Friday Finds – 27th September

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.

It’s been a couple of weeks since I posted Friday Finds, so here I am tonight to share a few odds and ends I’ve been looking at lately. Enjoy!

Let’s start with something for anyone injured or injury-prone. There really is nothing quite like an enforced time-out to make us appreciate the time spent running and this piece really captures the emotions of experiencing injury and how important running often becomes to us. Can you relate?

I’m a fan of Alex Hutchinson and often include his more scientific columns in these posts. This next one caught my eye not only because if looks at a female perspective, but because the acknowledgment that women’s bodies are different comes from a MAN! It really is high time that more female-specific research was done so that women can have a better understanding of how to maximise performance and work with their bodies to get the best results for them. Surely I”m not alone in thinking that?

Also from Outside, this ostensibly humorous piece about how as runners we basically go around in circles – travelling miles and miles without actually going anywhere. True enough, all my runs start and finish at my house and I’m closing in on 800 miles this year, a distance that could surely take me somewhere interesting if I covered that distance as the crow flies. But what caught my attention was the almost philosophical comment at the end that we feel like we are getting somewhere. It could be adding endurance, adding speed, or simply adding quality to our days, but we ARE getting somewhere. Where is running taking you?

I also spotted this interesting question posed by Canadian Running: Do you need your cellphone to go for a run? I suppose I don’t really need mine as such, but I do always carry it as I enjoy listening to podcasts downloaded to it, I often take photographs and it just makes me feel better knowing that if I encounter a problem, I can get in touch with someone for some help. But the fact that the question was asked suggests that not everyone feels the same way. I certainly don’t have to listen to anything, I can merrily run long distances without plugging myself in to anything at all, but I like to have the option. And I definitely wanted my phone for my races last weekend as I knew there would be unmissable photo ops. What are your thoughts on this?

And finally, while summer is by far my favourite season, when it comes to running there is nothing quite like autumn. The air is cooler, the colours are beautiful and I can wear cosy clothes to lounge around post-run. It looks like Runner’s World agrees, as they put together this reminder of why running at this time of year is great. What is your favourite time of year to run?

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Week In Review – Mixed Fortunes

At the end of my post last week I was definitely feeling pretty glum. I’d love to tell you that I got over myself and bounced back into the new week, but this past week was one of two parts – heavily weighted to the part where I overreact, throw my toys out the pram and imagine I’ll never run again! Melodramatic? Moi? 😂. I think the main issue for me is that my workload right now is rather hefty and without running to keep me feeling mentally balanced, I was struggling to keep things in perspective. It’s a miracle I survived the week!

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

For most of the week I was really struggling with tight, sore calves after my run at the weekend. I’m not often bothered with tight calves, and this was awful. The best comparison I have is that my calves felt like they had run a marathon but not invited my quads along to the party since it was only my calves that were bothering me. It was actually uncomfortable getting up to walk around and I couldn’t understand why this had happened. In hindsight there were probably a few things going on, including the time I had to take off becaseus of having that cough again, plus the fact that I basically ran the bulk of a half marathon distance on road whilst wearing a pair of fairly solid trail shoes. Not a decision I’ll make again! I got some relief from my Monday night yoga class, but there just weren’t enough postures which stretched my calves out enough to feel like it was making a big difference. On the plus side, after feeling quite “chesty” over the weekend and being worried about a relapse of the cough, my magic formula of Olbas oil in my bath, vaporub and a hot water bottle on my chest and a number of strategic lozenges had done the trick and I was feeling much better. Fingers crossed that’s me finally done with the winter cough.

The calf issue meant my Tuesday morning run was out (Sensible Head) so instead I made sure to do some yoga when I got home from work that evening. I was supposed to have a sports massage and was really looking forward to having my calves worked on, but unfortunately the appointment had to be postponed as my massage therapist was unwell. Disappointing, but no point in getting upset about it as I knew she was really ill and I certainly couldn’t expect her to be working. As an alternative, I got Steve to help me work though some exercises to try and figure out what was going on and begin to relieve the tension that had clearly built up in my calves.

I had hoped for more home yoga on Wednesday before heading to the final orchestra rehearsal of the season, but I ended up working later to help a pupil with some coursework so there was no time. To be honest, I really wasn’t feeling like heading out again but made myself go since I had missed the extra rehearsal the previous Sunday thanks to paying a visit to the Apple Store with my poorly MacBook. With a concert at the end of the week, I knew I had to make the effort and I always enjoy orchestra when I’m there, even if I didn’t feel like it beforehand.

Since I was feeling an improvement in my calves, I decided to try a recovery run on Thursday morning. Sometimes the answer really is to “run it out” but on this occasion it was maybe a bit too soon. My calves were like tender lumps of lead with every step and were showing no sign of loosening off. I ran (slowly) for 15 minutes, had a bit of a stretch then ran home as 30 minutes seemed a reasonable time to see if running made any difference. It did not initially, although as the day wore on things did begin to feel a little better and by the time I had worked through the Ashtanga sequence in class that evening, I was feeling a bit better (yes, Thursday morning was the point when I totally overreacted, declared that I was “broken” and clearly would never be able to run again since I shouldn’t still be struggling with an issue on Thursday after a Saturday run. Good thing Steve is patient!). I did, however, notice that my balance was terrible on my left leg and that is usually an indication of something being not quite right. Steve made some adjustments to the exercises he had given me to try and improve that.

I then headed down to the studio after work on Friday so I could do some really targeted work. By this point, my calves felt ok – not perfect, but like I could actually do my pacing stint at parkrun as I had been starting to wonder if I would have to pull out – but my knee had felt a bit “funny” and I knew that was caused by the way either my hip or ankle was moving and that with some mobility exercises it could be corrected quite quickly.

Post-session, I had a little job to do:

That’s right, my MacBook is back! I had someone replace the part that Apple suggested might be at fault and it came back with an operating system installed (I had been unable to get it to do that) which was a positive sign, but it was the old OS it shipped with so I needed to do a bit of upgrading. So far so good as I finalised and published this post on it. Yay!

I decided not to run a parkrun sandwich on Saturday, but to ease myself back in gently with my parkrun pacing role (28 minutes) and see how that felt. I knew that someone I knew a little from orchestra a few years ago was going to be passing through town and coming to parkun to try and lower her PB a bit closer to 28 minutes so I was keen to help her as much as I could. She did drop back a little in the second half of the run, but I was so pleased that she did get a new PB – even if she was pretty tired out from it! And we made sure to get a picture since it was our mutual love of Lucy Locket Loves leggings that connected us in the first place. (Full disclosure: I’m a LLL ambassador so if you purchase through my affiliate link then I get a teeny reward). Actually, before parkrun even started my leggings were attracting attention as a lovely lady said to me that she has been meaning to tell me that I have a great range of leggings. She particularly likes the gin ones!

As ever, I really enjoyed pacing. I know some runners got a new PB thanks to following me and I enjoy the chance to just settle into a comfortable pace and chat with others. Really happy with my time too. I timed it at 27:59.9 which rounds up to 28 minutes but the official time came through as 28:01 😏. Still, I know I did it! More importantly, I was able to actually run and although there was a little tightness in my calves, it was just the same when I finished  as it was before so it didn’t make things any worse. What a difference from Thursday!

The remainder of Saturday was super busy as we had our usual post-parkrun breakfast with Steve’s brother, then I had an appointment at the hairdresser before heading straight to an orchestra rehearsal in the concert hall. Steve picked me up from there to whisk me home, feed me, then get me back down the road suitably attired for the paying public. Somehow I contrived to overlook taking a photo, perhaps because my sister (my usual concert photographer) wasn’t there, but the concert went well which I was pleased with given the programme had some pretty tricky corners and I had missed some rehearsals. Yes, I am still very much of the Eric Morecambe school of instrument playing (all the right notes, just not necessarily in the right order) but I felt I played as well as I could and didn’t commit any dreadful clangers. Happy days!

We both made sure to get a bit of a lie-in on Sunday morning before heading out for a run. Apparently Steve was “tired from the concert” so didn’t want to overdo it. Yes Steve, it’s really tiring sitting in the audience having a doze and eating an ice cream at the interval. I feel your pain. Much easier rehearsing for 3 hours then playing through a full concert programme 🙄.

Anyway, Steve suggested I head out on a 10k route that could be extended to 8 miles if I felt good. I interpreted this as “run 8 miles” (of course) so headed out, in the strong winds delivered by Storm Freya (that naming thing AGAIN!), to run a favourite 8 mile loop. Some of it was definitely “character building” thanks to the wind, but I felt good and actually my calves felt better after the run than before so I think I’ve reached the stage where I really can run it out. Hopefully in the week ahead I can get myself properly back on track. Just 8 weeks to go until marathon day…!

How do you cope when you can’t run?
Have you ever learned to play an instrument?

Week In Review – And So It Begins…

Ah, the new school year. Shiny new shoes, brand new pencil cases and a fresh start – and that’s just the teachers! 😂 In reality, a bit of a shock to the system all round after 6 weeks of getting up a little later and not having to live on a fixed schedule, but I’ll soon settle back into the routine. I was kind to myself this week when it came to exercise as I wanted to allow a little time to adjust:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – bike @ gym
Wednesdayrun rest
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – personal training with Steve
Saturday – parkrun + SUP yoga
Sunday – run

Monday was the first work day of the new school year for me, but without pupils so it was mainly staff meetings, reviewing exam results and getting ready for the year ahead. After getting up a little earlier than I had been during the holidays, Hatha yoga was just what I needed at the end of the day and I felt so much better afterwards. The kittens coped pretty well with the change of routine, but I missed being around them and watching their antics.


There was much of the same on Tuesday and I rounded off my day with a trip to the gym to cycle for half an hour. I had some reading I needed to do so that combined a workout with my “homework”. When I got home, I figured the kittens needed some attention so we explored a bit (they hadn’t yet had access to all the rooms in the house as I’ve been opening up a bit at a time). I think their favourite was jumping from the bed in the spare room onto the windowsill to look through the trees behind us.

And then, D-Day. The first teaching day of the year. It was nice to see my pupils, albeit with sleepy faces, and we got stuck into some learning, but by the end of the day I felt really tired. I always forget how draining it is to be in front of a class all day, especially after a break. I had originally planned a short run, but I just wasn’t feeling like it and my ankle felt a little bothersome again. Rather than just chill out for a bit, I instead threw my toys out the pram about how this ankle tightness just wasn’t disappearing totally. It’s not painful, it just really annoys me that it won’t go away and it’s been about a month now. Steve re-assesed it and came to the conclusion that there was an issue with the stability around my ankle which has put some strain on it. He gave me some exercises to do to resolve it and I could immediately feel a difference, so I’m tentatively hoping that I might get rid of it at long last. Keep your fingers crossed.

By Thursday I was feeling better and was looking forward to my Ashtanga class. I did my ankle exercises as often as I could during the day and was definitely noticing an improvement in the stability and felt much better in the balance poses in yoga (until I lost my balance on the other leg – d’oh!!). I enjoyed the class and felt like I was moving a little more deeply into some postures again. I’m also feeling stronger and stronger in headstand as I continue to work towards doing it independently.

To continue improving my ankle, I arranged to go down to the studio after work on Friday and have a training session with Steve. It’s actually been a while since I had a session and that, among other things, may have contributed to the loss of stability in my left ankle. We worked with the Core Momentum Trainer and after the session tested the ankle out with a jog in the car park. Although not 100% gone, it felt better again so I’ll continue to work with the CMT on as many days as I can to finally shift the issue.

But by far the biggest news from Friday was listening to the Running 4 Real podcast hosted by Tina Muir. I’m a member of her Facebook community the Superstars and in the latest episode she interviewed 6 members of the community…including me! If you don’t already listen to this podcast then it’s one of my favourites and I highly recommend it. You can find the episode here.

On Saturday morning I headed down to parkrun. Since I hadn’t run in almost a week, I knew I wouldn’t have much so my aim was simply to enjoy the run. I set off listening to a podcast but switched it off so I could have a chat to other runners and the run passed rather pleasantly. I did feel like I was working hard, so was pleased to find that even with  the chat I was actually faster than last week, so progress is being made.


After that, a session of SUP yoga. It was really windy and it was actually suggested that rather than paddle up to the line we attach the boards to, we might be better to “swim” up on our bellies. Apparently we’re all more hardcore than that so we all paddled up (on our knees rather than standing) which was a decent workout in itself. The wind definitely provided a challenge in the class and I actually only stood up once as I felt pretty unstable, but the return to the jetty was the best part. No need to paddle at all, in fact I just sat on my board with my legs crossed and let the wind take me back! We’re not going to have too many more classes now as there are only so many weeks left that the weather is likely to be ok, but it’s been such a great summer learning to use the SUP boards and building confidence on them. Roll on next summer!

Sunday morning was rather miserable. It was wet, although not cold, so I headed out for my run. As ever, my ankle felt better the longer I was running, but the tightness never totally went away so still a bit more work to do there. I ran 10k and my pace was a little quicker than my run last Sunday so although it still feels harder than I would like, I am making progress and once I’m not feeling the nag of a tight ankle, hopefully things will improve even more.

Post-run we ran some errands then while I hung out with the kittens Steve popped out again. He returned with a nice snack of chocolate caramel brownie to have with my afternoon cup of tea and it was delicious!

The remainder of the day was chilled – playing with the kittens, catching up on blogs and generally relaxing ahead of a full week of teaching.

Now for week two…!

What are your current favourite podcasts?
How is the weather where you are?

Week In Review – All Good Things Must Come To An End

Where have the last 6 weeks gone? I can’t believe how fast 6 weeks of holiday disappear compared to the slog of 6 working weeks, but I know I’ll soon be back in the swing of things (and I have next summer to look forward to – flights to Florida and holiday accommodations for the kittens are already booked!). I’ve tried to make the most of my last week of freedom with plenty of relaxing, some running and a bit of yoga, so I do feel refreshed and ready to get started on the new school year (or as ready as I’ll ever be).

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – bike @ gym
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – run + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun, SUP yoga, Tattie Run(!)
Sunday – run

Monday was a really chilled out day. I caught up on some bits and pieces at home, read and played with the kittens.

Then in the early evening I had my Hatha yoga class. It was the last class in the holiday block, but the next block begins next week so I wont be missing out. It was a nice conclusion to my day and meant I got a good sleep that night.

Oh, and my new toy arrived:

On Tuesday I walked down to the gym and pedalled it out on the bike for about 45 minutes. I knew that I had reached a stage with my ankle that it seemed to be getting better through movement so was keen to try a run, but wanted to wait another day or two first. In the meantime, the bike was fine and gave me a chance to do a little more reading on my Kindle.

I had toyed with trying a run on Wednesday but I wasn’t able to go in the morning because of an appointment then later on I had some errands. By the time I had done all of that I just didn’t feel like heading out again so took some time to myself instead. Probably the best thing I could do and no need to cram in loads of activity when I still had the luxury of time. I did do some yoga though, and it did become kitten yoga this time!

I did, however, head out first thing on Thursday for a short run to see how my ankle felt. I can still feel a little tightness, but it actually eases off as I run and feels a lot better afterwards for the movement, so I think I’ll tentatively build in some running again, but carefully monitoring how things feel. If I think it’s getting worse then I’ll stop, but otherwise I’m hoping to now “run it out”. Sometimes that’s just the way these things seem to work.

That evening I had my Ashtanga class and it was really busy again. I’ve no idea where all these people are coming from, but it’s great for my teacher. My biggest news from the class is that I moved much closer to doing a headstand unsupported. I began to move into the posture on my own and had both feet off the ground with my legs bent, holding the pose. I was wondering if I would be able to straighten my legs and wondered if my teacher was there to spot me, and that moment of doubt was just enough for me to lose confidence and come out of it. Turns out she was there so I had another go with her to support. Definite progress and hopefully that will continue to boost my confidence with this posture as I really want to be able to do it by myself as testament to my improved balance and core strength.

I took Friday as a total rest day as I had appointments to get both my hair and nails done ready for going back to work – priorities lol! I even managed to organise myself to fill my car up so there’s no Monday morning groaning at the empty fuel tank. All of that somehow took up quite a lot of my day, but I still found some time to read my book and chill out for the last “official” day of the holidays (because I always have my weekends).

Saturday was a really busy and active day. It began with parkrun. I took it easy to see how my ankle was and it felt fine, but I could definitely feel the impact of the time out of running over the last few weeks as it felt much harder than usual – I don’t think my CV system could keep up with my legs!

After parkun I got changed and headed over to my SUP yoga class. Since my new GoPro is waterproof, I took it with me (on a grip that floats, just in case) so I could play about with it and start learning how it works. I’m really loving it so far and cant wait to use it in Disneyland Paris 🙂

When the session was finished (still standing up to paddle – I think I’m feeling quite confident on the board now) I got changed really quickly and drove back into town to meet Steve so we could take part in a novelty event. I’ll write a separate post on The Great Perthshire Tattie Run, but the short version is that it was a fun challenge and I’ll be signing up again next year.

By the time I’d done all that I was STARVING so headed home for something to eat then just hung out at home. I didn’t have a nap but did feel sleepy from all the fresh air and rushing about.

On Sunday morning it was raining but I still headed out for a slightly longer run of 4.5 miles – that’s the furthest I’ve run since the end of June (I ran 4.5 miles one morning in Florida, but nothing longer). Again, my ankle felt ok and I was aware of the tight feeling easing off the longer I was out there. Hopefully one day soon I’ll go for a run and realise the tightness has disappeared completely thanks to the moving and stretching I’m doing. I have to say, it wasn’t the easiest of runs as I know I’ve lost some of my fitness and conditioning, but it should come back fairly quickly and I still have 6 weeks until I need to be able to run half marathon distance – plenty of time, especially since I’m not planning on running it hard.

All that remained of Sunday was the usual errands accompanied by a general sense of doom about going back to work. I certainly wasn’t dreading it, but it’s a long enough time to get out of the way of things and fall into different routines so it’s always a bit of a shock! This time next week it will seem like I was never away…

Ever taken part in any novelty events?
What’s your favourite thing about summer?

Week In Review – Yoga, Yoga And More Yoga!

Confession: my name is Allison and it has been a week since my last run.

Having decided last weekend to take a time out to allow the tightness around my ankle to resolve, I reached this past weekend feeling like a could run, but with the Disneyland Paris half marathon next month I’m taking no risks, so decided to give it a few more days to feel 100% right rather than risking an injury. Just call me Captain Sensible lol!

I still managed to keep myself busy though – plenty of time playing with the kittens (and watching them sleep since they’re so gosh darned cute!), reading, working out in the gym and yoga, lots and lots of yoga:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 30 mins bike, brief swim and SUP yoga
Wednesday – 30 mins bike
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – Vinyasa flow yoga
Saturdayparkrun SUP yoga
Sunday – 1 hour bike

I’ve reached that point in the holidays when I’m gloriously relaxed and all the days kind of merge into each other (in a good way) so I actually just had to check my diary to try and remember what I did with myself on Monday. The answer was that I had some errands in town in the morning then a good friend from work visited in the afternoon. She said it was so we could have a catch-up (and we do normally try to meet in the holidays) but realistically she wanted to meet the kittens. True to form, the kittens put on their best display of cuteness, including purring, grooming each other and sleeping all curled up together, so she got the full effect!

Their latest hidey-hole!

In the evening I had my Hatha yoga class, the first of several yoga sessions in the week, and I enjoyed continuing to build strength and stability. I’m definitely seeing how this is improving my yoga when I’m on the paddleboard and I’m still convinced this benefits my running too.

On Tuesday I decided it was time to get my butt in gear and do something that would work my cv system a bit more, so I walked down to the gym and spent half an hour on the bike. Steve had suggested that the movement would likely help my ankle and it was good to get my heart rate up a bit. I used the time to read some of my book on my Kindle (multi-tasking for the win!) which helps the time pass quite pleasantly even when I’m working reasonably hard.

Since I had some time, I headed down to the pool and swam a few lengths to see where I was. Surprisingly it was ok given that I haven’t had a swim in some time, and I remembered once again that I probably should swim a bit more often if I can.

In the evening I was booked into a SUP yoga session. The weather was a bit cooler and I suspected some rain in the air (nothing like last Saturday’s monsoon, thank goodness!) so I wore Steve’s full length wetsuit so I would be warm enough. It was a great class and with the conditions a bit better I was able to stand up on my board to paddle back in after the class again. I really want to keep building my confidence with this as I’m definitely feeling much more confident on the board in general these days (famous last words, right!).

Since I wasn’t running on Wednesday, I walked back down to the gym for another half hour bike session. This week was the first time I’d really been on the bike for a while and my poor rear felt a bit tender after two sessions in a row! I skipped the swim this time since I couldn’t be bothered with washing my hair, but did treat myself to a sauna before getting changed to head home. The remainder of the day was spent between time with the kittens, a bit of reading and some catching up on tv.

Thursday was really chilled again. Steve suggested a trip out the farm shop to get some eggs and have a coffee, so I met him there and watched the ducks while I was waiting.

I also decided that I need ALL of these!

The rest of the day was spent mainly at home until it was time to head out to Ashtanga yoga. It was quite a busy class but since we are now including headstand in the session on a regular basis, I had a chance to keep working on it. I’m still working with my teacher on hand to spot me, but am just about able to move into it by myself now, and might actually be able to do more than I realise if I just had the confidence to try. I’ll keep working on it.

I was back in the yoga studio on Friday morning as there was a taster session of a new Vinyasa Flow class happening. The teacher was a guy we knew from when he worked at the gym I go to (Steve was based there before he had his own studio) and we both fancied giving it a go. The style of yoga was new to me, but the basics were very much what I knew, so although it was a challenging workout, I really enjoyed it and will likely go again at some point when it’s the school holidays.

Again, the rest of the day was pretty chilled – I even got a little time reading in the garden before a big cloud blocked the sun – and the kittens continued to work their cuteness!

I was originally to be a pacer at parkrun on Saturday, but my gut was telling me not to run just yet so I withdrew (where did all this common sense come from?!). That gave me a bit more time to myself in the morning before heading over to the activity centre for SUP yoga. It was another fantastic class and everyone there had been to the majority of the sessions so we were able to move into standing warriors (a little wobbly as there was some wind). I actually came the closest I ever have to falling in whilst moving into warrior, but I somehow managed to regain my balance and continue into the posture. I don’t think I would have been able to do that before so either my balance is improving or my core is getting stronger. Or both.

I was able to stand on the board to paddle back, although the wind did mean I overshot the jetty and had to manoeuvre my way back! We also needed to help each other to take the boards out of the water as the wind was catching them like kites. It made me realise how used to it we’ve become – when we first started that would have been really intimidating, but now we happily work with the equipment and pitch in as we have a better idea of what we’re doing.

After the session we went for a lovely lunch in the cafe by the centre. They do really nice sandwiches and the weather was good enough to sit outside – although there were quite a lot of wasps around!

Since I was still not running on Sunday (the ankle had continued to make significant improvements but I was still playing it safe) I headed back down to the gym to have a longer cycle. This time I was on the bike for an hour (with my Kindle, of course) then headed home so we could get on with the rest of our Sunday chores. I’m rather hoping to be running again next weekend, so keep your fingers crossed. In the meantime, KITTENS!

What’s your next event?
Have you tried Vinyasa Flow yoga?

Week In Review – Bonding

Well I hope you like kitten photos because I’ve taken approximately eleventy million this week 😂. I have, however, been out and about running and going to yoga classes so my fitness shouldn’t have suffered too much while I’ve bonded with the kittens and watched them racing about the parts of the house they have had access to. No need for tv with kittens about!

Here’s what I’ve been up to:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – SUP yoga
Wednesday – run
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun + SUP yoga
Sundayrun rest

I began the week with a nice, gentle Hatha class on Monday evening (after a day mainly playing with the kittens and helping them to settle into some kind of routine). Since there had been no class for the previous 3 weeks it was all about easing us back in and stretching out our bodies. So relaxing and I was definitely dozing off in savasana at the end!

Tuesday was another day with the kittens, then in the evening I had a SUP yoga class. I was sooooo excited to be back on the board and in the water – I actually have really missed doing this. It was a lovely warm evening, but a bit windy which added to the challenge. My new shorty wetsuit that I got from Aldi before going away was ideal for the conditions and I felt much more able to move than in Steve’s full length one I had been wearing before. Best of all, I FINALLY braved standing up to paddle back rather than staying on my knees. I had really wanted to do this back in June but the conditions were pretty blustery for the last couple of classes so it wasn’t possible. This was probably the last thing I was really wanting to do on the board at this stage so I was really pleased.

On Wednesday I wanted to try a run after giving my tight ankle a bit of time to resolve. It was feeling much much better and I knew the only way to really find out how it was feeling was to run. I set off on a route that could easily be shortened but ended up on the full loop which is about 3.7 miles. Ankle was fine and actually improved as I went so I suspect this is something I should be able to fully resolve quickly.

Later in the day I did some yoga in the living room, hopeful that it might become kitten yoga, but sadly they were too sleepy to join me. Maybe next time…

Thursday was a really warm day and since I knew there was some rain forecast for the weekend I decided to take advantage of the kittens’ afternoon siesta to head out into the garden and soak up some rays. This heatwave may have been going on for a while, but this is Scotland so I’m convinced that “normal service” will resume at any time!

Since it was so nice my Ashtanga class headed outside again and it was lovely. A little breezy but I love practicing in the outdoors and feeling the sun on me as I move through the postures. At one point I was conscious of someone standing nearby so turned for a look. It was an older couple watching the demonstration of a sequence and waiting to see us do it. As I moved into my shoulder stand I could hear them saying to each other how impressive it all looked and how lovely to see the class out in the park. I think one or two people in the class are a little hesitant about heading outside, but I figure just about everyone I know thinks I’m mad anyway so wouldn’t bat an eyelid at me doing yoga in public!

I took Friday as a rest day as I had a few errands (ok, I had to go out for kitten food and kitty litter but ended up spending a long and rather fascinating time examining the cat/kitten food aisle in the pet shop – so many interesting options since I was last doing this kind of thing!). I also had an appointment with my doctor to get my medical certificate signed for the Disneyland Paris half marathon so I did manage something productive with my day.

With my ankle so much better it was time to head back to parkrun on Saturday. I was actually ready really early…and then was almost late due to fishing the kittens out from behind the tv as I didn’t want them playing among the cables (we’ve now bought some trunking to sort that out!). Fortunately I made it in time and was even able to have a quick chat before we got underway. Not having pushed myself much recently I wasn’t sure how it would go, but I felt ok and was happy with 24:17.

Post-parkrun I headed straight home to get changed, have a snack and drive over to the activity centre for SUP yoga. After some storms on Friday night we hadn’t been too sure if it would go ahead but all was fine when we arrived. It was pretty windy though – I didn’t have to paddle to get up to where the line was set up across the water, just point myself in the right direction and let the wind take me haha!

Towards the end of the class we were hit with a monsoon-esque downpour and for a good few minutes all you could hear was the bouncing rain and us laughing at how ridiculous we must look doing yoga on a paddle board in the middle of the pouring rain! It was pretty funny and, predictably, the rain went off just in time for us to paddle back in at the end of the class. I tried to stand up to paddle but the wind just kept pushing me back every time I did so it was easier to stay on my knees this time.

Although my ankle had felt fine, it was a little tight again on Saturday evening so I decided not to push my luck with a Sunday run and instead do some mobility work to help finally resolve the issue. That gave me some time to tidy up the house a bit (while the kittens were napping) as Steve’s brother and his wife were visiting in the afternoon (funny how many visitors we’ve had since the kittens arrive!) and tackle the ironing – such glamour!

We all headed into town together in the evening as this was the weekend of the Southern Fried music festival and that meant one of our favourite things…Soul Food!

I ordered Mexican corn coup with cornbread followed by 3 pieces of fried chicken (and got 4 – bonus!) with cajun fries and red beans & rice. All washed down with a beer. We were going to order salted caramel beignets from the food stand outside, but didn’t get our acts together in time so managed to miss out. Again. Next year…!


Steve and I then walked home and got caught in such an almighty downpour that we were drenched even with a rain jacket and basically had to peel our clothes off at the front door and grab towels to dry off before we could do anything else. Needless to say those clothes went straight in the washing machine on the basis that they would be drier when they came out!

And with that the first full week at home with the kittens came to an end. Now that they have a bit more of a routine I think I’ll probably be out of the house a little more in the week ahead so they get used to the idea that they will have parts of the day by themselves. I might even go to the gym!

Did you have any rain/storms this week?
What would you have ordered at Southern Fried?

Friday Finds – 13th July

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.

How is it Friday again! If I’ve got this right, while this post is going live, I’m out enjoying myself in the playground of a certain Mr M. Mouse so I hope you’ve been having an awesome week too. Here are some bits and pieces that have caught my eye to share with you.

I think we have to start with Kilian Jornet who has been making history again. Not content with last year’s double-summit of Everest, he has now smashed the 36 year old record for running the Bob Graham round. The man is unbelievable!

A thought-provoking piece next as Martin Fritz Huber, writing for Outside, considers the fairness of elite runners racing in prototype shoes. This comes in the wake of an announcement that will require athletic footwear worn in races to be available to the general public, and points out various key occasions on which races were won by athletes wearing prototype shoes (and therefore not freely available to others). I’d love to know your thoughts on this one.

I also enjoyed this short piece published by Medium about how it feels when everything clicks into place. Yes, there are plenty of days when running feels hard, but those effortless days are why we keep on getting out there chasing those moments. When did you last feel this way?

Something I found interesting was this article in Runner’s World about injury risk. I know it’s something that’s studied frequently, and for the most part there is no clear correlation between injury and factors such as foot “type” or foot strike. This study actually found a correlation, at least among the study participants, between injury rates and what is termed “peak braking force” or the horizontal (rather than vertical) forces your body has to contend with whilst running. These days I tend not to put too much stock in these kinds of studies as they all seem so subjective, but nonetheless it is an interesting observation.

And finally, since we’re on a slightly scientific topic, here’s a column from Alex Hutchinson considering mental fatigue. I never used to give this a great deal of thought, but since reading more about the importance of sleep (and recognising my own mental fatigue at particular points in the school year) I have considered this a bit more. It’s why I back off a bit in the last weeks of the school year as I knew I was mentally fatigued and that my body would not differentiate between the mental and physical stress, leaving me more open to a niggle. An interesting point raised here, however, is that training for an endurance event could also be considered endurance training for the brain. I can definitely see how that would work.

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 8th June

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.

My oh my! What a week! I hope you’ve had a good one and were able to mark Global Running Day on Wednesday. I’m really looking forward to a bit of downtime this weekend, and am kicking it off with your weekly fix of things to read.

Let’s kick off with some thoughts on recovery from good old Alex Hutchinson. For me, getting the recovery strategy right is key to running without any niggling problems and at this busy time of year I know I need to be even more aware of this since the body doesn’t know the difference between mental stress and physical stress – stress is stress and eventually something has to give. Of course recovery is something that’s very hard to quantify scientifically as often the impact of a strategy is entirely psychological. Still, this makes for an interesting read as Hutchinson delves into some of the research.

What can be harder is the mental side of recovery, particularly if you experienced a DNF in your last race. It’s something I’ve not (so far) had to deal with (although I have had some particularly emotional DNS experiences). If it’s something you have had to deal with in the past, or are struggling with now, then you might find this article from Women’s Running helpful when it comes to putting things into perspective.

Another mental struggle comes from dealing with injury. I know from bitter experience how hard it is to deal with the unknown of when I might be able to run again. I suspect it would be quite different if someone could put a definitive time scale on recovery, but sadly it just doesn’t work like that. In this next piece, Brad Stulberg considers the mental tools the elites have developed to help them in such situations.

Working on the mental aspects of running has been priority for me this year, however it seems Asics have gone a step further with the new track they have opened in South London. Named the “Blackout Track” it is in complete darkness to allow runners to completely focus on body and mind. It’s an intriguing concept and I wouldn’t mind trying it out, but I’m not sure I fancy the 10k ‘mental marathon’ undertaken by various running luminaries recently! Would you?

And finally, a great way to calm the mind is to practice yoga and there has been a trend of late for various “novelty” forms of yoga. However participants in a goat yoga class in the US recently got more than they bargained for when one of the goats gave birth to kids during the class! I definitely recommend watching the video of the cute little baby goats in this one – so adorable!

Happy reading!
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 9th 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.

Friday again and what a difference a week makes when it comes to the weather! After last week’s epic snow there’s now just a hint of spring in the air – perhaps I’ll be back in my running shorts again soon…

However it was a sad start to the week with the news that running legend Roger Bannister had passed away. His historic breaking of the 4-minute mile was a pivotal moment in the history of the sport, so unsurprisingly many articles have been written about him in recent days. I thought I would share a few of them:

As the week drew to a close there was news from another running legend, this time much happier. As if I wasn’t already excited enough about watching this year’s London Marathon, it has now been announced that pioneer of women’s running Kathrine Switzer is to take part in the 2018 event. This will actually be the first time Switzer has taken part in this iconic event and I can’t wait to follow her progress on race day.

Moving to a different topic now and one close to my heart – food! We’ve long been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and now Alex Hutchinson of Sweat Science is here with a bit of scientific evidence to prove that our energy is better when we shift more of our calorie consumption to breakfast time. Sounds pretty good to me!

Next up, as an injury-prone runner I really connected with this piece from Motiv Running. Having an injury that prevents you from doing the thing that you love can really affect how you feel about lots of things, and I remember back in 2014 I struggled with a lengthy injury and began to wonder if I would ever be able to run again. What did that mean? Could I still call myself a runner? Who was I? These are the kinds of questions examined by Hillary Allen in her meditation on life as an injured runner.

And finally, always a sucker for a story featuring cute animals, here’s a great one about how rescuing a dog helped one runner to find the motivation to run again after one injury too many. I’ve never tried running with a dog but it looks like such good fun!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Week In Review – The Final Countdown!

I made it! As I write this the school year is over at long last and I’m settling into “holiday mode”. Read on for a bit more about life and training in the last week of term as I join Jessie @ The Right Fits and Jess @ Jess Runs ATL for their weekly linkup.

 

As usual, I followed my established routine for the week (for the most part):

Monday – swim
Tuesday – bike reps @ the gym
Wednesday – run
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – rest

On Monday I was feeling pretty exhausted. My brain was fried from the demands of the year, especially my recent exam marking which is enjoyable but takes a lot of brain power. I was also a bit daunted by everything I had to do in order to move classroom before the end of term. Getting into the pool for some gentle lengths was exactly what I needed, and I took it fairly easily as my whole being has been screaming out for rest! My swim always makes me feel refreshed though, so it was a worthwhile visit.

Admittedly, the last thing I felt like doing on Tuesday was a set of bike reps, however I also knew that this was the last set of reps before heading away on holiday and a repeat of last week‘s set. The knowledge that it was the last one and that I had successfully completed the same workout the week before gave me enough motivation to get to the gym and work my way through the reps. Finishing felt like such an accomplishment! After hitting the mats for some stretching and mobility work, I headed to the sauna to relax and unwind for a bit.

Last week I skipped my Wednesday run partly to allow the tightness in my right leg to settle and partly because I had a prior commitment. This week my leg was much better, but it still didn’t seem like the best idea to be doing a set of hill reps. Instead, I decided on a short run, but somehow getting myself home from work and organised for a run seemed to take forever. I was definitely procrastinating, but knew a run would make me feel much better. I told myself I could either run a 2.5 mile loop or a 3.5 mile loop – one meant turning right at the bottom of the road and the other left. Of course as soon as I got to the bottom of the road I was settling into the run and turned left for the 3.5 mile loop. This left me feeling energised for the remainder of the evening.

Thursday was the day I had been waiting for – the end of term! It was a half day and I headed into school knowing that I could get the classroom move sorted out quite quickly. I had already packed up the contents of both my classroom and the one I was moving into, so simply gathered a crack team of movers (pretty much any pupil who turned up in my classroom!) and got the whole thing done really quickly. I still have to go and sort out where I want everything, but that can wait until later in the holidays.  By the time we finished up at lunchtime I had already taken over 7000 steps just from marching up and down the stairs with boxes! I spent the afternoon getting a few things organised at home before heading to my Ashtanga yoga class. I LOVED the class this week. I don’t know if it was that end of term feeling or if it was something else, but it just felt really good. I mentioned it to my teacher who said that she had felt it too – like everything just flowed really well that night. I guess sometimes you just get classes like that. Whatever it was, it was such a nice way to begin the holidays.

On Friday morning I had intended to sleep a bit longer, but my body had other ideas, pre-programmed as it is right now to wake early. Still, being up gave me the chance to do some tidying and organise my life a bit before heading to the gym to relax in the hot tub and sauna before taking care of some pre-holiday errands. A relaxing day made that night’s meal with Steve even more enjoyable!

Saturday was in some ways a little different. Steve headed off to Edinburgh to get organised for his Ironman 70.3 the following day, while I headed to parkrun where I was the 27 minute pacer. Once more I was a little fast, finishing in 26:46, but I know I helped some people so that was great. It was a really busy parkrun and we got a new attendance record of 295 runners!

After getting showered and changed I walked to the hairdresser for my holiday haircut and reached my step goal on the way back home. That brings me to a full year of reaching my step goal and that makes me really happy. More about that in my forthcoming update on my 7 goals for 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also took delivery of the medal from a virtual race I had signed up for. Wonder Woman is ALWAYS going to sell it to me!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The rest of my day was pretty relaxing, then Steve arrived home (complete with sliced hand from a sharp rock he got up close and personal with whilst checking out the swim course!) in time to eat then he had to get the last of his gear ready for an early start on Sunday.

I declined the chance to leave with him at 4:30am (!!!), instead getting a couple more hours of sleep all snuggled in with the cat. We had worked out that there was little point in me being at the swim start as it would be so hard to actually spot Steve or work out what was going on and much more interesting to watch the bike and run. After some checking of various options, I got the first train to Edinburgh at 8:50am and walked the short distance to the finish area at Holyrood Park (where the 5k and 10k of the Edinburgh Marathon Festival take place).

I arrived just in time to see the first finisher cross the line then battled for a bit with the online tracker to try and work out where Steve might be. In the end I discovered that there were some problems with that tracker and found another one that was a bit more helpful. Having established that Steve was out on the bike course (I was afraid I might have missed his transition to the run) I watched the first female finisher as well as the podium ceremonies (I got a bit too close to the women’s one and got splashed with champagne – cue me spending the rest of the day smelling of alcohol!).


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I then made my way back over to the transition area and was able to spot Steve coming in then got some photos a few minutes later when he emerged from the transition tent.

The run course was three laps but I sought some shelter from passing showers during Steve’s first lap then caught him on the second.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was then just enough time for a cup of tea (the weather had by this time completely forgotten that it’s July and I had several tops on!) before taking up my position to get a photo of his finish – a respectable 6:19:48!

I have to say, it was a bit strange watching the event. I knew the swim had been shortened due to the weather conditions and the bike course certainly wasn’t for the fainthearted, so spent the first part of my spectating thinking NOPE, not for me. But the more I watched delighted athletes crossing the line (and of course I was watching running, a familiar discipline) the more I thought “maybe one day…” and now feel inspired to refocus on my swimming again as I feel my progress here has stalled a bit. What I’m doing complements my running well enough, but it could still be much better. Let’s see what the next few weeks bring there…

Would you ever try a 70.3 triathlon?
What sporting event scares you the most?