Friday Finds – 21st July

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.

Happy Friday! I’m back home and a little jet lagged, so this week’s Friday Finds is going to be a random selection of stuff I found while I was away. Here we go…

It’s fairly well established that I’m partial to a running-related stat, so I’m going to begin this week with a post from Women’s Running crunching the numbers in marathons and racing in general. My favourite stat in here is the rise in number of female participants, particularly in the US, which is something I’d love to see happening everywhere.

Next, a story which came to my attention a couple of weeks ago when the Diamond League athletics took place in London. Olympian Tom Bosworth set a new world record for the 1 mile race walk. His time? 5:31:08. Yes, you read that right. Bosworth race walked a mile faster than I could ever conceive running one. Absolutely amazing!

At the other end of the spectrum from top end athletics is the novelty race. You know the sort of thing I mean, they usually take the form of crazy fancy dress, being chased by “zombies” or consuming food/drink mid-run and trying desperately hard to keep it in your stomach. Bridging the gap to some extent is Brian Oliu, whose article for Runner’s World describes how the mental challenge of translating his grandfather’s book about running led him to the physical challenge of taking up running himself. In this particular piece he describes his experience of the Krispy Kreme Challenge and how he found himself particularly talented in this kind of event.

Of course baked goods are probably not the best fuel for your next endurance race, but that itself is an area of competition which has changed over the years so I found this next piece from Outside really interesting. I had previously come across the fact that once upon a time runners fuelled with alcohol (something which I’m sure made for some interesting stories!) but I had no idea how comparatively recently products like energy gels came to the fore. Something to think about next time you rip one open!

And finally, if you enjoy seeing runners poke a little fun at themselves then check out this parody rap video by Arizona-based runners Ruairi Moynihan and Miguel Moreno. Very clever and it made me smile.

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Week In Review – Having a Magical Time

It’s been a full week of holiday fun, but there’s still been some room for running and working out. As ever, I’m linking up with Jessie @ The Right Fits and Jess @ Jess Runs ATL to share my week. I hope you like lots of photos as this week’s post has loads! Of course with being on holiday the pattern was a little different again. Here’s how it broke down:

Monday – 5k
Tuesday – short workout @ park
Wednesday – Epcot
Thursday – 3 miles
Friday – shopping!
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – Disney Springs

We began the week with our second “club run” (dad calls us a running club when we have our holiday runs together!). It was the same 5k route that we did on our first morning last week, but I was feeling a little sluggish so took it at a steadier, more even pace. UntitledAfter a dip in the pool to cool off we had breakfast then I got myself spruced up for an excursion. There were a few errands along the way, but our destination was Dsney’s Grand Floridian where Steve and I had reservations for afternoon tea in the Garden View Lounge. We parked at the Transportation & Ticket Center (TTC) to use the resort transportation. Mum and dad were heading to the Magic Kingdom for a couple of hours (they have annual passes) while we went to the GF. Since we had plenty of time we decided to get the ferry over to the MK together, then Steve and I took a resort launch to the GF. Untitled UntitledWe had a bit of a walk around the resort then checked in for our reservations. Not long after we ordered, there was an announcement that Cinderella and Prince Charming were going to come down the grand staircase and our server told us we could head on out to see them. Untitled Untitled UntitledOnce back at our table, our champagne had arrived (along with my rose from Princess Aurora’s rose garden), followed by our first course – fruits and cheeses – and our tea. My chosen blend was Perfect Afternoon. Untitled Untitled UntitledAfter that we were brought sandwiches and the tier with the scones and our chosen desserts – pastries. If you ever get the chance to do this, I definitely recommend it as the food is amazing. Needless to say, we just opted for a snack that evening as we were pretty full of delicious treats! Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled So as not to “overdo” things, we had a much quieter day planned for Tuesday. Steve and I decided to get up and head out for an early workout – a jog of just under a mile down to the playpark where we used the equipment there to create a workout. UntitledWe started with some core work in press-up position but with one leg raised on the step up to the slide. A bit like a one-legged mountain climber to work on knee drive. Untitled UntitledWe also used our old favourite the seesaw for some balance. It certainly makes squats interesting! Untitled UntitledThen we ran home by a different route which took us around the development rather than back the way we had come. It’s about 1.5 miles and provides a bit of variety. UntitledOnce home I spread my yoga mat by the pool again and happily worked through some of the Ashtanga sequence in the morning stillness before breakfast, then it was a relaxing day reading and snoozing by the pool until it was time for dinner. Chicken salad. UntitledWednesday had us back to the excitement of Disney. Ages ago dad pointed out that it was 25 years ago this month that we had our first family holiday to Florida. 25 years? I surely can’t be that old! At the time, it was billed as a “once in a lifetime” trip, never to be repeated, but I don’t think there’s been a year since that my parents haven’t been in Florida at some point, and of course now they have a home here which makes it much easier for all of us. To mark the occasion, it was decided that we would have a family day at the first ever Disney park we visited – Epcot. Thinking back, it sure has changed in 25 years!  To really go for it, my sister organised reunion-style tops for us all to wear as we walked around the park and we wore those “I’m celebrating” buttons  as well. Obviously this meant we had to get some group photos to remember the day. UntitledHighlights included FINALLY getting on the Frozen-themed ride not just once, but TWICE, enjoying some adult beverages (prosecco in Italy and a frozen margarita in Mexico) and re-visiting old favourites like Test Track (where my hair seemed to have a mind of its own in our ride photo!) and Soarin’. I, of course, couldn’t resist my signature jumping shot with Spaceship Earth as the backdrop, as well as a couple of yoga poses. Anything goes in Disney, right? UntitledUntitledUntitledUntitledThursday was a little more sedate after such a long day. Steve and I got up for a run, but dad needed a lie-in so our running club was down a member. We created our own route – an out and back along a route where we knew there was a Strava segment! – which totalled 3 miles. I had woken up with some tightness in my upper back and although it was ok running, 3 miles was enough for me at that point. UntitledWe spent the rest of our day relaxing by the pool, reading and snoozing on a sun lounger before a dinner of my mum’s slow cooker mince. Lovely! Untitled

Friday started a little sharper as mum and dad had appointments with their hairdresser so Steve and I were dropped off at the nearby outlet mall for some shopping. We probably went round all the shops about 3 times (with refreshment breaks along the way!) and came away with a few bargains. Untitled

Since we were out all day, dinner was leftovers from Thursday.

On Saturday we had another early start as we were going for our first ever bit of international parkrun tourism. That’s right, we FINALLY made it to Clermont waterfront parkrun. We even got dad to register for his barcode and join us in the run. It was a great experience and I’ll write a separate post about it as soon as I get time. UntitledPost-parkrun we treated mum and dad to breakfast at IHOP then we had plans with my sister. First we headed off for a little more shopping. There’s a small nearby complex with some shops we’d not so far visited and were keen to go. After that, we were Disney-bound. First, some mini golf at Winter Summerland, a festive/beach-themed place. We played the winter course first then stopped for a quick refreshment before going around the summer course. Despite my beer I was super-consistent and got the same score on both courses. Maybe my golf is improving at last! UntitledUntitledUntitledWe then headed over to the Animal Kingdom Lodge. It’s not a resort I’ve visited before but my sister’s friend spent a couple of nights there last week so she had been over to use the pool and have dinner. I was fascinated by the fact there were animals right outside the hotel windows! UntitledWe also toasted marshmallows over the campfire and had a poke around the gift shop (it is Disney after all!) before our dinner reservations at Boma, an African/Indian inspired buffet.

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I was hungry, but was conscious of the huge breakfast that morning. I still managed soup, salad, ribs with sides and a selection of the amazing desserts, along with seemingly endless glasses of Jungle Juice. It was brilliant! Untitled UntitledUntitled

I was so tired when I got home that I was pleased to have a chance to sleep a little later on Sunday morning. We did have Disney plans though, and late morning we piled into the car to head to Disney Springs where they were having a “Christmas in July” theme. I never get to see Disney at Christmas so was super excited for this! Untitled

Apart from some shopping, the real highlight was meeting summer Santa – red shorts, Hawaiian shirt and red Converse high tops. It was great!

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We also enjoyed a Snowflake Margarita as our afternoon refreshment.

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And took advantage of some Photopass opportunities.

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Once the money was spent (you’re welcome America!) it was home for dinner. This time mum had some pork sitting in a marinade all day so it was delicious. Note the sprouts – Christmas in July lol!

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What a brilliant week! Only a few more days of the trip left, but you can expect another update on our adventures in next week’s post.

Christmas in July: yes or no?
What would be your ideal Disney day?

Friday Finds – 14th July

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.

Since I’m on holiday (or vacation for my American friends) I thought this week’s Friday Finds could be devoted to one of my favourite holiday pastimes…running!

If running whilst on a trip is new to you, Women’s Running weighs up the pros and cons of some of the common tips given to travelling runners. I’m lucky that I’m not the only runner in the family so it’s easy to set time aside, but being in a hot, humid climate means I do switch from my usual evening runs or leisurely starts to pretty much rolling out of bed into my trainers to avoid the harsh conditions later on.

If you’d like to take things further and turn your trip into a runcation, then Runner’s World is here with some great tips to help you get the most out of your trip. After several trips involving running or racing, I can definitely recommend the idea.

Inevitably, sometimes we have to travel right after an event, leading to muscles seizing up (I’ve definitely thought longingly of the emergency slide when faced with a set of airline steps!). To help, Triathlete magazine has assembled some tips to help with recovery whilst stuck in a car or plane.

One of the difficulties I face in heading to Florida is the huge difference in temperature and humidity. Running in hot weather can slow you by up to a minute a mile as your body has to work harder to keep you cool. Studies have shown that becoming better acclimatised makes more of a difference than pre-cooling the skin, leading to the suggestion of a hot bath before a hot weather workout. Now that sounds just about crazy enough to work!

And finally, travelling to run or race can lead to some great stories to tell afterwards. A rather disconcerting incident involving a Paris marathon portable toilet and some raisins springs to mind, as does the additional security check I was once treated to thanks to my suspicious looking HRM! If you want more like that, Women’s Running has gathered together a few. Do you have any to add?

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Week In Review – We’re All Going on a Summer Holiday!

To be honest, I’m still not 100% sure what day it is – being away from your normal routine will do that to you! – but thought it would be fun to continue my week in review posts while I’m on holiday so I can share what I’m up to. As usual, linking up with Jessie @ The Right Fits and Jess @ Jess Runs ATL.

I didn’t leave for my trip until mid-week, but the preparations for going and a different routine away from home meant this week’s schedule looked a little different:

Monday – swim
Tuesday – rest
Wednesday – flight
Thursday – 5k run
Friday – rest
Saturday – 5k race
Sunday – rest

Monday went pretty much as normal workout-wise.There was no work so I took a walk to the gym for my usual swim and had one or two errands to get ready for going away. Most importantly I had my nails done so they were “holiday ready”!

UntitledTuesday was a bit busier so “rest” really is a bit inaccurate! The day began with a trip to the cattery with The Boss so that she is looked after while I’m away. A bit harder for me this time due to her health conditions, but I know the owner will look after her very well and she’s in the best possible hands away from home. Once she was safely delivered, I did some tidying around the house and got my suitcase packed ready for an early start on Wednesday.

UntitledWe were away around 5am on Wednesday to give us plenty of time to park the car, transfer to the airport, check in and make our way through security. Once in the departure lounge we had plenty of time so got some breakfast and wandered around a bit until it was time for our flight.

UntitledWe were flying first to Newark Liberty, clearing immigration there then connecting to our flight to Orlando where mum and dad were waiting to collect us and take us to the house. It was a pretty long day and mum had one of my favourites – bolognese – ready in the slow cooker so we could eat almost as soon as we got in. After that we pretty much headed to bed and enjoyed being in a horizontal rather than seated position after all the hours of flying!

UntitledOf course we awoke quite early on Thursday but had already organised with dad that we would go for a 5k run around 7:30 am (while the temperature is still comparatively “cool”). What with dad just returning from running after his recent op and Steve still weary from his half Ironman on Sunday, I soon found myself running ahead by myself. It’s hard to maintain a fast pace in the Florida humidity and the hours of travel soon caught up to see me fade in the last mile where Steve, whose legs had apparently woken up, passed me. It was good to get my legs moving again and set me up for the rest of the day.

UntitledThe first day of the holiday is always a run followed by heading out for breakfast. We went to a nearby IHOP for some pancakes which were amazing! After that mum and I always go to the day spa for pedicures while Steve amuses himself with catching up on news etc in Panera next door.

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Toes ready for public consumption, we then hit a nearby outlet mall for a bit of shopping until it was time to head home for dinner – leftover bolognese 🙂

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Friday was much more restful. I began the day by spreading my yoga mat out by the pool for some sun salutations, then largely lay by the pool reading, snoozing and soaking up the sun for the rest of the day. I did, however, head out for some walks to make sure I moved a bit and wasn’t completely sedentary! Dinner that night was some delicious chicken with lemon and capers. I do love my mum’s cooking!

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UntitledWe were up early again on Saturday to head over to Clermont for the Cool Summer Mornings 5k, which I already wrote about. Again, the afternoon was spent lazing by the pool and reading until a late afternoon storm forced us in. Dinner was ribs with baked potatoes (I’m going to share a lot of my meals while I’m away, partly so I have a record of them and partly because who doesn’t love a bit of their mum’s cooking?).

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UntitledSunday was another restful day. Steve and I took a walk in the morning before breakfast (pretty much always watermelon, toast and coffee when we’re here) then settled by the pool to read and snooze. This is how I like to reset and recharge after a busy school year, and although we have some plans in the days ahead, beginning with some lazy, restful days really helps. Oh, and dinner was turkey. Mum plans her meals well and cooks a lot from scratch. Yum!

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UntitledAfter the first few days of my holiday being kind of busy at the end of last week, it’s been great to spend a few days relaxing. I’m ready to do a few more interesting things in the week ahead, which I’ll share (along with some food photos!) in next week’s review.

What’s your favourite thing to do on holiday?
Any book recommendations for my lazy, poolside days?

Race Report – Cool Summer Mornings 5k July 2017

Locals are describing the Central Florida weather as “steamy” right now, but that didn’t stop us from heading off on our now-annual trip to Clermont for the July race in the Cool Summer Mornings series. (You can read about my previous experiences of this race: 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016)

Cool Summer Mornings 5k

The race begins at 7:15 am so it was a 5:15am alarm so we could be on the road at 5:45 – “we” being your Running Princess, Steve and my parents. My sister was supposed to be joining is but ducked out as she had managed to get a fastpass for one of the new Avatar attractions at Disney and didn’t want to miss out.

We arrived around 6:30am and got a parking spot not too far from packet pickup then as usual we headed along to get our race packs and took them back to the car to get organised. We got stuck in a long queue to get our packets this year which was odd as normally it’s a quick in and out. Once organised there was enough time for a “comfort break” before heading over to the start line. I was standing with dad and just before the race start they played a version of the national anthem suitable for a race with the theme Rock’n the USA, then it was time to race.

Cool Summer Mornings 5kCool Summer Mornings 5k

The route is an out and back along the shores of Lake Minneola and the setting really is beautiful. Unfortunately I don’t really notice it too much while I’m running as the humid air saps all my energy! The start was a little crowded so I hugged the side and set off rather quickly in order to get some space then maintained what I knew to be far too fast a pace for the conditions. When my Garmin bleeped to tell me my first mile had been completed in less than 8 minutes, I knew I would pay for it in the last mile!

Cool Summer Mornings 5kI knew Steve was ahead of me and was able to see him at the turnaround. I then gave dad a wave as he was a little behind me this year (this was just his third run since he had an op a few weeks ago). I saw mum a bit further on as she was enjoying her walk, something that really seems to be encouraged here as a way of getting more people active.

There was a water station and since it was so hot I grabbed a cup to take a quick mouthful then pour the rest of the icy water down my neck to cool me down. My pace had slowed to a more sensible 8:19 in the second mile, but I knew the last mile was going to be a tough one as it’s into direct sun with very little shade or shelter. After working hard to that point, increasing my heart rate and getting warmer, I knew this would be the point I would have to dig in.

And that’s exactly how it was.

It’s strange how a distance I’m so familiar with, that I run every week can feel so hard, yet in hot and humid weather the energy is just sapped as your body works harder to keep you cool. I was conscious that I was getting slower and slower, but did manage to find a last spurt of speed when I saw the finish gantry come into sight to finish with 25:23. I was about 20 seconds faster last year, but was in slightly better form so I’m happy enough with that.

Cool Summer Mornings 5kOnce over the line I was handed my medal and an ice cold bottle of water, while my timing chip was taken. I then headed straight for the cooling tent to get my temperature back down while I sipped my water.

Cool Summer Mornings 5kOnce we were all finished we headed over to the food tent where I collected a hotdog, watermelon, banana, pastry, granola bar, crisps, a can of soda and a beer. We then enjoyed sitting on a bench in the sun until it was time for the awards.

Cool Summer Mornings 5k
Cool Summer Mornings 5k
Cool Summer Mornings 5k

Sadly no award for me this year as my category turned out to be super competitive and I came 5th. In order to place I would have needed my best 5k time of the year – not happening in this humidity! However Steve won the masters prize and dad, despite not being in his best form, took second in his age group.

Cool Summer Mornings 5k

Despite not winning a prize, I was rather intrigued by my study of the results later on. Out of 514 finishers, a whopping 336 (65%) were female, which supports all I’ve read about the growth of female participation in the US. In my category alone there were 54 women (the biggest field in any of the age groups) and I was 5th (56th finisher overall, 18th female). Even the oldest participant was female – a sprightly 80 years old – and as the only one in her age group, she left with a prize. Awesome! It’s fantastic to see such huge participation from women and definitely something I want to see continue. Everyone was really friendly and several participants chatted to me as we milled around waiting for the awards.

Cool Summer Mornings 5k

This will be our only race during our trip this year (next week we’re going back to Clermont for a bit of parkrun tourism!) and it made for an enjoyable morning.

Cool Summer Mornings 5k
Cool Summer Mornings 5k

Friday Finds – 7th July

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.

I’m in a different time zone this week so if you were expecting this post a bit earlier – sorry! Despite travelling (and generally being unsure of what day it is) I do have a few articles to share with you this week.

First, the results published on Women’s Running of an interesting study into finish times in American runners. I’ve noted before that studies have shown a “slowing down” of runners in general, and have heard this on a number of different podcasts. Presumably this has to do with the rise of mass participation and more people taking part who would not be considered “elite”. What’s notable from this study is that the slowing is NOT a result of more female participation, but it does seem to correlate with the increasing weight of the population at large. This study is solely about US runners and it would be intriguing to see if it held true in other parts of the world as well.

These days we often come across information about companies offering to analyse our DNA and provide information about our athletic potential. But does this actually work? I read with interest this piece from The Guardian in which the writer delves a bit further into this topic.

I don’t have a Fitbit, but I do use a tracker and am becoming more and more interested in sleep patterns. I’m convinced that most of the time I don’t get enough sleep, and the results of a recent study into Fitbit users seems to confirm that I’m not alone, with the average user getting less than 7 hours per week. We seem to exist in a world where not getting enough sleep is revered, but this is not healthy and I for one am aware that I need to do something about this.

I also enjoyed this piece from Outside looking at how we know when we should stop running competitively and the impact that decision might have on us. Is it all about times? Is it about injury? How can we give up something that has been a huge part of our lives? I’m sure it’s something many runners of different ages and abilities ponder from time to time.

And finally, we all know the running commmunity is incredible, and this was once more demonstrated when a runner in the process of moving house had a huge number of medals stolen from her. The running community swung into action and she has been reunited with a number of her medals already. If you need a feel-good story then this is the one for you.

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

7 For 2017 – Half Way There!

Wow! Halfway through the year means it’s time for another check on my 7 goals for 2017 to see if I’m on track and what progress (if any!) I’ve made since my quarterly check back in the spring. Theoretically I should now be half way to achieving my goals…

  1. Set some new race PBs
    At this point in the year progress on this one tends to be at a bit of a standstill. I already have my new half marathon PB under my belt from the Inverness Half, but have only run in one further race since the Paris marathon (and I didn’t really race that one). My main target remains a marathon PB and I will be taking on the Loch Ness marathon at the end of September to have another go at this one. Hopefully my marathon training will also result in a new 10k PB later this summer as well…
    Progress: 1/3 achievedIMG_7263
  2. Run my 100th parkrun
    This one is all about consistency and I have been really consistent with parkrun this year. The only weeks I have missed have been planned (one when we were in Paris and the two following weeks while I recovered) and I have now completed 82 parkruns. That means I have to run 18 in the second half of the year to reach my goal which, so long as I continue to be injury-free (cross your fingers!), is achievable even with further missed runs whilst on holiday and after Loch Ness. As a bonus, my monthly pacing duties also have me on track to earn my 25 volunteer T-shirt before the end of the year as well 🙂
    Progress: On Track
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  3. Maintain my Step Goal Streak
    I set two goals here. First, I wanted to reach a full year of meeting my daily step goal target (a mini-challenge I set myself during the summer holidays last year then continued with when the school year began). As of the first of July, I achieved that. Next, I wanted to complete a full calendar year of hitting 10,000 steps per day. With over a year of meeting my goal (initially it was less than 10,000 per day) under my belt already, this looks achievable. Getting my 10,000 steps per day is now a daily habit and I’ll write a separate post soon with some of the details of how I achieve this.
    Progress: Partially Achievedfullsizeoutput_1e8a
  4. Read at least 30 books
    According to Goodreads, where I am tracking this goal, I am 3 books behind schedule to reach my target. However with the school holidays upon us I know I’ll read lots more – especially when I’m away on holiday – so will easily get ahead of this one again. I am currently reading my 12th book of the year, and it will be interesting to see where I am with this one by the end of the summer.
    Progress: Needs Attention
  5. Make more time to relax and prioritise rest during the work week
    I actually did quite well with this one during the first quarter of the year, however in recent weeks I’ve probably not given this as much attention as it deserved. A combination of marking exam papers and trying to finish everything off before the end of the school year meant I often found myself pushing on through when I should really take a step back and rest. This was abundantly clear when I found myself needing a 2 hour nap one Saturday afternoon, and I’m certain the niggling tightness I’ve experienced in my right leg recently has been my body’s way of getting me to slow down and take a break. The summer holidays will give me a great chance to recharge, then I will need to make sure that I prioritise rest right from the start of the new school year so that I remain well-rested rather than playing catch-up when it all gets a bit too much.
    Progress: Needs AttentionIMG_1870
  6. Commit to more yoga outside of my weekly classes
    I’ve finally taken control of this one and thanks to my Tough Girl 100 challenge to complete at least 10 minutes of yoga or mobility work every day, I’m finding some time for a bit of yoga each day. I still have my Ashtanga class on a Thursday evening (Saturday morning Hatha is finished for the summer) and on the other days have been using a mixture of Jasyoga videos to help “reset” particular parts of my body that feel like they need attention, and Yoga with Adriene videos which I have found enjoyable. I’m looking forward to spending even more time on this over the summer to help create a useful daily habit.
    Progress: Much ImprovedIMG_1992
  7. Blog more consistently
    My target was to publish at least one post per week in addition to my Friday Finds post as I was conscious that in busy periods of 2016 there were a number of weeks when Friday Finds was all I produced. But in 2017 it’s so far so good. I’ve actually managed to publish all my Friday Finds posts on Fridays (no late ones so far) and have published a Week in Review post every Monday. Most weeks have had one further post, although this did tail off a little towards the end of term. Now that I’m on holiday, you can probably expect to see a bit more from me and I’ve plenty of ideas in my drafts ready to work on…
    Progress: On TrackIMG_1529

Overall I’m pretty happy with my progress towards my goals so far. One or two things have lapsed a little recently, but the next few weeks should allow me to sort that out and get everything fully back on track.

How are you getting on with your goals for the year?
Any yoga video/app recommendations for me?

Week In Review – The Final Countdown!

I made it! As I write this the school year is over at long last and I’m settling into “holiday mode”. Read on for a bit more about life and training in the last week of term as I join Jessie @ The Right Fits and Jess @ Jess Runs ATL for their weekly linkup.

As usual, I followed my established routine for the week (for the most part):

Monday – swim
Tuesday – bike reps @ the gym
Wednesday – run
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – rest

On Monday I was feeling pretty exhausted. My brain was fried from the demands of the year, especially my recent exam marking which is enjoyable but takes a lot of brain power. I was also a bit daunted by everything I had to do in order to move classroom before the end of term. Getting into the pool for some gentle lengths was exactly what I needed, and I took it fairly easily as my whole being has been screaming out for rest! My swim always makes me feel refreshed though, so it was a worthwhile visit.

Admittedly, the last thing I felt like doing on Tuesday was a set of bike reps, however I also knew that this was the last set of reps before heading away on holiday and a repeat of last week‘s set. The knowledge that it was the last one and that I had successfully completed the same workout the week before gave me enough motivation to get to the gym and work my way through the reps. Finishing felt like such an accomplishment! After hitting the mats for some stretching and mobility work, I headed to the sauna to relax and unwind for a bit.

Last week I skipped my Wednesday run partly to allow the tightness in my right leg to settle and partly because I had a prior commitment. This week my leg was much better, but it still didn’t seem like the best idea to be doing a set of hill reps. Instead, I decided on a short run, but somehow getting myself home from work and organised for a run seemed to take forever. I was definitely procrastinating, but knew a run would make me feel much better. I told myself I could either run a 2.5 mile loop or a 3.5 mile loop – one meant turning right at the bottom of the road and the other left. Of course as soon as I got to the bottom of the road I was settling into the run and turned left for the 3.5 mile loop. This left me feeling energised for the remainder of the evening.

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Thursday was the day I had been waiting for – the end of term! It was a half day and I headed into school knowing that I could get the classroom move sorted out quite quickly. I had already packed up the contents of both my classroom and the one I was moving into, so simply gathered a crack team of movers (pretty much any pupil who turned up in my classroom!) and got the whole thing done really quickly. I still have to go and sort out where I want everything, but that can wait until later in the holidays.  By the time we finished up at lunchtime I had already taken over 7000 steps just from marching up and down the stairs with boxes! I spent the afternoon getting a few things organised at home before heading to my Ashtanga yoga class. I LOVED the class this week. I don’t know if it was that end of term feeling or if it was something else, but it just felt really good. I mentioned it to my teacher who said that she had felt it too – like everything just flowed really well that night. I guess sometimes you just get classes like that. Whatever it was, it was such a nice way to begin the holidays.

On Friday morning I had intended to sleep a bit longer, but my body had other ideas, pre-programmed as it is right now to wake early. Still, being up gave me the chance to do some tidying and organise my life a bit before heading to the gym to relax in the hot tub and sauna before taking care of some pre-holiday errands. A relaxing day made that night’s meal with Steve even more enjoyable!

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Saturday was in some ways a little different. Steve headed off to Edinburgh to get organised for his Ironman 70.3 the following day, while I headed to parkrun where I was the 27 minute pacer. Once more I was a little fast, finishing in 26:46, but I know I helped some people so that was great. It was a really busy parkrun and we got a new attendance record of 295 runners!

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After getting showered and changed I walked to the hairdresser for my holiday haircut and reached my step goal on the way back home. That brings me to a full year of reaching my step goal and that makes me really happy. More about that in my forthcoming update on my 7 goals for 2017.

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I also took delivery of the medal from a virtual race I had signed up for. Wonder Woman is ALWAYS going to sell it to me!

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The rest of my day was pretty relaxing, then Steve arrived home (complete with sliced hand from a sharp rock he got up close and personal with whilst checking out the swim course!) in time to eat then he had to get the last of his gear ready for an early start on Sunday.

I declined the chance to leave with him at 4:30am (!!!), instead getting a couple more hours of sleep all snuggled in with the cat. We had worked out that there was little point in me being at the swim start as it would be so hard to actually spot Steve or work out what was going on and much more interesting to watch the bike and run. After some checking of various options, I got the first train to Edinburgh at 8:50am and walked the short distance to the finish area at Holyrood Park (where the 5k and 10k of the Edinburgh Marathon Festival take place).

I arrived just in time to see the first finisher cross the line then battled for a bit with the online tracker to try and work out where Steve might be. In the end I discovered that there were some problems with that tracker and found another one that was a bit more helpful. Having established that Steve was out on the bike course (I was afraid I might have missed his transition to the run) I watched the first female finisher as well as the podium ceremonies (I got a bit too close to the women’s one and got splashed with champagne – cue me spending the rest of the day smelling of alcohol!).

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I then made my way back over to the transition area and was able to spot Steve coming in then got some photos a few minutes later when he emerged from the transition tent.

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The run course was three laps but I sought some shelter from passing showers during Steve’s first lap then caught him on the second.

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There was then just enough time for a cup of tea (the weather had by this time completely forgotten that it’s July and I had several tops on!) before taking up my position to get a photo of his finish – a respectable 6:19:48!

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I have to say, it was a bit strange watching the event. I knew the swim had been shortened due to the weather conditions and the bike course certainly wasn’t for the fainthearted, so spent the first part of my spectating thinking NOPE, not for me. But the more I watched delighted athletes crossing the line (and of course I was watching running, a familiar discipline) the more I thought “maybe one day…” and now feel inspired to refocus on my swimming again as I feel my progress here has stalled a bit. What I’m doing complements my running well enough, but it could still be much better. Let’s see what the next few weeks bring there…

Would you ever try a 70.3 triathlon?
What sporting event scares you the most?

Friday Finds – 30th June

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.

Despite some distinctly unseasonal weather this week, summer is finally here…or at least my summer break from school! I always feel a little lethargic for the first day or so as my body realises that it can FINALLY stop and get some rest, but I’m still here to share some interesting articles I’ve come across recently in a bit of a mish-mash of topics…

I’ll start with this piece from Runner’s World on recent research into fitness and exercise. The main idea was to look into the key variable in longevity – exercise or fitness (based on VO2 max).The evidence seems to suggest that fitness is key, however those acquiring that fitness through exercise rather than genetics seemed to fare better. I got a little bogged down in some of the explanations, but it makes for an interesting read.

Some more lighthearted research came from Women’s Running who surveyed their readers to find out more about their running habits and preferences. Despite occasional evidence to the contrary, comparing my answers to those given here I seem to be perfectly normal! 😉 How do your habits compare?

One of my favourite sources right now is Outside, who regularly provide me with all sorts of interesting reading material. One that caught my eye recently was an examination of what we know as “the pain cave”. It’s that hard 5k effort that never feels comfortable; it’s racing a half marathon and trying to balance speed with endurance (something I’ve traditionally struggled with); and it’s the final 10k of a marathon when every fibre of your being is screaming to stop, but you doggedly shuffle on. Of course in an ultra the experience of the pain cave will be even longer, and this is what prompted the writer to pen this particular piece.

A slightly different pain can come from losing a segment on social app Strava – heck, seeing an ominous graph telling you that you’re “trending slower” over a route or been beaten by a rival can do it too. Personally I love Strava as it gives me a place to share my runs and progress free from the eye-rolling of non-running friends, but I’m equally aware that an obsession with the app can go too far. Total Women’s Cycling has therefore created this handy guide to help you work out how healthy your relationship with the Strava world is (although I think it’s perfectly legitimate to consider a complete stranger who holds a segment – or beats yours – a sworn enemy lol!).

And finally, I know I’ve mentioned cat yoga before, but what about yoga/pilates with KITTENS?! Watching the video in this article (and, frankly, knowing what I’m like for chatting with every cat I meet on a walk or run) I think I would have to be forcibly removed from this studio at the end of the class (and have my pockets checked for “stowaways”!). Someone near me needs to start a cat/kitten yoga class soon…

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Week In Review – Are We There Yet?

The last full week of the school year (the final week is shorter as we finish on Thursday lunchtime) was a busy one with a day out of school on a course, a school show to see, and the initial preparations for a move of classroom. What with all that and my decision to ease off on running for a few days to help settle the issue in my right leg, I feel like I didn’t train as much even though realistically I only missed one midweek run! As usual, linking up with Jessie @ The Right Fits and Jess @ Jess Runs ATL for my weekly roundup.

Having already made the decision not to run midweek, my schedule looked like this:

Monday – swim
Tuesday – bike reps @ the gym
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 4-5 miles

The week began with me out of school for a one day course. Next session I’m going to be taking on the role of supporter/mentor for a probationer teacher and needed to attend a training course to learn more about the role and the various things that need to happen for that probationer to become a fully registered teacher at the end of the year. The course itself was really interesting, but I must admit that at this point in the year it was an awful lot of new information to take in and the room we were in was pretty warm. Still, I did have the additional advantage of being able to head straight home afterwards rather than get caught up in anything else so was in the pool by 5pm swimming my lengths. It did feel really refreshing after being so warm all day and I felt much better when I got home so decided to head out for a walk after dinner (it was a lovely evening and I still had some steps to get to reach my 10,000 target!). I’m so lucky to have this practically on my doorstep:

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On Tuesday I had 20 reps of my bike intervals to do. Regular readers may remember that each cycle goes up to 20 reps before changing, so this is the peak of the current cycle. I chose the same bike as last week and started out very interested to see how my leg would feel. Interestingly, this week’s 20 reps felt easier than last week’s 18, so clearly the extra rest made a difference, which I found encouraging. I then followed this up with some mobility work and stretching before squeezing in a quick sauna to finish off.

Wednesday’s rest day came at quite a fortuitous time as I decided this would be the day that would best suit me to go and see our school show, Billy Elliot. We have been very lucky to get the rights to stage the schools’ version of the show and are the only school in the country to have the honour. Two boys were cast as Billy and performed on alternate nights so each had two shows. I have to say, I knew we had some talented pupils but watching the cast sing, dance and act to highly professional standards was phenomenal. They were in turns funny, dramatic and emotive, with me almost in tears at one part. It was just amazing and I felt so proud of them all, but particularly the ones I knew from my recent senior classes who have grown into fine young people ready to move onto the next stage of their lives. Sob!

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I’m incredibly glad I had the chance to see the show, but my goodness I was tired on Thursday after the later night! Thankfully I had my Ashranga class that evening and it was just what I needed to stretch out and relax. I DEFINITELY drifted off during the relaxation this week!

Friday was another rest day. I was heading off for a post-school coffee with my colleagues and a former colleague who retired this time last year. It was a lovely sunny afternoon and we headed to the cafe at a nearby fruit farm. I really enjoyed my tea and peanut butter slice (yum) but couldn’t resist getting a punnet of strawberries to take home as well.

Having done lots of mobility work through the week to sort out the tightness in my right leg, things were feeling much improved. There was no longer any tightness at all in my calf and just a slight sensation of it around the back of my knee so I decided to go ahead with parkrun so I would have a comparison with last week. After a week off running my legs, of course, set off at a suicidal pace which I had to reign in, but there were no issues with my leg this time and I was pleased to finish in 24:15 – better than I expected and not too far off where my fitness has been recently. Very encouraging.

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Saturday Hatha yoga classes are finished for the summer, but I did devote some time throughout the remainder of the day to further mobility work so I can finally overcome this issue in my leg and get back to some longer runs. No yoga did mean I could join Steve for a post-parkrun coffee and bacon croissant though 🙂

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Since everything had felt ok on Saturday, a Sunday run was back on the agenda so long as I kept the distance down to between 4 and 5 miles. Steve set out early for his final big training session before Ironman 70.3 next weekend and I had a more leisurely start before heading out on a loop which I thought would be about the right distance. It turned out to be 4.8 miles which was perfect and my leg still felt ok when I was running so all the work I’ve been doing has clearly helped. It was a bit cloudy but I still felt warm so did all my post-run stretching in the garden – including legs up the wall, which this week was legs up the fence! I’ll not manage a run next Sunday, but hopefully things are getting back to normal for me now.

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So that’s another week over. Listening to my body and taking the extra rest has made a difference and hopefully I won’t need to miss any more runs. Fingers crossed that by the time I return from my holiday later in July my body will be ready to ramp up the training again as I get ready for the Loch Ness marathon.

How has your training been recently?
What sessions make you feel strong?

PS Did you see my posts for Tough Girl Challenges this week? I wrote a piece for National Writing Day to encourage more women to have a go at blogging and make their voices heard (you can read that here) and a piece encouraging others to take up running as part of Women’s Sport Week (which you can read here).