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?

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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?

Week In Review – Roll Up! Roll Up!

Where are the weeks going? It’s practically the end of November (and the weather is really beginning to realise it!). I’m feeling pretty settled into my new training pattern and am really enjoying it. 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
Sunday – 10 miles

After some faster running last weekend, my calves were in need of a good stretch so it was great to get a chance to do this at my Monday night yoga class. It still felt relaxing, but it also gave my body exactly what it needed in that moment so was a great way to end my day.

Tuesday, of course, saw me up early for the first of my two midweek runs. My legs felt a little weary, but then that’s exactly how I’ll feel when my mileage builds up in my next marathon training cycle so I simply embraced the opportunity to run a little slower to allow my body to recover. I actually felt quite pleased with this run and it set me up for the day ahead.

Lh%lK5uJQ8KF1fNCu6jk6wAt work we were marking Book Week Scotland with lots of different events throughout the week, and on Tuesday we were having a staff lunch for which the English department were tasked with making the cakes (a very important task!). Baking is not really my thing, but I rustled up a simple traybake to take in. Since I had made a trial batch over the weekend we had plenty to enjoy at home during the week as well, and Steve was happy to help haha!

RZivIHMATUSGuH3BmjrhqgWednesday continues to be my rest day and with no work commitments to attend, I was able to get back to orchestra. The last time I played was at our recent concert, so we still have a few more weeks of beginning to rehearse our new music for the spring concert before the Christmas break. It was nice to be back and get a chance to catch up with everyone.

On Thursday morning I’ll admit to having a bit of a tough time getting out of bed. The kittens were snuggled in beside me, purring contentedly, and it was tempting to stay put! However, I got organised and stepped out the front door only to discover that it had been cold overnight and our street was really slippery-looking so I was delayed a little as I went back to change into more grippy shoes. Conscious of not wanting to fall and hurt myself, I stuck to a steady, controlled pace and completed my 4 mile loop safely. Ironically, by the time I was leaving for work the temperature had risen sufficiently to melt the thick ice on my car windscreen so I avoided having to scrape it – a stroke of luck!

okh9E%pAQ4WA+mxjuW9NFAIn the evening I had my Ashtanga class and really enjoyed the chance to slow down and focus on my breath after a really busy day at work. Everything felt really good and I felt much better heading home afterwards.

Friday saw me heading to Steve’s studio after work for another training session. We’re really focusing on knee drive and hip mobility to help me run better and prepare my body for the rigours of a marathon training cycle. This meant another circuit using the TRX and Core Momentum Trainer, however the circuit is different each time so my body does not become accustomed to it. Hopefully as the weeks go by this, combined with the running and yoga, will result in some improvements in my performance.

m1jGjo5DRA+nzhPB7wvGvwI was up at my usual time on Saturday, but out the door much earlier as I had to drop my car off for its first service at 8am. This gave me plenty of time to walk along to where we have parkrun and take care of a quick errand. The slight snag was that since it was our event’s 5th birthday, we were having a circus-themed parkrun but my chosen costume – a circus cat – didn’t exactly feel like something I should be wearing when I dropped the car off! This resulted in me sitting around in the foyer of the sports centre before anyone from the parkrun team was there and being asked by a rather bemused photographer why I wasn’t in costume (apparently me wearing leggings covered in paw prints is just seen as “normal” now 😂). By the time everyone was arriving I had donned my cat ears and pinned my homemade tail to my Spibelt so was ready to go.

sg2YF8rDSxKt9KwdrAqu1gAs well as the fancy dress theme (which extended to the RD’s race briefing!) we were invited to bring donations for the local food bank. I hate that we live in a society where such a thing is necessary, but was heartened to see how much we brought between us. Such a simple way to help others and my school is actually doing a reverse advent calendar this year to collect donations for the food bank near us so, I imagine we should be able to make a massive difference given the size of the school community.

IMG_0530The run itself was good fun. I decided to take it easy (running with a tail was certainly interesting. I actually grabbed hold of it and kept the end in my hand during the second half of the run!). The grass section was really muddy, but I had anticipated that and worn my Salomon Speedcross shoes so I would have a bit of grip. I picked up the speed towards the end and finished in 25:16, safe in the knowledge that whatever time I ran, my results email would congratulate me on my fastest time of the year haha!

Post-run I enjoyed a few goodies from the cake table before getting some “cat-like” photos!

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jodnYh0uSZOo2TvO3FvAlAAnd then Steve dropped me off at the garage as I had a message to say my car was ready…except it wasn’t. Why on earth do garages always say your car is ready then when you get there you have to wait at least another 15 minutes while they finish washing it? It’s either ready or it’s not people! And to me, “ready” means that since I have a service package and don’t have anything to pay, I should be able to walk in, collect my keys and go. *sigh*.

Of course all of this meant that the cafe we go to would no longer be serving breakfast so I wouldn’t get my bacon croissant 🙁. I had already told Steve just to go ahead without me so I headed home, got showered and had something to eat at home before driving into town to meet him to get the shopping. I was definitely feeling a bit fed up as a selection of roadworks combined with the beginnings of Christmas shopping traffic meant that the roads were really busy and it took me ages to travel a relatively short distance. No wonder I fancied a restorative afternoon nap!

I decided on 10 miles for my longer Sunday run this week but was in no particular hurry to get myself out the door too early. The weather was pretty damp and it was a bit chilly so I made sure to find some suitable kit for the conditions and set off on one of my favourite routes. Despite the changeable weather, I actually really enjoyed the run and, like last week, ran at a comfortable effort level that I felt like I could sustain for much longer. I was surprised once again to check my watch afterwards and find that I had covered the undulating route in an average 9:09 per mile – spot on 4 hour marathon pace! Whether or not that remains the same as the mileage builds up remains to be seen, but right now it’s a real confidence booster and shows me that the extra midweek run, work in the studio with Steve and continued yoga is really paying off for me.

iXMJvvftT6ehbkgiVbFImQMy parents visited again in the afternoon (any excuse to spend time with the kittens!) so we nipped out on some quick errands and cleared the house up before the arrived. As ever, mum had treats in her bag for the kittens and my boy clearly wasn’t getting enough of those for his liking so disappeared head first into the handbag to fish out a packet and actually managed to tear it open! What a wee monkey!

EtuaBJNMQHuE4Y%6PwRVEAI rounded the day off with a relaxing bath (after catching up with my ironing!) and got myself ready for the week ahead.

How has your week been?
What would you wear for a circus-themed event?

Week In Review – Feeling Good!

Now that I’ve been running in the morning for 4 weeks, I think I’m really starting to feel the benefit as my body is more adjusted to the change and I’m starting to notice the impact. The pattern to my week right now is fairly fixed and seems to be working:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 4 miles
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – 4 miles + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 8 miles

My Monday yoga class felt quite restorative. I think that time to focus on my breath and movement as the week begins is really beneficial. As Mondays go it was a decent one as there was no meeting at the end of the day, but most of the time my Mondays are pretty full-on so I think the yoga class is now key not just to my physical health but to my mental health as well because if things have got on top of me during the day, the class helps me to deal with it and clear my head.

Since I had cut my mileage back on the Sunday before, my legs were feeling fresh and as a result my morning 4 miles were a bit quicker than usual without any additional effort. I never thought I would enjoy getting up earlier to go for a run, yet I’m actually finding that I look forward to it in a weird kind of way and certainly notice how much better I feel for the rest of the day. It also means I’ve created a bit of space in the evening so I have a bit more downtime to refresh. Win win!

7JhurMc1QsiGeo%x7sf7WwAlthough Wednesday is my rest day, it was another less-than-restful one again as I had another parents’ evening. In short that meant no orchestra and a reeeeeeally long work day!

Despite this, I found a little more energy on Thursday morning for another strong run. Later  in the day I had my Ashtanga class where my work on Wheel and Headstand continues to pay off. I was actually thinking back to my earliest classes and how hard I found some postures compared to now. Back then I thought it was all about “just” finding more flexibility, but I now know it’s also about physical and mental strength as well e.g. my breakthrough with the headstand a few weeks ago totally changed my approach, yet realistically nothing much had changed physically from the few weeks before, it was a change in mindset which meant I was able to do it. Powerful stuff!

Friday was an inservice (inset) day at work so it was mostly a day of meetings/presentations, however it was also a day of atypical eating as there were bacon rolls at interval and a colleague brought cake for lunchtime. Fortunately I had arranged to go to the studio for a workout with Steve again so worked some of it off! Since we are focusing on knee drive/hip mobility, he gave me another circuit using the TRX and Core Momentum Trainer. Hard work but I know it will be helping.

Saturday’s parkrun also gave me a chance to run off the bacon rolls (yeah, I took one for the team and had a second since there were some left and the business manager was keen that nothing went to waste. Always happy to oblige when it comes to food!). Having produced a decent time the week before (24:18) I wanted to see if I could shave another few seconds off as the reality is that I’ve been hovering in the lower end of the 24-25 minute mark since about late June and wanted to see a little progress before conditions slow things down.

I set off quickly and although I slowed slightly in the second mile as I ran over the slightly squidgy grass (going from 7:43 to 7:50 per mile) I was stunned to check my stats later and find I had run mile 3 in a speedy (for me) 7:36! Combined with my usual just sub-7 finishing pace, I not only shaved a few seconds off, but was pretty convincing with a 23:40 finish time.That’s actually my second fastest time of the current parkrun year (our birthday is Saturday so this was the last run of the parkrun year) and it feels great to finish on a high.

IMG_0299We had our usual post-run treat of a cup of tea and bacon croissant with Steve’s brother, then ventured off into town for a short time before getting our food shopping. I normally can’t be bothered with the town on a Saturday and this week was particularly busy, but it was busy because the Christmas lights were being switched on that evening so there were loads of things going on.

We started with the chocolate and gin festival, enjoying a few samples of festive gins (which meant getting the shopping done whilst experiencing a lovely warm glow!).

f+vJbWVjTgWjDy8+15EWVwThen on our way back to the car we checked out the four-legged friends in attendance and the ice sculptures created for the occasion.

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3Kv+mQ%BREyezQa2t9GxvAAfter all that I needed an afternoon nap before my evening watching Strictly with the kittens. It was Blackpool week and I got a little overexcited haha!

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TxzruepbRRaHpAllTURitgSunday morning was a slightly longer run. Still not heading into the big miles of marathon training, but building a solid base for those miles so I opted for 8 miles after last week’s 10k. I was just running to feel and enjoying my podcast – no pushing the pace, simply feeling comfortable and expecting something like a 9:15 per mile average, so I was a little surprised when I finished with my watch telling me I averaged 8:59 per mile! The culmination of a strong week and no doubt coming from the consistency recently and work I’ve been doing to build endurance and improve my knee drive. Fingers crossed I can keep building on this.

h2uvJLXPSMCpNtENQuJV2gWe had a few errands and housework after that, then my parents paid a visit as mum had something for me. I had offered to pick it up as it was just a small thing, but I think she was keen to see the kittens a few more times before heading off for the winter so they came to us for a bit. It was nice to chat over tea and a slice of cake (the kittens had cat treats produced from mum’s handbag of wonders!).

Overall I’m feeling really good about this week. Perhaps my decisions about reorganising my training are beginning to pay off and hopefully I can see some real benefit from this as I continue.

Are the Christmas lights on yet where you live?
What’s your favourite kind of cake?