Week In Review – Ice Ice Baby!

Yes, I know the title of this one probably made you groan, but this past week has really been all about the ice (and not in a Torvill and Dean kind of way!). It required a little flexibility in my plan – although let’s face it I’m the queen of changing things around! – but ultimately I did complete all my workouts, albeit with some at a lower intensity than I would have liked.

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 4 miles
Wednesday – form drills
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun sandwich
Sunday – 10 miles

My week began with a lovely Hatha class on Monday evening. Sadly I’ll be away from this class for much of February for a variety of reasons, so to plug the gap I’ll be making sure to do some home practice using Yoga with Adriene videos on YouTube. I’m still conscious that I’d like to fit a little more yoga into my weekly routine as I know I felt really good at this point last year when I had a couple more sessions in there, but somehow it’s just not been a priority yet. Something to work on moving forward.

Just for a change, Tuesday morning was cold and thus a bit slippy. For my easy-paced recovery run this wasn’t much of an issue so long as I was careful, but I was already concerned about the forecast for increasingly cold weather (although thankfully not as cold as for those under the Polar Vortex!) as I didn’t want to miss out on my Thursday drills again. Cue me stalking the weather apps on my phone to try and figure out what to do…

The picture selected for this story amused me!

It was in the car on the way to work on Wednesday that I was struck – far too late – by the solution: we have a fitness suite in the PE department as school. There is a treadmill there. Therefore on days when running outside isn’t possible, there’s a Plan B. Except for this to work I would really have needed kit with me to go that day after school. D’oh! However I did know that the temperature was going to be reasonable that evening, so decided to move my Thursday morning drills to Wednesday after work. It meant skipping orchestra as it’s just too tight to fit it all in, but I was able to get out and complete my reps. Ok, so there were still some spots where I had to be careful, but it was a far more satisfactory run than waiting until the following morning when, as it turned out, the temperature was about -7C!

On the plus side, not gettting up for a morning run meant I could sleep a little longer on Thursday morning and I was feeling good when I went to yoga that evening. It was pretty cold outside, but the studio was cosy and I always find I’m pretty warm after the opening sequences of sun salutations, so really enjoyed it. I remembered the adjustment I had made in Wheel last week and again found the posture much easier, and my headstand felt good as well.

Steve had a space for me on Friday afternoon when I got back from work and I was thrilled(!) to find he had another circuit lined up for me. This time we used very little in the way of kit, it was more a form of HIIT training but with running-specific exercises to work on form and intensity. Each round was progressively harder so the skill was built up and by the end of the session my hip flexors were definitely feeling a little weary!

That evening there was a little snow and I wasn’t sure what that would mean for parkrunday. I was certain the run itself would be on, but I was hoping to run there and back so long as the underfoot conditions were ok. Steve had an early client so I awaited his report when he came back in and it was good news, so off we went to run down the road.

It was an exciting parkrun this week (and not just because it was pacer week haha!). We had a crew from Sky TV there making a film commissioned by one of the parkrun sponsors. This series of films is featuring the stories of parkrunners and is intended to demonstrate the positive physical and mental benefits that regular community exercise promotes. The film being made in Perth was about parkrunner John McPhee who has Parkinson’s. John featured in the weekly parkrun newsletter last year, and I also know him from my Monday night Hatha yoga class. While the focus was on John, all runners had to be informed about them filming as they would likely be in some of the background shots.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So obviously, I made sure I was wearing a pair of leggings that would ensure I would be able to spot myself on camera when the film is ready!

Actually, as the pacers were lined up during the (very thorough, because TV!) briefing, the cameras were on us so fingers crossed I may show up in the final edit.

Capturing our “best sides” 😂

I had my usual 28 minutes and knew there were one or two people hoping to follow me. I know an average of about 9:05 per mile takes me round our route in about the right time, so that is generally my aim and although the first mile was slightly slower due to congestion (and a cameraman in the middle of the path!) I settled in very slightly too fast after that, but the runners who were sticking with me were right there and I do let the pace push on a bit if I think they are coping as I can then offer some advice and encouragement to help them get a better time. I finished in 27:47, a little ahead but perfect for those looking to run sub-28. I even learned afterwards that a couple of people got a PB from following me and it’s so nice to see the joy on their faces and have them seek you out to say thank you. I really love pacing and happily do it even when I don’t think anyone is running with me, but knowing I have been a part of an achievement for someone else is so gratifying.

Trying out our new selfie frame

We hung around a little to chat to John, who by this point had finished the run at least twice – once just in front of me and once for the cameras – and caught up with a few others before we set off for home. We knew we were a little tight for time to get back into town to meet Steve’s brother, and Steve actually suggested that I could stay in town while he ran home, got the car and then met me at the cafe, but I wanted the run so decided to run home, make a couple of quick, tactical changes in kit then jump straight in the car with Steve to meet his brother “parkrun fresh”. I have to say, I’m not that fussed about not squeezing in a shower and change, but do make sure to spray something nice to cover up any less-than-fragrant aromas for the benefit of those around us!

Waking up on Sunday I could see it was a bit slippery looking again due to the temperature dipping below freezing again overnight. My original plan was to run 10 miles steady – i.e. approaching marathon pace – but Steve said that in these conditions it was more about getting out the door and seeing what happened (ideally not falling over!). Neither pace nor distance were particularly important anymore. To account for the underfoot conditions when I set out, I decided not to run my usual 10 mile route, but to take a route almost entirely on main roads, going out to the woodland park and back. I did know this wasn’t 10 miles, but figured I could find a way to stretch the distance if the conditions were ok.

Most of the paths were fine, but between miles 2 and 4 it started to snow and I wasn’t sure if that was going to be it for the rest of the run. But when I got to the woodland park, it stopped. To be honest, I was a little disappointed as I had plans to take pretty, wintery photos there in the snow. I still took the pictures, I just no longer had the bonus snow falling in them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I added a couple of extra looped sections on my way home to stretch the distance out, and in mile 8 it was clear that I really needed to a faster run as I ran that mile much quicker than even my original goal pace for this run had been. It was a nice flat section which had been well-treated against ice, and although I made no conscious decision to speed up, my body obviously knew what it wanted to do. All in all a good run and I’m feeling ready to start increasing the distance through February.

I hadn’t intended to take another photo post-run, but when I caught sight of the state of my hair when I finished, I couldn’t resist!

It was kinda “crunchy” from the cold air haha!

Working around the weather has been a little frustrating, but right now time on my feet is probably the most important thing and there’s plenty of time to build pace and endurance through the next couple of months. For now, I’m happy I have a solid base and am feeling good.

How has your training been affected by the weather this week?
Have you ever been on film/tv (either directly or in the background)?

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Week In Review – Brrrr!

It’s nearly the end of January! I’ll admit it’s not my favourite month of the year. I find January pretty grim in general, but do enjoy getting stuck into my marathon training so tend to put my focus there, ticking off the workouts, and the month zips by far more quickly. The training is also a great distraction from the fact that January seems to be about 11 weeks long after last being paid before Christmas as there’s not much time to think about anything beyond weekly essentials.

This week I shifted a few things around (yes, changes to the plan already, but sticking to it religiously just never works) due to various factors. I still had a really good week of training, even if the weather wasn’t playing ball for most of the week.

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 4 miles
Wednesdayrest PT session with Steve
Thursdayform drills 4 miles + Ashtanga yoga
FridayPT session with Steve rest
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 12 miles with every 3rd mile faster

If you compare that to the first couple of weeks of the month then you’ll see it’s a “Morecambe and Wise” training week – all the right workouts just not necessarily in the right order 😂.

The first part of the week was fine: my usual Monday night yoga class to stretch away the miles I had run the day before then home to lay out my kit for my Tuesday morning run. I knew it was going to be cold and when I got up on Tuesday I realised that there were going to be lots of slippery patches as the ground had been wet before the temperature dropped. My street was actually slippy enough for me to not start my run until I had walked out onto the main road and as I set off on my typical route, I ran on the road as much as possible since it was fine there. The pavement running alongside had sections that were fine and sections with icy patches so I didn’t want to take any risks and took it easy if I had to step onto the pavement to stay clear of any cars.

It ended up being a fairly slow run, but if Tuesday is a recovery run then that really doesn’t matter. I still got my miles done (which involved a bit of an adjustment to my route to account for not running in my own street) and set me up for the day.

My PT session in Steve’s studio was moved to Wednesday since I wasn’t going to be able to fit it in on Friday. At first I thought I would miss the workout altogether, but Steve had a space for me to pop in on Wednesday when I got back from work. He had another circuit planned for me, but ended up adapting it a little as I was feeling some tension across the front of my shoulders in some of the exercises so we did some work to relieve that, cutting some of the circuit down in order to fit it in. I was actually feeling pretty tired, probably more mental fatigue than physical as I had been reading essays for much of the day, so decided I needed a night at home rather than heading to orchestra. I’ve been trying not to miss rehearsals, but the thought of having to spend more mental energy on reading print in front of me – albeit in the form of musical notes – just felt like too much. So I headed home, got into some comfy clothes and watched a bit of tv before having a really early night.

Before bed I laid out my kit for my Thursday morning run. It was supposed to be another set of form drills, but since I knew that there was going to be another overnight freeze (and there had been a light flurry of snow since my last run that was freezing in place in some parts) I ditched that idea and decided just to have another 4 mile run at whatever pace was possible in the conditions. It would be more about time on my feet than a specific workout.

On Thursday morning it was indeed slippy again. This time I wore my all terrain shoes for a little more grip and once more had to walk out of our street to begin my run on the main road. I followed the same route as on Tuesday, again trying to stick to the roads rather than the pavements, but this time if I had to step onto the pavement I actually had to stop running as there were far more slippery patches and I didn’t want to risk a fall. It was a bit irritating to find that my pace was actually SLOWER than on Tuesday despite feeling much fresher, and I was frustrated that I couldn’t stretch my legs out and run faster, but safety has to come first. Plenty of time for harder efforts when the weather is better.

I finished Thursday with my Ashtanga class. My teacher made a suggestion to me about my foot position in Wheel and after trying what she suggested to create a wider and more stable base, the posture instantly felt so much easier. I’m pleased she suggested the adjustment as it’s not always easy to tell for yourself when you’re in a posture and an outside eye is useful. And after that my headstand was better than last week’s effort too, so it felt like a really useful class in terms of my yoga development.

Friday became my rest day, mainly because I was getting my nails done. They grow so fast and I’m really pushing my luck to keep my gel polish on beyond 3 weeks!

But guess what we did on parkrunday? Yup, we were tourists again. Steve is still doing his running club’s winter challenge and since he had no morning clients, we thought it was the ideal time to go to the parkrun furthest away from us (as far as this challenge is concerned) which was Dunfermline.

And it turns out we picked the best day to go there as two members of the local running club were getting married that day and they were starting off at parkrun with a huge turnout from their club to support them. I read a post about this on facebook before we set off, but hadn’t expected to find out that Steve knew the groom, Mind you, I really shouldn’t be surprised at these things anymore as he knows EVERYONE!

We also bumped into a friend we met through running and haven’t seen since she visited our parkrun maybe a year (or perhaps even longer!) ago. I had suspected we would see her so once we had parked (practically by the start line and free parking – handy!) and located the toilets, Steve went for a quick warm up and I wondered off to see if I could spot our friend. As soon as she saw me she came and gave me a hug then insisted we take a jumping photo together. It’s a bit trickier to get a good shot of more than one person, but we got there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We went to the first timers’ briefing to get an overview of the course then lined up ready to start. The run briefing obviously focused on the wedding party and a couple of milestones (our friend was running her 50th – definitely a great day for us to show up!) then we were underway.

The course itself is really good. A short starting section followed by 3 loops before the finishing straight (which is close to the start). It’s far from flat, with a couple of decent hills to climb, but there’s also an awesome swooping downhill before the longer hill where you can really stretch it out. There was a bit of a headwind and some light drizzle for a time, but otherwise much milder weather on a lovely route and I’m sure it’s gorgeous in the spring and summer. It was also all on tarmac path so road shoes were fine.

I knew I would be a bit slower than in Perth (which is pancake flat) and hoped to be under 26 minutes so my 25:58 was just right. Besides, I knew that whatever I ran would automatically be marked as my PB for that course. My only slight bugbear is that I need a 57 for Stopwatch Bingo and was just one out. Gah!

Before the run I had spotted where I wanted to take my post-run photo. Dunfermline is in the part of Fife that has a history in coal mining and there was an old coal train in the park. It seemed the perfect backdrop for some photos.

I really enjoyed my visit to Dunfermline. There’s always a friendly atmosphere at parkrun, but I think all the celebrations at this one really made it feel special. It would be nice to visit again some time.

The temperatures held up for Sunday and although it was cool, I was able to do my long run without any alteration. This week I had 12 miles with every third mile faster and despite a pretty strong headwind (the kind that changes direction with you) I was pleased with how it went and felt good.

This was my peak week for this month as next week will be a cutback week in my long run mileage, however I actually ended up with slightly lower mileage due to the change I made on Thursday and not having any extra miles on Sunday. It’s not something I’m worried about, just an interesting observation.

And so although this week was a little frustrating at times, I remained consistent and enjoyed what I did, especially parkrun. To finish, here are a couple of random photos of the kittens since they’ve not made an appearance in a while. Yes, I was feeling arty and yes, they’re getting so grown up!

What impact has the weather had on your recent training?
Any experiences of combining running and weddings?

Week In Review – Groundhog Day!

Another week gone by and although busy, a much easier week compared to the first week of term as I was settled back into the routine again. Training-wise I’m feeling strong and consistent at this point and looking forward to building up in the coming weeks. Here’s how my week looked:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 4 miles
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – drills + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun “open sandwich”
Sunday – 11 miles with every 3rd mile faster

The aim is to keep most of the week really consistent, with the real changes coming around the Thursday drills and Sunday long run. This week began, as ever, with my Hatha yoga class which I really love. It’s a nice, slow class which is perfect after my Sunday long run and busy Monday at work, but there are also plenty of options which allow me to build strength and flexibility week on week. I always really appreciate this one on a Monday evening, especially since on this particular Monday I had gone from a work meeting, to an appointment, to the vet to collect some routine flea/worm treatments for the kittens, then to yoga, without actually going home! That time to unwind was just what I needed so I felt much more relaxed when I did get home after class.

Tuesday was an early start for my 4 mile run. Although I wear my watch to log the miles, I run this one by feel, aiming to keep it fairly easy and comfortable to get my legs moving again. Basically it’s a recovery run. Yet again it was really windy outside (apparently Tuesdays are windy right now. Surely it should be the day after – Windsday? *groan*). That evening I rounded off my day with some at-home yoga before settling down to relax (Tuesday is usually my best chance to find a bit of space in the evening) and this was time that I really appreciated since Monday had been so packed.

No workout on Wednesday – it’s currently my rest day so I can fit in my orchestra rehearsal without having to rush and getting stressed out.

Another early start on Thursday, this time for my drills. Basically the same as last week – 500m focusing on good form – but adding a further 2 reps this week. I took a slightly different route so that I could include the little bit of extra distance and felt pretty good doing these. These reps are more about form than pace, but that focus should mean that I run better in my other runs – especially parkrun. I quite like setting my watch up with the workout and just following the bleeps until it says I’m done. Rather satisfying!

That evening I had my Ashtanga class and felt really strong through 2 rounds of Wheel. I was conscious I was using my arms more to move into the posture rather than relying on leg strength so that’s a progression. The flip side to that is that my headstand was a bit off this time. I held it for 2 or 3 breaths before having to come out of it and although I reset to try again, my body was having none of it so I accepted that it just wasn’t my week and rested in child’s pose until we were ready to move on. I know there will be times when postures like that just don’t work and that’s ok.

Steve was able to fit in a session on Friday afternoon so I headed to the studio after work. Lately he’s been giving me circuit-style workouts and mixing up the exercises. This week’s set was designed to build intensity and power. It was a bit like Metafit in a way, but much more running-specific. I was assured that I would run well on Saturday as a result, but was doubtful as I felt the weariness in my hip flexors!

On Saturday morning Steve was away quite early for a couple of clients so we arranged to meet at parkrun. I knew I didn’t have time to run both there AND back as I had an appointment, so decided to run down, taking a less direct route to add distance, then get a lift back home with Steve afterwards, making it an “open sandwich” (no top layer!). It was quite chilly but I was determined to debut the new leggings I bought with my Christmas voucher from my sister!

My run there ended up pretty perfect. A 5k “warm up” with just enough time to pop into the sports centre to grab a mouthful of water from the water fountain before heading to the start line in time for the briefing. I had thought I felt a little sluggish as I ran down so wasn’t sure what kind of a run it would be, but as is usually the case my legs felt ready to run as soon as the Run Director said, “go!” Immediately I found myself a bit boxed in and stuck behind others who weren’t moving quite as quickly as I wanted to and it struck me that with our numbers continuing to grow I might have to start positioning myself a little further forward in order to avoid this. It meant that my first mile was a around 25-30 seconds slower than I would have liked, but when I did find some space I was in good shape to push on and found myself passing a number of people. Checking my splints later it was a pretty solid Royal Flush Negative Split!

I didn’t give much thought to my finish time as I knew I had to get home and changed quite quickly in order to grab breakfast with Steve and his brother before my appointment to get my hair cut, so it was only when my text came through that I realised what had happened:

The same time at the same parkrun two weeks in a row earns the Groundhog Day badge on the parkrun Chrome extension (if you haven’t used it yet, you really should – great fun!)…but I already have the Groundhog Day badge! Yes, I have now run my arbitrary SECOND Groundhog Day, or Groundhog Groundhog if you will. Rather conveniently, the Chrome extension does show that I’ve achieved it twice, which is cool.

Sunday’s long run added a mile to last week’s and had pretty much the same format with every 3rd mile faster – but this week I remembered to put the auto pause on so I got a better idea of what I was actually running rather than including all the time I spent waiting to cross busy roads! It was a chilly but bright morning and I enjoyed the run. At this point it all feels really manageable and I’m finishing my runs knowing I could have gone on. That’s always such a good feeling as it means fitness and endurance are progressing well and my body can handle more as the weeks go on. I do like my Sunday runs, listening to podcasts and taking in the scenery and am perfectly content that way for hours. Perhaps that’s why so many of my (non-running) colleagues just can’t understand me!

So overall a good week of training. A little short-lived snow on Friday evening did little to alter things, but who knows what the coming weeks might bring as there is continual talk of cold and perhaps snowy weather coming from the east…

Do you use the parkrun Chrome extension?
Are you a solo runner or do you prefer to run with others?

Week In Review – Back To Real Life Again!

Oh isn’t the first week back at work after the Christmas break such a grind! All of a sudden you notice how dark it is and there’s no longer the sparkle of Christmas to lift the spirits. For me, the start of January is time to get my “Serious Training Head” on (a phrase which makes me sound like Wurzel Gummidge. I was quite scared of Wurzel Gummidge as a kid. Also this reference really shows my age!).

Here’s how the first week back in the routine looked:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 4 miles
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – form drills + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun sandwich
Sunday – 10 miles

It actually felt quite good to have a handle on what day of the week it was and get back into my training routine – even if the work week did seem interminably long! I think I find the first Monday after Christmas one of the toughest “back to school” days of the year as I’m just getting into my holiday groove when it’s time to go back. Once that day is over I’m absolutely fine, but it’s a real “rip the plaster off” kind of a day. It was therefore just what the doctor ordered to get back to Monday night yoga. We had 3 Mondays off for the Christmas break and I was really missing that dedicated time for myself. Home yoga is great, but it’s never quite the same as heading to a class.

This meant that Tuesday morning was the first early rise of the term. A bit of a shock to the system, but I was up and out the door when I needed to be for 4 miles. At this point this is really going to be a recovery run as the Sunday miles will be increasing, so I’m just going to enjoy the peaceful morning run and try to pay attention for any signs of daylight that might herald the arrival of spring.

Wednesday had me back at orchestra and I didn’t really sort myself out in time to fit in a home yoga practice beforehand so took it as a rest day. Probably wise while my body (and mind) get used to being back in the term-time routine again.

I was up early again on Thursday, but now that I’m in a marathon training cycle Steve has made this a more structured day in my plan. After a 1 mile warm up I’m then running a series of intervals focusing on good form – similar to things I have done in the past – with a short period of recovery in between. Since this was the first week I had 6 reps to do so I ran a loop that I thought would be about right to leave a few minutes on the end for a cool down. It came in at 3.8 miles in total which was fine as this was about the reps rather than the distance. It’s been a while since I did reps like these but I soon remembered what I had to do.

On Thursday evening it was back to Ashtanga yoga. We only had 2 weeks off for the break, but it still felt like ages since I had been in the class and I was actually slightly apprehensive that my body would somehow have completely tightened up, that I would no longer be able to hold Wheel or that my Headstand would be a joke. But as soon as class started I was straight back into the flow of it and feeling good. Wheel was fine and I did manage to hold my Headstand, so I left with a smile on my face.

Moving forward, Friday will be a PT session with Steve down at the studio, however he was at a session out of town all afternoon so it wasn’t possible this time. I was conscious of the need for a bit of a housework catch-up, so used the time to tidy up a bit before dinner.

It was back to our home parkrun on Saturday as Steve was Run Director, so in my wisdom I decided it would be a good idea to build up the time on my feet by running the “parkrun sandwich” (subject to being ready in time for the run down!). I was ready in good time, having done a little more tidying up first, and ran the 2.5 miles there at a comfortable pace. I wasn’t sure what this would mean for my parkrun time, but having that faster run followed by a run home at an easier pace should be quite good for building fitness and endurance. As it turned out, I ran quite well but felt the effects of a pretty strong headwind along by the river so I’m definitely taking my 24:52 finish time!

I probably spent a bit too long chatting to people afterwards, but it just seemed to be one of those weeks that I knew loads of people there – including one of the tourists – and they were all coming over to say hi. It was really nice, like a parkrun hug, and reminded me of how nice the whole parkrun community is. Eventually, however, I did get moving and headed home, where I was super excited to learn that my friend Tina Muir from Running 4 Real had finished first female in the Walt Disney World half marathon. I was so thrilled for her (and a little jealous of all the others from her community who were able to be in Florida to meet up with her afterwards).

Such a cool photo!

Sunday was, of course, long run day and I’m once more adding a bit of structure to those runs as well. This week I had 10 miles on the schedule and I was to run every third mile faster. I’ve done this before so was quite happy with the session, however I decided to use a different watch and only realised halfway round that I had the auto pause feature off. It’s totally a personal preference, but in training runs I prefer it switched on as there will always be stops for road crossings (a lot of my routes take in roads through the town centre where I just can’t get straight across) and I like to stop for my energy gels in training as it gives me a chance to have a bit of a check-in with how I’m feeling, grab a quick drink and blow my nose. On the plus side, now I’ve changed the setting my run next Sunday is going to look so much faster!

So overall not too bad a week. I can feel myself settling back into the routine and am excited for the training to come.

Anyone else of similar vintage to me scared of Wurzel Gummidge?
Do you use the auto pause feature on your watch?

Friday Finds – 11th January

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.

Hello! It’s finally Friday after possibly the longest week of the whole year – nothing quite like returning to work after the festive break to really make things feel like a grind! Still, If you’re reading this then it looks like you survived and are ready to kick off your weekend with a little light reading.

First, hot on the heels of last week’s news of the second fastest parkrun time ever, comes the news that the women’s parkrun record has been broken. I think my favourite thing about this is that Charlotte Arter, who set the new record, finished just a second behind the first placed male in the run. Go Charlotte!

And on the subject of parkrun, the news coming out of HQ after the first “proper” (i.e. Saturday) parkrunday of the year is amazing as it was the biggest weekend EVER! Given that there were so many attendance records set on New Year’s Day I suppose it shouldn’t have been such a big surprise to see an increase, but it’s so cool to think about how far the event has come since that first ever run in Bushy park. Were you one of the 340,000+ that took part last weekend?

On a slightly less positive note, a story that came to my attention in the early part of the week. I was aware that visually impaired runners may choose to take part in races with a guide runner, and have always marvelled at the connection between the two – running a marathon together can’t be easy and the guide has a lot of responsibility. However I hadn’t realised that guide runners in the London marathon didn’t actually receive a medal. I suppose I just assumed that anyone who legitimately took part in the event and crossed the finish line received a medal, so can fully understand the campaign to change that rule. At present guide runners are not “official” participants in the race, and while I can see the point, it does seem a little unfair to not receive that recognition at the end. Guide runners are clearly marvellous and unselfish people who give their time to help another achieve their goal, and that is to be commended. I’d love to know your thoughts.

Next, a little something from the always-fascinating Alex Hutchinson, and this week he has encouraging news for those of us who like a nice long soak. It seems that there is evidence to suggest some targeted hot tub sessions might actually help us to acclimate better to hot weather. That certainly sounds appealing in the middle of January!

And finally, it’s pretty common to see runners out with their four-legged friends, but less common for that four-legged friend to be a goat. Yes, a goat! I highly recommend this short video about Norwegian Dwarf goat Penny running with her owner. Sure to bring a smile to your face!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Week In Review – Welcome to 2019!

Since it’s my first Week In Review of the year, I guess I can still wish you a Happy New Year – there’s always that awkward moment of deciding how far into the year it’s still acceptable to do so! After a short time out to shift a cough, I was feeling much better and started the year in my ideal way – running!

Monday – 2 miles
Tuesday – New Year Triple
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – half hour easy run
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 8 miles

I don’t usually run on a Monday, but having taken a few days off Steve suggested it might be an idea to get my legs moving again before the triple run challenge that was Tuesday. No need for anything fancy, just a short time outside to turn my legs over and make sure the cough really had shifted. So I stepped out the front door, ran a mile at an easy pace, then when my watch ticked over to a mile I turned around and ran home. I was enjoying myself, but there was no need to get carried away when I had plenty of running to do the following day! I actually thought the first mile felt pretty hard, but when I turned I realised I had been running slightly uphill and into a pretty strong headwind. Funnily enough, the run home felt amazing!

But Tuesday, New Year’s Day, was the main event of the week. The local challenge known as the New Year Triple means starting out with the New Year parkrun double then heading to Blairgowrie for the annual 6k fun run. That run has actually been on the go for 35 years and has NEVER had a cancellation. That’s pretty impressive!

Our day began in Perth as we had the “first slot” for the double and the usual (for Scotland) time of 9:30am. It was the usual course as the grass section was reasonable and I made sure to keep the pace steady – I have to remind myself that I have 10 miles to run that day, not 5k!

Once finished it was a quick pit-stop at home (neither of the parkrun locations have toilets available on New Year’s Day) before heading to Dundee for their 11am run. We had the option of the newer parkrun at Loch Leven for our second event, but we knew it would take us longer to get to Blairgowrie afterwards so stuck to what we know. The parkrun at Camperdown in Dundee is pretty much all on trail and has a couple of hills to make it a bit of a toughie – running that course regularly would certainly be “character building”!

Photo by Pete Bracegirdle from Camperdown parkrun Facebook page

And then, to Blair. Since this was the third time of taking on this challenge, I knew that the real trick to the day is to keep warm and not seize up – it’s definitely easier to just go and run 10 miles than to take it on in 3 bits as inevitably each bit is a little faster than the pace you would run 10 miles in training. The first time I tried changing my top after each of the parkruns, but this was a bit of a faff and now I just stick to the same kit (not at its most fragrant by the end!) and make sure to stay cosy in between.

We arrived in Blairgowrie just after midday (the walkers begin at 12:30 and the run is at 1pm) so got parked easily. We changed into our road shoes after wearing trail shoes for both parkruns, and walked around to the hall to register. It’s great value at just £2, including soup, juice and sweets afterwards. Even more importantly, the hall is heated and has nice toilets so it’s a pretty comfortable way to pass the time, chatting to others who have been on a similar journey all day as well as those arriving to begin their year of running.

I had expected to feel a bit sluggish setting off, but actually I felt pretty good and clocked similar times on the first couple of miles to my times at Perth in the morning. It was only when we turned for the return portion of the route that it began to get tough. The road is ostensibly flat, maybe ever so slightly up in places, but there was a pretty powerful headwind at the very time it was needed least. Looking at my watch it was a little disheartening to feel that the pace wasn’t really reflecting the effort I felt I was putting in. However, knowing the route meant I had a decent idea of how far I still had to go and was able to push on, finishing faster than last year.

I have to say, it felt good to stop running but it’s still a challenge I really like taking part in. Even better, the nice warm soup we went back to in the hall, as by this time I was hungry and in need of some hot food. We ate our soup, chatted a bit and stayed for the prize giving just in case of a spot price (sadly no joy there) before heading home. We had a nice steak pie from the butcher and Steve cooked that up with lots of veg – he may have gotten a bit carried away!

We rounded our day off with toasting the new year, having not done so on Hogmanay.

Wednesday was always going to be a rest day after all that, and we spent it with family celebrating Steve’s brother’s birthday. He always has a bit of a gathering and we enjoyed a few drinks, delicious party food and good company.

Needless to say, after Tuesday’s adventures and Wednesday’s indulgences, my run on Thursday morning felt a little sluggish. I decided on a half hour run nice and easy, to blow away the cobwebs before a restful day cuddled in with this wee boy who had decided to attach himself to my lap!

Friday was another rest day so I took advantage of the opportunity to begin the new Yoga with Adriene 30 day challenge – Dedicate. Although, given the interest the kittens had, it might be better called “dedicat” in this house!

Our parkrunday this week was a little different as we actually went on tour! I’ve been very aware that I haven’t really visited too many parkruns and would love to have more opportunity to be a parkrun tourist. It can be tricky as Steve often has a client on a Saturday morning which makes travelling elsewhere a bit difficult, but his running club is currently undertaking a parkrun challenge which involves visiting several of the other parkruns within about an hour of here. Since he wants to complete the challenge, I get the chance to go to some other parkruns and this particular Saturday was our best chance to go to the one furthest away – Kirkcaldy.

Although I’m a Perth girl at heart, I did stay in Kirkcaldy for a short time after graduating from university (frankly, a different life now) and it was when I was there that I began to run. The parkrun actually takes place in the same park where I first began to run and I remember the first time I was able to complete one very slow lap it made me feel invincible! The parkrun route is two laps of the park, but during the second lap there is a shorter loop around the pond added in. Over a decade since I first ran in that park, parkrun was probably the furthest I’ve ever run around there…and the quickest!

It was nice to go to another parkrun and be welcomed as a visitor. Everyone was very friendly, as I expected, and I was pleased with my time of 24:29 given that there is a hill in the park which we had to run up twice. I remember that hill being really challenging so running up it with ease really showed me how far I’ve come on my running journey in the intervening years.

Since we had once more found ourselves in a “no toilet” situation, but without enough time to stop on the way there, we headed straight for the retail park to grab a coffee, bacon roll and facilities before heading home. I checked my emails while we were there and this popped up! Can you spot it?

On Sunday it was time for the first long run of the year and I opted for 8 miles. It was quite a nice morning, not too cold, so it seemed like an ideal morning to run a route going through my favourite woodland path. I enjoyed the run and now I’m looking forward to the Sundays ahead as I get ready for the Stirling marathon in April.

All in all, a decent start to the year and I’m glad I was able to get rid of the cough so I could get back to running again.

Did you take part in a parkrun (or two) at new year?
What are you training for right now?

Week In Review – The Big Ho! Ho! Ho!

Christmas week! After our festive traditions over the weekend I was really ready to celebrate the season as well as enjoy a little downtime. It was a bit frustrating that my cough made a return late on Christmas day so I took the decision to have total rest in order to shift it, but I was still able to enjoy myself. Here’s how it looked:

Monday – rest
Tuesday – Christmas parkrun sandwich
Wednesday – rest
Thursday –  run rest
Friday – rest
Saturdayparkrun rest
Sundayrun rest

Although Monday (Christmas Eve) was a rest from training, it certainly wasn’t a restful day as I spent much of it doing various household chores to have everything tidy for Christmas. That evening we had my sister round for some party food and silly games – a bit of a tradition for us now that my parents are away at this time of year. My sister brought the cat treats my mum usually produces from her handbag so the kittens were pretty happy!

Tuesday was Christmas Day and we began with opening some presents. I already got a great mug (it’s my new favourite) in my work Secret Santa gift and this was supplemented by my gifts “from the kittens” of my Gary Barlow calendar (required annually!) and a festive Minnie Mouse hat that not only has ears but lights up too. I love it!

Since we hadn’t run on Sunday we decided to run down to parkrun and back so we could get a few more miles in. Of course I wore the new hat (and Steve had a matching Mickey one) as part of my festive running outfit.

It was a nice run, but I wasn’t looking for a spectacular time, just to enjoy being with my parkrun family on Christmas Day.

Once home I managed to get the kittens to wear their Santa hats long enough to take a photo (next year’s Christmas card?) as they were quite sleepy after enjoying a little turkey for their lunch.

We, on the other hand, had decided to have steak with veggies rather than the traditional turkey. We knew it would just be the two of us and had the revelation that as adults, we could eat whatever we wanted and it didn’t have to be turkey! Steve got delicious steaks from the farm shop and I made a pot of onion soup as a starter. We were pretty full after that so needed a bit of a time out before embarking on dessert of Steve’s famous sherry trifle (heavy on the sherry) and later some sweet treats we had made – chocolate/digestive biscuit bar, sherry truffles and peanut butter fudge. Yum!

But from that point on most of the days blur together as I had no specific activity to hang things on. We ventured out briefly on Wednesday (Boxing Day) and Thursday on some errands and I met a friend from work for a coffee on Friday, but most of the time I was resting and dosing myself with cough medicine/lozenges to shift the cough. You know it’s serious when I skip parkrun! Although, to be honest, I step until 10:30am on Saturday and Steve just left me alone so clearly there was something up. The fact that I then had an afternoon nap as well probably tells its own story, but it certainly did the trick and although I opted not to run on Sunday, I was feeling much better and coughing considerably less.

Somewhere in all of that I did take the time to get my top nine photos for the year from Instagram…and was not at all surprised to see they included running (in funky leggings mostly), the Stirling marathon, Disneyland Paris, yoga and the kittens. That seems to pretty much sum up my year!

So with that, I’ll wish you a happy new year and hope that 2019 brings you whatever you desire.

What did you eat on Christmas Day?
What sums up your year?