Week In Review – Nice And Consistent

Having had a week of easy running, it was time to get things back on track this past week and get some good, consistent runs in. The early part of the week brought some beautiful weather and I really enjoyed my morning runs in the cool before it warmed up later on. Definitely a benefit to getting out first thing rather than after work! Here’s how my week looked:

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

This week’s Hatha class was the last in the current block and there’s going to be a week off before the next block starts. That actually works out perfectly for me as I wouldn’t have managed to go the following week, but I still made sure to make the most of the session this time. I find I really look forward to this part of Monday, and since we had an after school meeting it was even more welcome this week!

My Tuesday run was lovely. I’ve not been pushing the pace on my morning runs, just sticking to a comfortable pace while my body continues to recover from the marathon. One of the best things is going out in daylight after all those dark winter runs and I really feel like it sets me up for the day ahead.

I had to pop in to see my parents after school on Tuesday and it worked out perfectly for me. It was a warm, sunny afternoon so mum and dad were sitting in the garden. They had not long had their afternoon coffee and dad asked if I wanted a drink. Since it was warm, I opted for some of the iced tea lemonade he had in the fridge. He then asked if I wanted a slice of cake to go with it. Clearly a daft question! So having only planned to drop something off, I ended up with sitting in the sun and catching up over a slice of cake and refreshing cold drink Lovely!

To add further entertainment to my evening, mum had found a big feather which she gave me to take home to the kittens (they may be 1 now but I think I’ll keep calling them that – they still act like kittens!) since they LOVE to play with feathers. Watching their reaction was hilarious!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look at that steely-eyed focus haha!

Wednesday was a rest day. I had an appointment after school and had half planned to do some yoga when I got home but by the time I got back Steve was already there so we got the dinner on a bit earlier and settled down to watch some Line of Duty. Late to the party as always, we’re catching up on previous seasons on Netflix before watching the final series that was just on.

Another lovely run on Thursday morning, after which I realised that I had now been for 4 morning runs since the marathon and that each had been a little faster without my effort level changing. I don’t really keep an eye on my pace while I’m running, but I do like to look at the data afterwards and that particular metric is showing me how well my recovery is progressing, Very pleasing.

It was a small class for Ashtanga yoga that night which I really liked as we were all regulars and that means we can flow a bit more steadily through the postures without longer explanations/demonstrations from the teacher. I was feeling really good and moving with my breath. Wheel was strong, I moved more deeply into a posture we have been working on in recent weeks and I was all set for headstand…then something threw me off and I toppled over! I’m not sure if my balance was off or if it was the way the sun was shining across my mat stopping me from getting a proper visual fix on something, but after just a breath or two I could feel myself going over and there was nothing I could do to stop it on this occasion. I was absolutely fine and set up to try again, but it just wasn’t there this time. It happens. I’ll simply move on and see if it’s any better next week.

Friday was an interesting day at work. To mark Mental Health Awareness Week some of the junior classes had organised a non-uniform day and some lunchtime activities to raise money for mental health charities. Earlier in the week I had (stupidly?) agreed to be part of their “soak the teacher” event so set off with all sorts of clothing options since I would need to get changed, possibly several times. In the end, I actually donned my shorty wetsuit with a technical Tshirt over the top (and actually taught my class right before lunch in this unusual attire!) which was the perfect choice as it made it much easier to get dried off and changed again afterwards given that I only had a few minutes and had to go right into teaching another class. Pupils paid a small amount for a soaked sponge to throw at the teachers (some had better aim than others!) and it was actually pretty good fun, but right when I was heading off to get changed one of my pupils asked if she could squeeze one over my head! Since she had been involved in organising the whole thing, I let her, before squelching off to get changed. To be honest, I fully expected someone to get hold of a bucket and throw loads of water at us, so had braided my hair to avoid having dripping hair to deal with afterwards. After having a sponge squeezed out over my head, I was glad I made that decision!

I headed down to the studio after work that day and asked Steve for another arm workout. He obliged with yet another circuit using weights and the TRX. Each one of these has been different and I definitely feel it the next morning, so hopefully I’ll start to see (or feel) the results soon.

Getting back into my usual routine meant that Saturday was the first parkrun sandwich in about a month. It was a pretty drizzly day but I’ve never let that stop me, I simply wore a slightly more water resistant top layer to keep the worst of it off me. I guess being a bit soggy was the theme of the weekend as I was already pretty damp when I arrived.

In the end, I was really pleased with my parkrun performance. I haven’t run with a hard effort for about a month and had no idea what I would do – especially since we are still on an altered course due to works on our regular route. My time of 24:53 (and a pretty even pace for my Close Range Royal Flush) is actually the fastest I’ve run since late March when I dipped under 24 minutes right before I got ill. I’m not quite back to that kind of form yet, but it maybe won’t be too long before I’m in sub-24 form again. And I still had something left for the run home.

With about 7.5 miles already in my legs for the weekend, I fixed on 10 miles for my Sunday run. I thought this would be a decent distance to give me confidence ahead of my half marathon next weekend. I don’t plan to race that hard, but I do want to feel that I’ve given it my best shot and in the right conditions I could maybe finish in under 2 hours. Since I had plans later on (more on that in a bit) I got myself organised to simply get up, get dressed and head out the door. I knew exactly the route I wanted and although a bit drizzly, it was a really nice run and I felt pretty strong. I certainly could have kept going so that’s a good sign ahead of next week.

I had an early lunch then we popped out to get our weekly free coffee a bit sooner than usual as my parents and sister were picking me up mid-afternoon for a little treat. Earlier in the year my sister won a voucher for afternoon tea for four at one of the local hotels. She invited my parents along then offered me the fourth slot – no way was I going to turn that one down – afternoon tea is one of my favourite kinds of tea!

It was no Disney’s Grand Floridian, but still pretty good. There was tea (of course), finger sandwiches, scones, almond slices, choux pastries and chocolate slices. A lot of sweet stuff, but I’m no quitter and had that 10 mile run to give me a decent hunger for it. Needless to say, all that was left was a couple of tuna sandwiches (my dad is the only one who eats tuna since the rest of us think it’s cat food and he had already eaten his share) so I wrapped them up and brought them away for Steve since I knew he would be happy to eat them.

After dropping my parents off at home, my sister and I then went on a quick excursion to pick up some supplies for a craft project I want to have a go at (something she has already tried). It will be a couple of weeks before I have time to try it, but I’ll be sure to share the results (which could potentially be me sticking my fingers together and making a huge mess haha!).

I felt pretty sleepy after all that so it was home to chill out for the rest of the day and get myself organised for a short work trip at the start of the week. In the week ahead I’ll have a bit of a mini-taper ready to race next Sunday. Watch out for the updates!

What’s the silliest thing you’ve ever done to raise money for charity?
Afternoon tea fans, what’s the best afternoon tea you’ve ever had?

Advertisements

Week In Review – A Miraculous Recovery!

When you run a marathon on the Inverse Taper (i.e. fairly last-minute longer runs and no taper to speak of) you have to expect to feel pretty sore and tired for a few days afterwards. I was certainly tired last Sunday and my knees had decided that bending wasn’t something they particularly wanted to do, but on Monday I felt great –  I could even walk down stairs like a normal person! I think I probably spent the day still high on the endorphins of the day before, but the speedy recovery in my legs is something I still can’t quite get my head around. I can only assume it’s the product of running one extra day in the week since late October and doing so many parkrun sandwiches the day before my longer runs. I must be more accustomed to running on tired legs and presumably adapted accordingly.

That said, I still know to take time off after a marathon, no matter how tempting it is to get back out there again. My body has taken on a big challenge and there will always be unseen damage and fatigue that needs time to return to normal. So this past week has been a recovery week – minimal activity and lots of food. Sounds pretty good!

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – rest
Wednesday – sports massage
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – volunteering at parkrun
Sunday – rest

I took my medal to work with me on Monday as I knew a couple of colleagues would want to see it, but with all my senior pupils on study leave I was having a pretty quiet day!

The best part of the day was a friend (who ran his first marathon last year) taking care of my needs by leaving the precise thing my body was craving waiting for me on my desk. Friend for life! (I was in the middle of marking some project work, hence the stickers!).

Although I was feeling good, I was really looking forward to yoga on Monday as I knew it would give me a chance to really stretch out my weary muscles. I fully excepted to take a few easier options during this class, so was surprised to find myself taking part as normal. Maybe McDonald’s, Chinese takeaway and beer is the secret recovery formula 😉

Both Tuesday and Wednesday I took as really restful days. My sister popped in on Tuesday evening to pick something up and we watched some of the elite race from the London marathon together while the kittens clambered about looking for treats (it’s ok, she remembered them this time after coming empty-handed last time!).

And I made sure to enter the ballot for next year. It would be a shame to break my streak of failed ballot entries now 😂

Similar scenes were repeated on Wednesday when my mum visited. The kittens were celebrating their first birthday and she had presents for them. Safe to say she got a little carried away!

And the kittens (are they still kittens if they are one?) had a lot of fun with the gift bag!

I then had my sports massage and my massage therapist was really surprised at how mobile I was and what good condition my legs were in. It was still good to have a massage as that also allows me to feel that there are no sore spots or indications that I should take a huge amount of time off. This time, everything felt good.

Thursday was my Ashtanga class and although I had felt good in Hatha on Monday, I knew that Ashtanga could feel a bit harder and had memories of finding some postures pretty tricky after my marathon last year. As it turned out, I managed just fine. The only issue I had was that my body just didn’t want to do a headstand – something I had suspected might be the case as my body was still dealing with the fatigue of a marathon and headstand demands quite a lot from the core. I got set up but just didn’t feel “right” and every time I tried to move into the posture I could feel that it just wasn’t happening. And to be honest, that’s fine. Someone else in the class noticed and said to me afterwards that I should have called the teacher over to get support with it, but I didn’t need to do a headstand on that particular occasion, I was quite happy resting in child’s pose until it was time to move on. I know I can do it and I know what my body has achieved lately. It can have a night off headstand!

But since I have been feeling so good, I made a decision to enter an upcoming race. Steve already entered this a while back but I was undecided what with being ill then deciding to run the marathon anyway. Had I been really sore, I probably wouldn’t have entered anything else right now, but the idea had planted itself in my mind so I took action.

It’s been a few years since I ran one of the Edinburgh races, so I’m actually looking forward to this and I think there are going to be lots of people around that I know so it should be a good day. It’s an early start but it means I’ll have a decent run in by mid-morning.

Friday was once more a rest day, but actually quite a busy day at work the way things worked out. Still, once I finished I knew I had a long weekend ahead and kicked it off with a nice dinner of fish and chips at the pub down the road. Look at the size of that fish!

Saturday was the first of two volunteer slots for me at parkrun. I volunteer as a pacer fairly regularly, but usually take a couple of other roles in the two weeks after a marathon so I know I’m doing my bit. I was timekeeper this time, but it was just one of those weeks where all sorts of things went a bit wrong. There was an alteration to our route due to some works taking place and a number of runners went wrong (it was still 5k though, phew!). I also missed some runners crossing the finish as they went behind me, outside of the funnel, and the other timer, while clocking more runners than me, was also “behind” the number of tokens that went out. It will forever be a mystery how that happened as usually I’m ok with timekeeping, so well done to the RD who managed to sort it all out and process the results after that! In all the carry on I completely forgot to take any photos, but I do have one of me in my nice new leggings – hipster kittens. Why not!

Usually on the Sunday after a marathon Steve and I head out for a big cooked breakfast in celebration of our efforts, but this time we postponed by a week as my sister invited me to join her and her friends for “Disney Day”. They had planned a day of Disney games, chat and vlog watching – mouse ears compulsory – and some food. It sounded pretty good and with no running to do and a Monday holiday the next day, I decided to join her. I may have got a little carried away in my outfit haha!

We started with Disney Trivial Pursuit, drank tea made in a Mrs Potts teapot (I want one!) and served in one of the Disney/Starbucks mugs. A couple of Linsey’s friends also made Mickey-shaped treats for us to enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also played a new game called Villainous. It was a kind of strategy game where you place as a Disney villain and have your own objective to meet whilst also trying to thwart your opponent. It took a lot of checking the instructions and a YouTube video to get us stated, but the others definitely picked it up faster than me as I’m just not used to games like this. I still enjoyed it though and I would play it again now I have a better idea of what it’s all about. In case you’re interested, I played as Jafar (I’m not really a villains kind of girl, but Jafar is pretty cool).

By the time I got home (we were in Edinburgh) it was time for my bath and I decided to stick with the theme of the day by watching a couple of Disney vlogs while I soaked in the tub and enjoyed a glass of red wine. Bliss!

Overall a great week to rest and recharge, but I’m now itching to get back to running and will probably try a couple of easy runs in the week ahead.

Do you like board games?
Who’s your favourite Disney villain?

Week In Review – Life’s Ups And Downs

Goodness me! What a week! I’ll not get into all the details, but the short version is that work is busy, life is busy and with so many other things going on I’ve been feeling a little “off”. But not to worry, things are much better now and I managed to remain surprisingly consistent with my training.

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 4 miles
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – drills + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun sandwich (kind of)
Sunday – 10 miles

I pulled a few longer working days at the beginning of the week to try and keep on top of things, so by the time I got to my yoga class I was DEFINITELY ready for it. Having that hour to myself to calm my mind, listen to my breath and stretch my body was just the thing to rebalance me ready for the rest of the week.

I was up early on Tuesday morning for an easy 4 mile run. After all the calf issues of the previous week it really felt like I had my own legs back under me again – thank goodness!

It was another long working day so when I got home I made sure to do some yoga so that I gave myself a mental and physical break from everything and could relax into my evening.

Wednesday is currently scheduled as a kind of rest day, the aim being that I do some yoga or some exercises set by Steve. This week yoga was what I needed, so after the third long day in a row it was good to head to the mat and unwind a bit. With orchestra finished now until the autumn, it means I have a bit of space on a Wednesday to relax a little and that’s VERY welcome right now!

Thursday was another early start for a set of form drills. It’s been a couple of weeks since I did any, but I picked up where I left off in my programme and after a 1 mile warm up completed 10 sets of 600m with a minute to recover in between. It actually felt pretty good and when I finished the run there were most definite signs of daylight! I can’t wait for the light mornings for my runs as I remember the times I tried that last June being really nice.

I managed to get away from work on time as I wanted to make sure I made it to my Ashtanga class. Another dedicated hour of time on my yoga mat was just what I needed and I noticed that my balance was much better than last week since Steve had given me some exercises to do to sort out the issue I was having.

Friday is usually a training session with Steve, but I had a few things on so wasn’t able to fit it in this week. To be honest, I probably benefitted more from the rest anyway. We did, however, enjoy a cupcake each as there had been a bake sale at school that day to mark the end of Fairtrade Fortnight. Yum!

Steve had an early client on Saturday but came home before parkrun. His plan was to drive down, go for a run, do parkrun then have a quick cool down before driving home. Since I knew we were going to be on our alternative course which is two laps of the park, I didn’t fancy adding extra laps before or after, so decided to run down and then see how I felt afterwards. I actually ended up surprising myself with my time – 24:05 is my fastest of the year so far and since the alternative course is a little longer than our usual route, that suggests that I’m in shape to break 24 minutes over the main route. Awesome! But after running fairly hard I wasn’t feeling like running 2 miles home so joined Steve for a 1 mile cool down instead then got a lift home with him. Somehow, in amongst all that I completely failed to take a photo. Clearly my brain is mush right now!

After completing our usual Saturday errands, I spent the afternoon catching up with a little more work. I had thought sitting at the kitchen table might be a bit more peaceful than trying to get this done at school, but I hadn’t considered the fact that I have 2x 10 month old kittens who find things like pencils absolutely fascinating and kept jumping onto my work!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Sunday morning I woke up fairly sharp, made a cup of tea and took it back to bed to read for a bit. Steve left around 8am to drive up to Inverness for the half marathon (I’m really glad I didn’t enter as it just wouldn’t have been the right thing for me just now) and I had 10 miles planned. Almost as soon as Steve left it began to snow quite heavily, so I looked out my “snow running” kit, zipped up my Yuki suit (you’ll get that one if you listen to Marathon Talk) and got out the door. It actually snowed for the majority of my run and I looked a bit of a state when I got home, but I felt like I ran well and was only just outside of 4 hour marathon pace. Given that I was taking it easy in the conditions (some paths were quite slushy and slippy looking as the snow came down) and recent training hasn’t gone exactly to plan, I was really pleased with that and can take some confidence from the fact that I maybe haven’t been set back as much as I thought. There’s still plenty of time to be marathon ready, I just may have to reassess my goal for race day as I see how things progress.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post-run I had lots of time to myself as Steve’s race didn’t start until lunchtime and when he was done he had a fairly long journey back home again. I showered, had some food, finished my marking, ran a couple of errands and watched a little TV. It actually felt like I found a bit of space to relax and take time for myself, which is probably just what I needed. It’s going to be another busy week with another coursework deadline for some of our pupils, but I recognise that I need to look after myself a little better than I have been. Hopefully next week I won’t feel like I’ve been wrung out to quite the same extent!

How do you cope when work gets busy?
What’s your favourite podcast right now?

Week In Review – Brrrr!

It’s nearly the end of January! I’ll admit it’s not my favourite month of the year. I find January pretty grim in general, but do enjoy getting stuck into my marathon training so tend to put my focus there, ticking off the workouts, and the month zips by far more quickly. The training is also a great distraction from the fact that January seems to be about 11 weeks long after last being paid before Christmas as there’s not much time to think about anything beyond weekly essentials.

This week I shifted a few things around (yes, changes to the plan already, but sticking to it religiously just never works) due to various factors. I still had a really good week of training, even if the weather wasn’t playing ball for most of the week.

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 4 miles
Wednesdayrest PT session with Steve
Thursdayform drills 4 miles + Ashtanga yoga
FridayPT session with Steve rest
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 12 miles with every 3rd mile faster

If you compare that to the first couple of weeks of the month then you’ll see it’s a “Morecambe and Wise” training week – all the right workouts just not necessarily in the right order 😂.

The first part of the week was fine: my usual Monday night yoga class to stretch away the miles I had run the day before then home to lay out my kit for my Tuesday morning run. I knew it was going to be cold and when I got up on Tuesday I realised that there were going to be lots of slippery patches as the ground had been wet before the temperature dropped. My street was actually slippy enough for me to not start my run until I had walked out onto the main road and as I set off on my typical route, I ran on the road as much as possible since it was fine there. The pavement running alongside had sections that were fine and sections with icy patches so I didn’t want to take any risks and took it easy if I had to step onto the pavement to stay clear of any cars.

It ended up being a fairly slow run, but if Tuesday is a recovery run then that really doesn’t matter. I still got my miles done (which involved a bit of an adjustment to my route to account for not running in my own street) and set me up for the day.

My PT session in Steve’s studio was moved to Wednesday since I wasn’t going to be able to fit it in on Friday. At first I thought I would miss the workout altogether, but Steve had a space for me to pop in on Wednesday when I got back from work. He had another circuit planned for me, but ended up adapting it a little as I was feeling some tension across the front of my shoulders in some of the exercises so we did some work to relieve that, cutting some of the circuit down in order to fit it in. I was actually feeling pretty tired, probably more mental fatigue than physical as I had been reading essays for much of the day, so decided I needed a night at home rather than heading to orchestra. I’ve been trying not to miss rehearsals, but the thought of having to spend more mental energy on reading print in front of me – albeit in the form of musical notes – just felt like too much. So I headed home, got into some comfy clothes and watched a bit of tv before having a really early night.

Before bed I laid out my kit for my Thursday morning run. It was supposed to be another set of form drills, but since I knew that there was going to be another overnight freeze (and there had been a light flurry of snow since my last run that was freezing in place in some parts) I ditched that idea and decided just to have another 4 mile run at whatever pace was possible in the conditions. It would be more about time on my feet than a specific workout.

On Thursday morning it was indeed slippy again. This time I wore my all terrain shoes for a little more grip and once more had to walk out of our street to begin my run on the main road. I followed the same route as on Tuesday, again trying to stick to the roads rather than the pavements, but this time if I had to step onto the pavement I actually had to stop running as there were far more slippery patches and I didn’t want to risk a fall. It was a bit irritating to find that my pace was actually SLOWER than on Tuesday despite feeling much fresher, and I was frustrated that I couldn’t stretch my legs out and run faster, but safety has to come first. Plenty of time for harder efforts when the weather is better.

I finished Thursday with my Ashtanga class. My teacher made a suggestion to me about my foot position in Wheel and after trying what she suggested to create a wider and more stable base, the posture instantly felt so much easier. I’m pleased she suggested the adjustment as it’s not always easy to tell for yourself when you’re in a posture and an outside eye is useful. And after that my headstand was better than last week’s effort too, so it felt like a really useful class in terms of my yoga development.

Friday became my rest day, mainly because I was getting my nails done. They grow so fast and I’m really pushing my luck to keep my gel polish on beyond 3 weeks!

But guess what we did on parkrunday? Yup, we were tourists again. Steve is still doing his running club’s winter challenge and since he had no morning clients, we thought it was the ideal time to go to the parkrun furthest away from us (as far as this challenge is concerned) which was Dunfermline.

And it turns out we picked the best day to go there as two members of the local running club were getting married that day and they were starting off at parkrun with a huge turnout from their club to support them. I read a post about this on facebook before we set off, but hadn’t expected to find out that Steve knew the groom, Mind you, I really shouldn’t be surprised at these things anymore as he knows EVERYONE!

We also bumped into a friend we met through running and haven’t seen since she visited our parkrun maybe a year (or perhaps even longer!) ago. I had suspected we would see her so once we had parked (practically by the start line and free parking – handy!) and located the toilets, Steve went for a quick warm up and I wondered off to see if I could spot our friend. As soon as she saw me she came and gave me a hug then insisted we take a jumping photo together. It’s a bit trickier to get a good shot of more than one person, but we got there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We went to the first timers’ briefing to get an overview of the course then lined up ready to start. The run briefing obviously focused on the wedding party and a couple of milestones (our friend was running her 50th – definitely a great day for us to show up!) then we were underway.

The course itself is really good. A short starting section followed by 3 loops before the finishing straight (which is close to the start). It’s far from flat, with a couple of decent hills to climb, but there’s also an awesome swooping downhill before the longer hill where you can really stretch it out. There was a bit of a headwind and some light drizzle for a time, but otherwise much milder weather on a lovely route and I’m sure it’s gorgeous in the spring and summer. It was also all on tarmac path so road shoes were fine.

I knew I would be a bit slower than in Perth (which is pancake flat) and hoped to be under 26 minutes so my 25:58 was just right. Besides, I knew that whatever I ran would automatically be marked as my PB for that course. My only slight bugbear is that I need a 57 for Stopwatch Bingo and was just one out. Gah!

Before the run I had spotted where I wanted to take my post-run photo. Dunfermline is in the part of Fife that has a history in coal mining and there was an old coal train in the park. It seemed the perfect backdrop for some photos.

I really enjoyed my visit to Dunfermline. There’s always a friendly atmosphere at parkrun, but I think all the celebrations at this one really made it feel special. It would be nice to visit again some time.

The temperatures held up for Sunday and although it was cool, I was able to do my long run without any alteration. This week I had 12 miles with every third mile faster and despite a pretty strong headwind (the kind that changes direction with you) I was pleased with how it went and felt good.

This was my peak week for this month as next week will be a cutback week in my long run mileage, however I actually ended up with slightly lower mileage due to the change I made on Thursday and not having any extra miles on Sunday. It’s not something I’m worried about, just an interesting observation.

And so although this week was a little frustrating at times, I remained consistent and enjoyed what I did, especially parkrun. To finish, here are a couple of random photos of the kittens since they’ve not made an appearance in a while. Yes, I was feeling arty and yes, they’re getting so grown up!

What impact has the weather had on your recent training?
Any experiences of combining running and weddings?

Week In Review – Welcome to 2019!

Since it’s my first Week In Review of the year, I guess I can still wish you a Happy New Year – there’s always that awkward moment of deciding how far into the year it’s still acceptable to do so! After a short time out to shift a cough, I was feeling much better and started the year in my ideal way – running!

Monday – 2 miles
Tuesday – New Year Triple
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – half hour easy run
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 8 miles

I don’t usually run on a Monday, but having taken a few days off Steve suggested it might be an idea to get my legs moving again before the triple run challenge that was Tuesday. No need for anything fancy, just a short time outside to turn my legs over and make sure the cough really had shifted. So I stepped out the front door, ran a mile at an easy pace, then when my watch ticked over to a mile I turned around and ran home. I was enjoying myself, but there was no need to get carried away when I had plenty of running to do the following day! I actually thought the first mile felt pretty hard, but when I turned I realised I had been running slightly uphill and into a pretty strong headwind. Funnily enough, the run home felt amazing!

But Tuesday, New Year’s Day, was the main event of the week. The local challenge known as the New Year Triple means starting out with the New Year parkrun double then heading to Blairgowrie for the annual 6k fun run. That run has actually been on the go for 35 years and has NEVER had a cancellation. That’s pretty impressive!

Our day began in Perth as we had the “first slot” for the double and the usual (for Scotland) time of 9:30am. It was the usual course as the grass section was reasonable and I made sure to keep the pace steady – I have to remind myself that I have 10 miles to run that day, not 5k!

Once finished it was a quick pit-stop at home (neither of the parkrun locations have toilets available on New Year’s Day) before heading to Dundee for their 11am run. We had the option of the newer parkrun at Loch Leven for our second event, but we knew it would take us longer to get to Blairgowrie afterwards so stuck to what we know. The parkrun at Camperdown in Dundee is pretty much all on trail and has a couple of hills to make it a bit of a toughie – running that course regularly would certainly be “character building”!

Photo by Pete Bracegirdle from Camperdown parkrun Facebook page

And then, to Blair. Since this was the third time of taking on this challenge, I knew that the real trick to the day is to keep warm and not seize up – it’s definitely easier to just go and run 10 miles than to take it on in 3 bits as inevitably each bit is a little faster than the pace you would run 10 miles in training. The first time I tried changing my top after each of the parkruns, but this was a bit of a faff and now I just stick to the same kit (not at its most fragrant by the end!) and make sure to stay cosy in between.

We arrived in Blairgowrie just after midday (the walkers begin at 12:30 and the run is at 1pm) so got parked easily. We changed into our road shoes after wearing trail shoes for both parkruns, and walked around to the hall to register. It’s great value at just £2, including soup, juice and sweets afterwards. Even more importantly, the hall is heated and has nice toilets so it’s a pretty comfortable way to pass the time, chatting to others who have been on a similar journey all day as well as those arriving to begin their year of running.

I had expected to feel a bit sluggish setting off, but actually I felt pretty good and clocked similar times on the first couple of miles to my times at Perth in the morning. It was only when we turned for the return portion of the route that it began to get tough. The road is ostensibly flat, maybe ever so slightly up in places, but there was a pretty powerful headwind at the very time it was needed least. Looking at my watch it was a little disheartening to feel that the pace wasn’t really reflecting the effort I felt I was putting in. However, knowing the route meant I had a decent idea of how far I still had to go and was able to push on, finishing faster than last year.

I have to say, it felt good to stop running but it’s still a challenge I really like taking part in. Even better, the nice warm soup we went back to in the hall, as by this time I was hungry and in need of some hot food. We ate our soup, chatted a bit and stayed for the prize giving just in case of a spot price (sadly no joy there) before heading home. We had a nice steak pie from the butcher and Steve cooked that up with lots of veg – he may have gotten a bit carried away!

We rounded our day off with toasting the new year, having not done so on Hogmanay.

Wednesday was always going to be a rest day after all that, and we spent it with family celebrating Steve’s brother’s birthday. He always has a bit of a gathering and we enjoyed a few drinks, delicious party food and good company.

Needless to say, after Tuesday’s adventures and Wednesday’s indulgences, my run on Thursday morning felt a little sluggish. I decided on a half hour run nice and easy, to blow away the cobwebs before a restful day cuddled in with this wee boy who had decided to attach himself to my lap!

Friday was another rest day so I took advantage of the opportunity to begin the new Yoga with Adriene 30 day challenge – Dedicate. Although, given the interest the kittens had, it might be better called “dedicat” in this house!

Our parkrunday this week was a little different as we actually went on tour! I’ve been very aware that I haven’t really visited too many parkruns and would love to have more opportunity to be a parkrun tourist. It can be tricky as Steve often has a client on a Saturday morning which makes travelling elsewhere a bit difficult, but his running club is currently undertaking a parkrun challenge which involves visiting several of the other parkruns within about an hour of here. Since he wants to complete the challenge, I get the chance to go to some other parkruns and this particular Saturday was our best chance to go to the one furthest away – Kirkcaldy.

Although I’m a Perth girl at heart, I did stay in Kirkcaldy for a short time after graduating from university (frankly, a different life now) and it was when I was there that I began to run. The parkrun actually takes place in the same park where I first began to run and I remember the first time I was able to complete one very slow lap it made me feel invincible! The parkrun route is two laps of the park, but during the second lap there is a shorter loop around the pond added in. Over a decade since I first ran in that park, parkrun was probably the furthest I’ve ever run around there…and the quickest!

It was nice to go to another parkrun and be welcomed as a visitor. Everyone was very friendly, as I expected, and I was pleased with my time of 24:29 given that there is a hill in the park which we had to run up twice. I remember that hill being really challenging so running up it with ease really showed me how far I’ve come on my running journey in the intervening years.

Since we had once more found ourselves in a “no toilet” situation, but without enough time to stop on the way there, we headed straight for the retail park to grab a coffee, bacon roll and facilities before heading home. I checked my emails while we were there and this popped up! Can you spot it?

On Sunday it was time for the first long run of the year and I opted for 8 miles. It was quite a nice morning, not too cold, so it seemed like an ideal morning to run a route going through my favourite woodland path. I enjoyed the run and now I’m looking forward to the Sundays ahead as I get ready for the Stirling marathon in April.

All in all, a decent start to the year and I’m glad I was able to get rid of the cough so I could get back to running again.

Did you take part in a parkrun (or two) at new year?
What are you training for right now?

Week In Review – The Big Ho! Ho! Ho!

Christmas week! After our festive traditions over the weekend I was really ready to celebrate the season as well as enjoy a little downtime. It was a bit frustrating that my cough made a return late on Christmas day so I took the decision to have total rest in order to shift it, but I was still able to enjoy myself. Here’s how it looked:

Monday – rest
Tuesday – Christmas parkrun sandwich
Wednesday – rest
Thursday –  run rest
Friday – rest
Saturdayparkrun rest
Sundayrun rest

Although Monday (Christmas Eve) was a rest from training, it certainly wasn’t a restful day as I spent much of it doing various household chores to have everything tidy for Christmas. That evening we had my sister round for some party food and silly games – a bit of a tradition for us now that my parents are away at this time of year. My sister brought the cat treats my mum usually produces from her handbag so the kittens were pretty happy!

Tuesday was Christmas Day and we began with opening some presents. I already got a great mug (it’s my new favourite) in my work Secret Santa gift and this was supplemented by my gifts “from the kittens” of my Gary Barlow calendar (required annually!) and a festive Minnie Mouse hat that not only has ears but lights up too. I love it!

Since we hadn’t run on Sunday we decided to run down to parkrun and back so we could get a few more miles in. Of course I wore the new hat (and Steve had a matching Mickey one) as part of my festive running outfit.

It was a nice run, but I wasn’t looking for a spectacular time, just to enjoy being with my parkrun family on Christmas Day.

Once home I managed to get the kittens to wear their Santa hats long enough to take a photo (next year’s Christmas card?) as they were quite sleepy after enjoying a little turkey for their lunch.

We, on the other hand, had decided to have steak with veggies rather than the traditional turkey. We knew it would just be the two of us and had the revelation that as adults, we could eat whatever we wanted and it didn’t have to be turkey! Steve got delicious steaks from the farm shop and I made a pot of onion soup as a starter. We were pretty full after that so needed a bit of a time out before embarking on dessert of Steve’s famous sherry trifle (heavy on the sherry) and later some sweet treats we had made – chocolate/digestive biscuit bar, sherry truffles and peanut butter fudge. Yum!

But from that point on most of the days blur together as I had no specific activity to hang things on. We ventured out briefly on Wednesday (Boxing Day) and Thursday on some errands and I met a friend from work for a coffee on Friday, but most of the time I was resting and dosing myself with cough medicine/lozenges to shift the cough. You know it’s serious when I skip parkrun! Although, to be honest, I step until 10:30am on Saturday and Steve just left me alone so clearly there was something up. The fact that I then had an afternoon nap as well probably tells its own story, but it certainly did the trick and although I opted not to run on Sunday, I was feeling much better and coughing considerably less.

Somewhere in all of that I did take the time to get my top nine photos for the year from Instagram…and was not at all surprised to see they included running (in funky leggings mostly), the Stirling marathon, Disneyland Paris, yoga and the kittens. That seems to pretty much sum up my year!

So with that, I’ll wish you a happy new year and hope that 2019 brings you whatever you desire.

What did you eat on Christmas Day?
What sums up your year?

Week In Review – Pacing Fun

Another really consistent week of training for me and I’m loving it. At the weekend I was remembering that it was around this point last year that I became ill and after our parkrun birthday celebration I didn’t run again until right before Christmas. It took me a long time to let go of a nagging feeling that I had lost a lot of fitness, but right now I’m feeling good and fingers crossed that can continue. Following my now-established structure, my week was:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 4 miles
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – 4 miles + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 12 miles

I knew I was going to have a super-busy week at work as I wanted to really get cracking on the big pile of tasks to be completed before the holidays. This made my Monday Hatha class really important to give me a bit of headspace. This class was the last in the 5 week block but my teacher is going to put on 2 more classes before stopping for Christmas. I think it will be just the thing to help keep me sane!

It was up ‘n’ at ’em again on Tuesday morning for my run. It was chilly, but I seem to have reached a place where I just get my kit on and get on with it – anyone who can keep going through The Beast From The East isn’t going to be stopped by a chilly morning! I ran a 4 mile out and back at a comfortable effort then got ready for the rest of my day. Running in the morning is really making a difference to how productive I am – I went in on a mission to tick a number of things off my “to do” list and actually did!

1mx5ZKImTa2iZnBuSir4tQWednesday is a rest day and should have been orchestra, however I worked quite late and when I got home the weather was horrendous so I decided I needed a night off to help me deal with how busy things are right now.

The extra rest was a good idea and I felt ready for another 4 mile run on Thursday morning. The weather had still been pretty stormy overnight and the forecast wasn’t too great, but there was a break in it around when I was running so only a little light rain for the last mile or so. As is becoming customary, it was a little faster than my Tuesday run, but with about the same effort.

cf0DMIONST29LRqGeXWhFQMy day was pretty productive again so I was ready for my Ashtanga class in the evening. I’m increasingly noticing how I connect movement and breath, flowing between postures smoothly. The only slight “incident” came when I over-corrected my headstand and did an impromptu roly-poly, but I was absolutely fine and just went straight back into a (much more successful!) headstand.

After a busy week I was glad to reach Friday and a training session with Steve. He had a circuit set up for me (TRX, Core Momentum Trainer and Bosu) but first I had a request. I had been aware of struggling in balance postures on my left hand side and was sure it had something to do with the way either my ankle or hip were moving. Steve saw straight away what it was and we did some exercises to correct the problem and immediately there was an improvement in my balance. It will be interesting to observe if there have been any changes in my next yoga class. I did still do the circuit workout and it was hard work!

nqa%8v7TQ0KDiOay6keJTQOn Saturday morning it was pacer day at parkrun and I had my usual 28 minutes.

IMG_0474The stormy weather meant that the grass section we use was not really an option, so we were using an altered route which did still go over a stretch of grass but this was much firmer underfoot. The parkrun rules for alternative courses is that they should ideally measure slightly longer than the regular route to avoid a slew of PBs that prove tricky to beat, so I wasn’t entirely sure how this would work for my pacing. I made a slight adjustment to my time and set off, trying to settle into a consistent pace.

I actually ended up running with someone and chatting my way around most of the course. It was a really nice way to spend the run and as it turned out, helped me to get my pacing spot on. This was probably the most satisfying text I’ve ever received!

fullsizeoutput_2979From there, it was the usual quick trip home to shower and change before meeting Steve’s brother. Since the place we go is getting busier as Christmas approaches, we now have a standing booking for our table to make sure we don’t miss out!

By the time we enjoyed our breakfast, got the food shopping and put everything away at home, I actually didn’t have very much time to myself as I was off back out again in the evening. My sister works for our local theatre and concert hall so gets complimentary tickets for in-house productions. Saturday was the press night of the Christmas pantomime “Snow White and the Seven Dames” and I accompanied her and my parents to see it. We grabbed some dinner at the theatre first of all, but since the official panto menu hadn’t started yet I was worried that I wouldn’t get a turkey dinner. Never fear, it was the daily special so after a bowl of nachos to share, we tucked into a huuuuge plate of festive goodness. Turkey dinner number one of the season, done!

ia5DT2lxTO2JI4%idmH+sg
fullsizeoutput_297aThe show itself was really good. I hadn’t been so impressed last year but really enjoyed this one. I even got a souvenir in the form of a light-up unicorn (because unicorns!) and dad got us ice creams at the interval.

VzeMl1BZQD6+4EpCbcv%CA
oV1eBg0%Qk6dbpXWQefUnASince the show started at 7pm I was home at a reasonable hour ahead of a longer run on Sunday morning. Following the progressive distance pattern I’ve been on lately, I decided on 12 miles and even though it was a little chilly, it was another good run. I’m feeling really comfortable at that sort of distance right now, and my pace is around what I’d love my marathon pace to be so I’m looking forward to seeing how that develops as my mileage increases. Hopefully I’ve built a solid base and am ready to hit the “official” weeks of marathon training.

tFnnuUv9Rd2EoAcGsDISqwWe had another quick trip round the house tidying up and doing housework before a visit from my parents. It was their last weekend here before heading away for a bit so mum was keen to spend some time with the kittens (and spoil them with treats, of course!).

CX%YY4pyTl2imdbm0rQ3rQAnd with that, the week came to an end. Now for the fun and games of December!

Do you like to go to a pantomime or Christmas show?
Ever run PRECISELY the time you set out to?