I’m happy with my current limits at the moment.
Our favourite runs were probably the longish blue down to Vuosseli via the narrow Rosa and Rudolf run through the trees (past the reindeer pen), red run 13 at Saarua which is fairly short but allows for some decent speed, and red runs 1, 2 and 3 on the front slope which are actually all the same as they cross/weave/merge. Blue run 30 is a nice way to get across to Masto, although the day we went up to Masto peak was so windy I was pushed back up the hill!
Apart from skiing tree lined runs there is a super pipe and several park areas, a mogul run, and the biggest jumps I’ve ever seen in real life. Needless to say we aren’t quite at the point of flinging ourselves into the air (on purpose!) yet but it was great to watch others attempt and conquer those things. There is also a FIS run down the front slope and it was brilliant to watch a team – Russian – training on that. So fast! Oh and there are two ski jumps too, leading down into Ruka Ski Stadium, but neither were in use while we were there.
The slope maps, as always, are not that easy to follow; the lines on the map don’t translate well to reality, but you can generally see the bottom of the run from the top so it’s not easy to get lost. Quite a lot of the time during our week there we had lifts, runs and vistas to ourselves, other times we shared with just a handful of people. It was bliss! It did get busier at the weekend but everyone spreads out and I don’t remember queueing for a lift once.
But a Ruka holiday isn’t just a ski holiday. It’s also a place to enjoy traditional winter activities and excursions. There are miles and miles of cross country skiing trails and skidoo runs, and a plethora of other winter sports to take part in such a snow shoeing, ice skating, ice karting and so on. We pre-booked two activities for our week away; a night time Skidoo ride and an afternoon at a Husky Farm including a 5km ride on a Husky sled. Both activities were done through Crystal with the local Sufari Shop, and we were really impressed with the organisation and our guides were fabulous. I’ll dedicate a separate post to the excursions soon but I’ll just say here that if you go to Ruka you absolutely have to experience both the Husky sled and a Skidoo – both were absolutely fantastic experiences.
Ruka Suites Apartment
Accommodation wise we chose the Ruka Suites and were put in 37A and we were really impressed. It was a really lovely, well-appointed apartment in the same block as the supermarket so we didn’t have to go outside to get anything we needed. Behind our front door, which used a code entry system so we didn’t need to carry a key or key card around with us (a good idea when skiing!), we had a lounge/kitchen/dining area, two bedrooms – one double and one with bunks, a shower room and sauna, a loo, and plenty of storage space. The brochure said it would sleep four to six (four in beds, two on the sofa), and we reckon it would sleep four adults in comfort (the bunks were full sized). It was very clean and the furniture was all traditional Finnish design – straight lines, very practical. The kitchen area comprised a hob, fridge, microwave and dishwasher, along with crockery and cutlery etc; not very big but it was fine for us and we could have cooked a selection of evening meals should we have decided to! The apartment block had ski lockers so you didn’t have to lug skis and boards up into the rooms, and there was a drying cupboard in our apartment so we could get our kit (most importantly, our boots) dried out each evening. Being a Finnish apartment we had a sauna which was a real luxury, and there was a balcony although to be frank we only used this to look at the thermometer which was attached to the wall! Technology wise we had a television and DVD player in the lounge area which showed a number of English speaking channels, and there was wired broadband which we magically turned into wireless courtesy of our Airport Express which we took with us. It was a very relaxing place to spend the week as we did not have to please anyone but ourselves.
Food and Drink
We did this holiday self-catering as when we worked out pricing we decided it wasn’t worth upgrading to the next level, and while we had lots of plans to cook meals ourselves to keep the cost down what actually happened was we ate out every day! We had ordered the grocery pack for our arrival, which was a good call as when we arrived at just after 9pm the shop was closed and the restaurants were winding down for the evening – it contained bread, milk, cheese, ham, jam, cereal, biscuits, tea, coffee and juice and kept us going for breakfasts and some lunches. We used the supermarket to get snacks and drinks throughout the week, just buying what we fancied at the time – mostly chocolate and jelly sweets.
Eating out in the evening was mainly done in the Colorado Bar and Restaurant. We were going to try all the restaurants in the Village but actually kept going back to the Colorado because the setting, food and service was very good. The menu was traditional American food – ribs, burgers, steaks – with a Finnish twist in places. The first night we were a little concerned as we seemed to be the only people in there, but it did get busier as the week went on (although we never waited for a table). It wasn’t cheap (nowhere was cheap, this is Finland, and it’s Euros), but we ate very well and the food was worth the money we paid. Ruka Village can obviously cater for many more people than were there that week, it was pretty quiet, I’m not sure how busy it gets in the Finnish school holidays.
We also ate in the Rukahovi which was nice but the setting wasn’t as comfortable, and we had the lunch time soup buffet in the Piste Restaurant two or three times which was really nice – all you can eat soup and bread is just what you need when it’s -22 outside! We tried the Kotipizza takeaway on the night of our Skidoo excursion as we wanted something quickly – our pizzas were made and cooked to order in a few minutes and were very enjoyable. The food at the Hillside Family Restaurant (at the bottom of the Vuosseli slopes) wasn’t brilliant to be honest. When we needed to warm up we tended to go into the Piste Bar for a hot chocolate, which was very chocolaty and so good.
Splodz Blogz Verdict
The one question we have been asked over and over again is – would you go back? And the answer is very easy. Yes. We definitely would. We would love to. We had a fantastic week, loved the surroundings, enjoyed the skiing, were able to relax and rest (which is not always easy on a ski holiday!), found the excursions loads of fun, and liked Ruka Village itself. It would be a really nice place to ski with a group of family and friends where everyone’s level of skiing is different. You could enjoy a lovely holiday in Ruka without even putting a ski on which makes its appeal even wider.
No doubt the place will get busier as more of us Brits find out about it and more than one plane a week flies into Kuusamo, but we’re told that it hardly ever gets really busy and there are very rarely queues for the lifts. We are so glad we discovered Ruka.
A polite reminder that photography is all my own (or LincsGeek’s) work and therefore we own all copyright associated with it. If you would like to use any of my photographs please contact me first.
Our Blog Ambassador challenge this week has been move more, sit less. We were encouraged to stand up more, walk around more and generally exercise more.
At the beginning of the week I ordered 30 Day Shred, a workout DVD by Jillian Michaels that I have been told over and over again really gets results. The premise is that you exercise for 20 minutes every morning for 30 days, and thanks to the combination of strength, cardio and abs circuit-type exercise, you notice a difference to your body very quickly. I can give 20 minutes each day, it’s practically nothing. It arrived on Saturday so I started it Sunday morning – so this morning was day three. And oh my goodness. Those of you who said I’d hurt? Yea, that. Those of you who said I’d sweat? Yea, that. Those of you who said day three would be really difficult because your body is already hurting? Yea, that. I’m on level one at the moment – I can do the vast majority of the exercises without too much difficulty – the cardio is much easier than the strength stuff. But I can’t do a single proper press up. Nope, not one. I’ll keep trying!
Apart from the DVD I’ve been using the exercise bike and doing my best to move around more. I have a desk job and sit at a computer for the vast majority of the day. As there probably no chance I will ever be provided with either a treadmill desk or a standing desk I am trying to get up off my chair as much as possible – there are things I can do stood up and I can make sure I make the most of my lunch breaks. I would use my Weight Watchers pedometer to track my daily steps but unfortunately I broke it less than a week into being a blog ambassador – it flung off my jeans and straight into the toilet bowl. Oops! I’ve tracked my steps before thanks to the GCC Walk the World scheme, and I know that wearing a pedometer does encourage me to move around more as I end up competing with myself trying to beat my average step count every day. I actually received a pedometer from Tesco in the post today, so from tomorrow I’ll wear that (even though it’s not all fancy and won’t work out any activity points) and see what happens!
I have to say I don’t much like the activities points on the Pro Points tracker. What I mean is I do like them – they mean extra food each week – but I don’t like how they are worked out. They take no account of how hard you work. Cycling on the exercise bike at full speed for 30 minutes is worth the same as cycling at a really leisurely pace barely raising your heart beat. It doesn’t exactly encourage you to work hard. Also, I earn the same points cycling for 30 minutes as I do for walking 30 minutes and doing aerobics for 30 minutes – but these exercises are not comparable on calories burnt. I guess I feel a bit hard done by when two Pro Points are added when I’ve got up early and worked really (really) hard before work. This doesn’t mean I’m not working hard, though…
Oh, and for the record, I have continued to eat breakfast. I find that exercising, then eating, then showering works for me and is a routine I am trying to get into during February. Apart from having that DVD which is motivation in itself I’ve also been challenged by a friend to exercise for 20-30 minutes every day for the whole of the month, to give me a bit of a kick and hopefully see some quick results. I would hope the DVD will cover that but if I get to the point where I can’t face Jillian Michael’s one morning I will still do something.
Food wise I’ve had another okay week, using up my daily points every day with mostly healthy food (the thai curry pictured above was a particular success!) and most of my weekly points too. I had pizza on Friday night which was particularly yummy and have continued to munch on the sweets and chocolates we have at home. I like that the counting system means I can still eat the things I want to. I’m eating loads of fruit and vegetables – even more than before (I’ve never been afraid of vegetables!), and I’m drinking lots more water. I am getting used to counting Pro Points now, I understand them more – I know what foods are free and what will cost me lots (although some things still surprise me!) and I like the way I can use those weekly points to treat myself to a nice hot chocolate or some fudge.
The proof is always in the numbers I guess and this week I lost another pound. I’ll take that – I don’t mind little losses, as long as I keep losing slowly but surely.
Oh yes. You read that right. I have actually completed my 2012km in 2012 challenge. A whole week early!
I decided I needed to get out for some fresh air this afternoon after spending much time getting Christmas Day food ready. Unfortunately the rain was so heavy I’d have got soaked in no time at all so I went for the next best thing instead – my exercise bike. I had a quick look on RunKeeper which told me I had 16.8 km to go to complete my challenge so I decided I would just get it done.
32 minutes and 17 km later I am able to post this screen shot:
The final stats:
2012 in 2012 Summary, Monday 24th December
Total for December >> 129.3 km
Total for 2012 >> 2,012.2 km
Average per day (360 days) >> 5.59 km
My total consists of 1,245.4 km cycling, some outside, some inside; 645.9 km walking, which included both the London Moonwalk and the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge; 112.1 km of downhill skiing; a teeny 6.8 km running and an even teenier 2 km rowing.
Over the course of this year I have learnt that I can actually complete a massive and long term challenge if I want to (and I have people asking me how I’m getting on – this blog has really helped me be accountable!). But not only that, I know I can complete a massive long term challenge even with so much other stuff going on in my life that might otherwise get in the way. I think I can safely say that without this challenge I may have accrued zero km of any sort some months as it would have been very easy to just sit and watch copious amounts of television, even more than I actually did.
I’m feeling pretty happy. I know there will be many of you who have easily done many more kilometres than me this year without having to work too hard at it, and good for you, but I’m pleased with my achievement. I am chuffed because twelve months ago is a really long time, and I stuck at it.
Am I fitter? Yes I think so. I’m certainly no thinner – I weigh more (too much!) – but thankfully that wasn’t what this was about. These wide legs of mine can take me a very long way, and so not fitting into super skinny jeans isn’t so bad really.
And I have absolutely rekindled my love of the outdoors. I already knew I loved being outside, but this year I have made a real point of getting out and about. When I’ve had a day off I’ve made an effort to go on a little trip to see or do something – take a walk along a beach or see the seals at Donna Nook. I’ve enjoyed that very much, and I will definitely keep that up in 2013.
So what should I do next year? I feel I should set another challenge along similar lines. What do you think? Maybe the same – 2013 km in 2013 – aiming to do even more of those km outside than I did in 2012. But I’m not sure I’ve got the motivation to do it all again in the same way.
Maybe something in a single sport; only walking or only cycling for example. How about walking the equivalent of John O’Groats to Land’s End? It’s about 1,000 miles and I could plot my route on a map to make it visual. That challenge would keep me outdoors too.
Any other suggestions? I’ve got a week to decide…