Week In Review – The Corona Chronicles Part 55

The second week of the holidays meant a further opportunity to relax, whilst also enjoying the time running in the mornings. Technically this should have been a cutback week in my mileage, but I was feeling good and wanted to take advantage of the space I had to run a little longer on the weekdays, so stuck to a similar pattern to the week before. The miles will naturally reduce a little anyway when I’m back at work next week. Here are the details of my week:

Monday – 4 miles + living room workout + home yoga
Tuesday – 5 miles + living room workout + home yoga
Wednesday – 10k + living room workout + home yoga
Thursday – 5 miles + living room workout + home yoga
Friday – 4 miles + living room workout + home yoga
Saturday – (not)parkrun sandwich
Sunday – 10 miles

Oh my goodness! After some quite pleasant weather last week (as in shorts and T-shirt to run in pleasant) the temperature PLUMMETED for Easter Monday. Even on the Sunday the temperature was ok and I just couldn’t understand how the forecast could have it dropping so low, but even as I was getting ready to run my weather app was still insisting on an actual temperature around freezing with a “feels like” below freezing. I was FORCED back into my leggings (yup, as cold as that) and was glad I wore them as even though the sun was shining, the air was bitter in the way you only get when there’s snow around (many places did have snow, but we got away with a few flakes while I was out running) and the wind was just as icy.

On the plus side, I had a great distraction from the icy cold air as the scavenger hunt, a weekly activity I was really enjoying last year, was back! I often still smile when I notice something that was on a previous hunt list so was pleased to be setting off in search of a new list of items. One of them was a swan so this gave me a great reason to return to the park I ran through a couple of weeks ago when I ticked off “run in the park” on my March running bingo card. It’s so pretty in there and I wanted a bit more time to explore, so this was perfect.

But before that chilly run I was cosy in bed with a cup of tea to finish up my latest book. This is one I DEFINITELY recommend if you haven’t picked it up yet – so heartwarming, like the parkrun spirit in a book. Oh, and one of our RDs gets a mention for his penchant for delivering the briefing in verse!

The book also completed my 2021 challenge sheet, so here’s a roundup of the books I read for that:

The rest of the day was much less exciting. I began with a really thorough dusting and tidying mission, then relaxed with some vlogs for a bit to update the blog.

I was conscious that despite being on holiday, I only managed one workout last week so wanted to fit in more this week. Steve announced that the workout would be “press up surprise”, the surprise being that it was a super set where I exhausted my arms with the resistance band before going right into a set of press ups to failure. It’s the kind of workout that’s really humbling as “failure” comes around quite quickly towards the end!

My yoga teacher is having a couple of weeks off so it was a new Yoga with Adriene video for my yoga session then dinner while we watched the latest episode of Line of Duty.

Tuesday was still cold so I enjoyed spending some cosy time reading in bed to start the day. It was cold enough to keep me in leggings for a second day and the air was just as bitter as the day before. I even had some further snowflakes (which continue to puzzle me as the sun was shining at the time).

My project for the day was to vacuum. Not just any old vacuuming, the kind you only do when you’re on holiday and do things like properly move furniture around and use the tools to get into all the nooks and crannies. It took AGES but was totally worth doing.

The rest of the day I chilled out with my book (and Smokey, he’s going to be really upset when I go back to work next week!) until it was workout time. Thankfully my arms got a break as it was a lower body workout, but I suspected I might feel that one the next day! I followed that up with a yoga video then I was ready to settle down for the evening, which included finishing up the book I had been reading. I’ve really been enjoying this series, but I’ve now read all that there are so far so I’ll guess I’ll have to wait a bit for the next instalment.

Wednesday was still chilly (we actually had to have the heating back on overnight) so still in my leggings for my run (and I’m sure there were a few more snowflakes while I was out). On the plus side, I ran by the Easter tree again and noticed that some of the eggs were “rocking’ the dots” so that made me happy – a Minnie Mouse egg!

I had another book on the go and actually ended up devoting the bulk of the day to reading it. It’s a YA book, but often these are really good and having previously enjoyed the Twisted Tales series, I was keen to try this one after seeing positive reviews. I really enjoyed it so am looking forward to there being more in the series.

I did, however, take a break to go on a little outing. Steve announced he was going to take a walk into town for a coffee (we usually have a variety of codes for a free coffee) and asked if I wanted to go too. That doesn’t sound like a big deal, however I haven’t been to any of the coffee places since before we went into Lockdown last March. I know they’ve been open for takeaway, but I’ve had no reason to go into town so just haven’t bothered claiming any of my coffees. It actually felt like quite a big step, even though the setup is so simple and safe.

Once home I returned to my book then it was time for a second “press up surprise” workout – this time with the more difficult resistance band. My poor arms! I can tell you my yoga video felt quite challenging afterwards and I was cursing Adriene when we had to move into downward dog!

It was super windy on Thursday morning but it was a much better temperature for me to be able to get back into my shorts again. I love my leggings, but by this point in the year I like to be firmly in my shorts! Once home I decided to straighten my hair (I’ve not been using the hairdryer or straightners throughout the past year) because I was due at the hairdresser the following day (hurrah!) so wanted to get a better picture of how much it has grown throughout the pandemic since it has been cut far less (and had a couple of long stretches of around 5 months between cuts when we’ve been in lockdown):

L-R March 2020 a couple of weeks after my last haircut before lockdown; July 2020 ahead of my first post-lockdown haircut; April 2021 ahead of my first haircut in 5 months thanks to the second national lockdown in Scotland.

It was so interesting to see the side by side comparisons since you don’t really notice hair growth day-to-day as it’s so gradual.

I had an exciting delivery in the form of some theme park-inspired wax melts. My sister discovered these and sent me a referral code so I thought I would give them a go. The little note enclosed with them is such a lovely touch.

Further Thursday excitement came courtesy of Steve who had been baking again. We had been watching Celebrity Britain’s Best Home Cook and there was an episode where Ed Balls (yes, former MP Ed Balls) made this fantastic sponge cake. Steve found the recipe and had a go for himself (I mean, if it was good enough to impress Mary Berry!). It was great – a really light sponge – so I think he will be making this again.

I also watched an afternoon movie for the first time during this holiday. It may have been the Easter holidays, but I watched a Christmas movie (The Grinch) since it was due to be discussed on the podcast I have been listening to and I spotted it wasn’t going to be available on Netflix much longer. It’s not a story I have ever been particularly into, but it was a pleasant enough retelling of it.

My Thursday workout was lower body again – mostly variations of squats/lunges with some stair sprints to add another layer of difficulty. It actually made me feel really hot so I was glad my yoga session afterwards was quite gentle and relaxing.

The forecast for Friday hadn’t been too encouraging temperature-wise and I had thought I might be back in leggings for my run, but as it turned out it was marginally better and just mild enough for shorts (although I think we were right on the cusp as the first half of the run felt quite chilly in the strong wind!).

I needed to have an early lunch so I could eat before my hair appointment and ate whilst reading the end of my book. I was curious to read this one after enjoying the series on Netflix and while there were certainly some differences (which I liked because then I didn’t know precisely how it would all unfold), overall it was pretty close to the book. I enjoyed it so will probably read more from the series now.

Of course the biggest excitement was getting my hair done. I actually didn’t want much taken off the length, but I was DESPERATE to get some fresh colour in it since it was getting washed out and patchy (as well as the roots growing in). I was starting to feel like a stripy cat!

When I arrived home I had a cup of tea then headed out for a walk since I felt like I hadn’t moved enough all day. It’s nice to get out in the evening now that there is so much more daylight. Once home it was time for my workout and Steve decided to mix things up with an ab workout. It was good to give my arms and legs a rest, but I suspected this one would make itself known the following morning (and thank goodness it was a chilled yoga session on the calendar again!).

Our Friday night movie was the third Karate Kid movie to complete the original trilogy. I know I have seen it before but really didn’t remember that one so well as the first two. I mentioned this in a text to my sister and she agreed that it was never a favourite when we were growing up, thus rarely watched. Still, it served as a useful reminder ahead of my planned watching of Cobra Kai!

It was another cold night but after some time reading in bed first thing, the temperature had climbed enough for me to wear my shorts again. It was also a great time to wear one of the two new pairs of running shoes that I had ordered. I like to rotate several pairs so I always have something different to put on and mix things up, and now that I’m putting the miles in every day I think that’s even more important. This pair was already reduced then I saved a further 50% thanks to my Vitality Fitness Rewards benefit, so they were a real bargain. The bright colour might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I love them!

Post-run I was thrilled to find a new episode of This Is Us to watch after which I did my usual weekly Disney quiz on YouTube (this one was marking one year of quizzes – madness!) then settled down for a couple of episode of The Crown, all the more poignant following the announcement of the Duke of Edinburgh’s death.

I wrapped up my afternoon with a bath where I watched The Santa Clause (it’s been a loooooong time since I’ve seen that one!), during which Smokey wandered in to sit at the side of the bath and I ended up with a rather funny picture of him just from the angle I took it.

In the evening we watched an episode of Intruder, a four-part drama which had been on during the week. Definitely more to things than meets the eye.

While we were watching tv we noticed that the snow, light flurries of which had been falling on and off throughout the evening, was actually starting to lie a little.

It was still there in the morning (and frozen to the car windscreens) so despite the sunshine we both opted for leggings for our Sunday runs. I had originally intended to wear my second new pair of trainers, but decided to save those since I planned to head out the the woodland park and wasn’t sure what it would be like underfoot – no point getting new trainers all muddy on their first wear!

The sun stayed out for the run, but things were much more changeable later in the day with more brief snow flurries then, in the late afternoon, we got HUGE hailstones. They were bigger than cat litter, kind of like those polystyrene things you get in packaging or beanbags. The thumping of them actually scared the cats who were both happily dozing, but they soon settled down again.

Of course with term beginning the following day it was time to get back to the regular lateral flow Covid tests (oh joy!) so I took care of that early in the afternoon and logged my negative result. I suspect I’m not really going to enjoy the term ahead what with lots of assessment for senior pupils and the regular tests.

Finally we watched a second episode of Intruder over dinner then I headed off to get organised for the return to school and have a relaxing bath to help me get a good sleep. Fingers crossed things go smoothly – it’s been a long time since we’ve been fully in school!

What crazy weather have you had lately?
What’s the longest time you’ve gone between haircuts?

Week In Review – The Corona Chronicles Part 54

Holidays at last! Obviously options are pretty limited right now in terms of fun things to do, but I was just looking forward to a couple of weeks without work, especially knowing that next term is going to be pretty full-on. I also wanted to enjoy running just a little later and having the space to stretch the distance a teeny bit. Here’s how it went:

Monday – 4 miles + Hatha yoga via Zoom
Tuesday – 5 miles + living room workout + home yoga
Wednesday – 6.3 miles + home yoga
Thursday – 5 miles + home yoga
Friday – 4 miles + home yoga
Saturday – 6.3 miles
Sunday – 10 miles

Having realised over the weekend that I was actually super tired (that tends to happen in teaching – we keep on going and going and going then as soon as we stop for the holidays it all catches up on us) I promised myself a really easy day to begin the holidays. That meant no alarm and taking my time in the morning to read in bed with no rush to get out on my run.

This was doubly useful as I still had “lunch time run” to cross off on my bingo card so this was the perfect day for that one. As it turns out, I don’t think lunchtime running suits me. Perhaps I could adapt to that in the same way that I adapted to running before work, but I definitely noticed as I set off that I was hungry and in need of my lunch (I had eaten a light breakfast earlier) and wasn’t sure how I would feel as I ran, but it did improve as I went along.

I made sure to eat something as soon as I got in as I wanted to get showered and changed before lunch, then the rest of the day continued to be an easy one. I caught up on some tv and vlogs and finished up my book. I really enjoyed this one, which I’ve been meaning to read ever since I read Michelle Obama’s a while back.

I also headed out for a short walk in the early evening to get a little more air and movement before my yoga class. By the time I was heading to bed I was feeling pretty good so this easy day was definitely what I needed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Tuesday I did have an alarm to wake up to (not as early as a work day, but I don’t want to fall into bad habits over the holidays) and discovered I had over 80 messages in WhatsApp. Whaaaaaaat? It turned out to be the group chat with my sister and her friends who are Disney fans. One of them had spotted an ad for special screenings of The Muppet Christmas Carol with a live orchestra this coming December and they were organising tickets. Thankfully I didn’t miss out by being asleep (quite late the night before) as they had gone ahead and got a ticket for me on the basis that if I didn’t want to go they would easily find someone else who wanted it. I’m hoping that by December events like this are possible again, but for now it just feels nice to have something a little different in my diary to look forward to – a little treat after all the craziness of the past year – and this is one of my favourite Christmas movies. I suspect I will be singing along!

All this meant I was already in a good mood before I even got up and that good mood continued into my run as this time I was crossing off “listen to music”. I couldn’t tell you the last time I listened to music on a run (other than music being played at a race) as I prefer to listen to podcasts these days, but I had decided to download a Disney playlist to my phone and it led to a really fantastic run which I wrote about in a bit more detail here.

Once home it was another reasonably easy day: I took care of a bit of life admin and some quick things I wanted to sort out (one being that I added some additional tracks to my Disney playlist since I hadn’t updated it in a while) then spent some time with Smokey sleeping on my lap while I worked on that blog post.

Steve was also having an easy day as he had his first dose of the Covid vaccine the day before so had set the time aside in case he experienced any side effects. As it turned out, other than a sore arm he just felt a bit tired so he went out for a walk in the afternoon. When he returned he took me through a workout using the resistance band and some press up variations (my arms were dead afterwards!) then I did my yoga session before dinner. We’ve had a few tv shows on the go so having already watched the latest Line of Duty on Monday, we opted for the last episode of the current series of Unforgotten followed by an episode of Keeping Faith.

I actually felt quite tired again in the evening, so we both headed to bed fairly sharp and while Steve fell asleep really quickly, I read my book for a bit.

I felt much more refreshed on Wednesday morning, despite some time awake in the night (thanks Sooty – another middle of the night hairball 🙄). Again, I began my day with some reading in bed as I was close to finishing my book, then got ready for my run. The final challenge to cross off on my bingo card was “draw a Strava picture”. Uh oh! DEFINITELY not one I would find easy! I had left this one until I was on holiday so I would have the headspace to think about how to do it. Steve had been keen for me to “freestyle” it by going to some park space and having a go at drawing something, but it seemed to me that the logistics of something like that would be tricky as I felt like I would need markers to make sure I was going to the right spots to create different parts of the picture. Instead, I wanted to use streets so I would have a bit more control. I spent AGES staring at different parts of the map of town and squinting my eyes a bit to see if I could make some kind of shape jump out at me, but to no avail. In the end, I decided I could probably manage some letters so found a place I could trace out TG (for Tough Girl, the source of the challenge). I used the markup function on my phone to work out how to draw out the letters without any funny extra lines, then decided to record it as a separate workout so it would be really clear.

As a result, my run was in 3 parts – a run to the spot where I would trace out the letters, the letters themselves, then a further run to loop home again. I did some basic sums while I was out and realised I was at around 3.25 miles after I finished drawing my picture, so figured I’d record a further 3 miles as I wanted around 6 miles for the day. Typically, it also rained more heavily than it has on any run for a while so I got a bit of a soaking, but I still had fun. Drawing out the letters required a lot of checking of my saved map to make sure I went to the right places, so hats off to anyone who has managed a more complicated design. Nonetheless, bingo card completed!

I spent some time during the day working on blog posts and finished up another book. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this one and for a while in the middle I felt like it slowed a bit, but it really picked up towards the end so I’d say it’s worth persevering.

I also got wind from my sister that it was National Wear Your Ears day (I remember this from last year). Always happy to oblige!

A slightly random moment came in the early evening. I was pulling together a batch of chilli for the slow cooker when Steve said there was a post in our area’s Facebook group that the mascot for the football team was going to walk around here (one of our neighbours is, to put it in Disney parlance, a friend of his) and we couldn’t resist joining everyone else outside our front door to grab a couple of pictures. Just the sort of weird moment that really makes a difference in your day. I headed upstairs after that to do a little yoga before dinner.

We rounded out our day by finishing up the most recent series of Keeping Faith. Time to choose a new box set again! And our viewing was accompanied by Steve’s latest bake: coffee cake.

Thursday was April 1st so not only did I get to start my day with some reading in bed, I also had the fun of looking out for all the April Fool jokes from various companies and news sources. My favourite running-related one came from parkrun and the “floral poi” shade for a future milestone T-shirt. I’ll admit there’s a teeny bit of me that’s disappointed this isn’t true since I love the colour!

The run itself was good. There’s nothing quite like the freedom (and extra rest!) of being on holiday to make for an enjoyable run – no pressure to get out the door, nothing specific to be back for. I really enjoy going just a little further than I would have time for before work so this was a very pleasant 5 miles. I actually arrived home right as the courier was delivering my Shop Disney order. Since they now take a photo of the parcel being delivered rather than you signing for it, I got a fun post-run delivery photo to add to my collection of random feet and legs at the front door 😂

As ever, the kitties were pleased since my delivery meant a new box for them to play with (I think they really like the Disney ones because they are a good size; I like them because they’re a bit more “decorative” to have lying around the house!).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next on the agenda was a quick project. I once again had the last of the wax in a couple of candles with burnt out wicks and an empty jar, so I wanted to melt that wax down and pour it into the empty jar to start creating my own mix ‘n’ match layered candle.

I kept things pretty chilled after that – some work on a blog post, reading and a late afternoon walk with Steve before my yoga session. For our evening entertainment we picked Grace. This is a new series where each episode is standalone and it looks like one will be released every so often. It’s another one based on a book and was pretty good.

Steve had quite a lot on on the Friday morning so I enjoyed reading my book in bed then got ready for a run. The sun was shining but the temperature had dropped overnight so it felt pretty chilly at first (it did warm up later on). I kept to a fairly easy pace and just enjoyed the time out and about.

The mail was a little later on Friday (it was Good Friday) but brought with it two things for me. First up, the last of my princess-themed medals so I now have the set:

And, much less fun, my latest antibody test for the Public Health Scotland Antibody Survey. Steve was out again for a bit, but once he was home we just took care of the test right away then headed out for a walk together to put it back in the post. There was then time for a little yoga before dinner.

For our Friday night movie we continued with our new (but fairly short) project. 

I have seen the original 3 movies a number of times before but didn’t fully remember what happened in this one. It was fun to be reminded of some of the key moments.

My Saturday run brought with it a bit of excitement as I had a little event to take part in. Last year I was invited to join in with the Easter World Run, a free event organised on Facebook, and recently got a message letting me know that the event was happening again so I could sign up. The idea is really simple: you “register” by messaging the organiser with your name, where in the world you are and your timezone. On the designated day (the Saturday of Easter weekend) you run at 9am for an hour then share your proof (a screenshot from e.g. Strava) on the group page to show that you ran. The idea is that with everyone running at 9am, the run should move like a kind of relay around the world, without anyone ever having to meet or hand over any sort of baton. Like with the recent virtual semi marathon de Paris en duo, it brought a fun new element to my run, even though I still ran my usual Saturday route. For the purposes of the event I recorded it as one run this week (rather than my usual warm up, (not)parkrun, cool down) but still wanted to record a (not)parkrun time so I just noted the time I had at 5.1 miles then took off the first 2 mile splits since I usually run a 2 mile warm up. I was running at a steady pace for the whole thing, rather than the variety I usually have on a Saturday, so that was close enough.

I love this tree – it gets decorated at Christmas too and must be some kind of community thing.

I pretty much chilled out the rest of the day – tv, Disney quiz on Youtube and I started series 3 of The Crown (the one where the cast changes which felt so weird after getting used to the original cast) – all accompanied by my faithful (sleepy) boy.

I also enjoyed a relaxing bath and some time reading.

The book I was reading was really interesting. My dad lent me it and I wasn’t sure what I would think but it was very well written and I’m now keen to read others by this writer (pretty sure I bought dad one of them for either Christmas or his birthday). I had made my way through it quite quickly and finished it up on Sunday morning before heading out for my run.

It was a super windy morning but I wanted another run out to the woodland park, this time as part of a 10 mile loop which includes a fairly steep hill. I ran this loop a few weeks back and feel like it might happen more often in the weeks ahead now the weather is better).

Again, the rest of the day was relaxing with tv, reading and a bath before bed. A lovely way to end the first week of the holidays and I was definitely feeling a bit fresher by this point.

Have you ever tried to create some Strava art?
What was the best April Fool you spotted?

Week In Review – The Corona Chronicles Part 53

Well if I thought the end of term before Christmas was the weirdest ever, we have a new winner! This final week of term continued with the same pattern of 25% in school and a blended learning model. Because of this there were some groups of pupils I was seeing for a second time and some I was seeing for the first time (if their day in school the previous week was a day they didn’t have English). It felt so strange as there was no real flurry of finishing things up followed by a feeling of winding down, instead it continued to feel like Groundhog Day as lessons were repeated with different groups and planning was underway in earnest for next term. It was a pretty strange term overall and I was definitely ready for a break! But around that, my run streak continued and I had more boxes to tick off on my March bingo card.

Monday – 3.5 miles + Hatha yoga via Zoom
Tuesday – 4.5 miles + living room workout + home yoga
Wednesday – 5 miles + home yoga
Thursday – hill reps + home yoga
Friday – 4 miles + living room workout + home yoga
Saturday – (not)parkrun sandwich
Sunday – 10 miles

Of course the best way to begin any week is with a run. I was progressing well through my bingo card and had decided to tick off a slightly odd one: run backwards. Now as you know, I was putting my own spin on some of these to make them work for me and the idea of actually running backwards did not appeal. For one thing, I thought it highly likely that I would fall over, and for another I would have to sustain it for a decent distance and that felt like a pretty big ask. So instead, I opted to run my route backwards. I’m a creature of habit so tend to run my routes the same way. For this run I took my usual Monday route and ran it in reverse. It was actually quite an interesting experience as it makes you see things slightly differently.

The rest of the day was fairly unremarkable, but I did have my much-needed yoga class via Zoom in the evening.

The Tuesday, however, was much more exciting. It was day 365 of my run streak (you can read my reflections on that here) and I had decided this was the day to tick off “fancy dress” on my bingo card (because if you can’t wear fancy dress on day 365 of a run streak, when can you?). It was strange to think that what I originally thought would be a habit for a few weeks while we were in lockdown would still be continuing a year later (and we would essentially still be in lockdown) but it’s now as much a part of my life as eating and sleeping so it looks like the streak is set to continue.

We celebrated in the evening with one of Steve’s tasty treats: sticky toffee pudding (my favourite!).

Good thing I had managed to get home in time for a resistance band and press up workout before diving into this!

On the Wednesday it was time to begin year 2 of my run streak and I wanted to tick off “silly socks”. I had been giving this one some thought in terms of how I would define “silly”. The majority of my regular running socks are the no show kind, so even if I wore odd socks it wouldn’t be seen. and though I have plenty of pairs of novelty socks, there was no way I wanted to run in a regular pair of socks as that would be running the risk of blisters. In the end, I remembered I had some knee length compressions socks in bright colours and mixed 2 pairs so I had odd socks on. That probably looked pretty silly!

It being Wednesday, my evening began with another lateral flow test. It’s so nerve-wracking waiting the 30 minutes for that result! We don’t need to take them during the holidays so after this one I would have a couple of weeks without it and it was a relief to log another negative.

For my Thursday run it was time to tackle one of the less enticing bingo squares: hill runs. It’s been a while since I did a specific hill session but Steve gave me the workout to do (warm up run down the road to the bottom of a suitable hill, then a “lamppost pyramid” of 5-4-3-2-1 before jogging home). I had forgotten how brutal those hill reps can be (this hill has a real sting in the tail), but they do make the run home feel like an absolute breeze!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After work I had to pay a visit to mum and dad. Mum had sent a text to say she had leftover chicken for the kitties, but rather than go straight there I had to nip home first as one of dad’s birthday presents had been delayed but had arrived the day before so I wanted to pick that up and take it to him on the same visit. While I was in the driveway chatting to them we were joined by a cat. Mum hadn’t seen this one before but it was super friendly, responding to being petted and actually marching right in the front door at one point! I had to get mum to watch it so I could get my car out of the driveway as I was terrified it would move into my path and I wouldn’t see it, but thankfully it stayed still long enough for me to get away.

I actually only got in the door for a few minutes before I had to head out yet again. Steve had made an appointment to give blood for the first time in ages and had walked there before I got back. It was only on the way home again that he remembered how much it can drain you so called me to go and pick him up. Thankfully after that I was finally home for the evening so was able to do some yoga before dinner.

On the Friday I was FINALLY able to tick off “run in the rain” on my bingo card. I had originally expected this to be an easy one to get, but while there had been some rain in March, none of it was at a time I was able to run and as the end of the month was getting nearer I was worried that I might not get this one. It was fairly light rain, but good enough to claim that box.

After what felt like a very strange last day of term, I drove home and had another workout with the resistance band and some press up variations followed by some yoga.

Friday night is still movie night, but with no more Marvel movies to watch I was in need of a new project. I’m actually quite keen to watch Cobra Kai but thought I should re-watch the Karate Kid movies first so this seemed as good a time as any. Somehow Steve had never seen The Karate Kid (no, I don’t understand that either) so we sat down to spend some time with Daniel and Mr Miyagi. I had forgotten how good the movie was and really enjoyed seeing it again.

Technically I was on holiday as we headed into the weekend, but my weekends tend to be the same whether it’s term time or holidays so this was a fairly typical Saturday. I read in bed for a while then set off for my run. For this run, I used my warm up-(not)parkrun-cool down structure to tick off “fartlek run” on my bingo card. It was super windy but there is a clear difference in pace for each stage of the run so that counts.

When I got back I discovered I had received another princess medal in the post – this one inspired by Belle from Beauty and the Beast.

This was followed by a relaxing day – This Is Us, a Disney quiz and finishing series 2 of The Crown before going for a bath, after which we started the new (final) series of Keeping Faith.

The Sunday began with that twice yearly check on which clocks had moved forwards by some kind of internal sorcery, and which would require our attention to change manually. It’s one of my proudest achievements to say that I can change the clock on the oven without the need of the instructions!

When it was time to run I was looking to tick off “trail run” so headed out to the woodland park to follow the trail through there. It was still really windy, but it was a good run.

Later in the day we had some more of those chocolate hot cross buns whilst watching more of Keeping Faith. I was accompanied through all this by a very cuddly boy who seemed pleased to have me at home again. I even had a quick nap with him!

Then I rounded off my week with a bath where I watched The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. The best part was not needing to set an alarm for the following morning.

What are your reflections on the past year?
Do you like The Karate Kid?

Week In Review – The Corona Chronicles Part 52

And we’re back in school! Well, sort of. It was a bit of a weird week work-wise since this stage of our phased return model meant 25% of pupils in school at any one time (we expect to be fully back in after the Easter holidays). As a teacher that meant no more than 9 pupils in front of me in any lesson, therefore rather than a series of lessons throughout the week, we were following a model more like blended learning, leading to repetition of the same lesson for each group from the same class. Meanwhile those at home were continuing with work I had set for them to complete independently. It felt like a bit of an “in-between” position, but it was only for a couple of weeks and the real focus was wellbeing and re-engagement, so from that point of view it was valuable.

The impact of this on my daily running was a return to much earlier runs. I had been getting up a little later (the benefit of no commute!) so heading out around an hour earlier meant not only an earlier alarm call, but the short-term return of my high-viz since the time I was heading out now was not quite daylight. It also meant a drop in the number of workouts I could manage in the evening. Here’s how the week ended up:

Monday – 3.5 miles + Hatha yoga via Zoom
Tuesday – 4.5 miles + living room workout + home yoga
Wednesday – 5 miles + home yoga
Thursday – 4.5 miles + home yoga
Friday – 4 miles + living room workout + home yoga
Saturday – (not)parkrun sandwich
Sunday – 8 miles

I’m not going to lie, that earlier alarm call was a bit of a shock! I think on the first day it’s sometimes a bit easier since there’s a degree of anxiety about getting ready and on the road in time which gets you out of bed, but given this was the first time in 2021 my alarm has gone off this early, it was still pretty tough. Of course I began with a run and keeping things simple I ticked off “head out south” on my bingo card.

Arriving at school I felt like I had so much to do, and nothing I could have really done in advance. First I had to rearrange my room to make sure when pupils arrived there would be 2m between them all when they were at a desk. Then I had to post all the at-home work I had prepared at the end of the previous week – more time-consuming than it sounds! As I got myself organised I noticed this new signage in the corridors and it’s been driving me mad ever since as there is no reason for it to have an asterisk – there is nothing else on here offering additional information or clarification that would normally require an asterisk, rendering it pointless 🤔

The day itself was fine and it was so lovely to see pupils in front of me again and catch up on their news. I still had plenty to do at the end of the day, including collecting my initial supply of lateral flow tests. This is voluntary for us, although we’re all encouraged to take them, and the tests are to be taken twice weekly at home then logged on an NHS portal.

By the time I got home I was feeling pretty tired so a cup of tea and my yoga class on Zoom were both very welcome.

From this point on my working days felt a little like Groundhog Day as I was teaching the same lessons but to different groups of pupils. The best part was getting a chance to see them all, but I’m glad this wasn’t going to be a long-term way of working.

For my Tuesday run I decided to tick off “sunrise run”. I had realised that the time I would have to run when I was going back into work would coincide with sunrise so had saved this one rather than getting up early at another point in the month. I had hoped for a really pretty sky, but sadly it was not to be.

More exciting was the news later in the day that hairdressers would be able to open up again in early April. I got straight onto my hairdresser and made an appointment for the end of the school holidays so I’ll feel a bit less “messy” going into the new term. When the hairdressers were open before it was somewhere I felt really safe as we had temperature checks before we were allowed in, masks, screens and social distancing as well as far fewer people in the salon. It felt safer than the supermarket!

Arriving home Steve took me through an upper body workout with the resistance band before I headed off for some pre-dinner yoga to settle into the evening.

On the Wednesday I decided to tick off one of the bingo boxes which I had been a little wary of – “pick up litter”. Now don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with the concept of plogging and am happy to do my bit, but throughout the pandemic I have been very cautious about touching things, especially when out running as I have a tendency to wipe my face, so this one was a little outside of what I was comfortable with. To counteract this, I made sure to wear gloves, picked a day when there had been rain to “wash off” anything lying around and only picked up litter as I was on my way home again so I could carefully remove my gloves, put them straight in the wash and wash my hands thoroughly. Yes I know, probably overly cautious, but I’m not going to compromise on my precautions now!

Work was actually a little different on this day as we were using Wednesdays for targeted interventions with senior pupils. No juniors were in (the 25% model meant we only needed four school days to get everyone in) and instead we could request specific pupils to catch up on some coursework and plug some gaps. I had a handful of pupils with me at various points throughout the day and it was good to give them a bit of attention and also catch up on some bits and pieces of my own while they were working.

When I arrived home that evening not only did I have my usual yoga, I also had the joy of my first lateral flow test. You need to make sure you haven’t had anything to eat or drink within half an hour of taking it, then it needs half an hour to process so the best way to fit it in was to do it right before dinner and leave it to process while we ate. It’s easy enough, even if it does feel a bit like a science experiment, but I’m not a big fan of the throat swab part of it. Still, I’d rather have the reassurance of taking the tests regularly and knowing that most of the people I am around at work, including pupils, are able to take them too.

For my Thursday run I took the opportunity to cross off “run in the park”. I had originally thought I might head to the North Inch for this one, but in the end opted for the South Inch instead. This is where junior parkrun would normally be held, but although I run past there regularly I haven’t been in the park in a really long time. I had such a nice time running around the pond and looking at all the wildlife, so kind of wished I had a bit more time to hang around. I must try and go back there on a day when I don’t have work.

After work I had to go for petrol (for the first time in 2021!) and took the chance to nip into a newly reopened pet shop at the retail park (recently rebuilt after a big fire a couple of summers ago). I was wanting to pick up a cat toy my kitties really like but which I can only get in there, but took the chance for a bit of a browse and came across this. I REALLY want to get them it for their birthday!

For my last weekday run I took the simple option again and ticked off “head out north”. By this time I had a bit of a plan around which boxes could be ticked off on work days, which were for weekend runs and which I needed to save for the last few days of the month when I would be on holiday.

I had a CPD session after work (via Teams but now in my classroom rather than my workspace at home) then it was time to head into the weekend: a workout (Steve had me doing single leg squats and and press up variations), yoga, then the last Friday Night is Marvel Night. I may have reached the end of the Infinity Saga last week, but I had one more MCU movie to watch – Spiderman: Far From Home. I enjoyed it, but felt at a bit of a loss afterwards as that’s been quite a big commitment to watch all of those and even though there’s loads of great Marvel content coming to Disney+, it will be a while before I get to see a new movie.

After quite a bizarre week I was glad to reach the weekend and, as ever, began with a little reading in bed. When I was ready to run, it was time to go for one of the harder bingo boxes (in terms of effort) – a fast mile.

Since I use the middle part of my Saturday run as my (not)parkrun I decided to target the first mile of this for the fast one, not least because it’s net downhill so I thought that might give me a bit of momentum. I also accepted that if I really went for it on that mile I might slow down quite a lot for the rest of the run, but I was ok with that. As it turned out, I was actually only about 5 seconds slower than my PB over this (not)parkrun route of mine, despite consistent slowing, so I was pretty pleased with that.

My luck must have been in because not only did I run quickly, my Garmin somehow managed to hang on to just enough charge to see me all the way back home again. I’ve had my watch die one time before, so I think 1% was a pretty close call!

The remainder of Saturday is my time to relax – This Is Us, a Disney quiz, The Crown and a bath. On this occasion I was joined by a particularly attentive boy who clearly missed me when I was at work all week!

I also had another medal arrive. Very nearly there on this set!

In the evening Steve and I decided to watch a movie. I had taken a free 7 day trial of a subscription service to watch Spiderman the night before so we took the chance to watch something else. We picked Yesterday, the one based around the music of The Beatles, and it was pretty good.

To round off the week I had exciting plans for my Sunday run. One of the bingo boxes said “beach time” but there is no beach here and travelling to one at this time would be a breach of the rules, so I came up with my own variation of it. We have a river and I knew there was a path that ran alongside that river right out to the centre where we have our SUP yoga sessions. It’s something I’ve been meaning to explore for ages and this seemed like the ideal moment.

To do this, I followed the main road out to the centre, looped around their building to get myself right by the river, then simply kept the river on my left to head back in to town.

While I was at the centre I remembered that they had a small “beach” by the pond we use for SUP yoga, so that was a great bonus for my bingo card.

I REALLY enjoyed this run and the path was great fun. It was easy to follow and perfectly runnable, even if there were a few “interesting” moments.

And it brought me right back into town in the gardens by the river. I’m not often in there but there are great views across to the main part of town.

It was such fun exploring somewhere new and I suggested to Steve that he should go that way too since it’s the kind of route he likes to run on.

After all that excitement the rest of the day was pretty much standard, but with the added bonus of my second lateral flow test. Thank goodness for my Sunday night bath to unwind, this time with the first episode of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. It’s no WandaVision, but still a promising show.

And that was my first week of being back in school. Just one more to go before school holidays…

Do you like to explore new places when you run?
Have you ever tried plogging?

Week In Review – The Corona Chronicles Part 51

After what feels like forever – and certainly a VERY steep learning curve – this was the final week of online teaching before a partial return to school (and switch to blended learning) for the final two weeks of term. Looking back I can’t believe how far I’ve come in adapting my teaching practice to suit a different medium, but I was pleased to get back into the classroom and see my pupils for real. In the meantime, this week was a great opportunity to enjoy getting up a little later and running after sunrise while it was still possible – that will have to change when I’ve got a commute to work again!

Monday – 3.5 miles + Hatha yoga via Zoom
Tuesday – 4.5 miles + living room workout + home yoga
Wednesday – 4 miles + living room workout + home yoga
Thursday – 4 miles + living room workout + home yoga
Friday – 4 miles + living room workout + home yoga
Saturday – (not)parkrun sandwich
Sunday – 8 miles

My strategy of ticking off the easiest boxes on my Tough Girl Tribe bingo card first may yet come back to bite me in the backside, but it certainly makes life easier during term time when I just don’t have the headspace for planning things! Monday is always a recovery run so not much room for anything different here, but I had kept “road run” for just such an occasion and ticked that one off today.

In the afternoon we had a surprise visit from my sister who had obviously been into her work. It looks like they had discovered lots of ice cream tubs (she works in the concert hall and theatre) which were now past their best before dates so although perfectly edible, could not be sold. This made for a fun few days of having ice cream for dessert, although we did treat ourselves to an afternoon ice cream right after she left!

When work was finished for the day I had a little time to myself then my yoga class on Zoom. I got myself all set up then turned to my yoga space to find that “Yoga Smokey” had plonked himself EXACTLY where I needed to be! I actually had to spend the first few minutes in savasana fitting around him before he moved, but he actually hung around for the majority of the class.

Post-yoga we needed something new to watch so tried the first episode of Lupin on Netflix. I quite enjoyed it, even if it did make me a bit “homesick” for Paris, but Steve wasn’t so keen as he was disappointed it was dubbed rather than in French with subtitles. He thought it made it too Americanised. I’ll still watch the rest of it but probably save it for school holidays.

Tuesday’s bingo box was also easy – run selfie. I mean, I take a selfie after EVERY run (because otherwise it doesn’t count, right?). I was actually feeling really sluggish still and it took me until later on when a reminder popped up on my phone to realise that this was due to normal hormonal fluctuations. The older I get the more I seem to notice this, but my sense of time seems to be all over the place thanks to lockdown so I hadn’t clocked quite where I was in my cycle. Knowing the reason I feel “off” doesn’t make my run feel any easier but at least I understand why it doesn’t feel the best and that actually makes a huge difference.

The rest of the day was fairly unremarkable – even Smokey had had enough!

But as ever it was good to be finished with the screen and having a workout so I could move a bit more. Still a focus on hip flexors alongside my usual core/upper body work since that’s where my needs lie right now. It feels tough but then afterwards I feel I’ve earned a relaxing evening and on this particular evening we started watching the 4 part drama Bloodlands. Pretty gripping.

For my Wednesday run I wanted to tick off “find a new route” on my bingo card. At this point, finding something completely new but also local is a pretty tough call but although the streets I ran on were certainly not new to me, the route I traced around them certainly was so that counted for me. I was still feeling a bit “off” so it was another easy paced day simply enjoying something a little different.

After my CPD session later that day I got a batch of chilli prepped for the slow cooker then it was time for my workout. It was hip flexors this time and a pretty tough one, but I know I have lost strength there through lockdown and sitting lots so totally worthwhile. After my yoga and dinner we got settled down for another episode of Bloodlands. A fairly standard day in lockdown.

My choice from the bingo card for Thursday was to run laps. My take on that was to run laps around the block outside the house before setting off for the rest of my run. A fairly simple one to do, even if I did look a bit odd going round and round! I was feeling much less sluggish so this was a good one.

The work day was fairly average, but I think the kitties were beginning to realise that the end of working from home was coming so I had both of them hanging around for a while:

Then later in the day got “trapped” by Smokey (he fell asleep and I didn’t have the heart to move him) so I got a bit of personal admin done when I finished working.

Hip flexors again for my workout, followed by some yoga to wind down into the evening, One thing I watched that night was an episode of Masterchef which I don’t usually watch, but a former pupil of mine was a contestant so I HAD to see how she got on. So happy when she progressed to the quarter finals (but sadly that was a far as she made it. Still pretty impressive stuff and her food looked amazing!).

I kept things simple on my Friday run and picked “hug a tree” from my bingo card. There’s a perfect tree just down the road but I waited until I was heading back home again to take my picture.

It was a bit of an odd day as it was the final day of online teaching so I had to do a bit of prep for the following week since we would be moving to blended learning for the final part of term. My plans for my younger year groups had to shift a bit from what I had intended as I had to make sure it was something they would be able to do fairly independently while I worked with some of them in small groups throughout the week (the seniors were at a point where they were working on coursework so would be ok to get on with it). A strange thought having got used to the live lessons.

For a little excitement, I received 2 more of the medals from the princess set. Nearly there now!

After work I finished up my book. This is one I really enjoyed – something a bit different.

Steve and I headed out for a walk ahead of one final workout for the week and a short yoga session. Friday has been movie night for a while now, specifically Marvel night and it was time to complete the Infinity Saga. I loved this movie but was sad to reach the end of something I had been building up to over many weeks.

Saturday began with some sad news. I had been aware of rumours that Disneyland Paris would not reopen as planned at the the start of April (and it’s not the first time the plans have changed since they closed again back in the autumn) so it wasn’t a huge surprise given the situation on mainland Europe right now as far is Covid is concerned, but it was still sad to see. The world always feels that bit more magical when I know Disney parks are open.

My run did cheer me up though. My bingo pick this time was “unplugged run” and since I divide my Saturday run into 3 parts – warm up, (not)parkrun, cool down – I ran my 2 mile warm up unplugged then caught up with the latest With Me Now for my (not)parkrun (I like to listen to parkrun podcasts while I run my Saturday (not)parkrun to keep me feeling connected to it). This particular Saturday was one year from the last time we had a live parkrun so I was remembering what it was like on that occasion and how anxious I was feeling in general around that time. I know that in many ways things don’t feel too different right now, but I have to hope that we’ll be parkrunning again soon.

The rest of the day was fairly standard, but included a quick doorstep visit from my mum to drop off more leftover chicken for the kitties. They are so spoiled but I think she fears them forgetting her (unlikely).

To finish the week my Sunday run was a chance to cross off “nature run” on my bingo card. I headed out to run through the woodland park since I love it there and there’s plenty of nature including a stream, bird boxes and loads of different paths through the trees.

It was Mother’s Day so later in the afternoon we stopped by my parents’ doorstep to drop off a card and gift for mum then headed home for some yummy chocolate hot cross buns whilst watching celebrity Bake Off.

I felt a bit strange as I knew I would be heading into work the following day. I understood the structure of the day and felt comfortable with that, but after a full term of working from home I was worrying about little things – what time did I have to get up? How did I actually get ready for a day when I would be visible “in real life” all day? What time did I need to leave? I got my things organised, including laying out some clothes to try and save a bit of time since I knew I would be a bit bewildered in the morning, had my bath and headed to bed. A whole new teaching adventure was waiting…

Where is your favourite place for a nature run?
Have you watched many Marvel movies?

Tunes on Tuesday – The Disney Edit

Many studies have shown that working out to music can have a number of positive effects and help us to push ourselves further. Music is also strongly linked to personal memories and hearing certain tracks can transport us to a particular moment in time. In this occasional series of posts, I’d like to introduce some of my favourite tracks from my workout playlist and share some of the memories they have given me.

Well hey there! It’s been a while since I’ve shared a Tunes on Tuesday post since these days I tend to focus on podcasts rather than music as my listening material of choice when I run, but after an experience this morning I felt inspired to write a little something.

My Disney playlist

Throughout the month of March 2021 I have been taking part in a Daily Mile challenge. No big deal there since I have been running every day for just over a year now, but alongside the challenge I have been ticking off mini challenges on a bingo card each day. Today, it was listen to music.

Sounds simple, right? But for me this posed more of a challenge than I expected.

Since I no longer listen to music when I’m running, I don’t actually keep any music on my phone so I was going to have to download something. I had plenty of space on my phone so there was no issue there, but what would I actually download? I still have a running playlist but it’s super long so I would probably have to be a bit selective. Yet when I started to think about it I didn’t feel a huge draw to this option as I remembered having tired of some of the songs in there after listening to them one time too many. This was when inspiration struck: I have a Disney playlist.

For the last year since Covid began to impact our lives, Disney has been my go-to, my happy place. I’ve watched Disney movies, shared my ear collection on instagram, listened to podcasts, watched vlogs and just generally immersed myself in the House of Mouse. What better thing to do on my run than listen to some uplifting Disney tunes?

Decision made, I had a quick scan over the tracks in my playlist to make sure they were all songs I wanted to listen to, then hit download. I gave the whole thing no further thought until this morning when I was getting ready to run.

Maybe it was because I’m on holiday this week so feeling rested. Maybe it was because the sun was shining and the temperature had crept up to T-shirt weather. Whatever it was, rather than just grab whatever kit I spotted in the drawer, I realised that I should match my kit to my music to create a theme. Cue my 2018 Disneyland Paris half marathon top paired with my favourite Minnie-inspired shorts:

With everything in place, I hit shuffle on my playlist and headed off. I expected to have a nice run in the sunshine listening to some of my favourite Disney tunes, but what I got was something more.

So caught up was I in listening to the songs, I hadn’t considered the way that Disney knows how to manipulate our emotions. This is true of the movies, the music and the theme parks. Added to that, I have a lot of memories tied to Disney, including running memories, which are sure to come to the surface when I’m running and listening to Disney music. As a result, I experienced a range of emotions during this run.

At first, I felt really happy. I was out in the sunshine, feeling fresh and mouthing along with the lyrics (at least I hope I was only mouthing the lyrics and not singing out loud ha!). The fates delivered me Hakuna Matata first and that’s such a cheery song.

In the second mile I had the steepest hill of my planned route and my phone decided this was the perfect moment for Let It Go. Actually every moment is the perfect moment for Let It Go, but it certainly does put a spring in your step to run up a hill. Yet as I tuned into those lyrics, I did feel a moment of high emotion, the kind where I might just cry but then am fine again right away. THAT is the emotional effect of Disney for me.

During my third mile it was Hercules who got me. Go the Distance is a classic for any Disney-themed running playlist as the lyrics are perfect inspiration:

I’ll be there someday, I can go the distance
I will find my way if I can be strong
I know every mile would be worth my while
When I go the distance, I’ll be right where I belong

Yup, I CAN go the distance. It reminded me of the mindset for long training runs for marathons past and digging in to reach the finish line of tough races. Not necessarily Disney-related this time, but it still connected me to strong emotional moments.

And that was how things continued. As my phone shuffled through the tracks in my playlist I felt happy, I felt sad, I felt nostalgic. I remembered Disney trips of the past. I remembered the emotions of running in Disneyland Paris. I remembered the emotions of visiting Disneyland Paris last summer when Covid cases were sufficiently under control not just to allow travel, but to persuade someone as risk-averse as me that it would be ok to be away from home for a couple of nights. I remembered my 2020 experiences of creating my own homemade magic in May and September. So many memories and so many emotions.

By the time I arrived home I had run 5 miles, listened to almost an hour of Disney music and was riding a high of endorphins that had me thinking about the impact that playlist had on my emotions – so much so that I did a bit of internet searching to see if I could find out more about what it is that causes it. I’m sure far more knowledgeable people than me can explain it better, but I’ve got my own theories:

  • Disney is all about fantasy, a place where young and old can be distracted from the realities of the real world for a while. We need this more than ever right now.
  • Our experience of Disney is often rooted in childhood and nostalgia. The films don’t shy away from heart-rending moments (Bambi’s mum, Mufasa) and we accompany characters through the best and worst of times. That creates those extremes of emotion that keep us coming back.
  • The films are anchored by their music and that music tends to stand the test of time e.g. the music of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves is over 80 years old but I bet you’re singing Heigh Ho now that I’ve mentioned it!
  • There’s some kind of “secret sauce” in the way the music is composed. It’s what creates the perfect blend of lyrics, key changes and soaring crescendoes. This, too, gets tied to our emotions and hearing a song again will trigger a similar reaction to when we have heard it before.

All of this to say, it was a run that felt different to any I’ve had for a while. It was nostalgic, it made me smile and it led to a welling up of emotions… I loved it! Safe to say that as far as I’m concerned Running + Disney = Perfect!!

Please note that under UK Athletics rules, racing with headphones whilst on open roads is banned. If you choose to train with headphones, please be careful and make sure you are aware of your surroundings at all times.

Feel free to share your favourite workout tracks in the comments below…

365 Days Later…

Today is the 23rd of March. It has never before been a significant date for me, but on the 23rd of March 2020 the announcement was made that the UK would enter a period of lockdown to help slow the spread of Covid-19. That was when everything changed.

Under the rules of the time there were very limited reasons to leave our homes: essential shopping, medical care or exercise (once a day). At that time the schools had already closed so I knew I would be teaching remotely for the foreseeable future and as we headed into that period of working from home I knew that I would need to get out for some fresh air every day in order to stop the cabin fever setting in, making me feel sluggish and disrupting my sleep patterns. Even as I listened to the speeches from our political leaders outlining the measures being introduced, my plan was to continue to run on my usual days (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday) and to take a walk on the other days so that I would get outside. But as the country awoke in lockdown on the morning of Tuesday 24th March and I headed out for my run, I began to think differently.

I enjoyed that run. I had been feeling very anxious for a few weeks as I followed the news of how Covid was spreading, fearful of what that might mean. But with firm measures in place I felt much safer as there was a new clarity around what to do. Yes, there would be lots to learn when it came to how to continue teaching without the traditional face to face model; yes, going to get my weekly food shopping would cause some anxiety; yes, I would miss social interactions, but I vividly remember thinking that so long as I could run, I would feel ok. And as that particular run came to an end, I began to wonder what would happen if rather than walking, I ran again the next day, and the next, and the next…

What would happen if I tried a run streak?

What happened is I ran for 365 consecutive days and have no plans to stop. Today, as I mark one year of my #accidentalrunstreak I want to reflect on some of my main takeaways from the experience.

  1. Running every day actually IS for me
    I’ve always considered myself an injury-prone runner and the number of injuries/niggles I picked up through the first decade of my running are testament to that. For this reason, I’ve always shied away from run steaks. I thought running every day would be a one-way ticket to injury and when I observed others taking part in streaks such as Marcothon, RED January and other similar initiatives, I saw broken people dragging exhausted bodies through their daily runs and wishing for the month they committed to to be over. Why would I want to put myself through that? But as I began my streak I made the decision that I would stop if it became apparent that running every day was causing me issues or I felt an injury brewing. By listening to my body, building up gradually and backing off the distance/intensity when I needed to, I soon adapted and found that I was craving my daily run rather than resenting it ike those I had observed. Even today, one year on, that hasn’t changed.
  2. The human body is amazing
    Observing the adaptations in my body in the first weeks of the streak was fascinating. It took until about day 5 or 6 before I began to feel the effects of running every day, but actually that manifested as a tired heaviness in my legs rather than anything untoward. I kept the distance short and the pace slow for a few days to allow my body a chance to recover, and as I came out the other side of that initial weariness I felt stronger, better adapted to running every day. It was like my legs caught up to my brain in realising that this was what they were doing each morning and got on board with the plan. I had run several marathons before and my legs had carried me through weeks of focused training and increasingly lengthy runs, but this was something different to adapt to and I remember thinking how amazing it was that rather than continuing to feel weary, my legs found a new energy and settled into this new routine.
  3. If I want to do something badly enough I will find a way
    As my streak continued I began to make some decisions. I had set myself clear “streak rules” (minimum of 30 minutes – the length of time I need to get my points on my Vitality Fitness Rewards policy – or 5k per day) but built in an “exceptional circumstances” fallback position of just 1 mile to keep the streak alive. Out of 365 days, I only used this fallback twice, on two consecutive days when I travelled (unheard of these days!) to Disneyland Paris in August, that moment in time when the world was a little more open. Knowing that I had a super early start on the day I travelled, but unwilling to let my streak end over one tricky day, I ran laps around the block to complete one VERY early mile before heading off (the following day was also one mile as I was conscious of having had a long day on not much sleep, with another busy day ahead). Similarly, when we returned to school in August I didn’t want to end the streak, in fact I thought I would find it mentally helpful, so committed to getting up early, as I had been doing previously on my running days, to fit my run in before work. I still knew that I would stop if it was becoming untenable, but by this point I knew that I wasn’t going to make a decision to stop the streak, rather it would be stopped by outside forces such as illness, injury or a change in restrictions that would mean I was no longer able to get out to run. Stopping would have to be taken out of my hands – I even worked out what I would do if I was told I would have to self-isolate but was actually well (up and down the garden path!). In the same way that I wouldn’t want to skip a meal or skip sleep, I didn’t want to skip a run. That’s how much a part of my life it had become.
  4. I feel better for the whole day when I start with a run
    I think the main reason I have no desire to stop the streak is how it makes me feel. Before Covid there were two days in the week when I was getting up a bit earlier to run. This meant different alarm times for different days – running days, non-running days and weekends. Looking back, I don’t think that was really a good idea. Far better to have a regular alarm, at least on work days, and running before work every single day helped to even that out. Even when working from home, I was still tied to the bounds of the school day so my time felt very structured. The same is true when I am travelling to school for a more “normal” day, I just have to get up a little earlier than when I have worked from home. At the beginning of the school year in August there were actually two days when I was unable to run before work because of the weather – really stormy with significant flooding and on one of the days there was still thunder and lightning around so it would actually have been dangerous to run. On both occasions the forecast was much better later in the day so I delayed my run until after school and I really noticed the difference in how I felt all day. It was like I didn’t wake up properly: my mind was less alert, my body felt sluggish and I just had this sense of being “off” all day. Starting the day with a run wakes me up, gives me a chance to reflect on things I need to do and the endorphins to send me into the day feeling positive, with a bit of oomph to get things done. It may be a bit of a shock to the system to get up on a dark winter morning, but by the time I get back from my run I feel ready for anything!
  5. Pace really doesn’t matter
    It’s easy to get bogged down in numbers and stats, to compare ourselves to past triumphs and feel down when a run feels hard even though we are actually moving more slowly. But when you get out there every day, you can’t expect to be running fast all the time. I learned quite quickly that my best runs come later in the week, especially on Saturday mornings, when my legs will have had more time to recover from a longer Sunday run and, certainly in the case of a Saturday, I’m better rested so there’s more of a spring in my step. I’ve learned to be more appreciative of the time out there in the fresh air and forget about pace. Ok. so I’m probably running a bit slower right now than I was this time last year, but I also have no specific event to target and I know that at any time I could tweak my training to include specific speed work and get a bit of pace back if I wanted to. I have to ask myself why I am running: is it to be faster, or is it because I actually just enjoy running? The past year has overwhelmingly been about the joy of the run, with little regard to pace.
  6. Even when you run every day you can still cycle your training
    Related to that is the idea of how I approach each run. A traditional running week would have a mixture of easy runs, hill runs, speed sessions and long runs. A training cycle, especially in preparation for a marathon, would go through a period of building mileage and intensity, followed by a period of cutting that back to allow for adaptation – this is where the body reaps the benefits of that hard training. But how do you do that when there are no days off? From the earliest days of the streak when I consciously kept the pace and intensity down while my body adapted to the demands of running every day, I realised that there would have to be some light and shade in my running. Heading out the door every morning to run the same route at the same pace might tick the box of running every day, but it’s not very exciting and offers no real scope to stretch distance or pace. My running would stagnate. Instead, I began to create a pattern in my week which developed into a rolling cycle of training. Monday remains a recovery run since I have my longest run on a Sunday. Tuesday-Friday are still at a fairly easy pace, but with the option of including some form drills, fartlek work or hill training on a Thursday to mix things up if I want to. Saturday is my faster run as I like to record a 5k (not)parkrun and then the cycle comes back around to my Sunday long run (anything from 8-14 miles, but mostly 10 miles – it’s a good distance). The work week actually looks like a bit of a “pyramid” in terms of distance, something like 3.5 miles – 4.5 miles – 5 miles – 4.5 miles – 4 miles. This lets me build a little distance up to the middle of the week then pull back ahead of the speed and longer distance of the weekend. Across a series of weeks I will build in the same way I would for marathon training: 3 weeks of gradually increasing long run distance followed by a cutback week where I drop mileage and keep the pace easy all week. I’m not a coach, nor am I qualified to tell you how to structure your training, but I AM qualified to know what works for me and after 365 days I think we can safely say that this does. Of course I can play around with things a bit, run a shorter distance if I’m feeling tired or otherwise not at my best or stretch things out if I’m feeling good and I don’t have to be anywhere any time soon, but having this pattern has really helped me as even though I might stick to similar routes, I’m not always doing the exact same thing.
  7. There are a surprising number of new routes and challenges to try
    I’ve never particularly minded covering the same route over and over again. There can be something quite comforting in knowing where you are, what the terrain/elevation ahead looks like and the precise distance to complete the route. But that’s not to say I don’t also enjoy finding new places to run. When we moved into our house 5 years ago one of the great joys at first was having a different starting point for my runs, so even familiar loops would feel a little different as they would start and end at a different point. These days I often stick to familiar routes; I like to have a distance in mind and know precisely where to head to cover it. Yet when you’re out there every day, sometimes it can be fun to have something different to do in order to mix things up. Whether that’s a new route (something I did at the weekend), running a familiar loop in reverse (that one can feel a bit odd) or a fun challenge, it’s surprising how many different ways you can find to add a little interest to a run. Over the past 365 days I have taken part in virtual events, themed my running tops, hit new mileage goals, played “postbox bingo”, spelled words using the first letter of street names, taken part in scavenger hunts, created homemade running events and am currently ticking off a daily bingo card. Wearing a particular colour of top or taking a photo of a random object may not show up in the stats, but these have been the things that have made my running fun, provided a focus when the world has felt like Groundhog Day and connected me to a community even though I’m running solo. They are the things that add depth and colour, create stories and form memories. I can recommend it!
  8. I can run in (nearly) every kind of weather
    When you run for a full year you will inevitably encounter all sorts of different weather – sometimes in the same day since this is Scotland! Having considered myself a runner for over a decade, encountering various weather conditions is nothing new, but in the past I might have shifted my running schedule around if the weather wasn’t looking too great. This past year I didn’t give myself the choice. Other than those stormy days in August where heading out would have been reckless, I have run in sunshine, rain, high winds, fog, snow, ice, very hot weather, freezing weather and many combinations of the above. As it turns out, the old adage “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing” is true. And as a side note, if you plan to run every day it’s a good idea to have enough kit to see you through a week in a variety of weather conditions. It really takes the pressure off on laundry! Oh, and laying it out the night before really reduces the mental fatigue of figuring out your kit in the morning – I leave mine in the bathroom to make things even easier when I roll out of bed.
  9. I’m much happier in shorts!
    But with all those weather conditions, it turns out that my happy place is when I can run in shorts. I remember the days when I would spend chunks of the year in full length leggings or capris, afraid that I would be far too cold in shorts, but these days I much prefer my running shorts. People often think I’m mad and assume I must be freezing (I’m not), but my arms are far more likely to feel cold than my legs, so it’s not unusual to see me in shorts and a thermal top! So long as the temperature is above freezing, I’m probably out in my shorts. Thinking about it, I’m not sure why that’s become my preference. Maybe I feel more free. Maybe I can more easily fool myself that the weather is good. Maybe I’ve just become one of “those people” who switch to shorts at the earliest possible opportunity and refuse to go back – like switching the heating off and leaving it off until winter rolls around again. Whatever it might be, that month or two in winter when it gets far too cold for shorts is probably my least favourite of all since it takes so much kit to get me out the door – nothing beats shorts and a T-shirt for ease of planning!
  10. Sometimes the journey really is more important than the destination
    Perhaps most important of all is the fact that there doesn’t need to be a goal race or other arbitrary target for a run to be worthwhile. This wasn’t entirely new to me as I had already cut back on the amount of racing I did as just wasn’t feeling a need to be in a constant train-race-recover-repeat cycle. I was picking events based on what I felt they might add to my life, such as Run Disney events, or because they offered an interesting experience. Of course it has been a year now since racing was even a possibility and while I know I WILL go to in-person races again, that really isn’t what’s motivating me right now. As I hope I’ve made clear throughout this post, my motivation is coming from the fact that I enjoy pulling on my shorts, lacing up my shoes and getting out in the fresh air. The next time I choose to race it will be a fun bonus rather than the reason I run, and that’s an important distinction.

And there we have it. 365 days and 1938 miles later, I find myself feeling a range of emotions: proud of what I have achieved, shocked that my body has held up to running every day, disheartened that the world around me has not changed that much in all that time and excited to see how the streak continues to unfold.

Here’s to the next 365 days…!

Week In Review – The Corona Chronicles Part 50

March brings with it some interesting stuff. First of all, week 50 of my posts tracking life in Lockdown/under Covid-related restrictions. Week 50! That means we’re coming up on a year since life bore any resemblance to what we previously knew as normal (I’m not a fan of the term “new normal” – I know we will likely make choices to change some aspects of our lives, but there are far more things that we would hope can return, races and parkrun being just a couple of those which involve face-to-face human contact). But March also brings with it Spring and the hope of better days ahead, even if that just means more daylight and the chance to enjoy the outdoors without freezing to death (well, that can still happen, but we can’t be too far away from warmer weather!). Finally, I have a new running-related challenge (and fun virtual event) to occupy me through the month. Read on for the details!

Monday – 3.5 miles + Hatha yoga via Zoom
Tuesday – 4.5 miles + living room workout + home yoga
Wednesday – 4.5 miles + home yoga
Thursday – 4.5 miles + living room workout + home yoga
Friday – 4.5 miles + walk after work + home yoga
Saturday – 6.5 miles
Sunday – 9 miles

Like February before it, March began neatly on a Monday – fresh start for a fresh week. I’m part of the Facebook community associated with the Tough GIrl Podcast and for March we were challenged to run a mile a day. Since I’m already running every day that was pretty straightforward for me, but to go alongside that we were given a bingo card to tick off. There was the option of coming up with our own challenges to add to a blank card, but that was a step too far for me around work right now (I just don’t have the additional brain capacity to be creative), so I decided to stick with the pre-prepared card and make one or two minor adjustments where necessary:

To start, I took the path of least resistance and crossed off “listen to a podcast”. My running time is when I like to listen to podcasts. I’m happy to run with nothing, but to make good use of my time I like to tune in to a running or Disney podcast while I run, so this was an easy starting point.

The rest of the day was pretty productive, then after work I took a walk up to mum and dad’s since it was dad’s birthday (a milestone one this year – to be properly celebrated later) and I needed to drop off a present and card. I was able to chat to my parents for a bit (at a safe distance) before heading back home, where Steve had been occupying himself with baking another cake, which we had after my yoga class. It was intended as chocolate fudge cake but there was a little over-cooking of the ganache so the filling resembled cinder toffee. It tasted good but we referred to it as “questionable cake” for the rest of the week 😂

Still keeping things easy, I ticked off “head out west” on my bingo card after my Tuesday run since it fitted well with the route I was running. Much more exciting was the arrival of my new laptop that evening (fortunately AFTER I had done my workout and yoga so I didn’t get distracted from them), so I got the initial setup and transfer of info underway, but knew I would need to wait a day or two before starting to use it for work since the adaptor I had ordered to connect my external drives hadn’t arrived yet. In some respects that was probably a good thing as it gave me a bit of time to make sure it was all set up the way I wanted. Actually very easy since Apple tends to make things like that pretty straightforward and there was little for me to do other than wait while my laptops worked through the process.

For my Wednesday run I planned to head down to the river and take in the view of the bridge. I’ve done that quite a few times now but that view is basically what you see on postcards of Perth so I was counting that as my “run to a local landmark”. I ended up with this picture:

Given that it was a bit of a grey start, it did the job, but I was slightly disappointed as Steve had run down there a little earlier than me and not only were the lights still switched on, but the sky was a beautiful colour and the water was a flat calm. His picture, about half an hour earlier, looks VERY different!

It just shows how it can be worthwhile to get out the door a bit sooner!

I actually felt really tired at the end of that day so decided to skip my workout (not something I often do) and do some gentle yoga instead. I felt much better after that so it was definitely the right thing to do. I then settled down to finish off my book. I really should have read this one long ago, around when I read Chocolat, as I really enjoyed it, especially the sensory descriptions.

When I got up on the Thursday I was still feeling a little sluggish and had no idea what I was going to tick off on my bingo card, but as I was choosing my kit I spotted my pink Run Disney top so decided to tick off “wear pink” this time.

Despite feeling a bit tired as I ran, I actually had a productive work day. It was World Book Day so I was encouraging discussion of books in my live lessons and some of my juniors had a fortuitously timed reading period, so it was really enjoyable.

A fun surprise came at lunchtime. Steve has really been looking after me well as his working day is much more flexible than mine so I have often come downstairs to find he already had my lunch underway. On this day I could smell something different cooking and it turned out that having set out to make some bread (not unusual for Steve) he had also decided to make some garlic pizza bread to go with our lunch. It was yummy!

I felt much better that evening so my workout was back on. We had been continuing to focus on my hip flexors since it was clear that this was the area needing work again. Working from home and being on my feet less has made such a big difference and that needs to be counteracted.

Continuing with my strategy of crossing off all the easier bingo squares first, on the Friday I headed off in the opposite direction to my Tuesday run to cross off “head out east”. Nothing special, just a pleasant morning run.

Having made sure that everything was set up ok on my new laptop, this seemed like the ideal day to switch over to it for work. My live lesson commitments were fewer, with the main one being my senior class who I knew would be much more forgiving if something wasn’t quite right (I had my old laptop handy and ready to go just in case!). Of course it was all fine and I enjoyed my day working with the new machine. I had been asked by a colleague who has been running loads of CPD sessions during this Lockdown to write a piece about some of my experiences so I turned ny attention to that for lots of the day – ably assisted by Smokey who seems to think he is now an expert on teaching via Teams!

Rather than a workout, Steve and I headed out for a walk after work then I did a little yoga before dinner. Rapidly nearing the end of my Marvel project, it was the first part of my Avengers double-header to complete the Infinity Saga. It was great!

Then it was Saturday – and a much more exciting Saturday than I’ve had in a while! Steve had received an email from the Paris half marathon which usually takes place in early March but this year, like almost every other big race you can think of, is planned for the autumn. However they had come up with a great (and free!) virtual event for what would ordinarily have been race weekend: to cover the distance “en duo”. With the aim of getting people back into running again, the idea was to split the distance between two people (it didn’t have to be an even split, but we did divide it 50/50) and run at any time over the race weekend. The pairs didn’t have to run at the same time, they just had to sign up and link their race accounts together then the whole thing was tracked via an app.

I was already looking forward to just having a slightly different focus for my Saturday run and since I was pretending to be in Paris, I opted for appropriately themed running attire.

But when Steve set out I realised that the app was designed to give a pretty immersive experience. I got an alert to let me know he had started his run then a further alert every kilometre, with time and pace – a bit like real-time tracking of a live race. It also told me when he was finished and gave me his time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The app also had maps in it. I had the option to see where Steve really was but also to switch to a map of Paris so I could see where on the actual course he would be. Pretty cool.

When I was ready to go I had my first issue of the day – my Garmin was dead. Oops! I really should have charged it the day before.  I fished out my old one in the hopes that it would be ok but there wasn’t much charge in it either. Still, I thought it might hold so gave it a go. I knew my run was being tracked in the app so the watch was just for me to record my miles and clock a time for my (not)parkrun that week. The watch ended up dying shortly before I finished the 2 miles I count as my warmup, so I timed my (not)parkrun and cool down using the Strava app on my Apple Watch instead. Once my Garmin was charged I was able to retrieve what it had recorded so I could create a manual entry using the average pace it had recorded (I already knew what the distance would be since it was my usual route and actually that ended up giving me a time comparable to what I normally run for those opening miles). In the grand scheme of things it’s not that important, but I like to have an accurate record of my mileage so I’m glad I had a way to work around.

Since I had the event app open to record my run, I got to find out what the runner experience was like using it and I was pretty impressed. Just like when Steve was running, I was getting alerts every kilometre to let me know how I was doing, plus at both 5k and 10k there was a verbal alert letting me know where I was. This had clearly been put into some kind of translation system since I got a “sat-nav” type voice in my ear, but this was immediately followed by a better recorded message in French congratulating me on my progress. The “sat-nav” voice also told me when there was 100m to go and congratulated me by name for finishing. My route actually meant I finished my distance at the bottom of the road rather than outside my front door, but since Steve had received the message saying I was done he was looking out for me arriving. Later I was able to go back into the app to see a kind of “fly by” video of my run which was pretty cool. The app also had a selfie frame built in for a post-run picture. I had to get an appropriate prop for mine!

You could download a finisher badge too.

I actually really enjoyed this so took the chance to tick off “run for fun” on my bingo card. I’ve taken part in lots of virtual races but mostly the kind where you go at any time you like and submit evidence to receive a medal. This one may not have had a medal (there were spot prizes but we weren’t lucky enough to win anything) but the app functionality made it feel much more connected and as close to a live event as we can probably get right now.

After all that excitement the rest of the day was pretty chilled, mostly with Smokey camped out on my lap while I started series 2 of The Crown!

i also had a quick doorstep (and distanced) visit from my mum who was dropping off some leftover chicken for the kitties and some homemade banana and nutella muffins for Steve and I. They were yummy!

The Sunday was much more low key. I actually felt quite flat on my run so despite being able to tick off “run in the sunshine” I actually made the decision to cut the distance back a bit – I think both my body and my mind were needing it.

I took advantage of the opportunity to finish up another book – the third in the series of crime novels set in 1970s Glasgow which I have been reading this year.

Then in the evening the rather bittersweet moment of watching the last episode of WandaVision. I really enjoyed the whole series and might go back and rewatch it some time to see if I can spot any details I might have missed.

And with that, my week drew to a close.

What’s the best virtual event you’ve taken part in over the last year?
What could you tick off easily on the bingo card?

Week In Review – The Corona Chronicles Part 49

So here we go. Gearing up for the second half of term to take us up to the Easter holidays and closing in on one year since we first went into nationwide lockdown in March of last year. My daily/weekly habits are fairly ingrained now and I’m beginning to suspect that as things (eventually) begin to open up, it will be quite hard for me to adjust after all this time. Here’s how my fitness activities looked this week:

Monday – 3.5 miles + Hatha yoga via Zoom
Tuesday – 4.5 miles + living room workout + home yoga
Wednesday – 5 miles + living room workout +home yoga
Thursday – 4.5 miles + living room workout + home yoga
Friday – 4 miles + living room workout + home yoga
Saturday – (not)parkrun sandwich
Sunday – 10 miles

Monday began, as ever, with a recovery run. With a long weekend just finishing I was conscious that I had been sitting around a lot which is not unusual in the current online teaching scenario, but there’s a difference between sitting “properly” at my desk and curling up in my comfy chair. At a similar point in lockdown last year I began to notice some discomfort in my right heel which was linked to the way I was sitting and was resolved with some targeted movements and a bit more thought to how I was sitting throughout the day. Over the weekend I noticed the same thing happening in my left heel so Steve helped me to work out the best way to work on hip and ankle mobility to overcome it. It’s not something that stops me running (in fact it actually feels much better when I run) but I will have to remember to keep working on it so the discomfort fades quickly.

In better news, Steve undertook another baking experiment and we had Venetian Zabaglione cake to enjoy after yoga and dinner. It was a delicious accompaniment to the final episode of Finding Alice.

My heel definitely felt better on Tuesday morning and I headed off for my run as usual. It was a bit drizzly, but nothing to bother me and having noticed how light it was for my run the morning before, I made the decision to put the high viz away until next winter (although I wore a jacket with reflective details so wouldn’t have needed it on this day anyway). Spring is round the corner!

Since it was making a clear difference, my workout that afternoon was all about hip and ankle mobility. I can feel the range of movement returning in my ankle and the work on hip flexors has already been making a difference to how I feel when I run.

Less good news on Tuesday was confirmation that there will be no Magic Run Weekend at Disneyland Paris this year. The 2020 event was postponed and everyone was hopeful it could happen this year, but sadly not to be. I’m not surprised by the decision, it’s just another of those things where the official word makes things a bit real and that reality is not what we wanted to hear.

After my evening yoga we settled down for dinner and tv. A new series of Unforgotten just started and we made the decision to watch the first episode even though we would have a week to wait until the next one. It’s been a while since we’ve had to do that as we’ve been watching things we could just watch right through as soon as we started!

Wednesday did not get off to a good start with the early wake-up call of a cat bringing up some of a hair ball (the “main event” followed the next day but at a more acceptable hour). Why must these things always happen at anti-social hours? This meant I headed out into a really windy day whilst already feeling pretty tired. Tough going in places, but it certainly woke me up!

More hip and ankle mobility was on the agenda for my workout then the yoga session on the calendar was, conveniently, one with a hip focus.

And for our evening entertainment, we started to watch It’s A Sin. Have you seen it? I spent most of it swaying between loving the characters and feeling enraged at the treatment they received. The world of the 1980s was so narrow-minded and unforgiving.

It was still pretty windy on Thursday morning and I didn’t fancy running into a headwind at the start of my run so opted instead to run down to the river and around the bridges. Steve had been down and reported that the old bridge was lit blue and white again since our local football team was playing in the league cup final at the weekend (spoiler alert: they won!). Blue and white are the team colours so it was a nice way to show support. He got these photos as it was lighter by the time I got there so no light effects.

More work on hip mobility at the end of the day. This time we tried something new and used one of the storage boxes in the living room to do some single leg squats with the other leg on the box. This attracted the attention of the cats as it was something a bit different and I ended up with Smokey parking himself ON the box while I did the exercise. It made for an interesting set! 😹

We continued with It’s a Sin that evening and I felt even more enraged about (historically accurate) attitudes being depicted as I had spent a couple of hours that day doing a training course on LGBT Awareness for Schools. It was an excellent course and following that with 1980s attitudes to the LGBT community was jarring. I know things are far from perfect now, but at least there has been some progress.

Friday brought a pretty enjoyable run. The wind had died down and with the lighter mornings it was so nice to finish in sunshine. It’s always so good to have an early run in the sunshine and those days seem to be coming.

Work-wise Fridays tend to be productive for me as I have fewer online teaching commitments so can turn my attention to marking, planning and admin. I got quite a lot done!

Fun elements in the day came from finding Smokey “hiding in plain sight” by trying to disguise himself as a teddy 😹. He often lies on the bed beside these plushes, but not normally tucked in among them like this!

I also had a Disney delivery. Carrying on with my mission to have a complete set of seasonal Mickey & Minnie plushes, I ordered the Easter versions so as not to risk them going out of stock. They’re cute!

After work we had the excitement of my latest Covid antibody test. Last time I didn’t do enough to get the blood flowing beforehand so it was a bit trickier to get my sample. This time I think I went too far in the other direction and quickly had more than enough! Mind you, it was nice to get out for a walk to post the sample off to the lab. When we got back, one last living room workout for the week.

Finally, it was time to settle down for my Friday night movie. I’m super close to finishing the Marvel MCU movies and this one was quite good fun.

The Saturday was the 50th week since parkrun paused and I had come across the idea on social media of wearing the 50 milestone t-shirt and really liked it as it was a chance to stay connected to parkrun even after all these weeks. Taking a photo of the back of the t-shirt after the run was actually quite tricky, but I managed something acceptable in the end by propping my phone up and holding a squat – tough on the legs after a run!

It was actually a really enjoyable a run. As I passed by Big Six (inspiration for my homemade “parkrun” course) the owner, my friend’s granny, was outside so I stopped to have a chat with her. She’s often at her front window and I always give her a wave as I go by. As we chatted she told me how little she’s been away from her house over the past year and that made me feel so glad that I had stopped to chat (and that I try to wave to her as often as I can). I know her family are really looking out for her and doing everything they can, within current restrictions, to stay in touch, but it really made me think about what it must be like for those who can’t have the same social interactions they were used to in the past.

Later in the day I finished series 1 of The Crown (so good!) and also had another fun delivery – my Easter book exchange books from the Facebook group I’m in. I do love these  – it’s like Secret Santa throughout the year but the chances are you will get a book or books you have on your wishlist so no nasty surprises! I was pleased with what arrived for me and am looking forward to reading them:

The Sunday was fairly standard – a longer run, food shopping and a bit of relaxing afternoon tv before an evening bath and the latest WandaVision – getting so good as the series finale approaches. A great way to close out not just the week but the month as this brought February to a close. Yet again time seems to be both dragging and zipping by! I wonder what March will have in store…

How was your February?
How are you staying connected to the parkrun/running community?

Week In Review – The Corona Chronicles Part 48

And just like that, the snow was gone. It was mad how much snow fell in such a short space of time last week, but equally mad how quickly it disappeared as the temperature crept above freezing again. Scottish weather is nothing if not interesting! It made for much more satisfactory running (and the triumphant return of my shorts – hurrah!):

Monday – 3.5 miles + Hatha yoga via Zoom
Tuesday – 4.5 miles + living room workout + home yoga
Wednesday – 5 miles + living room workout + home yoga
Thursday – 6.3 miles + living room workout + home yoga
Friday – 4.5 miles + living room workout + home yoga
Saturday – (not)parkrun sandwich
Sunday – 10 miles

The forecast for the week, while still a bit damp, promised milder temperatures than the previous week. As the week began there was a slight increase (only enough to ditch the hat!), but still quite a lot of patchy ice and snow to slow things down. I kept the pace easy and was amused that my fastest mile was actually the final one which was mainly uphill, but also on the quietest streets where I could run on the road.

On my way home I spotted what was left of someone’s snowman, basically a mound of melted snow with a satsuma and some twigs on top. I didn’t get a picture, but it reminded me of the end of The Snowman by Raymond Briggs!

As the day progressed the temperature clearly rose (hard to tell from inside) and I was fascinated to see that every time I looked out the window the snow had receded more and more. This made me hopeful of clear streets for my run the following day.

Monday ended with my yoga session via Zoom. It was the start of a new block (although realistically it all feels like one ongoing block right now since time is such a constantly shifting entity) and I enjoyed that bit of time to myself without a screen in front of me or tasks on my mind.

And eating dinner afterwards Steve and I started to watch the four-part drama The Drowning which was on a couple of weeks ago. My mum said it was gripping but we had waited until we finished our previous box set before watching it.

Waking up on Tuesday morning I checked the temperature straight away and it looked mild enough to wear my shorts – amazing!

Heading out onto the streets was a little strange as there were still a few piles of snow from clearing driveways, etc that hadn’t melted but I wasn’t at all cold. Bearing in mind the low temperatures and layers of kit last week, it was so funny to be looking at snow yet running in shorts (and regular road shoes – the winter shoes finally getting a rest!). It felt great to be able to run properly and even though I was running fairly steadily, it amused me to find that my first mile – uphill and usually the slowest – was still quicker than pretty much anything I ran the week before! It just goes to show the difference the conditions make.

That run was just what I needed. I felt great coming in the door afterwards and it really set me up for the last day of online lessons for the week. The weather actually stayed quite nice and I was treated to the most beautifully placed rainbow out my window when I returned to my desk after lunch.

I also got my “consolation prize” from the London Marathon. I always donate my fee so if when I’m unsuccessful in the ballot I get a top from them. This year’s version feels quite cosy.

We had a faculty meeting after school (a little shorter than the previous couple of weeks) then it was workout time. Of course with the improved conditions no need to rest those poor hip flexors anymore so it was a hip flexor circuit for me. It’s fascinating to feel the wearying in them as the workout goes on. I followed the workout with some yoga then we settled down for the evening. Since it was Shrove Tuesday we had thought about making pancakes (at one point we joked about “Shrove Valentine’s” but those cards hadn’t arrived yet – they did arrive the following day) but we still had some of Steve’s chocolate beer cake so decided to postpone the pancakes until Thursday (Shrove Thursday? I mean, what is time right now?).

On Wednesday morning there was rain forecast. It was a bit drizzly but by the time I was getting ready to go out (around when Steve arrived home soaking wet!) it was pouring. Somehow I struck it lucky and the rain actually stopped before I headed out the door and stayed off for the duration of my run. Incredible!

This was an inservice (inset) day at work which mostly meant meetings. Under present circumstances, a day of Teams meetings. I find all that sitting and listening really difficult, but Sooty was on hand to keep me focused 😹

My post that day brought with it a long-awaited medal from a virtual run. It had been sent to me about three weeks previously but when it didn’t show up I got in touch with the company and they sent a replacement. It’s part of the princess-themed set I have been collecting so I’m glad we were able to resolve the problem so easily. Great customer service.

Wednesday was also Random Acts of Kindness Day. I was alerted to this by a post in the Facebook group I’m in which has previously run the book exchanges I have enjoyed. To mark the day, someone started a post where group members were invited to share an Amazon wish list then pick someone (maybe even more than one) to gift a book to. I thought it was a lovely idea as you could pick a total stranger, click through to their list, choose a book and arrange to have it sent to them. To ensure the RAOK gifts were distributed fairly evenly, we wrote “gifted” below the post of someone we bought for (so as not to ruin the surprise of what we actually got them). I posted a list and immediately noticed someone above me in the thread who hadn’t been gifted a book so I clicked through on their list and organised a book for them. I actually had two people write that they had sent me a gift so I made sure to pay it forward and gift somebody else. It felt so nice to know that a couple of people would get a surprise delivered to them the following day and seeing how keen group members were to take part really renewed my faith in the goodness in people during a time when many are finding things tough.

That sent me into the evening (the start of my long-weekend for half term) in a really good mood and made the upper body workout using that more challenging black resistance band more bearable.

Since Thursday was a day off, I indulged in some reading time in bed before doing anything else. That meant it was a little later in the morning before I headed out for my run. In a way I think this worked in my favour as I felt more awake and fresh, a bit like I usually do on a Saturday. I set off with the idea in mind that a Thursday run is usually around 4.5 miles, but as the first couple of miles ticked by I realised that I was really enjoying my run: the weather was decent (still in shorts!), I had nothing to be home for urgently and I just felt good, so I decided to extend my loop and see what my distance came in at. Arriving home a little beyond 10k was perfect. Along the way I ran down to the river to see how high the water was with all the melting snow. Answer, pretty high!

With a little time available, I had a couple of projects in mind (as well as taking some time to relax) so once I was showered and changed I got on with the first couple of those: tidying up and rehanging clothes in the wardrobe and sorting out a few things around my online teaching workspace to make it a little more comfortable and convenient. This took me until lunchtime, at which point I got settled in to watch a couple of one-off tv programmes I had saved.

I also had a bit of time to finish the book I had been reading. This one was from an Amazon First Reads selection with my Prime membership and it was the kind of book which makes me feel a bit uncomfortable yet at the same time compelled to keep going until the mystery at its heart is resolved.

But just because I had a day off work that’s didn’t mean I had a day off working out! At around the usual time Steve set me up to do one of his hip flexor workouts. They may be tough but I am feeling the benefit so I guess I’ll have to put up with it! The yoga session on the calendar for this day had an upper body focus so I ended up with a pretty comprehensive workout!

A big excitement on Thursday was the continuation of the RAOK from the day before. I was thrilled to see the recipients of the gifts I picked out sharing that they had arrived and had my gifts arrive too. I set my wish list so I wouldn’t know what had been bought so it was a great surprise. Very different types of book, but I’m looking forward to them both.

Friday was also a day off, affording me another easy start with some reading in bed. The weather wasn’t looking so great outside this time so I suspected I wouldn’t be looking to extend my run. I think I got lucky again with just some light drizzle so covered 4.5 miles. That’s a little more than I would usually do on a Friday, but it’s what I planned when I set out rather than a mid-run change.

Once I was ready I decided to tackle my “to do” list of things I just needed a bit of headspace to sort out. The first task was to (try to) renew my passport. I discovered that you can now take your own photo for this (subject to some specific requirements) but as it turned out this was not all that easy. After several attempts we just couldn’t get an acceptable photo and it seemed to be lighting that was at fault. We’ll need to try again on a brighter day as all the rain and drizzle meant it was just too dark no matter what we did.

I was, however, a bit more successful with my other tasks: booking a dental checkup (I was due to go last year right when we went into Lockdown but I had received a text telling me I was now able to book – not until May, but a least there’s an appointment in the books!) and ordering the new laptop I’ve been saving for. Mine is getting pretty old now and is coping remarkably well with the demands of online teaching, but I’ve known for a while that a new one was in order. I needed to do a few things to get a discount for being a teacher – not difficult, just a little fiddly – so now I’m just waiting for an exciting delivery!

My final project was to sort out a couple of jar candles that were tunnelling right down the middle and wasting loads of wax. I’ve developed quite a thing for candles recently and didn’t want to waste the wax so I looked into how to melt it to level it out or even create a new candle with it. I had bought some wicks so just needed time to actually get the job done. Very satisfying to see the finished product!

Another satisfying thing was the arrival of some new YakTrax. My decade-old ones snapped a few weeks back (I was missing them during all that snow the week before) and although I don’t expect to need them again until next winter, I got a tip-off about a retailer that still had them in stockand when I took a look, they were on sale so I decided to grab them now so I know I’m set for next winter. I do like to be organised!

Since I was on a roll, after lunch I tidied out the wardrobe in the spare room and by the time I was done it was more or less time for my workout – the resistance band again – and yoga session.

Friday night is still Marvel night (although not for too much longer) and this week was a return to the world of Thor:

I had heard that this movie was pretty funny and I found it HILARIOUS! A fun Friday evening watch.

Having a couple of days off meant that the weekend could feel even more restful. Saturday began in an leisurely fashion with some reading in bed then I got ready to head out for my run. The weather was dull but quite mild, perfect for my usual 2 mile warm up, (not)parkrun, 1 mile cool down. I was feeling strong and it was great to be able to move a bit more quickly for that (not)parkrun in the middle. Not my fastest, but more or less back to the sort of times I was putting in back in early December (before I was slowed down by the never-ending cold snap!). One thing I did notice was that a lot of other people seemed a bit overdressed for the milder weather. I noticed some people looking at me like I was mad to be wearing shorts, but I was regretting my (lightweight) long sleeved top. It’s funny how perceptions can be so different!

Over our post-run breakfast Steve and I watched the latest episode of This Is Us (an emotional one, but then aren’t they all!) then when Steve headed off to have a walk with his brother I got on with my weekly Disney quiz on YouTube then a new (to me) series: The Crown. Yes, TOTALLY late to the party on this one, but I think I’m hooked already! I watched 3 episodes then headed off to have a bath where I watched another 2. It’s so good!

The rest of the evening was equally restful as we had dinner, watched some tv and I read for a bit again before bed. Perfect!

Sunday also began with reading and I finished up another book. This one has been on my pile for AGES (I read Half of a Yellow Sun years ago but somehow only just got around to picking this one up). Another vaguely unsettling book, with an undercurrent of oppression running through it, but I’m glad I read it as it was very well written.

And then it was time for my run. Steve had mentioned the route he was thinking of running and it was one I haven’t done in a long time. I was in need of a change, so decided to do the same and was so glad I did as I really enjoyed myself. The route features a stretch with a fairly steep hill, but by the time I got there I was in such a good mood from all the other runners I had seen/exchanged greetings with that even a hill wasn’t going to dampen my spirits!

This route also gave me a chance to see the water levels at the river again, which had risen since Thursday. Some of the floodgates were closed and land close to the riverbank was flooded.

The plan was 10 miles and I knew I would have to add on a little jaunt around the block when I got home to round it up. Just as I turned into our street my headphones died (no big deal and they had been announcing a low battery status for a couple of miles!) but then – HORROR – my watch battery died when I was right at the end of my run! Seriously, right at the end. When I plugged it in and saved my run it had recorded 9.85 miles, but I had finished my route so it would have been 10. Thankfully 9.85 was just enough to take me to 40 miles for the week, which had been my aim anyway. If it hadn’t, I might have had to charge my watch a bit then go and run around the block again haha!

But even that little hiccup didn’t spoil what had been a really good run, especially when I discovered a Strava PR on that hill!

Later on, once we had sorted out our food shop, we settled down for a couple of episodes of Finding Alice, then Steve has some things to do so I watched another episode of The Crown (when I got in my bath after dinner it was WandaVision followed by The Crown – I watched nearly all of season 1 in a couple of days!).

I finished my weekend feeling rested and ready for the next 5 weeks of teaching. It remains to be seen if that’s 5 weeks of online teaching or if we’ll be back in the school building prior to the Easter holidays…

What have you been watching on tv recently?
Do you have any forgotten running routes that you could revisit?
Ever have your watch die before you finish your run?