Monthly Archives: March 2013

Training for the Rapha Women’s 100 (1)

So, as I said the other day, I’m planning to cycle 100K on July 7th. I’m going to have to be fit enough to do that so I’m following a diet and fitness regime that so far has involved no cycling, and eating rather a lot of chocolate.

However, the weather has been frightful so I’ve not actually been able to go out for fear of falling off my bike. It’s very slippy out there.

(That’s my excuse at least. I did break my elbow falling off my bike a couple of years ago and I’d hate that to happen again.)

Instead, I am getting fit, strong and flexible by doing gyrotonics and also Bikram yoga.

Gyro is an exercise system that is taught one to one and involves lots of stretching and stuff attached to pulleys and weights. It’s based on ballet, pilates, swimming and yoga. I’m finding it really good for my alignment (getting rid of a dodgy hip in the process) and also building core strength.

Bikram yoga is something I did as a bit of a dare but have got hooked on. It’s a series of 26 yoga postures, done twice each. In a room heated to 40-odd degrees. It sounds mental and it isn’t the easiest class to get through but I strongly recommend it.

A Bikram studio opened near me and recently did a 20 days for 20 quid offer. My friend (who had a baby on the same day as me) persuaded me to go. Now we’re both addicted, we’ve been going for about 6 weeks and are about a stone lighter each and bendy as fuck.

I also make myself cycle over University Avenue when I go to Bikram. It’s a fairly steep hill (albeit short) so I do feel like I’m getting a bit of practice for my 100K route (tbc).

So whilst I’m not actually cycling much I do feel like I’m doing a bit of work to prepare myself for the challenge. I’m hoping April will be more clement weather-wise and I’ll get out on The Bike of Discovery at least once a week for some proper rides.

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Rapha Women’s 100

I’ve decided to do the Rapha Women’s 100 on the 7th of July.

It’s a virtual event. There’s no ‘thing’ to register for, nowhere set that you have to go. The only organised aspect of it is knowing that other women will be riding 100 kilometres at the same time as you.

It’s therefore a social event. Participants are encouraged to tweet, Instagram, Facebook and blog about what they are doing on the day and during the run up to it.

I’ll do it because I would be anyway. I’m slowly getting my fitness and my body back after having a baby and I reckon I will be fit enough by the beginning of July. It’s good to have a target to train for.

It’s an interesting one because I think it will be quite popular despite it being something people just have to do themselves. There are a few sponsored participants who are blogging about it but on the whole it’s down to us to talk about it and feel part of it.

I like it because I wonder whether there could be many other ‘events’ like this that could work quite so well. Would it work as well, for example, if July 7th was ‘Go for a Run Day?’ Would runners run if it wasn’t a race? If the only challenge was the day and the distance? And choosing the route?

I like it that there’s no registration pack. No race number. No sponsorship money to collect, no Justgiving page. Just me, my bike and some friends. And the knowledge that out there, somewhere, other women will be doing the same.

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Transferable skills I have gained whilst on maternity leave

Some of you might know (I might have mentioned it once or twice) that I had a baby in August. She’s lovely. I’m not going to blog about her because I’d bore you to tears. Suffice to say, this is one proud mummy.

No, today’s blog is about all the wonderful things I’ve learned looking after a baby, being a SAHM (stay at home mom), that I will take back to work with me in a couple of months.

I know, it’s amazing. Just when I thought my brain had passed the mushy point of no return thanks to baby talk and operating on 3 hours of broken sleep, there I was, actually thinking, this has been useful for me as a professional person. And as a strategist.

So here are a few skills and bits of knowledge I will take back to Equator with me…

Marketing to mothers

In the hospital I signed up for Bounty. I’ve wished I hadn’t ever since. I’ve been bombarded from day one with a blanket of offers I’m just not interested in. A half price Bumbo?

Some of these emails are irritating as they are about products I am not interested in – and some of them are just useless.

They try to be helpful, and are based around the age of your baby, or at least they are supposed to be. But they can have a negative rather than helpful impact.

For example, a friend of mine was most upset when an email to her from Boots parents club said ‘Now that your four month old is sleeping through the night…’ Her baby was still waking every two hours and she was tired of being told what her baby ‘should’ be doing rather than what was happening to her was perfectly normal and healthy.

I guess what I’m trying to say (I need to get back into the practice of writing) is that most marketing to mothers feels impersonal and opportunistic. It doesn’t feel like its aimed at me, more some 28 year old childless marketer’s idea of what is be interested in.

It feels like because we are a captive audience we can be treated like one.

I’m perfectly capable of googling the best Bumbo deal or finding out what my six month old developmental milestones should be. I don’t need a brand to do that for me and clog my inbox up with it.

I would like to be informed when there are sales on for things I’m genuinely interested in. Boden do this very well, by email and in social media. Their offers are genuine. They don’t send you stuff that you wouldn’t consider. They know you better. Of course, it does help that they’re a brand I want to hear from.

So brands who target parents, my advice to you is try to get to know your audience better. Work to tailor your communications to them, and do it early in your relationship with them. And use technology better. Stop sending emails they don’t open, like Fab.

The role and importance of community

When you’re awake at 3am feeding your baby you can feel like the only person in the world. It can be a lonely time – the loneliest you’ve ever been. But if you’ve got a mobile phone then suddenly you’re not alone because you can instantly connect with other people who are in exactly the same position as you.

There are spaces for communities – independent forums, forums created by brands, blogs, and communities on Facebook and even Twitter.

The learning here is that you can be very specific online about what people are doing and what situation they are in. The fact that much of it is done via mobile is also interesting. I do wonder what mothers used to do before smartphones. I guess the telly was better back then.

Anyway, I’ll be putting myself in my 3 am feeding shoes when I am thinking about users and what they’re really doing, what they really want, when they try to connect with others online.

Always in beta

When you’re looking after a baby – and a house – it’s always a work in progress. You’re always seeing something that could improve or be improved, and you’re always anticipating the next big development.

When we work on the web it’s the same. We should point out the imperfections of the current project. We should plan for lots of phases, even if the later phases are just sketched out. Then our clients can start to anticipate what’s likely to come and plan for it in a way that’s easier for them to manage.

Multitasking

My ability to do more than one thing has improved. Admittedly, my ability to forget what I am doing in a particular room has also improved.

So… Those are some things I’ve learned. And this is the first thing I’ve written in over 6 months. And it’s the first thing I’ve ever written with just my left thumb. I’m calling it progress, but there’s plenty of room for improvement.

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