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.

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aPyQ+eGeQGS4lLsLs3hXywThere 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.

ItRS57ZWTQ6Y8TKFWs+EUAAnd 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.

Screen Shot 2018-08-19 at 17.39.57On 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.

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OxIOZH7gREWbEPw9gNN3OwAfter 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!

GPTempDownloadSunday 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.

w3yoOeaEQhCjzimrzNa5IQPost-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!

49VEFK6jT4Kkp5qT3MUU4gThe remainder of the day was chilled – playing with the kittens, catching up on blogs and generally relaxing ahead of a full week of teaching.

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Now for week two…!

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

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

IMG_0519Where 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.

dX59%MF1Ro2R45FnUzXylwThen 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:

hWJnsQzCQYGOarlwFO%nCwOn 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!

3OsEKhqRSEmQRbQQJE4OaAI 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.

ca5k3CJLQO6gM5211F7b7AThat 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).

fullsizeoutput_272bSaturday 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!

7tCFJyRNRHi5QgOLVRgNlAAfter 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 🙂

GPTempDownloadWhen 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.

AHfz1jKLRmKMaDeXX+6%tABy 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.

UpUQ%vqmQtmLZUPEAC%NQwAll 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!

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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.

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4vzgY4IuTkWK886SH46YsAThursday 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.

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U5RuRAFmQzOTyOKAXXhS+AI also decided that I need ALL of these!

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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!

IMG_8464I 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.

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Happy paddle board yogis getting ready to head out on the water.

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!

qpycGD0zSOuRkNHSsoM0JASince 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!

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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!

jG%7c79qRNSz3M+NUOgT2ATuesday 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.

IMG_8276On 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.

IMG_8261Later 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!

TPEtF7bkRA2gl0QNivd22ASince 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!

Prqg7UDQSIK1E3W+Ug35egI 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.

Sw9zsuiGRD+Rts3xapONwgWith 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.

IMG_8392Post-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!

yF3shf0yRriL+D3Zf%FrVQI 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…!

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YhAH92IPTmCz4dVBGkpESASteve 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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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!).

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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?

Week In Review – Are We There Yet?

The last full week of the school year (the final week is shorter as we finish on Thursday lunchtime) was a busy one with a day out of school on a course, a school show to see, and the initial preparations for a move of classroom. What with all that and my decision to ease off on running for a few days to help settle the issue in my right leg, I feel like I didn’t train as much even though realistically I only missed one midweek run! As usual, linking up with Jessie @ The Right Fits and Jess @ Jess Runs ATL for my weekly roundup.

Having already made the decision not to run midweek, my schedule looked like this:

Monday – swim
Tuesday – bike reps @ the gym
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 4-5 miles

The week began with me out of school for a one day course. Next session I’m going to be taking on the role of supporter/mentor for a probationer teacher and needed to attend a training course to learn more about the role and the various things that need to happen for that probationer to become a fully registered teacher at the end of the year. The course itself was really interesting, but I must admit that at this point in the year it was an awful lot of new information to take in and the room we were in was pretty warm. Still, I did have the additional advantage of being able to head straight home afterwards rather than get caught up in anything else so was in the pool by 5pm swimming my lengths. It did feel really refreshing after being so warm all day and I felt much better when I got home so decided to head out for a walk after dinner (it was a lovely evening and I still had some steps to get to reach my 10,000 target!). I’m so lucky to have this practically on my doorstep:

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On Tuesday I had 20 reps of my bike intervals to do. Regular readers may remember that each cycle goes up to 20 reps before changing, so this is the peak of the current cycle. I chose the same bike as last week and started out very interested to see how my leg would feel. Interestingly, this week’s 20 reps felt easier than last week’s 18, so clearly the extra rest made a difference, which I found encouraging. I then followed this up with some mobility work and stretching before squeezing in a quick sauna to finish off.

Wednesday’s rest day came at quite a fortuitous time as I decided this would be the day that would best suit me to go and see our school show, Billy Elliot. We have been very lucky to get the rights to stage the schools’ version of the show and are the only school in the country to have the honour. Two boys were cast as Billy and performed on alternate nights so each had two shows. I have to say, I knew we had some talented pupils but watching the cast sing, dance and act to highly professional standards was phenomenal. They were in turns funny, dramatic and emotive, with me almost in tears at one part. It was just amazing and I felt so proud of them all, but particularly the ones I knew from my recent senior classes who have grown into fine young people ready to move onto the next stage of their lives. Sob!

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I’m incredibly glad I had the chance to see the show, but my goodness I was tired on Thursday after the later night! Thankfully I had my Ashranga class that evening and it was just what I needed to stretch out and relax. I DEFINITELY drifted off during the relaxation this week!

Friday was another rest day. I was heading off for a post-school coffee with my colleagues and a former colleague who retired this time last year. It was a lovely sunny afternoon and we headed to the cafe at a nearby fruit farm. I really enjoyed my tea and peanut butter slice (yum) but couldn’t resist getting a punnet of strawberries to take home as well.

Having done lots of mobility work through the week to sort out the tightness in my right leg, things were feeling much improved. There was no longer any tightness at all in my calf and just a slight sensation of it around the back of my knee so I decided to go ahead with parkrun so I would have a comparison with last week. After a week off running my legs, of course, set off at a suicidal pace which I had to reign in, but there were no issues with my leg this time and I was pleased to finish in 24:15 – better than I expected and not too far off where my fitness has been recently. Very encouraging.

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Saturday Hatha yoga classes are finished for the summer, but I did devote some time throughout the remainder of the day to further mobility work so I can finally overcome this issue in my leg and get back to some longer runs. No yoga did mean I could join Steve for a post-parkrun coffee and bacon croissant though 🙂

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Since everything had felt ok on Saturday, a Sunday run was back on the agenda so long as I kept the distance down to between 4 and 5 miles. Steve set out early for his final big training session before Ironman 70.3 next weekend and I had a more leisurely start before heading out on a loop which I thought would be about the right distance. It turned out to be 4.8 miles which was perfect and my leg still felt ok when I was running so all the work I’ve been doing has clearly helped. It was a bit cloudy but I still felt warm so did all my post-run stretching in the garden – including legs up the wall, which this week was legs up the fence! I’ll not manage a run next Sunday, but hopefully things are getting back to normal for me now.

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So that’s another week over. Listening to my body and taking the extra rest has made a difference and hopefully I won’t need to miss any more runs. Fingers crossed that by the time I return from my holiday later in July my body will be ready to ramp up the training again as I get ready for the Loch Ness marathon.

How has your training been recently?
What sessions make you feel strong?

PS Did you see my posts for Tough Girl Challenges this week? I wrote a piece for National Writing Day to encourage more women to have a go at blogging and make their voices heard (you can read that here) and a piece encouraging others to take up running as part of Women’s Sport Week (which you can read here).

Week In Review – A Bit Of A Battle

Sometimes running is brilliant: you glide along effortlessly and complete every workout with ease. Other times running is tough: your legs feel like lead weights and even an easy run seems difficult. Writing a weekly roundup means I can get a balance of both, sharing the good weeks and the not so good weeks. Most of this year so far has gone well, but as we approach the end of the school year and I find myself both physically and mentally exhausted, the chances are much higher that I’ll have a tough week. I’ve been feeling the creeping tiredness for a couple of weeks now, but to be honest this past week has been a real battle so I need to listen carefully to my body and adjust my training for the next couple of weeks to account for that. Read on to find out more as I link up with Jessie @ The Right Fits and Jess @ Jess Runs ATL to share more.

If you’re a regular reader then you’ll spot the changes in the plan for the last week straight away:

Mondayswim sports massage
Tuesday – bike intervals @ the gym + swim
Wednesdayhill reps easy run
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun + Hatha yoga
Sunday8 miles rest

The change on Monday was expected. I had my monthly sports massage booked and knew I could only fit a swim in beforehand if I was away from work sharp. But this week we had an after school meeting so there was no chance! My legs have been feeling a bit weary so I was looking forward to the massage and certainly felt fresher afterwards.

On Tuesday I felt pretty tired. I probably hadn’t slept enough and at this point in the year I really need as much rest as I can get. My bike intervals were a repeat of last week‘s workout and I headed to the gym a little unsure of how I would perform, but ultimately able to complete the set. I then slotted in a quick swim afterwards. No time to relax in the sauna or anything this week as I wanted to get straight home and log into the marking system so I could catch up on some work there, but due to some ongoing problems with the system I had to wait.

Despite needing to sleep, I decided on an early start on Wednesday to finish my exam marking. By the time I got to the end of my working day I felt exhausted and knew that hill reps would be a mistake this week. Instead I opted for an easy run, but even that was a struggle. I was warm, tired and could feel a niggling tightness in my right calf that just wasn’t settling down. Even worse, something happened that I rarely have any bother with: I got heckled. I’m confident enough in my running not to let that bother me, but it still made me angry that some yobs (who were frankly behaving in a dangerous manner weaving around a busy road on their bikes, causing drivers to take action to avoid hitting them) thought it was ok to ride by me and shout abusive comments about my running just to amuse themselves. I know this happens to many runners much more frequently and I’m lucky that most people around here are very supportive of runners and cyclists, but it is NEVER ok to behave in this way. Fuming already, I was tipped over the edge when I got to the bottom of the hill leading to our street and while waiting to cross the road a driver wolf-whistled at me. Seriously? Again, not acceptable. It was a warm day so I was wearing shorts and what I wear is MY decision based on being comfortable, not an invitation for someone to objectify me. These events, combined with the emerging issue in my calf, put me in a bad mood for the rest of the night.

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Trying not to look too angry for my selfie!

Thursday brought me a much-needed moment of calm with my Ashtanga yoga class. I really needed the time to focus on myself and reset both body and mind. My right calf was still tight, but stretching it out in yoga felt good.

I rounded off the work week with a rest day. The cat had a checkup at the vet on Friday and I just didn’t have the energy for any more – apart from anything else I had completely lost my mind and agreed to mark some additional exam papers which were now available to me and I wanted to get a start on them. It felt so good to have the work week finished and enjoy our Friday night meal out!

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On Saturday morning my calf felt OK (Steve had been helping me to work through some mobility exercises to target the source issue) so I decided to give parkrun a go. Everything felt fine in a warmup jog and as the run began my legs wanted to go quite quickly. Sadly, it didn’t last. Within about half a mile I could feel the tightness creeping in again so backed off the pace and kept my mind tuned in to my leg so I could monitor how it felt. Weirdly, the tight spots kept moving around (Steve later explained that this is because I’m feeling tension deep in the leg in my peroneal muscles, but it’s stemming from an imbalance in how my body is moving on that side right now). I was able to finish the run, but my pace just got slower and slower as I was feeling like the plug had been pulled put. Yet despite my feeling that I had run badly, whilst waiting to have my barcode scanned another runner complimented me on what a “lovely runner” I was. It just goes to show that even when everything feels awful, it doesn’t always show in your form!

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I wasn’t in a “jumping shot” kind of mood!

After parkrun I had the final Saturday morning Hatha yoga class until August. I let my teacher know that I had an issue with my right calf, but to be honest the postures we did felt good and helped to ease the tension. Once home I completed my exam marking then went for a nap. For TWO HOURS! That just shows how exhausted I am right now. I only woke up because Steve shouted to say that my dinner was ready! I then enjoyed a relaxing evening catching up with some TV before bed.

During that tough parkrun I made the decision that Sunday should be a rest day. No point in running further given I had problems in a 5k – much better to rest and resolve the issue quickly rather than escalating the problem so I can’t run for ages.

Steve headed out for a brick session for his half ironman training and I tidied up a few things around the house before walking down to the gym for a relaxing sauna to help me chill out. I was already feeling better from having a bit more sleep and even my leg felt improved from the rest.

Later in the afternoon it was a visit to my parents since it was not only Fathers’ Day, but they are about to head out to Florida again. We haven’t visited them in a few weeks since I’ve been marking and even though we’ll be joining them in Florida shortly after they arrive, it was good to catch up on a few things. We sat in the garden since the weather was good and dad even brought out the beers. Check out the koozie he put mine in!

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Looking ahead, I know I need to dial back the training through the remaining two weeks of term so that I can run strongly through the the summer and get my body ready for my Autumn marathon. I’ll let you know next week how it’s all going, although I’m feeling optimistic that the issue in my right calf can be easily and quickly resolved.

What are your summer training plans?
How do you know when it’s time to back off training?