The Year Of Me!!! – December Update And Final Thoughts

And that’s a wrap! 2018 has come to an end and with it The Year of Me!!! For the most part it’s been an amazing year with lots of fun and adventures. I also think I did a pretty good job with my goals and have added lots of value to my life. Here’s one final check-in with how things went.

1.Run 1000km (621 miles)
If you’ve been following along then you know I completed this one at the end of September and have since been maintaining my consistency to see how many miles I could run. In November I passed my highest yearly mileage ever, to guarantee a number in the 800s for the first time ever. And that final total? 837 miles. I’m feeling pretty pleased with that.

2.Commit to a minimum of 5 minutes of yoga on at least 5 days of the week
I love my yoga, but had somehow found that in the latter part of the year I was managing 4 sessions easily and not always converting that to a 5th. Throughout December I made a conscious effort to make sure there were 5 yoga sessions each week, reminding myself that just 5 minutes was all it took, so returned often to one of my favourite bedtime sequences. It was great to take that time and really helped me wind down before bed.

3.Read at least 30 books
Another one which was completed in September, but the reading didn’t stop there. My involvement in some online/social media reading groups this year has really helped me to find more time to read and as a result I ended up with 44 books read this year, an average of over 3 books per month (and with the last one finished on Hogmanay!). I’m thrilled with that and will be settting myself a bigger target for my Goodreads challenge in 2019.

4.Be in bed by 10pm at least 3 times per week
One of my favourite goals since I love my bed! The biggest difficulty here was that I tend to be a natural night owl, but the decision to switch my runs from the evening to the morning after the October break made a big difference to that and I found myself coping much better with mornings. Don’t get me worng, I’d still rather stay in my bed longer, but the morning runs have created more time in the evenings which means I can get to bed early without feeling like I’ve barely had a moment to myself. I’ll definitely be continuing with this one!

5.Watch at least one Ted/Ted X talk per week
This one was put well and truly back on track with my decision to make this the focus of a 100 day challenge I began in September:100 TED talks in 100 days. I didn’t quite manage one per day, but I did watch 100 in 100 days and it was brilliant! Hopefully that has started a habit of delving into my watchlist more regularly as there is so much great content in there and I feel like I learned a lot of interesting things.

6.Listen to at least 8 podcast episodes per week
Another of my favourites as I have become such a podcast addict. These days I’m probably listening to 1 or 2 per day (more if I’m out for a long run or doing household chores) and I just love it. Podcasts have been in my life for a while now and are definitely here to stay!

7.Respond to at least one WordPress prompt per month
Weirdly, I found this one quite hard throughout the year, which I wasn’t expecting. I thought it would be good to respond to the prompts but choosing them often took longer than I expected so they were often towards the end of the month. Somehow I didn’t quite get to it in December but I think that was because I didn’t find a prompt I was desperate to respond to. It was an interesting goal when it came to posting a little more often, but I think I found it more of a bind than an inspiration.

8.Be more mindful in my phone/social media use
This one has fluctuated throughout the year but overall I think I have cut down on the amount of mindless scrolling I do (which probably helped to create all that reading time!). December is maybe a little different as I like sharing festive activities but I try now to share my post then put my phone away again so as not to get caught up in other things. The weekly report I now get from my phone is pretty interesting and I’ll be continuing to keep an eye on that to make sure I don’t slip back into bad habits as more and more I find it important to be present rather than distracted by trivialities on a screen.

 

Overall, I have to be pleased with my progress. It would have been unrealistic to expect to be “perfect” in everything I chose, but I also chose goals that made me focus on a process rather than an outcome. Yes, I had tangible goals in my running mileage and reading, but to get there I had to enjoy several months of running and I got to sit down and get lost in lots of good books. Neither of these could ever be negative experiences for me. Now it’s all about maintaining some of the positive habits I created, but without the pressure of checking up on myself each month. We’ll see how that goes. In the meantime, I wish you all the very best for the year ahead.

How did you get on with your goals in 2018?
What is the most important thing you learned this year?

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The Year Of Me!!! – November Update

11 months down and just 1 to go. That means it’s time for my monthly check in with my 2018 goals in The Year of Me!!!

1.Run 1000km (621 miles)
Since the end of September I’ve had this one wrapped up so now it’s really just about maintaining consistency as I build a solid base for marathon training. I’m already at my highest annual mileage ever and thanks to another strong month, it’s looking likely that my final total will be 800+!

2.Commit to a minimum of 5 minutes of yoga on at least 5 days of the week
I love yoga and really want to have a regular home practice to complement my 2 weekly classes, but I’m consistently finding I’m coming in at 4 times per week rather than 5 right now. Certainly, it’s not the biggest problem in the world to have, but I would like to get this one back on track for December.

3.Read at least 30 books
Another one that I already completed. I added a further 2 books to my total this month so am now at 37. Obviously, I’d now love that to be a nice round 40 by the end of the year.

4.Be in bed by 10pm at least 3 times per week
The change to my routine to encompass early runs has definitely helped with this one. Now that I’m getting up earlier a couple of times a week I’m much more conscious of making sure I get to bed sharp. And now that I’m several weeks into a buy term, I am noticing that my fatigue levels are lower than before so the new routine seems to be suiting me so far.

5.Watch at least one Ted/Ted X talk per week
Since beginning a 100 day challenge to watch 100 TED talks, this one has been well on track. I’m not necessarily managing one a day, but I will watch 100 within the time frame and the end of November saw me at 82 TED talks since mid-September.

6.Listen to at least 8 podcast episodes per week
One of my favourite goals. To be honest, I don’t even think about how many I’m listening to any more as I just love keeping up with my favourites and listen to at least one show per day, sometimes a little of a second. I’m now totally up to date with the ones I listen to regularly and have slotted in a few past episodes of ones I dip into form time to time.

7.Respond to at least one WordPress prompt per month
Back to being last minute, this month I responded to the photo prompt Favourite Place.

8.Be more mindful in my phone/social media use
I’m really noticing an improvement here. During the week I only really have time to look at my phone in the evening and am conscious of setting it aside when I’m doing something else like watching TV. I do look at it a bit more at weekends, but my screen reports from Apple suggest I’m not overdoing it. Yes, I enjoy some aspects of social media, but it’s refreshing not to feel tied to looking at things all the time.

Are you on track with your goals for the year?
What can you do in the remaining weeks of the year to help you achieve a goal?

The Year Of Me!!! – October Update

I actually can’t believe it’s the end of October. It barely seems 5 minutes ago that I was preparing for the Stirling marathon, and even less time since I was sweltering in the summer heatwave, yet somehow we’re now down to the last couple of months of the year. Time to check in once more and see how I’m doing with my goals for The Year of Me.

1.Run 1000km (621 miles)
I achieved this one at the end of September and am now simply curious to see my end of year mileage total. 2017 was my highest to date at 752 miles. Will it be higher or lower?
I did submit my completion of the 1000km to the virtual “race” I had committed to and received my medal last week. It’s pretty cool!

Untitled2.Commit to a minimum of 5 minutes of yoga on at least 5 days of the week
This one had been falling a little short, but I think I’ve got it back on track. It was pretty easy to fit on lots of yoga at the start of the month when it was the school holidays but not always so easy during term time, so I have been turning fairly often to a short bedtime sequence that I enjoy. As I settle into the new term I’ll hopefully find more time for some longer sequences, especially now I’ve changed some of my training routines.

3.Read at least 30 books
Again, I achieved this one in September and am on course for a “record breaking” reading year. I’m currently at 35 books read with plenty of year still left.

4.Be in bed by 10pm at least 3 times per week
I didn’t worry so much about this one during the school holidays as I don’t have to get up so early, but was still in bed just after 10. Now that I’m back in the work routine I have been trying hard to get plenty of rest, particularly ahead of my early runs, and I do think I’m getting a decent amount of rest right now.

5.Watch at least one Ted/Ted X talk per week
I’m still taking part in my 100 day challenge to watch a Ted talk per day and although there have been a couple of days when I missed out due to other commitments, I have always made sure to catch up so whatever happens I will watch 100 talks in 100 days and more than fulfill this challenge. It’s so interesting to see what’s out there and I’m really enjoying working my way through my watchlist.

6.Listen to at least 8 podcast episodes per week
Still doing well with this one. It boils down to a podcast per day (I usually listen to one on my journey home from work) and an extra at some point. On some days I can manage two per day and in the holidays I spent a couple of days reorganising all my cupboards and drawers so probably listened to about 8 per day!

7.Respond to at least one WordPress prompt per month
I was, for once, super prepared this time and responded to the prompt Costume.

8.Be more mindful in my phone/social media use
I think I have this one back on track most of the time. I’m actually really enjoying the new “Screen Time” feature in iOS12 as. I get a weekly report on how often I’m looking at my phone as well as a breakdown of where that time is going e.g. if I’m reading news articles/blog posts or simply wasting time in the infinite scroll rabbit hole of social media. Definitely a useful feature to have and I think it will help me to think a bit more carefully about what I’m doing with my phone.

Have you achieved any of your goals for the year?
Are any of your goals turning out to be more challenging than you expected?

Week In Review – Always Have a Plan B…!

The first week of my October break presented an opportunity to press reset and get caught up on a few things. Yes, it would have been nice to go away somewhere, but on this occasion it was good to be at home. With a half marathon to run at the weekend, I took the chance to mix up a bit of training with some decent rest:

Monday – rest
Tuesday – 5 miles
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – 4 miles + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – half marathon

Start as you mean to go on, I say. I don’t generally like to sleep in (although obviously don’t set my alarm for as early as a school day!) but it is good to have a lazy start to the day and I decided I wanted to spend the first week of my holiday getting back into a habit I had back during my Easter break. So when I awoke I headed for the kitchen to make a cup of tea which I took right back to bed to read for about an hour. The kittens quite liked this and after running around daft for a bit they settled down at my feet for a snooze. Bliss!

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Nothing better than a long lie with Gary!

I then spent some time on the afternoon on my “homework”. I’m studying this with my Advanced Higher class and felt in need of a re-watch of my favourite adaptation of my favourite novel. Such a hardship lol!

fullsizeoutput_28ccOn Tuesday I followed my tea and book in bed with a run – not totally lazy! I set myself up with a kind of “mini taper” into my race so headed out for 5 miles. It was nice to get out in daylight after early morning runs last week, and the weather wasn’t too bad either.

RAHqgPkQRIGW3ynzZZhW5AWhen I arrived home I could spy a red package through the glass and knew exactly what it would be – my annual subscription to the London marathon rejection magazine. At least the running jacket I got with it is pretty good.

zTGJBzEOSzWboebQdiEYVwGiven the numbers in the ballot I didn’t expect to get a place, but until that magazine arrives there is always a glimmer of hope that this might be the year. Still, with 7 rejections (and counting…) I know to have a Plan B in mind for what I’ll do when that inevitable “nope” arrives, and for 2019 I knew my Plan B would be to sign up for the Stirling marathon again. I really enjoyed it this year and liked how conveniently close to home it was, so by the time the day was done, this had happened:

fullsizeoutput_28cfWednesday was another rest day. I had a few errands in town so clocked up loads of steps walking there and back (after some time spent reading with my cup of tea, of course!). At least my mail was more pleasing as I got some new casual leggings – and got photobombed by the kittens when I tried to take a picture!

fullsizeoutput_28f8On Thursday I doubled up – run in the morning and Ashtanga yoga class in the evening. My self-styled “mini taper” called for a 4 mile run and this time it was even pleasant enough to break my shorts back out of hibernation. I do love it when I can still wear my shorts without freezing to death!

IMG_9861Yoga was, as always, great. I had been curious to see how I would get on with the headstand after my breakthrough last week – was it a one-off or could I actually manage the posture by myself? As it turned out, there was no need to be concerned as I once more moved into the headstand on my own. I didn’t hold it for as long, probably because  I rushed to straighten my legs out before I had my balance feeling as secure as last time, but now I know it wasn’t a fluke I’ll take more care to move into the posture more mindfully as I go forward.

Steve offered me a training session on Friday morning (at a time which still allowed me my “soft start” to the day with my book and tea!) so I headed over to the studio. I was reluctant to do anything that would make my legs feel heavy on the Sunday, so we used the TRX and Core Momentum Trainer to do some work on my arms and upper body instead. Somehow I neglected to take a picture during the session, but did manage to take a photo of the coffee I had afterwards. Not sure what that says about me haha!

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The new “cordusio”. I think I ordered it because I thought it was a funny word!

The rest of the day was about as busy as things get during school holidays. First I had my flu jab (definitely want to avoid getting the flu!) and then I had my nails done which meant a good chat with my friend who does my nails.

Saturday, as ever, began with parkrun. I’m not always good at taking it easy when it’s not pacer day, but I was determined not to overdo things and risk having weary legs for the following day. I started out at a fairly steady pace and allowed myself to push on a bit as the run went on (securing a nice Royal Flush Negative Split) but still coming in at a slower (for me) time of 25:44. I had thought averaging 8:20-8:30 pace overall would be ideal so that was perfect.

IMG_9884Steve’s brother was away on holiday, but the Steve and I still went for a post-run bacon croissant before getting the food shopping done (such Saturday glamour!).

5xGLC%9CReanCYiH2wKjugI actually felt a bit “off”, kind of like I was going to get a headache but without actually having a headache. Not sure if that makes any sense, but I could feel my body telling me to have a nap so once home I had some soup then settled down for a nap. I did feel a bit better after that, but decided to take it easy and spend the afternoon watching a film. Time to break out Beauty and the Beast, because sometimes only a Disney film will do.

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As the evening wore on I began to realise that the reason I felt “off” was because my upper back and shoulders were tight and this was travelling up my neck and into my head. I got Steve to work on it a bit and began to feel a lot better. Good thing too since we were getting up early for our race!

We had decided not to stay in Aviemore the night before, and instead get up early to make the journey north into the Highlands – only about an hour and a half away and the roads are pretty clear at that time of day. We were away before 6:30am and got into Aviemore just before 8. I’ll write a separate post with all the details of the race, but it was all pretty familiar even though I hadn’t been up there since 2013.

This was my last serious race of the year. Anything else from this point will be more in the “fun run” category, so I also made it the last hurrah for my fundraising efforts. I teamed my Cats Protection running vest with paw print leggings (actual running leggings) and a hairband with ears (an actual running headband). It got me a fair amount of shouts and made a few people smile along the route!

DrgrJJvKTpCFm6VK7VXaegPost-race we tidied ourselves up a bit and on the way home called in to see a lovely couple Steve trains. They are in their 70s and so fit! I had never met them before but they had insisted we call in on our way home for a cup of tea, and despite being “race fresh” they were perfectly happy to sit and chat over some refreshments for a while and were so kind, waving away my apologies for not being at my most presentable! It was a nice way to break up the journey home and the cups of tea and choccy biccies were definitely appreciated!

The remainder of the day was pretty chilled and I headed to bed feeling really tired from the combination of an early start, racing a half marathon and having the long-ish car journeys as well.

When was the last time you needed to call on Plan B?
Do you ever theme your running outfits?
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The Year of Me!!! – September Update

September! 9 months of the year done and my Big Birthday has gone by. I should probably stop celebrating it some time soon! 😂 Time to check in with my goals for the year and see how things are progressing.

1.Run 1000km (621 miles)
Goal achieved! I’ve been aware for some time that I would reach my goal distance before the end of the year (assuming no significant time out) and my final run of September took me just beyond the distance. I’m pleased to have achieved this with so much time to spare, but that time gives me the opportunity to now find out how much more I can add to the total. Place your bets…!

2.Commit to a minimum of 5 minutes of yoga on at least 5 days of the week
I started the month spot on with this one, but with my trip away I managed to miss a couple of home sessions in the weeks wither side, which I’m not terribly proud of. What I’m finding with my current routine is that 4 sessions of yoga is easily achievable but sometimes the 5th eludes me – more out of laziness/carelessness than anything else. I have been trying to combat that with a short routine before bed to help me relax and unwind so hopefully things are back on track again.

3.Read at least 30 books
Another goal achieved! At the end of the month I reached 30 books and was rather stunned to find that I had managed to read so much this year. With 3 months of the year to go (and some holiday time) I wonder what my final total will be? I’ve been really enjoying my reading this year and part of that is because my involvement with some online/social media book groups has given me the opportunity to read things I might not otherwise have chosen and kept me on track with my reading in order to contribute to the discussions.

4.Be in bed by 10pm at least 3 times per week
I think I’m still doing ok with this one. I certainly tried to be in bed at a reasonable time before my trip and needed plenty of sleep the week after so although I don’t keep specific note of this one, I do keep an eye on the time on “school nights” and try to be heading for bed before 10.

5.Watch at least one Ted/Ted X talk per week
I had fallen off the wagon with this one over the summer but am back on track now. I’m taking part in a 100 day challenge with a Facebook group I’m in and my choice was to watch a TED talk every day for 100 days. This has really helped to get my focus back on this goal – an activity I have really enjoyed – and I am doing well so far. I did miss a couple of days when I was in Disney, but have since “caught up” by watching a couple of extras so I am still on track for 100 talks in 100 days. Any recommendations?

6.Listen to at least 8 podcast episodes per week
On the basis that I listen to a podcast per day on my drive home (and usually one or two extras across the week) this one is still going well. I have fallen slightly behind with my regular podcasts again with my extra rest days, but I’m sure I’ll catch up during the school holidays as I’ll have more opportunities to listen.

7.Respond to at least one WordPress prompt per month
My most last-minute one yet as I responded to the prompt It Builds Character on the last day of the month!

8.Be more mindful in my phone/social media use
The rigours of the school day mean I’m back on track with this one too as my time to even touch my phone during the day is so limited. Beyond a quick check of emails at lunchtime, I don’t really use my phone much at all. I’ve also got back into the habit of checking it when I get home then getting on with other things for the evening so I don’t get sucked in. Social media etc definitely have a positive place in my life, but it’s too easy to be distracted by the more frivolous elements so a balance has to be found.

This first term of the school year has been busy (I know they’re all busy but it has felt busier than this term usually does) so I’m really pleased with how I have approached my goals this month. Roll on October!

How are you doing with your goals for the year? Anything achieved? Any goals need reset?

The Year Of Me!!! – August Update

Yes, I know we’re a week into September but I just didn’t get to this last weekend. I’m now 8 months into the Year of Me, so let’s see how I’ve been doing with adding value and positive habits over the last month – a month split between summer holidays and the start of the new school year as well as being my Big Birthday month…

1.Run 1000km (621 miles)
Despite taking a bit of time out over the summer to allow a niggle in my ankle to resolve, this one is still well on track. Thanks to heavier mileage at the start of the year I finished August still ahead of the pace and with a bit of wriggle room if I need to ease off again. Still totally achievable just through my regular running and with no need to artificially chase miles. Phew!

2.Commit to a minimum of 5 minutes of yoga on at least 5 days of the week
I do really love my yoga, but I must admit that there have been too many weeks where I only managed 4, or even 3 yoga sessions. I think I have become too caught up in using sequences of around 20-30 minutes and need to remember that I can do much less and am perfectly able to fit in a 5 minute practice before bed. Something to work on in September.

3.Read at least 30 books
My reading has been going so well this year and I feel like I’ve really re-engaged with one of my favourite pastimes. I think because I have involved myself in some online book groups, it’s given me a bit more of a focus to actually read more often than a few minutes in bed at night and I’ve read some books that I wouldn’t otherwise have picked up. As a result, I’m way ahead on this one as well and am really curious to see where my total goes at the end of the year.

4.Be in bed by 10pm at least 3 times per week
This one is perhaps a little harder to measure for August. The part of the month that was still the school holidays allowed me to be more flexible with my bedtime. I was consistently getting up around 7am (to feed the kittens!) and going to bed around 10pm, but there was no need to worry about being in bed sooner. Once term began, at first I was probably a little disorganised as I was out of my normal routine and not really monitoring if I was in bed before 10pm. As we move into September, this is one for me to keep an eye on in order to ensure I’m as well rested as possible.

5.Watch at least one Ted/Ted X talk per week
I really don’t know what happened here. I began the year watching a talk every weekend, but somehow lost the routine and have struggled to get back on top of this. Hopefully at the end of September I will be able to say something different as I LOVE watching the talks, I just need to be more conscious of sitting down for 15 minutes with one. I can easily find 15 minutes if I put my mind to it.

6.Listen to at least 8 podcast episodes per week
I’m definitely getting this one done. I am such a podcast addict now and am aware of a few I would like to try, but am already listening to so many. I don’t think I could manage without podcasts now and I have learned so many interesting things from them.

7.Respond to at least one WordPress prompt per month
In August it was a photo prompt inspired by a visit to South Queensferry and I responded to the prompt Bridge.

8.Be more mindful in my phone/social media use
I think this one is going ok. In the holidays I was using my phone, etc more, but I also had a bit more time at my disposal. Now I’m back at work again, my time for faffing about with my phone is much more limited, and the time I am spending on social media is more related to groups I help with and responding to book groups than random and endless scrolling. I’m comfortable with that, especially since I have been able to read so much this year as a result.

So overall not too bad a report for August. In September I’ll be focusing on re-establishing my term-time routine to make sure I find the time I want for yoga as well as getting back into the habit of watching TED talks. Just 4 months of the year left…!

How have you progressed with your goals this year?
Any TED/TED X talks to recommend?

Book Review – Tricurious

Laura was a self-certified couch potato. Until six years ago she couldn’t run for more than a few minutes at a time. Since then she has completed eight marathons and is now a committed triathlete. But Laura couldn’t have achieved what she has without her mentor and friend Katie. A life-long runner, fair-weather cyclist, and born-again swimmer, the more experienced Katie helped Laura through the ups and downs of training for a triathlon. Their triathlon journey gave them the opportunity to break boundaries while forging a life-long friendship. Tricurious tells Laura’s and Katie’s story, with energy and humour. Filled with anecdotes and advice about the trials and tribulations of preparing for a triathlon, this inspiring book will leave you hungry to experience the joy (and pain) of swim, bike, run.

You may know Laura Fountain from her book The Lazy Runner which documented her journey from couch potato to marathoner. As with many runners, Laura asked herself, “what next?” and the answer was triathlon. While triathlon may not (yet) be on the cards for me, I enjoyed reading about her journey towards the iron distance from being a complete beginner.

What drew me to this book, apart from my knowledge of Laura from her previous book and her blog, was how accessible the it was. When trying something new we all experience fears and doubts, we convince ourselves that everybody else was somehow born knowing how to do it and that we are going to make complete fools of ourselves. This book takes us through the process of getting to grips with each of the disciplines (including learning to swim pretty much from scratch – usually the most intimidating aspect of triathlon for beginners) and is filled with amusing stories of mishaps and mistakes, as well as answering all those questions that we’re too afraid to ask, about the things no one ever tells us.

Throughout the book we get Laura’s perspective as a beginner, as well as Katie King’s perspective as the more experienced triathlete, so those with a triathlon or two under their (race) belts can still get something from this book. We get a glimpse into training for iron distance events as well as some advice on how to ensure a balance between training and our “real” lives.

We are also shown, crucially, that it’s ok not to succeed the first time – whether that’s swimming a length, clipping into our bike pedals or making the cut-off time in an iron distance event. A great example of this was Laura’s first iron distance tri in which she didn’t feel great during the swim and lost too much time. As a result, she didn’t make one of the bike cut-offs and her race ended. It would have been easy to wallow in self-pity, but instead Laura set up her own personal event not long after. With no fanfare, just her watch to give her the distance markers and the support of her loved ones, Laura completed the iron distance triathlon she had trained for (her “Iron Person”) and did so within her own meaningful cut-off times – completing the swim within the session times at the reservoir, being off her her bike before her nieces went to bed and finishing the run in time for last orders in the pub! Amazing!

I loved the interplay between the two writers and the “turn about” approach to chapters. I also loved the honesty, sense of humour and practical advice they both give. I’d say it’s the ideal book for women keen to try triathlon, and should I ever decide to give it a go I’ll be re-reading this book as it shows quite clearly that anything is possible.