Week In Review – Here Comes The Taper!

Yes, taper time once more. It’s funny, but I never really mind the first week of the taper, in fact I’m usually pretty keen to have the cut back in my long run, but with the rest of my training throughout the week not particularly changing, I don’t really notice the taper until the second/third week. Given that this first taper week has coincided with the second half of my spring break, it’s been great to have the chance to continue with my relaxing routine. As a result I not only feel rested, but feel a bit mentally sharper and like my creative juices are flowing a bit more (which means I have loads of ideas for posts but probably not enough time to write them all while they’re still relevant. Oh well, c’est la vie!).

Monday – rest
Tuesday – bike reps @ the gym
Wednesday – hills
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 16 miles

I decided I quite liked last week’s strategy of starting the day with a cup of the and my book in bed. This week’s reading material proved to be absolutely fascinating and I highly recommend everyone reads this book.

zt2pHCUrQR6UaTv3f+VjowOnce I was organised on Monday I took a walk to the gym to sit in the hot tub for a bit. My legs definitely needed the movement after running 20 miles on Sunday, so walking for a bit and having the time to relax in the warm water definitely made them feel much better. By the time I got home I was feeling pretty good – in no hurry to run for a day or two, but good!

Then on Tuesday I had to coerce my legs into a bit more activity. I walked to the gym once more, but this time to conquer another set of intervals on the bike. I was a little worried that I was going to struggle this time with the cumulative fatigue setting in, but actually I was able to get it done and that gave me a real sense of accomplishment. Yes, my legs were a bit weary, but the real battle was a mental one to convince myself to do it and I did. Job done!

IMG_6261My Wednesday run this week was hills. Goody! The thing about hills is that the efforts are short, but oh so tough. I don’t know if it was the different time of day, being better rested or further improvements in my fitness, but I felt like I was performing better and a comparison of the stats from the 2 activities shows that I was quicker over the harder (i.e. longer) intervals, so that’s more good news.

3+uXazOlSaGCPX66Ubl2ugIn the afternoon I had an appointment in town so headed in a bit early so I could potter about the shops for a while. And then I got hungry and ended up with the most middle class snack ever! Thank goodness for M&S 😂

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Seriously! Quinoa waves? Who am I???

By Thursday I was looking forward to another Ashtanga yoga class. The hardest sessions of the week were done and it was time to do something a bit more relaxing. I felt like I was really strong in “wheel” this week, but not quite so amazing in my headstand work. I did manage a supported headstand though, and I know I’ll not get it every time so I’ll just go with what happens week on week.

On Friday I headed down to the studio for a personal training session. This time a bit of mobility work using my old friend the Core Momentum Trainer. Some of the exercises were a bit tricky as they involved both movement AND balance (not my strong suit!) but once I figured out the best way to fix my gaze point I found I was able to do them much more easily.

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It was a Disney leggings kind of a day.

That night on the way home from dinner I decided to work on my balance a bit more. There’s this strange brick thing in our development that I just can’t understand. It almost looks like a plinth for something, but it’s been left like this for ages so who knows! Our running joke is that there should be a statue on it, so I thought I would demonstrate what that would look like. Can’t take me anywhere haha!

zbp16UVqTyGhSj6FCjvdGgAnd then Saturday came around. Earlier in the week I had ordered some new leggings and was keen to debut them at parkrun.

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Unicorns for the win!

Having been a little frustrated a couple of weeks ago when I narrowly missed out on a sub-24 minute time, I wanted to have another go. Being in that kind of shape gives me confidence as I approach a marathon and I realised that this would likely be my last chance as I’ll be using the run slightly differently for the next couple of weeks.

We were running anti-clockwise this time. The grass still isn’t recovered enough for us to run over it en masse, or at least it would be for one run but then we’d be right back where we started! There was a poll on social media to decide on the direction and it was a draw so anti-clockwise was chosen for a variety of reasons. Having learned my lesson I made sure I was fairly near the front so I could get a bit of space and shot off and soon as the RD said go! The pace felt hard, but achievable, and I got a bit of a shock when the first mile clocked in at 7:33 – a bit spicy for me!

Somehow I held on and mile 2 came in at 7:28. Still going! By this time I was doing the sums and realised I could be well within my goal time, it was just a case of hanging on. My legs, which I was expecting to turn to jelly at any moment, felt strong so I knew this was going to be all about keeping my head in it and pushing on.

A slight dip in mile 3 at 7:40, then a burst of speed in to the finish line to clock a time of 23:26!! Having thought I might manage just inside 24, that was a big surprise and, for stats fans, my 3rd fastest parkrun EVER! A very pleasing place to be at this stage in my preparations for Stirling and probably the confidence boost I needed that all the parts of my training are coming together.

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He just can’t help himself!

The rest of the day was pretty chilled, and when Steve headed off to spend the afternoon with some friends I spent some quality time with my good friend Adriene.

5tP7pebsQ2mshYSEX9R%GQSunday was “just” 16 miles (you know you’re at the end of a marathon training cycle when you add “just” to ridiculous mileage that’s beyond many people’s commute!). While I have no specific time goal for this marathon, preferring to remove the pressure and simply perform my best under whatever circumstances there are on the day, I do still want to formulate a plan for how I’m going to approach the race. Do I want to aim for a specific “feel” or pace? Or do I want to do something like I’ve done in my longer training runs with a mixture of faster miles and recovery miles?

To help me decide, Steve suggested that I try running my 16 miles at a steady pace, somewhere around my dream finish time of 4 hours. That’s 9:09 per mile. I knew I would have some hills in my route, but thought I could maybe balance it out a bit as there would be both uphill and downhill sections.

It was a beautiful morning with the sun out once more so my shorts got another airing. I wore a super-light long sleeved top but soon wished I had gone for something else as the sleeves were quickly rolled up and I was quite sure it was much warmer than the forecast had suggested. While I was trying to focus on how I felt rather than hitting a specific pace, I was checking my watch for a bit of feedback as each mile ticked by and it was looking good. Hitting 10 miles on 1:30:XX meant I had averaged a 9 minute mile thus far and the biggest hill was out the way.

KP5ijD3kRuKULbUw9viorgThe longer I went on, the harder it felt as I was getting warm, there was a strong wind in places and I had a long, steady incline in the last mile or so home. To be honest, I thought I had lost it by then, but pushed on to give myself another “win” in the mental battle. I was therefore thrilled to see when I stopped my watch that I was bang on the average pace I wanted to see. I don’t think I’ll be running the marathon quite like that, but it is valuable information in helping me formulate a race plan (and backup plans – always have a backup!).

IMG_6361So now there are just 2 weeks to go. Next weekend I’m going to rearrange my running a bit so I can get my miles in but still work around some other commitments. This means I’ve managed to give myself a rare day “off” on Sunday, so if you want me I’ll be in front of the TV, still in my pyjamas and clutching a cup of tea while I watch coverage of the London marathon. I can’t wait!

IMG_0495If you’re running London, then I wish you all the very best. It’s an amazing race and a fantastic experience.

What impact can you see in your training right now?
Will you be watching the London marathon on Sunday?
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Week In Review – Reaching the Peak!

It’s been a lovely, restful week off work (despite yet more snow!) and it’s been nice to have a chance to recharge the batteries while still maintaining my training. This week saw me take on my longest run in this cycle which seems ideal when I’m pretty well rested! Here’s how it all turned out:

Monday – rest
Tuesday – bike reps @ the gym
Wednesday – form drills
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 20 miles

I began my week the same way I ended the last one – reading my book in bed. It was such a lovely, relaxing start to my day that this quickly became my routine for the week: alarm at 7:30am, kettle on, then back to bed with a cup of tea to read until around 8:30am. Bliss, and so good to take the time for myself.

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I highly recommend this book

Since I knew I wouldn’t have my Hatha class in the evening (it’s term time only) I was happy to continue my home practice, however was saving that until the early evening. To get a bit of movement into my day I walked down to the gym to relax in the hot tub and sauna then spent the rest of the day chilling out at home. With term time always so busy, it’s important for me to have some quiet time and catch up on myself a bit. There was a bit of a spanner in the works later in the evening when we had a couple of power cuts, but thanks to some battery-operated lights and some candles, things were pretty cosy and I was able to read a bit thanks to my trusty head torch!

n5AhHhVATLmjWDLhA9xTDQTuesday began much the same, but this time I had an actual workout to do as there were more bike reps on the schedule. I got these done in the morning so I could enjoy the rest of my day (and take my time having a sauna afterwards!). It was quite chilly though and I spent a good part of my walk home wondering why I STILL needed to wear my hat and gloves! Definitely ready for some better weather.

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Working hard!

6AtKhEC2RZmGUm1i5B9H6QSadly that better weather seemed pretty far away on Wednesday as I awoke to MORE snow. Thankfully not too bad this time, but enough to disrupt my run. I had planned to warm up then run 10x 1km drills. I toyed with waiting until later in the day but there was no guarantee things would improve so in the end I bundled up and went for it.

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fullsizeoutput_2471For the first half of my run the roads and path were pretty slushy so each drill was more an exercise in not falling over, but some of the later drills were a bit more as they should be as I hit some paths that were much clearer. Typically things did clear up a bit later on but when I’m on holiday I always prefer to get my workout done in the morning. Oh well, yet another “character building” run in the snow!

GLldtfZcTfWYrRp7ILOvKgAnd Steve took me to the farm shop cafe for a malteser slice and hot chocolate in the afternoon. Yum!

1O1mLmOYSoeCS6h34iHHFwThursday saw me back at the gym for my morning hot tub/sauna then in the afternoon I took a walk about mile up the road to meet Steve for a coffee. A new branch of a coffee shop chain had opened in the business park there so we thought we would take a look and have a coffee. The interior was nice and they have a drive through, but I think they have a bit of work to do on staff training as it took several different people to work out how to put the correct order through and a queue quickly formed behind us – oops!

Later in the day I had my Ashtanga class which I always really enjoy. We worked on our headstands a bit again and this week I managed to briefly hold my balance (without my legs straightened just yet) before taking a tumble. Don’t worry, I was fine as I realised I was going over so was able to land safely and the teacher was there. I definitely felt more confident with moving into the posture thanks to having done it with support in previous weeks, so I guess I’ll have to expect a few tumbles while I work on perfecting this one. Definite progress through.

On Friday morning Steve was able to fit me in for a training session so I headed down to the studio with my boxing gloves again. It was a tough workout of punches, ducks, press ups, burpees and sit-ups, but I did notice that I was performing better in my boxing than before. Yet another marker of progress, but I knew I was going to feel it the next day!

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This was after, hence my tired face!

Thankfully it was pacer day at parkrun so I “only” had to run 28 minutes, a comfortable (for me) time. We had hoped to maybe be back on our main route but the grass is still sodden so it was another week of laps. Clockwise again. Hilariously, despite taking several photos of the pacers before the start, we didn’t get a single one where we were all facing the same direction 😂

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There’s always one 😂

It took me a while to settle into the pace as the trees on the first part of the route stop my watch getting a good signal, but soon I was on course and had plenty of energy to pose for the photographer.

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I had a great time chatting to people, giving advice and helping them to run a bit better, crossing the line in 28:04 – pretty close!

IMG_6203When I got home I was pleased to find some interesting post. I had been following the incredible story of a cat called Meatball and when a virtual run was organised in his name to raise funds for the same local Cats Protection branch that I am fundraising for this year (details in the link at the bottom of this post) then of course I jumped at the chance to do my bit. And the good news is that Meatball is now doing well.

UntitledThen Sunday was The Big One. My 20 mile run. I got a bit distracted over breakfast as I found a live stream of the Paris marathon coverage and got caught up in watching that – in French! I followed a good bit of the commentary and was amused to note that as I looked at the footage and distance markers, I knew EXACTLY where on the course the runners were and could picture the scene. An interesting thing they did was set the women’s race off first for the first time in this event. Then started the men’s race 16 or so minutes later. It seems an odd gap, but it was the difference between the winning male and female times last year. This meant that both the male and female races finished together – in fact the lead man passed the lead woman about half a kilometre from the end and there were only a few seconds between them reaching the finish line. Instead of one lonely male runner finishing, there were several athletes running in at the same time which made for great viewing. I really liked the way this was done and the coverage which had a lot of split screen so you could watch both races at once. It will be interesting to see if other big races follow suit.

Once the elite races in Paris were finished I was ready to head out the door for my own run – and I FINALLY got to run in my favourite skirt that I like to race in. Without gloves!!!

bfXpB4MzRX6WvRtmS9pwSQThe plan this time was a 2 mile warm up then 3 sets of 4 miles at marathon pace/effort with 2 miles recovery. It did feel harder than my 18 mile run last week, but then I ran that after a couple of “easier” weeks so taking on 20 just one week later (and with my Friday workout still in my weary muscles) it’s quite right that this felt harder. That’s no bad thing since I’ll need to be ready to run on tired legs come race day. There were actually only 2 “harder” mile splits that I missed and both of those featured an incline, so overall I’m pleased with how it went and am now hoping that with fresher legs in 3 weeks I’ll be able to perform well.

IMG_6253Post-run (and lunch!) Steve and I headed out to the farm shop for some eggs and figured we might as well have a scone in the cafe while we were there – it would be rude not to! I’d love to tell you how is tasted, but I gobbled it up pretty quickly…

G4hsWGTDTd+K+MkxKNkOSQThen as soon as we got home we had the oven on ready to replace all those calories burned with another fine plate of carbs and chips 😂 Got to love the marathon appetite!

v83oSWIKQ%K%%KPztTg3uQDefinitely a good week of training. A hard week, but a good one nonetheless as I was able to keep going even with the accumulation of fatigue in my muscles. Now let the taper commence…!

IMG_0492Have you had any more snow?
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Friday Finds – 6th April

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

April means spring marathon season is upon us with highlights including Paris, Boston and London in the next few weeks alone. My feeds are jammed with stories of elite competitors, epic challenges and incredible inspiration, so I think that’s where the focus will be this week.

An interesting feat is Loren Zitomersky’s aim to run the Boston marathon backwards. That’s right, backwards! Personally I find it hard enough to cover 26.2 miles facing forwards and imagine I would probably fall over if I tried to run more than a few steps backwards! What I hadn’t considered was that in this endeavour the runner facing backwards will be actually facing other competitors (assuming they are not dead last!) and will be treated to all the strange looks sent in their direction for the duration of the race. I bet he gets a few interesting comments when he’s training too!

But in this day and age it seems the marathon is becoming “too easy” for some and bigger challenges are being sought. Thus the stratospheric rise of the ultramarathon. But what is it that’s driving more and more people to take on huge distances, inhospitable terrain and epic multi-day events? Adharanand Finn asks that very question in this column for The Guardian.

Sometimes, of course, that challenge isn’t an organised event but an individual challenge from someone brave enough to not only dream up the idea, but to make it happen. One such idea comes from Peter Thompson who this summer aims to run the Tour de France. That’s 30 miles per day for 70 days with the aim of finishing before the cyclists begin. That’s some challenge!

A very different kind of challenge is to continue running for years to come and inspire others. When centenarians Orville Rogers and Julia Hawkins set new records earlier this year they became an instant sensation, so here’s some of their advice to enjoy a long and healthy relationship with running.

And finally, whether you’ve got a spring marathon coming up or have been through the process before, here are some reminders of the weird and wonderful quirks of marathon training. I’ll admit to number 5. What about you?

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Week In Review – Made It!!

The term from January to Easter is always the hardest in schools – there are mock exams to mark, copious amounts of coursework to support, final exams to prepare for and all this takes place in seemingly endless darkness. It’s a pretty long term, even with those “bonus” days off we had thanks to The Beast from the East and sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever make it to the finish line But his past week was the last of the term. I finally made it to our spring break!

If you’ve been following my training since the turn of the year then you’ll know that the weather has not always made it easy, but I’ve managed to be both consistent and flexible. As a result, I’m starting to feel like all the pieces are slotting into place. Read on for more about my training for the final week of March, which looked like this:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – bike reps @ the gym
Wednesday – hill reps
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 18 miles

My Hatha yoga class is only on during term time, so this was the last class in the block before the two week break. So nice to stretch out and re-balance after my long run the day before and the accumulated stresses of the term. Since the turn of the year I’ve been doing a lot more at-home yoga to complement the classes I go to, and I think that’s one of the puzzle pieces that is contributing to how strong I’m feeling right now. I’ll miss the class during the break, but will definitely be doing some yoga of my own to maintain the habit.

On Tuesday I was back at the gym adding a couple more reps to the interval workout I’m doing. I’m still always staggered by the fact that something I would not have been able to do in January is now achievable (tough, but achievable) for me. It’s a great way to get a measure of progress as a similar effort yields stronger results and I love being able to track those improvements.

s0bIvegFQxyd31MfEGLN8wWith the clocks changing in the UK last weekend, Wednesday was the first evening run in this training cycle that took place in daylight – and it was hill reps. That’s right, life and Mother Nature have allowed me to string together some consistent Wednesday night training for at least 3 weeks in a row and I need that now to ensure I keep finding improvements in my strength and fitness. I continue to have a love/hate relationship with hills – I love that it’s a reasonably short workout, but boy are those uphill bursts hard work. If you ever find me wheezing at the top of a hill, it’s safe to assume I ran there hard!

5g76J9dZRC2ooUgJXz4JIgThursday was the last day of term. I’ll admit I was really digging deep for the energy to get there and as I drove home at the end of the day I could feel a tiredness I hadn’t felt in a long time. I suspect this was my brain letting my body know I could finally relax and acknowledging how tired the term had made me (as a side note, I once tried NOT training for a marathon during this term, expecting to feel a bit less tired and if anything I felt WORSE without the time for myself and regular hit of endorphins. An interesting observation!). Luckily it was a yoga night and it felt great to round off the term on my yoga mat. The class was small so we did a little more work on headstands (I can do it with support but am not yet able to hold a headstand by myself. One day!). Post-yoga I had made an appointment to get my nails done and decided to change things up a bit with a more neutral colour (I usually go for deep reds and purples). I did ask to have a shimmery topcoat on the ring finger of each hand just to keep things interesting, though!

lSfTmckMTB+h8NIF9GgjqgThe following day was Good Friday, hence it being the first day of our break. I decided to take things easy and gave myself permission to be a bit lazy. I made myself a cup of tea and took it to bed with me to spend a little time finishing off my book. I then tidied up a few bits and pieces before taking a walk to my gym. I only wanted to use the hot tub and sauna, but walking there meant I got a bit of fresh air and movement in my day.

ysvZ8ql+TAmCtQEWKgOkfQI had originally planned to head over to the studio for a PT session later in the day, but due to the combination of Easter weekend traffic and an accident, the roads were gridlocked and Steve said it wasn’t worth trying to get over there. Instead I had a nice chilled afternoon and did a bit of yoga. I also came across this while scrolling social media. Your Running Princess is in an advert again. I feel internet famous 😂

fullsizeoutput_2458And in other news, my race number for the marathon arrived. Eek!

uipLxz3uRdasNq5b10UKNQSaturday morning was a bit miserable looking, so I decided to brighten things up with my asymmetric leggings for parkrun. After a good run in Perth a couple of weeks ago, I had thought I might be in a position to run a bit better so was ready to go for it. We’re still on our alternative course as the grass on our main route remains far too boggy to use given the numbers we have these days, and this week we were running the laps clockwise. Last time we did this there was a pretty strong headwind but this time it felt a bit better.

HZANdVo2Tca4Eq6cOXNwRAI thought I was lined up quite near to the start line, but somehow ended up stuck behind some slower runners and it took a bit of time to find some space at the start. After that, I felt like I was flying. I kept waiting for my legs to turn to jelly or my CV system to give up, but it didn’t happen and I was able to pass a few people (mainly guys, some of whom didn’t seem to like being passed by a girl in mad leggings!). I had hoped to maybe sneak under 24 for the first time this year, but with the slower start this was not to be – 24:01 so just missing out. Oh well! A little irritating, but still my fastest this year and another Royal Flush Negative Split. I’d says that sub-24 is in there and it would be great to be back in that kind of form before the marathon at the end of April. Watch this space!

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IMG_6086On Sunday I had 18 miles on my schedule and it was a cold but bright morning. I decided to repeat the same route and workout that I did for my previous 18 mile run earlier in March so I would have a point of comparison. The first 2 miles were a warm up, then it was 4x cycles of 3 miles at/faster than marathon pace and 1 mile recovery. Last time I just missed my pace on two of the faster splits as those miles included an incline, but this time I not only got it on all of them but some of the splits were faster. I was surprised at how achievable the whole run felt overall and as I stopped my watch at 18 miles I definitely felt like I could have gone on. I don’t know where it came from, but it’s a great reminder to trust the process and allow all the training to come together. Hopefully it’s all coming together for me at just the right time as I only have one more long run to do before I cut back for my taper. Where did that come from already?!

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IMG_6106Post-run I enjoyed some time chilling out with my free coffee (thank you Fitness Rewards!) and cracked open my chocolate bunny. I think I earned it!

enaBpDLuSyyvGezHMJaGVAAnd I replaced the calories I’d burned with this awesome plate of carby goodness 🙂 Gotta love marathon training!

o2v+tkOVSK+bWLzFwBgulgTell me how your training/racing has been going lately.
How did you earn your Easter treats?
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The Year of Me!!! – March Update

It hardly seems like any time at all since I was setting my goals for the year – this year focusing on process over outcome and looking at ways to create positive habits and add value to my life – yet here we are at the end of March already! I’m checking in each month to keep me accountable and reflect on how I’m getting on.

1.Run 1000km (621 miles)
I have, once more, completed all the runs on my training schedule, but thanks to some pretty insane weather this month there were a few tweaks along the way – most notably when we were hit by The Beast from the East. Running in the snow seems to have made me stronger and has made some of my longer runs actually feel a bit easier! With increasing mileage I come in at 107 miles for the month and Strava tells me I’ve now at 250 miles for the year. That’s 97 miles ahead of schedule, but I’m not going to get over-excited about that since I don’t anticipate particularly high mileage in May as I take some time out to recover post-marathon.

2.Commit to a minimum of 5 minutes of yoga on at least 5 days of the week
I think this is the one I’m loving best of all. I’ve easily fallen into the habit of an at-home yoga practice on 3-4 days of the week (and go to a yoga class on 2 days). Far from the minimum 5 minutes, most of the home practice has been around 30 minutes long. Still using the Yoga with Adriene videos and having completed one 30 day journey, I went back and began a previous one so I maintain the consistency. I’ll confess to one week where I only managed yoga 4 times, but that was due to time constraints in a super busy week. Had I known, I would have planned around it better but one yoga session isn’t something to get worked up about and I can’t expect a perfect result with my goals all the time!

3.Read at least 30 books
Somehow I’m still ahead of schedule here with 9 books completed. This time last year I had read 8 books, however by the end of June I was only at 11 books and I never quite got things back on track. I’ll need to keep making sure that I set aside time for reading as the days get longer as I’ve really been enjoying my reading so far this year.

4.Be in bed by 10pm at least 3 times per week
I really didn’t expect to be very good at this one, but getting to bed a bit earlier is now becoming a habit. I’ve set the “bedtime” function on my phone to give me a nightly reminder and that usually galvanises me to head upstairs and get settled in to read a few pages of my book. Yes I feel tired from the combined effects of a busy school term and marathon training, but overall I do think I’m a bit better rested than usual. The real test will be to see if I can keep this habit up while I have my spring break as the lure of it not being a school night has tended to keep me up later in the past!

5.Watch at least one Ted/Ted X talk per week
This has been great! To fit in with my schedule I’ve been watching reasonably short talks (including one delivered by the author of a book I read – look at my goals crossing over!) however I’m hoping to find time for some longer ones while I’m on holiday for the first two weeks of April. Let’s see how that goes…

6.Listen to at least 8 podcast episodes per week
Having been quite far behind with episodes, I’ve now managed to just about catch up. I’ve generally been listening to a couple of podcasts every day across my morning walk, commute and training, then the longer training runs on a Sunday are often another 3. It’s great to feel a bit more up to date with the shows I listen to regularly and I no longer feel like I’m missing out on information being shared. I might even try listening to something different if I keep going like this!

7.Respond to at least one WordPress prompt per month
This month I chose a photo prompt and published my response to I’d Rather Be… I have a couple of others lined up too for the coming weeks so it’s so far so good on this one.

8.Be more mindful in my phone/social media use
I began the year really well with this one, however the weather issues at the start of March sucked me back in a little as this was where information was being shared the quickest. Since then I’ve noticed some slippage into random scrolling, however I figure that my awareness of it means I’ll be able to do something about it. I suspect I’ll use my phone a bit more while I’m not at work, but I’ll also be careful about making sure I don’t lose precious time to a mindless time suck. A lapse, but not a serious one and I can easily get back on track again.

Overall I’ve not been too bad at maintaining the positive habits I introduced in the early part of the year, even with some pressures on my time. I’ve spotted a couple of snags to iron out, but for the most part I’m really happy that the choices I’m making are adding value to my life and are worth continuing long term.

Which of your goals for the year are going well?
Any setbacks you need to overcome?

Week In Review – Local Tourism

Another week gone and some tentative signs of spring (even if the forecast for the coming days is less than favourable). It was a super busy week for me but the core of my training plan still went ahead, although one or two things were rather squeezed in!

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – bike reps @ the gym
Wednesday – form drills
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 16 miles

Thing got off to a fairly reasonable start on Monday. Most of the snow from Sunday had disappeared (so bizarre!) and after work I headed for my usual Hatha yoga class. I’ve really been enjoying this block in the new studio space and feel really relaxed and chilled out afterwards. Definitely the best thing about Mondays right now!

It was on Tuesday that things began to get busy We had a meeting after work then I headed to the gym for my bike reps. This week I was dropping the number of reps back down to 10, but taking the intensity of the bike up a level. At the start of this training cycle I tried the very same workout but only managed a couple of reps before I dropped the intensity so being able to do this indicates a clear progression in my fitness. I was, however, thankful that the workout was pretty short as I had further evening plans. So it was a super-fast shower and change, home (with hair still wet) for a speedy dinner then a quick blast of my hairdryer before heading out the door to meet my sister at the theatre. We were using her comps again to see the latest play – Shakespeare’s Richard III. I actually wasn’t familiar with this one so it was interesting to draw some comparisons with some of his other works and I really enjoyed it. It didn’t finish until after 10pm though, so I was up past my bedtime!

As a result I felt tired on Wednesday but knew I had some drills to do. This week it was a warm up (about a mile) then 10 reps of 800m focusing on form and a minute recovery in between. This brought me home with about 7 miles completed. On the last rep (near my house) I spotted something on the path in front of me which I thought was a leaf. Just as I was about to step on it, I realised it was a frog! Anyone driving past at that moment may have wondered what my odd side-stepping dance was all about, but the good news is I avoided stepping on it. Phew!

QQTEd59GSwaz7twr1g4iFgPost-run I felt really tired. I think I’ve reached that point in the school year where all the demands of supporting senior pupils through drafts and redrafts of their coursework (and meeting the deadlines!) starts to affect me. I felt a bit “off” and could feel myself shutting down so headed to bed almost as soon as I’d eaten. I must have fallen right asleep as I woke up when Steve came to bed and realised I still had my glasses on and my book in my hand!

I actually felt pretty refreshed on Thursday but was glad to get to my Ashtanga yoga class as it always makes me feel so much better. It was a great class and Julia, my teacher, helped with a couple of adjustments to let me move further into one or two postures. I had been working on stretching out my right hip flexor a bit during the week and it felt back to normal after this class, as I had suspected. Sadly I had more coursework essays to check through afterwards so my eyes felt pretty heavy by the time I was heading to bed!

It was on Friday that things got a little more exciting. During The Beast from the East Steve revealed he had booked us a night away in a hotel as a surprise treat, but thanks to the snow we couldn’t go. Fortunately he was able to re-book for a different date so I didn’t feel too put out since I hadn’t known I was going and had something to look forward to. Friday was the night and all I knew was that we were heading to nearby Dundee. We had originally planned to leave about 6pm, giving me plenty of time to get home, get myself organised and write my Friday Finds, but when Steve confirmed the details with the hotel during the day he found that our dinner booking was quite early at 5:30! This meant I had to dash straight home at the end of the day, fling some things in a bag and then we were away. We got to the hotel (Malmaison) about 5pm which was perfect to get checked in, go to our room then head down for dinner.

8Rwn+rElTl6cOTbbgd2LSwTo make things easier we had just driven there wearing the clothes we planned to eat in. That meant all we needed was our overnight things and our parkrun kit for the morning (because everyone books a night away in a nice hotel and plans to go to a parkrun in the morning, right?).

The hotel package was lovely. We had our room for the night complete with a bottle of champagne, a three course meal from their fixed price menu and a continental breakfast in the morning. This could be upgraded to a cooked breakfast for very little extra, but with our parkrun plans a continental breakfast was fine.

o7vhOCYsQkm%Y9uS7sDuLADinner may have been early, but we were definitely hungry. The waiter took our orders for starters and main courses then said he would get our dessert orders after we had eaten them in case we were too full (rookie mistake lol!). I had grilled asparagus wrapped in Serrano ham to start, chicken Milanese with a side salad for my main course and we both wanted the chocolate fondue for dessert so it came on one big plate. This was accompanied by a small glass of red wine as we were conscious we had a bottle of champagne in our room which would NOT go to waste, but we were determined to run in the morning!

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Ob2Nj7BVQNK9VQXfLiDf6wThe early dinner meant it felt like we had a lovely long evening ahead of us. We opened the fizz and since I had been complaining of a dull headache all day, Steve checked my neck and upper back – definitely the culprits as I was all tight and knotted so he worked on that for a bit then I took my fizz into a nice hot bubble bath (I ALWAYS have a bath in a hotel if I can). So nice and relaxing.

FiXVIXuERGaciqK71uTELgBefore bed we got our things ready for the morning and thought it would be funny to take flat lay photos as if we were heading to a race. The irony of our situation hadn’t escaped us – usually we stay in a hotel specifically to go to a race; this time we were having a relaxing night away but couldn’t resist the lure of parkrun!

qaLYMvkFT+2KHOwokkSotwBreakfast started at 8am and we planned to be away around 8:30 as although there is a parkrun in Dundee (at Camperdown park), we have done it twice before as part of the New Year Triple, so instead we thought it would be fun to drive the half hour over to St Andrews and take part in the parkrun at Craigtoun park as ordinarily this would be about an hour’s drive for us and a little out of reach.

I usually don’t eat before parkrun so just had a coffee and small croissant while enjoying the views of the new V&A and the RRS Discovery. Then I wrapped a couple of pastries up to take with me for later. Not letting my breakfast go to waste!

cs35ypKwRuqRzKA8WJMxDQIt was such a nice spring-like morning and Craigtoun park looked lovely. Of course Steve managed to meet someone he knows and I spotted a few familiar faces from my school community as St Andrews is only about 10 miles away from where I work. We felt really welcome as people told us about the course and the expected winner (a young guy who completes the course in around 15:40!) ahead of the first timers briefing.

emkdye2AQ0m3KxC1boEUkgThe course was three and a bit laps of the park. The start is right by the car park and the route begins on a smooth tarmac path then changes to gravel path for the bulk of the rest of the lap. Compared to Perth, there as a few more ups and downs, but nothing like Dundee which is known for being quite hilly. Perhaps a bit more unique is the “railway” crossing as Craigtoun has a little train for kids which circles the park in the summer months.

RnwmeZ6jRK2e7l2lXb19iAI probably got a little carried away on my first lap and slowed a bit for the second two when my body remembered the three course meal, champagne and breakfast! Still, 24:32 is a decent time and I’m pretty pleased with that. I later found out that the winner set a new course record with his time of 15:38. Speedy!

Post-run we walked back along the route to return to the car and took a few photos to remember. Note I have my sunglasses on and no gloves – must be spring!

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IMG_5968It was really nice to do a bit of parkrun tourism as here in Scotland it’s not so easy as in some other parts of the UK. We have plenty of parkruns (I believe 35) but spread far and wide so very few are within about 30 minutes of home. St Andrews was the first time I’ve been at a different parkrun at the exact same time as my usual run in Perth (Dundee has always been at New Year when I run Perth either before or after and Clermont is in a different time zone). Although I KNOW that everyone in Scotland is parkrunning at the same time, this was the first time that I was really struck by the concept that while I was running in St Andrews, my parkrun pals in Perth were getting underway at the exact same moment. It really made me feel part of a bigger community, which I suppose is the idea.

For Sunday, my plan originally said 14 miles as it was to be a cutback after 20 the week before, but with the shortening of last week’s run thanks to the snow, I knew I would need to do more. After consulting with Steve, we decided on 16 miles but he left it up to me to decide if I wanted to include any faster sections. The clocks had changed, thus “losing” an hour overnight and the tightness in my upper back/neck was still bothering me a bit and making me feel “off” so I decided to set off and just see how I felt.

My plan was to follow the same route as my last 16 mile run so I would have a point of comparison, and since I felt ok I thought my previous pattern of 2 miles slow followed by 1 mile at/faster than marathon pace would be ideal.

It was a lovely morning and I ended up feeling great. Such a difference to last week when it took me 2 hours to run 12 miles and it felt so hard. This week I was just shy of 13 miles in the same time and the whole 16 felt much easier. Not only that, but I was over 4 minutes quicker than the last time I followed that route with the same workout. That’s really encouraging!

In the afternoon we headed into town to relax with our weekly free coffee and on the way were able to pick up a free Easter egg courtesy of our mobile phone provider. Awesome!

Now, just 4 more days of term to survive then a much-needed break to recharge (and get those big miles done…!).

Do you like to visit different parkruns?
How is your training going just now?
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Friday Finds – 23rd March

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.

Did you miss me? I’m afraid scheduling meant there just wasn’t a way to get my Friday Finds post written and uploaded on time this week so for one week only I’m bringing you Saturday Stories instead…

Let’s start with coverage of an event I definitely wouldn’t want to take part in – an indoor marathon. That’s right, 211 laps of a 200m oval track (with a change of direction to break up the monotony!). It would probably be pretty interesting to watch, but what a lot of mental strength it must take. Nevertheless, both male and female world records were set at the most recent attempt, however – and this is my favourite part of the story – neither of the victors ran a lap of honour!

On the subject of world records, I also came across this piece which considers the importance of figures like the late Roger Bannister whose historic sub-4 minute mile provided the inspiration for more runners to reach the same mark. It seems to be true that once one person achieves a big goal like this is the running world, the belief that it’s possible leads to a flood of similar achievements and I’ve no doubt that once someone runs a sub-2 hour marathon there will be several more soon after. It just goes to show how powerful the mind can be, proving the adage “the body achieves what the mind believes”.

When wanting to run at our best, many of us try to caffeine for a little extra boost. It definitely works for me, but it seems that there are some people for whom caffeine actually leads to slower times. Here’s Alex Hutchinson to explain the science:

Another topical issue concerns plastic – both the amount of it in our oceans and the way it is used in races. Adidas has been trying to make positive use of ocean plastics by recycling them into shoes, and it seems that they have been popular:

And finally, if you love getting out in nature and following your feet then you might enjoy this new music video from singer-songwriter David Rosales. An ode to trail running which really captures the highs of getting out there.

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Week In Review – Spring’s Not Sprung!

Last week I was rather hopeful that spring might be on its way. Thinking back to previous training cycles for spring marathons I was convinced I usually get into my running shorts in mid to late March, but apparently this year winter intends to cling on a bit longer. How long has it been since Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow? Darned groundhog!

29313813_10156193020316354_7809144258102820864_nAnyway, although the weather might not be spring-like just yet, there’s still a marathon to train for and this week saw another pretty consistent week:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – bike reps @ the gym
Wednesday – hill reps
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday20 miles 12 miles

It was so good to be back in the yoga studio on Monday evening, stretching out my body after my 18 mile run on Sunday. I have to say, my legs actually felt ok. Weary, of course, but no real pain or tightness. That said, I wasn’t looking to head out for a run again just yet so yoga was perfect!

On Tuesday I hit the gym for The Big One – 20 reps of my current interval cycle (Steve always has me build up to 20 reps of whatever work/rest interval I’m on before either changing the pattern or the intensity). I wasn’t really looking forward to it and knew my legs would have to work hard after Sunday’s efforts, but it actually went by fairly quickly. I try to divide the session into smaller chunks of 3-5 reps (depending on how they divide down – look at me with the sums!) and mark each set with a sip of water before gearing up for the next one. Completing a workout like this always makes me feel strong since I know I couldn’t have done it a few weeks ago.

Bike reps are always followed on Wednesday with some kind of run, ideally hills or drills. Sadly my Wednesdays have seen quite a lot of disruption during this cycle. There were a couple of parents’ evenings and an evening out, which were factored into the plan, but there were also 3 Wednesdays when there was snow and 2 of those were nights when I should have been doing hill reps and had to change tack. This week, for only the SECOND time in this cycle, I was able to do a hill workout. Same hill as usual and reps working from the closest lamppost to the bottom up to the farthest away at the top: 5-4-3-2-1. Thankfully all my other drills and long runs have boosted my fitness so I was able to do it despite the lack of specific hill work, but it was tough. Mind you, that’s kind of the point as that’s what will make me stronger and fitter!

wNo1XQx8SBqcmc9regAFwwBy Thursday I was more than ready to get back to my yoga mat and working through the Ashtanga sequence. It was a really nice class again and I felt good throughout. Just what I needed.

Then on Friday I was able to squeeze in a PT session with Steve. We’ve not managed this every week, but I’m getting plenty of work on strength and flexibility from my yoga practice (2x classes per week plus Yoga with Adriene videos on 3-4 other days of the week) so it’s not a big concern. With this in mind, Steve asked me what kind of workout I wanted to do and luckily I had thought ahead. The last time I was in we did some boxing to help energise me and I really enjoyed it (I used to go to a kick boxercise class and had forgotten what fun it could be) but hadn’t enjoyed wearing the gloves Steve keeps at the studio – other people’s sweat, ewww! I had managed to locate my own gloves and took them with me to the studio, so got in another fun boxing workout.

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Q9tJmW2KQOOKS7xb8F3KDwOn Saturday we awoke to rather miserable weather. Apparently we were experiencing the Mini Beast from the East, and while I had understood that the snow would be heading for other parts of the UK, I was expecting it to be really cold again. What we got was cold and windy with some hailstones and light snow. Perfect parkrun weather!

T6VbTw8AS8WBI0agjWKUvwSo once more it was winter kit on and down to the North Inch for the run. Still the alternative route, but the “usual” one heading anti-clockwise around the path. I hadn’t been expecting much as I thought there might be some residual weariness in my legs and there was a bitterly cold cross-wind, but despite having hailstones blown into my face (bonus: free facial 😂) I felt strong and was passing people I would normally expect to be slightly behind. As I stopped my watch I was delighted to see 24:10ish (my fastest since mid-November) and around 30 seconds faster than my best time of 2018! No idea where it came from, but it’s a powerful message that even in tough conditions all my training is starting to fall into place and I’m running well. Fingers crossed that continues!
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q2HWQkctQPuiem3sq4eBnAeutANBNQQzScDZwFsMkY6gAnd as an added bonus, I managed another Royal Flush Negative Split. Love it when that happens! I think this is the first fully sub-8 minute/mile parkrun in ages as up to now I’ve had at least the first mile at 8:XX. Progress!
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By Saturday evening there was little sign of the morning’s snow/hail, but things changed overnight and looking out the window on Sunday morning it wasn’t looking quite so good. Enough snow had fallen to have a layer over everything and fat flakes were continuing to fall on and off. Checking the weather apps I was informed that there was going to be some pretty “interesting” weather through the morning, with temps around freezing but feeling a few degrees below, further snowfall and high winds. And we had 20 miles on the schedule!

5YAvly3pQP6dOpPXkM8MUAAt first I sat plotting out a possible route and looking out my gels, etc with the intention of going ahead, but then Steve (who NEVER backs out of the planned run) suggested that since some nearby running events had been cancelled due to the conditions, maybe sticking two fingers up at it and heading out for 20 anyway might not be the best idea. It was clear we wouldn’t be able to include any faster intervals, work on form or do anything other than plod around with the aim of staying upright whilst being battered by the wind and stepping carefully on the snow. So we decided to cut it back to 10 miles. We bundled ourselves up in winter kit (again) and Steve was out the door a few minutes ahead of me.

KHm3hW8%QcCuqKOQkN03hASince we had planned to run opposite ways around a similar route, we did meet each other out there, having enjoyed sideways hail, snow being blown into our faces so we couldn’t see a thing, and a hellish headwind. Every time it seemed to be easing off, it returned with a vengeance to make a pretty slow pace feel much harder than it should. Definitely character building! Steve said he might extend his run a little depending on how he felt, so with that idea in the back of my mind I carried on.

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See that haze in the top right? That’s the drifting hail/snow blowing sideways!

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Apparently I look like I’m in “The Blair Witch Project” 😂

To be honest I didn’t think I would do any more and simply arrive home with 10 miles banked. My legs felt heavy and weary, probably due to the ploddy (for me) pace – often I actually find it easier to go a bit quicker but it wasn’t the day for it. But as I emerged from a side street close to home I saw Steve up ahead and wondered if I could close the gap between us. I did get a little closer, but not enough for him to realise I was there and since it was clear he was going to run a short out-and-back to extend his run, I decided to do the same since the burst of speed had made my legs feel much better. I ran a mile up the road and looped around to return along the woodland path. I love running in there and it was nice to see families out taking their kids sledging. This little addition meant I arrived home with about 12.25 miles, albeit rather slow ones.

There’s a bit of me that feels a little short-changed as I actually was looking forward to the run, but I also know it was the right decision to cut it back today as it would not have been 20 quality miles. I’ve done 18 and still have 6 weeks to go until my marathon so there’s still time to adjust the plan a bit if need be. Perhaps a valuable reminder for us all that being a slave to the plan is not always productive. Sometimes life gets in the way (or in this case Mother Nature) and we need to be flexible. Have I trained to the letter of my plan? No. Do I feel marathon fit? Actually, yes. Nothing to worry about then!

IMG_5895I still think the weather must be broken though!

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L-R Dec 2016, Feb 2017, Mar 2017, Mar 2018. Why no shorts yet???

Did you have more snow/winter weather this weekend?
What adjustments have you had to make to your plans recently?


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Week In Review – Normal Service Resumes

And just like that, the snow was gone! After a pretty epic snowfall and a great deal of disruption (continued into Monday) with above freezing temperatures and some heavy rainfall, the snow is all but gone save for the odd random miserable looking patch. Now everything just looks a bit grey and soggy. Oh well, perhaps spring is on its way…

But regardless of weather, marathon training continues and I was pleased to put in a pretty solid week of running despite work pressures (a coursework deadline which couldn’t change but was affected by our snow days). Here’s how my week ended up:

Monday – rest
Tuesday – bike reps @ the gym + sports massage
Wednesday – form drills
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 18 miles

Monday was a bit of a strange day. The schools in the region where I live were all back to normal after the snow, but I teach in a neighbouring region which had been worse hit and there were a lot of difficulties organising school transport and getting pupils safely to school. In the end the schools were shut to pupils but open to staff and since my journey is on main roads I had no problem getting in. It was actually quite a nice way to ease back into routine after our “bonus” days off and I got a lot done in my classroom that I hadn’t expected to get to for a while yet. I headed home at the end of the day knowing that I had no yoga class (there was never going to be a Hatha class this week as my teacher had another commitment) so I did a Yoga with Adriene video and enjoyed a restful evening before the coursework onslaught.

In order to support pupils with the deadline and make sure I was keeping up with checking all the work they had completed while school was cancelled, I decided to stay later at work as much as I could this week. I was able to stay for a good hour or so beyond lessons on Tuesday then headed to the gym for my bike reps. I had the same focus as last week to try and pull UP on the pedals rather than thinking about pushing DOWN and had an additional 2 reps to do. It’s a tough workout but I can feel the difference it makes to my fitness without the constant impact that, for me, often leads to injury. No time for a swim unfortunately as I had my monthly sports massage booked and with staying later at work I had only left enough time for my bike workout. The massage was great and was probably well-timed after all that running about in the snow last weekend!

For once, my Wednesday run went ahead as planned (these have been rather disrupted this training cycle thanks to a few weeks where I had planned not to run due to other commitments and at least 3 weeks where there was snow so could only do a steady run rather than hills/drills) although I was at work a bit later again. This week I had form drills to complete – 1 mile warm up then 10x 600m focusing on good form. Despite some gaps in my Wednesday training these went well, presumably helped by all those long runs I did with every 3rd mile faster/focusing on form.

YU0CrHaAQLS6B8Kxx6P%ZgOn Thursday I was pleased to have my Ashtanga yoga class. I missed this the previous two weeks (I had a parents’ evening a couple of weeks ago then the following week class was cancelled due to the snow). There were some newer yogis in the class so we simply worked through the asanas from the primary series that we normally do, no opportunity to work on my headstand this time. Still, it was great to be back in the yoga studio and I really enjoyed the class.

Friday had to be a rest day as I had an appointment to get my nails done (they were a bit of a disaster thanks to playing in the snow followed by all the work I did in my classroom at the beginning of the week). Steve had offered to do a PT session afterwards, but I thought it would be getting a bit late for him to hang about the studio and I had an errand before going home, so made it a rest day. Probably for the best as we’re in one of the annual “pinch points” at work and since the body can’t tell the difference between work stress and training stress, making sure rest is a priority is important to avoid injury/burnout.

XB02xfRrQX2kFjQKq25zzAAs parkrunday rolled around again, we were still on the alternative course as thanks to the melted snow and heavy rainfall, the grass section was completed saturated and churned up. For variety, it was decided that we would run the double loop course in reverse this week. It initially sounded appealing, but in the end was not the best week for this decision as there was some pretty heavy rain and one of those “Scottish headwinds” (a headwind in every direction – how is this even possible?!?!?). On the first lap I felt like I was working quite hard, much harder than the pace my watch was giving me, but I was still surrounded by all the same people I usually am so just went with it. In the end I managed another Royal Flush Negative Split and with a finish time of 24:49 was just 8 seconds slower than a couple of weeks ago when I ran my fastest this year. Given the conditions, I’m pretty happy with that, even if I did look like a drowned rat when I finished!

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IMG_0421Post-parkrun I headed home for a really quick shower before a brief stop at our neighbour’s house. He had run his 200th parkrun that morning and had invited people round for a cup of tea and cake/biscuits afterwards. I couldn’t stay long but had enough time for a quick chat, cup of tea (always awesome after a chilly parkrun) and one of his homemade biscuits which were marking the occasion.

O1X8cb7FRPWX0eNkHQ2T6wI then had to speed off to go and get my hair cut before getting on with the usual Saturday errands of food shopping and catching up on various jobs. Probably fir the best oterhwise I might still be there eating biscuits 😂.

Sunday was, as ever, my long run. I had 18 miles on the schedule and Steve had put something different into my plan. Having done lots of runs with every 3rd mile quicker, now he wanted me to do sequences of 3 miles at marathon pace and 1 mile recovery. Thing is, I’ve set no time goal for this race as I’m all about the process this year. Since sub-4 has previously been my goal, I decided to make my target pace for this run around 4 hour marathon pace and decided on a range of 8:50-9:10 since the route would be undulating (which I still think is a euphemism for hilly!). I wasn’t sure if I would be able to sustain this, but still wanted to give it a go. I took the first 2 miles as a warm up since they were mainly uphill, then settled into the pattern. At first I found myself running much faster than goal pace so it was an interesting exercise in controlling my pace in order to save something for later, but overall I was really pleased with the results. The recovery miles were super-slow and I just missed the target pace on 2 of the quicker miles, but this was because of an incline that’s encompassed the end of one mile and the start of the next – I just focused on running at the same intensity and only missed the pace by 10 seconds and 2 seconds respectively, which was pretty good! I even managed to hit my target in my last cycle which was miles 15, 16 and 17 so that’s encouraging. In many ways this run actually felt easier than last week’s 14 miles which came on the back of 7.5 the day before and were, of course, over the snow.

fullsizeoutput_242aWhen I run 18 miles I always feel near enough ready to run the marathon, but with a few weeks and more long runs still to go, it will be interesting to see how things progress for me. I’m still not setting a time goal though! I just want to see what happens when there’s no pressure.

IMG_5880Sunday finished in a pretty chilled fashion with a trip into town for coffee, some TV and lots of food before my usual Epsom salt bath. Lovely! And my legs didn’t feel too bad either…

How is your training progressing?
Do you have any time goals right now?
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The Year Of Me!!! – February Update

When I set my goals for 2018 I declared it to be The Year of Me – a year of developing positive habits and adding value to my life. As I am focusing on processes over outcomes, I’m aiming to provide an update every month to keep myself accountable and see how I’m getting on.

1. Run 1000km (621 miles)
Just like last month, I’ve completed every run on my training schedule. There were a couple of Wednesdays when I couldn’t run but I knew this would be the case and the gaps were planned so I’m ok with that – life happens! My monthly mileage should be 70-something again and slightly higher than January. According to Strava, this puts me ahead of target but there will equally be times in the year, eg post-marathon, when I don’t run as much so it should all even out.

2. Commit to a minimum of 5 minutes of yoga on at least 5 days of the week
This has been going really well too and I’m cultivating a great at-home practice. I still go to 2 classes per week (Hatha on Monday and Ashtanga on Thursday) and aim to complete a yoga video at home on at least 3 other days. I’ve now finished the Yoga with Adriene 30-day journey I signed up to at the start of the year and will likely now turn to her monthly calendars for inspiration. I’m loving doing so much yoga and really think it is helping me both mentally and physically.

3. Read at least 30 books
I remain ahead of schedule here and am currently finishing up my 6th book of the year. I’m making reading a priority in the evenings and have been choosing a mixture of fiction and non-fiction. I’m also involved in a couple of online book groups so can dip into the choices there when I need inspiration or want to try something I might not otherwise have chosen.

4. Be in bed by 10pm at least 3 times per week
I think I’ve been adjusting my mindset on this one and am much better at heading upstairs earlier in the evening. The idea of getting cosy in my bed is very appealing and there’s not really anything to keep me up now that I’m working on not getting caught in the “infinite scroll” of social media (see below) so early to bed, my Lumie light gradually dimming and a book to read is bliss!

5. Watch at least one Ted/Ted X talk per week
I’m still watching relatively short talks (10-15 minutes on average) but am steadily building this into my weekend routine. I’m already thinking that I might try and watch more during school holidays and over the summer should definitely have time for some of the slightly longer talks I have saved. In the meantime I’m really loving hearing from a range of interesting speakers and can’t wait to learn more from them.

6. Listen to at least 8 podcast episodes per week
I’m still a bit behind in my episodes but am listening to loads of podcasts each week. I’ve returned to my previous habit of a short walk in the morning before getting ready and this gives me a chance to get some air, enjoy some of a podcast and get my head ready for the day ahead. I then finish listening on my commute home and also listen to podcasts during my gym session on the bike and my training runs – a Sunday long run right now could see me easily listen to 2 podcasts and when I hit the Big Ones it could be 3 in one morning alone. Listening to podcasts is a habit I really enjoy and I’m keen to get a bit more up to date with some of my favourites.

7. Respond to at least one WordPress prompt per month
This month I had an idea I might want to write about leggings after all the crazy, patterned pairs I started wearing, but when I saw an op-ed written by someone clearly not a fan of leggings (yoga pants) I decided to add my voice to the debate and picked the prompt Controversy.

8. Be more mindful in my phone/social media use
I’m still being very disciplined about when I pick up my phone and trying hard not to just pick it up and mindlessly scroll at random moments. I’m trying to set aside points in the day to check emails/notifications then leave my phone aside so that I can read/watch tv/blog without feeling the pull of the phone. The combination of this with my goals of reading more and being in bed earlier are working beautifully together to help me establish a positive routine.

February has been a bit of a strange month with the usual pressures of this time in the school year plus a few commitments which kept me out a bit later in the evening, but the routines built in January have continued and I have been able to make a few further adjustments to develop them. Now to keep it all going into March…

How are you getting on with your goals for the year?
What’s your favourite thing you set out to do/achieve this year?