Week In Review – Feeling Good!

Now that I’ve been running in the morning for 4 weeks, I think I’m really starting to feel the benefit as my body is more adjusted to the change and I’m starting to notice the impact. The pattern to my week right now is fairly fixed and seems to be working:

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

My Monday yoga class felt quite restorative. I think that time to focus on my breath and movement as the week begins is really beneficial. As Mondays go it was a decent one as there was no meeting at the end of the day, but most of the time my Mondays are pretty full-on so I think the yoga class is now key not just to my physical health but to my mental health as well because if things have got on top of me during the day, the class helps me to deal with it and clear my head.

Since I had cut my mileage back on the Sunday before, my legs were feeling fresh and as a result my morning 4 miles were a bit quicker than usual without any additional effort. I never thought I would enjoy getting up earlier to go for a run, yet I’m actually finding that I look forward to it in a weird kind of way and certainly notice how much better I feel for the rest of the day. It also means I’ve created a bit of space in the evening so I have a bit more downtime to refresh. Win win!

7JhurMc1QsiGeo%x7sf7WwAlthough Wednesday is my rest day, it was another less-than-restful one again as I had another parents’ evening. In short that meant no orchestra and a reeeeeeally long work day!

Despite this, I found a little more energy on Thursday morning for another strong run. Later  in the day I had my Ashtanga class where my work on Wheel and Headstand continues to pay off. I was actually thinking back to my earliest classes and how hard I found some postures compared to now. Back then I thought it was all about “just” finding more flexibility, but I now know it’s also about physical and mental strength as well e.g. my breakthrough with the headstand a few weeks ago totally changed my approach, yet realistically nothing much had changed physically from the few weeks before, it was a change in mindset which meant I was able to do it. Powerful stuff!

Friday was an inservice (inset) day at work so it was mostly a day of meetings/presentations, however it was also a day of atypical eating as there were bacon rolls at interval and a colleague brought cake for lunchtime. Fortunately I had arranged to go to the studio for a workout with Steve again so worked some of it off! Since we are focusing on knee drive/hip mobility, he gave me another circuit using the TRX and Core Momentum Trainer. Hard work but I know it will be helping.

Saturday’s parkrun also gave me a chance to run off the bacon rolls (yeah, I took one for the team and had a second since there were some left and the business manager was keen that nothing went to waste. Always happy to oblige when it comes to food!). Having produced a decent time the week before (24:18) I wanted to see if I could shave another few seconds off as the reality is that I’ve been hovering in the lower end of the 24-25 minute mark since about late June and wanted to see a little progress before conditions slow things down.

I set off quickly and although I slowed slightly in the second mile as I ran over the slightly squidgy grass (going from 7:43 to 7:50 per mile) I was stunned to check my stats later and find I had run mile 3 in a speedy (for me) 7:36! Combined with my usual just sub-7 finishing pace, I not only shaved a few seconds off, but was pretty convincing with a 23:40 finish time.That’s actually my second fastest time of the current parkrun year (our birthday is Saturday so this was the last run of the parkrun year) and it feels great to finish on a high.

IMG_0299We had our usual post-run treat of a cup of tea and bacon croissant with Steve’s brother, then ventured off into town for a short time before getting our food shopping. I normally can’t be bothered with the town on a Saturday and this week was particularly busy, but it was busy because the Christmas lights were being switched on that evening so there were loads of things going on.

We started with the chocolate and gin festival, enjoying a few samples of festive gins (which meant getting the shopping done whilst experiencing a lovely warm glow!).

f+vJbWVjTgWjDy8+15EWVwThen on our way back to the car we checked out the four-legged friends in attendance and the ice sculptures created for the occasion.

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3Kv+mQ%BREyezQa2t9GxvAAfter all that I needed an afternoon nap before my evening watching Strictly with the kittens. It was Blackpool week and I got a little overexcited haha!

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TxzruepbRRaHpAllTURitgSunday morning was a slightly longer run. Still not heading into the big miles of marathon training, but building a solid base for those miles so I opted for 8 miles after last week’s 10k. I was just running to feel and enjoying my podcast – no pushing the pace, simply feeling comfortable and expecting something like a 9:15 per mile average, so I was a little surprised when I finished with my watch telling me I averaged 8:59 per mile! The culmination of a strong week and no doubt coming from the consistency recently and work I’ve been doing to build endurance and improve my knee drive. Fingers crossed I can keep building on this.

h2uvJLXPSMCpNtENQuJV2gWe had a few errands and housework after that, then my parents paid a visit as mum had something for me. I had offered to pick it up as it was just a small thing, but I think she was keen to see the kittens a few more times before heading off for the winter so they came to us for a bit. It was nice to chat over tea and a slice of cake (the kittens had cat treats produced from mum’s handbag of wonders!).

Overall I’m feeling really good about this week. Perhaps my decisions about reorganising my training are beginning to pay off and hopefully I can see some real benefit from this as I continue.

Are the Christmas lights on yet where you live?
What’s your favourite kind of cake?

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Week In Review – Christmas And The In-Between

What a week! We kicked off with Christmas Day then, with both Steve and I not at work, soon found ourselves lost in the “in between” limbo where most conversations seemed to revolve around food, drink or whether we were supposed to put the bin out! The week wasn’t entirely bereft of activity though, so this won’t just be pictures of Christmas turkey haha!

Here’s how my week ended up:

Monday – Christmas Day parkrun
Tuesday – rest
Wednesday – 6 miles
Thursday – rest
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – rest

After all the excitement of running my 100th parkrun just a couple of days before, I was really keen on the idea of a Christmas Day parkrun. We’ve not had a Christmas Day event in Perth before so for the team this was a bit of a test. Our festive RD was very open in saying that he would have been happy if 30-40 people turned up, so imagine his surprise when we had 217 parkrunners in an assortment of festive finery! The course was pretty muddy which made for an interesting run, but it was Christmas, I was dressed up and a Christmas elf gave me a sweetie at the end, so what’s not to like? And by some weird coincidence I ended up with exactly the same finishing time as on Saturday. I’m nothing if not consistent!

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IMG_9237Post-parkrun we headed home to change and get started on the rest of our celebrations. This year was a Christmas Day à deux so I saw absolutely no reason to make any further effort with my clothing: cue me spending the rest of the day in my cosy Christmas onesie! We opened the Bucks Fizz, made our bacon rolls (with Christmas spiced bacon which was DELICIOUS) and got down to opening presents.

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Guess who was interested in the bacon!

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Steve was thrilled with his new trisuit and dry robe (Santa must’ve got his email 😂) whilst I was happy that Santa got my “subtle” hints about wanting to see the touring production of Wicked when it returns to Edinburgh in the spring. Oh, and there were gin baubles so that made my day!

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IMG_5031And if you follow me on social media, you may have seen that we managed (not for the first time) to buy each other the same Christmas card!

IMG_5011As for the cat, she doesn’t need much these days as she really just likes to sit on my lap and sleep (and her health conditions rule out any food-related treats) but the fleecy lap blanket I saw in a pet shop over the weekend turned out to be a big hit. (My mum bought some pouches of the food she used to enjoy as a special treat and told me to donate them to a local cat shelter on her behalf, and I was delighted to do so. It breaks my heart thinking about pets without a warm and comfortable home like my little fur baby has).

IMG_5015Christmas dinner didn’t happen until much later on as we were on a pretty flexible schedule. I had made a pot of French onion soup for our starter then the main course was turkey and all the trimmings. For dessert, Steve made his (in)famous sherry trifle, which I enjoyed in front of the TV after a short break while I descended into a food coma!

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IMG_5026It was a gloriously relaxing day, and although Christmas seemed to sneak up on me a bit this year, I was perfectly content.

On Boxing Day we decided we should really get out of the house so took a walk into town. Some shops were open and I ended up buying a Fabletics gift pack in the sales to re-stock my gym bag for the new year. I’ve never tried any of their products but was tempted by the half price offer.

IMG_5111Other than that it was Christmas dinner leftovers and hot drinks in front of the TV while I placed a couple of online orders. First, I was so impressed with the quality of the Christmas running tights I had for Christmas Day parkrun that I decided to jump at the chance to buy a second pair in the sales. These ones feature my childhood favourites the Little Miss and Mr Men by Roger Hargreaves. It will be next Christmas before I wear them, but I’m already looking forward to it!

IMG_5112My other purchase was my own pair of “the pants of perspective” as featured in Anna McNuff’s book by the same name. I loved this book when I read it earlier in the year (I’ll write a review soon) and thought it was brilliant that I could buy my own pair from her website. After all, as Anna herself says: “because everyone needs a unicorn and a robot having a fight under a rainbow, on their legs.”

IMG_5113The day after that was Wednesday (I think!) and I wanted to get a run in to build on my consistency of heading out every other day since getting back to running last week. It was pretty frosty so I decided to stick to main roads and wore my all-terrain shoes which have a pretty good grip. 6 miles without falling on my bottom was definitely a good run!

IMG_5044To be honest, I had to ask Steve what we did on Thursday as I had no pictures and all of the days have merged into each other! It turns out that we went into town for a bit to have coffee with some old friends of his who are here from Italy for a short time. Given that I can’t remember anything else, I probably spent the rest of the day watching TV, reading and working on blog posts!

On Friday we had considered a trip to Glasgow, but by the time we had been out for our New Year food shopping it was beginning to snow quite heavily and we thought it best to stay close to home (as it turned out, Glasgow airport was shut for a while and several Glasgow parkruns were apparently cancelled on Saturday so it seems like we made the right decision). Since we were out, we went out to the farm shop for a couple of things and went to the cafe while we were there. I had a cinnamon hot chocolate and mince pie whilst watching the snow coming down.

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IMG_5058I also enjoyed their display of the gin baubles:

IMG_5055Once home I got started on another pot of French onion soup (a great winter warmer), then we had a relaxing afternoon before going out for our usual Friday food at the pub down the road. This week we both fancied the not-very-festive chilli burger!

IMG_5062Saturday was parkunday again. I didn’t realise until afterwards that this was actually my 100th in Perth (102nd overall since I have a couple of runs elsewhere in my history). The snow had mostly melted but the paths were slippy in places, the grass section frozen solid and it was pretty chilly. I donned my warm kit and chose my all-terrain shoes again to give me some confidence on the paths but kept the pace down so I felt a bit more in control of what I was doing – no point in starting the new year injured! Fortunately, I remained upright the whole way around, although I did clock my slowest time (outside of pacing duties) for 2017. Oh well!

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Fun fact: whilst setting up for this photo a dog ran off with one of my running gloves. The dog was on a lead though so we were able to retrieve it! 😂

Post-parkun it was another bacon croissant with Steve’s brother. Good job too since I got a text from my mum later declaring it to be National Bacon Day. There’s a holiday I don’t mind celebrating!

IMG_5101We then had a few errands and I came across a very tempting book:

IMG_5106I amused myself that afternoon by joining a linkup about my year of running and claiming my Instagram Best Nine for 2017. Mainly running and some epic food = quite a year!

princessallison78_fullWe also decided that since we have plans to repeat the New Year Triple on Monday, we should have homemade pizza (aka running fuel!) on Hogmanay, so had our awesome Dine-In deal on Saturday night: salmon royale (basically a blini topped with a poached egg wrapped in salmon and served with hollandaise sauce. Delicious!), steak with peppercorn sauce and chips, then profiteroles for dessert. Yummy!

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IMG_5109Sunday was pretty chilled to save energy for Monday. Steve did brave Storm Dylan to get in 5 miles since Strava told him he had 995 miles for the year and he wanted the round 1000! While he was out I tidied up a bit around the house and we finished the chores together later on – we even hung some pictures we’ve been meaning to get to! Then an evening in front of the TV with nibbles and a couple of drinks before getting to bed early ahead of our New Year running. Don’t worry, we plan to celebrate the New Year after we’ve completed the challenge!

To finish, I want to thank you for joining me in my weekly roundups this year. Much more to come in 2018 I’m sure!

Have a wonderful New Year, however you spend it.
The Running Princess

Week In Review – Festive Fitness

Merry Christmas! I hope you are having a wonderful day and found some lovely new running kit under the Christmas tree. My big Christmas news is that I FINALLY got back to some running after my virus and the lingering discomfort I suffered thanks to all the coughing. My fitness levels might not be up to much, but getting a bit of consistency back was my main priority.

Here’s how things worked out (the word “rest” is used in the loosest possible sense as it was a pretty busy week and I was determined to find the bottom of my marking pile!)

Monday – rest
Tuesday – 3-4 miles
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – 3-4 miles
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – rest

I had decided to make my short runs my priority and was timing them to work out at every other day, so the week began with a rest day. I had an appointment in town so that suited me fine and meant I could deal with a few errands afterwards.

On Tuesday I wasn’t sure how I would feel. The aching in my upper body had subsided but not fully disappeared, yet my body felt ready to run and I needed to know how it would feel. I chose a short loop (a little shy of 4 miles) that I like and set off at an easy pace. I figured I would know very quickly if it was too much, but everything felt great at first and I loved feeling my legs move under me again. It was only in the last mile or so that I began to feel a bit uncomfortable so made sure to do some stretching of my upper body when I got home and used a heat pad for the remainder of the evening. The most interesting thing would be to see how it felt the next morning…

IMG_4906Waking up on Wednesday I was worried that I would feel like there had been a setback, but interestingly the muscles that had been sore the night before felt significantly better. Actually, I would go as far as to say they felt better than they had BEFORE I went out for the run. Clearly I had reached the stage where “running it out” and more stretching would be the answer to finally settling things down. I took a rest day to make sure, but mainly because I was having my nails done for Christmas!

IMG_4909Unfortunately things took a bit of a turn after that. I got home to find my poor cat not very well and the vet was closed for the evening. We ended up needing an out of hours appointment for her to get some initial treatment to help her feel more comfortable overnight. Nothing life-threatening, but she was a bit distressed and there was no way I could let her be like that until the following day.

She was much more settled after that, but we did have a follow-up appointment when I got home from work on Thursday. We were able to see the lovely vet who has been treating her for her various health conditions (old age brings its trials!) for the last year and she decided it would be best for the cat to go in on Friday morning to be sedated and have a procedure to help fully resolve the issue she was having. I was a bit anxious about the sedation given her age (my cat is 17!) but knew it was better to have it done while she was reasonably strong rather than let things deteriorate and it become an emergency. Since she was still ok, I dealt with this by heading out for another run.

I chose the same route as Tuesday and approached it with the same effort level but didn’t really look at my watch as I wanted to really tune into my body. There was no issue with any discomfort this time and when I finished I found I was over a minute faster than on Tuesday which was really pleasing.

IMG_4907Friday began with dropping the cat off for her procedure before heading in for the last half day of school. It’s usually a fairly relaxed affair and I only had one class. I was glad I didn’t need to do anything too mentally taxing as I was a bit anxious about the cat, but was later reassured that she was doing well. I didn’t have to pick her up until later in the afternoon so Steve and I had enough time to get the festive food shopping done before it got scary-busy! The procedure was a success and the cat came home a little groggy but otherwise fine.

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IMG_4981Steve and I then headed out for some Christmas dinner at our “local”. Turkey with all the trimmings followed by dark chocolate torte with espresso anglaise and peppered strawberries. Yum!

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IMG_4919With the cat on the mend I felt much more relaxed on Saturday and a good thing too as I wanted to get back to parkrun and accomplish my goal of running my 100th parkrun before the end of the year. We had been encouraged to wear festive outfits and since I had missed out on doing a Santa run this year (as well as most of my December running!) I was keen to embrace the theme.

IMG_9184To be honest, I didn’t really care about time, I just wanted to enjoy my 100th run and complete it feeling good. I was running alongside a parkrun pal at various points and he kept calling out mini milestones like 99.2 parkruns, 99.5 parkuns and so on! In the end I was probably a couple of minutes off my “average” pace, but that’s not at all important right now. I was just thrilled to be back out there in time for Christmas.

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IMG_4947I was also excited to get a tweet from parkrun UK!

fullsizeoutput_231aPost-parkrun we got changed then met Steve’s brother for a coffee and to exchange gifts. We also had bacon croissants which I always enjoy.

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Then after a couple of last-minute purchases we headed home and spent the rest of the day in front of the TV. I’ve been trying to get Steve to watch Harry Potter (can you believe he’s NEVER seen any of the films!?!?) so took advantage of the first film being on to get him to watch a bit. After that one of the TV channels was screening a performance of Elf: The Musical. One of my favourite Christmas films turned into a musical? Awesome! I really enjoyed it and it felt so Christmassy. I also discovered a screening of the Take That tour I saw earlier in the year so I recorded that (but not until I’d watched a few minutes before bed!).

Sunday, unfortunately, was a bit more stressful. The cat was showing symptoms of a UTI and couldn’t settle, but we had to wait until 10am for the vet to open. Thankfully they were able to see her right away and she got some treatment that made such a massive difference. By the time we got back she was a different cat, although a bit spaced out from one of the meds they gave her so I took advantage of the opportunity to put her Christmas outfit on for a few minutes!

IMG_4986With her sorted out Steve and I got down to some serious pre-Christmas tasks: housework, odd jobs/repairs and some food prep. We finally got settled in front of the TV around 5pm, just in time for The Snowman followed by The Snowman and the Snowdog and, crucially, The Muppet Christmas Carol, another film I watch every single year even though I practically know it by heart!

My sister came round and we spent the evening nibbling on party food, pulling crackers and playing silly games. All intentions of taking photos went out the window, but a good time was had by all!

And with that, Christmas week came to an end. I’m so pleased to be running again and relieved that my cat is recovering. Those are my Christmas miracles. I hope you get yours.

Friday Finds – 22nd December

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.

Ho Ho Ho! It’s the last Friday before Christmas and hopefully your “out of office” notification is on so you can enjoy the festivities. Let’s get things started with a little something to read…

At this time of year most runners are probably hoping Santa will leave some snazzy new gear under their Christmas tree, but let’s face it every race feels like Christmas what with all the swag we get! But what happens to all those race T-shirts? Stuffed in a drawer? Turned into a blanket? Or used as a duster? In this first article, Runner’s World contributors share some of their favourite race T-shirts and the stories behind them. Many of mine have a story too. What about yours?

Do you wear a fitness tracker? Perhaps you’ve asked for one for Christmas? These days just about everyone, myself included, has some sort of tracker clamped to their wrist to monitor all kinds of metrics. Articles appear every so often debating the pros and cos of such devices and waxing lyrical about the impact they have on our lives. Here’s the latest: a piece for The New York Times examining whether or not the data from a fitness tracker can help runners to race better.

At this stressful time of year escaping into nature can be a great way to calm down and get things back in perspective. With that in mind, I enjoyed this piece which takes the form of a thank you letter to Mother Nature. It’s a lovely concept and something I might try writing myself. What would you thank Mother Nature for? I’d love to read your responses…

I know lots of runners have made a Christmas Day run part of their festive traditions, while others prefer to rest and have an indulgent day. For many years I treated Christmas Day as a rest day, choosing instead to beat the sluggishness with a Boxing Day run, but in recent years Steve and I have preferred heading out for a run. It’s so nice to stick on a festive hat, run at an easy pace together and greet the people we meet. This year we will be heading to a special Christmas Day parkrun and are really looking forward to it. If you haven’t tried a run on Christmas Day, perhaps this next piece will persuade you:

And finally, if Christmas has you stressed out and desperate to drop everything and run, you might enjoy these GIFs exemplifying how to respond to some classic Christmas conundrums. I think my favourite is the first one!

Happy reading and Happy Christmas!
The Running Princess

Week In Review – Festive Fun!

Another week and just 7 more days until the big Ho Ho Ho! It was another reasonably restful week for me as I was suffering from some lingering discomfort around my ribs and torso from all my recent coughing, but the cough has finally subsided and by the end of the week I was ready to start enjoying the festive season.
I’m linking up once again with Jessie @ The Right Fits and Jess @ Jess Runs ATL to share more about my week.

My aim at the start of the week was to shift the last remnants of the cough and give the muscles around my ribs a chance to recover as they had clearly been under strain. I have to admit, I was pretty happy to have the time out as it was pretty chilly outside!

fullsizeoutput_2309By Thursday the cough had pretty much subsided and I was keen to try some yoga to see if it helped to stretch out the muscles in my upper body. I also knew it would be the last Ashtanga class before Christmas so really wanted to be there. I took it easy and just did what my body wanted to do, which meant moving slowly and choosing easier options for some postures. By the end of the class my left hand side felt so much better, but my right, which had been flaring up a bit more that day, was still feeling uncomfortable. Still, it was good to do something within my usual routine again and although I couldn’t participate at the level I normally would, I enjoyed the class and still felt that I got something out of it.

I had hoped to return to parkrun on Saturday, however thanks to the icy conditions the event was cancelled. If I’m honest, this was probably for the best as it made me take another day to rest and allow my sore side to settle. My day consisted of getting my hair done, doing some food shopping and then settling down for the serious business of the Strictly Come Dancing final (Dancing with the Stars for my readers outside of the UK). It was an evening of glitter balls, dancing and kitty cuddles!

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IMG_4882It was Sunday that was the real highlight of the week. It is our tradition to visit Edinburgh one Sunday close to Christmas. We did this for our first date back in 2008 and have repeated it every year since.

It was raining when we set off for the station and the rain was falling on already icy surfaces creating really treacherous conditions underfoot so our walk was a bit slow. Luckily we had left enough time as we had hoped to grab a coffee for the journey, but in the end only had a minute or two to spare so had to go caffeine-free!

Once in Edinburgh we headed straight to the festive ice rink at St Andrews Square as we had booked our tickets in advance. It’s always a bit strange getting onto the ice, but after a slightly wobbly lap sticking close to the sides, things usually click into place for me and I can skate with enough confidence to move away from the hand rails. Steve, on the other hand, has never yet grasped the mechanics of moving around the ice, but this year did make some significant progress!

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IMG_4903Once off the ice we were channelled right into the bar where we were keen to enjoy a hot festive beverage. We chose the hot gin and apple toddy which was delicious!

IMG_4886From there we visited a couple of shops before it was time to go for some food. And where else would we go but the Chocolate Lounge on the top floor of Harvey Nichols? I was in the mood for something savoury so had the dipping plate which had olives, hummus, bloody Mary chutney and chocolate balsamic vinegar with some delicious bread. Yum! And to drink? Why a strawberry bellini of course – standards must be maintained 😂

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IMG_4892After lunch we had a walk around some of the Christmas market stalls and assorted festivities before heading to Hotel Chocolat for a hot drink. I decided on their winter spiced hot chocolate which was delicious!

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The lights at The Dome are always worth a look!

IMG_4897Full of yummy goodness, we headed back to the station for our train home. Turned out we were pretty tired (or full!) so both of us had a nap since we had a while before getting home.

IMG_4898Fortunately the morning ice had melted so our walk home was much easier, but we did make a pitstop at our local Chinese takeaway. Neither of us were massively hungry but we did fancy some food and for some reason fried rice and curry sauce sounded perfect – what a classy pair we are lol!

Any weather-related disruptions to your running lately?
What are your pre-Christmas traditions?

A Gift Fit For A (Running) Princess…

Dear Santa,

I hope you’ve had a good year. Mine has been pretty good, despite beginning the festive season with a nasty virus. I’ve had to stop running and it’s making me pretty grumpy, but I know my mood is going to be so much better when I can start working out again so I was hoping you might bring me a few running treats to help motivate me as I begin training for the Stirling marathon. I’m pretty sure you leave all the running to the reindeer, so I’ve taken the liberty of making a list of things I’ve had my eye on or feel I need. Perhaps, if I’ve been good, you might leave one or two of these under the tree for me on the big day…

I’ve got plenty of nice snuggly running tights, but I would love some new tops to add a bit of variety. I’ve got my eye on a couple that would be great for those long marathon training runs: this one by Odlo which looks ideal for those really cold days, and this one from the New Balance x J Crew range which feeds my love of a Breton stripe. You brought me a different top from this collection last year and I LOVE it!

I’m loving patterned running tights lately and have bought a few great pairs, but I’d really love my own pair of the ones Anna McNuff called The Pants of Perspective (they feature on the cover of her book by the same name). I’m also very tempted by the signed copy of her book to go along with them. They would be a great motivation during tough times in a run. I also love the ranges here.

Something I take super seriously is recovery and I LOVE my Oofos recovery sandals. Sadly they’re not so appealing during the winter so a pair of their new shoes would just do the trick and make my feet feel amazing after those long runs.

There are also a few accessories I could really do with right now.

First up, a new Spibelt. Mine is pretty old now and a bit snug for my iPhone. I love these ones which are a bit roomier so I can carry and access my stuff more easily.

I could also do with a new hat. My favourite is a bobble hat so another similar one would be ideal.

For those chilly days, I really fancy a pair of the new Runderwear merino range. Their regular underwear is now my go-to for long runs as they are so comfortable, so having a cosy pair is really appealing!

I’ve also become a real convert to wearing a light on my shoe when I’m running in the dark (I guess it’s the closest I’m going to get to shoes with a light-up sole!) and would love another one so I don’t have to keep moving my one around different pairs. Perhaps even something similar for my arm?

And finally, I could really do with some more space to hang all those hard-earned medals. My current hangers are full so I’d love to extend them with some additional ones. To match the ones I have already I would need additional hangers in black and sparkling plum then I could get all those un-hung medals on display at last!

So there you have it Santa. I certainly don’t expect all of these, but thought a range of options at different price points might be a good idea. None of these are sponsored or affiliate links, so hopefully you have a few contacts up your sleeve to get a good deal!

Love to Mrs Claus and all of the reindeer.
Merry Christmas,

The Running Princess

Week In Review – Beaten!

I think this might be my briefest Week in Review yet! Thanks to being ill I really haven’t done anything all week, but I’ve written a weekly roundup every week this year and don’t want to stop now. As ever, linking up with Jessie and Jess to share the details.

If you read my post last week then you’ll maybe remember that by the end of the week I was really struggling with a chesty cough, and it was getting worse. After giving in on Sunday and staying at home resting, Steve insisted that I wasn’t well enough to go to work on Monday (and my protests were rather feeble!) so I called in sick. As it turned out, that was going to be the case for a few days.

I spent Monday in bed trying to rest and catching up on some TV programmes I was a bit behind with (in case you’re interested, Once Upon a Time, Nashville and Will & Grace). I had coughed so much the night before that poor Steve had gone to sleep in the spare room and he did the same on Monday night which meant that if I wasn’t sleeping I could read or use my laptop without disturbing him. Not a very exciting day and when I eventually fell asleep that night it was through sheer exhaustion from coughing.

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Ridiculous cat checking to see if she liked tomato soup!

Tuesday followed a rather similar pattern, however after lunch I felt well enough to get up and head downstairs to my comfy armchair instead…just in time for Steve to head to bed having picked up the bug from me. I felt bad as it was his birthday and rather than celebrating he was heading to bed with hot drinks and a bit of a fever. My turn for the spare room!

I stayed off work again on Wednesday as I knew it would be too much for me to spend all day teaching at that stage. I did, however, manage to spend the whole day out of bed. I did a little work, watched some more TV, read and tried to eat a bit more to get my strength back. Meanwhile Steve stayed in bed and I did my best to take him the things he needed. We were quite a pair!

On Thursday I went back to work. I knew I was too “well” to be at home but a day at work is a whole other story and by the afternoon I was really tired. The school has really been hit with this bug so loads of pupils (and staff) were off and I got through the day with the help of my lozenges and the good will of my pupils who were pleased to have their teacher back rather than a cover teacher. I decided not to go to yoga at night as I was not only tired, but still coughing and all the muscles in my upper body were really aching from the force of the cough. A quiet night in front of the TV beckoned for us both as Steve was getting himself up and about when I arrived home.

I felt a bit better on Friday and had a relatively light teaching commitment so survived another day. Steve went back to work too so both of us were feeling the impact of following a “normal” routine. We did still go out to eat as we usually do, but were both conscious that we didn’t need as much to eat as normal – highly unusual for these two runners!

The weekend plan was to relax. Without parkrun to go to (no running until I’m sure the cough has settled and I’m no longer sore) I was able to sleep until I awoke naturally and take my time getting ready. Steve went to meet his brother for a coffee and I walked into town to meet them as I thought the fresh air would be good for me. This meant we could get some food shopping done then relax at home for the afternoon.

After an earlier meal than usual, Steve drove me back into town as I was going to the pantomime with my sister. She works for the theatre and concert hall, so gets comp tickets for shows and I usually go with her. This year the panto is Aladdin and it was the opening night in the newly refurbished theatre. I still find it really strange as I worked there for a few years as a student so knew the old building really well and now it feels like all the doors lead to different places as there is basically a whole new building around the auditorium! Since I’ve been ill I’ve not been feeling too festive so it was nice to do something tradionally Christmassy and make me feel a bit better.

Sunday was another lazy morning (I feel so much better but this bug has left me really tired) and some chores before heading out for a coffee. Once home I spent some time putting up our Christmas tree, something that fell by the wayside last weekend!

IMG_4873So overall not the best of weeks for me. I am feeling a lot better now, but am incredibly sore from coughing and I can feel myself getting grumpy and irritable because I’m not getting the endorphins  from workouts. Hopefully I’ll be able to get back to some training soon as heading into Christmas without any training does not sound appealing! On a more interesting note, this week my photo has been used in some of the emails and social media posts for the Edinburgh Marathon Festival. This was taken during my 2nd of 4 events that weekend (10k, 5k, half marathon and final relay leg in 2015) and remains one of my greatest running memories. If you’re a newer reader or somehow missed it, you can read al about that particular adventure here and here.

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Fame at last lol!

Have you put your Christmas decorations up yet?
What’s your favourite running memory?

‘Tis The Season (Part 2)

(If you missed it, you can read part 1 of my seasonal roundup here)

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Everyone has their festive traditions. It might be a particular meal, an activity or spending time with a special group of people. One of our festive fitness traditions is to take part in a Santa run during the month of December, however our most important tradition involves a bit less fitness and a bit more indulgence…

Steve and I first met back in the spring of 2008, but it was not until later in the year that our paths crossed again and we met for coffee. That “coffee date” being a rousing success, the following weekend we went on our first “proper” date and, it being December, Steve organised an appropriately festive day out to Edinburgh with skating on the outdoor rink, browsing the Christmas markets and sampling the glühwein. These were pre-smartphone days so I only have a couple of pictures from an ancient camera to record the moment for posterity!

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Neither of us are going to be troubling Torvill and Dean any time soon, but there’s something so special and Christmassy about ice skating surrounded by all those beautiful lights, so every December since then we’ve headed back to Edinburgh for a pre-Christmas day out (and confirmed that our skating has not, in fact, improved!). On a couple of occasions other friends have come with us, but more often it has just been the two of us and over the last couple of years we’ve fallen into a pattern of skating, drinking and eating lovely food. Without this trip, our Christmas would feel incomplete…

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(For some reason I couldn’t find pictures of us both from 2011 and 2013, but we definitely went to Edinburgh those years. Apparently we were more interested in glühwein on those occasions judging by these shots!)

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This year, our trip took place exactly a week before Christmas. I still had a week of the school term ahead, but it was still a fantastic day out and really made us feel like Christmas was just around the corner.

Steve had booked us on a train at about 9:15am, but despite an impromptu bonus run to the station when we mistimed our departure, we still managed to miss it. Fortunately there was another train a few minutes later and a lovely rail employee, filled with Christmas spirit, allowed us to to travel without having to pay a fee to change our tickets. I do hope she had a lovely Christmas after being so kind.

Arriving in Edinburgh we made our way straight to the ice rink as we had booked our slot in advance. I always feel kind of nervous as I exchange my shoes for ice skates and there are definitely a few wobbles until I find my balance, but soon I’m whizzing reasonably confidently around the ice (until I see someone fall, then I’m straight back to hugging the barrier!). One of these years I might even learn how to stop without having to head for the barriers at the side! Steve is less adept on skates as he didn’t do any skating at all (ice or roller) while growing up, whereas my sister and I had roller skates so there’s still some muscle memory in there. Poor Steve has spent so much time training himself to run, that the motion of skating goes against every instinct he has, however this year he did start to improve his form a bit and manage a PB of 5 laps of the rink without having to hold on to the barrier! That’s Olympic-qualifying standard, right 😉

They don’t let you take photos on the ice (we got a row for that last year) so we had to take our photo just before stepping onto the rink.

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A great feature of this rink is that once you have finished skating and retrieved your shoes (which after a half hour or so of skating feel very strange!) you have to exit through the bar. Funnily enough, we’ve never been in a rush to leave here and like to celebrate a successful skating adventure with a festive adult beverage. This year, we chose a sloe gin hot apple toddy and it was delicious!

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After our drink, we headed over to the Christmas market. This year the layout was a bit different as the whole Christmas experience in Edinburgh is constantly being refined. The market is always busy, but the new layout and management of the entrance/exit did help. The stalls were full of the usual types of gifts and foods, but I did find a couple of fun photo opportunities as we wandered around:

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Showing off my new Elf-inspired T-shirt!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There were also some reindeer visiting from the Cairngorms:

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And then, I spotted it…

img_0166Obviously, we had to try something, but since we were on our way to have some food we opted for a Nutella hot chocolate instead of a crepe. Good, but not quite as good as that Nutella coffee I had in Paris. Yum!

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Our favourite place to eat on our Christmas trip to Edinburgh is the Chocolate Lounge on the Forth floor of Harvey Nichols (yup, it is the 4th floor but is spelled like the river that flows nearby – see what they did there!). There’s always a bit of a queue as you can’t book, but it’s totally worth it. You sit on a high stool with a conveyer belt going around in front of you like at a sushi bar, but instead of sushi, it’s examples of the chocolate products you can order. It being Christmas, we ordered a glass of champagne each to go with our food. Steve has a sweet tooth so always orders some kind of dessert, whereas I prefer savoury and my favourite thing to order here is the dipping plate (don’t worry, there’s still some chocolate, it’s just mixed in with the balsamic vinegar. Sounds weird; tastes amazing!).

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It’s quite clearly a dish for one, but when it was brought out the waitress, rather inexplicably, asked if it was “just” for me or if I was sharing it. As if! All I could think of was this:

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After eating, we still had plenty of time before our train so since it was getting darker we set off to see some of the amazing Christmas lights, starting with The Dome then heading along to the Street of Light display:

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There were some further stalls by the Street of Light, and we finally found exactly the kind of emporium we were looking for:

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Yes, there were samples and yes, we ended up buying some gin!

After which there was just enough time to grab a coffee before getting the train home (we were in plenty of time for this one!).

So there you have it. Our most important Christmas tradition of them all. We had another fantastic day out to Edinburgh enjoying some festive indulgences and creating more happy memories. Roll on the 2017 edition!

What is your favourite festive tradition?
Any exciting trips recently or in the near future?

‘Tis The Season (Part 1)

Around here, the festive season kicks off in mid-November when the city’s Christmas lights are officially switched on. From that point on, just about every weekend is filled with fun activities and our own traditions that help to make this time of year special. 2016, for all its ups and downs, was no exception, so if you’d like to know a bit more about how we’ve been celebrating the season, read on…

I have to say, in previous years I was never too bothered about the Christmas lights being switched on. I don’t know if it’s because there are so many people about or if it’s because when we were living in the flat I could basically look out of the window and see the lights, but actually making the effort to go out was never something I really fancied. But this year we decided to brave the crowds, check out some of the performances and get into the spirit of things – this being our first Christmas in our house, we really wanted it to feel special.

It was probably one of the coldest weekends we’ve had this winter, with freezing fog and frosty paths, so we were well wrapped up against the elements (this was the weekend we managed to arrive at parkrun looking like a “his and hers” catalogue page in our matching winter kit!). Once in town, we went to see some reindeer and what was possibly the cutest donkey I’ve ever seen in my life!

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But what we were really interested in was taking place on the children’s stage (or “chidrens” as the signage said – oops!). That’s right, we had ostensibly ventured out to see an act from our childhood. – Basil Brush. You probably have to be UK-based and of a certain “vintage” to get that one, but I can confirm that the audience was mainly made up of adults around our age, accompanied by some token kids to make it look a bit more acceptable! I can also confirm that it was hilarious.

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We also enjoyed a browse of the market stalls that formed part of our chocolate festival (yum). No photos since it was so busy, but I don’t think we’ll ever forget the sample of VERY strong mocha gin we tried!

The following Sunday our city was celebrating again, this time St Andrew’s Day. It wasn’t quite so cold, but definitely got chillier as the day went on. We began the day with a short trail run before meeting up with Steve’s cousin who was visiting from the US (she’s Canadian but now lives in the US) and going for a walk up Kinnoull Hill together. img_9847 fullsizeoutput_1b79

After that we needed some hot drinks to warm us up, then Steve and I headed off to see the real draw of the day – The Red Hot Chilli Pipers. They’re always fantastic and it’s great to have something like that happening in the middle of town. I was already enjoying the festive season and it wasn’t even December yet!

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But as if that wasn’t enough celebrating, the following weekend I took Steve out for a meal ahead of his birthday (which was inconveniently on the Monday!). We had a delicious tasting menu and wine flight, neither of which made for the most fleet footed running the following morning!

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We also put our Christmas tree up that weekend, leading me to declare our first Christmas in our new house officially underway!

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And in an odd twist, the weather in the week after this became very mild. On the Wednesday it was still 15C in the evening, which wouldn’t be out of place in the summer, so I decided to go for my midweek run in shorts. It seemed really strange to be running in the dark in a pair of shorts, but I definitely wasn’t cold, in fact I regretted having worn a long-sleeved top! Taking my photo next to the Christmas tree afterwards was, of course, obligatory in order to mark this unusual occurrence!

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Then just four days later, still in fairly mild weather, I was dressed like this for what has become an important tradition for us: a Santa run.

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You can read more about our Santa Dash experience here.

With two weeks still to go before the big ho ho ho, there was still plenty of fun to be had! Coming up in part 2 – our most important Christmas tradition of them all…

 

What are your traditions at this time of year?
How does your town/city celebrate the season?

Friday Finds – 23rd December

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.

At long last, I’m finished work for Christmas and looking forward to a chance to relax over the next couple of weeks. But first, the small matter of celebrating the season, so before I head out for a turkey dinner, here’s a selection box of things I’ve come across this week…

First, a follow on from last week’s post where I included Nike’s announcement of the Breaking2 project. This story has continued to be front and centre in my news feeds and I just listened to a podcast interview with Ed Caesar (who will be covering the project for Wired magazine). Unsurprisingly, everyone has an opinion on this particular topic, so Outside online gathered together three experts to share their thoughts:

Also from Outside, I enjoyed this roundup of the best fitness advice garnered from various interviewees throughout 2016. At this indulgent (and for some, difficult) time of year, it serves as a useful reminder of how we can maximise our performance through simple, everyday things like eating well. For me, I know I need to make rest much more of a priority during term time as I tend to get rushed off my feet at work then keep on going with training and other commitments. Maybe that’s a goal for next year?

Next up, a bit of tech. I don’t know about you, but I’m really fussy about the earphones I use during workouts: I need them to stay in my ears, I need them to be comfortable and ideally I need them to be wireless. When Apple announced their new AirPods, I was a bit sceptical about how they would work for running, but this week a review by a runner surfaced which seemed to suggest they would be ok after all (although I would still worry about losing one!). Potentially good news for anyone who finds a pair under their Christmas tree this year!

Appealing to the stats geek in me (at least as far as running is concerned!) is Strava’s roundup of 2016 data. With 9.6 activities recorded EVERY SECOND of the year, they have plenty to go on! I love looking at these kinds of numbers and was particularly intrigued to find that just 40 users logged an activity every day of the year. I’m not sure whether I would have expected that to be a bigger or smaller number, but it’s still a fascinating statistic and I’d love to know more about what kinds of activities they recorded. I wonder how my own stats will compare…?

And finally, if you’re looking for something to do to escape the family/burn off the turkey/entertain yourself over the next few days, why not have a go at some Strava art. I know I’ve included stories of this unique art form in the past, and now we have some festive art to add to the mix. I especially liked the quotes from the runner alongside each picture. I’m not sure I’m artistic enough to plot out a suitable route, but if you create some Strava art I’d love to see it!

Happy Christmas!
The Running Princess