Friday Finds – 27th 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.

How can it be Friday again already? It feels like no time at all since I last wrote a Friday Finds post, yet here we are again. I’ve had a pretty chilled week and am looking forward to a weekend of running and yoga. Hope you have some great plans too.

Let’s begin this week by returning to the Nike 4% shoes that I included last week. Unsurprisingly, the revelation that the claims of a 4% improvement in performance may actually be true have attracted a lot of commentary, so I wanted to share a couple of other pieces I came across this week which look at the shoes from a more wary standpoint. First, Sean Ingle from The Guardian considers how fair the shoes are in terms of creating a level playing field, then Brian Dalek (I wonder if he likes Dr Who?) writing for Runner’s World discusses what is holding him back from trying them himself. Interesting food for thought.

Sticking with Runner’s World for now, and an update on a challenge I first mentioned on here back in April. Peter Thompson set out with the aim of running the entire Tour de France route and finishing ahead of the cyclists. Well he’s only gone and done it – and 3 days ahead of schedule! That’s a remarkable feat and I’m sure we’ve not heard the last of Thompson!

Speaking of challenges, those of you who are avid parkrunners may have come across this intriguing notion – 2 parkruns on the same day. Yes, it is possible in many areas to do two on New Year’s Day, but this challenge is a little more complex involving flights, the international date line and a lot of determination. Anyone up for it?

Speaking of challenges, I also came across this great idea for creating a challenge much closer to home. It’s a fantastic reminder than we don’t have to travel great distances or spend lots of money to create a new challenge – we can simply look to what’s around us and get creative.

And finally, you may have heard about the I Move London relay which is taking place this month as an attempt to set a new world record for the longest non-stop relay, but you perhaps didn’t hear about the “divine” intervention that took place a few days ago. Relay runner Max Livingstone-Learmonth chased down and stopped a purse snatcher – all while dressed as a bishop. I think my favourite part of this is that not only did our hero apprehend a criminal, but he kept hold of the relay baton the whole time. Brilliant!

Happy Reading,
The Running Princess

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Week In Review – Fairy Tales and Furry Tails

Aloha! I am back home in sunny Scotland. Missing the Florida lifestyle but still plenty of training and life moments to fill you in on (get ready for lots of photos again!). Here’s how last week worked out training-wise:

Monday – rest
Tuesday – run
Wednesday – run
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – rest
Sunday – rest

Having aborted my run last Sunday, I decided a day off on Monday would be a good idea. Most of the day was spent reading in the sunshine, interrupted only by a light lunch of soup and sandwich thins.

bmsfEwKDTuu4DQi4Y5IQ4QThen it was time to get changed ready for an evening excursion to Disney’s Grand Floridian. Months ago dad booked a meal for us all at 1900 Park Fayre (a character dining location) within the hotel for us all to celebrate my Big Birthday, so for the second time on this trip, I was required to wear a badge and pretend it was my actual birthday 😂

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c15w3ZioRkiLjwQvqcZFgQIt was a fully buffet meal and throughout it we were visited by Prince Charming, Cinderella, the Ugly Sisters (Anastasia and Drizella) and their mother, Lady Tremaine. Great fun!

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I always knew that some day my prince would come! 😂

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2+Ofxb+FTe2Hqe1aVVSJrgI made a decent go of the buffet, taking several plates with small portions of various things I wanted to try. The desserts were AMAZING!

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8avHkL%CRYy+0JY0783ZBwWhen I returned from collecting my desserts I found that I had been brought a Mickey Mouse birthday cupcake, which I asked to have put in a box to take home as there was no way I was fitting it in after everything else!

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X4FPq1kPQzOewY8X+LlN7QAs we left the restaurant there was a photo op by the glass slipper, so we got a few pictures taken.

IMG_0016
IMG_0021And then we headed outside and walked along to the jetty as you can actually see the Magic Kingdom fireworks from there and the soundtrack is played on speakers at the jetty too. We may not have been able to see the projections onto the castle, but it was still a really nice end to the evening and a fantastic (early) birthday celebration.

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IMG_8127The next morning Steve and I got up for a rather sluggish run to try and burn off some of the buffet. It wasn’t our speediest effort, but it was good to move and being up early meant I had time to get my suitcase packed before breakfast, freeing up the rest of the day to soak up the last of the sunshine.

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kwTnSn03RGSOJiLGHa70agOf course, mum made a nice lunch. This time, sausages.

x0O0+%jOTeaf7sV7a2mlPAWe had another meal out that evening as Steve and I always take my parents out on the last night of our holiday. Mum likes The Red Lobster so we headed over there so she could have a plate of snow crab legs. I’m not a massive seafood fan so opted for a New York strip steak instead.

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FyFx2fXyROmWmY4Y0myoAwAnd when we got home, my dessert was the cupcake I had saved from the previous evening. If you ever get one of those Mickey celebration cupcakes, I can tell you they’re delicious!

We began Wednesday with another run as we knew we would be cooped up on planes for the rest of the day. Our route took in another Strava segment and despite feeling tired, I scored a PR on that segment and propelled myself to second on the women’s all-time list. Not a bad effort!

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C3aQ2OUfQNSZJz3lpzUUBwSteve and I both had a free stack of pancakes to claim at IHOP so we got showered and dressed then walked around there for breakfast. We both chose double blueberry pancakes and they were delicious (although Steve had to take one for the team and eat my last one – I’m such a failure!).

yGcumllHTYmorNO527I3aQThere was a bit of time to double check and finalise our packing, then dad drove us up to the airport for our flight to Newark Liberty. During the trip we had watched the short 4-episode season of Dancing with the Stars (like a little Strictly Come Dancing taster for me!) which dad had recorded earlier in the year. All the competitors were athletes, one being figure skater Tonya Harding, so I was keen to watch the movie I, Tonya on the flight. If you’ve not seen it, it’s really good.

g49lA7OnTJaRqWT2IGJZ7gOnce at Newark Liberty we had a little time to find our new departure gate and have a snack before boarding for the transatlantic flight. This is my least favourite part of the entire process as you don’t really get a good sleep on this overnight flight. I dozed a bit but mostly read my book and relaxed (as much as I could) ahead of landing in Edinburgh on Thursday morning.

Since we arrived home first thing, we actually headed to bed to stretch out and sleep for a couple of hours before trying to spend the day as normally as possible. I was tired, but was doing ok so decided to go to my usual Ashtanga yoga class as the idea of stretching my body out after being folded up into an airline seat for hours just sounded so good – I even managed not to fall asleep in savasana! I enjoyed doing the Ashtanga sequence again as I although I did some yoga while I was away, it was always Hatha yoga using Yoga with Adriene videos.

I made it to about 9pm then went to bed and slept right through until the morning. Steve was at work on Friday morning so I got the house tidied up then got ready for the one thing that made returning from holiday worthwhile… KITTENS!

Yes, you read that right. Kittens!

You might remember me having to say goodbye to my beautiful (but elderly) cat at the beginning of the year. She was my best friend and had been with me through my entire adult life. For the past few months I’ve found it really strange not having a pet about the place (for a number of years I had two cats but the younger one went first). After the Stirling marathon, which gave me a bit of closure through my fundraising efforts, I began to feel ready for a new furry friend, but knew that I would have to wait until I got back from Florida. Still, I began a conversation with my local branch of Cats Protection and was told about a litter of kittens that would be ready to be re-homed at just the right time. We went to visit them in June and were greeted with this adorable sight – a pile of kittens!

aRrnZam3QSutneNkZuOqowWe chose two (yes, two!) who seemed to be good friends and played together a lot. We then visited them again the day I finished work for the summer so that we could see how they had grown as it seemed an awfully long wait until we got back. And finally, on Friday lunchtime, a lovely representative from CP brought them to us.

Allow me to introduce… Sooty (the wee girl on the left) and Smokey (her brother on the right). Two from a litter of four (the other two were re-homed together as well).

EZnNyD9uReyRGYVBOdH1BQBasically the rest of Friday was spent making sure the kittens were settled, playing with them and beginning to bond with them. So far Sooty has been very affectionate, with a VERY loud purr; Smokey is playing things cool but he enjoys attention and plays enthusiastically. I can’t wait to see how their little personalities develop, and just can’t get over how cute they are when they groom each other and sleep all curled up together ❤️. Apart from anything else, it’s just so good to have pets in the house again and having this time off work for the summer means I get to spend plenty of time with them before term begins.

s5g3m8%CRh2wdOC5fl+brQI should have been at parkrun on Saturday, but for the previous few days I had been aware of a niggling tightness on the outside of my left ankle so decided to skip parkrun so I could do a little work to help it to ease off rather than prolong it. And having the kittens to play with made skipping a week sooooo much easier to bear!

fullsizeoutput_2650For the same reason, I took Sunday off and stayed at home with the kittens while Steve went for his run. My ankle is already feeling much better so I should hopefully be able to try a run during the week ahead. And if I can’t? Well I have kittens so everything is ok!

fullsizeoutput_2658In many ways it’s been a funny week. It’s always strange to think that as the week began I was basically in Disney World then finished the week at home in Scotland. Stranger still (in a good way) to have new furry friends to think about, but it definitely took the edge off coming home from our holiday!

Any tricks for coping with long haul flights?
Are you a cat person or a dog person (or both, like me!)?

If you would like to help more cats like Sooty and Smokey to find a loving fur-ever home, my Just Giving page is still open here.

Friday Finds – 20th 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.

Hola! Friday once again (edit: it’s now Saturday – blame the jet lag!) and this time I’m back home in Scotland. It’s kind of weird to think that just a couple of days ago I was in the Florida sunshine! It was a great holiday and I hope you’ve had a great week. Let’s kick off the weekend with a few interesting articles…

First up, an interesting story about prize money as one ultramarathon is offering a financial incentive to set a new course record. As the article notes, money is likely to either motivate more people to enter, or provide a strong reason to train hard. But could it also lead to more underhand methods of performing well, something that so far seems to have stayed out of such events? What are your thoughts?

Related to this, Martin Fritz Huber’s piece for Outside examining why we attach such importance to time “barriers”. It’s funny how we can become obsessed with these times, whether elite or not – note that recreational runners who are close to a time e.g. 4 hours in the marathon are recorded as slowing less than others during the final kilometres. From my own experience in Stirling earlier this year, I can see how that would be true as I pushed on when in the past, with any hope of the time gone, I definitely slowed more. Times certainly aren’t important to everyone, but to those for whom they are, it’s easy to become obsessed!

And on the subject of time, I was intrigued by this piece from The New York Times about the Nike Vaporfly 4% shoes. From their analysis of Strava data, it seems that the claims of a 4% improvement in race times may actually be accurate, and for me, that could equate to shaving around 8 minutes off my marathon time! Of course that only works if a) you can actually get hold of a pair of the shoes, b) are prepared to pay the hefty price tag and c) they actually suit you, but that’s mere detail! I must admit, I’d be interested in trying a pair on to see how they feel.

Another interesting study came from the IAAF who analysed biomechanical data from the 2017 World Championships in London. It’s fascinating to read about the differences between and within athletes which lead to their success and I’d love to learn even more about this.

And finally, since it was World Emoji Day earlier in the week, Canadian Running magazine put together a week of marathon training in emojis. Sunday definitely looks like my favourite. What’s yours?

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Week In Review – Florida Fun!

I’ve enjoyed a full week of Florida fun – sunshine, running and food…as well as a visit to the playground of a certain mouse! Here’s the lowdown:

Monday – rest
Tuesday – 30 minute run
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – run
Friday – Epcot!
Saturday – parkrun
Sundayrun rest

Monday is usually a fairly easy day for me when it comes to my training, and after running both Saturday and Sunday, I decided a day off was needed. So while Steve went out for a morning run, I stayed in and did a little yoga before getting settled on my sun lounger for the day. For those keeping track of my holiday eating, lunch was pizza and dinner was my mum’s delicious curry.

C77E8A3D-BE01-4A80-9E1A-9637F9366644
2C09650B-B798-4410-9EC4-70B0374A31EBOn Tuesday it was time to head out for a run again. We were leaving fairly sharp as mum and dad had appointments to get to, so Steve and I headed out just before sunrise when it was still really hazy looking.

36D95339-DAAC-4EE1-93C0-6A8A9C1CBD42And we saw the sun coming up at the end of the road.

A7D73561-41DF-4E65-8A51-FC23B297C35CMy legs were a little sluggish, but I felt much better afterwards and ready for the day.

050C3697-031C-46D6-97B8-267C717FC717While mum and dad were busy, Steve and I took the chance to do a little shopping at the outlet mall…once we’d had a frozen mocha from Panera Bread!

E5CFD420-2457-4881-9390-09BA0543E078Lunch this time was in the outlet mall food court and we opted for a combo – mine is orange chicken and chicken with broccoli. We followed that with an iced tea by the fountain before shopping some more.

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C933C9E0-3A08-4DCB-A8B6-06C54F9D8870After all that (and another frozen mocha later in the afternoon) we weren’t wanting a huge dinner and since my parents were out, we just had a simple dinner of soup whilst enjoying the sunset.

88BB4804-D7E2-48F5-82A9-32B230C0A609I opted for another rest day on Wednesday and spent the day reading in the sunshine – more or less my perfect day! Mum made her version of chicken à la king (chicken in white sauce) for lunch.

806BF393-0CD4-493A-A179-70240465C330In the evening I did a little more yoga and then it was time for more of mum’s yummy cooking. This time, pasta and meatballs followed by ice cream with a Cadbury Flake. Oh, and another amazing sunset. Perfect.

5EFC2C08-0095-4D6C-92CB-C76ACAFFCA26
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A3D1FAC6-9EF7-4AD6-A205-3D9CEC15D2BFThursday began with another run, this time 4.5 miles. Thanks to an unusually dry week for Florida at this time of year, the humidity was much higher and we could feel it in the air even early on. It definitely makes for more challenging running conditions, but my hope is that when I get home running will feel much easier and my pace will have benefitted.

3554C524-7CBD-44D9-B1E8-F0C742B37C1BWe then had a chilled morning and light lunch of soup before getting ready and heading out for our favourite treat of the trip – afternoon tea at Disney’s Grand Floridian resort. Honestly, if you want one non-park tip for a Disney vacation then this is it. There are a variety of options (including one for children) to suit every budget and absolutely everything is delicious. Well worth it (but make sure you’re hungry when you get there!).

71068D11-856E-4751-A6E0-99EAD4F13C0C
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73A637E6-B0DB-45CB-B134-DBD1E7A6A3A2The Disney theme carried on into Friday as we enjoyed a theme park day. As usual, dad presented us with a Disney gift card by way of birthday present (basically he gives all of us our birthday present in July, even though both my sister and I have August birthdays and Steve’s isn’t until December!). We always use our cards to buy a one day Disney pass and this year we chose to have a day at Epcot.

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748BB200-7E66-4E97-AADA-99C93D6B257CSince it was technically my birthday present, I wore one of those “I’m celebrating” badges (buttons) and pretty much treated the day as my birthday! We set off sharp with my sister so had breakfast when we arrived – coffee and the biggest doughnut I’ve ever seen!

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Yeah, I smudged it. I ALWAYS smudge it!

3EA1E20C-4354-4346-A6A2-F1799BCBC555We then enjoyed an awesome day of rides, character greetings, shopping and touring World Showcase.

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22ADA1F3-B813-4C29-993D-0DB5B785200EMid-afternoon we actually nipped out of the park to head over to the nearby Boardwalk as we had heard about these incredible cupcakes which had both a unicorn horn and Mickey ears that were being sold exclusively at the Boardwalk Bakery and we HAD to have one. I was still wearing my “I’m celebrating” badge and this led to me receiving a Magical Moment when the bakery staff gave me my cupcake for free as a birthday present. I love things like that in Disney and the cupcake itself was AMAZING!

DABDE175-2A7E-4288-B998-DC49D498E355Another highlight was the dinner reservation Steve made for the Akershus restaurant in the Norway pavilion. I had been here before for breakfast with my sister years before, but not for dinner and I was looking forward to it.

53FFEA47-DDA1-4E6C-BB5C-CAD356C5A838It’s a character dining experience with the Disney princesses. You’re greeted by Belle (my favourite) upon arrival then Aurora, Cinderella, Ariel and Snow White visit your table at some point during your meal.

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2AC337C0-7099-411E-9C53-8C6A482999F3The meal itself was fantastic and actually quite a healthy option for theme park food. You begin with the Taste of Norway buffet which has salad, cheeses, cured meats and fish to create your own plate.

66A2E1E6-85B7-4959-9297-CB58AC17137AYou then choose a main course. We couldn’t decide so opted for the Viking Mixed Grill which had tasting portions of 3 of the dishes. My favourite was the salmon and if we were to return to the Akershus I would definitely order the salmon for my main course. So good!

3E2FB641-6A71-4AB7-A159-62CC60FBB7ABDessert is a sharing platter brought by your server. We don’t normally “share” in this way, but we were pretty stuffed so relieved not to have a massive portion each (besides, our server had threatened to bring another if we actually finished it lol!). On the plate was rice cream (a little like rice pudding but a creamier consistency and actually pretty good. Apparently it’s traditionally made at Christmas from leftovers), apple cake with coconut cream and salted caramel sauce, and a chocolate mousse. They were all incredible but it was definitely an effort to finish it off and we left a little of the apple cake as a sacrifice to ensure we managed the chocolate mousse!

48E6E9E4-BDD1-4978-8BD9-BB92C565566FAfter dinner we met up with my parents who had a dinner reservation in the France pavilion and we watched the fireworks together before heading home.

As a result, we weren’t at our freshest on Saturday morning but we were still up and away to head over to Clermont for parkrun. Because of another event in the park, this time we were on their alternative course which is on the mostly shaded trail within the preserve rather than on the paved path along the waterfront. I was looking forward to a different run but knew I wouldn’t be terribly speedy – I was tired, it was VERY humid even early on and the course was harder thanks to the different terrain and having a few more twists and turns.

DECDD29B-BE06-47F9-8EC7-4C69DE7DC6FAI ran comfortably hard and finished in 26:42. Quite happy with that since I had no expectations at all for this one.

D710E30B-9830-4936-A567-5D4E93ACEA28When we were at Disney Springs last weekend I bought a pair of Goodr sunglasses as I had heard loads of good things about them from US-based runners and I tried them out at parkrun (our runs during the week had been early enough that sunglasses weren’t required). I have to say, I loved them! Really comfortable, even when wearing my Aftershokz earphones, and they didn’t bounce or move around. Add to that the cool colours, mirrored lenses and $25 price tag and I think I’m a convert. Perhaps another pair next year…

F43DD606-61DC-4AE2-8A6B-5277BF4BB6B1Once home and showered, we treated my parents to breakfast at Denny’s where I chose the French Toast Slam.

7A51418E-B916-4D13-B205-DC2F748F48F5The remainder of the day was pretty chilled after a busy couple of days. I finished my book and got another one underway, then in the evening there was a really amazing sunset with some stunning colours to watch while we ate our dinner (“Christmas” ham with wedges and veg) followed by key lime pie.

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5395E1CB-7A5C-4A2A-B221-2D244EDEFB6BOn Sunday I was up and ready for a 10k run with Steve, but after about a mile I aborted the run and ran home. I was feeling pretty sluggish which I would normally push through, but I also started to feel a bit “off” with cramps so decided it just wasn’t worth the misery. Of course as soon as I stopped running I felt much better, but I’m glad I listened to my body as it was clearly telling me not to run this time (I was still gutted to miss the run though).

Fortunately, we did have plans to go to a different outlet mall so that took my mind off it. Despite battling some huge tour groups and having to stand in the most enormous queues to pay for anything, I did manage to find a few bargains so was happy with that. Lunch was a similar combo to on Tuesday but no photo this time as we were squeezed into a table and it was just too much effort. Sorry!

And the week was rounded off with the last home-cooked dinner of the trip – mum’s sweet chilli chicken with rice.

EE88B3DC-7F96-4E6B-A83B-49252D653926Sadly only a few days left of this trip now, but we’ve packed in all the things we wanted to do and have one or two things to look forward to once we’re home.

Are you still dealing with hot weather training where you are?
How would you like to celebrate your birthday?

Friday Finds – 13th 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.

How is it Friday again! If I’ve got this right, while this post is going live, I’m out enjoying myself in the playground of a certain Mr M. Mouse so I hope you’ve been having an awesome week too. Here are some bits and pieces that have caught my eye to share with you.

I think we have to start with Kilian Jornet who has been making history again. Not content with last year’s double-summit of Everest, he has now smashed the 36 year old record for running the Bob Graham round. The man is unbelievable!

A thought-provoking piece next as Martin Fritz Huber, writing for Outside, considers the fairness of elite runners racing in prototype shoes. This comes in the wake of an announcement that will require athletic footwear worn in races to be available to the general public, and points out various key occasions on which races were won by athletes wearing prototype shoes (and therefore not freely available to others). I’d love to know your thoughts on this one.

I also enjoyed this short piece published by Medium about how it feels when everything clicks into place. Yes, there are plenty of days when running feels hard, but those effortless days are why we keep on getting out there chasing those moments. When did you last feel this way?

Something I found interesting was this article in Runner’s World about injury risk. I know it’s something that’s studied frequently, and for the most part there is no clear correlation between injury and factors such as foot “type” or foot strike. This study actually found a correlation, at least among the study participants, between injury rates and what is termed “peak braking force” or the horizontal (rather than vertical) forces your body has to contend with whilst running. These days I tend not to put too much stock in these kinds of studies as they all seem so subjective, but nonetheless it is an interesting observation.

And finally, since we’re on a slightly scientific topic, here’s a column from Alex Hutchinson considering mental fatigue. I never used to give this a great deal of thought, but since reading more about the importance of sleep (and recognising my own mental fatigue at particular points in the school year) I have considered this a bit more. It’s why I back off a bit in the last weeks of the school year as I knew I was mentally fatigued and that my body would not differentiate between the mental and physical stress, leaving me more open to a niggle. An interesting point raised here, however, is that training for an endurance event could also be considered endurance training for the brain. I can definitely see how that would work.

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Week In Review – Sunshine State Of Mind

As predicted, following the endless weeks of the end of term, the first week of the summer seemed to slip by rather quickly. At least it was good fun! Travelling means it’s not always easy to fit in training sessions, but I think I did ok with this one:

Monday – rest
Tuesday – morning run
Wednesday – travel
Thursday – run
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – run

I began the week with a range of errands to get ready for going away. Although I have a lot of clothes and things waiting for me in Florida, there are always a few last minute odds and ends than need to be sorted out (like making sure I exchange some money!) so took this as a rest day to get everything sorted and lay out the things I needed to pack.

Tuesday was also filled with errands such as having my hair and nails done, but I wanted to make sure I fitted a run in as well so headed out first thing for 10k. Even at 7:30am I could tell it was going to be a warm day so was glad I didn’t leave it until later on!

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Sunshine State of MindOn Wednesday the closest I came to a workout was hurrying through Newark airport to make my connection! It was a super long day with an obscenely early start to get to Edinburgh airport, followed by 2 flights: Edinburgh to Newark (where we cleared customs and immigration) then on to Orlando. Since it was the 4th of July Newark airport was really busy and this seemed to slow things down, then once on our flight we sat at the stand for an hour waiting for a group of connecting passengers who were delayed getting through the airport. Steve and I weren’t actually sitting together for this flight so I used the time to read my book (I had already watched the movies I wanted to see – The Greatest Showman and Coco – on the transatlantic flight!).

When we finally made it to Orlando my sister picked us up and mum had some food waiting for us. I was thrilled since the airline offerings had been pretty meh and the snacks I had packed just hadn’t been enough!

Sunshine State of Mind
Sunshine State of MindOf course thanks to the time difference we were up super early on Thursday even after our long day of travelling. One thing I’m always struck by when arriving in Florida at this time of year is how there are more hours of darkness compared to Scotland in summer, thanks to being so much further south. When Steve and I awoke it was still dark, yet at home the sun would have been up for an hour or so already! At sunrise we headed out the door for a 3.5 mile run which really helps to reset out body clocks and gives us a chance to move after being folded into airline seats for hours and hours.

Sunshine State of Mind
Sunshine State of MindPost-run we went for breakfast at IHOP with my parents. A little indulgent after a fairly short run, but we’re always so very hungry on the first morning until our bodies work out what time it is!

Sunshine State of MindAfter breakfast it was time for my favourite treat to begin the holiday – a spa pedicure. My poor wee running feet were definitely in need of some TLC and it was so nice to be pampered a bit while I enjoyed relaxing in a massage chair.

Sunshine State of MindThings were pretty restful for the remainder of the day, then some more of mum’s home cooking. Perfect!

Sunshine State of MindOn Friday we planned to have a pretty easy day just hanging out at home, however the morning began quite cloudy and I feared I wouldn’t get a chance to lie out on my sun lounger. I watched some Ted talks, caught up on some book group posts and took a lovely nap before lunch (yup, more of mum’s delicious food).

Sunshine State of MindBy this time the sun had finally made an appearance so the afternoon was spent on my sun lounger reading my book, and floating around in the pool with my pizza-shaped pool float.

Sunshine State of MindDinner was best described as “festive”:

Sunshine State of MindSaturday was another early start as dad was taking Steve and I over to Clermont so the three of us could take part in parkrun. We first tried this event last year and enjoyed it so decided not to sign up to any races this year and go to parkrun on both of our Saturdays instead. Everyone we spoke to when we arrived was really friendly and the weather felt just a little cooler than normal (although we knew it wouldnt feel that way once we were running!).

Sunshine State of MindAfter all the usual parkrun proceedings, we were off. Somehow I was fairly near the front and shot off, clocking the first mile at a ridiculously fast (for the conditions) 7:37. I knew I would likely pay for that later, but managed to run at a steady 7:58 for the second 2 miles, despite a rather brutal stretch in the last mile or so that’s in direct sunlight – the heat makes you feel so much more tired than you should be at that point in a 5k! I pushed on and tried to hold my pace as I had realised that I could get a 24:XX time for the first time EVER in Florida. I’ve wanted a sub-25 5k in Florida for years, but the July heat has always got the better of me, even when I’m in decent sub-24 form at home (the closest I’ve ever come is a rather irritating 25:02 back in 2016). Perhaps the recent spell of warm weather at home helped as I finished in 24:24, comfortably under the 25 minutes and a PB not just for my Clermont parkrun stats but my Florida running as a whole (dating back to 2010!).

Sunshine State of Mind
Sunshine State of Mind
Sunshine State of MindBy way of part “payment” for hosting us for two weeks, we had offered to take mum and dad out for breakfast after parkrun and on this occasion another visit to IHOP was the easiest thing to fit in with their plans for the day, so we toasted 3x Clermont parkrun PBs with pancakes. As you do.

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My parents and my sister had plans for the rest of the day so Steve and I spent the afternoon enjoying the sun until the standard evening storm came in. We had originally thought we would go out for something to eat, but since it was raining really heavily and we would have been walking, we opted to stay in and eat some leftovers mum had in the fridge.

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Sunday began with another run. Steve and I headed out at sunrise once more with the intention of running for about half an hour. We took a different route from the one we ran on Thursday morning, one which includes a Strava segment so I couldn’t resist upping the pace a little on that stretch to see how I got on. Turns out it was my second fastest time on that segment, so I guess I’m going to need another go while we’re here…

F9B54F42-DA1E-4A0D-A6E2-35B85A840A92Then it was a quick dip in the pool to cool off before getting ready for our day.

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We headed over to Disney Springs around lunchtime for a bit of shopping (once we’d had some food, of course!). Steve and I decided to try Blaze pizzas and although I found the rather frantic nature of the place a bit chaotic, the pizza was pretty good.

21FEE4D7-93C2-4305-8850-6344E807898CAfter a bit of shopping it was time for dessert – and where else but Ghirardelli’s? I had a couple of scoops of cookie dough ice cream, but opted to have it in a cup since the pressure to eat a chocolate dipped cone/waffle bowl in this heat before it melts and causes a bit of a scene is too much for me!

772B4FB9-470D-4A0D-8C61-DBDA4173343CThe afternoon was rounded off with a delicious frozen lime margarita by the water. Just the thing on a warm afternoon!

4DBEDF5D-AFEA-4357-95EE-9EA2C93248D6Once home, I was actually pretty tired so found time for a power nap before dinner – tilapia with ratatouille and asparagus. Yummy!

0D6B2661-A482-4236-8053-C08405A03D90Week one of the summer holidays and the first few days in Florida done. I’m now looking forward to a full week of Florida fun ahead…

How are you spending your summer?
Are you managing to train in the heat?

Race Report – Chariots of Fire Beach Race 2018

I first heard about this race a few years ago and thought it sounded fun, but it didn’t fit in with my plans at the time and I promptly forgot about it until someone at work mentioned signing up this year. Coming at a time when I had nothing specific to be working towards, a fun 5k on the beach sounded ideal.

Entry was really straightforward. I can’t remember the price but I don’t think it cost too much and there was the option to add a race Tshirt (white, since runners were encouraged to wear white for this one) which I did buy.

Race day was the 3rd of June and since Steve was training for his half Ironman he decided to cycle there whilst I went by car. This meant that I had a fairly leisurely morning as the race didn’t start until midday.

Arriving at the West Sands I was directed to a parking spot then walked the short distance to collect my race number and Tshirt. It was then a return to the car to get organised – Tshirt on, race number on, timing chip on shoe – before walking around the site to fill in some time. Sadly it was a rather cool day and the sea mist (haar) had come in so it looked quite murky.

7++lSDDuSwK%VIYgyxrGmwWhen Steve arrived we got him sorted out and put his things in the car for safekeeping then headed onto the beach where the kids’ race was just finishing and everyone was gathering for the main event.

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YuD5RvcBQPia7iVYwOBG0AThe draw behind this race is the chance to run on the stretch of beach famous for the filming of that iconic scene in Chariots of Fire. Participants are encourage to wear white and the Chariots theme seems to be played on a loop. Who hasn’t been out for a run, particularly if it was a beach run, and not imagined themselves in the film?

Zf1USgJYTU63oMKCdbdeZQThe route was simple – run out on the wet sand until the turn around point (marked by a piper) then return the same way. I was so caught up in running on the beach for the first time and soaking up the atmosphere that I was quite surprised to see runners already heading back towards me. A little further along and I realised that the turnaround was going to be early – after 1 mile rather than 1.55 miles – therefore making the route short. To be honest, this didn’t bother me as I wasn’t treating it as a super serious event and it meant I would get the coveted race swag a bit sooner!

Yes, the swag. Other than the running on the beach thing, this race is also known for the post-race goodies: a medal, fudge doughnut (from a well-known local baker) and a bottle of a locally brewed beer.

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WeH9Tum8QPy7vgaG6LN4vwWe ate the doughnuts straight away and the beers went in the car to enjoy that evening.

Then, of course, we had to take some photos!

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I know some people were a little annoyed at the short route, however it didn’t really bother me. My aims for the day were to wear white, hear the Chariots theme, run on the beach and get a medal/doughnut/beer. All of these aims were achieved and I was happy with my performance.

473E4934-57FC-40EE-90C8-8CD8C4E54343On a more serious note, the organisers were quick to accept responsibility for the mistake with an apology at the prize giving (we had left by then) and posts on social media. For me, these steps were the most important part. Mistakes happen, it’s all about how you deal with them afterwards and I have in the past seen race directors pretty much avoid taking any responsibility for errors on the day. As a result, I’ve tended to avoid races by those organisers in future, but would have no problem at all with returning to Chariots again next year.

If you’re in the St Andrews area in early June then I definitely recommend this race. Well organised, friendly and a refreshing bit of fun in the race calendar. Oh, and there’s doughnuts and beer…!

Friday Finds – 6th 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 everyone! This week I’m coming to you from the Sunshine State of Florida with a few articles to share.

Since I’m in the heat and the UK is still experiencing a heatwave, I’ll start with this rundown from Outside about how the warmer weather can affect our bodies, as well as some reminders about the most sensible things we can do to beat the heat. I’ll still run while I’m here in Florida but the distance will be less and I fully expect my pace to be slower, which is fine with me. The most important thing for me is to make sure I head out for my run early while it’s still comparatively cool and the humidity hasn’t built up to full strength. I’d love to know any other warm weather tips you have.

While I’m enjoying the downtime there’s a pretty high chance I’ll also enjoy a few naps as I recharge my batteries (regular readers of the blog might remember that my last couple of weeks of the school year were largely fuelled by naps!). I therefore read with interest Alex Hutchinson’s take on some recent studies into the impact of naps on athletic performance.

For those who have been watching the football (soccer) World Cup, it may have crossed your mind to wonder just how far those players are running during the course of a match. According to Runner’s World, a whopping 7 miles! Check out the article to see how some other sports compare.

I also enjoyed this Strava blog which, with its focus on consistency rather than focusing on the end result, really resonated with me as I have been focusing on process over outcome this year. It’s worth a read for anyone who has been finding themselves overly fixated on recent performances.

And finally, if your running nutrition relies on carefully measured sports drinks and a schedule of gels, remember it wasn’t always that way. If we go far enough back in time then athletes were often fuelled by alcohol! It perhaps sounds tempting, but I don’t think I fancy dealing with the dehydration!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

The Year Of Me!!! – June Update (Half way there!)

Wow! Half of the year gone already! That means I’m half way through The Year of Me, adding positive habits and value to my life. I’ve been checking in every month with an update on how things are going.

1.Run 1000km (621 miles)
Looking at my Strava stats, I’m still ahead of the game on this one. I’ve really been enjoying my running this year and certainly haven’t been “chasing” mileage, so it’s pleasing to feel that I have been consistent through the first half of the year.

2.Commit to a minimum of 5 minutes of yoga on at least 5 days of the week
I am doing much more than 5 minutes of yoga (classes are an hour and home practice in the region of 15-30 minutes) however throughout this month there have still been a couple of times that I just haven’t managed to practice on 5 days. I’m putting that one down to everything else getting in the way and am looking forward to refocusing on this one during the summer holidays.

3.Read at least 30 books
So happy with this one. Like my running, my reading has been really consistent and I’m pleased that I’m still ahead of schedule. I’ve read a fair amount of non-fiction but have some novels lined up ready. With a summer holiday coming up it will be interesting to see what I manage to add to the total in July…

4.Be in bed by 10pm at least 3 times per week
Although my end of term exhaustion may suggest otherwise, I have actually been pretty good with this one. It’s been good to get to bed a bit earlier, and on the mornings when I chose to go for an early run it definitely made a difference!

5.Watch at least one Ted/Ted X talk per week
I think there were  a couple of weeks when I didn’t fit this in, but I think in the main this one is going well – I even watched a couple with one of my classes as they are going to be doing some work using Ted talks next term! It’s such a great website full of interesting talks and also a great classroom resource for me.

6.Listen to at least 8 podcast episodes per week
This one I KNOW I’m doing well with. Left to my own devices I would probably listen to podcasts non-stop and now that I’ve caught up on the backlog from my favourite shows, I’m now catching up with a couple of other ones I enjoy. I just love listening to interviews with interesting guests and often learn something new from what I hear. Perfect!

7.Respond to at least one WordPress prompt per month
Ok, so I was a little bit last minute again, but in June I responded to the prompt Summer.

8.Be more mindful in my phone/social media use
I’ve made an effort to improve on this after feeling I was being sucked back in to using my phone too much again. I’m trying hard to leave it alone when I’m reading or watching TV and am trying to return to the habit of carving out specific moments during the day to check my notifications. Things will be different when I’m not at work, but already I feel so much better for doing this again.

Half way through the year and things are looking good. Now it’s time to refocus a little and see how things go in the second half of the year…

How are you getting on with your goals?
What habits make you feel happier in life?

 

 

Week In Review – Summer!

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Yippee!! I finally made it to the end of the school year! It’s funny how at the time, it seems to take forever and a day, yet as soon as those summer traditions roll around it feels like it’s only been five minutes!

The last week of term was quite busy and I needed to be creative in order to find time to run, so I was pleased with what I managed fitness-wise:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – early run 4 miles
Wednesday – evening run 10k
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – “parkrun sandwich”
Sunday – rest

Having TWICE had to nap last week, I really thought I was in for a struggle this week when I needed a nap between work and yoga. For some reason I just felt worn out when I got home and knew I had enough time to close my eyes for a bit. I pretty much walked in the door, set my things down and went to lie down for a while. I then got changed and headed to my yoga class feeling a lot more refreshed. It was a bit sad that this was the last Monday class for a few weeks but I know I’ve got this to look forward to when I get back from my holiday.

Despite my Monday exhaustion, I had figured out that the best way to find time for three runs this week was to go out early on Tuesday, after work on Wednesday and have a longer run on Saturday. I therefore laid out my kit on Monday night and was out the door quite quickly on Tuesday morning for a 4 mile run. Having run early on a couple of previous occasions, I did find it a bit easier (but the first mile is still a bit of a slog!).

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Despite appearances, we are NOT wearing the same top!

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A morning run also meant I felt like I had earned our department end of term gathering as we opted for afternoon tea at a nearby fruit farm. I made sure not to let any food go to waste!

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UntitledWhile that morning run was nice and cool, since we’ve been having some ACTUAL SUMMER WEATHER it was clear I was going to have a much warmer run on Wednesday evening. I wanted to run 10k so kept my pace down and just enjoyed being out in the sunshine.

UntitledThursday was probably the warmest day of the whole week and I was able to fit in an hour reading in the garden before my Ashtanga class. Having seen the forecast I had been really hopeful that we might take the class outside so I was thrilled when I arrived and it was confirmed that it would be an outdoor session. It feels so amazing to work through the sequence in the fresh air and with the sun on your skin. I even had a go at my supported headstand! And lying in savasana in a light summer breeze felt so good. Fingers crossed we can get outside again this summer.

UntitledI took Friday as a rest day. School finished at lunchtime then I made the most of the free afternoon to spend some more time in the garden with my book. There really is nothing quite like sunshine (and the knowledge that there’s no school for 6 weeks!) to start easing away the stresses of the year.

My final run of the week was Saturday morning. In order to fit in a long run and still get to parkrun, I opted for what I’m calling the “parkrun sandwich” – a run to parkrun, parkrun itself then a run home. Steve was in Edinburgh preparing for his Ironman 70.3 the following day so there was no time pressure at all. I adjusted my routes there and back to make sure I ended up with 10 miles for the day. I also wanted to find the penguins we have in the town right now as part of a public art event in the area. There are 80 in total and 4 are in my city so it was fun to add them to my run.

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UntitledDespite the extra “warm up”, parkrun itself felt ok. It was another warm day and this was the middle 5k of a 10 mile run so I ran a bit easier than usual, and was quite surprised to still finish in under 25 minutes with an average 8 min/mile. Granted, it was a bit harder to get my legs moving again for the run home, but they soon got used to the idea.

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Photo: Perth parkrun on Facebook

On Sunday morning I was up and on the train to Edinburgh to support Steve. He had set off super early for the swim start and I made my way to T2 in time to see him finish the bike leg and head out on the run. Last year I found it pretty hard going as a spectator as the weather got quite chilly and there was rain. This year’s warm sunshine maybe wasn’t best for the triathletes, but for me it was fantastic. I was able to see Steve on each of his laps and give him a cheer.

UntitledEarlier in the week Steve had decided that he would quite like to go for a post-race roast dinner so we were booked into the pub we normally go to on a Friday. We both had roast beef then I opted for a waffle with maple syrup for dessert. Delicious!

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UntitledAll that sunshine has definitely put me in the mood for a restful summer now…

Do you do the “parkrun sandwich”
Have you ever used a run to go in search of something?