Week In Review – Spring’s Not Sprung!

Last week I was rather hopeful that spring might be on its way. Thinking back to previous training cycles for spring marathons I was convinced I usually get into my running shorts in mid to late March, but apparently this year winter intends to cling on a bit longer. How long has it been since Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow? Darned groundhog!

29313813_10156193020316354_7809144258102820864_nAnyway, although the weather might not be spring-like just yet, there’s still a marathon to train for and this week saw another pretty consistent week:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – bike reps @ the gym
Wednesday – hill reps
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday20 miles 12 miles

It was so good to be back in the yoga studio on Monday evening, stretching out my body after my 18 mile run on Sunday. I have to say, my legs actually felt ok. Weary, of course, but no real pain or tightness. That said, I wasn’t looking to head out for a run again just yet so yoga was perfect!

On Tuesday I hit the gym for The Big One – 20 reps of my current interval cycle (Steve always has me build up to 20 reps of whatever work/rest interval I’m on before either changing the pattern or the intensity). I wasn’t really looking forward to it and knew my legs would have to work hard after Sunday’s efforts, but it actually went by fairly quickly. I try to divide the session into smaller chunks of 3-5 reps (depending on how they divide down – look at me with the sums!) and mark each set with a sip of water before gearing up for the next one. Completing a workout like this always makes me feel strong since I know I couldn’t have done it a few weeks ago.

Bike reps are always followed on Wednesday with some kind of run, ideally hills or drills. Sadly my Wednesdays have seen quite a lot of disruption during this cycle. There were a couple of parents’ evenings and an evening out, which were factored into the plan, but there were also 3 Wednesdays when there was snow and 2 of those were nights when I should have been doing hill reps and had to change tack. This week, for only the SECOND time in this cycle, I was able to do a hill workout. Same hill as usual and reps working from the closest lamppost to the bottom up to the farthest away at the top: 5-4-3-2-1. Thankfully all my other drills and long runs have boosted my fitness so I was able to do it despite the lack of specific hill work, but it was tough. Mind you, that’s kind of the point as that’s what will make me stronger and fitter!

wNo1XQx8SBqcmc9regAFwwBy Thursday I was more than ready to get back to my yoga mat and working through the Ashtanga sequence. It was a really nice class again and I felt good throughout. Just what I needed.

Then on Friday I was able to squeeze in a PT session with Steve. We’ve not managed this every week, but I’m getting plenty of work on strength and flexibility from my yoga practice (2x classes per week plus Yoga with Adriene videos on 3-4 other days of the week) so it’s not a big concern. With this in mind, Steve asked me what kind of workout I wanted to do and luckily I had thought ahead. The last time I was in we did some boxing to help energise me and I really enjoyed it (I used to go to a kick boxercise class and had forgotten what fun it could be) but hadn’t enjoyed wearing the gloves Steve keeps at the studio – other people’s sweat, ewww! I had managed to locate my own gloves and took them with me to the studio, so got in another fun boxing workout.

Q9tJmW2KQOOKS7xb8F3KDwOn Saturday we awoke to rather miserable weather. Apparently we were experiencing the Mini Beast from the East, and while I had understood that the snow would be heading for other parts of the UK, I was expecting it to be really cold again. What we got was cold and windy with some hailstones and light snow. Perfect parkrun weather!

T6VbTw8AS8WBI0agjWKUvwSo once more it was winter kit on and down to the North Inch for the run. Still the alternative route, but the “usual” one heading anti-clockwise around the path. I hadn’t been expecting much as I thought there might be some residual weariness in my legs and there was a bitterly cold cross-wind, but despite having hailstones blown into my face (bonus: free facial 😂) I felt strong and was passing people I would normally expect to be slightly behind. As I stopped my watch I was delighted to see 24:10ish (my fastest since mid-November) and around 30 seconds faster than my best time of 2018! No idea where it came from, but it’s a powerful message that even in tough conditions all my training is starting to fall into place and I’m running well. Fingers crossed that continues!
q2HWQkctQPuiem3sq4eBnAeutANBNQQzScDZwFsMkY6gAnd as an added bonus, I managed another Royal Flush Negative Split. Love it when that happens! I think this is the first fully sub-8 minute/mile parkrun in ages as up to now I’ve had at least the first mile at 8:XX. Progress!

By Saturday evening there was little sign of the morning’s snow/hail, but things changed overnight and looking out the window on Sunday morning it wasn’t looking quite so good. Enough snow had fallen to have a layer over everything and fat flakes were continuing to fall on and off. Checking the weather apps I was informed that there was going to be some pretty “interesting” weather through the morning, with temps around freezing but feeling a few degrees below, further snowfall and high winds. And we had 20 miles on the schedule!

5YAvly3pQP6dOpPXkM8MUAAt first I sat plotting out a possible route and looking out my gels, etc with the intention of going ahead, but then Steve (who NEVER backs out of the planned run) suggested that since some nearby running events had been cancelled due to the conditions, maybe sticking two fingers up at it and heading out for 20 anyway might not be the best idea. It was clear we wouldn’t be able to include any faster intervals, work on form or do anything other than plod around with the aim of staying upright whilst being battered by the wind and stepping carefully on the snow. So we decided to cut it back to 10 miles. We bundled ourselves up in winter kit (again) and Steve was out the door a few minutes ahead of me.

KHm3hW8%QcCuqKOQkN03hASince we had planned to run opposite ways around a similar route, we did meet each other out there, having enjoyed sideways hail, snow being blown into our faces so we couldn’t see a thing, and a hellish headwind. Every time it seemed to be easing off, it returned with a vengeance to make a pretty slow pace feel much harder than it should. Definitely character building! Steve said he might extend his run a little depending on how he felt, so with that idea in the back of my mind I carried on.


See that haze in the top right? That’s the drifting hail/snow blowing sideways!


Apparently I look like I’m in “The Blair Witch Project” 😂

To be honest I didn’t think I would do any more and simply arrive home with 10 miles banked. My legs felt heavy and weary, probably due to the ploddy (for me) pace – often I actually find it easier to go a bit quicker but it wasn’t the day for it. But as I emerged from a side street close to home I saw Steve up ahead and wondered if I could close the gap between us. I did get a little closer, but not enough for him to realise I was there and since it was clear he was going to run a short out-and-back to extend his run, I decided to do the same since the burst of speed had made my legs feel much better. I ran a mile up the road and looped around to return along the woodland path. I love running in there and it was nice to see families out taking their kids sledging. This little addition meant I arrived home with about 12.25 miles, albeit rather slow ones.

There’s a bit of me that feels a little short-changed as I actually was looking forward to the run, but I also know it was the right decision to cut it back today as it would not have been 20 quality miles. I’ve done 18 and still have 6 weeks to go until my marathon so there’s still time to adjust the plan a bit if need be. Perhaps a valuable reminder for us all that being a slave to the plan is not always productive. Sometimes life gets in the way (or in this case Mother Nature) and we need to be flexible. Have I trained to the letter of my plan? No. Do I feel marathon fit? Actually, yes. Nothing to worry about then!

IMG_5895I still think the weather must be broken though!


L-R Dec 2016, Feb 2017, Mar 2017, Mar 2018. Why no shorts yet???

Did you have more snow/winter weather this weekend?
What adjustments have you had to make to your plans recently?

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Weekly Photo Challenge – I’d Rather Be…

Today I thought I would respond to a Daily Post photo challenge. As this busy term rumbles on and winter continues to keep a tight grip, it’s easy to find myself wishing to be somewhere else, doing something else. But what?

To answer the question, I considered two things – WHAT do I like to do and WHERE do I like to be?

  • I like to run
  • I like to read
  • I like to practice yoga
  • I like to be in Paris
  • I like to be in the sunshine

So to respond to this photo prompt, here are some pictures that demonstrate the above things I enjoy (and would definitely rather be doing), sometimes in combination!


UntitledWhat would your answer be…?

Friday Finds – 16th March

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.

Ah, Friday! What a time it’s taken to come around this week! Things are still pretty busy for me at work, but I hope you’ve had an awesome week and are ready for some Friday Finds to kick off your weekend…

This week I’m going to start with a bit of inspiration in the form of Ida Keeling. Miss Ida (as she’s known) is 102 years old and, having only started exercising at age 67, now holds a world record in the 100m for her age group. Life has thrown a great deal at her, and her resilience and positivity is astonishing. I LOVE her advice to younger runners “Stay strong, love yourself, and do what you need to do, not what you want to do” and hope that if I live to 102 I can be as inspirational as her. Best start drinking cognac 😉

Let’s follow that with a bit of Strava-related humour. I’ll confess to having found myself diverted by my times over certain “segments” before (there’s one in particular near my parents’ place in Florida that I once had the top spot for but have since lost it and only have one two-week window per year to try and contest it again!) but it seems that getting even more carried away with the quest to claim the crown is possible. Here’s what happened when one Outside columnist set out to do just that:

Now a different topic: the always controversial “running with music”. Personally, I like to use my running time to listen to podcasts but am equally happy without my headphones (unless I’m pretty deep into a reeeeally long run and then I want something else to focus on!). I actually ran the first 10 miles or so of my last marathon sans headphones and wouldn’t use them on a trail run, but I know plenty of runners who always prefer to run without music/podcasts and focus instead on their own thoughts and the sounds of nature. Here’s one runner explaining why:

Like the writer of the above piece, I would DEFINITELY want my headphones if I was running on a treadmill (something I try to avoid!) but I think perhaps I would ditch them if the treadmill was like the one created by Nike to promote their latest running shoes. Located in a pop-up shop in Chicago, it looks like great fun and waaaaay more exciting than the treadmill at the gym!

And finally, interesting news for those who, like me, have a penchant for leggings. I hadn’t previously been aware of how the UK Office for National Statistics calculates the cost of living, but it seems they create a “basket of goods” which “reflects contemporary habits and technology to calculate the changing cost of living, as measured by the inflation rate.” This year, women’s leggings have been added to the basket and, given the further addition of action cameras and last year’s selection of speciality gin, this is increasingly sounding like a basket of goods I would rather enjoy! What would be in yours?

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Week In Review – Normal Service Resumes

And just like that, the snow was gone! After a pretty epic snowfall and a great deal of disruption (continued into Monday) with above freezing temperatures and some heavy rainfall, the snow is all but gone save for the odd random miserable looking patch. Now everything just looks a bit grey and soggy. Oh well, perhaps spring is on its way…

But regardless of weather, marathon training continues and I was pleased to put in a pretty solid week of running despite work pressures (a coursework deadline which couldn’t change but was affected by our snow days). Here’s how my week ended up:

Monday – rest
Tuesday – bike reps @ the gym + sports massage
Wednesday – form drills
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 18 miles

Monday was a bit of a strange day. The schools in the region where I live were all back to normal after the snow, but I teach in a neighbouring region which had been worse hit and there were a lot of difficulties organising school transport and getting pupils safely to school. In the end the schools were shut to pupils but open to staff and since my journey is on main roads I had no problem getting in. It was actually quite a nice way to ease back into routine after our “bonus” days off and I got a lot done in my classroom that I hadn’t expected to get to for a while yet. I headed home at the end of the day knowing that I had no yoga class (there was never going to be a Hatha class this week as my teacher had another commitment) so I did a Yoga with Adriene video and enjoyed a restful evening before the coursework onslaught.

In order to support pupils with the deadline and make sure I was keeping up with checking all the work they had completed while school was cancelled, I decided to stay later at work as much as I could this week. I was able to stay for a good hour or so beyond lessons on Tuesday then headed to the gym for my bike reps. I had the same focus as last week to try and pull UP on the pedals rather than thinking about pushing DOWN and had an additional 2 reps to do. It’s a tough workout but I can feel the difference it makes to my fitness without the constant impact that, for me, often leads to injury. No time for a swim unfortunately as I had my monthly sports massage booked and with staying later at work I had only left enough time for my bike workout. The massage was great and was probably well-timed after all that running about in the snow last weekend!

For once, my Wednesday run went ahead as planned (these have been rather disrupted this training cycle thanks to a few weeks where I had planned not to run due to other commitments and at least 3 weeks where there was snow so could only do a steady run rather than hills/drills) although I was at work a bit later again. This week I had form drills to complete – 1 mile warm up then 10x 600m focusing on good form. Despite some gaps in my Wednesday training these went well, presumably helped by all those long runs I did with every 3rd mile faster/focusing on form.

YU0CrHaAQLS6B8Kxx6P%ZgOn Thursday I was pleased to have my Ashtanga yoga class. I missed this the previous two weeks (I had a parents’ evening a couple of weeks ago then the following week class was cancelled due to the snow). There were some newer yogis in the class so we simply worked through the asanas from the primary series that we normally do, no opportunity to work on my headstand this time. Still, it was great to be back in the yoga studio and I really enjoyed the class.

Friday had to be a rest day as I had an appointment to get my nails done (they were a bit of a disaster thanks to playing in the snow followed by all the work I did in my classroom at the beginning of the week). Steve had offered to do a PT session afterwards, but I thought it would be getting a bit late for him to hang about the studio and I had an errand before going home, so made it a rest day. Probably for the best as we’re in one of the annual “pinch points” at work and since the body can’t tell the difference between work stress and training stress, making sure rest is a priority is important to avoid injury/burnout.

XB02xfRrQX2kFjQKq25zzAAs parkrunday rolled around again, we were still on the alternative course as thanks to the melted snow and heavy rainfall, the grass section was completed saturated and churned up. For variety, it was decided that we would run the double loop course in reverse this week. It initially sounded appealing, but in the end was not the best week for this decision as there was some pretty heavy rain and one of those “Scottish headwinds” (a headwind in every direction – how is this even possible?!?!?). On the first lap I felt like I was working quite hard, much harder than the pace my watch was giving me, but I was still surrounded by all the same people I usually am so just went with it. In the end I managed another Royal Flush Negative Split and with a finish time of 24:49 was just 8 seconds slower than a couple of weeks ago when I ran my fastest this year. Given the conditions, I’m pretty happy with that, even if I did look like a drowned rat when I finished!

IMG_0421Post-parkrun I headed home for a really quick shower before a brief stop at our neighbour’s house. He had run his 200th parkrun that morning and had invited people round for a cup of tea and cake/biscuits afterwards. I couldn’t stay long but had enough time for a quick chat, cup of tea (always awesome after a chilly parkrun) and one of his homemade biscuits which were marking the occasion.

O1X8cb7FRPWX0eNkHQ2T6wI then had to speed off to go and get my hair cut before getting on with the usual Saturday errands of food shopping and catching up on various jobs. Probably fir the best oterhwise I might still be there eating biscuits 😂.

Sunday was, as ever, my long run. I had 18 miles on the schedule and Steve had put something different into my plan. Having done lots of runs with every 3rd mile quicker, now he wanted me to do sequences of 3 miles at marathon pace and 1 mile recovery. Thing is, I’ve set no time goal for this race as I’m all about the process this year. Since sub-4 has previously been my goal, I decided to make my target pace for this run around 4 hour marathon pace and decided on a range of 8:50-9:10 since the route would be undulating (which I still think is a euphemism for hilly!). I wasn’t sure if I would be able to sustain this, but still wanted to give it a go. I took the first 2 miles as a warm up since they were mainly uphill, then settled into the pattern. At first I found myself running much faster than goal pace so it was an interesting exercise in controlling my pace in order to save something for later, but overall I was really pleased with the results. The recovery miles were super-slow and I just missed the target pace on 2 of the quicker miles, but this was because of an incline that’s encompassed the end of one mile and the start of the next – I just focused on running at the same intensity and only missed the pace by 10 seconds and 2 seconds respectively, which was pretty good! I even managed to hit my target in my last cycle which was miles 15, 16 and 17 so that’s encouraging. In many ways this run actually felt easier than last week’s 14 miles which came on the back of 7.5 the day before and were, of course, over the snow.

fullsizeoutput_242aWhen I run 18 miles I always feel near enough ready to run the marathon, but with a few weeks and more long runs still to go, it will be interesting to see how things progress for me. I’m still not setting a time goal though! I just want to see what happens when there’s no pressure.

IMG_5880Sunday finished in a pretty chilled fashion with a trip into town for coffee, some TV and lots of food before my usual Epsom salt bath. Lovely! And my legs didn’t feel too bad either…

How is your training progressing?
Do you have any time goals right now?
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Friday Finds – 9th March

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.

Friday again and what a difference a week makes when it comes to the weather! After last week’s epic snow there’s now just a hint of spring in the air – perhaps I’ll be back in my running shorts again soon…

However it was a sad start to the week with the news that running legend Roger Bannister had passed away. His historic breaking of the 4-minute mile was a pivotal moment in the history of the sport, so unsurprisingly many articles have been written about him in recent days. I thought I would share a few of them:

As the week drew to a close there was news from another running legend, this time much happier. As if I wasn’t already excited enough about watching this year’s London Marathon, it has now been announced that pioneer of women’s running Kathrine Switzer is to take part in the 2018 event. This will actually be the first time Switzer has taken part in this iconic event and I can’t wait to follow her progress on race day.

Moving to a different topic now and one close to my heart – food! We’ve long been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and now Alex Hutchinson of Sweat Science is here with a bit of scientific evidence to prove that our energy is better when we shift more of our calorie consumption to breakfast time. Sounds pretty good to me!

Next up, as an injury-prone runner I really connected with this piece from Motiv Running. Having an injury that prevents you from doing the thing that you love can really affect how you feel about lots of things, and I remember back in 2014 I struggled with a lengthy injury and began to wonder if I would ever be able to run again. What did that mean? Could I still call myself a runner? Who was I? These are the kinds of questions examined by Hillary Allen in her meditation on life as an injured runner.

And finally, always a sucker for a story featuring cute animals, here’s a great one about how rescuing a dog helped one runner to find the motivation to run again after one injury too many. I’ve never tried running with a dog but it looks like such good fun!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Week In Review – The Beast From The East

What a week! The Beast From The East certainly made things interesting for us here in the UK and simply making the decision to head outside has been a bit of an expedition. Despite that, I still found a way to get lots of training done, albeit a bit different to my plans…

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – bike reps @ the gym
Wednesdayhill reps rest
ThursdayAshtanga yoga snowy run
FridayPT session playing in the snow!
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday16 miles 14 miles

The week began fine as the bad weather wasn’t predicted to hit until late Tuesday at the earliest, with Wednesday initially set to be the worst. I had my Hatha yoga class and decided to debut the latest pair of leggings I had acquired. They were really comfy and attracted some attention!

qjy7DEdGTHCccmijvbDRVwOn Tuesday there were snow showers on and off throughout the day. It was strange as the snow would be quite heavy then the sun would come out and melt it all. I spent most of the afternoon peeling my pupils off the windows and trying in vain to hold their attention as the flakes drifted by. We were advised not to hang around too long at the end of the day so I gathered up lots of work to take away and headed back to Perth. Since it was still ok I went to the gym and completed my bike reps – this week Steve wanted me to try and focus on pulling up on the pedals rather than pushing down – but skipped having a swim or sauna in favour of getting home before the weather came in. As the evening wore on the announcements were starting to filter through about some areas where the schools were going to be closed the following morning, but no word on mine by the time I headed to bed.

That must have changed soon after I fell asleep as I awoke to the notification that all the schools in the region I teach in were shut. It was so nice to have that information BEFORE I got up and organised, as it meant I could snooze a little longer then had a leisurely start to the day enjoying my book in bed with a cup of tea. Without having to worry about getting ready to leave the house, I had created a bit of time to enjoy before settling down to get some work done. I had been due to head out for some hill reps which, of course, were now out of the question, but thought a steady run might be possible. In the end I stayed inside all day as there were so many weather warnings in place and I was worried about getting caught in an awful blizzard if I went out. Pretty much everything was cancelled, including my orchestra rehearsal, so I did a yoga video and kept cosy.

tv%N+A2uQUq0vyjMv6119QFairly early in the day we were told that the schools would remain shut on Thursday as there was a red weather warning in place (the highest possible here and a level that had not been used before).

Getting up on Thursday it was clear that there had been heavy snowfall overnight and the roads looked awful, but there seemed to be a break in the weather and Steve had headed out for a run. When he got back I took some advice from him about what kit I should put on then headed out myself. I chose my trusty all-terrain shoes but added my Yak Trax as well. I got these after the Great Thundersnow of 2010 but had not needed them in the intervening years so this was my first time wearing them. I hadn’t been sure how I would find them, but was really impressed with how they felt and the grip I had. The biggest problem was the effort needed to run through some of the deepest snow. Of course there was some heavy snow while I was out, but I came home after 3.5 miles with a smile on my face having loved the experience.

The rest of the day was spent getting some work done and keeping cosy. My Ashtanga yoga class was, unsurprisingly, cancelled so it was another yoga video for me and an evening in front of the TV. I even had a nap as snow days are apparently exhausting!

PbSasgKtTrqMxvlNRksRkAThe schools remained shut on Friday as there were still really difficult driving conditions and despite the best efforts of the local authorities, it was practically impossible to keep roads clear thanks to further snow and the new complication of high winds causing snow drifts. Several of our neighbours cleared their driveways on Thursday and by Friday morning there was no evidence they had ever done so. I needed to head out on an errand so Steve and I wrapped up and went out on foot. Errand completed, we walked down the road to a coffee shop and I was struck by how many people were out on foot.

nRwcGjvRSdKh44Tq4AiD7QOn our way back we decided to have a bit of fun with snow angels, “snowga” and, in Steve’s case, some sledging (minus the sledge 😂)


And my friend shared this photo from near her house. Love it!

fullsizeoutput_2403One thing I was increasingly noticing was the “Blitz Spirit” being demonstrated. Several car showrooms were making their demonstrator 4x4s available to assist emergency workers, etc get to work; contractors were offering to clear driveways of these same workers or those who were more vulnerable; taxi companies were taking essential supplies to the elderly/vulnerable and only charging for the goods, not the journey. People were helping out shovelling snow from each other’s driveways and complete strangers were actually talking to each other as they were out and about stocking up on food, etc. It just goes to show that when things are difficult we can still band together. I know that this kind of weather is commonplace in some parts of the world, but here it’s very unusual, hence the difficulties we have in continuing as normal.

We got our own taste of the community spirit on Friday evening. We headed out as usual to our “local” to eat (it’s just at the bottom of the road) and on our way back found a car stuck in the cul de sac. It turned out to be a delivery driver for a local takeaway and the recipients of the food were trying to help get him moving. They had a shovel but his wheels just kept spinning round (the road is on a slope and in that particular cul de sac the surface is brick rather than tarmac). Steve offered to help push but it was clear that wasn’t enough either so he took charge of the shovel and cleared as much as he could around the wheels then we both got behind the car and started pushing. It slid around quite a bit at first but eventually we were able to send the driver on his way (and were thanked with a cheery wave out the window – obviously he couldn’t stop or he’d get stuck again and he had already thanked everyone for mucking in). Good deed done, we got ourselves inside and cosy for the rest of the evening.

It was looking like our parkrun would survive where many others were being cancelled but it would have to be our alternative route on the path around the park rather than the main route which was covered in deep deep snow. Looking at the conditions, we thought it might be an idea to run there and back to get some miles in, thus allowing us to shorten our Sunday runs if necessary. We were actually offered a lift down by a neighbour, but politely declined in favour of running. It’s just over 2 miles there and, once more, it was snowing. Does that mean we have a parkrun problem? 😂

Something like 179 people braved the elements to get to parkrun, many choosing to arrive on foot like us. We even had some tourists whose local parkruns were off so had made the journey to come to us.

Lpd4EGFXSJ2N%obHhwbdPQAs far as underfoot conditions were concerned, one side of the park gets high pedestrian usage so it had been cleared (although with further snow it wasn’t totally clear and pretty slushy) whereas the other side over by the river was packed snow and perfect for my trusty Yak Trax. My “streak” came to an abrupt (and expected) end as I kept the pace slow and controlled, but I still managed a Royal Flush Negative Split. Given the conditions, I’m pretty proud of that one!


Photo – Perth parkrun facebook page

Px0%3fPMRXyE2FIBUAFHogPost-run we took some photos and one of our friends decided to liven mine up by throwing snowballs at me whilst I did my signature jumps – I couldn’t stop laughing!

IMG_5842And then it was time to run home. We took a slightly different route which was a little longer at close to 2.5 miles, bringing me to a bit over 7.5 miles for the day.

The plan, therefore, was not to worry about running 16 miles (with some sections at/faster than marathon pace!) on Sunday and aim for about 10 miles instead to make the mileage up across the two days. I decided that I quite fancied running through my favourite woodland path to see the snow and plotted a route taking in the snowy paths near me then following (mostly) cleared footpaths/roads out there, leaving the option to extend the run at various points if I felt good.

I checked my weather app which told me there was only a minimal chance of snow – it lied! Fortunately I stuck with my winter jacket and Yak Trax as after the first couple of miles I think there was constant snow. Still, I enjoyed my run and it was nice seeing all the awesome snowmen and forts/igloos people had been building. Loads of people were out clearing snow from the fronts of their houses and everyone was still so friendly.


A view of the park where we have parkrun

r4TQNhPhSRyxvmB%pYCf8wIn the end, I was having such a nice run – no pressure on pace or anything – and kept changing my route to lengthen it. I ended up arriving home with a bit over 14 miles completed. Yes, I did consider running the other 2 but my watch was giving me a low battery alert and I was worried it would give up before I was done. Imagine the horror of miles not on Strava!
+ojJfd1UTrOcipBvLk3rnQOverall a pretty interesting week, and quite nice to get some unscheduled rest! I definitely enjoyed running in the snow but know I’m lucky that I didn’t have to try and travel anywhere in it. Let’s see what the week ahead brings…!

Have you been affected by snow recently?
Do you run in the snow or head for the treadmill?

Friday Finds – 2nd March

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.

Brrr! I hope everyone has kept safe and warm this week. Given the unusual weather we’ve been experiencing here in the UK, I thought I’d bring you a wintery edition of Friday Finds this week.

I’ll start with Laura Muir. It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Laura and her determined attitude. Yesterday she earned a bronze medal in a world class field at the Indoor Championships in Birmingham. That in itself is fantastic, but what really caught my attention was what it took to get from Glasgow (where she is studying to become a vet) to Birmingham for the race as The Beast From The East made travel incredibly difficult. That’s one determined athlete!

Also pretty determined is this coach in Vancouver who spent THREE HOURS shovelling snow from one lane of the athletics track so his team could still get their workout done. Shovelling snow is a pretty intense workout in itself (and there’s always the risk that your handiwork is quickly obliterated by fresh snowfall) so well done Coach!

If you’re anything like me then you’re probably not letting the weather stand in the way of going for a run, but it’s still important to make sure you dress appropriately and adjust your expectations. For me that means layering up and forgetting about pace/mileage and just having fun. For a little extra help, here’s Alex Hutchinson’s Sweat Science column from earlier this year with some cold weather running advice.

Of course many may see it more as skiing weather right now, so here’s an interesting article about the calorie intake of elite cross-country skiers. It turns out they have to eat an enormous number of calories each day to support their training and that’s not as easy as it might sound. I know from past experience of marathon training (and those days immediately after the race) that a huge meal seems to be quickly burned off and hunger sets right back in, so can understand this difficulty to an extent. Mind you, I wouldn’t mind a go at eating 8000 calories, just for a couple of days…!

And finally, it seems that some people just never seem to feel the need for warm clothing for their run – even in the most frigid temperatures. Looking at this, it seems our friends in Canada are a particularly hardy breed. I think I’ll stick to my thermal kit, if it’s all the same to you!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

The Year Of Me!!! – February Update

When I set my goals for 2018 I declared it to be The Year of Me – a year of developing positive habits and adding value to my life. As I am focusing on processes over outcomes, I’m aiming to provide an update every month to keep myself accountable and see how I’m getting on.

1. Run 1000km (621 miles)
Just like last month, I’ve completed every run on my training schedule. There were a couple of Wednesdays when I couldn’t run but I knew this would be the case and the gaps were planned so I’m ok with that – life happens! My monthly mileage should be 70-something again and slightly higher than January. According to Strava, this puts me ahead of target but there will equally be times in the year, eg post-marathon, when I don’t run as much so it should all even out.

2. Commit to a minimum of 5 minutes of yoga on at least 5 days of the week
This has been going really well too and I’m cultivating a great at-home practice. I still go to 2 classes per week (Hatha on Monday and Ashtanga on Thursday) and aim to complete a yoga video at home on at least 3 other days. I’ve now finished the Yoga with Adriene 30-day journey I signed up to at the start of the year and will likely now turn to her monthly calendars for inspiration. I’m loving doing so much yoga and really think it is helping me both mentally and physically.

3. Read at least 30 books
I remain ahead of schedule here and am currently finishing up my 6th book of the year. I’m making reading a priority in the evenings and have been choosing a mixture of fiction and non-fiction. I’m also involved in a couple of online book groups so can dip into the choices there when I need inspiration or want to try something I might not otherwise have chosen.

4. Be in bed by 10pm at least 3 times per week
I think I’ve been adjusting my mindset on this one and am much better at heading upstairs earlier in the evening. The idea of getting cosy in my bed is very appealing and there’s not really anything to keep me up now that I’m working on not getting caught in the “infinite scroll” of social media (see below) so early to bed, my Lumie light gradually dimming and a book to read is bliss!

5. Watch at least one Ted/Ted X talk per week
I’m still watching relatively short talks (10-15 minutes on average) but am steadily building this into my weekend routine. I’m already thinking that I might try and watch more during school holidays and over the summer should definitely have time for some of the slightly longer talks I have saved. In the meantime I’m really loving hearing from a range of interesting speakers and can’t wait to learn more from them.

6. Listen to at least 8 podcast episodes per week
I’m still a bit behind in my episodes but am listening to loads of podcasts each week. I’ve returned to my previous habit of a short walk in the morning before getting ready and this gives me a chance to get some air, enjoy some of a podcast and get my head ready for the day ahead. I then finish listening on my commute home and also listen to podcasts during my gym session on the bike and my training runs – a Sunday long run right now could see me easily listen to 2 podcasts and when I hit the Big Ones it could be 3 in one morning alone. Listening to podcasts is a habit I really enjoy and I’m keen to get a bit more up to date with some of my favourites.

7. Respond to at least one WordPress prompt per month
This month I had an idea I might want to write about leggings after all the crazy, patterned pairs I started wearing, but when I saw an op-ed written by someone clearly not a fan of leggings (yoga pants) I decided to add my voice to the debate and picked the prompt Controversy.

8. Be more mindful in my phone/social media use
I’m still being very disciplined about when I pick up my phone and trying hard not to just pick it up and mindlessly scroll at random moments. I’m trying to set aside points in the day to check emails/notifications then leave my phone aside so that I can read/watch tv/blog without feeling the pull of the phone. The combination of this with my goals of reading more and being in bed earlier are working beautifully together to help me establish a positive routine.

February has been a bit of a strange month with the usual pressures of this time in the school year plus a few commitments which kept me out a bit later in the evening, but the routines built in January have continued and I have been able to make a few further adjustments to develop them. Now to keep it all going into March…

How are you getting on with your goals for the year?
What’s your favourite thing you set out to do/achieve this year?

Week In Review – A Bit Of Sparkle!

This past week felt awfully long for a variety of reasons, but my spirits were lifted midweek with a long-awaited night at the concert hall. Training may have taken a bit of a back seat along the way, but since it was a cutback week I had no problem with that and I did do everything I had planned. Read on for the details.

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – bike reps @ the gym
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – rest
Friday – PT session
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 12 miles

Last weekend I had felt the telltale stirrings of a head cold (apparently the region I work in has been particularly bad for winter bugs this term and as a teacher I pretty much work in a germ factory so I guess I’m getting off lightly!). As the week began I had a bit of a dry cough which was pretty irritating, but thanks to my trusty lozenges I was able to enjoy my Hatha yoga class without any coughing. Once again it was a fantastic stretch out and just the things after 16 miles the day before.

I was still coughing on Tuesday but since the symptoms were all above the neck I knew I was ok to go ahead with my bike workout. My plan was to begin and see how I felt, ready to change to a steady cycle if I didn’t feel up to the intervals, but as it turned out I was able to complete the workout without coughing. My throat felt a little tickle when I stopped, but the workout itself didn’t feel any harder than previous weeks and my heart rate was comparable so it seemed to just be a tickle rather than a game changer. Thank goodness!

By Wednesday my cough medicine was helping to shift the cough to something a little more “productive” and although I felt tired from my body working hard to fight off whatever it was, I was excited to be heading out for the evening. I had tickets to see (former 😢) Strictly Come Dancing pro Brendan Cole in his touring show as it stopped off here in Perth. This would be the 4th (I think) time I had seen him live and having not been a massive fan of his in the early years of the show due to his “bad boy” persona, I’ve become increasingly fond of him in recent years thanks to the live performances and him mellowing a little as he got older. Like last year, we had front row seats and had a table booked for dinner at the venue beforehand (“we” being my sister, two of my friends from work and my good self).

I somehow neglected to take photos of my dinner (a delicious pork belly dish followed by apple tart) perhaps due to my excitement at checking Brendan’s Instagram stories and seeing a picture of him in one of my favourite mid-run photo spots!

IMG_48FA5CB970B9-1The show was fantastic. Such energy from the dancers and I can never get over the strength, flexibility and grace that is apparent in them all. I wish I could dance like that (actually, I wish I could dance at all!). It was a late night for a school night, but well worth it.

Unsurprisingly, I didn’t feel at my peak on Thursday and it was set to be a long day thanks to another parents’ night (the last one for this school year, thank goodness!). Meeting parents is very valuable, but it sure makes the day long as by the time I get home afterwards there’s really only time for something quick to eat, a cup of tea then off to bed to start all over again the next day. I missed my Ashtanga class and had no time for a home yoga practice so was left feeling generally grumpy and put out. Probably not helped by the ongoing cold situation.

Friday was much better. We had a lovely lunch (including the richest chocolate cake!) to celebrate a colleague’s birthday then after work I headed over to Steve’s studio for a training session. By this time lunch had got the better of me and I was feeling pretty sleepy, so he opted to re-energise me with a boxing workout. I’ve not donned the gloves for a workout in ages and really enjoyed punching and kicking out some of my frustrations. I definitely felt better after it too!


Before. Check out my sleepy face!


After. Much more energised!

When I got home I was getting texts from my sister who is in Florida now (she flew out the day after Brendan Cole) and was paying a visit to the expo for the Disney Princess half marathon. Thanks to the glories of the iPhone I was able to see a lot of what was going on and somehow managed to go “shopping” without even being there – I just can’t resist the lure of a race expo! The only problem is I’ll have to wait a couple of weeks before I can have my new merchandise of several new headbands/hairbands. Oh well, I’m sure it will be worth the wait!

Later we headed out for our usual Friday meal which always helps me to unwind and ease into the weekend. I was still struggling a bit with a cough so Steve suggested I have a brandy before bed. I only keep the stuff in the house as it’s an ingredient in my French onion soup recipe and oh boy was it potent! I certainly got a good sleep that night and awoke feeling much better on Saturday morning.

For parkrun we were able to return to our regular course as the grass has had a rest and there hasn’t been much rain. This was helped by a hard frost which left the ground pretty firm. I was fairly certain I had no chance of keeping my “parkrun streak” alive as this course is a bit more challenging plus I’d been battling a head cold all week, so had already resigned myself to a slower time. But then as I approached the final stretch I glanced at my watch and realised I could sneak in a slightly faster time so long as I moved. So move I did, clocking my 3rd fastest time ever for the final 400m and scoring an official time of 24:41 (with a Royal Flush Negative Split to boot!). That’s just 2 seconds quicker than last week, so I’ll once more declare that the streak must surely be over…

IMG_0212We had our usual post-parkrun breakfast of tea and a bacon croissant before getting our food shopping, then in the afternoon we nipped up to my parents’ house then Steve suggested a rather “scenic” route home via the farm shop for coffee and cake. I chose to have tea again and picked a slice of rather yummy looking malteser cake to keep me going until our homemade pizza later. The rest of the day was then pretty chilled as we watched some TV together and relaxed.

PSoWA29ETZOB4IGo2vzPCgAfter another good sleep I was up and ready to tackle my 12 mile run. This was my cutback in long run mileage and I had spoken to Steve about how to approach it. For the last 3 runs he had specified in my plan that I should be aiming for every 3rd mile faster (I go by effort rather than pace if it’s on an incline) but this week only had the mileage and I wasn’t sure of the best approach. In the end we decided it might be worth a test of pace to see if I could maintain my ideal target marathon pace for the distance. Thanks to the cold I wasn’t sure how I would do but still wanted to give it a go, knowing I could slow down if necessary. I packed plenty of tissues and headed out the door with a partial route in mind and returned 12 miles later having nailed an average pace of 8:58 per mile. I was hoping for around 9 min/mile as I know a 4 hour marathon is 9:09 but also knew I was choosing an undulating route. I ran to effort and was pleased to see that only the miles including an uphill stretch were slower, with the rest all sub-9. Given that I did that whilst dealing with the lingering effects of a head cold, I’m pretty happy with that as it tells me the training process is taking effect and boosting my performance. I’m still not setting a time target for Stirling, but this was an interesting test of my fitness.

IMG_5719I was supposed to be at an orchestra rehearsal in the afternoon (concert on Saturday) but I just couldn’t make it work around the rest of my Sunday errands. Much as I had hoped to make it there, my training and recovery has to take priority and it would have been too much of a rush to get down there in time. Instead we took care of some errands and enjoyed a bit of downtime before another busy week.

How has your training been going?
Have you ever been on any kind of running streak?
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The Daily Post – Controversy

In a world full of controversy, sometimes it’s something seemingly innocuous that becomes the subject of debate. And that’s exactly what happened this week with the topic of “yoga pants” (also known as leggings and/or tights depending on where you’re from). Yes, that comfortable lycra (spandex) leg adornment popular with just about every female I know (and often worn by men too) has got us all fired up after the publication of this op-ed in The New York Times. Normally I roll my eyes, tut and mutter in a very passive-aggressive and overly-British fashion about such things, but this time I feel compelled to add my voice to the debate.

Of course there’s an excellent chance that the topic was chosen for the very reason that it would stir up debate and by reacting we simply fan the flames, yet for me there are just too many points raised that I feel obliged to respond to – after all, I’m a big fan of the garment I will refer to as “yoga pants” for the purposes of this post.

First on the agenda, the title – Why Yoga Pants Are Bad For Women. Fairly typical of the “click-bait” trend and so, of course, I clicked. I wear yoga pants all the time and so wanted to know if I was causing myself some kind of damage, but rather than scientific or medical facts, all I found was the writer’s vitriol against those who choose (that’s right, choose) to wear yoga pants. Even more bizarrely, her biggest gripe seemed to be with those of us wearing them for their intended purpose – yoga!

Yup, that’s right: the writer has an issue with women wearing yoga pants to practise yoga. What? Does she also have an issue with any other activity-specific attire? Thought not. Personally I find the suggestion that we should switch to “sweat pants” (joggies/trackie bottoms, etc) ludicrous. The clue is in the name – SWEAT pants! Why would I want to wear something that will make me even more sweaty and uncomfortable by clinging on to every drop of moisture that leaves my body, thus rendering the material heavier and me colder when I stop moving? The purpose of those garments made of “velour or terry cloth” that she references is surely to keep you warm before and after you exercise, not to weigh you down, cause you to overheat and make your chosen activity harder? I prefer to run in tight clothes as I can’t stand loose material flapping about me, and when it comes to yoga I want to feel that I am free to move without having to pull up my trousers every time I want to twist, fold or stretch. I also want my teacher to be able to see the position my body is in so that any adjustments can be given that will keep me safe and help me to progress.

And yet the writer of this op-ed appears oblivious to this, stating:

“But yoga pants make it worse. Seriously, you can’t go into a room of 15 fellow women contorting themselves into ridiculous positions at 7 in the morning without first donning skintight pants? What is it about yoga in particular that seems to require this? Are practitioners really worried that a normal-width pant leg is going to throttle them mid-lotus pose?”

Um, yes! Well maybe not throttle me, but having tried yoga in looser-fitting clothes I definitely felt much more encumbered and lacked the freedom of moment that I associate with my practice. I think I spent most of my time fearing an unseemly rip! Besides, a loose-leg would surely just end up riding up around my knees every time I moved into any kind of inversion such as a shoulder stand. How would that be helpful? Yet it carries on:

“We aren’t wearing these workout clothes because they’re cooler or more comfortable. We’re wearing them because they’re sexy.”

You read that right: we’re wearing yoga pants to look “sexy”. The crux of the writer’s argument seems to be that women are somehow being “forced” into wearing yoga pants to work out in the same way that society has conditioned us to wear high heels to look good or tight/low-cut clothing to feel attractive. Sure for some that might be part of the reason behind their choice, but for most women I would imagine they are looking to feel comfortable and able to move in any way they wish. As someone who is not always the most graceful, I hate to imagine what would happen if I tried to twist myself into a pretzel whilst also battling loose and wafty clothing – misadventure would be sure to follow! Who is she to decide what I should or shouldn’t wear for my yoga practice? And how dare she presume to know why I make the choice that I do? I own looser clothing and it would be the last thing I would pick for a yoga class.

Somewhat laughably, the piece also contains the following statement:

“It’s not good manners for women to tell other women how to dress”

Pardon? Is that not exactly what you are doing in this article? For years women have been told how to dress, felt ashamed of their bodies and been reluctant to go to gyms where they might find activities that would make them fitter, stronger and more confident. Why, when women are fighting back against various injustices in the world, would you write a piece like this which has an undercurrent of shaming women for their choices? Would anyone presume to tell a man what to wear in the gym? Didn’t think so. Nobody needs to wear yoga pants to exercise, but most of us choose to. And when we wear them in other walks of life? Maybe we actually do just want to be comfortable. I can wear a tunic or dress to work with leggings underneath (often far warmer and more comfortable than tights/panty hose, an abomination made by the devil himself!) and still look smart; I can wear yoga pants to lounge around the house and feel comfortable without my underwear becoming lodged in places it has no business being; I can wear my running kit to run errands, with messy hair and no make up, when the last thing on my mind is to look “sexy” (because why should I conform to some imposed “ideal” of how I should look when I’m only nipping out for a couple of quick things on a day off?). And if I’m getting on a long haul flight, when my choice is yoga pants/leggings or some constricting garment that will cut into my flesh for hours and restrict my circulation, then I’m picking the yoga pants – they might even help ward off DVT if I pick a compression pair!

The only part of the article I might have any sympathy with is the writer’s assertion that studio classes aimed at women are pricey, but it’s the price I take issue with rather than other aspects of the classes. There’s so much research which shows too many women reluctant to exercise due to fear of judgment, that the last thing we need is a woman feeding that fear by passing judgement on other women. Such classes may come with a hefty price tag, but they are also places where a sense of community is fostered, where women feel like they belong and where they feel comfortable getting their sweat on (in comfortable, sweat-wicking yoga pants!). Women should be supporting and lifting each other up, not cutting each other down with criticism – God knows there’s enough of that in the world already! If we run the risk of turning working out from “a healthy thing you might do twice a week into a Way of Life” then surely that’s a good thing. We’re all being encouraged to lead a healthy lifestyle all the time, so why discourage those choosing to do just that by commenting on the sartorial decisions they make that may very well be helping them get out the door to that fitness class in the first place? If a pair of yoga pants is what it takes to help just one person adopt a healthier lifestyle, then I’m all for them.

And so, I will continue to wear my yoga pants for yoga, for running and for any time I wish to feel comfortable. Last I checked it was my body and I’m free to dress it in whatever way I please, even if I am a little north of that 30 barrier lauded by the writer as the last time I should have done so. Frankly, I’ve not felt so insulted in a while!

“Women can, of course, be fit and liberated. We may be able to conquer the world wearing spandex. But wouldn’t it be easier to do so in pants that don’t threaten to show every dimple and roll in every woman over 30?”

If she wants to wear sweat pants, she should (and nobody should judge her for it). Heck if she wants to turn up to the gym in her pyjamas then she should be allowed to do so and nobody should bat an eyelid. You do you Ms Jones and let everyone else do what works for them. I, for one, will be in my favourite yoga pants, dimples and rolls included.

0gBdxuz1THC0i%7irQg7hQWant to read some more? Here are some other responses to this op-ed piece that I’ve enjoyed:

Now I’d love to know your thoughts…