Brag Your Bests


Well just like that, we seem to be at the end of another year. Flew by pretty quickly, didn’t it? I find when you’re into fitness, you set yourself goals and time limits and the months just seem to whizz by while you’re training.

I set myself goals at the beginning of the year and looking back, this has been a really great year of growth for me fitness wise.

Obviously, the biggest thing I did this year was the Etape du Tour. I started the year not a cyclist at all and had six months to learn the ropes before the 130km ride through the French Alps on July 7th. I spent hours and hours in the saddle, training. I did altitude training once a week, a four day training camp in Nice in May and basically spent every weekend getting lost on 60, 70, 80, 90 mile rides prepping for this thing.

Cycling is a whole other world. I knew it’d be a challenge going from being a runner to a cyclist and didn’t think it’d be as easy as just sitting on the bike and getting going, but I definitely didn’t anticipate just how much it’d take out of me. I wanted to jack it all in so many times in training, but was also determined to see it through.

The race itself was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I pushed myself to the very limit. I felt every emotion going – massive highs (admittedly those were mostly during the down hill sections) and whopping lows (pulled over on the side of the road half way through, sobbing). When I crossed the finish line, I was in bits – absolutely elated, exhausted and crying on anyone who happened to be nearby.

To say I was chuffed that I completed it would be an understatement. Out of the 13,000 riders that day, only 600 were women and I was one of them. Admittedly, having been through all that, I don’t think cycling’s for me, but I’m so glad I gave it a go.

I also completed the Paris Half Marathon in March. At that time, I was deep in cycling training, so hadn’t been focused on running at all. I had a blast in Paris. I basically danced my way around that race and absolutely loved it.

And of course, one of the biggest changes for me this year has been my leap into weight lifting. I definitely didn’t anticipate how much I’d love the feeling weight lifting gives me, but to literally feel yourself getting stronger is such a powerful thing. I have my coach Thru The Blue to thank for this infectious enthusiasm and for helping me to get my nutrition on track. Watching the impact the lifting is having on the rest of my fitness is so interesting for me too.

But I want to know about you! I hear about your training ups and down in the comments on here and Twitter, but I want to know the fitness achievements you’re really proud of this year. Did you get a new PB? Try a new sport? Or just have a new approach to your workouts that made all the difference? Go on, jump in the comments and brag about it!

What was your fitness highlight of 2013?

19 Responses to “Brag Your Bests”
  1. Oh, I do love a good brag to those who appreciate it :) And can I just say that, wow, your year is certainly an inspiration. I have only just come to discover a form of running that I can do and enjoy (tabata training), so it is always interesting to hear about people who have a genuine love of running.
    And on that note, one of my PBs for the year is actually in tabata running (and done yesterday even) when I cracked 15.5kph. I know that doesn’t seem much, but for me it was a real achievement. I told you I wasn’t a runner!
    My others are finally managing an unassisted pull-up and doing a barbell deadlift at 80kg.
    But the biggest achievement, on a personal level, has been fitting this in between returning to work full-time and looking after two little ones. So 2013 has been a good year for me. And long may it continue into 2014.
    Merry Christmas!

  2. Lizi says:

    Woop for bragging! Getting back into zumba after 3 years of very little exercise at university is my biggest achievement, I went from doing nothing to working out 3 times a week and I feel so much better for it :)

  3. @bulbnose says:

    After a few years of 10ks, stepping up to complete a half marathon is my biggest achievement! I did the great north run in September. Pretty much hated it by the end and said “never again”… But I’m already considering the Leeds half in May 2014!

  4. Sarah says:

    Ditching the crappy faddy diets for good, loosing 2 1/2 stone the healthy way then going on to whizz around my first half marathon this September and knock 13 minutes of my 10k PB last weekend.

    What you have achieved this year is amazing – Happy Christmas x

  5. Marianne says:

    After running a half marathon in China last year, this year I ran my first marathon – the London Marathon, and had an AMAZING time. Then 6 months later, I flew to the US and ran the Baltimore Marathon. It was the final challenge on a journey to raise money for Cancer Research as well as prove to myself that I could do it. I am so proud of that achievement, even though I had a really tough time in that second marathon, it meant getting to the finish line felt incredible.

    Now, after a ten year gap, I’ve gone back to swimming. I used to be a serious swimmer as a teenager, but stopped when I went to university. Now I’m back on a swim squad, and whilst I’m still way behind in my strength and speed, I’m so happy to be back in the water, and can’t wait to up my game in 2014!

    Well done to you Bangs, you’ve had a great year. Bring on the next one!

  6. Catherine says:

    After a horrible marathon experience in May, which left me never wanting to run again, facing my demons and completing my third marathon in October was a real high point. I didn’t get a PB but the experience really hammered home how important it is to enjoy these events – otherwise what’s the point in doing them?!

    I love how running/cycling/etc dares you to face your fears, and the feeling when you’ve done so is just unbeatable.

    Here’s to many more things to brag about in 2014 :-)

  7. Shoes says:

    Brag it out in style… Firstly congratulations on all the achievements, my GF took up cycling this year from never riding to completing ride 100 and one of my highlights was helping her train and complete it. Just shows you can do anything from scratch if you have the mentality to try.

    This year I got my purple sash in Kung Fu, a massive deal and I’ve moved closer to getting my black belt in kickboxing – if anyone wants to try martial arts contact The most inclusive and safe martial arts school in London.

    Other than that I’ve done my first duathlon which was epic an I smashed my 10k pb in it. This also got me back in to running having had a near 3 year break from it.

  8. Rebecca says:

    Love this post. You should be really proud. I started running this year and have completed numerous races, my most proud being 2 half marathons and 2 sprint triathlons!

  9. Love this! My thing is I completed the Tough Mudder and I don’t plan on ever shutting up about it. Well done Bangs and all you lovely fitness fans. We’ve all done very well.

  10. Steph says:

    Great post, your year is definitely inspiring and so are the comments…go everyone.For me 2013 comprised mainly of a fall during training for a race I have wanted to do for years (7 hills in Edinburgh) which has stopped me running for over six months so trying to think of a brag is difficult.
    Guess I will go with being in control on a horse who was having a temper tantrum, getting back on him when he threw me off, doing a 75 cycle and swimming out past where I could touch the sand in the sea. Small things but I am chuffed with these.
    But roll on 2014 so I can get back to running. Well done everyone!

  11. Grace says:

    My big fitness accomplishment in 2013 was completing my first century ride. I came in next to last (it wasn’t a race or anything), covering 100 miles of hilly ground in about 9.5 hours (including rest stops). The last five miles were the hardest, when my legs couldn’t even push me up the slightest incline. I walked the tiniest of hills, and then hopped back on. I was ready to quit several times in those last five miles. But I did it. And though there was nary a tear, sweat drop or spit left left in my body, I sobbed the last 1/4 mile. :)

    I’m doing that ride again in 2014 (and will have WAY better training opportunities) in better time and hopefully another century ride. Other fitness goals: Do my first EVAR unassisted pull-up, and maybe, just maybe, run a 5k (I really, really hate running).

  12. GG says:

    Seriously dude, The Etape. THE FREAKING ETAPE. I have nothing but admiration for you, and all the more since you were so honest about how hard it was to train for and yet you kept going. If I had even half of your determination I’d be a very happy GG. What an incredible achievement!

    My achievement of the year came last week when I had my 3rd boxing match. I’m still a total novice, but nonetheless my pride had suffered after a fairly resounding (and somewhat bloody) loss in August and I hadn’t planned to put myself through another fight any time soon. But I’d carried on training purely for the love of it, and when someone on the latest bill dropped out I stepped in at two weeks’ notice. It was the best thing I could have done. I didn’t feel any of the pressure of my previous two fights and I could just go out and enjoy putting what I’d learned into practice. I’m so proud of myself!

  13. Melanie Nabarro says:

    Congrats on your great achievements! I bow down to you completing The Etape!

    2013 was my first year of getting fit and healthy which culminated in completing a 55km bike ride on the hottest day of the year back in July and only last week smashing all my expectations in my first 10km race and coming in ahead of my target by one whole massive minute!

    Most of all I’m pleased that I managed to remove all the barriers I put up about getting off my arse and out on my bike or running. Really looking to 2014!

  14. Kathryn says:

    Wow, great achievements from everyone!

    Mine was smashing my 1000 mile target for running in 2013 and running my first marathon. This was on top of moving the whole family to new zealand in feb this year! So a big year in a lot of ways but a good one. I’ve finally joined a running club and have even started cycling a bit.

    2014 will hopefully include a few half marathons, at least one marathon and who knows, maybe even an ultra?!

  15. Darlene says:

    I ran two 5ks, went to yoga classes almost every day (new work schedule got in the way a bit the summer), and did a headstand every day, which used to terrify me.

    2014 will bring daily yoga, a couple 10ks, hopefully a half marathon, and once I move commuting to work on my road bike!

  16. New 5k and 10k PB’s and finally dipping under the 2 hour mark on my fourth half marathon.

  17. M. says:

    Congrats to everyone on your fabulous year – each and every story bolsters my determination to keep going (so thanks for sharing!). The highlight for me in 2013 was running my first marathon (Berlin). Having never been a runner, but in 2012 decided to run a half marathon (midlife crisis?) and enjoyed it, I thought I’d set myself the tentative goal of training for a marathon. It seemed to work, and the race itself was a fabulous experience … so the 2014 Berlin marathon with a sub 4 hour goal is my 2014 goal.

  18. G says:

    Congrats, y’all! I started the year a life long running hater and now I’m running a half with some friends March 1st. I’m enjoying the training so much! Let’s rule 2014! Cheers <3

  19. Ruth says:

    So mine is kind of a lazy one (well I did complete the London Marathon LAST year and raise £2,000 for Guys and St Thomas’ Hospital as well as completing a stage of the Tour of Britain – totally with you on the transfer from running to cycling thing – who knew it would be so different! So 2012 was always going to be a hard one to beat!) …but my fitness highlight of 2013 was becoming Chief Exec of the fabulous Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation! It’s such a joy to be spending my days advocating for women in the male dominated sports world and helping sports leaders be more inclusive…we’ll get there, of that I am sure! …and yes, I will try my best to lead by example by getting fitter in 2014, as well as trying out some new sports – Volleyball and Rounders being top of my list. Happy 2014 everyone!