Week In Review – A New Experience!

Is it still January? I know it’s the exact same length as almost every other month, but there’s just something about January that makes it seem to drag a little bit. I don’t know if it’s the bad weather, (still) dark mornings or the fact that there’s such a huge gap between pay days, but I’m always glad to make it to the end of the month and move on into the rest of the year. For me, the best way to get there is to get my head down and tick off the training I do. Here’s what this week included:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 4 miles, PT session with Steve + home yoga
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – form drills + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve + home yoga
Saturday – parkrun sandwich + home yoga
Sunday – 10 miles + home yoga

Monday really was quite a day. It all started fine and my classes were working well, but then I had the all-new experience of there being a small (but still disruptive) fire in the school. Thankfully there were no injuries and the fire was quickly dealt with by the fire service, but the consequent smoke in parts of the school (including where I teach) led to a most unusual afternoon as those parts had to remain closed and belongings had to be retrieved from there – not to mention pupils accommodated elsewhere for the afternoon. By the time the bell rang for the end of the day I felt exhausted despite not having taught a class since mid-morning and was very glad to have a chance to chill out in front of the tv for a bit before hitting my yoga mat for my Hatha class. I definitely was drifting off in savasana this time!

I didn’t know what I was going to be going in to on Tuesday morning so my run was welcome to set me up in a good mood for the day. It was still cold and windy so it was really just about getting out and getting those endorphins flowing.

As it turned out, the smoke was cleared overnight from the corridor where my classroom is so it was business as usual (other than the part of the school where the fire was remaining shut). I have to say, the pupils dealt with it all really well and we were able to get right back to our normal routines. Then at the end of the day I went down to Steve’s studio for the workout of the day – press up variations with the medicine ball.

Then when I got home I enjoyed a really relaxing home yoga session to help me unwind. It finished in savasana and I had a snuggly blanket over me. Again, I was drifting off and it was only as the session finished that I realised Smokey had cuddled up against me while I was lying there. Awww.

Wednesday was a total rest day. I had hoped for a home yoga session, however since we are still awaiting the delivery of our new washing machine, I decided I didn’t really want to spend my entire Saturday afternoon at my parents’ house catching up on laundry so went to run a load through their machine when I got back from work. By the time I did that and got home, it was time for dinner and I’m not keen on yoga after eating as I don’t feel comfortable in any inverted postures like a forward fold or downward dog. Still, a rest day is no bad thing and there was some good news as I arrived home to find this waiting for me:

Very festive, I know, but despite claiming this virtual race medal in early December I hadn’t yet received it and had to assume it was lost in the post. I contacted the company to let them know and got great service from them as they immediately sent me a replacement. Sadly they had a lot of medals go missing over the festive period which is really frustrating for them and really disappointing for those who don’t receive their medal.

On Thursday I was able to get out for another set of form drills. I have to say, it was a bit of a struggle to get up, but I still had time to add two more drill sets on from last week and felt pretty good.

Friday was definitely a welcome relief after a most odd week at work. I think we were all ready for it to be the weekend! I started my weekend with another workout with Steve and for this one it was the resistance band, some roll outs with the medicine ball (ouchy on the abs!), press ups and the weight. Phew!

Then when I got home ready to squeeze in a home yoga session, I had another virtual race medal waiting for me. In case you didn’t know, Back to the Future is my all-time favourite film so when I spotted this I had to do it!

For parkrunday there was still a bit of frost around so I was glad I chose my all terrain shoes to get a bit more grip. Despite that, there was part of the parkrun course where I did have to ease up on the pace a bit as I just didn’t feel I was getting the same return and secure footing that I was on the clear sections of path. With underfoot conditions less than ideal I was thrilled to run sub-24 and get a Royal Flush Negative Split to boot (a pretty close range one on miles 2 and 3 ha!).

I had a fairly leisurely day after that – a hair appointment, relaxing at home, a bath and some home yoga before enjoying Steve’s homemade pizza and catching up on some tv. Just what I needed.

Thankfully conditions were much better on Sunday after all the black ice last week. I knew it would be cold overnight so had an easy start to my day reading my book in bed to let the temperature come up and the frost melt, so by the time I headed out – 10 miles once again – the paths were pretty much clear. I really enjoyed my run and with it “only” being 10 miles, going out a bit later didn’t make much of a difference to my day.

And I rounded out the week with some home yoga and a little bit of prep for the week ahead. I wonder what that week will bring…

What’s your favourite film?
Do you ever take part in virtual races?

Week In Review – Normal Service Resumes

The Christmas holidays always feel like the fastest, and least restful, break from school. Even though we had quite a quiet festive period, there were still a number of busy days and I tend to find I’m just getting settled into my non-work routine when it’s time to go back, Still, I’m grateful for the time I had and the chance to recharge a bit ahead of a super busy term (I know I always say the term is busy, but the is by far the busiest of them all). A return to work also meant a return to my normal routine when it came to training and it was good to get back to that structure again.

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 4 miles, PT session with Steve + home yoga
Wednesday – home yoga
Thursday – form drills + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun sandwich + home yoga
Sunday12 miles 7miles + yoga/relaxation session

Monday was actually an inservice day at work, so lots of meetings and collaboration but no pupils just yet. In a way that was a nice way to get my head back into all the things I need to do, but with the school being shut for two weeks the building was really cold, despite the mild weather outside, and I don’t think I ever really warmed up properly. But after the shock of being back at work it was really good to get back on my yoga mat at my Hatha yoga class. Since there were three Mondays without a class this one was very gentle, with lots of stretching and re-balancing to get back into it. I think quite a few people noticed the difference from not having the class, so I was glad I had picked up my home practice again over the week or so before so I didn’t feel quite so inflexible!

But of course the pupils were back on Tuesday. In some ways it was nice to have my classes in front of me, but it was a tough day for a lot of them as their body clocks had definitely switched to being a bit more nocturnal while they were off! It did make for a reasonably peaceful day though and I was in a good mood since I’d started my day with a run. I wasn’t thrilled to be back to running in the dark (is it just me or does it seem even darker now than before the shortest day?) but a run always makes me feel good.

After school I was at the studio for one of Steve’s circuits. For this one it was working with the weight, bear crawls with a press up and squat crumps.

And when I got home I laid out my yoga mat for another Yoga With Adriene session. Quite nice after working hard in my workout.

On Wednesday I had a couple of errands in town after work then met Steve for the not very exciting job of choosing a new washing machine. Ours broke down over the holidays and having confirmed that a repair was not cost effective compared to getting a new one, we really needed to get something sorted out as I’ve been having to take my washing up to my mum and dad’s (I’ve been doing it myself, just using their machine) which is fine when there’s no work, but not very convenient during term time! But when I got home I did the next YWA session while Steve put the dinner on.

Thursday was another early run and although it was colder, there was no frost or ice so I thought I would return to the form drills I had been building up before Christmas. Since there had been a break, I went back to 6x 500m and that felt about right for that particular morning. If the conditions are ok in the coming weeks, I will be able to build that up again.

In the evening I had my first Ashtanga class of the year. I missed a couple towards the end of last year then when I made it back it was the last one so I really feel like there has been a gap here. That said, thanks to my home practice and consistency in my strength workouts, I did feel strong throughout the class and I didn’t feel as if I had lost any flexibility. The only real time I noticed the gap was when it came to my nemesis: the headstand. I did try by myself but was having trouble finding my balance with my feet off the floor so my teacher supported me for this one. I would love to have a breakthrough with this one in 2020 and return to being able to move into headstand by myself once more, but I need to build up my confidence with it again – and I really do think it’s confidence rather than strength here.

On Friday I had a slightly more curtailed session at the studio – weight work, TRX and bear crawl press ups – as I had arranged to have my nails done around teatime. I loved my festive colour, but it had been on for three weeks and it was definitely time for a refresh!

I got home just in time for a quick change of clothes then out to get some food. That Friday night beer always tastes so good! I think I feel like I’ve earned it with all my hard work through the week.

Saturday morning was not the nicest. The weather was much milder at 11C, but it was blowing a gale and there was a lot of rain about. Still, not to be deterred I got myself ready and ran down to parkrun. It certainly wasn’t a day for a PB, so I was pretty happy with 24:11 (my fastest in 2020 so far) but there was still a tiny part of me a little bit gutted that I didn’t squeeze it under 24 minutes. There really wasn’t much chance in those conditions though so I suspect on a better day I might have managed it.

By the time I had run home again (getting in the door right before the rain REALLY thumped down) the wet and windy weather had rendered my hands useless. I wasn’t actually cold, but my hands had seized up as if they were and I had a hard job peeling off all my wet kit to get in the shower. I DEFINITELY enjoyed the reward of this bacon roll after my morning efforts!

After getting all the food shopping sorted, I headed up to my mum and dad’s again to do some laundry since we didn’t actually have our new washing machine yet (soon…!).

By the time I got home I was feeling pretty chilly so had a nice hot bath then stretched out with the next YWA session.

Sunday, however, was a bit of a disappointment. Having been so mild on Saturday, the temperature dropped and all that rainwater on the streets iced up. I had hoped that by waiting a while to go out that it would clear a bit, but there was still lots of black ice and the roads were too busy to run on safely so I just didn’t feel like I was getting to run properly. I didn’t have ages to spend picking my way around the streets (nor did I want to risk a fall) so cut the run short and headed home. At least I got some fresh air and sunshine, even if the run wasn’t quite what I wanted.

That afternoon I had a lovely chance to chill out as my friend who teaches the Monday night yoga class I got to was hosting a free event which comprised of around an hour of gentle Hatha yoga and about 20-30 minutes of relaxation (always the best bit!). I felt so good when I came out of there and I’m glad I took the chance to go along.

So overall not too bad a start to the new term, but I was a little disappointed not to get a longer run in Sunday as the weather was beautiful despite being cold, but better to be safe than risk falling on black ice!

Are you back into a normal routine post-Christmas?
How has the weather been with you?

Week In Review – The Start Of A New Decade!

Happy New Year! I know this isn’t the first post I’ve published in 2020, but it is the first Week In Review and maybe you only stop by to read these ones. Anyway, I hope your year has started well. I’m here today with my usual weekly roundup, and of course it’s a week that spans two years since New Year was in the middle of the week – a fact which amuses me as it means my mileage for the week is, for this one moment, higher than my cumulative mileage for the year haha!

After some indulgence around Christmas Eve/Christmas Day/Boxing Day I was keen to get back to a more regular eating pattern to support my exercise plans – I definitely felt a little sluggish the previous weekend since nothing I had eaten made for the best running fuel! Here’s how my week ended up (it was a busy one!):

Monday – Advent window run + home yoga
Tuesday – PT session with Steve + home yoga
Wednesday – New Year Triple!
Thursday – home yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve + home yoga
Saturday – parkrun pacing + home yoga
Sunday – 10 miles + home yoga

Probably the most unusual week of the year as there was a bit of moving around of workouts and some different things going on. In fact, the week began rather differently to normal with a run. And an evening run at that. With Steve! Normally I run on my own and have been running in the mornings since the tail end of 2018, but I was keen to run a route around the Advent Windows we had popped along to a couple of times, and since the organisers had walked/run them all on Boxing Day (we couldn’t go that time) there was a route that although not consecutive, created a route around them all with very little doubling back. So I suggested to Steve that we move our Tuesday morning run to Monday evening and run around them together. It did feel a bit odd to be out running in the evening, but it was the only time the windows would be lit and it was nice to run together. It was also a bit different to have a focus for the run as we were looking for specific things, a bit like a treasure hunt. To be honest, I felt a little like Anneka Rice haha! (Although that reference firmly dates me 😮).

(Photo Credit: Jaime Lidstone for the Advent Window Facebook Group)

Prior to the run I made sure to do some home yoga. I was really feeling like I needed to do some yoga again so as not to feel stiff and inflexible when classes start back and I had a couple of sequences in an old 30 day series I had been working through so it seemed like a good idea to finish those off ahead of the New Year and the new 30 day series I wanted to start as part of my goal to renew my commitment to a home yoga practice.

Tuesday was a better fit for Steve this week for my PT session so I headed down to the studio mid-morning for my workout. Of course he had another challenging circuit for me, this time the gym ball walkouts on my forearms, the bear crawls with press ups, the bar bell, star crumps, weight, a sort of walk out/squat thrust press up and squat crumps. Phew! I definitely felt like I had worked, making some home yoga later in the day a great idea to stretch it out ahead of what I had planned for the following day.

That day was New Year’s Day, alternatively known as Wednesday, and as has now become our tradition, we were once again going for the triple run challenge. This meant we had eaten well the night before and eschewed staying up for the bells in favour of an early night.

The day began at Camperdown parkrun in Dundee which was going off at the usual (Scottish) parkrun time of 9:30. We were there in good time to get a parking space close to the start/finish line (rather than a trek across the park) and chatted to a few other Perth runners/exchanged New Year greetings while we waited. I knew that this course would be trail, with some muddy patches and there’s a fairly steep hill about half way round, so with two further runs to go I was taking it fairly easy. But as the run progressed I realised that I was on for a pretty good time (I had checked my previous times from Camperdown, all as part of NYDD, in the car on the way through) so probably upped my effort level a tiny bit. And it paid off, because my time of 26:42 was a PB for me on this course (the nature of this course means they tell you you can expect to add a couple of minutes to your time in Perth). I do sometimes wonder how I would get on at this one if it was the only run I was doing that day, so maybe one Saturday we’ll head down there to find out.

After a very quick pit stop at home to change shoes (trail shoes were needed at Camperdown but road shoes were fine for the rest of the day) and go to the loo, we arrived at our home parkrun in Perth ready to run again. One of the big challenges in the NYDD is getting access to a toilet as everything is generally closed that day, but since we near enough drive past our house travelling between the runs we can have a very swift comfort break.

The run in Perth was at 11am and again we were there with a bit of time to spare for a quick chat. I have to say, it did feel strange arriving by car and parking so close to the start since normally we run down, or on the odd occasion that we need a car it’s parked a bit further out where we can park for free.

We were repeating the reverse loop that we had done on our previous parkrunday, and I found myself a starting position ready to go. It was REALLY busy (turned out we had 395 which, outside of a couple of occasions when we have hosted charity events which brought a huge turnout, this is our highest in Perth). I set off thinking I would run fairly steadily, but my legs seemed to have other ideas and as the first mile ticked by I did wonder at what point in the day I was going to regret my recklessness in not running more conservatively. I clocked 24:36 for this one – about a minute outside my recent best but only about 15 seconds slower than on the Saturday just gone. Having checked my stats, it’s the fastest I’ve run in Perth on a New Year’s Day run.

Some kind soul had brought some flapjacks and it was good to get a little something to eat while we chatted to some of our Perth friends who hadn’t been with us in Dundee earlier that morning. And then it was time to get back in the car and head to Blairgowrie for the final run of the day.

The Blairgowrie New Year Fun Run has been going for over 30 years without ever missing a year. That’s pretty impressive! Last year was the last one under the original organiser, but the local running group who had taken it over had kept the exact same model – a 6k route with walkers going out about half an hour before the runners, for a mere £2 entrance fee.

We got ourselves parked and registered, enjoyed access to toilets once again and spent some time catching up with a combination of those who had been on the same circuit as us that morning and those who were arriving to start their 2020 running. The run itself started at 1pm and it was nice to see the original organiser had been asked back as starter.

I have to say, my legs didn’t feel too bad. Yes a bit weary, but it was fine. The thing about this challenge is not the distance – 10 miles is really comfortable for me right now – but the fact that it’s in three bits and I had been running a bit harder than if I had been out for a regular 10 mile run. There’s a short hill about half way round the course and that’s the point at which the legs tend to protest a bit, but I had been running so well in the morning that I was determined to see what I could do around this course (my 5th time at the Blairgowrie event and 4th as part of the NYD challenge). I kept digging in and stopped my watch at 30:08 – my fastest around this route by over 45 seconds! (This run is untimed except for the prize winners, but of course I was using my Garmin).

Ahead of this day I had mentioned to Steve that I was really interested to see how I would perform. In 2018 and 2019 I had suffered chesty coughs in December which set my running back, so I was comparing my times with 2017, the first year I took on this challenge and the last time I ran it off the back of decent training. Three years down the line and I scored 2x PBs, one NY best and thus my fastest cumulative time for the challenge. That’s incredibly satisfying and gives me a real sense of how much I have benefitted from consistent training even without really running more than 10 miles in any one run for several weeks. Clearly I have a sound base to build on now.

Post-run there’s always soup/juice/biscuits available back at the hall and it was nice to warm up with some soup and have conversations with others about how they had done. There were prizes for the top finishers (never going to be me when it’s my third run of the day!) but there were some spot prizes and I actually won something!

By this time we were starving so it was time to head home for some food, starting with an “appetiser” of bacon rolls since I had bought an extra pack of that delicious Christmas spiced bacon for us to have.

And fairly soon after, our New Year dinner of French Onion Soup followed by steak pie, homemade chips and steamed veg.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We did have another of Steve’s sherry trifles for dessert, but were actually full by this point so saved it until the next day.

I was feeling really tired – not helped by us finally toasting the New Year with a couple of glasses of Prosecco – so headed to bed pretty early.

Thursday was a super lazy day – I barely passed 1000 steps! I had a long lie, reading my book with a cup of tea, watched some vlogs, had a bath and did the first day of the new Yoga with Adriene 30 day journey while Steve met up with his brother for a couple of drinks (it was his brother’s birthday). I basically spent the entire day in my pyjamas. Uncharacteristically lazy, but nice for a change and I kind of feel like the Christmas holidays are the only time I can be so indulgent.

But on Friday I needed a bit more activity – or at least to go outside – so had another workout down at the studio around lunchtime (after sending the morning taking down the Christmas decorations 😢). This time Steve gave me walk in/out press ups in the pike position, bear crawls with press ups, the weight and squat crumps. Apparently not going easy for the New Year 😂

And day 2 of the YWA journey in the afternoon before heading out for some food.

Then it was parkrunday. Again! They sure do come around quickly at this time of year! Following the exertions of Wednesday I was happy to take it easy so volunteered as the 28 minute pacer. I still ran my parkrun sandwich, but there was no pressure – internal or external – to run fast and it was nice to have an easy run around the route. Hopefully I helped someone to a time goal.

In the afternoon I treated myself to a bath, then did YWA day 3 before settling down for a relaxing evening of homemade pizza and a bit of tv.

Sunday felt much more back to the normal routine, although I confess to a pretty lazy start to the day as Smokey cuddled in beside me on the bed so I lay there for longer than intended reading my book. When I did eventually get up and organised, I headed out for 10 miles on a fairly staple route where I can just zone out and run without really having to think about where I’m going. I felt really comfortable despite a fairly decent pace for a longer run, so I think it’s probably time I began increasing my long run mileage a bit again to boost my endurance and fitness. Incidentally, it was mild enough for shorts again. In January. Unheard of!

And then a relaxing afternoon of coffee, a bit of food shopping, tv and a bath. With day 4 of YWA squeezed in as well.

A busy week but quite a lot of running which felt good. Now it’s time to go back to work for the new term.

Did you stay up for the New Year or head to bed?
Did you take part in parkrun (or the double) on New Year’s Day?

Race Report – Disneyland Paris Half Marathon 2019

I hope you like photos, because this post is full of them!

Day two of our weekend of running at Disneyland Paris this past September meant the half marathon. You might remember that the 2018 event had been my first Run Disney experience, and with theming that appealed much more to me in 2019, I was really looking forward to this race.

As with the 10k, the route was changed slightly from the previous year, but with time spent in both parks as well as the same out-and-back section outside of Disney to complete the distance.

And the theme? Couples (in all their forms). I had an idea that I wanted to dress as Belle again, but this time in her “provincial” blue dress, so this made things really easy for Steve who was able to wear his Beast T-shirt from last year again. I even did my hair like hers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you take on one of the challenges (31k or 36k) you have the same race bib (and hence the same number and corral) for every event you are in. This meant we were once more in corral A and my sister further back behind us. This race has the biggest numbers so the expo seemed much busier beforehand, but since the weather was mild (I didn’t need a foil blanket or extra layer) we just headed outside after dropping our bag off and used the portable toilets by the starting corrals as this was going to be much faster than standing in a queue for the ones inside. After this Steve and I got ourselves positioned in our corral ready for the off.

Soon enough, it was time for our wave to start, so I said goodbye to Steve and got ready to go (we were running separately again as he prefers to treat this as a race whereas I prefer to “get my money’s worth” out of the experience!).

Of course, once again I was running in kilometres and the markers in Disney are as exciting as anything else!

The first couple of photo ops were just that – photo ops rather than character stops. First with Hercules and Meg in one of the backstage areas, and then a Lion King display that looked pretty cool in the morning light.

After that, we were into the main park but it was some time before we hit Main Street for the out-and-back run as there were character stops and photo ops before then! Like the day before, I was keeping my sister posted with the characters and who they were switching with so she knew if she wanted to stop or not. Her strategy was to stop at every 3rd, unless it was characters she REALLY wanted to see, so that she could stay ahead of the sweepers.

Pocahontas & John Smith

 

Phantom Manor couple

And then it was time:

Official photo

Clarabelle & Horace

Official photo

From there, a host of further character stops, with all the characters out as couples, in line with the theme.

Aladdin & Jasmine

Tarzan & Jane

Rapunzel & Flynn Rider

Phoebus & Esmeralda

Jack Sparrow (making his way towards Angelica)

Belle & the Beast

Official photo

Buzz & Jessie

It was after this final stop with the Toy Story characters that I realised I was now behind the infamous “balloon ladies” who walk at the back of the pack at a steady pace, just within the sweep time. I wasn’t worried though as I knew I was about to run 10k outside the parks and would soon overtake them (and my sister who had been with me at Belle/Beast but had passed me while I was getting that Toy Story photo). It was such an ego boost to be passing so many people that even at a fairly easy pace I felt like I was flying – and got *that* photo:

Once outside of the parks, it’s a case of running steadily. The route leads away from Disney into a nearby village where we run around a reservoir then retrace our steps back onto Disney property. It’s a great opportunity to appreciate all the other costumes people are wearing and there are lots of what the French call “animations” – musicians, dancers, DJs, etc to keep things interesting.

Then on our way back we cross a bridge where we can see the main vehicle entrance to Disneyland.

Returning to Disney property, the route hits some of the resort areas, starting with a quick pass of the hotel we had been staying at (and where Steve was eating his second breakfast, having collected our one drop bag which he was going to meet me with later, checking us out and taking our luggage to the bagagerie for safekeeping).

Then through the grounds of the hotel we stayed in last time.

Official photo

The route finishes by following the path that leads from these hotels towards the parks, looping the water and passing through the Disney Village before making its way backstage and to the finish line by the side of the Walt Disney Studios.

This time I was greeted by Mickey, Minnie and Goofy.

Before grabbing my medal and snacks:

I got the same snacks as in the 10k, plus these extras

I then grabbed a picture outside of the finish area before making my way back to the expo – a slow business with all the crowds since part of the route was on the way I needed to go, and with Steve finding it hard to get through as well, we agreed to meet at the expo tent.

When I got there I headed on in to get my 31k challenge medal, which funnelled me straight into a photo op.

I wish I’d had my 10k medal for this, but it was with Steve and he hadn’t arrived yet, so my main learning from this is to try and have all my medals handy before getting my challenge picture. But since I was still waiting for Steve to fight his way through the crowds, I grabbed another picture in the expo tent to pass the time and browsed the event merchandise, much of which had by this point been reduced.

When Steve finally made it, we headed really quickly into the main park so I could get some pictures with my medals by the castle before we had to get back to the hotel to change and collect our bags so we could get the Magic Shuttle back to the airport.

And there was just enough time to nip into Le Passage Enchanté d’Aladdin with my 31k challenge medal since it was themed to Aladdin.

I do really enjoy this event. It actually presents quite an interesting challenge as if, like me, you stop for lots of photos it means the first half is very stop/start, but then there’s a steady section of running in the second half. By this time you’ve probably been on your feet for a couple of hours so that can feel a little harder than it would be otherwise. Still, it’s great fun and I have loved both of my experiences of it. Will I be back? You bet!

I’ve Got 2020 Vision…

It’s that time of year when everyone is setting out their big goals for the months ahead. The indulgence of the festive season has given way to the punishment of January, when everyone seems to feel the need to make the most miserable month of the year even more miserable through a regime of living off lettuce leaves and treating exercise as some kind of penance for the “sins” of Christmas, ably aided and abetted by the media switching seamlessly from “buy this mountain of food” to “here’s how you can be the slimmest/most toned/best version of yourself” overnight. Funnily enough, this is never a recipe for success!

I just can’t buy into all that “New Year, New You” stuff and don’t set resolutions as largely they are doomed to failure. Frankly if I think I need to make a change in my life, the best thing to do is make that change immediately rather than wait for some arbitrary date to make sweeping and unsustainable changes. I do, however, like to set myself goals that build on the things I do anyway: I run, so I set a mileage goal to see how my year measures up; I read, so I join the annual Goodreads reading challenge and set myself a reading target so I can see how different years compare by tracking my reading; and I look to other regular habits in my life and try to renew my commitment to them and/or refresh my approach. In 2019 I didn’t write a post about my goals as I had no intention of writing about my progress and just wasn’t in that kind of headspace, but this year I have decided to come back to writing a post setting out my goals as there will be elements of this I refer to in my regular posts throughout the year.

So this, dear reader, is my 2020 vision:

1. Having reached the 1000 mile mark for the first time EVER in my running in 2019, I have set my running goal as 1000 miles (or more) for 2020. I’ve been running really consistently since the summer and really hope this will continue into 2020.

My 2019 total

2. I read 36 books in 2019, so have set this as my 2020 target. I actually read much more than this in 2018 so it will be interesting to see how this year compares to previous challenges, especially if I make some other slight alterations in my day, like trying to pick up my book for a few minutes rather than mindlessly scrolling through random rubbish on my phone.

Which brings me to…

3. Rather than getting caught up in “stuff” on my phone, I’m setting an intention of being much more purposeful in my phone use. Cutting off my phone use or setting limits doesn’t seem realistic right now, so instead my intention is to use social media to genuinely engage. If I’m on Facebook, I want it to be for active engagement in groups or actually posting rather than lurking or scrolling through mindlessly. If I visit Instagram, it should be to share a moment, catch up with a story or react to posts. If I can eliminate the real time-suck of scrolling for no purpose, maybe I’ll read more books!

4. Another way I intend to use my phone more purposefully is to to use an app to record moments each day that bring me joy or simply make me smile. My thinking is that I take pictures most days, so why not develop this habit to have a more concrete reminder of something that made me happy. I’ve already downloaded a journaling app and have been choosing a picture every day (and hopefully I can mix these up a bit so it’s not too repetitive) to save alongside a short summary of what I found joyful or enjoyable in that day. It’s something I’ve meant to do before but never really sorted out, so it will be interesting to see how this one goes. I’m thinking of it as my way of practising gratitude each day, and since I find it hard to commit to a daily written journal, hopefully this approach will suit me better and I’ve set the app to give me a reminder every evening to complete my entry. Watch this space!

5. Finally, I’m taking the opportunity presented by the annual Yoga With Adriene 30 day yoga journey to refresh my home yoga practice. Although I go to two yoga classes most weeks throughout the year, my home practice has rather dwindled of late and committing to this 30 day series is an ideal way to bring my focus back to it. I won’t actually complete the series in 30 days as I will carry forward the videos published on days I have a yoga class anyway, but on the days when there is no class it will make committing to a home practice much easier as there will be no decision-making as to what video or sequence I will complete. Hopefully by the time I reach the end, my home practice will have been re-established and I will be able to continue with the positive habit I build. I know I run better and feel better when yoga is a more prominent part of my day, so this will be part of my self-care routine (alongside reading, watching Disney vlogs and having relaxing baths) throughout the year. To help keep me accountable, you will notice that “home yoga” will now be listed as part of my roundup in my Week In Review posts so you will see if I’m actually keeping up with this one or not!

So that’s it. Five goals for 2020 which draw on the habits and activities that are part of my life anyway. No sweeping changes or unsustainable new habits, just achievable goals within established parts of my life. None of these are designed to be onerous, simply to help focus me on the things that are important to me and avoid distractions that may fill an idle moment, but don’t really bring any joy or fulfilment to my life. I will try to check in with these later in the year to see how I’m getting on.

What are your goals or intentions for the year?
How do you decide what those goals/intentions will be?

Friday Finds – 3rd January

Friday Finds is a regular feature in which I collate and share interesting articles and posts on running/health/fitness which I’ve read recently. Some might be inspiring, some might be scientific, some might provoke debate. All are things I’ve found in some way thought-provoking.

It’s the first Friday Finds of the new decade! There often isn’t much going on at this point in the year when it comes to articles to share, but I do have some bits and pieces for you today and I’m excited to see what 2020 brings.

Let’s start with something more uplifting than it sounds. If you follow the Hungry Runner Girl blog written by Janae Baron then you might have seen her journey to huge marathon success this year. This culminated in her recently attempting to run a US Olympic Trials Qualifying time (OTQ) and while she did not reach her goal, it doesn’t change the huge leaps she has made this year. This piece about her, written for Podium Runner, is a great reminder of how the ups and downs we encounter in running are, ultimately, good for us – even if they don’t seem that way at the time! To quote:

“This is the beauty of running—to run is to risk failure. To dream and set big goals will not only ensure you risk failure but will also promise that at some point you fail to achieve those audacious goals…At the risk of sounding cliché, to dream big and set goals is to succeed.”

Click through to read the rest of the article.

Next, an interesting pieces from the South China Morning Post looking at the why behind our motivation to run. The piece is based on a Swedish study looking at what motivates runners and this study found an interesting relationship between running being an escape, a freedom from pressure, and the fact that many of the pressures we might be trying to escape, such as performance goals and measuring our progress, are present there too. I include this because I’m interested to know what you think. Personally, I’m at a point with my running that I don’t really feel under these pressures, but equally I can see how they might creep in. I also wonder if we view these pressures differently in running (or other activities) when compared with our attitudes to work/life pressures. Any thoughts?

I also want to share this piece recently published in The Guardian. It focuses on the marathon and the rise in those accused of cheating at the distance, but ends with a question that seems to attempt some understanding of why someone might cheat in a marathon. For me, there’s no debate here: cheating is wrong and I’m glad steps are being taken to clamp down on those who cheat. Yes, the distance has become far more accessible to the general public, but it still represents a huge challenge and I would hate to think that the achievements of the many who take on a marathon every year could be undermined by cheats making it look “easy”. I’ll get down off my soap box now.

Now this next piece I found really interesting. Shoes are always a hot topic among runners, and we are increasingly realising that the traditional ways of categorising foot “types” are not really based on any sound evidence. But what this piece suggests is that running shoes is another of those areas where female-specifc research is lacking and that women are much more likely than men to be dissatisfied with their shoes. Is this another example of women being treated as small men when, in fact, we are very different when it comes to our bodies? What’s your experience?

And finally, it’s happened again. A runner celebrated their win too early and was dipped on the line by a rival, missing out not just on the win, but on a new race record. That has to smart!!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

 

2019 By The Numbers…

As a follow-up to my Year in Running post, and to celebrate my highest mileage year ever, I thought I would dig a bit deeper into my stats for 2019. Although I try not to be a slave to the numbers on my watch, I do always wear my Garmin when I run and the data it records goes to both Garmin Connect and Strava, which I have used to help me compile this post. Let’s take a look…

  • This year I have run a total of 1104 miles, which is the most I have ever done. My previous record was 838 in 2018, hence my goal of 800 miles for this year (to take into account the possibility of injury/illnes which would require some time out of running as I didn’t want my mileage goal to be a pressure). I was rather surprised to reach this goal with over a month of 2019 to go!
  • I have spent 171 hours of 2019 running, across 237 separate activities on 173 different days. That sounds like quite a lot of time!
  • In those hours I have climbed a total of 10,663 metres. That’s more than the height of Everest!
  • I have taken part in 5 races: The Stirling Marathon, Edinburgh Half Marathon, Chariots of Fire Beach Race, Disneyland Paris 10k and Disneyland Paris half marathon. My race calendar has been pretty empty and I’m happy with that.
  • I completed 44 parkruns (1 less than in 2018, but there were some unexpected gaps in my attendance).
  • I achieved Groundhog Day (the same finish time at the same parkrun location on two consecutive weeks) TWICE!
  • For 6 months of the year I recorded over 100 miles of running. Not bad given I lacked consistency in the first half of the year.
  • July was my lowest mileage month with 54 miles (I was ill then ran very little whilst on holiday).
  • April was my highest mileage month with 119 miles (thanks to a marathon and my longer training runs in preparation). Interestingly, December came second with 113 miles, yet I have nothing to train for right now!
  • My average pace was 9:27 per mile. Probably slightly skewed by the super-slow miles at Disneyland Paris, but still a decent long-run pace.

2019 overall was a funny year for me. It started badly with repeated bouts of a chesty cough, continued with an illness around Easter and a throat infection in the early summer. As a result, I just didn’t pay much attention to my stats other than a glance at my total mileage from time to time. With much better consistency in the second half of the year, I  can really see the numbers telling the story now. Let’s hope for a healthy and consistent year in 2020!

Anything of note in your running stats for the past year? 
How much attention do you pay to the running data you record?