Week In Review – The Corona Chronicles Part 8

I definitely feel like I’m settled into a routine. It’s been 8 weeks of lockdown now and the longest break I have ever had from school is 7 weeks (most years 6 weeks), so although I am still teaching (albeit in a very different way) I have now been away from my classroom for longer than ever before. I joke every so often about the pre-Corona days and the things we could do (being next to people in public! Browsing in shops! Having get-togethers!) but the habits of social distancing and isolation are now threatening to become almost a preference now. When we actually begin to ease some of the measures here in Scotland (we are now operating a little differently to England on that one) I worry that I will feel overwhelmed by being around people again! I’m still finding remote teaching a challenge, but outside of that I’m fairly content with the way I’m spending my days, including how I’m exercising. Here’s how the week looked:

Monday – 3.5 miles + garden workout + Hatha yoga via Zoom
Tuesday – 5 miles + living room workout + home yoga
Wednesday – 6 miles + garden workout + home yoga
Thursday – 5 miles + garden workout + home yoga
Friday – 4 miles + garden workout + home yoga
Saturday – 7 miles
Sunday – 10 miles

Another week, another theme. This week, my Paris Breakfast Run tops. I have experienced this on the days before 4 out of my 5 Paris marathon experiences and they are some of my favourite running memories, so it was fun to wear them and remember.

I’m not sure how else I might theme my runs now, so will have to get my thinking cap on…🤔

Outside of my daily routine of run-work-lunch-work-workout-yoga-dinner, I do have a few other highlights to share:

Monday was packed with meetings and work phone calls, so my Hatha yoga class that evening was welcome. And yoga cat put in an appearance again!

Prior to that I had a go at drawing Donald Duck by following another of those awesome tutorial videos. His neck is a bit skinny but otherwise I’m really happy with this one.

Tuesday was exciting because it was day 50 (!!) of my run streak. I never expected it to last that long and at the time of writing it’s still happening.

I also tried a slightly different character on Tuesday: Chip from Beauty and the Beast. I was actually surprised to find it a bit trickier than expected and I had a tough time with the body shape. I think he should be a bit plumper but he’s still recognisable.

On Wednesday morning Steve was feeling a bit off – nothing to do with Covid-19, more of a stomach issue – and I needed to go out and get him something to help settle it. I ended up going to Home Bargains since I had a few other bits and pieces I was needing to get in there and it actually was one of the most exciting things I have done in weeks. That really tells you what my life has become 😂

After all that excitement, when work was done for the day I had a go at drawing Daisy Duck. Truth be told, I think this is my favourite one so far.

And with Steve feeling better, he decided he fancied dessert after our dinner so he nipped out to see what he could find and hit the jackpot with some sticky toffee pudding. My favourite!

Thursday felt quite busy. I had lots of work to do then a really long Zoom meeting in the afternoon, after which my brain felt a bit fried so I went out on another quick excursion to collect a refill on the routine treatments the cats get to keep fleas and worms at bay (they’re on a health plan which includes this so I have basically already paid for it but had run out). They were set up really well for things like that and the receptionist explained it all to me on the phone before I set off, so I felt really comfortable with going. Sooty obviously wasn’t wanting Smokey to be the only one who got his photo in this post, so she made sure to look really cute!

We’ve probably fallen into the worrying trap of having something sweet after dinner but there was nothing for Thursday night so I decided it was the to open these up. The pack says they are “sharing size”. Can anyone explain what that means? 😂

I actually worked quite a long “shift” on Friday as there were a few things I wanted to get finished up before the weekend and various things had stopped me sorting them out earlier in the week. After spending most of the day in front of my computer, I was really grateful for the chance to get out into the garden for my workout!

We left it a bit late for a Friday night post-fajitas movie so instead we watched a few episodes of Gavin and Stacey. We’ve seen them before (and have the DVD boxset) but it’s been fun to watch them again on the iPlayer.

Saturday was very much the usual (for lockdown) routine: run, bacon roll, parkrun quiz (we were AWFUL this week – 5/15 to equal our personal worst! 😳) then I did some bits and pieces in the afternoon. At least I was still feeling cheery from having a new pair of shorts to wear on my run!

I got back from my morning run to find a medal waiting for me. This was from a virtual race company I have been using quite regularly and was in aid of key worker charities.

I have been meaning to watch Peter Pan as I have been reading the Twisted Tales book based on it and was in need of a refresher on some of the details so I put that on Disney+ while I sorted out a project in my spare room/work space.

My project was to hang my medals. I already had some hanging bars on the wall but had bought some new ones to extend my displays. Steve drilled the holes for them last week but then we found we didn’t have the right size of screws to finish putting them up. He had bought some during the week so the bars were all up ready for me to display my medals.

My marathon and half marathon medals

All my other race medals

Some of my virtual race medals

I’m going to need some more hanging bars to finish displaying my virtual race medals, but I’m pleased to have sorted out the other ones. There is one other display with the medals from my 2014 challenge, but that one didn’t need any attention.

As it turned out, this was quite a lengthy task and Peter Pan wasn’t long enough to see me through so I also watched volume 2 of The Disney Family Singalong while I finished up. I also had a little craft project to get started (details of that next week once it’s done) so got that underway before heading for a bath. Oh, and while I was doing all that, my “helper” slept through…on a piece of bubble wrap I had been using to protect my medals while I was waiting to hang them 😹

I also came across this fun website where you can create a Disney-themed avatar of yourself. I passed a happy few minutes on this then shared the website with friends and family so they could do it too!

Steve and I then had a lovely evening watching this week’s movie choice: The Incredibles 2. Neither of us had seen that one before and we enjoyed it. We also decided to try a gin we bought a while back at a gin festival and hadn’t opened. I insisted on having mine in one of the glasses I got in my work secret Santa gift at Christmas. Perfect for me!

Sunday was also fairly standard. I actually had another new pair of shorts to wear (running every day = lots of clean kit needed!). I already have this design in a pair of leggings but I love it so went for the shorts as well.

And then it was all the usual stuff: food shopping, afternoon snack of hot cross buns, the next episode of The Mandalorian (dear god I love that Baby Yoda!), and I did a little more work on my craft project before dinner, then I had my usual Sunday bath.

All in all, I’m really becoming a creature of habit, falling into a routine and increasingly trying to get on top of some household projects I’ve never gotten round to before since I do have a little more time available (and inclination to do it since I can’t be “missing out” on any other activities!). I’m not sure if I will remain so content through the summer though since holidays and trips are looking unlikely this year.

What have you been up to lately – any projects?
In general, how are you feeling?

Week In Review – The Corona Chronicles Part 7

Seven weeks! I don’t know about you, but I may be starting to forget what “normal” life is like. This was a funny week for me as a few things I had been looking forward to should have taken place, but I did my best to create my own fun and distract myself from what might have been. I also continued the run streak and remained really consistent with workouts and yoga. I think it’s safe to say that routine is now firmly established.

Monday – 3.5 miles + mini workout in living room + Hatha yoga via Zoom
Tuesday – 4.5 miles + garden workout + home yoga
Wednesday – 6 miles + garden workout + home yoga
Thursday – 5 miles + garden workout + home yoga
Friday – 4 miles + garden workout + home yoga
Saturday – 7 miles
Sunday – 10 miles

This week’s running theme fell into two parts. On Monday, I wore the last of my Paris marathon souvenir tops to complete the set from last week.

Then Tuesday-Friday it was the turn of my Run Disney Magic Run Weekend finisher tops. Before all of this madness I was supposed to be on a flight to Paris on the Friday for the inaugural Princess Run Weekend (all cancelled of course) and I was REALLY needing a bit of Disney in my days to make me feel a bit better about it. Keeping my fingers firmly crossed that this one is in the plans for the future because I was really looking forward to it.

It was also a shorter work week with Friday being the start of the “holiday” weekend so only four days of remote teaching to contend with before the long weekend. We celebrated with a bonus Thursday night beer!

This was actually quite a good week (as lockdown weeks go). Here are some highlights:

During my Monday night Zoom yoga class (that’s yoga via Zoom, not some exciting new form of yoga. Mind you, I wonder what “Zoom Yoga” would entail…) this daft boy decided that the best place to be was right beside me. He was there at the start of the class, wandered off to find his sister, then returned to his post and remained there for the rest of the class, perfectly content with the odd ear rub or nose bump as I moved. He’s such a mummy’s boy 😹.

Then on Tuesday I arrived home from my run to find two exciting things waiting for me – my April virtual run medal and my new rainbow T-shirt. Those really cheered me up, as did the sun staying out for my garden workout in the afternoon.

On Wednesday I thought I would have a go at a bit more Disney drawing. First I followed the tutorial for “pie-eyed” Mickey:

And then loaded up the step by step images in the WDW app to draw this one:

Not perfect, but I’m happy with them given my limited abilities with this kind of thing!

And it was still sunny!

Thursday was the last working day of the week, so when I was finished with all my tasks for the day I headed out into the garden for a workout:

Then enjoyed a quiet evening of tv. I even watched The Disney Family Singalong on Disney+ which was great fun but did bring “Disney tears” to my eyes.

I made sure to make Friday feel different to a work (at home) Friday so that I would notice it being a holiday. I read in bed for a bit so I was a little later going for my run and carried out a few household tasks in the morning, but in the afternoon I tried to make things a bit more fun. I watched The Little Mermaid Live on Disney+ whilst having a go at some Disney crafts (more on that later) before heading into the garden for my workout.

And after our usual (for lockdown) Friday fajitas, we finished off watching The Skywalker Saga by loading up The Rise of Skywalker on Disney+. I really enjoyed this one.

But it was Saturday that was by far my favourite day of the week.

Since the Princess Run Weekend was cancelled (😢) a Facebook group I’m in put together some virtual events instead. It was all free so no medals or anything (although we were challenged to make our own!), simply to dress in our Run Disney costumes and run our chosen distance. We were also sent race bibs we could wear. Even though I had organised my running costumes for the weekend, I decided to keep them under wraps for now in the hope of debuting them at a future Run Disney event, so instead opted for my Anna costume from the Disneyland Paris 10k last September (minus the pink cape – that seemed a little too much for running the streets of home!). I wanted to do what I could to recreate a Run Disney event day experience so started with my flat lay:

And while there were no character stops en route, I took inspiration from the parkrun road signs challenge and took photos with road signs to spell out Run Disney (yes, I did spend my running time during the week working out what they would be!).

It was actually quite a humid morning so the stops were quite welcome!

When I arrived home I gathered up all my props (including my craft efforts from the previous afternoon) and corralled poor Steve into being my Photopass photographer for some post-run pictures.

I awarded myself a homemade medal (craft project number one):

Took my picture in front of the (very far away?) castle (craft project number two):

And enjoyed some character meets. It was good of Minnie Mouse to embrace the princess theme and wear her Belle-inspired gold ballgown 😂

Olaf was an odd choice for a princess-themed event, but since he paired nicely with my costume choice I was pleased to see him!

And of course The Big Cheese himself was there to meet me in his sports gear:

Yes it was a bit mad and certainly not the run I had originally planned to be having that day, but actually pulling all that together was fun and I really enjoyed creating my own event. It gave me something to focus on and cheered me up since my trip was cancelled.

When I was satisfied that I had got as much from my homemade Run Disney event as I could, I got changed and we got on with the weekly parkrun quiz. I felt like we were guessing quite a lot so was pleased to equal our PB with 12/15. That really kept my good mood going!

I continued with my Disney theming in the afternoon by heading off to my spare room to watch Tangled while starting to sort out my medal displays. I also liberally sprayed this room spray to make me feel like I was in a Disney resort!

I had ordered some new hanging brackets for my medals as there wasn’t enough space for them all, but needed to clear the existing ones to make them easier to install. As it turned out, we didn’t have the right size of screws to finish putting the new ones up, but I did manage to get my new Run Disney-inspired one on the wall and happily created a display.

My Sunday run was another 10 miles to bring me to 40 miles for the week once again. I wanted to give a little nod to the fact that this was another day when I should have been in Disneyland Paris, so opted for this top because by running both of the races I would have completed the Cinderella Challenge. See? There is method in my madness haha!

I also enjoyed coming across this fun display while I was out:

Then in the afternoon (after the food shopping and a socially-distanced driveway chat with my parents) we watched the first episode of The Mandalorian. I’m looking forward to the rest now to see how the story develops (plus that Baby Yoda is so darned cute!).

And so week 7 of lockdown came to an end. While some parts of the country will be a little less restricted in the coming days, here in Scotland the only thing to have changed is that we can go out for exercise more than once (but still have to be close to home). Looks like I will be continuing to embrace this new normal for a while yet!

Have you recreated any running or other events/trips whilst in lockdown?
How has your running/training changed as a result of lockdown/quarantine measures?

Week in Review – The Corona Chronicles Part 4

Does anyone have any concept of time left? I’m confident I know the year, but beyond that I’m really beginning to lose track now. Thank goodness for running to help keep me grounded and sane!

Last week was the second week of the school holidays and I used the time to tick off a few things on my “Lockdown List” as well as spend some time reading, catching up on some TV and watching a some films. I also kept up my run streak and regular yoga, but I’m very conscious that I’m not making the time for my strength work. I mean, it’s not like I have a packed schedule, but the motivation for a living room workout just isn’t there and that’s something I’m going to have to change. Here’s how the week looked:

Monday – 3.5 miles + home PT session + Hatha yoga via Zoom
Tuesday – 4 miles + home yoga
Wednesday – 3.8 miles + home yoga
Thursday – 4 miles + home yoga
Friday – 4 miles + home yoga
Saturday – 10k
Sunday – 11 miles

I’m definitely noticing the difference in my body now. My legs don’t feel fatigued – even on Monday morning when my run is basically a recovery run from a longer distance the day before – and so far there are no niggles or anything untoward. It really fascinates me as I have always shied away from run streak challenges as I saw them as a one-way ticket to injury, yet here I am 4 weeks into a run streak and it’s so far, so good. Keeping my fingers crossed that continues as I’m loving my morning runs.

Having enjoyed the rainbow running challenge so much the week before, I decided to try and keep my own mini-challenges going by theming my running tops for the week. For this week, I focused on my happy places so all my running tops had to be Disney or Paris.

And at the end of the week I noted that I had completed my highest weekly mileage of the year so far, but was surprised to find it’s not actually my highest EVER as I need about another mile in my total for that. I think that’s a target I could try to meet…

So what were some of the other highlights in my strange, at-home existence?

Monday was actually a really quiet day. I did fit in more by way of training what with a run, PT session AND yoga, but most of the rest of the day was spent reading or generally faffing about.

On Tuesday I tidied up the box where I had stored all my race finisher tops – the tech ones that I could actually wear to run. My collection now spans a decade, but the way I had put my tops in the box was annoying me as it wasn’t easy to find ones that I like without rummaging around. There are some in there I would never wear as the “one size fits nobody” style would make them better suited to constructing a tent, but I like to keep them as souvenirs and going back through them did stir up lots of fun memories. Even better, I now have the ones I’m most likely to want to wear close at hand so I can grab one any time I like.

I also had a quick stop by my parents’ house as mum had picked her first batch of rhubarb of the season and had some for me. It definitely cheered me up after having to nip to a supermarket for a couple of bits we haven’t been able to get – it was a quite stressful experience and I really can’t see me choosing to go into a large supermarket again any time soon!

On Wednesday I did a bit more tidying, made a batch of chocolate fudge and Steve made rhubarb crumble. It really felt like quite a productive day.

Thursday was quiet again, but I treated myself to an afternoon movie. Since I’m basically Elsa right now (living in isolation, wearing gloves whenever I go out in public) I chose Frozen and followed it up with the two Frozen shorts for good measure. Totally loving having Disney+!

I had company!

I did see a bit more about clapping for the NHS this week, but wasn’t sure what would happen in our street since last week was quiet. However as soon as 8pm came around I could hear the clapping and cheering so we went out for a couple of minutes too.

Friday was good fun as well, although it got off to a very early start when Smokey was up and about at dawn looking for some food. Having just watched Frozen it made me think of this scene:

But when I went looking for the picture online I found this. I don’t know who did this, but that cat looks EXACTLY like Smokey so it made me laugh!

After a quiet morning of reading and watching some vlogs, I watched another movie on Disney+. This time I chose Mulan since I was reading the Twisted Tales book based on it and I needed a refresher.

I was joined by Sooty again and she stayed like this for the entire movie!

We had Friday fajitas for dinner again, then rather than a movie I wanted to watch the stream of The Phantom of the Opera on YouTube. I didn’t watch the previous streamed musicals (Joseph and Superstar) since I have those versions on DVD, but Phantom is one of my favourites – I once spent AGES queuing outside the theatre in London to get standby tickets since that was the only way to see the show. It’s also the only show I’ve actually seen on Broadway.

I loved this version of it, especially at the end when they brought out some of the previous cast. Of course I had the songs in my head for the next day or two!

On Saturday I slept a little later thanks to my early wake-up call on Friday. I had my usual notparkrun run, then settled down with tea and a bacon roll for the latest parkrun quiz. I’m pleased to report that we set a new quiz PB with 12/15. Yippee! Then I spent the afternoon watching the Disney on Broadway 25th anniversary concert which had been streamed on Friday night.

The rest of the day was very much as normal – I had a bath, we had Steve’s homemade pizza and, since we had watched Phantom on Friday, we made Saturday our movie night with Revenge of the Sith. That’s us now watched the original Star Wars Trilogy and the prequels. Now it’s time to watch the sequels which I DEFINITELY haven’t seen before.

Our Sunday routine is fairly established and currently doesn’t deviate much from the norm: run, food shopping, relaxing afternoon. I had planned on 10 miles for my run but didn’t want to include a lap of the park like I did last week (this is my usual 10 mile route) as there were definitely more people there than anywhere else. I had a rough plan in my head of what I would do instead but didn’t bother to map it out as I didn’t think it would add too much, if anything, to the distance. In the end I realised I was going to finish on 10.8 miles so added a little extra bit on my way home to bring it to 11 miles. Along the way I came across this, which I thought was a lovely way communities to support each other:

The rest of the day was spent watching the latest episode of The Imagineering Story on Disney+, catching up on some TV while we ate dinner then having my bath and watching some vlogs. A little bit of escapism to help pass the time.

Me right now.

And that brought me to the end of the weirdest school holidays I have ever known. In the week ahead I will be returning to remote teaching and no doubt getting frustrated that I can’t just have my classes in front of me so that I can explain what to do and help them with anything they find hard. The struggle is real!

How has your day-to-day routine changed lately?
What have you been doing/watching during lockdown?

Friday Finds – 17th April

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

Is it Friday? I think it’s Friday. But then, I also think it was only just Friday! What’s going on with time right now?

I hope you are well and staying safe. At the time of writing the UK lockdown has been extended for at least another three weeks so I guess we’re in this for a bit longer yet. So perhaps you’re in need of something to read…

To start with, a few topical bits and pieces:

First a caution about where we get our information from. You may have seen this particular (and worrying) article going around earlier this week so here’s Runner’s World to help allay those fears

We are also seeing a lot of discussion around face masks right now. Here in the UK they are not being recommended beyond frontline medical care (although there are some who challenge that), but that is not the case in all parts of the world. Here’s a bit of science around running and face masks.

We also got a new study from RunRepeat suggesting that exercise is UP 88% during the pandemic. I know that’s certainly true for me as my 4 day a week running routine has turned into a run streak of 25 days in a row and counting! What have been your experiences/observations of this?

Speaking of exercise, in our new normality it seems that online classes (and Zoom in particular) is the way to go. I’m used to doing pre-recorded yoga videos at home, but taking live classes via computer has been new to many, as noted by Leah Prinzivalli writing for Outside.

Moving away from Covid-19, I’ve got a couple of things to share that I saved before all this began.

If you’re looking for a longer read then here’s a fairly horrifying look at what happens to our discarded trainers. I do find myself wondering if this is the kind of thing we may start to see changing in a post-pandemic world.

On the other hand, there are some things we just never seem to throw away. I have all my race finisher T-shirts and I know I have some “vintage” tech stashed away too. Which of these resonate with you?

And finally, a little satire to round things off. Mind you, some of this doesn’t feel too far from the truth right now if some of my recent food shopping expeditions (for that is what I call them) are anything to go by!

Stay safe. Be kind. Wash your hands.
The Running Princess

My Year Of Running 2019

Over the past few years I’ve taken part in a blog link up to recap my year. This year I haven’t been able to find that link up anywhere, but since I wanted to look back over 2019, I decided to use my previous posts (2016, 2017, 2018) as a template and write my post anyway. So here we go with the 2019 edition…

Best race experience
These days I actually don’t race very often as I much prefer the process of getting out and running to the pressure of performing in a race situation. Yes I take my running seriously, but with this being a fairly tough year at work, I needed something that would bring plenty of fun to it – and for me there’s nothing more fun than running in Disney! I loved the whole Disneyland Paris race weekend so am going to be a wee bit liberal in my interpretation of “race experience” and pick the 31k Challenge, that way I can include BOTH the 10k and the half marathon. Sneaky!

Best run
Can I pick Disney again? This time at Walt Disney Word in Florida where I had my first experience of a WDW resort run. Along with Steve and my sister, I took part in the Beignet Dash over at the Port Orleans French Quarter resort. It was a mere 2km of running, but totally worth the early start to get a free order of WARM Mickey beignets. Yum!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best new piece of running gear
Once again, I continued to obsessively buy running leggings with crazy patterns on them, and once again that’s not going to be my choice – too obvious! Now that my hair has grown out again, I find a cap suits me much better than when I had a bob so was keen to get something “nice” for runs on wet days (rather than the perfectly functional, but essentially freebie, one I wore before which I call my “emergency running hat”!). So in what seems to be a developing theme for this post, it’s Disney once again as I’m choosing the Disneyland Paris Magic Run Weekend hat that I made a point of buying when I was there in September.

Best running advice you’ve received this year
Not exactly advice, but I realised this year that I really needed to do more strength work to help improve my running. Ever since the summer I’ve consistently managed two sessions a week down at Steve’s studio (three when it’s been school holidays and I have more time) to work with an assortment of kit such as the TRX, weights, bar bell, Bosu, gym ball and my own body weight with a variety of press ups in order to strengthen my arms and core. I feel so much better as a result and can definitely feel the difference – and I managed to answer one of these questions without mentioning Disney (until now haha!).

Most inspirational runner
I would usually try to choose a female inspiration here, but on this occasion I just HAVE to choose Eliud Kipchoge. His achievement in running the first ever sub-2 hour marathon, even if it isn’t an official record, was an incredible moment and I’m sure it will have unlocked many more breakthroughs to come in the world of running thanks to his insistence that “no human is limited”. I actually ran to parkrun whilst simultaneously live streaming the end of Kipchoge’s historic run on my phone and will happily admit to tearing up when he crossed the line in 1:59:40. An inspirational runner, true gentleman and downright nice guy. I can’t wait to see what he does next (probably not Disney, but you never know 😂)

Favourite picture from a run or race this year
This is such an easy question for me. Thanks to the magic of – you guessed it – Disney, this year I acquired this picture which is now my all-time favourite running picture of myself. I’m dressed as my favourite Disney princess (Belle, whilst still living her provincial life – there must be some much more…), running through Disneyland Paris and grinning from ear to ear. I was loving that race and for me, the joy of the experience seems to radiate from the picture. I love it!

Race experience you would repeat in a heartbeat
The Disneyland Paris Half Marathon. But you knew that, didn’t you!

If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be?
Disney Magic. It couldn’t really be anything else! I went to WDW, DLP (twice!) and somehow managed to pour a bit of Disney into every day. Now to see if I can make 2020 even bigger, even better and with even more pairs of Mouse ears…

I’d love to hear about some of your 2019 highlights. Share below, or even better write your own post and let me know so I can read it.

Week In Review – The Best Way To Spread Christmas Cheer…

Hello! I hope you’ve had a great week. My week, for various reasons, felt really festive and I’m getting so excited for the Christmas holidays now and a chance to chill out at home with a bit of festive telly (when I’m not out running, that is!). Here’s what I got up to this past week:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 4 miles + PT session with Steve
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – 4 miles + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun sandwich
Sunday – 6.5 miles

For our last Hatha class before Christmas, our teacher encouraged us all to wear something Christmassy. Knowing that both she and another of my friends would embrace this wholeheartedly, I was happy to throw myself into the idea with enthusiasm and ended up dressed like this:

Christmas from head to toe!

And just to prove it wasn’t just me, here’s a photo of the Christmas dafties after the class 😂

It was a really nice class to end not just the term, but the year. Our teacher brought along glittery LED candles for us to place by our mats and we were told we could take these home at the end of the class to maybe use for our home practice over the festive season. It was such a nice touch – simple but thoughtful. I’m already booked in for the first block of 2020 and can’t wait to get back to this class again.

Tuesday, of course, began with a run and with the forecast being for a wet morning, I was back in my jacket and cap to try and ward off the worst of it so it would be a bit quicker to then get ready for work. It actually was a bit drier than I expected, but still some rain so I was glad of the cap!

And after work I headed down to the studio for my workout. Steve set up a session using the gym ball again, but with a finisher using the Bosu. The sessions now are targeting arms and abs, but that feels right and I’m happy with the progress I am making – I certainly don’t think I would have been able to do some of the things I’m doing now when I began this focus back in the the summer.

When I got home I was thrilled to find that my new Christmas tree topper had arrived. The decorations on the tree might be scaled back a bit this year for cat-related reasons (the wee monkeys have now worked out how to knock the decorations off the treee to play with, thankfully without the tree itself toppling over!) but at least the topper can firmly stamp my personality!

On Wednesday Steve was at a Christmas do and I had initially thought I might watch a Christmas movie, but in the end brought a few essays home that I needed to mark. I really want to clear the decks marking-wise before the holidays so taking a little time in the evening to mark a few pieces will make a big difference.

And then another early run on Thursday. I had thought I might do some form drills but the weather forecast hadn’t been too encouraging so I had kept my options open. In the end I would probably have been ok for the drills so long as I was careful where there was the odd slippery patch, but having woken up feeling a bit sluggish a nice easy run was far more appealing and helped set me up for the day ahead.

That evening I made it to Ashtanga for the first time in a couple of weeks (thanks to work stuff I missed the previous two weeks) and I’m glad I did since this was also the last class of the year. I had gone in fully expecting to be stiff and and less flexible, and found that initially I couldn’t move into postures as much as before since I hadn’t been doing as much yoga, but as the class went on I felt that flexibility unlocking again and I felt strong. When we got to the headstand I decided to see where I was without getting my teacher to support me and was able to balance in the posture for 5 breaths with my legs still bent (basically a headstand but without extending my legs up). That’s definitely good progress towards being able to do that particular posture again and is likely due to the additional core work in my sessions with Steve, which in turn is giving me the confidence that I CAN hold that posture (I really do believe part of the issue here is mental rather than physical, hence going right back to the beginning and trying to focus on taking my time rather than rushing into it – good advice in general anyway!). A focus over the festive break will be to get back to more regular home yoga again and I really want to sort out my routine a bit again since I’ve let that slip recently.

Friday was a great day at work. It was super busy as I had extra classes to cover, but at lunchtime the staff book group met and we also had the lucky dip book exchange that I had organised (inspired by our former librarian having done something similar last year – she has been greatly missed since moving to another post). Interested staff wrapped up a book they had enjoyed reading and then we all picked out a book with no knowledge of what we would unwrap. I think everyone actually got something they hadn’t read before and it’s a great way to read something you maybe wouldn’t have read otherwise. I got a book by an author I’ve never read, but I’m looking forward to giving it a go some time soon.

I then finished my day with another session in the studio with Steve. This time he mixed things up a bit with a resistance band/weights warm up before moving to a circuit of barbell, TRX and press-ups with my hands quite close together – much tougher than with a wider stance!

Conditions weren’t too bad on Saturday morning and after my run down to parkrun I was feeling pretty good and planned to run quite hard. I always find it hard to get faster times over the winter as conditions just aren’t as conducive to running fast thanks to wind/rain/snow/mud etc, so I was really pleased with my 24:13. That’s the fastest I’ve had since my sub-24 runs in early November as conditions have been pretty hard since then. I think that suggests my fitness is still decent and I know that if I keep working hard over the winter I’ll see the benefit in faster times come the spring.

For this week’s run I chose my most “elfy” leggings and my Christmas pudding hat – one of my running friends commented that I “never disappoint” when it comes to my running attire 🤣 – the reason being that I was really excited for the evening ahead. No, not the Strictly final (although I was excited about that) but a trip to the SSE Hydro in Glasgow to see the arena tour of Elf: The Musical!

I saw a recording of this on TV 2 or 3 years ago and have kept it in my TiVo box to watch each year, so when I spotted an advert for this touring arena spectacular I knew we would have to go. It was only in Glasgow for this one weekend and when I booked the tickets back in August I realised that I would miss Strictly, I just didn’t realise it would be the final. It’s not like me to voluntarily go out on a Strictly nigh – especially the final – but there was no way I was going to miss Elf!

Me all day on Saturday!

We had considered going through to Glasgow earlier in the day, but the thought of trying to park and get about on a Saturday in December didn’t appeal so we ate an early dinner then headed through some pretty awful weather to get there in time for the show. This time we decided to park at the venue (it can be slow to get out afterwards, but it would have been miserable to walk back to the car somewhere else at this time of year) but when we arrived the traffic was queuing up to get into the car park and as the minutes ticked by I was getting anxious about making it inside in time. In the end Steve said I should go on in so I left him his ticket and braved the wind and rain to run round into the venue. Thankfully Steve was able to get in before the start, but the show was actually delayed to allow those trying to park to get sorted out and I think after I got out of the car the parking marshals started managing the car park in a different way to speed things along. Phew!

The show itself was amazing. I knew it was slightly different to the movie since I had seen it on tv before, but for the arena tour there were also acrobats and other entertainments between the scenes so there was always something going on. I loved it! And since I had rushed inside at the start of the evening I hadn’t been to the merchandise stand so made sure to stop on the way out for a programme and a couple of amusing hats for Steve and I!

If you’re wondering, of course I had something suitable to wear:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I even had an Elf T-shirt under my Elf sweatshirt and a pair of Elf socks on my feet. I do love that movie!

With the Strictly final still to watch I was on a total media blackout to make sure I didn’t find out the winner. That meant no news or social media and it was actually quite refreshing not to be sucked in to scrolling through nonsense on my phone. Instead, I began Sunday with a lie in (we were much later to bed on Saturday than usual) and enjoyed a cup of tea in bed whilst reading a bit of my book. This was also a ploy to see if some of the ice and frost outside might melt a bit before I went out for my run, but it was still looking pretty slippery when I wanted to head out. However I remained conscious that I should have an easier week – I’ve been really consistent with 10 mile runs on a Sunday for a few weeks now which is fine for maintaining my fitness, but it won’t make me fitter or faster. With no race in the diary right now that’s not really a problem, but I would like to have a bit more variety and start to push my Sunday mileage on a little in the new year, so I knew I should have a cutback week to let my body reap the benefits of all my recent work. After all, it’s not when we run long that we get fitter, it’s when we ease off to let our bodies recover. With it looking pretty slippery outside, this seemed like the ideal time so I set off thinking anything over 5 miles, ideally about 10k, would be good. The route I picked ended up being 6.5 so that was perfect, and the pace was slow thanks to part of the route being untreated so I had to go easy to make sure I didn’t slip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’ll be glad to know that I did manage to avoid finding out the Strictly result and spent a happy afternoon catching up with the final.

All-in-all a pretty fun week which left me feeling really festive. Now just one more week of work before the big Ho Ho Ho!!

Are you feeling Christmassy yet?
What fun festive things have you been up to?

Week In Review – Getting Chilly!

Brrr! How is the weather where you are? The tail end of this past week really began to feel like winter and my shorts had to remain on the shelf in favour of leggings and other winter running gear. Novel at the moment, but I’ll soon be longing for warmer temperatures (and a bit more daylight!). Here’s what I’ve been up to this week:

Monday – rest
Tuesday – 4 miles + PT session with Steve
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – drills + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun sandwich
Sunday – 10 miles

This was the second of two weeks with no yoga class on Monday evening so I made sure to do another Yoga with Adriene video for some home practice. I’m drifting away from my home practice a bit again, so need to try and sort my routine out to fit it in more often as I know it makes me feel great.

The early part of the week was still reasonably mild so although I was out early, the shorts were still in play (with a long sleeved top). A lovely 4 miles at an easy pace really set me up for the day.

That evening I headed down to the studio for my first strength session of the week. Arms have been my priority but the exercises Steve gives me also target my core and upper back. I’m really beginning to notice the improved range of movement in my upper back, which is really encouraging. For this workout it was the resistance back followed by a number of press up variations, some of which felt quite challenging!

On Wednesday I had a complete rest from any kind of exercise. I had a parents’ evening at school which kept me out late (always such a long day for everyone involved) and although a very positive evening, I was really tired when I got home and it was already after 8pm so it was food, cup of tea and straight to bed to recharge.

Despite the tiring day I was still up, albeit a smidge later, on Thursday morning to head out for my run. I had toyed with binning the drills and just having a run instead, but I knew that by the time I had run the first mile – my warm up mile for the drills – I would be feeling good and ready to go. So I made sure to programme my watch in advance and got out the door. This week I did 10 reps of my drills and it felt pretty good. Unfortunately the weather had turned by this point so it was much cooler (leggings cooler) and absolutely pouring so I was glad I had left my “rainy day running hat” out along with my other kit!

As a midweek bonus, one of my colleagues was celebrating her birthday therefore we had cake. This particular colleague is vegan so it was vegan cake. I’m not sure I’ve had that before and was pleasantly surprised at how tasty it was. Perhaps because it was home baked rather than shop bought – that makes a difference.

I was pleased to have my usual teacher back for Ashtanga that evening and I felt like it was a really good class for me. I held Wheel for 10 long breaths (remember when I could barely move into that position?), managed the standing version of the posture I achieved last week (I think the improved upper back mobility is contributing to that one as it involves a slightly tricky bind) but stuck with asking for support for my headstand as I was feeling a bit “off” in my balance. Our bodies are different every single day when it comes to balance, and I’m learning to accept this and simply be grateful for what I can achieve rather than striving for more all the time.

On Friday we were heading out (more on that in a moment) but I managed to squeeze in a workout first. Priorities ha! This time the resistance band was a mere warm up and the majority of the workout was a variety of press ups. Ooft!

The reason we were headed out was because a good friend of ours was celebrating a big birthday and had invited us to a party she was having. The theme was James Bond and the invitation stated that party attire should be “iconic Bond fashion or your favourite villain”. Now I do love a bit of fancy dress but I’m fairly limited in my James Bond knowledge so was a bit back and forth about what to wear. I guess it would be easy to simply glam up in a pretty dress and heels, but I wanted something instantly recognisable as coming from James Bond and eventually decided that I was going to be a female Bond. After getting irritated at the discrepancy in price for male and female clothing (a totally flimsy women’s blouse was twice the price of a pretty decent man’s shirt 😡 – for future reference I’m the smallest collar size in a slim fit shirt 😂) I got myself sorted out and after an early dinner, donned my 007 outfit.

Steve was also going as Bond so it was two for the price of one!

I have to say, the tuxedo look was waaaaaaaaay more comfortable than a dress and heels. The boys have it so easy!

I did have a beer with my dinner, which I usually do on a Friday, but stuck to soft drinks at the party as I wanted to feel fresh and ready to run on Saturday morning. I still had a great time at the party – dancing, chatting and catching up with some people I haven’t seen in ages – and we stayed until after the DJ finished and people were sitting having another drink and a chat. A totally polite time to leave and I got to my bed around midnight. Late for me but I was still able to get a good amount of sleep before parkrun.

The only fly in the ointment was the weather. Friday night was super cold (I know because we walked to and from the party!) so there was a lot of ice and frost sitting on top of all the fallen leaves. I ran (carefully) to parkrun then kept the pace down for the run itself so that I felt more in control of my footing and able to make a quick change/stop should there be dodgy underfoot conditions. This added just over a minute to my recent times, but I’d much rather have an easier run and stay safe than risk a fall that affects my running. It was a nice morning despite the cold and I enjoyed running at a steady pace whilst knowing I wasn’t going all out.

I ran home after parkrun to get showered and changed, then we drove back down to the cafe where all the runners were gathered as we had decided to meet Steve’s brother at this one for a change. This meant a delicious bacon roll and cup of tea, surrounded by plenty of parkrun chat, before going on to get our food shopping done. And in case you were worried that all the to-ing and fro-ing might result in me forgetting something, Smokey made sure I had all the essentials before I left 😹

Fast forward to Sunday and it was STILL cold. Steve headed out quite early but I waited a bit to let some of the ice and frost melt a little before I ran – plenty of early runs in the frost ahead so why add more? Although I’m not training for anything specific right now, I am still following the pattern of a three week build up then a cutback week and this was the “down” week in the cycle. That meant it was “just” 10 miles.

It was pretty grey and cold, but I really enjoyed my run and felt comfortable. When I looked at my average pace at the end I was happy to see that it was right on 4 hour marathon pace without me even trying – I was just out enjoying a morning run and running to feel. I know I’ve said it before but I’m really enjoying this period of running with no pressure. My motivation is that I WANT to run rather than I HAVE to run, leaving me happy to go out and routinely run distances that once would have been the sole preserve of a Serious Training Cycle. I’m going to mix things up a bit in the new year, but right now this is working for me and I’m feeling fit and strong. Very positive.

Roll on next week!

What is motivating you right now?
Do you prefer winter running or summer running?