500!!

This week I reached a blogging milestone…my 500th post. 500 times in the last few years I’ve committed my thoughts to the screen. 500 times I’ve hit publish. 500 times I’ve wondered if anyone would really read what I had to say! Who would have thought that yesterday’s Friday Finds could be so momentous?

I’ve written before about what I enjoy about blogging so I thought today I would dig into my archives and share some of my favourite posts from that 500. Perhaps there will be something in here you’ve not read before…

As the great Julie Andrews taught us, the beginning is a very good place to start. My first ever post back in 2011 detailed the beginning of my running journey and was followed up soon after with how I came to take running a bit more seriously:

In 2012 London hosted the Olympic Games and one of the legacy aims was to inspire a generation. As the new school year began a few weeks later, I considered whether or not there had been any impact on the younger generation in my classroom:

As someone who enjoys racing, I know that races can really only take place thanks to the fantastic army of volunteers who turn up to show their support. In this next post, I wrote about why volunteering at a race is so crucial:

In 2013 I was excited to get my first age category prize (although I had to travel a fair distance to get it!):

And just a few days later got my second one – and a first place finish in my age category!

I rounded off that year with one of my most popular posts – a farewell letter to a pair of worn out running shoes. If you run, then you’ll get it!

A nice companion to that is the love letter I wrote to running for Valentine’s Day in 2014:

2014 was a big year for me: Steve and I took on a massive fundraising challenge for Macmillan Cancer Support and once of MY biggest supporters was my friend Ian who helped out through his business. Without him and the generosity of his customers, I would never have raised as much as I did. I featured Ian in a guest post that year:

I also played the proud wife card and gushed a bit about Steve and his incredible achievements in supporting Macmillan.:

That summer, I reflected on my childhood summers and how that year compared. Spoiler: it turns out some things never change!

But that autumn I had to make a tough decision. Here, I wrote about that process and how I was dealing with it:

Another first for me was my first ever link up. I must have enjoyed it since I continue to link up regularly with Jessie even now!

In 2015 I introduced Friday Finds as a regular feature. Given that an edition of FF was my 500th post, I thought it would be fun to include the first ever here:

2015 was probably my biggest year for other reasons too. Having changed my 2014 challenge thanks to injury, I had some unfinished business and it was time to go bigger than ever. That year’s Edinburgh Marathon Festival is probably one of my best running memories EVER!

Speaking of which, a few weeks later I wrote a post pulling together some of my favourite running memories:

Throughout 2015 I became a parkrunner, having immediately fallen for its charms after my first event. A year later, I summed up just what is so special (for me) about a free weekly 5k:

2016 was a strange year as we moved house and I probably didn’t blog as much as I should. Our trip to Paris that year did inspire a couple of posts though:

This was followed later in the year by a joint post with Jessie as we considered some linguistic differences between US and UK running:

Another very popular post came late in 2016 when I was once more forced to make a tough decision. There was a lot of emotion when I wrote it and I can still remember just how sad I felt:

This year, I’ve probably written more regularly than ever. A fun post at the start of the year was inspired by the book Your Pace or Mine and took the form of a record book:

I also marked “Marathon Day” by chronicling my own experiences with the big 26.2:

Which has a nice companion in my marathon tips:

In fact, I wrote a few posts this year offering some tips and advice:

As well as reflecting on the life-changing impact of yoga:

A couple of highlights were when I was interviewed for a podcast (so cool!):

And my first ever international parkrun experience:

More recently, I summed up what it’s like to taper for a marathon. Anyone who’s ever tapered will understand!

And as a counterpoint, a little bit of the aftermath:

Which brings us up to date. The posts I’ve chosen have highlighted some memorable moments as well as some reflections on training, racing and life. In amongst that there have been plenty of training logs, race reports and general musings so I’ve really enjoyed looking back through my posts and remembering all of the varied experiences that inspired the posts. I hope you’ve enjoyed indulging me by following along too and will join me for the next 500…!

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Friday Finds – 24th November

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.

Happy Friday! It’s the Last Friday in November (I hope my American friends had a great Thanksgiving) and the whole world seems to have gone mad for shopping deals. If Black Friday is not your thing, then here are a few articles for you to read as you settle into the weekend.

We may not mark Thanksgiving here in the UK, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy some Thanksgiving-themed articles, beginning with this humorous piece from Motiv Running to help us prepare for the season of eating ahead. These things have to be taken seriously and this advice most definitely applies to Christmas Day as well!

Sticking with the Thanksgiving theme, I thought I’d add a few stats as I know lots of you are as keen as I am on a statistic. If that’s you, then enjoy the following infographic from Under Armour, as they share stats on eating and exercise habits from Thanksgiving 2016. I found it really interesting to see how the days around the holiday compared to the average.

Next up, something I find inspiring. I’m conscious of feeling very busy at the moment, but that’s nothing compared to the routine of one of my favourite athletes, Laura Muir. Not only is she working 70 hours per week at an animal hospital as she completes her veterinary degree, but she continues to train as an elite athlete and after an incredibly successful 2017 already has her sights set on events in 2018. She must be so efficient with her time, such as batch cooking her food, and that’s maybe something I should consider in order to make my life a bit easier through marathon training.

Another story I’ve followed this year is the story of Colin McCourt. McCourt is a former world-class runner who, after retiring from the sport, stopped running and gained weight. Earlier this year he made a bet with his friends – if he could break 16 minutes for 5k, they would each have to pay him £100; if not, he would have to get each of their names tattooed on his body! That’s quite an incentive to get fit again! As the challenge began, McCourt was running 5k in 24 minutes, something closer to my average pace than that of a world-class competitor, but in the past few days it has been reported that he smashed his goal and ran the distance in 15:38!! I wish I could make that much difference to my pace in 8 months!

And finally, there’s nothing better than watching a race where the competitors battle right to the end…and that’s exactly what happened at this year’s Manchester Road Race in Connecticut. In the end barely a second separated first and second place in the women’s race as the tape was broken. Check out the video in the link below (and I suggest you keep scrolling through for the brilliant tweet from the winner of the men’s race!).

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 17th November

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.

Helllo! Thank goodness it’s Friday! I’m rather looking forward to a relaxing weekend, but first some reading material…

After her historic win in New York the woman of the moment is most definitely Shalane Flanagan. Here, Lindsay Crouse, writing in The New York Times, examines what she refers to as the ‘Shalane Flanagan Effect’:

Next up, an article with a headline featuring a word which usually prompts a sharp intake of breath from me: the word “literally”. Thankfully, this particular writer has used it correctly and it turned out to be fairly important in introducing the idea in the article – that exercise helps an area of your brain to grow. Studies therefore suggest that exercise could play a similar part in brain health as we age as things like puzzles or taking supplements. Another big plus for regular exercisers!

Now, one for the data fans. If you’re a committed Strava user then you might already have come across the heat map the company recently released. Compiled from countless hours of running and riding (over a billion activities!) it shows the most popular routes around the world and is absolutely fascinating.

On a lighter note, if you race regularly then you probably have some awareness of the sort of sights you often see when it comes to other runners. Women’s Running staff have obviously been thinking along similar lines and have compiled a list of spectator types you always see at races. I’ve definitely seen them all…have you?

And finally, we runners can be fairly easy to poke fun at, but at least sometimes that humour is spot on. Check out this cartoon from The New Yorker that really captures the modern connection between running and social media. Guilty as charged!!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 10th November

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.

Welcome to the post formerly known as Friday Finds, which this week is taking the form of Sunday Stories thanks to some difficulties with fitting in everything I had to do at the end of the week (I’ll cover this more in my Week in Review so watch out for that if you want to know more about what I’ve been up to). But never mind, let’s just call this one fashionably late and crack on with some of the articles that have caught my eye this week in the aftermath of the New York marathon.

First, a follow-up to one of last week’s stories about blind runner Simon Wheatcroft and his bid to make history by using some new technology to help him run the marathon without a guide. Here’s a more in-depth article about Wheatcroft, his background and how he got on in New York:

This next article was written in advance of the marathon, however it still remains interesting for the statistics it pulls apart. Time magazine has studied finish times of NYC marathon runners over several decades and come to the conclusion that finishing times are getting slower. Not a massive surprise as this is consistent with recent studies indicating a general slowing in times, however what I liked about this article is the discussion of possible reasons behind this, all of which are dismissed by a spokesperson for the New York Road Runners who simply points out that they want to make the distance accessible to all. Hear hear!

However the New York Times seems to suggest that the popularity of the NYC marathon (probably the biggest marathon in the world when we look at participant numbers) flies in the face of a US trend for declining participation in races. I’m sure I’ve come across this kind of thing before, however I would shy away from saying that the running boom is “over” as race participation does not necessarily correlate with the number of people running. I see more and more runners out and about when I’m training and numbers at parkrun continue to grow. Perhaps the decline in racing has more to do with costs and/or an increase in available revents which inevitably thins the field. What are your views?

History buffs may enjoy this next article which gives details of a marathon distance race in New York in 1896 – quite a bit before the NYC marathon as we know it which was founded in 1970 and a year before the inaugural Boston marathon! I do love having random facts like this up my sleeve!

And finally, everyone loves a high five as they run a race. Usually these high fives come from children lining the route but in New York one spectator went one better and positioned their dog to give runners a high five. That would have made me smile for several miles if it happened to me!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

 

Friday Finds – 3rd November

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.

Hello and happy Friday! With the New York marathon coming up this weekend (I know some of my readers are running so good luck!) there’s no shortage of interesting stories in my news feeds this week. Here are some that caught my eye…

I’ll start with the most negative of the stories I’ve seen of late…one about cheating. We are all by now familiar with the ongoing doping scandal in sport and I have previously mentioned the work of Derek Murphy at Marathon Investigations as well as how some runners make use of social media to cheat. Yet even with all that I hadn’t considered the scale of cheating among amateur runners until I read this piece from The Telegraph. Cutting a course or getting someone else to run on your behalf is a mindset I just don’t understand. Is a medal or a finish time really as important as all that? For me, these have to be earned and I couldn’t feel comfortable knowing I had acquired them some other way.

At the other end of the scale we find the inspirational runners, those showing us that nothing should stand in the way of what we want to achieve. One such runner is Simon Wheatcroft who lost his sight in his teens. We usually think of blind/visually impaired runners working with a guide runner, however this Sunday in New York Simon Wheatcroft will be a pioneer as he runs the marathon solo thanks to new technology which will help him detect obstacles. It’s an amazing advancement and I look forward to finding out he gets on.

And now for some science! If you have a race coming up then it may help you to know that you can run more efficiently (and hence feel better) if you smile. Sound strange? Well it’s apparently a strategy employed by Eliud Kipchoge during the Breaking2 marathon. The research behind this claim is broken down by Alex Hutchison in this piece for Outside online, and while further research needs to be done on this subject, it is absolutely fascinating that a simple smile can improve your running.

Some further research this week looks at the issue of how best to recover post-run. It’s a controversial topic and it seems that every new study alters the advice. This latest study plays right into my hands as it suggests that muscles recover best when they are warmed rather than chilled. I must admit I’ve never taken to the ice bath but am very fond of a nice soak in a hot bath on the day of my long runs. Perhaps I’ve been getting that part right all along!

And finally, one thing we all know is key to running well is to be relaxed. Unfortunately, keeping calm when you’re about to run 26.2 miles is not always easy, so runners at the NYC marathon will have access to therapy dogs to help the pre-race tensions melt away. So they get to play with puppies then run an iconic marathon route? I want to do that!!!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Week In Review – A Busy One!

Some weeks are pretty quiet, others are super busy and this week has definitely been a busy one! Join me as I link up with Jessie @ The Right Fits and Jess @ Jess Runs ATL to share more.

Part of the busy-ness came from the start of the new school term which began with some observations by a team visiting from the local authority. Not quite an inspection, but an opportunity to prepare for future inspections. On top of that I had some things in the diary but still wanted to fit in some training to keep things ticking over. Here’s how it looked:

Monday – sports massage
Tuesday – bike @ the gym
Wednesday – short run
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – short run

After getting back to the pool last week I had to skip it this week as I had a sports massage scheduled. Normally I would squeeze in a quick swim beforehand, however I needed to use this time to have some food as I was heading straight from the massage to meet my sister at the cinema to see a screening of The Princess Bride. It was so good to see it on the big screen, and everyone there clearly knew it well as we were all reacting ahead of some of the lines, but I’m trying to gloss over the fact that it was being shown to mark the film’s 30th anniversary, as that makes me feel really old!

F9FB4E95-CDCC-472E-A577-2BD650E33C42I was back to it on Tuesday with another 30 minute cycle on the bike at my gym. I quite enjoy getting myself set up with my Kindle and pedalling hard while catching up on some reading. I can’t do that when I”m doing intervals so take the chance when I’m not. sometimes you just have to multi-task to get everything done!

Wednesday was one of those super busy days. I’m committed to going to orchestra rehearsals each Wednesday until our concert but am keen to fit a run in as well. Usually this will be fine (it’s only in the short term) but this week I had an appointment in town so it was after 5:30pm before I got home. Somehow I needed to run, shower and eat before my sister picked me up a little after 7pm. Challenge extended…! I was changed and out the door super fast with a loop in mind. I knew it would be less than 3 miles but planned to attack it hard since there was time pressure. I wanted to be back by 6:15pm and was home at 6:12! I stuck my dinner in the oven while I showered and changed, then finished it just as my sister texted to say she was on her way. Yes it was rushed, but I was impressed by my own efficiency.

IMG_4511After all that I was grateful for my Ashtanga yoga class on Thursday evening. It was a busy class this week but it felt great to stretch and relax. Even better, I managed “Wheel” for a full 5 breaths, which is what I’ve been working towards. After managing to hold the posture for 4 breaths last week I felt confident I could manage more – perhaps it’s all about belief rather than strength? Next is to manage more than 1 round as at present I switch to yoga bridge after that.

Usually Friday is pretty chilled but this was another busy day for me. As soon as I got home from work I Changed and headed over to the studio for my session with Steve. My right shoulder was still feeling a bit tight so I wanted to do some work around that. I had also noticed something in my right foot/ankle that needed a little tweak. Nothing painful, more a minor functional movement issue. We did some exercises to address it as well as doing some work on the TRX.

IMG_4518Afterwards I was straight home to change (again) and headed out to grab some Chinese food before heading into town. It was the opening night of the Women of the World (WoW) Festival with Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, in conversation with the founder of WoW and some teen girls who were very articulate and had thought carefully about the issues they wanted to discuss. The focus was on gender issues rather than political ones. I really enjoyed it and am hoping to write a bit more about the festival overall.

IMG_4520I had bought a weekend pass for the WoW Festival and wanted to attend sessions throughout both Saturday and Sunday. The first one I wanted to go to on Saturday was at 10:30am, so I had some logistics to figure out to make sure I could get to parkrun as well. To avoid car parking issues, I walked to parkrun carrying a bag with a change of clothes which I kept in Steve’s car while I ran (he had been away earlier for a PT client). I ran hard, but was a little hampered by strong winds. On the plus side, only losing 3 seconds on last week’s time tells me I was running better and it was the conditions that prevented a further improvement. I’d love to manage another sub-24 before the end of the year, however conditions now can make that tricky.

IMG_4522As soon as I finished I grabbed my bag from the car and headed over to the festival venue where I had a very glamorous change in the toilets and made it into the session with time to spare. Not bad! I then had a great day listening to discussion of various women’s issues and browsing the stalls from an assortment of organisations. My favourite was the one selling “empowerment pants” and I couldn’t resist buying a pair – like superhero pants but for wearing when you need a reminder to be strong, I loved the idea!
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Sunday saw me awoken early by the cat, who was having an empty for bowl crisis! The clock by my bed said just after 6:30am so I got up and fed her in a bleary-eyed state before returning to bed as I didn’t need to be up just yet. I awoke naturally around 7:15, well-rested but a little confused as my phone alarm had not gone off…until I realised that the clock by my bed had not gone back when the clocks changed overnight, unlike my phone which knew the “real” time was 6:15! After a busy week I was going to benefit from an extra hour of time 🙂

I used that hour to sort out a few bits and pieces in the house before heading out for a short run. Steve needed to do a road run as he has a race next weekend, but I just wanted to get out for half an hour or so, as I knew overdoing it after a busy week would be a bad idea, especially since I was heading back to WoW afterwards.

IMG_4549I had plenty of time to run, shower and have a good breakfast before heading into town for the first session of the day at 10:30am. I then enjoyed a second fantastic day of talks, debate and workshops, as well as connecting with someone else I only previously knew from a Tough Girl connection.

It was (mostly) a brilliant week, especially the WoW festival, but I must make sure to prioritise some rest in the week ahead to make sure things don’t get on top of me in the coming weeks. Any excuse to put my feet up for a bit!

How has your week been?
Have you ever been to a WoW festival?

Friday Finds – 20th October

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.

Happy Friday everyone! I hope you’ve had a great week and are looking forward to an awesome weekend. I’m here as usual to kick things off with a selection of interesting articles I’ve come across recently.

I’m going to start with the sort of data analysis I love to geek out over, so if you love stats and cool graphs, this one’s for you! Back in July I drew your attention to a study suggesting American runners are getting slower. Now, the same team has dug a little deeper to see how each US state compares, with some interesting results. Although I’m in the UK, I do love this kind of thing and often wonder how other parts of the world compare. What I found of particular interest was the comparison of male and female times in different states, and the breakdown of participation – there are some states where more women participated in the studied marathons than men – awesome! There is a calculator at the start which allows you to plug in your times and see how you compare, and I’ll admit to being quite pleased with mine! Have fun checking it out!

On the subject of marathons, I’ve previously written about Derek Murphy from Marathon Investigation whose mission it is to seek out and challenge people he believes to be cheats e.g. those who cut courses (like in the recent Mexico City marathon) or those who have faked data or bandited a race. And banditing is the subject of this next article. For those unfamiliar, it’s the practice of copying someone’s race bib from those excited, pre-race social media posts then making their own to gain access to the race. The piece is interesting in that it gives the “bandit” point of view and includes some comments suggesting it’s not that big a deal. Ok, so it’s not a major crime, but a marathon place can be expensive so I’d be pretty upset if I thought people were avoiding that, and even more so if the presence of so-called bandits led to a shortage of medals or other race goodies for those who had paid for a place and were therefore entitled to them. Definitely a debate that could rumble on, and I’d love to know your thoughts.

My next find is one of those ones that comes from a fairly unlikely source for a running blog – music. Regular readers may know that I dabble a bit in playing the violin, an instrument I learned at school and in recent years took up again in order to play in a local symphony orchestra. This past week I came across this piece reporting on an article written by jazz musician Wynton Marsalis. In it, Marsalis sets out his twelve ways to practice and notes that this can apply not just to music but to studying, sports or any new skills. I have to say, from reading this I can see the connections. In a way, it’s the kind of thing I try to do when trying to help a pupil see how they can transfer skills from their hobbies or other interests into their school work. The article contains a link to the full original text:

One of the things that running is guaranteed to give us is stories. Chat to any seasoned runner and they’re bound to be able to regale you with tales of all kinds of triumphs and mishaps. With that in mind, I really enjoyed this piece from Motiv Running by ultra runner Dakota Jones. It tells of a mishap when language, race waves and chocolate croissants collide…

And finally, I make no secret of the fact that the treadmill is not my favourite piece of workout equipment, only to be used when running outside is absolutely not an option. But one runner has taken treadmill training to a whole new level. Don’t try this one at home!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 29th 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.

Happy Friday! I don’t know about you, but I’ve found this an incredibly long week – couldn’t possibly be anything do to with running a marathon last weekend though 😉

While I was running my marathon on Sunday (full race report to follow) the eyes of the marathon running world were firmly fixed on Berlin, where Eliud Kipchoge was hoping to lower the mark in the men’s marathon. This result of this race was actually one of the things I checked when I was sitting down to eat after my race, and I’ll admit to a little disappointment that Kipchoge didn’t quite make it. Still, his efforts gave rise to a number of follow-up pieces from respected writers in the field looking at his training (just in case you fancy following his training programme!) and the factors which may have prevented him setting a new record. I can’t imagine the fact that I missed my goal too will cheer him up, although it’s definitely comforting to know that even the best runners don’t always achieve the times they want!

Although written before the race in Berlin, this next article is an interesting reminder of the difference between physical and mental barriers. It sets out the theory that mental barriers are much bigger than physical ones, that the belief something is possible makes it much more likely to happen. This is something I can definitely get behind: the mind is very powerful and belief can have a massive impact on achievement.

Anyone who has run a marathon knows that they are tough, however there are many runners who enjoy even longer, tougher (sometimes multi-day) races. And as with anything “out of the ordinary” to the typical non-runner, the big question is usually, why? A question academics at the University of Cardiff have attempted to answer. Interestingly, their findings suggest that the pain experienced may actually be one of the draws, along with a degree of escapism and simply having a story to tell. I may not have any desire to run an ultra, but I do understand that sort of thinking.

In other news, the “mad pooper” story I included last week continues to make the headlines. In a couple of now deleted videos, a spokesperson for the runner in question made reference to some mental health issues as a result of a brain injury, further complicating matters. It looks like this particular story is not over yet, and it doesn’t seem like we’re going to get to the truth of it any time soon.

And finally, do you ever watch a film and laugh at the unrealistic nature of any scenes involving running? Well it seems you’re not alone as Hannah Hartzell, writing for Women’s Running, is clearly fed up of the way Hollywood portrays our favourite sport. Have you got any other examples to add to her list?

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 22nd 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.

In a bid to make my preparations for marathon weekend a bit easier, I’ve written the bulk of this in advance so let’s hope there’s not some huge story that breaks when it’s too late to add it in! Theoretically, as you read this I’m getting myself organised for the trip to Inverness and/or making sure I relax ahead of the race, but there’s no way I wanted to miss sharing some finds with you.

Last week I included the bizarre story of all the runners accused of cheating at the Mexico City marathon. This week, even more has come to light around this with several sources carrying the story. I originally picked it up from Marathon Investigation, where analyst Derek Murphy now believes that the cheating was motivated by a desire for the medal rather than a BQ. Now I’ve coveted some bling in my time, but I’m not sure I could live with myself knowing I hadn’t earned it legitimately.

And the story prompted SBNation to remind us of some other tales of cheating from throughout running history:

Another race hit the headlines this past week, but for very different reasons. Perhaps you saw footage from the Copenhagen half marathon at the weekend, but if not you need to take a look at this. The race began in beautiful weather, but soon changed as storms swept in. Amid lightning and torrential rain, the race had to be stopped to help ensure safety (there were reports of people being struck by lightning) and even the timing mats were floating away. Yet some dogged souls still continued their race. What would you do?

And speaking of dogged determination, that’s definitely one way to describe marathoner Devon Bieling. After falling to the ground exhausted just metres from the finish line, she tried to crawl to the finish but was hampered by the sharp gravel…so she rolled over the line instead. Not only that, but she still managed to finish within the cut off for her BQ. Now that’s one incredible finish (but I really hope I don’t have to resort to that on Sunday!).

I couldn’t let this week go by without mentioning cyclist Mark Beaumont. Not only has he just set an incredible new world record with his around the world cycle, but he’s from my part of the world. What an adventure!

And finally, we all know running can do funny things to your insides and have probably all had to take an unintended pit stop during a run or cut a run short to answer the call of nature, but in Colorado Springs a most bizarre situation is unfolding as a runner nicknamed “The Mad Pooper” appears to be targeting some residences to leave her mark. How very odd!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Tough Girl 100 – Challenge Completed!

Exactly 100 days ago, on the 3rd of June, I published a post about the 100 day challenge I was taking on. If you missed it, you can read that post here.

To support my inspiring friend and host of the Tough Girl Podcast, Sarah Williams, as she thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail in 100 days, I decided to take part in the challenge she set for her Tribe – to undertake a personal challenge that would help create a habit and add value to our lives over the 100 days. For me, this was the perfect opportunity to address one of my 7 goals for this year which had not yet had much attention: to commit to more yoga outside of my classes. The chance to work on creating a regular home practice was being handed to me, so my challenge was obvious – at least 10 minutes of yoga or mobility work every day.

I had planned to write about the challenge at various points throughout the 100 days, but that just didn’t happen. But today, on day 100, I want to reflect on my experience and consider what it means for me going forward.

As the challenge began, I was in the final weeks of a testing school year. My life felt chaotic and I knew I needed to be on holiday. Finding even 10 minutes to do some yoga seemed a step too far, especially since I wasn’t entirely sure what I should do, but my commitment to the challenge helped me to overcome this.

To begin with, I relied heavily on the sources I was already familiar with. I used some of the videos from Jasyoga, then gradually began to explore other avenues, starting with Adriene Mishler’s youtube channel Yoga with Adriene. I found that I really enjoyed the relaxing bedtime sequences that helped me to unwind before bed, as well as some of the post-run sequences to stretch out my body. Of course I was also going to 2 yoga classes (1 Ashtanga and 1 Hatha) per week, and some days I was more focused on mobility work, especially around my upper back and hips. I wanted to explore more, but knew this would have to wait until the school holidays.

Once in Florida, things were a little different. I had time. I tried some new YWA videos (I really liked the Travel Yoga energising flow when I was feeling a bit jet lagged and the Yoga for Digestion sequence after that amazing afternoon tea at the Grand Floridian) and often rolled out my mat by the pool to do some sun salutations or part of the Ashtanga sequence. When my right shoulder became problematic (probably from lying face down on a sun lounger and trying to read – there’s no comfortable way to do this!) I switched my focus to mobility work to improve this and Jasyoga videos to reset my shoulders.

UntitledAnd of course I did take advantage of the opportunity to inject some magic and fairy dust into my yoga!

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IMG_3019When I returned, I had the perfect opportunity to take things even further before the new term started. I began to try morning yoga sequences (these were lovely on days when I was in no rush to do anything else) and went to a midweek Hatha class which, on one memorable occasion, took place on a golf course in the evening sun!

IMG_3524For the final month I was back at school and bedtime yoga tended to feel right for me again for the most part. My favourite is a 7 minute sequence on YWA, but I did try one or two others and found a couple of channels I’d like to look at a bit more.

So what can I take away from all this?
Firstly, that finding a little time to incorporate some yoga into my day isn’t all that hard. During term time a morning sequence doesn’t really suit me, but I love to unwind with some yoga before bed as it helps tell my body that it’s time to sleep. It makes a difference for me both physically and mentally.

Secondly, I’m now finding that when something is “off”, yoga is where I turn. Just like when I had bother with my shoulder when I was in Florida, if any part of my body felt tight or in need of some love, I could easily find a yoga sequence to help. And just last week when I picked up a cold, I searched for some videos to do which would help me to feel better and focused on yoga to help boost my immune system, fight the bugs and help me to combat my symptoms. This is something I can definitely see myself continuing.

Thirdly, that I still want to do more. I constrained myself a little bit by saying I would do a minimum of 10 minutes each day, as some sequences are a bit shorter, but moving forward that constraint is gone. If I want to do yoga for 5 minutes, I can. If I want to investigate how I can build a bit more yoga into my work day, I can. If I want to work on just one pose, I can. One thing that did happen as a result of this challenge is that I finally managed to do wheel in my Ashtanga class rather than yoga bridge. I have a limitation in the movement of my left arm thanks to breaking it when I was younger, and this affects poses such as wheel. I couldn’t really do it at all before, but now can hold it for about 3 long breaths and I’d love to keep improving this. There are some other postures I’d like to work on too.

Will I carry on?
Yes. Absolutely yes. It may not be every day and it may not be 10 minutes, but thanks to this challenge yoga has become a big part of my life. Steve is even talking about creating more space in the smallest bedroom (he was using it as an office, but has now moved the desk to his studio) for me to roll out my mat and do some yoga there rather than in the middle of the living room. He has seen this habit develop and is keen to support me.

IMG_1328I would really encourage you to try something like this. It doesn’t have to be yoga, heck it doesn’t even have to be something physical, but 100 days is a great challenge and by the end you will have developed a habit that adds value to your life every single day. Maybe you could read a set amount of a book every day; maybe you could watch a TED talk every day; maybe you could try a new podcast every day (check out my favourites here and here). The possibilities are endless,  and if you start now, you will reach day 100 around the 19th of December. A perfect way to round off the year and totally worth it.

 

Did you take part in #toughgirl100 ?
What challenge will you take on for the next 100 days?