(Two) Week(s) In Review – Let’s Catch Up!

Did you miss me? Things got pretty darn busy over here for a while there and something had to give. On this occasion, I decided a short break from the blog was going to be needed as other things – including my own sanity! – had to take priority. So for the last couple of weeks I’ve been super busy with a lot of work-related stuff, but since I knew it would only be for a short time it was (mostly) ok. Now that things are more settled, I’m back and here to catch you up on some of the highlights from the last couple of weeks of training and life. Here we go!

Week 1:
Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 4 miles
Wednesday – 5k
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – 4 miles + PT session with Steve
Saturday – rest
Sunday – 10k + SUP yoga

To be honest, this is the week that really threw a spanner in the works. There was a lot of stuff going on and as you can see I moved a lot of my training around in order to fit it in. Yes, I could have set some sessions aside, but running is my chance to get fresh air and clear my head, it’s something I need to maintain good mental health and in this particular week I needed to make sure I had that time. The week actually kicked off with a day off work for a really localised holiday, and I took the chance to set work aside, relax and reset as much as I could. My yoga class at the end of the day was the perfect way to finish.

Tuesday was also pretty normal as far as training went. It was an inset day at work and I headed out before hand for a nice, steady run. To find balance, I did some home yoga at the end of the day to get moving again after a day spent sitting in meetings.

It was from Wednesday that things really changed around. This Wednesday was Global Running Day and while my current weekly plan doesn’t have me running on a Wednesday, I was keen to mark the occasion so got up to run 5k before work. It was pretty soggy, but still a nice way to begin my day. Our new school timetable began that day (we change timetable when the seniors come back from study leave as there is a month before the summer holidays) and I always find it exhausting meeting new classes and no longer having familiar groups in front of me.

After 2 days in a row of running, I didn’t run on the Thursday and instead looked forward to my Ashtanga class that evening. I had missed it the week before when I was just too tired to head out, and the week before that was a different teacher who led us through a rather different session, so I initially felt a bit rusty, but as the class went on I felt better and better. My headstand was pretty poor though!

In another change from the norm, I was up again on Friday for a run. It definitely felt odd to be running on a Friday, but still good. That evening I then went down to the studio for a PT session with Steve. I’m still wanting to work on my arms/upper body right now so he has been setting up a different circuit each week using a combination of weights, TRX and some exercises using my own body weight. Tough but worthwhile.

The reason for the Friday run was that, most unusually, I was missing parkrun on the Saturday. Sadly, this was because I was going to a funeral. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t considered a bit of tourism on the way there (I had to drive about an hour to get to the funeral location) but there was no way to make the logistics of a run followed by turning up appropriately attired and fragrant for such a sombre occasion work. This time, being at that funeral was way more important than notching up another parkrun, and I didn’t want to run later in the day as I knew I would be tired and still had all the usual Saturday chores to do. So a Saturday “off” it was,

Sunday was a much happier day. I began with a 10k run first thing and ran quite hard – clearly my body was needing to feel that sense of “aliveness” only a hard run can give you.

Then after a light breakfast and change of clothes, I was off to the outdoor centre for a SUP yoga session. Steve came along to watch so I was able to get a few photos this time.

We then had a lovely lunch in the cafe (back to my usual chicken mayo sandwich) with almost the whole SUP group before heading home to relax as I knew there was another testing week ahead of me.

Week 2:
Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 4 miles
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – 4 miles + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun sandwich
Sunday – 8 miles

This past week was a tough one. It had felt recently like the universe was being particularly cruel, and having just attended a funeral on Saturday, my week began with (almost) a morning in school followed by attending another funeral. As a tribute to someone’s life and influence, it was very fitting, but an emotional drain and hard way to spend a Monday. I accepted from that point that the week was going to feel long, that I was going to feel even more tired and that I was just going to have to do my best to keep on going. I made sure to get to my yoga class that evening, but will admit to finding the start of the class difficult as we were invited to reflect on our day and let go of the stresses and strains – my emotions were still running high and a tear or two rolled down my cheek at that point. After that, the class was a welcome distraction from everything that had happened over the previous few days.

While sleeping later on Tuesday morning might have felt good, for my own self care it was far more important that I headed out for a run. Pace was unimportant, this was a run to give me a bit of quiet time to process the previous day before going to work. I certainly felt better than I had at bedtime, but still a little emotional and needed to get on with things as a distraction. As if sensing it, one of the neighbourhood cats came over fr a “chat” when I arrived home.

I did, however, give myself a rest on Wednesday. I had an appointment in town after school so took the chance to run a few errands I hadn’t got to at the weekend then did a little home yoga when I got back to the house. A restful evening was in order after that, although there was still a little of my exam work left to do.

Once again, I was up on Thursday to run. I definitely noticed it feeling much harder to get up, but once I was out and moving it felt good.

I made it to my Ashtanga class again in the evening and enjoyed a quiet class where we could flow through the postures. I actually felt pretty good and my body felt strong, but I struggled with headstand again. It’s a while now since that one has gone well for me, and while I can accept where my body and mind are right now, I’m curious as to the cause: is it a physical issue from not doing as much yoga and other training as I have in the past, is it all in my head and I’m overthinking it, or am I simply so tired that I just don’t have the energy for a harder pose right now? It will be interesting to see how this unfolds over the summer when I’m more refreshed and have more time for training.

Miraculously, I made it to Friday and Steve was able to fit me in for a session. He had quite a tough arm workout for me this time and I REALLY felt it as I was working. While I was there, we talked about having some extra sessions in my week during the summer holidays so I can go into the autumn feeling strong. I know this will also help my running so is probably my summer goal now.

Steve was out that night so I had a quiet night with the kittens watching a bit of tv. It was just what I needed.

By Saturday morning I was feeling a bit better, and was looking forward to parkrun after missing the previous week. I opted for the parkrun sandwich to get a few extra miles in, but had no plans for how I would run parkrun itself. What with taking a little time off after the marathon and a couple of other weeks where I was running a bit easier because of other events, I felt like I had forgotten how to run fast (for me). We are still on an alternative course due to council works on the regular route and I set off at a fairly steady pace. While I’m nowhere near the sub-24 form I like to be in as I head into the summer, I was pleased to find that my 24:46 was the fastest I’ve run since late March and my fastest time over the alternative course. At least I’m making progress!

And check out the consistent pace over the first 3 miles. If I hadn’t speeded up at the end it would have been a straight line!

Afterwards, I refuelled with a delicious bacon croissant before getting the food shopping then was able to have a really relaxing afternoon to recharge a bit.

Sunday morning I got myself organised at a fairly leisurely pace then headed off for an 8 miles run. It was quite bright when I left so I had my sunglasses on, but wouldn’t you know it, as soon as I was at the furthest point from home it began raining. And when I say raining, I mean like Florida afternoons in the summer. Huge, fat drops hurtling towards the ground at a rate of knots and me in a pair of shorts and a T-shirt! I sheltered under a tree to text Steve and ask him to stick some dry stuff at the front door for me to put on when I got back and really struggled to write the message as the rain hitting the screen kept typing extra letters and making bizarre predictive text choices! I managed in the end, then didn’t need the dry things after all as the rain stopped and I had dried out by the time I got home. Typical!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had been invited to a barbecue so once we were organised we headed out there for a bit. On the way there was thunder (!) and the rain was back on, but luckily it didn’t last too long and it ended up being quite good fun – yummy food, friendly company and a photo scavenger hunt to provide a bit of a laugh. Good times!

Finally, we dropped in to see my parents and catch up over a cup of tea and slice of cake before it was time to head home and get ready for the new week.

Tell me something fun you’ve done recently.
What are your summer goals?

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Week In Review – Done Resting!

Usually, I like to take two weeks off after a marathon. Once upon a time I would try a run after a few days when the soreness was gone and I thought I was “fine”, but this would inevitably end in an injury as I returned too soon. Since then two weeks has been the sweet spot, even if I was chomping at the bit by the second week. But this time, things felt different. Ok, so my training hadn’t exactly been optimal, but I actually expected that to mean I needed MORE recovery time. Yet for whatever reason – possibly the fact that I basically did my taper BEFORE my longest runs 😂 – the soreness faded within a day or two and I was having dreams about running, something which is usually a signal to me that I’ve had enough of a mental break from it and my body wants to run again. So I decided this week to try an easy run and see how things felt: all good and I could begin to run regularly again; not so good and I could continue to rest, safe in the knowledge that it was the best thing for my body. That run felt good and was enough to tell me that I could now move to a more “active recovery” and build some consistency again since I have a couple of events coming up within the next month:

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

As ever, I began the week with a Hatha yoga class. It was a Monday holiday for us and having been busy over the weekend I made this day pretty restful so yoga was a great way to bring the day to a close and set me up for the work days ahead.

Tuesday was the appointed day for my test run so it was back to the established routine of an early alarm call (kit laid out the night before, of course) and out the door with 4 miles in mind (and plenty of options to cut it short if it became apparent I wasn’t ready to run yet). Straight away I knew it was the right decision. My legs felt good and I kept the pace down, just making sure I felt comfortable and had no problem completing the whole route. It put a smile on my face for the rest of the day knowing that I could get back into my happy place again and now the mornings are light I’m looking forward to early runs when the sun is up and there are signs of summer approaching.

That evening I did a little yoga at home then, with Wednesday pegged as a rest day, I did the same when I got home from work that evening. Two of the English exams were on Wednesday so it had been quite a day of catching up with pupils and looking over papers to reassure myself that they offered good options for the material I had covered – always a big relief!

I was up early again on Thursday for another run. No need for any drills or structured workouts right now, I simply repeated what I had done on Tuesday with an easy pace and ran to feel comfortable rather than anything else. But this time I actually stopped running just a minute or so into the run, not because there was a problem but because I had spotted this on the other side of the road:

The development we live in is really close to some woodland and the houses sit on what used to be a big public garden. I’m told that prior to the houses being there, deer often used to be seen there in the mornings and I’ve spotted them a few times disappearing back over the fence just as I come around the corner, but this one didn’t seem bothered by me and stood watching while I got my phone out to snap a quick picture. Such a nice start to my run!

It was Ashtanga yoga that evening and possibly the thing I was most curious about all week. Last week I had felt good but my body was too weary for a headstand. This week I felt strong, and when it came to headstand I actually held it for a couple of breaths longer than usual. Yet another sign that I was well recovered and ready to train some more.

So with that in mind, I headed to the studio after work on Friday for a session with Steve. I’m still really wanting to focus on my arms for now so he gave me a series of exercises to do combining weights, my own body weight and some mobility. Each round got progressively harder as we played with executing them slowly and with power in different combinations. Hard work but it’s bound to make me feel strong.

I had already committed to barcode scanning at parkrun on Saturday and while I was a little disappointed not to be running, there was no way I was going to back out. I decided to try using the volunteer app for the first time and was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was. I felt it gave much better and clearer feedback so I could check that everything had scanned ok. I also felt like I was moving through runners much faster than with the scanners. I’m a little reluctant to use it for timing (although I’m told it works well for that too) but would definitely recommend it for scanning – just make sure your battery is full as it does use a bit of power.

On any other day I might have squeezed some running in around parkrun, but on this occasion I had other plans…the first SUP yoga session of the year! I was so excited as I loved doing this last year (after I got over my initial nerves) and was keen to get back out on the water. I fully expected to feel a little rusty and need some reminders about adjusting my paddle and getting set up on the board, but as it turned out I remembered everything. I also thought I would feel pretty wobbly, but my body seemed to remember what to do and I happily stood as we moved through some sun salutations and took to my feet to paddle back in rather than staying on my knees as I had at the start. It was a really nice sunny day and fairly still, so ideal for a session on the water. I’m now really looking forward to more of these through the coming weeks. I didn’t take a camera out with me this time so I could concentrate (I’ll maybe take it next time) but a member of the centre staff took a couple of photos while we were in relaxation at the end.

After the session we went to the cafe for lunch and I was pleased to find they still did my favourite from last year: chicken mayo sandwich with the most amazing side salad. Then I indulged in a sweet treat as I spotted some lemon meringue cupcakes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since we had postponed our traditional cooked breakfast treat from last Sunday (we normally do this the Sunday after our marathon but I had other plans that day), we made sure to fit it in this time. But first, we both headed out for a run. I only wanted to do 10k since I was keeping things fairly easy this week, so simply got up, got changed and headed out the door. It was actually a nice, sunny morning again and I’m hoping this means a warmer week ahead than last week!

Getting out sharp meant when I got back in there was plenty of time to get showered and dressed then get down to our chosen cafe in time to get breakfast. I can confirm that it was delicious!

We had to get the food shopping after that so called in to claim our free drink from Starbucks on the way. I noticed they were doing frozen iced teas so decided to try the strawberry lime one. It was really refreshing and a nice change from a frappuccino for those days when you fancy something different.

After that, a pretty chilled afternoon to end the week.

Now that I’ve re-introduced the routine, in the week ahead I’ll start to build up a little more again. Next event in two weeks…!

What’s your favourite indulgent breakfast?
Have you tried the parkrun volunteer app?

Week In Review – Fun, Sun and Holidays Done!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They even had ACTUAL LULU for Relight My Fire!

I loved it!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo: Roy Mitchell for Perth parkrun Facebook page

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

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

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

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

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

Week In Review – Getting The Consistency Back

If you read my update last week you will already know that I recently took a bit of a time out due to being unwell. Rested and recovered, it was time to start adding some training back into my schedule, beginning with some lighter workouts as my spring break from school began, then working back into a more “normal” routine.

That meant a light workout with Steve on the Friday, a slower parkrun (minus the sandwich as I opted to drive there and back) on the Saturday and a longer run on the Sunday. Steve had suggested I run at least 10k, ideally being able to extend that to 8 miles. In reality I ran 10 miles and felt pretty good, helping me to make a very important decision with regard to my forthcoming marathon (for which my race pack arrived during my illness – poor timing or what!). Having initially been unsure if I wanted to go ahead, I enjoyed getting out and running again so with the help of the good old Inverse Taper, I plan on being on that start line at the end of the month. I know it will be a slower time for me, but that’s fine. Sometimes our goals have to change.

So with that in mind, here’s how my first week of returning to “proper” training looked. Remember that around this I had no work commitments so was simply fitting this in around a heavy schedule of YouTube videos and playing Disney Emoji Blitz 😂

Monday – rest
Tuesday – 4 miles
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – 10k + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun sandwich
Sunday – 16 miles

Since it’s the school holidays, that means I have to do to all kinds of glamorous things that I can’t fit into the school term. The list began on Monday with my dental checkup – oh the excitement! Fortunately all was well and after a quick clean of my teeth I was on my way. I actually took the chance to head into school to tidy up my classroom from when I was off, catch up on any important emails and get my head around what I had missed. I think the office staff thought I was mad going in, but not knowing what I was going back to after the holidays was causing me some stress so by going in at the start of the holidays I could alleviate that and get on with enjoying the break, safe in the knowledge that everything was in order for the start of the new term. I only stayed for about an hour and a half, basically arriving home in time for my lunch and ready to relax. No workout that day as I had pushed my mileage a little the day before, but I did do some home yoga as I was conscious I had let that slide while I was unwell and wanted to get back into the habit again.

When there’s no work I enjoy a leisurely start to the morning, which for me means making a cup of tea and taking it back to bed to read for maybe an hour. It’s so nice and such a treat when usually mornings are so frantic. Once I had done this on Tuesday, I got myself ready to run and headed out for a 4 mile recovery run. My calves were a bit weary, but nothing untoward and it was so nice to be getting out in the daylight after all those dark winter runs. I had read that it was Unicorn Day, so dutifully wore a pair of unicorn leggings to mark the occasion. It would have been rude not to!

Wednesday was a rest day, other than some yoga, but Steve and I had some codes for one or two freebies in town so I walked there and back in order to get a bit of movement into my day. First up, we claimed a small bag of Mini Eggs (yum).

Then grabbed a free coffee in Caffè Nero, treating ourselves to a little snack to go with it.

Quite a pleasant way to spend the afternoon, and I do love a freebie!

Thursday was another run and since I had the luxury of time, I decided to stretch the distance a bit. 4 miles is perfect on a school day, but I had nowhere I needed to be so went for 10k in the spring sunshine and it was lovely.

Later in the day I had my Ashtanga yoga class. I had missed a week while I was unwell and this was to be my second class since I returned. The previous one had been fine, but I had gone easy on myself in some of the transitions and had definitely felt that I lacked some of the strength I had been used to. What a difference in this class! I moved through the postures the way I normally would and felt much stronger in Wheel, completing 2 rounds. Even my Headstand was better. It really showed me how much better I was doing compared to just a week earlier and I was pleased to feel like I had really recovered.

On Friday morning I headed down to the studio for a workout focusing on my upper body. I really want to work more on my arms right now, and Steve added in some exercises that would also work my upper back/shoulders as well as my core. We’re mainly using the TRX and some small weights just now and hopefully I’ll begin to notice the results as the weeks tick by.

Post-workout I had a few errands in town so walked down. First, a haircut, which was followed by a sight test (told you school holidays were full of glamorous activities!). By a strange coincidence, my dad was also at the optician as he was due a contact lens check and my mum was meeting him there after some errands of her own. I emerged from my test to find my parents still sitting in the waiting area as it was time for their afternoon cup of tea and they were taking me with them. A pretty good surprise! We headed over to the cafe at the nearby concert hall (where my sister works) and had tea with fruit scones. It was very nice, but I failed to take a photo as I was having a conversation with my sister about our plans for the summer. Oh well, I guess you know what tea and scones look like so it’s not a big deal!

While I was out I also picked up another freebie I hadn’t been able to claim earlier in the week – an actual Easter egg (which they iced with my name). I’m looking forward to this one!

Since I was feeling so much better I decided to go for the parkun sandwich on Saturday (and wear my new Cookie Monster leggings!). I wasn’t sure how I would do on the actual parkun, so was pleased to squeak under 25 minutes with my time of 24:59. On the one hand, I know it’s not my best as I ran sub-24 right before I was ill, but on the other hand it was a significant improvement from my “comeback parkrun” the week before where I ran 26:15 and it felt super hard. The fitness is still in there and it shouldn’t take much to get back on track now.

The rest of Saturday was pretty restful. We finished season 2 of This Is Us (a total disaster since season 3 hasn’t reached the UK yet – gah!) and watched some recent episodes of Cold Feet. It’s actually been pretty good committing to a box set of something as it’s not something we usually do. I am going to need some suggestions for something new to watch though…

And then it was long run Sunday. SInce I’m using the Inverse Taper, things are going to be a bit unconventional. My most recent long run was 14 miles. I then missed a run before coming back with a 10 miler. I figured it would probably be ok to go for 16 miles for this one since I’ve got plenty of miles in my legs and experience of long runs. I certainly wouldn’t recommend this approach to a beginner!

As it turned out, the run went well. I expected to really fade towards the end but I still felt pretty strong, in fact I felt better than in my 10 miler the week before. I also noticed that my legs recovered well and I wasn’t stiff and sore during the remander of the day, which is a good sign.

And when I checked my stats in the Garmin app, I was intrigued to notice how many steps I had taken. I’ll take that as a marathon-based sign ha!

My mum visited in the afternoon as she needed to collect some things from me (any excuse to see the kittens as I could have given her these things when my parents dropped me off on Friday afternoon!) so we had a restful afternoon with tea and a slice of cake. Perfect!

Now I have one more week of building up through my Inverse Taper then a mini-taper of a week into the marathon. What could possibly go wrong? 😂

Have you successfully used the Inverse Taper for your marathon preparations?
Are you a freebie fan?

Week In Review – Time Out!

The sensible hat was well and truly on my head this past week as I decided not to run so that I could shift the cough that was troubling me. I have to say, I did miss my morning runs and by the end of the week could feel that I was needing to get out there again, but I also know it was the best decision as it meant the cough cleared pretty quickly. It doesn’t give me so much to write about here though!

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – rest
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 10k

Despite the time away from running, I still wanted to make sure I continued with yoga so on Monday night I popped a cough lozenge in my mouth and headed off to class. Apart from anything else, it was the last one before stopping for the holidays. All was good until we lay down in savasana at the end, at which point I began to cough and had to sit up through the relaxation. Thank goodness everyone there is a friend and was very nice about it. I hate being a disruption to the relaxation.

On Tuesday I opted for a home practice using a Yoga with Adriene video for when you’re feeling unwell. It was actually quite nice and did make me feel a little bit restored.

Wednesday was the last orchestra rehearsal of the term and I was keen to get there after missing the previous two. I wasn’t sure if I would stay for the whole thing or not, but there was a decision to finish earlier so I managed to last (and was enjoying it once I got there).

By Thursday I was feeling much better and the cough had been improving day by day to the point where I wasn’t really coughing much any more. I made to to Ashtanga yoga (if I had still been coughing badly I was going to give it a miss and stay at home) where I felt quite strong and actually drifted off in relaxation – quite a contrast to Monday!

I made Friday another rest day as my friend who does my nails was starting again after having her baby and I really wanted my nails done for Christmas. Of course I couldn’t resist a sparkly glitter called Winter Wonderland!

FD6L+EDERrilW%SpGhANAAAs the weekend began I was desperate to get running again and knew I would be ok. The forecast for Saturday was for some snow, but not until later in the day so parkrun was not affected. It was, however, very cold as there was an icy wind and it felt much colder than the actual temperature. This did mean we could use our normal route as the grass was nice and firm. I bundled myself up in warm gear and reluctantly removed my cosy jacket right before we started. I had no idea how I would get on – either the rest would have me feeling great or I’d go out too fast and pay for it. As I began I genuinely thought I was going too fast and was going to pay, but I was able to sustain the effort for a Royal Flush Negative Split (yes!) and a 24:22 finish. Much speedier than I expected, but possibly all in aid of staying warm.

IMG_4062That evening Steve was out at a festive gathering but for me it was all about one thing – the Strictly Come Dancing final. I had my disco diva leggings, a glass of prosecco and some snacks to see me through and I loved it. Only problem is, once it’s over I feel sad that I will have such a long wait until the next series 🙁

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56659412792__44AB02A0-3C0B-4FA2-9CA5-E9D3E6093632But while I was watching the snow did fall and lay on the roads. It was quite a surprise to see this when I looked out of the window!

z2fWv3YXTj+G02pv3Kt%mgIt was still there on Sunday morning, but the low overnight temperature meant it was actually quite slippery so I decided on a 10k route where I could run on main roads and hopefully avoid the worst of it. I also popped my trusty Yaktrax back on my shoes to give me plenty of grip.

oh5qg%IpRca6pgfFzPHs%AIt was quite a pleasant run, but I have to say it felt a bit too easy so I’m looking forward to getting some more running done during the coming week to make up for it.

RPUegNFkTYyeazFs3JF0mAAfter that, a few errands then time for another Christmas movie. You can’t go wrong with The Muppets and this one always makes me feel Christmas-y. A lovely way to finish the week.

z4EuG+xWTheJ8Tj3gnnpmQHave you had snow so far this winter?
What’s your favourite Christmas movie?

Week In Review – Music and Remembrance

Another week, another week in review! Things are just ticking along for me training-wise right now and we’re coming into that time of year when there are all sorts of other things going on that take up time, so I’m not putting any pressure on myself when it comes to my training, I just want to aim for consistency. Here’s what I did last week:

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

My week got off to a good start with a Monday which did not have a staff meeting at the end of it. I couldn’t believe the difference that made to how much less tired I felt at the end of the day, but it created a little more space to get organised before yoga. I was really pleased to get some post which included a fun new T-shirt and the medal from a virtual race I had been taking part in during August, September and October to cover 140 miles (mostly done in September and October as my August mileage was low).

IMG_0128Yoga was nice and relaxing. I’m enjoying the new space our class is in (within the same building) but it was unusual to be moving into yoga postures to a soundtrack of fireworks since it was bonfire night and we weren’t too far from an organised display!

8J2jJbK%TNq4YXJdnV52JgI was up early on Tuesday to get out for my run. My intention is to treat this one as a recovery run, that way when my Sunday long run mileage is much higher during marathon training, my body will be used to an easier effort on a Tuesday. Right now, this means a 4 mile loop at a reasonably easy pace to build some base miles and a little bit of endurance.

+ejLWRumRwG9m45yzbtfEwThe rest of Tuesday was pretty busy. It began with me observing a PE lesson out on the school playing fields so I went in wearing my kit and had a change of clothes in a bag for afterwards. Right before leaving the house I glanced in the bag to see that the kittens were sending me to work with one of their toys which they had added to the bag 😹

56318327619__B5857985-8740-4872-80A8-36BDDA5550E2Wednesday, however, was very different. I had a parents’ evening after work which made for a very long day. It was always going to be a rest day from any training, and a good thing too since I was pretty tired by the time I got home and had very little time for myself.

Despite this, I still got up on Thursday morning and headed out for my run. I decided to repeat my loop from Tuesday and see how it compared. Interestingly, with no particular change in my effort level I was actually a little quicker. Perhaps the difference of longer recovery time since my Sunday long run.

IMG_0146That evening I was at my Ashtanga yoga class and my usual teacher was back. I found that I felt really strong and when we got to the backbends (when I usually do one bridge, one wheel and one final bridge) I started with a bridge then held two strong wheel postures. Any time I’ve tried that before, the second one wasn’t great so that’s a pleasing indication of developing strength. I was also really pleased with my headstand after not having the chance to practise it last time. This week I flipped up into the headstand reasonably easily and held for 10 long breaths – the longest I’ve managed so far. At the end of the class I felt fantastic.

Steve was able to fit me in for a training session after work on Friday so I was back at the studio again. This week he had me working through a circuit of exercises (mainly using the TRX but with one using the Core Momentum Trainer) with 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off for 3 rounds. It was actually quite hard work! Hopefully this will continue to help me build strength and improve my running.

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He just can’t help himself!

The weekend itself was a packed one. I started on Saturday morning with parkrun. It was quite a nice morning and I was curious to see where my fitness was as my morning runs have been at an easier pace. Although I slowed very slightly with each mile, I was pleased with my finish time of 24:18 as that’s the fastest I’ve run since mid-September. We’re heading into the time of year when a hard effort doesn’t always result in a fast time due to the weather/course conditions so it was good to get a decent time in just now as testament to my recent training.

IMG_0198We did go for our usual post-run coffee/bacon croissant with Steve’s brother and squeezed in a food shop before I was due at the concert hall for my orchestra rehearsal.

f0ooccCfTdG1313%woQEvAAfter 3 hours of rehearsing Steve picked me up to get home for food and a change of clothes before returning for my concert. Some of our music this time presented some challenge, but with the full forces of the orchestra in place, I thought we sounded fantastic. I was pretty tired afterwards though!

TP%q1JvXRviDBS+%EnUCdQOn Sunday I headed out for my run a little earlier than usual (for a Sunday) as Steve and I had some plans for later. I’ve been building mileage over the last 3 weeks so decided to mimic the pattern I follow during marathon training and cut back this week to 10k. It wasn’t the nicest of mornings weather-wise, but I enjoyed the run.

uV+oyp%2S9m+d4SEO8cJWwOnce showered and changed, we drove down to St Andrews to be part of the Pages of the Sea event to mark the centenary of the armistice. At selected beaches around the UK, film-maker Danny Boyle was encouraging communities to come together to say goodbye to various individuals who left these shores during the First World War. In St Andrews, this was Elsie Inglis, a pioneering surgeon and suffragette. The image of each individual was created in the sand while the tide was out, then gradually washed away as the tide came back in to say a final goodbye. There’s some great time-lapse footage of the image of Wilfred Owen being created on the beach in Folkestone on the BBC website.

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Photo credit: National Theatre of Scotland Facebook page

6rTLfWU1RqaRNWKwfXm43AAs well as the main image, there were stencils available so individuals could create the image of a soldier to add to a kind of “army in the sand” which would also be washed away with the tide. These could be dedicated to someone from your own family that you wanted to honour. Mine was for my great great uncle who died of cellulitis from the wound sustained after being shot at the Somme in 1916. His memorial is in Rouen.

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bmWgX%2+QBWiRTuKRZMicAIt was quite chilly and about to rain so we headed off to warm up with a coffee and cake before returning to the beach to see the images being washed away.

UGRDkbEcTFyKaK4oOMM71AWhen we got back, the volunteers who had been leading the event were gathered by the remainder of the stencilled soldiers and reading aloud the poem specially commissioned for the occasion. It was written by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, whose work I have been studying with my seniors this year, and I have been stressing to them how incredible it is to be studying the work of a living poet who is recording the same world they are experiencing. I really like this poem and loved the fact that copies were available at this event, all printed on the back of an image of someone being commemorated. The whole thing was a remarkable and unique tribute and I’m so glad we made the effort to go.

jkci6Y7zQPq4Ka7WRW+QfA
G5ZZwwP+QJ+r8%ZPbhhvrw
A+rorJIfQ%OqsoOYWtyofg
jaC3pReoSjy3efDauVUiagArriving home, it was finally time to relax in front of the TV and get some kitten snuggles.Phew!

0TvrtUBZSSO02uZVjQRhtQWhat have you had a breakthrough with recently?
Did you go to any events marking Remembrance Day?

Week In Review – Taking Some Down Time

Having just raced a half marathon, I decided to make the second week of my holiday all about recovering properly and making sure I was as well rested as possible to set me up for the term ahead. This meant the early part of the week, in particular, was pretty quiet with lots of reading to give me a chance to chill and some home yoga to stretch out my body.

Monday – rest
Tuesday – rest
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 10k

Monday was probably about as lazy as it gets. I didn’t set an alarm and woke up pretty late for me. I then proceeded to spend most of the day curled up in my comfy chair reading – I even took another nap so I must have really been needing some more rest!

On Tuesday I thought I had better get a bit more movement since I barely got past 1000 steps all day on Monday! I did begin the day with a cup of tea and my book in bed, but after breakfast I took a walk down to the retail park as I had a few errands then spent the afternoon catching up on a few bits and pieces at home.

The evening was a little busier as I had a sports massage booked to get my legs feeling tip top again after the half marathon. After that, I picked my sister up to head down to the theatre for a performance of The 306: Dusk. This was the third part of a trilogy (last year was part two The 306: Day and the year before it all started with The 306: Dawn) marking the centenary of the First World War and the 306 soldiers executed for cowardice and desertion. It was another moving piece of theatre and I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity to see all three parts, even if it has been one per year.

UntitledWednesday was about the only day I had actual plans as Steve and I needed to go to Ikea and this was the day that Steve was available. An Ikea trip is always fun as you never really know what you’re going to come away with! We started our visit with some breakfast which was pretty tasty (and a bargain price!).

Ap0626xYTJC5ORm+B+jUywWe then toured the store, managing to actually get what we had gone for (an uplighter for our living room) and a number of additional items which will either be incredibly useful or never seen again 😂

Once we had put our purchases in the car, we decided to go back in and get some meatballs for lunch. I mean, if you go to Ikea and don’t have meatballs, did you really go at all?

waWBzbXnRtSoytaaqBT6RQI actually needed a nap when we got home – apparently Ikea had taken it out of me haha! But once I was feeling a bit more refreshed I made a start on one of those projects that’s best left until holidays – reorganising all my wardrobe and drawers. I spent some of the evening on it then the bulk of Thursday, really only stopping to eat. I still made sure to get to my Ashtanga class on Thursday evening as a chance to walk away from all the reorganising and clear my head a bit. Once again I felt strong in wheel and managed my headstand, so I’m thinking that my unexpected breakthrough with that a couple of weeks ago has changed my mindset to the belief that I CAN do headstand, thus making me less apprehensive about it.

I began Friday with a training session over at Steve’s studio. After a week off training it was good to get back to it and we used the TRX to work on my upper body/core. After that I still had a tiny bit of my project to finish off then in the late afternoon we headed into town as there was an “immersive sound experience” I wanted to go to at the theatre. It was titled Charlie Ward and was set up like a WW1 field hospital. It drew on a time when Charlie Chaplin films were projected onto the roof of the tent to help keep patients’ spirits up, however as we lay on a hospital bed, we “became” the patient in that bed thanks to speakers around the headboard and co-ordinated effects in the screening of the film which allowed us to get inside the patient’s head as the film triggered a variety of memories ranging from his childhood to the injury he received. At various points we were also aware of the sounds of other patients reacting to the film and the sounds of the war beyond the tent canvas. It was about 15 minutes long and was both really immersive and quite powerful.

LmWM5DxEQqS5qEwAz4MnOQAfterwards, we had a cup of tea in the theatre cafe as I was meeting my sister and my parents about an hour later for dinner before we went to a show along the road in the concert hall. I had a nice caprese salad followed by a fragrant chicken curry, both of which were pretty tasty.

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cJbGHGPnSQaDU6qcztRbnQThe show we went to was called Beyond the Barricade, a touring group of former Les Misérables principals who have put together this show featuring some of the most well-known songs from the most popular musicals. I LOVE show tunes so this was the perfect evening for me and I found it really hard not to sing along! My sister and I were both raised on show tunes and had the chance to see lots of musicals growing up so we both really love things like this. It was a great evening.

Saturday morning saw me back at parkrun and my first run all week. I felt well rested, but I never know how that will translate into my performance. Although I wasn’t looking to go all out, I probably started a bit too steady so when the first mile ticked by at 8:20, I knew I had the capacity to push on a bit, which I did. It was really satisfying to see each mile clock in faster than the one before it for a Royal Flush Negative Split and a 24:36 finish time. I’ve not really pushed myself hard over parkrun in a while, so being able to produce that fairly comfortably felt good and is an indication that I probably have a bit more in me right now if I wanted to go for it.

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Got to love the Royal Flush!

IMG_0004After parkrun I had a quick freshen up and change then it was back into town for my “back to school” haircut. My hairdresser decided to curl the ends of my hair to show me how much it has grown – this time last year there was no way she could have done that! – and I’ll maybe play around with that myself some time. When my hair was long I used to do things like that occasionally so I’m sure I still have some tongs somewhere…

zHACVJUGTQWGf9qY%G5CxwI kept the remainder of the day pretty chilled since it had been a busy few days what with all my reorganising, and it was nice to settle into my chair, drink tea and watch Strictly with one of the kittens – he’s such a big softie!

3VConksMQkyRGTiQUsSc2AI knew I would run on Sunday morning, but I also knew there was no need to do anything particularly long. Now that I’ve run my last race of the year, it’s all about keeping the miles ticking over and building a solid base ahead of cranking things up for marathon training as the new year begins. I had a fairly leisurely start then headed out for 10k at a reasonably easy pace, which just so happened to coincide with the heavens opening so I enjoyed one of Mother Nature’s refreshing showers as I ran. Despite that, it was still a good run and so weird to be done, showered and out for our weekly coffee before lunch!

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Not gonna lie, I was convinced I would have hair colour running down my face 😂

The afternoon was spent on some oh-so-glamorous housework before settling in for a bit of evening telly and my Sunday night bath. Let’s just hope the first week of the new term is fairly painless!

Are you a fan of Ikea meatballs?
Would you enjoy an evening of show tunes?