Week In Review – The Corona Chronicles Part 5

The first week back at work meant a degree of routine coming back into my days (although my grasp of the actual day remains tenuous at best!). When it came to training I was able to sustain my running streak, continue with yoga on weeknights and, most pleasingly, managed some kind of strength/core session each weekday as well. I noted last week that I was disappointed not to be making time for this, and felt that I just wasn’t motivated by the idea of a living room workout. After talking to Steve about it, he actually went down to the studio to collect some kit and since the weather was great all week, the draw of the “back garden gym” was far stronger and I really enjoyed these workouts.

Here’s how my week panned out:

Monday – 5k + living room workout + Hatha yoga via Zoom
Tuesday – 4.5 miles + garden circuits + home yoga
Wednesday – 4 miles + garden workout + home yoga
Thursday – 5 miles + garden workout + home yoga
Friday – 4 miles + garden workout + home yoga
Saturday – 10k
Sunday – 11.6 miles (recorded as 4.3 + 7.3 in one outing)

When you run every day, there’s not much of note to really talk about. I REALLY enjoy getting out for my daily exercise and getting out in the sunshine each day was amazing! What has recently become my “thing” for this accidental run streak is to theme my running tops each week and this time it was my finisher tops from my Paris marathon experiences. The snag is I’ve “only” (😂) done it 5 times so that only covered my Monday-Friday runs, but as I’ll discuss further down in this post, I already had plans for my runs on those days so it wasn’t a big deal.

My Monday run was kept to 5k as I designated this one for my Run for Heroes run. If you’re in the UK then you will have seen this one on social media. The idea is to run (or walk, or hop, or whatever) 5k, donate £5 to the charities supporting key workers and nominate 5 people to do the same: Run 5, Donate 5, Nominate 5. As soon as I saw it I knew I would be nominated so was totally ready to do my bit.

Unfortunately it was a living room workout that day as Steve didn’t collect his kit until Tuesday, but at least I made the time and knew other options were coming.

And as it happened, my Tuesday workout was so much more fun. Steve collected a mat, some cones, the Core Momentum Trainers, additional kettlebells (we only had one at home before that) and a TRX with the attachment to put it over a door. So much better than just the resistance band I already had. Steve created a circuits workout in the garden and although hard work, I enjoyed it so much more.

Another Tuesday highlight came in the form of dessert. I had been tidying up in the kitchen and came across some leftover sponge fingers from Christmas time, so Steve made one of his infamous trifles to use them up. Yummy!

I had another couple of garden workouts on Wednesday and Thursday since the weather was so gorgeous:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had a bit of a First World emergency on Thursday when we realised we were just about out of coffee – we get ours from an amazing local business that grinds the beans for whatever apparatus you are using to make your coffee. They are shut right now, of course, but are operating an online business so we ordered a couple of bags after I finished working for the day. We expected to have it delivered by the weekend but about 3 hours later, while we were joining the nation in watching The Big Night In (we clapped from our living room this time) the doorbell rang and it was the owner of the shop dropping our coffee off on our doorstep on his way home. Incredible service!

On Friday I bit the bullet and ordered some new bits and pieces of running kit I have been needing. I rotate several pairs of shoes but have been conscious that a couple of pairs were needing to be retired so used my Vitality Fitness Rewards benefit to order a pair I wanted then added a second, cheaper, pair too. I had also thrown away some socks as I had worn a hole in one sock and a couple of other pairs were looking close to having holes too, so more socks are also on their way.

Of course I had another garden workout. And no, neither of us are making much effort to change clothes when we don’t have to!

Then after our Friday fajitas we settled down to watch the first of the Star Wars sequels (neither of us have seen these) – The Force Awakens. It was good, but did mean getting to grips with some new characters again.

Inspired by the weekly virtual runs posted by Sparkle Athletic, I decided to dress myself as Minnie Mouse for my notparkrun run on Saturday. It actually was a really cheerful thing to do!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I suspect these two pictures accurately sum up why I wanted to do this:

That said, I am finding a lot of cheer from Disney, I’m just sad that the trips I had booked for this year are either cancelled or hanging in the balance right now 😭

Our Saturday post-run routine is now to have coffee and a bacon roll while we do the weekly parkrun quiz. While 11/15 is not a PB, I was pleased to have full marks on two of the rounds (although that does highlight how woeful our score in the other round was haha!).

I then tackled our cupboard under the stairs (aka the Harry Potter cupboard) as I wanted to put a small shelf unit in there that we had previously been using in the shed and get things really tidied up and organised. It was feeling really cluttered and hard to find the things we wanted. Of course as soon as I emptied it out and put the shelves in, I hit an obstacle as two curious kitties had to conduct a thorough inspection!

But once that was done I was able to relax and watch the YouTube stream of Love Never Dies from the night before. I hadn’t seen this before and found it unexpectedly sad. Good, but sad.

Then I rounded off my afternoon with the ultimate indulgence of a bowl of ice cream whilst having my bath. I’m getting ideas above my station now 👸🏻

Sunday should have been the London marathon and even though a marathon wasn’t in my plans for this year, I do always enjoy watching London on TV. Because of the postponement, a number of organisers came together to organise the 2.6 Challenge to help raise funds for the charities that are missing on out crucial funds with so many races and charity events being off. I know that I’m lucky to be in a job and getting my salary just now so wanted to make sure I played my part. That said, I didn’t want to ask for sponsorship so after much back and forth over a suitable challenge, decided to build something into my Sunday long run and make a donation of my own to Cats Protection. Since the focus was on Home Heroes, I opted for 26 loops around the block and was quite surprised when this clocked in at 4.3 miles. Oh, and I dug out my “Kitty Kit”, including the ears!

 

At the end of the last loop I stopped my watch, took a moment to take my photo then restarted my watch to record the rest of my long run – a further 7.3 miles to total 11.6 for the day. I was keen to pass 11 miles as I had worked out that this would take me to my highest weekly mileage ever.

After lunch and food shopping, we went home via my mum and dad’s as there was some more rhubarb for us (and some leftover chicken for the cats) that mum wanted me to collect. My sister has been experimenting with making face masks so I gave her some fabric and she quickly made one for me.

Then we watched the last episode of The Imagineering Story (thanks Disney – now I want to go to Shanghai!) and I took care of some “lesson planning” for the week ahead 😂

If only!

Have you found any new ways to make your time at home more fun or productive?
Did you take part in the 2.6 Challenge (or any other recent fundraising challenge)?

Week In Review – The Corona Chronicles Part 3

The third week of the UK lockdown was also the first week of my school holidays, which meant little more than having the need to do some work removed from my day. I recognised that it would be all too easy to let the days drift by in a haze of mindless scrolling and/or tv time, so made sure to impose a degree of structure to my day – nothing rigid, simply that I would continue with a morning run, make sure to fit in some home yoga in the early evening, bring in at least two strength workouts and stay away from the telly until the afternoon at the very earliest.

In the end, my training worked out like this:

Monday – 3.1 miles + home PT session + Hatha yoga via Zoom
Tuesday – 4 miles + home yoga
Wednesday – 3.8 miles + home yoga
Thursday – 4 miles + home PT session + home yoga
Friday – 3.8 miles + home yoga
Saturday – 6.3 miles
Sunday – 10 miles

As with the week before, my running routes were fairly fixed so as to stick to quiet, mainly residential areas where I am less likely to encounter others (or if I do, I have plenty of options to give them space) and that’s working well for me so far. I’ve seen a few people posting that they’ve felt others to be staring at them when they’re running, judging them or looking horrified to see someone else out in the fresh air, but I have to say I’ve had very positive interactions with others smiling/waving, saying good morning and thanking me for my efforts to move away to maintain social distance. Hopefully that will continue to be the case.

I should also say that it continues to be fascinating to note how I feel on this run streak. Right now I’m feeling good and am enjoying my daily runs – I want to go out rather than having to make myself go. Had this all happened a few years ago then this approach just wouldn’t have worked for me, but under the present circumstances it feels right.

My main running focus this week was to add the idea of Rainbow Running. This is an idea I stumbled across in a Facebook group and thought sounded fun – each day wear a top corresponding to a different colour of the rainbow (ROY G BIV) so Red on Monday, Orange on Tuesday, etc. Fortunately I spotted this before my Monday run so began my week with a very pleasant rummage around my running tops to create my rainbow. I even added a little extra layer of theming of my own – can  you spot it?

It was actually really nice to work my way through the little pile of running tops I set out at the start of the week and create my rainbow. I would definitely encourage you to try it as it’s easily adapted to whatever suits you best in terms of frequency, but the seven colours do fit nicely into the days of the week.

Although each day right now seems a bit “same-y”…

…there were some other at-home highlights to my week.

I actually devoted quite a lot of Monday to reading. I’m working my way through the Disney Twisted Tales books right now (Disney will get me through this!) and am really enjoying them. I also made another pot of French Onion Soup (this recipe) and batch of peanut butter fudge (this recipe but I prefer light brown sugar and smooth peanut butter) since they are both super easy and Steve loves them both.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Later in the afternoon I asked Steve to take me through an arm/upper body workout and we improvised with what was available to us since all Steve’s weights, etc are down at the studio. I also had my Hatha yoga class via Zoom again.

Tuesday was a fairly quiet day, but we did have this in the evening as a bit of a blast from the past. Who else remembers having this as a child?

When I arrived home from my run on Wednesday morning I discovered that my March virtual medal had arrived. The medal is made of wood and is so pretty!

Less of a highlight, and more of a project, was my Wednesday endeavour. It was time for the Big Spring Clean. You know, the kind of cleaning that only happens when you can devote a bit more time to it (and time is something I have plenty of right now!) – rearranging things, moving furniture and employing the vacuum cleaner tools. Very satisfying, but it was also pretty tiring! I did take a break to drop off a couple of things to my parents and have another socially distanced driveway chat. They also seem to be using their time for a bit of a clearout since they’re largely indoors.

Our dinner that night was from the batch cooking stocks we put in the freezer. Steve had made this chicken dish and when he asked me to give it a name so he could share it through his business social media channels, I came up with Corona Chicken. I mean, you get coronation chicken and this was made as a result of coronavirus, so I felt quite pleased with that one and Corona Chicken is what it is now known as haha!

After all that I needed a bit of a Disney fix on Thursday so watched some of the videos they’ve been putting out to cheer everyone up while we’re confined to home. I also took on another household project as there were some drawers and shelves I wanted to tidy up. I did get a bit carried away and ended up checking three things off my Lockdown List rather than just one – oops!

I had originally intended to have another upper body workout on Wednesday but didn’t manage to fit it in around my spring cleaning project, so made sure to have a Thursday afternoon workout – we even took the same kind of picture we usually take down at the studio, in case you’re missing them!

Later in the afternoon I settled down to watch the first couple of episodes of Malory Towers on the BBC iPlayer. I used to LOVE these books as a child and re-read them so many times – I actually still have my copies. This new adaptation is done really well and I’m really enjoying it. If you were also a fan of the books then I recommend it.

Dinner was from my contribution to the batch cooking stock – my mum’s mince recipe. Mum usually serves this with rice but since we had rice the night before we decided to live on the edge and have linguine instead. The madness must surely be setting in 😂

It actually turned out that my parents were also having this meal on Thursday, but with the traditional rice accompaniment.

And of course we headed out the front door to clap for the NHS again. I thought it seemed a little quieter this week, but I didn’t spot so much about it online this time so maybe people didn’t realise it was happening again.

Inspired by my reading, on Friday afternoon I got myself set up to watch Aladdin (the original) on Disney+. I hadn’t seen it in so long!

Then for our Friday night food we opted to make fajitas (including some homemade guacamole which was delicious) before continuing our my mission to watch all the Star Wars movies. Having finished the original trilogy, we’re onto the prequels now so it was The Phantom Menace.

I can even sneak a bit of Disney into my dinner!

Once again, Smokey seemed quite taken with the film:

Sooty less so 😹

My Saturday notparkrun run was followed by a bacon roll and cup of tea (has to be done on a Saturday now – parkrun has conditioned me to it!) whilst doing the latest parkrun quiz. We did ok with 10/15. Not a PB but one up from the previous week and a respectable enough score in a quiz where the answers are pretty much all guesses!

The notparkun cafe is generous with the bacon!

Then after a restful afternoon of finishing my book and having a bath, we settled down to watch Attack of the Clones. A few people (big SW fans) have told me this is the worst of the Star Wars movies and I can see their point. It was good, but didn’t have quite the same impact as the others. Still fun to watch though.

We had Steve’s homemade pizza while we were watching and he put the leftover fajita filling on top of one of them. It was amazing! We may have to make sure to have leftovers to add to the pizza again in future.

Sunday is probably the day that feels the most “normal” right now: long run, food shopping, easy afternoon and an evening bath. Pretty much standard. Some highlights included:

Spotting this on my run (outside the house with the knitted rainbow I admired before):

Free books for anyone passing to take

And, after what is now becoming a bit of an expedition to get the food shopping (it actually doesn’t make me anxious anymore, I just want to get it done as quickly as possible so I can get home again, but social distancing means it can be a bit slower to work around a shop), I enjoyed watching the latest episode of The Imagineering Story. Have you watched it yet? I love it!

Then just like that, a week of the school holidays was done. It’s so strange to think that even when the holidays are over I still won’t be going back to my classroom any time soon. The prospect of continuing to teach from home is not filling me with joy as I’d definitely rather have my classes in front of me.

But to finish on a happy note, I’ll leave you with a picture of Sooty. This made me laugh as it looks like she’s got her paw over Teddy’s mouth to make him be quiet. Damn those teddy bears with too much to say for themselves when the cat wants to nap 😹

Have you created a structure for your days at home?
What was a highlight of your week?

Week in Review – The Corona Chronicles Part 2

Last week I wrote quite a long post setting out my new “working from home during lockdown” training routine. I don’t know how I found so much to say about a week of very little variation, but I think I needed it to help me process the way life is right now. As we moved into the second week of this “new normal” I established the routine for my day so that I could make sure to have time running, working, and doing other things to take me away from the computer screen.

My “assistant” is terrible!

At heart I am basically a cat – I love routine! Although one of the things I love about teaching is that the days are never the same, there is still a routine in terms of when I see my classes, what work I do with them and so on. Outside of work my time revolves around the routines of when I run, when I go to yoga classes, when I write blog posts, etc. Even in the holidays when I have the freedom to do whatever I want, I tend to fall into some kind of routine anyway. So on work days my routine is now to go for a run first thing, shower and get dressed, drink a smoothie at my desk whilst I work, have a mid-morning cup of tea, work until lunch, watch some tv while I eat, do some more work (probably marking what pupils have done), step away from it all to read, do some yoga, then settle down for dinner and some tv. I’m not regimented about the times, but it does help me to mentally stay on top of things and break the day up into chunks. I imagine many of you will be doing something similar.

When it comes to my training, here’s how the week looked:

Monday – 3.3 miles + Hatha yoga via Zoom
Tuesday – 4 miles + home yoga
Wednesday – 3.8 miles + home yoga
Thursday – 4 miles + home yoga
Friday – 3.8 miles + home yoga
Saturday – 6.3 miles
Sunday – 8.25 miles

What has been absolutely fascinating to me is noting how my body has been adapting to a run streak. Anything like this will always be a research study with a sample size of one since we are all different and our experiences will vary. It was the 5th and 6th days of the streak before I began to notice any weariness in my legs and Monday was day 7 so I treated it as a recovery run (I did run a bit longer the day before), and in so doing I established my own “streak rules”. Since I get points on my Vitality Fitness Rewards insurance for runs over 30 minutes, that’s the minimum length of time I plan to run for. That should take me past 3 miles, depending on pace, and 3 seems a nice round number so it’s at least 3 miles and at least 30 minutes for my “rules”.

I also made a batch of French Onion soup on Monday so we would have something different for our lunch for a couple of days. We didn’t plan to have it until the next day, but the flavours as so much better when they have a chance to mature a bit.

That evening my Hatha class took place over Zoom again and I really enjoyed it. Not the same as being in the studio but it’s good to have live instruction and to be able to say hello to everyone else in the class.

For my Tuesday – Friday runs I alternated a couple of different routes I like. One is an out-and-back and the other a loop. It mixes things up a little, but keeps me in places I consider “safe” as they are residential and quiet so I’ll only encounter other runners or walkers and it’s easy to move aside or cross the road to give each other space.

So what were the other highlights of the work week? Well I had spotted that Tuesday was National Wear Your Ears Day and that’s an idea right up my street! I couldn’t actually decide which of my many pairs of Minnie Mouse ears to wear, so I eventually picked the pair I made last summer. Anything to bring a little cheer to working from home!

I even got Smokey in on the act! Can you tell I’ve got too much time on my hands?

On Wednesday I noticed that my legs felt much fresher again. I was quite surprised that I felt this way so quickly – just a week into the run streak – and although I didn’t feel like I had much to give on any uphill sections, having my own legs back under me was very welcome. I also came across one of my favourite rainbow displays – a knitted one!

A Thursday highlight was wearing a new running top. I love the colours of this year’s Run Disney merchandise – even if my chances of actually getting to take part this year are ever-dwindling – and this one was a gift from my parents when they returned from Florida. I love it!

Thursday evening was when we were all encouraged to clap for the NHS and our key workers. I had managed to miss this last week so wanted to play my part and was really heartened to see so many people in my street at their front doors clapping and cheering. I could hear the noice coming from other streets too and mum said someone by them was playing the bagpipes. So nice to feel like we could all come together in a positive way during this period of isolation.

Friday was a bit bizarre as it was the end of the school term, yet I hadn’t seen my pupils for two weeks! Usually I’m really excited for the holidays as I’m worn out from the term and needing some time to recharge, but after two weeks at home the only real change will be that I don’t have to sit down in front of my computer to work every day. I suspect I will need to adapt my routine a bit! I still made sure to give myself a degree of that end of term feeling by taking part in a live Disney and Harry Potter quiz in a Facebook group I’m in (I was quite pleased with how I did given I was playing solo!) then Steve and I had steak and homemade chips for dinner whilst watching Return of the Jedi.

Smokey watched a bit too. I think because some of the noises that come out of him aren’t too far from Wookie haha!

To differentiate between work days and the weekend, I started Saturday by reading in bed for a bit before heading out for my “notparkrun” run. I quite liked the route I followed last Saturday, which came in just over 10k (I usually run to and from parkrun so wanted more than the 5k distance) so just did the same again.

Post-run it was bacon rolls and coffee whilst watching the last episode of a tv programme we had been watching this week, then I popped out as my mum hadn’t been able to get hold of a couple of things when she did her shopping last weekend but Steve was able to get them for her when he nipped to the shop for a couple of bits we needed. It ended up being a doorstep drop and a brief chat involving my parents standing at their front door whilst I was in my car (driver’s seat furthest from them) and the passenger window down. It felt really odd, like I wasn’t really allowed to be talking to them, but no rules were broken as I was sufficiently far away to keep us all safe. So weird to feel like speaking to my own parents, at the house I grew up in, was a covert mission!

I spent the rest of the afternoon reading, had a bath, then it was pizza time. My tv choice for the evening was episode 3 of The Imagineering Story on Disney+, which had a huge section on Disneyland Paris. It was fascinating to watch, but did make me feel a little sad as I don’t know for sure when I will get back there again.

To round off the week I had an easy start to Sunday with a bit more reading in bed, then ran just over 8 miles to bring me to 33.7 miles for the week (and I’m ok with that 0.7!).  It was a nice morning so it was good to be out enjoying the air. So quiet again though.

After lunch it was time to brave the shops to get some food in again, but thanks to having picked up one or two extra things and doing some batch cooking, we didn’t need too much so were able to get back home quite quickly. Shopping safely away, we settled down with tea and hot cross buns to catch up on the parkrun quizzes. We had done the first one a week late and there were another two up so we decided just to go for it and bring ourselves up to date. Sadly we discovered that without a direct link to the answer form, the web address would only take us to the most recent one so we had to tackle quiz number two on paper instead. That meant trying to remember the multiple choice options and also that we couldn’t actually see the pictures for the picture round! Mind you, we found on the previous quiz that seeing the pictures made little difference anyway and hilariously we ended up with 4/5 on that round 😂. Our scores of 11/15 for quiz two and 9/15 for quiz three were both improvements on week one, but I’m greatly amused that now our “quiz PB” is for the one where we didn’t have the answer form and just put down anything haha!

The rest of Sunday was very much as normal – dinner, TV (the first episode of Twin which Maria suggested – thanks Maria!) and a bath with a glass of wine and some Disney vlogs. The week ahead will most likely feel a bit different once again, but right now I’m coping.

How are you organising your days right now?
Have you been looking at all the rainbows and other displays in houses when you’re out running and walking?

Week In Review – The Corona Chronicles Part 1

Lockdown!

Is it just me, or is anyone else struggling to wrap their head around the current global situation? When reports first reached us of the lockdown in Wuhan I remember thinking how crazy it sounded and couldn’t even begin to contemplate something like that happening here. Fast forward a few weeks and absolutely everything around us has changed dramatically: I can only leave my house for one run/walk per day, one shopping trip for essentials or a medical reason and I have to make sure I’m keeping my distance from other people. I can’t visit my parents or have them visit me. And I can’t even go to my work – it surprises me how much I miss the place! When I think about it all too much or spend too much time scrolling through news websites, I begin to feel like I’m in some terrible work of dystopian fiction – in fact I recently commented that if one of my senior pupils had written this for their coursework, I would probably have sent them off to write something a bit more plausible! It’s all just so strange – unprecedented even, to use the word of the moment.

While I don’t want to dwell on Covid-19, when you write a running blog and your weekly updates tend to involve workouts and life events that actually involve leaving the house, it’s rather tricky to avoid! That said, I want to continue with my updates, partly so that when this is all over (for it surely has to end some time?) I will have some kind of record of what it was like to live through the global pandemic of 2020, and partly to give me something to do!

So what did the last week look like for me? Here it is:

Monday – Hatha yoga via Zoom
Tuesday – 4 miles + home yoga
Wednesday – 3.8 miles + home yoga
Thursday – 4 miles + home yoga
Friday – 3.8 miles + home yoga
Saturday – 10k
Sunday – 8 miles

Spot a pattern? 😂

Monday actually began with me heading to work. As recently as Friday when we saw our pupils for the last time we were under the impression that we would likely be in for at least half of the week to finish discussing our remote teaching plans and perhaps have some senior pupils in finishing coursework. But in the now-familiar rapid change of events, by Sunday evening we were being told that no pupils should be in school at all (except where provision was being made for the children of key workers and that does not involve my school) and that we should only be in if really necessary. As it turned out, my entire department was in to sort out some odds and ends, but probably only for an hour or two at most. I was in a bit earlier than normal thanks to a much quicker commute than usual, and similarly clear roads on the way home meant I was basically back in my own house by morning break and ready to spend the rest of the day sorting out some work for my pupils.

Unusually quiet for a Monday morning!

My “working from home” setup.

Thankfully, I had something to look forward to after that weird day in the form of my Hatha yoga class, conducted via Zoom. It was so nice to see everyone and do something “normal”, even if I did have my yoga mat rolled out on our landing and one of the cats kept wandering by for all to see!

When the class finished it was time to watch the address to the nation from the Prime Minister and having suspected all day that he would effectively be putting the country into lockdown, my suspicions were confirmed. There’s a part of me that still really can’t believe it.

I was pleased to hear the Prime Minister say that we could still go out once a day to take some form of exercise, and although my mum asked me if I would still continue to run, I was (and still am) adamant that I will carry on. I run on my own, have decided to wear gloves and don’t touch anything – including the button at a pedestrian crossing. I know that at any time the restrictions on our movements could become even more stringent, so want to take the chance to get outside ad run while I can, beginning with my normal Tuesday morning run.

Although I didn’t have to get up as early for work (my “commute” is currently much shorter than normal ha!) I did get up and head out first thing as I figured I would be much less likely to encounter anyone else. In what became the pattern for all my runs this week, I did meet the occasional dog walker or other runner, but we all made sure to give each other space by crossing the street or running out into the road to ensure there was a big enough gap between us. So long as everyone does that, I’m happy to be out running. For this one, I wore a new top my sister had recently picked up for me when she was in Florida.

The rest of the day involved some batch cooking, remote teaching, marking, home yoga and then the moment I have been waiting for…Disney+ hurrah! After being initially overwhelmed with all of the options (don’t get me wrong, I already pretty much knew all of the things I wanted to watch, I just didn’t know where to start) I opted for The Imagineering Story which I found fascinating. Highly recommended if you didn’t watch it yet.

Prepared my mum’s mince recipe, a childhood favourite, and made it in the slow cooker.

Apparently it was home yoga for pets 😂

I considered a walk on Wednesday morning in order to get out for some air, but then I figured that if I was going to walk then I might as well run. I have been very consistent in my running and training since last summer so have decided to put my faith in that and run more often – short distances and easy pace. If I start to feel any issues then obviously I’ll back off, but I know a run will make me feel much better right now than a walk. For Wednesday I picked a different loop which is a little shorter and that really set me up for the day.

When I got back I spotted on social media about the 3D animals on Google. If you haven’t tried this yet, there are some animals you can search for that you get the option to view them in 3D, which basically puts the animal in front of you. Steve and I had great fun and it’s a brilliant thing to share with so many children at home now too (NB: no children necessary to enjoy this one!).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m trying to create a routine for myself while I’m at home, especially on work days, so the rest of Wednesday followed a fairly similar pattern to Tuesday – remote teaching, marking, home yoga and a bit of TV later on. I also had a FaceTime chat with my parents (so weird since they’re only about a mile away). But the sad moment came when I got the confirmation that the Disneyland Paris Princess Run weekend in May has been cancelled. I had been expecting this to happen, but I guess until it was confirmed I could cling to the tiniest hope that it might go ahead. I suspect this won’t be the last of my plans for the year to be cancelled or significantly changed. It’s absolutely necessary and I’m not complaining about it, but it is a tough thing to deal with when you have been looking forward to something and it’s taken away like this. I know I’m not alone in feeling like that.

Thursday was another run followed by some work with my new teaching assistants.

I spent most of the day learning a bit more about Microsoft Teams to help make the remote teaching/marking a bit easier, while my “assistants” took a lengthy break. At least they’re cute!

Then after some more home yoga Steve and I finished watching Wisting which we recorded at Christmas and only got round to watching this week. I really enjoyed it.

Routine fairly established, Friday was pretty much the same again.

To “celebrate” the weekend, we had steak with peppercorn sauce and homemade chips, washed down with a beer, while watching Star Wars. I’ve only ever seen the original trilogy and maybe one of the prequels, but remember little of them and have had it in mind for a while to make it my project to watch all the movies. Partly so I would feel better informed when I watch The Mandalorian and partly so I have a greater appreciation of Galaxy’s Edge in Disney World when I finally get a chance to visit. Turns out the film was way better than I realised and I’m looking forward to watching the rest.

As another parkrun-free Saturday rolled around, I began my day in a leisurely fashion by reading in bed for a bit then heading out on the same route I covered the previous Saturday. This was the first time I really felt any weariness in my legs from the accumulation of running, and congratulated myself on it taking to day 5 before I noticed anything like that. I made sure to focus on some stretching when I finished and spent some time with my legs up the wall to aid recovery.

After that it was a bacon roll and coffee whilst doing last week’s parkrun quiz (yes, we are a week behind!). We got 6/15 which I don’t think was too bad since pretty much every answer had to be a guess. Then we treated ourselves to a lunchtime film – The Empire Strikes Back.

I spent the rest of the afternoon catching up on some tv, playing with the cats and having a bath before it was time for our Saturday pizza. Really not too bad a day given the circumstances.

Since I had been running more often, I decided it would be wise to cut my long run mileage back a bit, so opted for 8 miles on Sunday (conveniently bringing me to 30 miles for the week). The streets were so quiet for the first mile that I honestly thought I was running through the apocalypse! Overall though, my legs felt better than the day before and I suspect some weariness is to be expected while my body adapts to running more often. Since it was Mermaid Day, I opted for my mermaid scale leggings.

Post-run we had the dubious pleasure of heading out for our weekly food shopping. It was quite an odd experience but I was pleased to be able to get almost everything on my list, even if it did take longer than usual due to the need to keep a safe distance. Once home I had a restorative cup of tea and hot cross bun whilst watching episode two of The Imagineering Story then, to celebrate Mermaid Day, I put The Little Mermaid on – I may have been feeling mermaid-y for months now, but I don’t think I’ve actually watched this film for years!

The day was rounded off with dinner, a bath and a glass of wine. Almost a normal Sunday!

And now for week two of lockdown…

How are you getting on with working/training at home?
What fun things have you been doing to keep busy?

Week In Review – The Only Thing Certain Is Uncertainty!

We’re living in uncertain times. It feels like the world around us is shifting rapidly and it’s hard to know how things will be from day to day. As a result, I am definitely feeling some anxiety about how the coming weeks and months are going to look. When I posted last week, I confidently declared that I would be back to a more “normal” posting schedule, and then all hell seemed to break loose as different aspects of the country began to shut down and even more aspects of our lives began to change. With everything that was going on (and my growing inability to step away from the news coverage) I just didn’t get back to my blog to write an update, so this will be another double post to endeavour to bring things up to date. After that, who knows. I’d like to think that with more time at home I might be able to write a bit more, but the focus might change a little bit. Something for me to think about.

But enough doom and gloom. This is predominantly a running blog and I have actually been running, so let’s take a look at how that’s gone.

Week 1:
Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 4 miles + PT session with Steve
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – 4 miles
Friday – home PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun sandwich
Sunday – 10 miles

As this week began I thought I was going to really be getting my routine back to normal after a head cold and busy period at work. I had my usual Hatha yoga class in the evening and we were focusing on spinal movement. I also got to try my new lavender-scented weighted eye pillow for the first time. Our teacher ordered these for us and I loved how it somehow seemed to make me feel even more floaty and cut off from everyone else while I was using it. I could hear what my teacher was saying, but had no real sensory awareness of anyone else in the room. I wonder if this is what a flotation tank is like?

Tuesday was fairly normal too. I was out early for my usual 4 miles and it was even mild enough for shorts (although unexpectedly windy!).

And after work I had a TRX workout with Steve.

I wore my new leggings and since they reminded me of Minnie Mouse I couldn’t resist a little “accessorising” when I got home…

Upstaged by a cat once again!

Wednesday was a rest day, but we did have a birthday in our department at work so that meant cake. Yum!

My Thursday run was hampered a bit by slippery conditions, but I still managed 4 miles at a slower pace so I felt like I had some control over my footing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But sadly I didn’t get back in time for yoga again so I had a bath instead, accompanied by this daredevil!

Friday was when things really started to change. When I went to sleep on the Thursday night I had just seen the announcement that Disneyland in California was shutting due to Covid-19, and by the morning Disney had made the same decision across all the theme parks and cruise line. For me I think this was the moment that it really began to hit home how serious things were getting.

In an attempt to still have a reasonably normal routine, I still had an after school workout, but at home rather than in the studio. Steve mainly gave me press up and squat thrust variations, performed under close supervision from the kitties! We did go out to eat (armed with hand sanitiser!) for what turned out to be the last time.

Saturday was a funny day. parkrun was on, but with a tinge of sadness about it as a lot of people were fairly certain this would be the last one for a while. I was feeling a bit sluggish thanks to being tired and stressed from work and carrying some anxiety around what the days ahead would bring, so just enjoyed the chance to run another parkrun sandwich and reset my brain a little bit.

No idea what’s going on here, I just found this picture funny!

We also managed our breakfast in the cafe afterwards. Again, the last time for now.

Before having a relaxing afternoon at home with the kitties.

I began the Sunday with a 10 mile run. It was a pretty windy day, but I was still able to wear my shorts so that kept me happy. Again, I was feeling a bit slow but decided that was better than not getting out at all and could easily be attributed to the physical effects of work and world events.

One of the things making me anxious was going for our food shopping as reports of panic buying/stock piling had me concerned that we wouldn’t be able to get everything we needed. There were certainly some empty shelves, but we did manage to get the “essentials”:

And have a laugh at the decision that was made here – at least it looks like it was a healthy one! 😂

A strange week. But as it turned out, things were set to get even stranger…

Week 2:
MondayHatha yoga home yoga
Tuesday – 4 miles
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – 4 miles + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturdayparkrun sandwich 10k + home yoga
Sunday – 10 miles

Look at all those planned activities with a score through them! It all began on the Monday when the UK government announced that we should all be social distancing. That meant my yoga class was off, to be replaced by a session of at-home yoga. Funnily enough, I opted for a session designed to aid with anxiety and stress!

I did, however, manage to go out on the Tuesday morning for a run. With so many things changing around me I knew that this was the best way to set me up for the day and remain calm.

Even better, there was another birthday (we have several March birthdays in our department) so more cake. Yippee!

And then it was Wednesday. The day the UK and Scottish governments announced that schools would close at the end of the week. To be honest, most schools had been anticipating that this would happen at some point and had begun to put measures in place to be able to continue teaching remotely and support pupils with their learning. This announcement accelerated that process. For me, it meant I collapsed into a mid-week bath when I arrived home and Steve decided I needed a glass of wine while I was there to help me relax. To an extent, it worked! Good thing too since we also got the confirmation that parkrun is now cancelled for the foreseeable future. Absolutely the right call, but it still feels like a loss (among many losses right now) and I think it’s healthy that we do acknowledge our disappointments in these difficult times in order to process and move forward.

In an attempt to “keep calm and carry on” I did run on the Thursday morning. Pace was irrelevant, this one was just about getting a bit of sanity and normality into my day as I knew there would be a lot to do and further announcements to come – like my Ashtanga class also being cancelled. At least it was light for a pre-work run.

Friday ended up being a rest day. It was the last day of school before the closure and a very strange experience as we had smaller classes (and no idea if we would see these classes again before the summer) and were all of a sudden having to say goodbye to departing seniors. I really wasn’t prepared yet for them coming around to have their shirts signed, something they would normally be doing before going off on study leave, and uncertainties continued for them since the announcement that exams were cancelled. But guess what? That’s right, more birthday cake to cheer us up a bit ahead of a colleague’s weekend birthday.

And Steve cooked up a glorious steak dinner since all pubs and restaurants were ordered to close.

With parkrun off I wanted to make sure I didn’t go anywhere near the park where we normally run, just in case there was an inadvertent gathering of runners. Instead, for the first Saturday in years, I had to actually engage my brain to decide how far I wanted to run and plan a route. In the end I opted for 10k since my usual parkrun sandwich would clock just over 7 miles (any more would have taken me to busier parts of town and I wanted to avoid that).

Still wore my milestone T-shirt though!

Post-run we still had bacon rolls since I had the foresight to stock up when we got the shopping!

And I got a laugh at the cats who also seemed to be social distancing!

Sunday began with another 10 mile run – long enough to feel like a decent workout but not so far that I risked compromising my immune system in any way. To be honest, I was just happy to be able to get out and run in the sunshine. I did notice, however, that the park which would normally be packed with football matches, rugby matches, families out walking and lots of other runners, was eerily quiet. Still, at least there were some spring flowers beginning to bloom and offer some cheer.

One thing I did become aware of was that I actually felt much less anxious than the weekend before, despite the sweeping changes and more stringent measures the week had brought. I suspect because actually some of those brought a little more certainly: schools were closed therefore I would be working from home; I had been able to get some shopping and we had some batch cooking in the freezer so had back-up if we had any difficulty getting further supplies; and most crucially, after much stress, anxiety and changing of plans, my parents had arrived home safely on the Friday morning. Long story short, they were due to still be away in the US until the beginning of April but had changed their flights when the airlines began cutting back routes. There was further anxiety when their new flight got cancelled but they were able to get one the day before. It meant a rather hurried departure, but the way things are going now, it’s good they were able to travel at all. I had been fairly content so long as they were safe and socially distanced in their own (US) home, but will admit to being worried about them entering the transit system and passing through airports, so it was a relief when my sister confirmed that she had picked them up and they were all back home again. I even managed a “visit at a distance” on the Sunday (parents at the door, me waaaay back on the drive) so I was able to speak to them and get an update on their journey. After all the worry it actually went quite well. Phew!

So once again I am up to date, at least as far as a training update is concerned. Who knows what the weeks ahead will bring…

How has the pandemic affected you so far?
Are you still able to run/train just now?

Week In Review – An Inspector Calls

Do you ever have something going on in your life that seems to be the end point of all you can see? Kind of like your diary goes up to that event and you can’t really see anything past it? That’s how the last couple of weeks have been for me with the preparation for our school inspection and the experience of it this past week. My mind just didn’t compute anything past the end of the inspection week and now I find myself on the other side of it, a little surprised that everything else carries on and there are lots of other things still to do!

So with such a busy week and loads going on, I decided that I needed to be kind to myself. I knew that I would be mentally and physically drained, even with some down time last weekend, so didn’t want to put any pressure on myself with regard to any training that I did. On the one hand, I knew it would make me feel better and refresh me, but on the other hand I didn’t want to overdo it so for this week I had an “anything goes” attitude – my training was what I felt was right in the moment rather than a fixed plan…and it was ok to keep changing my mind! Here’s how the week ended up:

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

Even just typing that out, some of these activities seem so far away now and I’m glad of my training diary otherwise I likely wouldn’t remember what I did in the early part of the week! At first glance, it doesn’t look massively different (in terms of routine) to other weeks, but there were some tweaks and changes behind the scenes to reduce the overall load.

I actually felt pretty good as the week began. I was fresh from a long weekend where I made sure to take some time for myself and the inspection “proper” didn’t begin until the afternoon so at that point I had little awareness of it as an event. Still, I was glad to get on my yoga mat in the evening as I knew I would need the clarity and mental reset it would offer. We mixed things up a little by adding Gate variations into our session for the first time (although we’ve included it in SUP yoga, we’ve not done it in a studio-based class before). Then it was as early a night as I could manage as I knew Tuesday was going to be busy.

I stuck to my Tuesday routine of starting with a run, and enjoyed it despite the snow, wind, rain and cold temperatures I experienced within the first mile. I guess there’s nothing quite like tough conditions to distract you from everything else! On the plus side, the pavements were free from ice and frost so I was able to run without having to worry about my footing and the bracing conditions certainly gave me a bit of a lift to start the day.

My suspicion was that I would have an inspector observe my teaching at some point on Tuesday (we don’t know a specific time they will come to us, nor how long they will be in our classrooms) and that’s exactly what happened. On reflection, it was a positive experience, but the anticipation of something like this and the knowledge that it could be at any time (potentially more than once) does take a toll on your energy levels as you’re in such a state of high alert all the time. In the first instance I felt on a high that it was “done”, but knew I could crash and burn later. I had to keep my energy levels up as I was also involved in a focus group at the end of the school day and wanted to make sure to contribute my ideas and express myself in suitably professional terms, so there was no easing off into the afternoon. By the time I reached the studio I was feeling quite tired, but still wanted a workout to give me a different focus. This workout was probably a bit less intense, but served its purpose in giving me a break from school and the inspection, to instead focus on how to execute a move on the TRX.

To help me wind down, I completed a home yoga practice when I got home then settled down for a quiet evening.

I was glad of the rest on Wednesday as it’s always my busiest day, but another yoga session at home after work was welcome.

Another change I made was on Thursday morning. Conditions were fine for a set of form drills, but I didn’t feel like that was what I wanted to do, so opted for an easy 4 mile run instead. I didn’t want to work hard, I just wanted to have some time on my feet in the fresh air to clear my head at the start of the day. Despite the rain, that’s exactly what I got and I enjoyed it.

I also went into my Ashtanga class that evening with no expectations other than to work through the sequence in whatever way felt right for me that night. My body felt tired so I figured a headstand wouldn’t happen but wanted to see what happened if I tried to take both feet off the floor without any support. Perhaps because I had removed all pressure or expectation, I managed to hold a bent-legged headstand (i.e. both feet were off the floor but I didn’t straighten my legs out) for 5 breaths before feeling that I was losing my form. That gives me confidence that I am improving and need to try to slow things down rather than rush to get into the full posture.

By Friday afternoon my brain felt like mush. The inspection was over by lunchtime and I hadn’t been directly involved since Tuesday, but until the team left the building I didn’t feel like I could relax. As soon as that happened, I think all the pent up anxieties of the week gave way to feeling like the plug had been pulled and I was so glad when the bell rang for the end of the day. My head of department was encouraging us all to head off home and relax, and I didn’t need told twice to get out the door as I had been there later (and arriving earlier) all week. I was exhausted! I did go to the studio for another TRX workout, but again it wasn’t anything too intense as Steve saw how tired I was and at the end of the workout he suggested that I go home and have a bath.

This was the best suggestion ever and it made me so happy when my bubble bath ended up looking like this:

Even my bath is Disney themed!

Normally we go out to eat on a Friday night, but this week Steve had bought us some steaks and was going to serve them with home made chips and a chilled beer. This meant that when I got out of the bath I could get changed straight into my pyjamas and relax in my comfy chair watching tv for the evening. Perfect!

I did feel better when I woke up on Saturday but knew it would take more than a bath and a good night’s sleep to really re-energise me. The weather wasn’t too great, flipping between snow and sun so quickly I couldn’t keep up. Steve had a client before parkrun and normally this would be for a run, but with the weather how it was it was switched to a studio workout instead. I had as long a lie as I could possibly manage, then got dressed to run down the road.

I had decided not to run hard this week, and I did stick to that. Yes, I wanted a harder effort than my run down, but still feeling comfortable and not pushing for a fast time. In the end I was a few seconds over 24 minutes, which amused me as I can still remember when I would have considered that a fast time! But somehow I was so busy chatting afterwards I neglected to take a photo. Oops! As the skies clouded over once again, Steve asked if I wanted a lift home rather than running. Ordinarily I would have still run, but as part of my mission to be kinder to myself this week, I accepted the lift as it meant I would have time for a shower before heading out again for breakfast, rather than being “parkrun fresh”. (I actually don’t mind being parkrun fresh, but I remembered how cold I got last week. I wanted to get properly warm and dry before getting on with my day).

I tried to relax in the afternoon and having a bath helped, but in the evening we were out at a birthday do for some close friends of Steve’s family. Feeling as tired as I was, I probably wasn’t the best company and being with people I didn’t know in a noisy environment didn’t make it easy to talk. Thankfully none of us were up for a terribly late night so I was home and in my bed at a reasonable time. Yes, I am middle aged when it comes to these things haha!

With no alarm set for the morning, I was able to sleep until I naturally woke up and had a really lazy morning reading, drinking tea and cuddling in with the kitties until after 10am (unheard of for me!) before getting organised for a run. I was still feeling tired so decided that although I wanted to run and the conditions were ok (sunshine!) it was probably best to keep it short. While I’m not physically tired, the body just doesn’t know the difference between mental stress and physical stress, so I didn’t want to create any extra stress which might lead to me becoming ill of injured. I still remember how many times I was unwell last year and don’t want to repeat that; I want to learn the lessons from those months and make sure I look after myself. After all, a shorter run is far better than missing out because I pick up a bug or a niggle. I actually could (and would) have stayed out longer, but knew I was making the right decision for the day and was glad I had committed myself to a 10k rather than anything longer. Check me out being all sensible!

And that’s where I finished my week. I had a few errands in the afternoon but made sure to have some time to sit, relax and focus on myself, before having my usual Sunday night bath to set me up for the week ahead. Plenty more to do before I can have a proper break!

What do you do to prioritise self care?
Do you change your training plans during busy/stressful times?

My Year Of Running 2019

Over the past few years I’ve taken part in a blog link up to recap my year. This year I haven’t been able to find that link up anywhere, but since I wanted to look back over 2019, I decided to use my previous posts (2016, 2017, 2018) as a template and write my post anyway. So here we go with the 2019 edition…

Best race experience
These days I actually don’t race very often as I much prefer the process of getting out and running to the pressure of performing in a race situation. Yes I take my running seriously, but with this being a fairly tough year at work, I needed something that would bring plenty of fun to it – and for me there’s nothing more fun than running in Disney! I loved the whole Disneyland Paris race weekend so am going to be a wee bit liberal in my interpretation of “race experience” and pick the 31k Challenge, that way I can include BOTH the 10k and the half marathon. Sneaky!

Best run
Can I pick Disney again? This time at Walt Disney Word in Florida where I had my first experience of a WDW resort run. Along with Steve and my sister, I took part in the Beignet Dash over at the Port Orleans French Quarter resort. It was a mere 2km of running, but totally worth the early start to get a free order of WARM Mickey beignets. Yum!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best new piece of running gear
Once again, I continued to obsessively buy running leggings with crazy patterns on them, and once again that’s not going to be my choice – too obvious! Now that my hair has grown out again, I find a cap suits me much better than when I had a bob so was keen to get something “nice” for runs on wet days (rather than the perfectly functional, but essentially freebie, one I wore before which I call my “emergency running hat”!). So in what seems to be a developing theme for this post, it’s Disney once again as I’m choosing the Disneyland Paris Magic Run Weekend hat that I made a point of buying when I was there in September.

Best running advice you’ve received this year
Not exactly advice, but I realised this year that I really needed to do more strength work to help improve my running. Ever since the summer I’ve consistently managed two sessions a week down at Steve’s studio (three when it’s been school holidays and I have more time) to work with an assortment of kit such as the TRX, weights, bar bell, Bosu, gym ball and my own body weight with a variety of press ups in order to strengthen my arms and core. I feel so much better as a result and can definitely feel the difference – and I managed to answer one of these questions without mentioning Disney (until now haha!).

Most inspirational runner
I would usually try to choose a female inspiration here, but on this occasion I just HAVE to choose Eliud Kipchoge. His achievement in running the first ever sub-2 hour marathon, even if it isn’t an official record, was an incredible moment and I’m sure it will have unlocked many more breakthroughs to come in the world of running thanks to his insistence that “no human is limited”. I actually ran to parkrun whilst simultaneously live streaming the end of Kipchoge’s historic run on my phone and will happily admit to tearing up when he crossed the line in 1:59:40. An inspirational runner, true gentleman and downright nice guy. I can’t wait to see what he does next (probably not Disney, but you never know 😂)

Favourite picture from a run or race this year
This is such an easy question for me. Thanks to the magic of – you guessed it – Disney, this year I acquired this picture which is now my all-time favourite running picture of myself. I’m dressed as my favourite Disney princess (Belle, whilst still living her provincial life – there must be some much more…), running through Disneyland Paris and grinning from ear to ear. I was loving that race and for me, the joy of the experience seems to radiate from the picture. I love it!

Race experience you would repeat in a heartbeat
The Disneyland Paris Half Marathon. But you knew that, didn’t you!

If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be?
Disney Magic. It couldn’t really be anything else! I went to WDW, DLP (twice!) and somehow managed to pour a bit of Disney into every day. Now to see if I can make 2020 even bigger, even better and with even more pairs of Mouse ears…

I’d love to hear about some of your 2019 highlights. Share below, or even better write your own post and let me know so I can read it.