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)?

Friday Finds – 24th April

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

Everyone ok? I’m back to let you know that today is definitely Friday (I checked!) and share a few bits and pieces of reading material to help you pass the time. Mind you, lots of outlets really are working hard to keep the content coming to stave off boredom right now. In some ways, I quite like it (but having a bit more freedom wouldn’t go wrong!).

Let’s start with a few recent bits related to the current global pandemic and its impact on running and fitness:

This piece by Matt Lindner for Medium really resonated with me as I recognise so much of what he covers – the empty streets, the feeling of being the only one about and the opportunity to shift the time that I run so there’s not quite such an early start. Running and other workouts are definitely one of the things helping to keep me in balance right now and I know I’m not alone in that

Also in Medium, Rui Bento reflects on his marathon journey on a day when he should have been running his next. While I didn’t have a spring marathon planned this year, I did have running plans and have found some comfort in remembering previous race experiences. How about you?

Meanwhile Runner’s World reports on another unusual lockdown marathon – this time INSIDE a Premier Inn. I just don’t think I could face it!

As well as highlighting the ways in which being fit can help to protect us against the most severe symptoms of Covid-19.

Moving to other topics, this next piece is a bit older (from last autumn) and I’m trying hard to overlook the use of a capital ‘P’ when “parkrun” is all lower case, but the part that stands out to me most right now is about the idea of devotion to parkrun, the community spirit and group identity people gain from being a parkrunner. That’s even more obvious just now as people seek ways to create makeshift parkruns in their gardens or replicate the post-run coffee with video calls. From parkrun itself there is the weekly quiz and other online content designed to keep that spirit alive. I just wish it hadn’t taken a pandemic for us to truly realise that it always was so much more than a run.

If you’re looking for a longer read then the BBC published this piece profiling everyone’s favourite marathon runner, Eliud Kipchoge.

And finally, we may not be racing any time soon, but we can still amuse ourselves with some race-related pet peeves. Anything you would add to this list? For me it’s the “unisex” (not a thing) race T-shirt which invariably looks like a tent on me and cannot ever be worn. There are still too many race organisers who need to learn that women are not small men and produce appropriate items – after all, we’re paying the same entry fee. (Yes, this one REALLY annoys me!).

Stay safe. Be kind. Wash your hands.
The Running Princess 

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 – Let’s Catch Up!

If you regularly read my posts then you’ve maybe noticed there’s been a bit of a gap since I last published anything – you might even have wondered, passingly, why not. The answer (for those interested) is that life just rather got in the way for a bit there, with our school inspection being followed by mock exams, coursework deadlines and a mild but ill-timed head cold. All of these things combined left me feeling pretty wiped out and since I’ve been putting in a lot of extra time at work, even if I had the time to write anything, the mental capacity just wasn’t there. Today I’ll catch you up and then (hopefully) get back to a reasonably normal posting schedule.

Week 1:
Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 3.9 miles, PT session with Steve + home yoga
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – rest
Friday – rest
Saturday – rest
Sunday – rest

The first week after my last Week In Review post began perfectly normally with my Monday night Hatha class. The session was all low to the floor and focused on building strength.

The next morning I was up as usual for my morning run, but it was yet another slippery morning. I kept the pace down and had to cut my route a little short, hence the 3.9 rather than 4 miles. But when I stopped running I noticed that I coughed a little bit and wondered where that had come from. I was fine the rest of the day, so figured it was probably just the cold air in my lungs.

After work I had a TRX workout in Steve’s studio then headed home for a little  bit of yoga.

I hadn’t planned a workout on the Wednesday as I was getting my nails done, but noticed throughout the day that my throat felt a little irritated and I was coughing a bit. I decided it would be wise not to run on the Thursday and focus on getting some extra sleep to try and nip whatever it was in the bud. This turned out to be the best course of action as I felt pretty wiped out on the Thursday and Friday but was able to shake off the cold completely over the weekend once I got a bit more rest. I even skipped Ashtanga yoga on the Thursday in favour of a relaxing bath and time at home.

Licorice soothes my throat and these are my favourite!

The remainder of the week was pretty much written off. I went to work as usual but it did make me feel pretty tired as I was trying to focus on marking mock exams at a time when my head felt like cotton wool. But everything else was off the table – no parkrun on the Saturday (yes, I missed Leap Day parkun) and no Sunday run. Instead I spent most of the Saturday relaxing and napping, then took it easy-ish on the Sunday with a quiet day at home and a little marking. It did the trick though and I felt so much better going into the new week (not much to be done about the constant tiredness at this time of year!). At least the kitties were pleased to have me about, even if their approach to marking was a little unhelpful!

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

Although I was feeling better, my routine wasn’t entirely back to normal in the second week as my friend who teaches my Monday night yoga class had been in touch over the weekend to say that she wasn’t feeling great and was going to cancel the class for that week. She probably had something similar to me so I totally understand her decision and did a yoga session at home instead.

I could probably have run on the Tuesday but decided to play it safe and have a full week off running before returning, just to make sure I was fully over the cold. I did, however, head to the studio for another TRX workout when I got home.

After my usual Wednesday rest day (read: another chance to work late to plough through mock exams and coursework) I made the Thursday my return to running with a gentle 4 miles. One thing I really noticed was how much lighter it was at the end of my run. It won’t be long until I can put my hi-viz away for the summer!

Sadly I didn’t make it to Ashtanga, despite my best intentions, as I had too much to finish at work and just didn’t make it back in time.

My Friday workout with Steve was a series of exercise variations based around press ups and using my body weight.

Then it was back to the parkrun sandwich on the Saturday. I fully expected to be over 25 minutes as I didn’t really want to push too hard, so was pleasantly surprised to be just under 24:30.

I spent the majority of the rest of the day at home thanks to a poorly puss throwing a spanner in the works. Nothing serious, a fairly routine matter easily and quickly resolved with the correct treatment (she’s perfectly fine now), but feeling out of sorts tends to make this one pretty grumpy and she takes it out on her poor brother so we had to keep them apart for a bit in order to keep the peace! However we had been invited to the press night of the latest show at the theatre (one of my favourites – The Importance of Being Earnest – and with the fabulous Karen Dunbar as Lady Bracknell) and Steve insisted that I should go while he stayed at home with the cats. My protestations of having work to do were met with a refusal to let me do anymore so I did end up going and I’m glad I did as the performance was fantastic. I even treated myself to an ice cream and managed not to wince too visibly at the price!

And on the Sunday I figured I would be best to drop back to 8 miles and build my distance up again. I took a route out to and through my favourite woodland park, which was a nice mental break after feeling like I was spending every waking hour at work!

So there you have it. The short version is I had a cold and probably spent too much time at work, but hopefully I can get my posts back on track now.

What have you been up to since I last posted?
Do you like going to the theatre?

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?

Week In Review – Break Time!

This was definitely a week of two halves – REALLY busy in the early part of the week at work as we prepared for our inspection, then much more laid back as it was the long weekend we get for our mid-term break. That break was probably exactly what I needed to hit reset and get a bit of rest before a Really Big Week at work. I also made a few tweaks to my training to take account of how I was feeling and the weather conditions (Storm Ciara segued “seamlessly” into Storm Dennis).

Monday – rest
Tuesday4 miles PT session with Steve + home yoga
Wednesday –  3.5 miles + home yoga
Thursday – 5 miles + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve + Hatha yoga
Saturday – parkrun open sandwich + home yoga
Sunday – 10.5 miles + home yoga

The start of the week was really rather quiet training-wise. I had parents’ evening on Monday (the last one for this school year – yippee!) which meant missing my yoga class and what with everything else going on at work right now, overall it was a really busy day and I was exhausted by the time I got home, not least because it was a fairly tricky journey with lots of snow still about courtesy of Storm Ciara!

This meant that when my alarm went off for my Tuesday morning run, I just couldn’t face it. I STILL felt really drained from the day before and the conditions outside sounded truly awful – high winds, heavy rain – so after a quick check of the weather forecast for the following day, I decided to postpone my run and have a bit more sleep instead. I think this was probably the best idea as even though a run would have made me feel good, it was far better at this point to prioritise rest and recovery.

But I didn’t want the whole day to be a write-off so still had my PT session with Steve at the end of the day. For this one he had worked out this sequence whereby one exercise was added for each set. The first round was a simple squat, and by the end there were all sorts of other things along the way, such as a tuck jump burpee! It certainly mixed things up and woke me up!

Once home, I got back to some home yoga again as I thought it would be a great way to settle myself down a little before doing some work in the evening.

I did get up for my run on Wednesday morning and while the wind had settled a little and the rain was off, this time it was the underfoot conditions that were tricky as all the rain/snow showers from the day before had frozen so there was black ice and white, frosty paths. The roads were ok so I was able to create a shortened version of my usual run route and kept the pace down to avoid slipping. This run was more about getting time outside and adding some movement and headspace to my day than anything else, so it didn’t really matter what sort of run it was.

It was an inservice day at work and we were given almost the whole day (bar a meeting first thing) to focus on getting organised for the inspection. I was really glad of this as it had allowed me to plan for using that time for some displays I wanted to update and lesson plans I wanted to tweak, but it was still quite full-on and I instructed Steve to make sure I didn’t do any work when I got home that evening as it had already been such a busy week that I knew I had to stop and take a proper break in order to look after myself. So when I got home I made sure to do some yoga then settled down for a cosy and quiet evening.

Thankfully, that was it for work for the week (at least as far as turning up to the building was concerned) with Thursday and Friday being our mid-term break. There were a couple of things I still wanted to do for work but decided to take those two days for myself and catch up with the work stuff on Saturday afternoon. It may be a big week ahead, but I’ll be no good without proper rest to set me up for it. My car was booked into the garage on Thursday as I needed some routine work done, so I dropped it off first thing and ran the scenic route home. In better weather I would have run some form drills, but Steve had been concerned that it would still be slippery, plus there was still some wind and rain about so simply getting a run in was perfectly fine. It’s actually only about 2 miles from the garage to our house, so it was quite a detour I took to bring it to 5! Even better, I arrived home to find that my most recent virtual race medal had arrived – I just couldn’t resist Bagpuss!

I had some other errands to take care of so dealt with those in the afternoon before collecting my car, thus freeing up most of Friday for some me time. Then in the evening I had my Ashtanga class. It was interesting to be in the class feeling more rested that usual and I was conscious that I felt strong in so many of the postures. When it came to headstand, I did a little work on it by myself, holding it for about a breath or so, then had my teacher support me to hold the position for a little longer. Still building confidence there.

On Friday morning I had the time to start the day with some (professional) reading in bed with a cup of tea and the kitties.

I then headed down to the studio to have my PT session in the morning; press up variations using grips. These were really targeting my core as well and my abs have been reminding me of their existence ever since!

I’m surprised I managed a smile rather than a grimace!

My next port of call was a yoga class. Since I missed my Monday night Hatha class, my teacher was happy for me to go along to her Friday morning class instead. It’s good that she lets us do that as we pay in blocks rather than for individual classes so this means we can “catch up” if there’s one we have to miss. I think I prefer yoga in the afternoon/evening to the morning, but it was still a nice way to unwind as I had planned a quiet afternoon doing nice things for myself. By which I mean Disney movies with my blanket, several cups of tea and kitty cuddles.

We rounded off our day with our usual meal at the nearby pub and, since it was Valentine’s Day, opted for a steak dinner. Delicious!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was clear on Saturday morning that it was going to be another “character building” parkrun with a forecast of wind and rain as Storm Dennis made his entrance. Steve was RD so he went out for an early run, at which point the weather was ok, and even as I ran down to parkrun it was fine, but as the run progressed the conditions got worse – and my pace got slower! in the end I did (just) squeeze under 24 minutes, but it was quite a battle, especially on the home straight where I was running into a strong headwind and felt like I was going backwards!

Still, another parkrun done and this one was my 200th – not an official parkrun milestone and therefore not one that should be routinely celebrated, but some RDs at our parkrun do mention unofficial milestones in their briefings, especially when there aren’t many other milestone runners that week, and Steve did call out mine so I got my photo taken for this week’s “rogue’s gallery” haha!

Post-run I helped Steve out with some bits and pieces as we were going straight to the cafe for him to process the results, rather than running home. Thankfully I had the foresight to send him off in the car with a complete change of clothes for me, so I was a bit warmer than I would otherwise have been thanks to being soaked from the rain!

After all that effort I DEFINITELY wanted a bath to warm up in the afternoon, and it made me smile to see that my bubble bath had arranged itself into a love heart!

When I woke up on Sunday I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do for my run. I knew that it would be dry at the point when I wanted t go out, but the high winds and strong gusts would still be about into Monday so there was no avoiding another tough run. So how far to go? Steve had been out earlier and suggested trying to run in fairly built up areas to get a bit of shelter, so I ended up heading out with with no overall plan other than to take things as they came and see what happened. I ended up going in a different direction to begin with, then reversing some of my staple route to end up with a hard-earned 10.5 miles. I also discovered that there really was no tailwind! Despite running in a loop, pretty much every way I turned I seemed to be running straight into the wind. It definitely felt hard in places, but no doubt will be good for me long term. Besides, with no real plans right now other than to run for enjoyment, it doesn’t really matter what my run is, I’m just enjoying the time on my feet and headspace running gives me to reset and get some fresh air – and there was certainly plenty of air about on this run!

To give you a flavour of the conditions, here are a couple of pictures Steve took when he was out. The first one should be a viewpoint looking out at the river. The second is what would normally be part of our regular parkrun route (we’re still on our alternative course right now).

The water isn’t high enough for the flood defences to be activated, but there’s still quite a bit of high water here! The rain seems to have stopped for now but the high winds are still here so who knows what the week ahead will have in store!

How did Storm Dennis affect you?
What’s your favourite thing to do for a bit of down time?