Blog 101 - image of a computer and a desk in the background

Well done on starting on your blog journey. It is exciting but also hard work. My Blog 101 series focuses on those who want to take the plunge and create a blog but don’t know or don’t have the confidence to start. Todays post focuses on the four key questions you need to ask yourself before you start a blog.

Time

Firstly do you really have the time to start and maintain your blog? If you want your blog to do well then you have to create or find the time to maintain your blog. This is something myself that I really struggle with, as you can see with my site my posts are very sporadic.

What are you creating your blog for?

If you are creating your blog just to obtain free stuff then you will not get very far. The blogs that do well have writers show real passion for their subject and craft and that is what makes them successful.

Is your blog supporting your business?

If your blog is part of a business then you will have to adopt a slightly different tone. You will have to maintain professionalism and all posts will have to be relevant to the business. You really need to be committed to your blog if you are going down this route because a out of date blog looks unprofessional and that could indirectly harm your business.

Expenses

Running and obtaining a blog does occur some expense. Blog props, Photoshop or cheaper photo editing software, taking out adverts, a custom URL, hosting, hiring a graphic designer to create graphics and having a personalised email address to name but a few all cost.

That is it, the four key questions you need to ask yourself before you start a blog. Second up in my Blog 101 series is on writing a blog post.

I would love to hear your feedback on my blog series. Let me know in the comments below 🙂

Rebecca Merchant with her Go Tri medal

A post I can now finally write, I completed a triathlon today! I never thought I would say this. I COMPLETED a triathlon! I never had an interest in completing in a triathlon before but when my friend asked me to join her for the one in Stoke, I thought ‘why not’. So…

How did I find it?

It was hard! When I parked up, I was quietly confident that I would be able to do it. Purely because I do a 5k run most weeks on parkrun, I had practiced swimming ten lengths at my local pool and I do quite a bit of cycling so didn’t think it would be too rough. The instructions were clear on where I had to go and the race marshall’s explained everything really well. The triathlon started with the swim. The swimming I went quite hard in. When I got out of the pool to do the bike ride, wearing the TriSuit I felt so exposed it felt like I was running naked. Soon I was off cycling, cycling took me down the A34 which was quite busy!  Luckily for me it was a sunny day which was drying the TriSuit nicely.

After dumping my bike I finished with the run. That part was the worst for me, my legs felt like jelly as they had gone from being used to pedalling to suddenly having to run! At this point each directional marker was a marker for me to aim to pass. I felt my breathing feel really heavy. I remember at one point I was thinking ‘do a triathlon, I said, it will be fun, I said‘. I also remember that feeling when I ran down the hill to find out I had to do a second lap. Awful! I was so determined to get that finisher’s medal and that feeling when I got it just cancelled out all of the pain.

Did I train for the triathlon?

Yes I did! Although it was a beginners triathlon, I didn’t want to go into it completely blind. I attended as many parkrun’s as possible for the running and the week before I managed to get a free week’s gym membership at my local leisure centre. So I used the pool there all of the time to test myself on the lengths. Funnily enough although I would say cycling is my strongest sport, I didn’t do much cycling leading up to the race. However, I was constantly attending circuit training at G-Force in Stafford so I was constantly being active.

What did I wear?

This part was the part I was most nervous about. After spending a bargain £12 on entry, I didn’t want to spend £30 on a TriSuit. I emailed Gold Events who were hosting the Stoke-on-Trent triathlon and they said that you could wear a swimsuit. The thought of running in my swimsuit did not appeal to me, so I got on ebay and got a cheap suit for £20. I chucked on a long armed cycling jersey and just used my usual trainers.

Would you do another one?

I would! Gold Events are running three in the Stoke-on-Trent area and if you attend all three you get a special shirt which is what I would quite like to aim for. I would also like to train a bit more and see if I can improve on my time.

Rebecca with her bike and medal at Go Tri in Stoke

How do I get involved?

Go Tri is approved by Triathlon England and its ethos is for the triathlon to be accessible for all. See all events by accessing there website here.

Black and white image of Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath’s life and work is dark and mysterious and today I am reviewing one of my favourite poems written by her called Mirror. I cannot republish it here however if you google it you will be able to find it easily.

The poem is about a mirror presumably hung in a woman’s bedroom ‘I meditate on the opposite wall. It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long’ and what the mirror sees day by day. I love this poem because it is poem about what an everyday object does and the unattended consequences this has on its owner.

The mirror has human traits describing its self as pure and clear and that is has to justify itself. ‘I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.’ ‘Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike’ The second stanza talks about the mirror’s owner and ageing, the woman looks at the mirror every single day and is upset about getting older. The candles and moon – all of which is not pure light doesn’t show everything, the mirror is not a person who can lie. The mirror thinks that it is doing the owner a favour – she is being honest but it just upsets her.

It is clear the owner is struggling with becoming older ‘A woman bends over me, searching my reaches for what she really is.’ ‘She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands’ and the final sentence which confirms her fears:

In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman 

Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.’

It is such a short but despondent poem, but has stuck with me for all of those years because it is a powerful description on the simple process of ageing.

What is your favourite Sylvia Plath poem? Leave a comment below!

Hannah Witton and Lucy Moon on stage live at the Glee Club, Birmingham

The other day I headed to Birmingham’s Glee Club to watch Doing It! live. I like Hannah Witton’s YouTube channel. I have said in the past on Twitter that Hannah Witton’s videos about sex should be shown in schools because they are educational and bloody funny, which is perfect for the hormonal 14-16 year olds. Therefore, it was a no brainer when I saw the tickets go online that I would have to go along to the show that was accompanying her new book. What was even better was when I found out that one of my other favourite youtubers Lucy Moon was joining Hannah on tour.

The show is set around the six stages of getting down to doing it. This is because as Hannah explains herself she talks about sex but not how to get down to ‘doing it’. Hannah took us through the realms of doing it which included education (a competition which mimicked drunkenness as two girls were blindfolded, spun around, and tasked with putting a condom on a banana, a great way in portraying how dangerous drunk sex can be). Live matchmaking where the audience filled out sheets about who they were looking for and added it into a box and Lucy picked them out and invited them onstage. Also a live version of drunk advice (where if you don’t watch Hannah Witton, it is her filming herself drunk dishing out advice).  The best part of the show I felt was the chatting up scene, which was really clever as Hannah talked about dating as being like a job interview as you are finding out if you are compatible with each other – like you would a job. Hannah also spoke about losing her viginity and read out a poem she wrote about it at the time. That was quite sweet.

The show was an hour long with a twenty minute break in-between. To be honest we could have done without the break (it was a school night and I had a twenty minute train ride and 30 minute drive ahead of me!). I was a bit older than the age range for the show (14 to 23) and I am, ahem, 26 but for £14 it was worth it. I think it was a smart move Hannah inviting Lucy along as a double act – I couldn’t have imagined even though Hannah is very talented it working in the format it did on her own or not with a fellow youtuber. If you like Hannah Witton or very funny tales about sex then you would have enjoyed the show.

This is my view of the show and I paid for the tickets with my own money. I have not been paid for this review.

Grey shirt and pink adidas sport trainers

I love fitness and have almost by not thinking about it maintained a level of fitness since my school days. It can be hard however, these days with work to keep on top of it. Especially as you don’t want it to seem like a chore. Here is my little fitness history, routine and some lovely kit I have brought recently.

Fitness History

Sport for me growing up I was indifferent really. I wasn’t the best but wasn’t the worse either. I played in the school netball team at primary school (I still kept my winners medal!), competed in cross-country for my school at 12 and just did the usual PE lessons until 16 when I joined my school’s cross country club. 18-21 I played lacrosse for my University team, an highlight being going to Salou in Spain and playing mixed lacrosse in the National Lacrosse Championships.

Parkrun

I am not a runner AT ALL. As a dedicated cyclist of about five years. Pounding the pavements does not float my boat, however I love Parkrun. I got into Parkrun through my friends and for those of you that don’t know, it is a free timed 5k run. There is no time limit – you just run at your pace. I run it, normally, in about 32 minutes, I do hate running around the route (even though it is beautiful Cannock Chase) and do wonder to myself when is it going to end. However, it gives me a good start to the weekend and I love seeing if I have smashed a PB and where everyone has come in the run.

Circuit Training

Circuit training is the one thing that I keep going back to time and time again. I started circuits after finishing University. I love the variety of changing workout’s every minute. When I moved to where I live now (near Stafford) I go to the sessions run by G Force. G Force is great because each circuit session is slightly different. Not only this but they have started to add tabata training (an high intensity interval training (HIIT) workout) on Sunday’s which I love. There is also Vibe cycle where you essentially cycle to the beat of the music. I have only been to one vibe session which I enjoyed and would go to more but cannot get over from work in time! Each circuit training session is £3 so money is not an excuse. I just love the feeling exercise gives me afterwards.

Cycling

Ahh my biggest love. If you ask anybody who knows me they know I love cycling. I started just after the mighty trio which is Laura Trott, Dani King and Joanna Rowsell- Shand won the team pursuit in the 2012 olympics. Inspired, I dragged my bike down to the local outdoor velodrome and went from there. These days I take my road or mountain bike out. As I live close to Cannock Chase I am very comfortable with the blue and red trails and off trail biking. I love being out in the fresh air and the views of the chase are stunning.

My top tips of getting fit

Get Some Nice Fitness Gear

I have steadily built up a collection of fitness gear throughout the five years since I have finished Uni. Lots of people use old shirts etc but I like to look nice and feel comfortable. You need to be motivated to get fit! I do however hate people that spends loads on kit and then never wear it. I set myself targets such as going mountain biking six times in a row to buy some new mtb trousers etc.

Go With A Friend

It is really daunting at times going along to a session on your own. If you can go with a friend, you can help each other out and not feel as intimidated.

Think Of The Mental High When Things Get Tough

A lot of my fitness isn’t about getting fit physically but it does help my mind. My mind is busy working all of the time so a circuit class or mtb trail is the great way to take my mind off thinking for an hour or two! It can be hard to get motivated at times – but when I think of the natural mental high I get at the end – it is well worth it!

I would love to read your fitness tips and experiences. Leave your comments below x