About The Running Princess

Teacher and runner. Always striving to be better.

Week In Review – Fun, Sun and Holidays Done!

The second week of my spring break gave me a chance to get a bit more consistent training in as part of my inverse taper, as well have a bit more fun to set me up for the long term ahead. My training ended up as follows:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 4 miles
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – 10k + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun sandwich
Sunday 17 miles

It was great to be off on Marathon Monday as it meant I was able to watch online coverage of the Boston marathon in the afternoon. If you haven’t caught it already, I suggest taking a look at the finish of the men’s race – so exciting! The timing worked out perfectly as not long after the elite races finished it was time for me to head out to my yoga class. It’s a term time class, but the new school term already started in the area where I live (they came off on holiday a week ahead of the school where I work, in a neighbouring area). I already felt pretty relaxed, but it was still good to get back on the mat and start a new block of classes.

Before heading out to the class my sister had sent me a message telling me about the fire at Notre Dame in Paris (I hadn’t seen any news since I had marathon coverage on) and when I arrived home I was shocked to see the extent of the fire and the impact on the cathedral’s infrastructure. Regular readers know that Paris is my favourite city and a very special place for me, so anything that affects Paris tends to touch my heart. I ended up watching rolling coverage of the terrible blaze for the rest of the evening as there seemed to be some doubts about whether or not the fire could be contained and the building saved, so as soon as they announced that it was under control I breathed a sigh of relief and headed off to bed.

With Paris still on my mind, I pulled one of my Paris marathon tops out of the wardrobe to wear for my run on Tuesday morning. It was a very pleasant 4 mile run on a staple route, but what really struck me was how good my legs felt after my 16 mile run on Sunday. I had commented to Steve that my legs had felt fine afterwards and through the Monday, so a run was a real test of how well they had recovered. I’ve no idea why this is – maybe the additional running that is now part of my average week has conditioned them a bit better – but even with the time I had off, my legs are recovering well from my longer runs. Whatever it is, I hope it lasts!

On Tuesday evening I went to the concert hall with my parents and sister as she had got us tickets for the production of Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw which was on. I know it’s a book I’ve read, however there is a degree of ambiguity around some of the action (and it’s kinda creepy in places – I believe it was an inspiration for The Woman in Black) and I couldn’t remember it very well as it’s been so long since I read it. It was a good production, but it does irritate me when the ending is a little too open to interpretation.

I took Wednesday as a rest day and spent the morning relaxing at home. I think I might even have watched a film! In the afternoon Steve and I headed into town since we had another code for a free coffee in Caffè Nero and I had a few errands to run. The sun was out so I walked into town and Steve joined me a little later for coffee. It’s nice to do things like that when I’m on holiday.

Thursday morning was a bit cooler again, perfect for a run. I decided on another 10k since I had the luxury of time. Nothing special, just a fairly standard run and more time on my feet to keep things consistent. That’s the most important thing right now.

I popped out again in the afternoon as I had a couple of errands that needed me to have the car (bags of cat litter are a bit hefty to carry home!) and I came back to find the kittens like this:

I then had my Ashtanga class in the early evening. Despite having all the time in the world, I was nearly late thanks to some heavy traffic but I made it in time to get set up right before class started. Yet again, I felt I was strong in Wheel but it wasn’t a good Headstand week for me (it happens!) and I only held it for a couple of breaths before I felt I was losing my balance. No big deal, I know I can keep improving it with consistent practice.

Friday was my most exciting day of the week. It began in a fairly nondescript fashion with a workout down at Steve’s studio. We’re mainly working on arms and core right now so he has been giving me lots of exercises using the TRX, hand weights and my own body weight. He varies things each week so I never know quite what I’m going to get.

After that I had a bit of time to myself, then around 3:30pm we were in the car and en route to Glasgow to see TAKE THAT!!! We got the tickets back in about September so I had been really looking forward to another opportunity to see my favourite band.

We learned the hard way that parking out at the SSE Hydro is not a good idea as it takes ages to get out of there afterwards, so now we park closer to town and walk in – it probably doesn’t take any longer than sitting in the queue to leave the venue car park and at least we are moving. This time we had a booking for a meal in town so parked in one of the city centre car parks. I hadn’t been to the restaurant we were booked at before, but the menu looked ideal for what we wanted that night and we had found a deal to save a little off the bill.

Loads of really American-style dishes on the menu – mainly burgers and ribs and things like that – so I opted for a classic burger and it was really delicious.

Appetites satisfied, we walked along the River Clyde out towards the Hydro as I was keen to get there in time for the support act: blast from the past Ricky Astley (yes, I am old enough to remember him from back in the day!). It’s only about a half hour walk (if that) and on arrival I headed straight for the merchandise stand to get my tour T-shirt and programme before finding our seats in the auditorium.

Rick Astley is, of course, best known for the song which gave rise to this meme:

And of course he saved it for last, at which point everyone in the place leapt to their feet to sing and dance along. It was brilliant!

Take That were, as ever, amazing. Their shows are always so theatrical and this was no exception.

They even had ACTUAL LULU for Relight My Fire!

I loved it!

Post-show we joined the throngs walking back into town, headed to the car and drove home. A late night but totally worth it. It was only when I woke up the following morning that I realised that’s 2 years in a row I’ve seen Gary Barlow on the exact same date: last year to was his solo tour which visited Perth and this year as part of Take That. I’m perfectly happy to set aside the same date next year for another evening with Captain Barlow 😂

Needless to say, I was not feeling at my freshest on Saturday morning but I knew a run would soon wake me up. I opted for another parkrun sandwich and was delighted to find that the forecast of good weather for the Easter weekend was true – I even got my shorts out for the first time this year! To put that in context, on Tuesday evening it was pretty cold as we were returning to the car after the play and on my Thursday run I wore leggings and a lightweight long-sleeved top to beat the chill, so this warm weather was a big increase in temperature for us.

Despite my tired body and the warmer conditions, I actually ran fairly well and ended up less than 20 seconds slower than last week. I expected to be much slower than that! As an added bonus, one of the local churches has a running group which is at parkrun most weeks and it being Easter, they had a little post-run treat for all the runners.

I was a little concerned about it melting on the way home, but also couldn’t face eating chocolate and then running a couple of miles, so stuck it in my Spibelt (I looked like I had a hernia haha!) and hoped for the best. I can confirm that when I ate it later in the afternoon it was perfectly fine, having been out in the fridge as soon as I got home.

After our usual Saturday routine of breakfast with Steve’s brother and getting the food shopping, I decided the weather was too good to waste sitting inside (who knows when we’ll get this again – it is Scotland after all!) so slapped the sun cream on and spent the afternoon reading and dozing in the garden. It was lovely.

I also looked at the parkrun photos from the morning and discovered I had been upstaged by a gorilla. Not something you see every day!

Photo: Roy Mitchell for Perth parkrun Facebook page

Sunday was my last chance for an “inverse taper” run before the marathon next weekend and I had originally planned to run 18 miles, however the weather was still warm and this led to me making a mistake. I really should have set my alarm a bit earlier to be out quite sharp while it was still cool, but I’m just not in the habit of that right now and I ended up going out a bit too late. I also had this kit difficulty to contend with:

The temperature wasn’t too bad when I set off, but by the time I was coming to the later miles it was getting pretty warm and that was making the run harder than it needed to be. Conscious of the need for good recovery, I cut it short by a mile. Hopefully next Sunday is a bit cooler!

And after 17 miles, the rest of the day was pretty much devoted to eating all the food! We did go out to claim our free coffee from Fitness Rewards, but with the sun still shining it seemed like the perfect week for the first Frappuccino of the summer. Delicious!

The week ahead will mean a return to work, but I will have to be very conscious of getting plenty of rest to make sure I’m ready to run on Sunday. I fully expect it to be hard work and reckon I’ll be doing well if my time is in the 4:30s (I won’t be troubling my 4:05 of last year any time soon!!) but that’s ok, as sometimes it’s about completing rather than competing. This is one of those times.

How have you made the most of the weather this week?
What was the last concert you went to?


7 Day Journaling Challenge – Day 7

I have decided to take part in a 7 day journaling challenge as a way of writing in a different format to normal. My aim is to write for about 10 minutes in response to the prompt, tidy up any typos then post my entry here. Feel free to join in…

I’m really glad this is the topic for the last prompt of the week as I had been thinking about writing an extra post to reflect on the experience. Now, it’s become part of the challenge!

This week has taught me something both about the way that I write and about the broader ideas that I have shared. Starting with the way of writing, I have learned that it’s ok to produce something a little less “crafted” from time to time. With these journal posts I simply gave myself around 10 minutes (sometimes I used less, sometimes a little more) to just write without over-thinking what I was producing. At the end of that 10 minutes my editing was limited to tidying up the typos and checking for any accuracy issues or punctuation I wanted to change. Ordinarily I spend a lot more time thinking about other aspects of my expression – I guess in the way I would expect my pupils to redraft their coursework – and while I could see a few places that I was tempted to do just that, my decision had been to make this a bit more of a stream-of-consciousness and avoid just that kind of process. In a way it was liberating to have posts written and up within about 15-20 minutes, but it’s also not something I would do for every single post as there is also a place for the more carefully crafted content. Still, it was interesting to see what happened when I wrote in this manner.

Also related to the way I wrote these was it taught me that I can post every day if I want to. I’ve often wondered in the past about posting every day during the summer holidays, for example, when I have a little more time…but I’ve never done it. This challenge showed me that so long as I have the prompts or ideas readily available (so I’m not having to come up with ideas for content every day – who has time for that!) then it’s actually a fairly quick process to come up with a post. Perhaps it’s something I’ll explore more some other time.

And now to the journal posts I actually wrote. Each day I looked at the prompt and let the idea just percolate in my brain for a little while. Sometimes I posed the questions to Steve to see what he came up with (the “perfect day” one turned into quite the discussion over lunch one day!). In writing them, I learned that while I do consider myself a pretty positive person, I am human and there are sometimes some doubts in there…and that’s fine! Generally speaking, I did know fairly quickly what I wanted to say, and the thoughts I shared showed me that for the most part I am getting things right and doing my best: I know what makes me happy, I know how to find joy in simple pleasures and I know the bigger things in life I enjoy doing so I have something in the calendar to look forward to. I also learned that when it comes to challenging myself, I have probably done a lot more than I really realised. Sometimes I think it has become normal to me to be out running huge distances and toeing the start line at marathons, and I often forget that for the majority of the population that just isn’t the case. It made me think a lot more about my why, and my why is that I enjoy challenging myself and chasing what Adriene (of Yoga with Adriene fame) calls my “appropriate edge”. In many ways, taking on this journaling challenge moved me closer to that edge, and it’s and edge I’m glad I embraced.

What have you learned this week?

Friday Finds – 19th April

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

Friday once again, and Good Friday no less. If you have a long weekend ahead, then I hope the weather is good and you have fun. I was able to watch coverage of the Boston marathon on Monday and it was fantastic, so this week’s finds will still have a bit of a Boston slant to them. Enjoy!

First up, the incredible Joan Benoit Samuelson who first ran the Boston marathon 40 years ago with a very respectable time of 2:35:15. Now in her early 60s, she hoped to finish within 40 minutes of that and absolutely smashed it with her time of 3:04 – within 30 minutes of her winning time from 1979! Just amazing!

Next, the remarkable Boston story of US marine Micah Herndon. Herndon was running in memory of 3 fallen comrades, so when his legs gave out around the 22 mile mark, he kept on going to finish the marathon on his hands and knees. The footage of him crawling towards the line is really very emotional.

The results in Boston prompted this next piece from Runner’s World, looking at the reasons why marathoners perform so much better in their 30s than their 20s. It makes for pretty interesting reading and is proof that it’s not just wine that gets better with age!

On a lighter note, I was also pleased to see my favourite Boston supporter was on duty again. Therapy dog Spencer became the subject of a viral video last year as he supported runners from the sidelines whilst wearing his owner’s raincoat (remember those awful weather conditions in Boston last year?). Well this year he was back again, proudly sporting his own wet weather gear and looking every inch as adorable as in 2018. I really hope he becomes a fixture of the event for years to come.

And finally, a little marathon-related humour from Canadian Running magazine. If you’ve run a marathon before then some of these might be familiar! Which ones resonate with you?

Happy Easter reading!
The Running Princess

7 Day Journaling Challenge – Day 6

I have decided to take part in a 7 day journaling challenge as a way of writing in a different format to normal. My aim is to write for about 10 minutes in response to the prompt, tidy up any typos then post my entry here. Feel free to join in…

This one is an interesting prompt as it assumes a recognition that we actually know what we need to hear: sometimes what we need to hear might be hard, but for our own good; other times, we need a reminder that we are enough and are doing our best. So what do I need to hear right now?

To be honest, I think I probably need a bit of positive reinforcement, to be told, “you’ve got this!” Why these words? I suspect there are several reasons.

First, I’m just one short week away from running marathon number 12 and thanks to a challenging winter of coughs and recent illness, my training just hasn’t been what I hoped it would be. That said, I’ve done enough to get me round and I’m happy to accept that this one just won’t be fast for me. But with a good number of marathons under my belt, I also know how hard it can feel in the latter stages – especially when you’re a little undertrained! – and a reminder that I CAN do it is much appreciated!

Second, next week is the beginning of a new school term. It feels like ages since I was at work since I was unwell right before the holidays and the start of term always brings with it a degree of shock to the system as it’s so easy to fall into holiday habits like getting up a bit later, making more time to read, taking life at a leisurely pace, and so on. It’s in the holidays that I begin to understand what retired people mean when they say they don’t know how they ever had time to go to work! The start of a new term is definitely a good time to remind myself that I’m perfectly capable of returning to a more “normal” routine and getting on with things. Heck, I might even enjoy it!

Further to that, I’ve got many busy weeks of work and exam marking ahead of me. Despite my recent disappearance down a YouTube rabbit hole which took my head off to the summer and my Florida trip, there’s a lot to be done before that becomes a reality and I know there will be busy and stressful moments to come. Given that last term left me feeling a little broken, it’s definitely on my mind to be wary of the weeks ahead and to make sure I look after myself a bit better. Towards the end of every term there is always a point where I doubt how much longer I can keep on going, so I am reminding myself that I’ve done it before, I can do it again, and the summer will be here (hopefully) before I know it…

Generally I am a very positive person, but I wouldn’t be human if the occasional doubt didn’t creep in. At those times, especially on the cusp on a new and busy term, I really do need to hear those magic words:

“You’ve got this!!!”

What words do you need to hear?

7 Day Journaling Challenge – Day 5

I have decided to take part in a 7 day journaling challenge as a way of writing in a different format to normal. My aim is to write for about 10 minutes in response to the prompt, tidy up any typos then post my entry here. Feel free to join in…

…“Everything is possible”

Before I met Steve, my life was pretty different. I had been going through a difficult time and sort of lost myself along the way. But in getting to know Steve he began to show me a different mindset, one of relentless positivity and trying new things, because why not! Whenever I asked if he thought I could manage something that was new or different for me, his response would be to tell me that everything is possible. And soon I came to believe him.

Believing that everything is possible meant that I could change my mindset from marathons are only for superhumans to marathons are for people like me. It allowed me to go from slowly shuffling out 5k in the park, to finishing my first marathon…in Paris! As a celebratory gift to myself, I bought a new iPod nano and had “everything is possible” inscribed on the back. Because by this time I believed it to be true: Everything is possible.

Believing that everything is possible meant that when I had an ongoing injury in 2014, I agreed to the opportunity to try cycling instead. I hadn’t been on a bike since I was a kid and only had an old mountain bike, but I had it serviced, started cycling regularly, acquired a road bike and completed 3 sportives: Everything is possible.

Believing that everything is possible meant that I could shift my routine around to become a morning runner rather than an evening runner. I had previously thought there was no way I would get up early to run before work, and I certainly didn’t think that I would run very well first thing in the morning, but after all these years I’ve now been running in the mornings since October and feel that my running is better because of it: Everything is possible.

And it was believing that everything is possible which meant I committed to this journaling challenge – something completely new to me – in the first place and pledged to take 10 minutes out of each day this week to free-write then post my thoughts here. I’ve actually been pleasantly surprised by the results: Everything really is possible.

When I saw this prompt this morning I wasn’t immediately sure what words I would choose, even though I was fairly sure of the sentiment, but then I started my day with a cup of tea and the last few pages of my book. What were the final words in that book? Why, everything is possible, of course. It was meant to be!

What words would you like to live by?

7 Day Journaling Challenge – Day 4

I have decided to take part in a 7 day journaling challenge as a way of writing in a different format to normal. My aim is to write for about 10 minutes in response to the prompt, tidy up any typos then post my entry here. Feel free to join in…

It’s been a while since I was a teenager, but I work with them every day and am often reminded of what I was like at that age. I look at the young people in front of me and think about how they have their whole lives ahead of them to try new things, to make mistakes and to grow. Sometimes I feel a little envious of that – and then I remember all the drama, angst and pressure that came with being a teenager and realise I’m much better off where I am now!

Teenage me would no doubt be desperate to know how my life would pan out – what would I achieve at university? Who would my friends be? Where would I live? What job would I have? Knowing what the future will bring has been a temptation throughout history, and yet, as a lifelong fan of Back to the Future, I also know that it’s dangerous to know too much about your own future. What if striving so hard to make things work out the way you wanted actually caused the complete opposite to happen? It would be a catastrophe!

Instead, I would tell my teenage self to relax and stop worrying. As I’ve said in a previous post this week, the universe is on our side and is working for us rather than against us. The things that we are supposed to have will come to us, and those we aren’t will pass us by. Everything happens for a reason and even though we may feel disappointment, there is always a larger plan in play. I would tell myself to carry on as I am, to make my choices knowing that I’m making the best decisions I can at that time. We can never know how thing will work out and there’s no point in regretting things we did or did not do in our lives. What would that achieve? Instead, accept that even when things don’t work out as we planned, that had to happen in order to lead us to better things, to achieve what we want to achieve and meet the people who will support us and love us as we deserve to be supported and loved.

Above all else, I would make sure I knew it was ok to make mistakes, ok to change my mind about what I want to do and ok to try new things. Make the choices that will bring happiness, because life will bring plenty of tough times along the way.

Sound life advice. I’m just not sure if teenage me would actually listen!

What one thing would you say to your teenage self?

7 Day Journaling Challenge – Day 3

I have decided to take part in a 7 day journaling challenge as a way of writing in a different format to normal. My aim is to write for about 10 minutes in response to the prompt, tidy up any typos then post my entry here. Feel free to join in…

As my eyelids bat open I can already feel that things are going to be perfect. It’s early, yet I wake naturally having rested well in this comfortable bed with its soft pillows and beautiful duvet. Flinging open the shutters, I’m greeted with a perfect view of the Eiffel Tower at the end of the boulevard – just like in the movies!

I pull on my favourite running shorts and a top, lace up my trainers and head out for an early morning run along the banks of the River Seine. The city is beginning to stir and the only people around are the municipal workers who hose the streets down every morning so everything is clean and fresh for the day ahead. I greet other runners with “bonjour” until I begin to feel like provincial Belle from Beauty and the Beast!

Post-run, a lovely hot shower with one of those rainfall heads, then I dress, gather the things I need and head for the station, picking up fresh, warm pain au chocolat and that lovely strong French coffee along the way. 

After mere minutes in a TGV carriage I arrive at Marne-la-Vallée, home of Disneyland Paris. The sun is out, there’s not a cloud in the sky and yet it’s still quiet. Plenty of people to give atmosphere, but not so crowded that I have to sharpen my elbows.

Passing effortlessly through the entrance turnstiles, I walk forward to be greeted by my favourite view – a princess castle, an array of characters to meet, balloon sellers and groups of happy, smiling people. There is music playing and the smells of food drifting from vendors along Main Street.

My first port of call is to buy a pair of Minnie Mouse ears – it’s my rule to buy a new pair for each visit and my collection is growing. After that, it’s time to explore, chatting easily with cast members as my French is flawless today – every verb conjugated to perfection and every tense correct.

Thanks to the lack of crowds, I can walk onto my favourite rides with next to no wait and I easily get fastpasses to take me straight on to those big ticket rides. Every ride photo shows my face full of joy as the adrenaline is pumped around my body and I’m so happy I could actually cry.

I snack on pastries and enjoy a Mickey Mouse-shaped ice cream. Dinner is a character dining experience where all my favourite characters come to my table and pose for photographs. The food is delicious and is accompanied by a nice glass of wine – it is France after all!

Souvenirs purchased, rides completed and appetite satisfied, I find the perfect spot close to the castle to watch the fireworks. From where I’m standing, nobody can get in front of me to spoil my view by hoisting their child onto their shoulders (it was the same earlier in the day when I found the ideal spot to watch the parade) and I gasp as the fireworks fill the sky, choreographed to music which blends both French and English lyrics, and accompanied by the most wonderful projections onto the castle. It’s like a movie screen and every inch is perfect.

When the last fizz, crack and pop of the fireworks has faded away, it’s time to turn my back on the castle and make my way towards the exit. But I don’t have too far to go as this night will be spent in a sumptuous room in the Disneyland Hotel, right by the entrance to the main park. The room will be decorated in exquisite taste, but with a Disney twist and as I settle into my comfortable bed, feet weary in a way that only a satisfying day in a theme park can create, I smile to myself, remembering the wonderful memories I have created and looking forward to the wake-up call I will receive from The Big Cheese the following morning before another magical day in the happiest place on earth.

What would your perfect day be?