Week In Review – Me Time!!!

Hola! Finally a bit of space in my week as we enjoyed a two day break for “half term” here in Scotland. That meant just two teaching days, one inservice day and then a glorious four day weekend to relax, read and recuperate. Perfect!

Of course training was still front and centre (this marathon isn’t going to run itself, you know!) but there was a bit more room to get things done without rushing around all the time:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – bike reps @ the gym
Wednesday – form drills
Thursday – Swim + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 16 miles

My week didn’t get off to the greatest start as I had hoped not to have to stay at school too late, but it turned out we had a meeting at the end of the day. By the time I got away I was REALLY ready for my Hatha yoga class. I decided this was a great time to try out some new kit to cheer me up. They both came from a website called Lucy Locket Loves and while I paid for the awesome Space Adventure leggings, the headband was a free gift as I volunteered as a product tester. I don’t normally wear this style of band but was really impressed as it was comfortable and stayed in place through the whole class. I loved how bright and cheery it was too.

cldE4VQZTze9+kUVUC6a4w
7%YSL37eQhKa1D4TbDELog
I’m quite impressed with the company as the owner sends friendly, personal emails and the packaging is gorgeous.

j9B93Zn3Q1+KXWJiDrjW2A
0PH8HBlVRl2gr60B%V%Lxw
The class itself was just what I needed to unwind – gentle stretching, relaxing music and dim lighting. Bliss!

We have an earlier finish on a Tuesday and I made a point of getting away pretty quickly. I headed straight for the gym to get my bike intervals done and since I had found the intensity level quite challenging last week, I took it down a notch in order to maintain the quality of my workout. I still worked hard as my red and sweaty grimace confirms!

sGuA6htqQ%uNhVnYJ99TuwThat evening I took advantage of my sister’s comp tickets for the current play at the theatre. It wasn’t a play I knew but was pretty powerful.

7c%qeKRzQGyqF7yHy8z+NQ
On Wednesday we had our inservice day which meant no pupils, but a full day of meetings and planning. The real highlight of the day was the curry lunch laid on by the World Challenge group. They are preparing to go to Borneo and this formed part of their fundraising. It’s the third year in a row the curry lunch has taken place on the February inservice and it just gets more and more popular. It wasn’t the “done thing” to take too much on my first visit to the curry buffet, but I definitely didn’t hesitate to lead the charge and go back for seconds!

CSTSs3WDQSGdrWDDofSlaw
That evening I got straight home to head out for a set of 500m form drills. I was a little wary as there had been some rather unexpected heavy snow in the morning and while most of it had melted away, there were still stretches of pavement that were slushy and slippy. I still set up my watch to do the intervals and decided that I would aim to do the workout but was prepared to ditch it for a steady run if the conditions weren’t good enough. As it turned out the first few intervals were over slippy paths but I was able to focus on good form while keeping the pace down, then as the underfoot conditions improved I was able to get some quality intervals in in the second half of the workout.

Ufh6DhZQRW2jon1iw6XifQ
I was also really entertained by this fantastic snow creation in our street (I think whoever built it must have used all the snow in the street as there wasn’t really much left!).

YhQ1aBYpTX6NfIdB7DyB2w
I then had a really quick turnaround to get to orchestra. I’ve probably managed every other rehearsal this term which is a massive improvement on last year when I had to accept that I wouldn’t be playing in our spring concert, but this time I am going to make it.

After all that Thursday was a welcome relief. I actually allowed my usual alarm to go off just so I could have the pleasure of shutting it off and going back to sleep! I started my day with a walk to the gym to have a swim. Being able to take my time and with no other pressures on my day, I felt I got into a rhythm pretty quickly despite very little swimming of late. I really must try to fit it in more often moving forward. I spent the afternoon on some bits and pieces of tidying up then headed out to my Ashtanga yoga class in the evening. It was a small class again so once more we were able to try some newer postures, including working on our headstands. I’m really enjoying having the opportunity to try new things and am feeling the benefit of more yoga throughout the week.

I had an appointment in town on Friday morning so I walked there and ran a few errands before heading home again. After lunch I had my PT session with Steve and since my right shoulder was feeling tight (it flares up a bit from time to time) we did a lot of work to help that before some more specific exercises to help my running. As usual, we used the TRX and the Core Momentum Trainer. For the occasion I chose to wear my Wonder Woman leggings, because it’s good to feel like a superhero from time to time!

0gBdxuz1THC0i%7irQg7hQ
Session done, I headed round the corner to have my nails done. I fancied something a bit different this time as I usually go for dark reds/purples. A sparkly silvery colour hit the spot!

S%IxJn1PTraUO+TcmTKvCg
And then the weekend. Having already had a couple of days to myself meant I didn’t have a stack of things to do and was able to relax and enjoy myself. First up, of course, was parkrun. We’re still on the alternative course to allow the grass section to recover and to round off a week of madcap leggings I chose to wear my latest, and possibly maddest, pair.

rBAxzJsoTzSqgFl9EWM7Qw
My favourite picture on them is the cartoon cats with unicorn horns!

sw6ABeZOTLWCgSCuuh9A9w
I was certain that my parkrun streak of each week being a bit faster than the one before would definitely be over but somehow found another few seconds to keep it alive. So including the New Year parkrun double that makes my 2018 “streak” 29:16 (Dundee and a trickier course), 27:20, 27:01, 26:31, 25:34, 24:56, 24:50, 24:43. I was slightly faster this time last year but I also had a stronger starting point with more consistent training at the tale end of the year, so that just motivates me to keep working hard and see if I can keep improving and get back to sub-24 form.

IMG_0074
eRnsrTzvQSKzhsoM07hfEA
The rest of the day was nice and chilled – coffee and bacon croissants with Steve’s brother, food shopping and some quality time on the sofa catching up on some reading. I finished reading Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman and can highly recommend it.

On Sunday morning I got myself moving fairly sharp to head out for my 16 miles. I wanted to not only run my usual pattern of 2 easy, 1 harder with good form, but to break the bad habit I’ve been forming of having to stop for road crossings that could be avoidable. This made the run feel harder as I think I’ve been relying on those stops, but overall I was a little quicker than a comparable run this time last year so that’s a positive sign and I know the consistent running will make me stronger for race day.

cc8U83zFQCet7p%y4gmoHg
Once home and showered/fed we headed off to Edinburgh (hence why I wanted to be out a bit earlier). Steve has been planning to upgrade his iPad ever since I got mine in the summer but was waiting until he got his new phone as he knew he could trade that in against the new device. Today was the day to go and sort it all out and there was no way we were going to go to Edinburgh after a 16 mile run and not visit Hotel Chocolat for a hot drink. This time they had Easter specials (perhaps a little early, but who am I to judge!) and the picture on the sandwich board sold me before I even walked in the door! I ordered the Hot Crossed Caramel Hot Chocolat (the caramel was mixed with almond, orange, cinnamon and molasses. Delicious!) and yes, it was the chocolate bunny on the top that sealed the deal for me 😂

oL9qR7clSGmu5KR+HBJzNQ
By the time we’d done all that and driven home again I was pretty tired as my Sunday is usually pretty chilled after my long run. Good thing I had those extra days to relax beforehand!

And with that, another week came to an end. Apparently there are now 10 weeks until the marathon…

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!
Do you like to wear patterned workout gear?
Read any good books lately?

Advertisements

Week In Review – Too Much To Do!

The annual “crunch time” that is February continued to rumble on this past week as I had ANOTHER parents’ evening and two sets of report cards to write.  It would all be fine if I didn’t have to teach as well lol!

Fortunately I was still able to fit in most of my training and find a bit of time for myself in there – experience has taught me to do what I can to avoid overload at this time of year!

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – bike reps @ the gym plus sports massage
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 14 miles

Going to a Hatha yoga class on a Monday evening is proving to be a great decision. Monday can be a bit of a shock to the system as it is, and as my mileage increases I can find myself quite weary as the week begins. I’m finding the yoga class a great way to take some time for myself and the timing means I don’t have to rush about in order to get there. This week we were in a new venue as my teacher has been looking for the perfect location for her yoga and pilates classes. I really liked the studio space she found – easy to access, nearby parking and it felt really chilled with low lighting and peaceful pictures on the wall. This week was a trial to see how the venue fared and I suspect it’s going to be a permanent move. No arguments here!

IMG_5545On Tuesday I worked a bit later to try and get on top of some of my reports. When I arrived at the gym I realised I hadn’t checked my training programme to see how Steve was progressing my bike reps this month and yup, you guessed it, a longer work interval but the same rest as I have been doing. The number of reps came back down but I found the last couple a bit of a challenge so dropped the intensity level by one in order to get a quality workout.

IMG_5546With a sports massage booked I had no time to squeeze in a swim but I’m hoping to pay an extra visit to the pool when we have our half term weekend next week. The massage was just what I was needing to flush out some of the tension beginning to build up in my legs and it helps to keep me feeling as fresh as possible throughout the training cycle.

Wednesday was the parents’ evening. I was already miffed to be missing a run and this was compounded as due to the way the two evenings had been organised for this year group, I had far fewer appointments and, unfortunately, they were really spread out so I was in for the duration! I made use of the time in between appointments to get some more reports done (I proof-read them the next day just in case!) and although mentally worn out at the end of the day, I felt better for making a dent in my workload.

Of course I felt pretty tired all day Thursday as a result, but I had my Ashtanga class to look forward to. There were only 2 of us in the class and both of us go regularly so that meant the teacher could move a little more quickly through the sequence than when there are less experienced practitioners in the class. As a result, we were able to try some postures we don’t normally do which was great fun. I particularly enjoyed having a go at a headstand and was able to hold it for a few seconds with the teacher helping to support me. Something to work on perhaps…!

I spent as much time as I could on Friday working on my reports and when the school day finished (we’re a bit earlier on Fridays) I decided to stay and get the last 10 done before the weekend. I’ll still need to proof read them, but it was such a relief to get them all written as I know there’s plenty more work to come this term! I did, however, have to sacrifice my PT session with Steve as I needed to be home to take delivery of a parcel (my new phone and I had missed the delivery driver twice already – oops!). Not ideal, but another example of how it’s ok to skip the odd workout when life gets in the way without it being a total disaster!

The rest of the evening was nice and relaxing and after we had eaten Steve discovered an unopened bottle of mulled wine from Christmas. Just to prove we’re still rock ‘n’ roll we not only had some, but served it in Christmas mugs. Party on!

IMG_5551On parkrunday we were still using the alternate course on the path just like last week. This time the conditions were a bit better (no sleet or painfully cold fingers!) but I was doubtful that I could maintain my current streak of each parkrun in 2018 being a bit faster. I’m not delusional and know it has to end some time, in fact I’ve been fairly certain for the last couple of weeks that I had reached my current limit there, but as it turned out I had a few more seconds in me so my 24:50 kept the streak alive. I was a little miffed to lose my Royal Flush Negative Split by just a second though – gah!

IMG_5603Steve’s brother was busy but the two of us still headed into town for our post-parkrun bacon croissant which was satisfyingly well filled this week. Just the thing!

IMG_5605The rest of Saturday was spent getting my new phone set up (something I actually quite enjoy) and making sure I was logged into all my apps again. My dad always takes my old phone so he’s excited to be getting an upgrade too!

Of course we finished the day with Steve’s homemade pizza, this week a belated celebration of (Inter?)National Pizza Day on Friday. I don’t know what TV programmes my parents are watching over in the States, but just about every day my mum sends me a text informing me of the random holiday being marked (my favourites so far include Spaghetti Day, Book Your Travel Day and Hugging Day). This time I actually already knew about Pizza Day as I had entered a virtual race to mark the occasion. Yes, I did enter because the medal was shaped like a slice of pizza. Wouldn’t you?

2yW%4W28T%W90AXKvgShugAnd then it was Sunday. 14 miles on the schedule and it was another bright but cold morning. I plotted a route fairly similar to last week’s and used the same pattern of running every third mile faster, with a focus on good form. There were some points when I felt a little sluggish, but I suspect that’s a reflection of the busy week and missing my midweek run rather than anything else, and my overall average was still where I wanted it to be so I’m not giving it any more thought. It’s still all about the process and part of the process is runs where things feel a bit tougher. I know it will all come together when it needs to.

IMG_5607Later in the afternoon we headed out for our usual Sunday afternoon coffee and Steve bought me a Valentine cake. It must be love!
hCFrM8I2REG0AJffvRJdyg

The Valentine theme carried on through dinner as we indulged in our M&S Valentine Dine-In meal:

98DCPgroRNOhOlweyMJgPA

Salmon, avocado and prawn starter

lk8AVYUoRsSgxVPcnoH5Nw

Rack of lamb with garlic & rosemary crust served with triple cooked chips (rack of lamb supper? 😂)

xcDHdEuURriLCSvY2S2uiA

Black Forest rose dessert

I even did my very best to taste it all and not just inhale (the runger is getting real now!). The deal also included a small box of chocolates and a bottle of prosecco so it was good value and all delicious. A lovely way to end the weekend.

How is your training going?
Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day?
JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

Week In Review – Frantic February!

Ah February! Slightly less dark and miserable than January, but as a teacher in Scotland, one of the busiest times in the teaching year – far too much to do and definitely not enough time to do it in! Fortunately, I know that taking time out for my training helps me to stay focused and be more productive, so I’m still managing to be consistent.

Here’s how the past week looked:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – bike reps @ the gym
Wednesday – Hill reps
Thursday – rest
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 12 miles

After Hatha yoga being cancelled last week it was great to get back on the mat for a gentle practice. I know that as my Sunday long runs increase in miles I’m really going to appreciate this time to stretch out and take some time for myself. And at this busy time of year, I think my long runs and my yoga time are really going to help me keep it together!

We had a meeting at the end of the day on Tuesday so I was later getting away from work. I headed straight to the gym for my bike reps (same workout, more reps) but skipped the swim this week in favour of getting home for a bit of time out. I’m conscious that I really have to take time for myself right now as in the past the stress of this time of year has led to me feeling really run down or, worse, getting injured. Even in years when I haven’t been training I’ve still felt awful, so my goals of resting, reading and doing more yoga are really helping me right now.

On Wednesday I had hill reps on my schedule. Thanks to factors such as snow in January, this was the first time in this cycle that my workout has been hill reps. I was conscious as I headed to my “favourite” hill that I hadn’t done this since before the Loch Ness marathon so wasn’t sure how I would feel. Steve gives me a workout that involves reps to various lampposts on the hill – more reps to the nearest ones then fewer to the ones further up the hill. It’s a real lung-buster but I know it’s helping me to get stronger and fitter so I keep asking for hill reps in my plan. Yes, I know I’m a weirdo lol!

IMG_5528
IMG_5537I had made sure to get away from work in enough time to complete the reps and get to orchestra. Our final concert of the year is a month away and I know that it’s difficult for me to get to every rehearsal (I actually didn’t take part in our spring concert last year as it was too stressful to make it to the rehearsals) but I REALLY want to play the music in this programme so I’m doing my best to make it work. I do really enjoy the rehearsals, I just need to get into a routine that allows me to be there.

Thursday was a rest day but not out of choice. I had a parents’ evening which kept me at school until almost 8pm and meant I couldn’t get to my Ashtanga class. I hate missing that class as it’s a real highlight of my week, but it couldn’t be helped. I had hoped to be home a bit sooner and had plans for an at-home yoga practice, but by the time I got back and had some food all I wanted to do was go to bed as time was marching on and I was knackered!

And this was followed with another rest day on Friday. I had a (long overdue) dental checkup (all fine) and Steve had an appointment in town so we just couldn’t co-ordinate for a PT session. After my visit to the dentist I headed home and got out my yoga mat. I’m still doing the Yoga with Adriene 30 day yoga journey as although I’m doing all of the days, I’m not doing them in 30 consecutive days as I work around yoga classes and maybe a day or two in the week when I don’t do any yoga (my goal is at least 5 times per week so it fits my plans). I felt refreshed and ready for a chilled evening afterwards.

Parkrunday (I believe some people call it Saturday) was grey and cold. It had been decided that we would use our alternative course which is 2 laps of the park on the tarmac path as we need to give the grass section a rest and a chance to recover a bit. We did this for a few weeks last year too. I had expected to be a pacer but this was once again called off so I was able to run as I pleased. As I listened to the briefing I was conscious of some rain, then realised that the rain had…substance! Yep, it was going to be a sleety one! I chose to run at a comfortably hard pace as I wanted to test my pace and I have to say it felt tough, although that might have been the cold air. I wore light gloves and my fingers were still so cold that they were really hurting – I couldn’t even stop my watch when I finished! If I look miserable in my photos it’s because I really was in some pain.

IMG_9629When my time came in I was pleased to note that my “streak” had continued – each parkrun in 2018 has been progressively faster. I’m not sure this pattern can continue any longer, but it has been interesting to watch the improvements as it’s tangible proof of improving speed and fitness, even if I am still slightly slower than I would ideally like to be. This year is about process rather than pace, so I’m simply enjoying seeing those times come down as it tells me I’m on my way towards my next marathon and the training is taking effect. From 27:20 on January 1st (although I did have TWO parkruns that day!) to 24:56 this weekend, I’ve taken a decent chunk off my times as I get back into training after that enforced time out through late November and a good chunk of December. Very pleasing.

Which brings me to Sunday Runday. After a cutback last week it was time to start ramping up the miles again, beginning with a 12 mile run to kick off the month. Conditions and circumstances in January prevented me from returning to my Loch Ness training method of running every 3rd mile faster, but it was an approach I liked and found successful so I was keen to do it again. Thanks to much brighter, crisper conditions I was able to do that and was pleased to find my average pace comparable to a similar run in my last training cycle. I may not have quite the short distance pace I’m looking for just yet, but my longer runs don’t seem to be suffering. My legs felt good afterwards too so I must be adapting well to my training.

IMG_5544So all in all I’m pleased with my progress so far. I’m trusting the process and just enjoying the ride, so to speak. There are still a few hurdles to overcome this month, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I can continue to get fitter and stronger.

How is your training going?
How do you measure progress? Is it about the outcome or the journey?
JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

Week in Review – No More Snow

I wasn’t really sure what to title my post this week. It was just another January week of darkness, rain and wind, with me out training anyway. But after getting so much enjoyment out of my snowy runs last week, the sudden melting of that snow was probably the thing that stuck out the most.

Here’s how my week shaped up:

Monday – Hatha yoga rest
Tuesday – bike reps @ the gym + swim
Wednesday – form drills
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 10k

Monday didn’t quite go to plan as my yoga teacher had a bit of a family emergency so the class was, understandably, cancelled. I ran a few errands then did my own yoga session using the Yoga with Adriene 30 day journey I have been following. Not quite the same, but I still got some yoga in.

On Tuesday things were a bit more productive. As part of my role supporting a probationer teacher this year I had volunteered to join one of the panels offering them mock interviews in school ahead of their first proper teaching interviews which are coming up. It was really interesting for me to be on the other side of the table and I think I learned a lot from the process. Thanks to our earlier finish on a Tuesday I still had plenty of time afterwards to get to the gym for my bike intervals then followed this up with a swim. Having felt a bit rusty last week, I thought my swimming felt much better this week. Smoother and with less intake of water. Time will tell if this was a fluke or if I’m actually beginning to get the hang of it!

Sadly Wednesday didn’t quite pan out again. I got caught up in some things at work (there are what seem like a million mock exam papers to mark in a really short space of time!) and knew I couldn’t fit everything in. Since training is my priority, I had to miss my orchestra rehearsal but I’ll make sure I get there next week. My Wednesday workouts have been a little disrupted with the snow, so Steve told me to do another set of the form drills I did a couple of weeks ago, this time adding on two further reps. It was a REALLY windy day (Storm Georgina apparently) so it wasn’t an easy run, but since the drills are about form rather than pace I was still able to do it. I certainly knew about it in the last rep which was on a slight incline AND into a headwind. Character building I’m sure!

IMG_5447

The windswept look lol!

Thursday was, of course, my Ashtanga yoga class. I was really feeling in need of it to clear my head as I had been tying up the loose ends of vet bills and insurance payments related to my cat – not easy but it had to be done and yoga was exactly what I needed to settle myself down again. There were some beginners in the class so some parts of it moved a little slower, but I was really pleased to manage a full round of Yoga Wheel, a posture I was working on throughout 2017. Next is to manage 2 rounds as we usually do 2 or 3 rounds of a back bend and I tend to mix Wheel and Bridge in my practice.

I ended up with a rest day on Friday purely down to logistics. I fit my PT sessions around Steve’s paying clients, but had an appointment to get my nails done (badly needed, they were such a disaster and far too long for me) so our diaries just didn’t match up. This meant a home yoga practice for me again before we headed out to eat.

IMG_5451For some reason Steve fancied a dessert and since I’m a team player I wasn’t going to let him eat alone and made the sacrifice to have a sticky toffee pudding.  The things I do for love lol!

IMG_5452After a good sleep I was up and ready for parkrun on Saturday morning, wearing my new Mr Men/Little Miss running tights (apparently I’m developing a leggings habit but the mad patterned ones I’ve been buying are really cheering me up and let’s face it, at this time of year I’m manny in work clothes, running clothes or pyjamas!).

IMG_5455Since the ground was so soft the decision was taken to use an adjusted version of the route (we missed this a couple of weeks ago as we were at the vet). Basically it means avoiding the quagmire of the grass section and returning on a different section of grass (which is in much better condition) just behind where we normally run. It adds very minimally to the route, but is realistically faster as the ground is in better condition.

It was one of those days fairly common in Scotland where there is a headwind no matter which way you turn and I was starting out easy as I had been working through a slight niggle in my right leg (all good, just the effects of a movement pattern that needed adjusted so it’s fine now thanks to Steve’s intervention). I got a bit faster as I went on and was initially a little disappointed with my 25:34 until I remembered that last winter was very much the same with the effort level not really giving the return when it came to pace. It’s really best to forget about pace and just run to feel at this time of year so when the better weather comes the benefit will be there. When I received my result I realised that this was actually the fastest time I’ve run since the “parkrun year” began at the end of November, and on a slightly longer course. Not only that but each parkrun since the 1st January has been getting gradually faster so the training effect is in there, I just have to pay attention to it.

IMG_5460Post-parkrun I was getting my hair cut so missed out on the coffee and bacon croissants this time. I’m already looking forward to next week!

Since this was a cutback week, my long run was “just” 10k. Since I felt well rested I decided to get up and go quite sharp so as to create a bit of time in my Sunday. I was out the door before 9am and we were actually out on our Sunday errands before noon. Unheard of during training! I took it easy on my run and enjoyed one of my favourite loops close to home which involves a few challenging hills but also the fun of a nice long downhill stretch. Lovely!

IMG_5515
IMG_5520Then with all that time I was able to relax, tend to a few household bits & pieces and generally relax ahead of another work week.

How is your training going just now?
Has your parkrun course been affected by the weather?

I’m running for Cats Protection this year in memory of my cat, Morven.

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!
0647882E-6062-44D3-BD6F-381852603418

Week In Review – Positive Action

I want to start with a thank you to everyone who has been in touch with kind thoughts since I shared that I had to say goodbye to my beautiful cat last weekend. I really appreciate all your messages.

As a result, this past week was strange but I found it helpful to have my training routine. It gave me a focus and helped me to make some decisions (more about that at the end of this post).

I have continued with regular yoga (most days that I didn’t have a class) and my week ended up like this:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – bike reps + a swim
Wednesday – short run
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 10 miles

Monday was, quite frankly, awful. I was a bit of a tearful mess and while I did manage to keep it together to teach my classes (a welcome distraction) by the time I got to my yoga class I was definitely feeling emotional. I knew that yoga would soothe me and I always feel better afterwards. I did, but in a different way. People have said to me before that yoga can release emotions, that they have found themselves crying during their practice, but since it’s always made me feel relaxed and happy, I was convinced it wouldn’t have that effect on me. Turns out, it is possible to shed a few tears in downward dog without anyone realising! I suspect the release helped though.

I felt a little better on Tuesday – I even risked some mascara (although realised on my drive to work that it may have been a mistake!). After work I headed to the gym for my bike reps. There had been a little snow around but nothing as I drove back and headed towards the gym. By the time I had changed and emerged from the changing room, there was heavy snow falling outside! I added two reps to the set of intervals I completed last week and already felt stronger completing them. After that I went for my first swim in AGES. It was perhaps not my best effort, but by the end of my session I was feeling like I was getting my rhythm back again.

There had to be a bit of a change on Wednesday because of the snow. I was supposed to do some hill reps, but thanks to a bit more snow during the day, Steve told me the underfoot conditions just weren’t good enough for my planned workout but that a short run in the snow would be possible. I got myself all bundled up in winter kit and headed out. It was tough going as the snow seemed to sap all my energy, but I loved it. There’s something invigorating about running in fresh snow that can’t be beaten. It was only as I was running that it crossed my mind I could have gone to the gym and run on the treadmill instead, but I think the fact that I never even considered that as an option tells you how I feel about that!

IMG_5353
IMG_5354Orchestra was cancelled because of the weather so post-run Steve and I were able to eat together then watch a little tv. I’m still finding things like this a little difficult as I’m so used to the cat curling up on my lap as soon as I commit myself to a seat. That’s going to take a bit of getting used to!

Thursday was cold and there was still snow on the ground, but I was really looking forward to my Ashtanga class. I’ve been doing a little yoga most days this month and feel stronger and more focused because of it. It felt so good to work through the Ashtanga poses (the class I go to works through about half of the postures under the guidance of our teacher) and there were no tears so I was obviously feeling a bit more at peace with the events of last weekend.

On Friday I was back at the studio with Steve for a PT session. My focus is on exercises that will benefit my running, principally by improving my strength and mobility. For me this means working around my upper back, my hip mobility and knee drive so this week’s session included the TRX, bar bell and Core Momentum Trainer. Quite tough on my arms so I was feeling it afterwards!

IMG_5358

Guess who jumped in the shot again!

Still in need of cheer, I decided to break out one of the other pairs of leggings I ordered recently. These ones depict my favourite Disney movie (and favourite Disney princess!) so they did make me feel a little better. Clearly the key to cheering me up is new workout leggings – the crazier the better!

IMG_5355As we went to bed that night we were aware that a number of parkruns not too far from us had already been called off so we weren’t sure what the morning would bring. Ours was provisionally on, but it was 50/50 depending on how much the snow/ice froze overnight. Saturday morning was cold (below freezing again at -4C) but thanks to a light dusting of snow the course was runnable and we were able to go ahead on the usual route. Clearly not a day to run hard, so I decided to ditch my earphones, ran at a comfortable pace and enjoyed the experience. Running in the crunchy snow, I’m finding, is something I rather enjoy and it seems that 183 other people agreed with me!

IMG_5369
IMG_5373In the picture below, there are two paths hidden. Our route takes us initially to the right then returns from the left. No sign of any path right now!

IMG_5434I felt invigorated after the run, as well as pleasantly surprised at my time. Once I was more sure of my footing I got progressively faster to finish with the revered Royal Flush Negative Split and, having expected to be around 27 minutes (a 9-ish minute mile feels good in these conditions) I did it a bit quicker.

IMG_5393As usual it was a quick freshen up at home then back out to meet Steve’s brother for our Saturday coffee. The place we like to go to always shuts for a couple of weeks at the start of the year but was open again so it was back to the bacon croissants. I really missed those!

IMG_5433The rest of the day was pretty relaxing. Steve and I headed out to the farm shop for some things in the afternoon and decided to stay for a mint hot chocolate and scone. Both were delicious!

IMG_5435 I also spent the whole day with a fairly persistent earworm…

I awoke fairly early on Sunday, had some breakfast (porridge with honey is my choice right now) and got organised to run. The snow was still there (not enough change in temperature for it to start melting) so rather than worry about my planned approach of every third mile faster, I simply decided to run. I knew that I wanted to re-visit the woodland path I ran on last week as part of my run so I could see it in the snow and getting there by a slightly different route meant that my run would total 10 miles.

IMG_5438I ran to feel and largely ignored my watch as pace was irrelevant. At this point in training a run is a run and I’m convinced that running in the snow is making me stronger as I’m working hard on changeable terrain. As a result, I thoroughly enjoyed my run and would have happily gone further. The woodland path was lovely (no heron this week though) and I passed so many dog walkers and families out enjoying the snow (quite a few with sledges). What a great way to start the day!

IMG_5437
IMG_5439It may have been a strange week, but these snowy runs have really made me feel a bit better as I’ve enjoyed the change of pace and scenery. The cold air has cleared my mind and while I’m still sad and missing my wee cat, the pain is easing.

Another reason for this is the decision I made about how to channel my energies in a positive way moving forward. I got my cat from Cats Protection, a charity which seeks to create a world where every cat is treated with kindness and an understanding of its needs, when she was just 6 weeks old. She had been found living under a shed, presumably abandoned, and I loved her from the start as we quickly formed a tight bond. It breaks my heart to think that there are so many cats who don’t get that opportunity, and while I will likely bring more cats into my life in future, I can’t give a home to all of them. What I can do is raise funds to help improve the lives of cats in the care of Cats Protection. CP will never put a healthy cat down and will do whatever they can to find the cats in their care a loving home. But this, of course, takes money. In 2018 I will be dedicating my miles to the memory of my cat and raising funds for my local Cats Protection branch. It just feels like the right thing to do and I know my cat would approve.

First up is the Stirling marathon, where I will run in a CP top. Having this motivation will help to get me out the door on the coldest days and work towards my next goal. I’d love it if you could support me by making a donation. The equivalent cost of just one cup of coffee could enrich the life of a cat who deserves some love. Thank you.

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

Week In Review – Happy New Year!

Wow! I’ve now been writing these weekly updates for a year! What was originally going to be a short series of posts to document my training leading up to the 2017 Paris marathon soon became a permanent fixture as I enjoyed writing them so much. So here we go with the first update of 2018…

Monday – New Year Triple
Tuesday – rest
Wednesday – light workout
Thursday – 5 miles
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 10k

Monday was, of course, New Year’s Day and I was starting the year with not one but THREE runs! I already wrote a post with all the details (you can find it here if you missed it) and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Not only did I have the satisfaction of getting the first 10 miles of the year under my belt, but I worked up a pretty decent appetite to enjoy the delicious steak pie we got from the local butcher. And to cap it all, Steve made another sherry trifle Well worth all the effort!

5DA0CB10-E8F7-47B4-9E9E-EDDBE771D905
IMG_5230
IMG_5231We later learned that 108 people did the Perth/Dundee double, but I was blown away by this stat from parkrun HQ:

fullsizeoutput_2373Tuesday was a little more indulgent and restful. It was Steve’s brother’s birthday so after a pretty leisurely morning we walked over there (the other side of town!) for a bit of a family gathering. A couple of drinks and some delicious party food was a nice way to round off the festive season.

On Wednesday a hint of “normality” resumed as Steve went back to work, leaving me to my own devices. Don’t worry though, there was plenty to entertain me! I had made plans with my friend from work to catch up over the break and at the last minute we discovered this would be our only chance. My friend lives in St Andrews and is a member of the leisure facilities at the Old Course Hotel. She has been trying to go for a swim every day and invited me to take advantage of a guest pass she had and join her. I got to use the awesome Roman-style pool which made me feel like a character in a Jane Austen novel “taking the waters” in Bath and she got the chance to have someone show her some of the machines in the gym as she hadn’t yet been in there. I think my favourite thing was going up to the rooftop spa. It was a crisp and sunny day and it felt amazing to be sitting in the warm, bubbly water whilst the air around was quite cool. Perfect! No photos as my phone was safely locked away, but we did get some nice views from the top floor when we had a coffee afterwards.

IMG_5234
IMG_5235Thursday was all about getting myself sorted out. I began the day with a run then had some errands in town later on. I have to admit it was one of those days when I had to persuade myself out the door to run as it was grey and cold, but I felt sure I would enjoy it once I was out. I picked one of my favourite routes and all was fine for the first mile until my legs reminded me about Monday’s endeavours. I ignored them and carried on, only to find myself caught in a rain shower about half way round. But once home, warm and dry I found that I had rather enjoyed the run after all. I knew it!

IMG_5240I took a rest day on Friday and made use of the time to myself to do some tidying up and get the Christmas decorations all packed away. It always makes me sad to take the tree down, but at the same time it’s satisfying to feel that everything is tidy. I also got to grips with a bit of re-organisation of my bookshelves as I was keen to make a few changes but was worried about destroying my nail polish (I’m getting a bit high maintenance lol!). Friday was ideal as I got my nails re-done later in the afternoon. Even the festive nails have gone now, but at least I feel neat ready for the start of term.

IMG_5251One of my favourite things about the Christmas break has been the number of parkruns I’ve been able to do. The whole point is that there’s just one per week, but at Christmas and New Year there is the option of an extra run (or two) so while a break extending over three weekends should have resulted in three parkruns, over the festive period I’ve actually completed six! The last of the six was Saturday morning, however the course conditions weren’t too great so we used the alternative route which is two and a bit laps of the park on the path. It was supposed to be pacer day, but the RD decided to cancel the pacers given the conditions. The path was a bit slippy in places so I still took it easy, but I always enjoy the community aspect of parkrun and it was good to be running.

IMG_5300The rest of Saturday was the usual routine – coffee with Steve’s brother, food shopping and a relaxing afternoon at home. Oh the glamour! Although there was an exciting moment when this dropped through the letterbox:
IMG_5314It’s from a virtual race I entered to run 5k between Christmas and New Year. I definitely had that covered! (And yes, I did wear it around the house for a bit!).

Since Sunday was the last day I could have a leisurely start before the new school term, I took advantage of the chance to lie in bed a little longer all snuggled in with the cat before getting organised for my run. Rather alarmingly, my weather apps were telling me that it either was or would feel like -5C, so I got myself well bundled up in my cosiest running gear to brave the elements. The all terrain shoes got another airing as they’re best on frosty paths and I looked a little like I might be away to shout, “stand and deliver” and stop a carriage, but at least I was warm enough!

IMG_5316I ran 10k at a fairly easy pace and despite the cold I enjoyed the run. My fitness isn’t quite as I would like it to be thanks to being unwell in December, but it is what it is so I’m not going to worry about it. There’s nothing quite like a cycle of marathon training to sort out your fitness!

Now it’s time to get my head down for a new school term and a marathon build up. Let’s go!

How did you begin the year?
What is your next goal?

Three Is A Magic Number!

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while then you may remember that I began 2017 by taking part in a local challenge known as “The New Year Triple”. It’s an unofficial affair which involves a double parkrun (something available in lots of areas at New Year) in the morning then a long-standing 6k fun run in the early afternoon. There’s a bit of travelling around between the 3 locations, but the timings are about right to make all 3 possible and there are usually a good number of people taking on the challenge of the triple, which really adds to the atmosphere.

The 2 parkruns involved are my home parkrun in Perth and one of our nearest neighbours at Camperdown in Dundee. One goes at the regular time of 9:30am and the other at the revised time of 11am for this one day, and they take it in turns to go first. In 2017 we started in Perth, so for 2018 our first port of call was Dundee.

From my experience of doing this last year I learned that the key to the challenge is to pace yourself (I keep it in my mind that I’m running 10 miles rather than a parkrun to help me lock into a slower pace) and to keep warm in between events. Although it was slightly warmer this year (comparatively speaking) I still had a cosy hoody to put on, cosy socks in case my feet were cold and a blanket to put over my lap in the car if I wanted it, as well as a warm jacket. Last year I changed top, but this year the only kit change I was going to make was my shoes (socks if necessary) and my gloves as I wasn’t keen on putting them back on when they were damp!

I got a lot of my things organised the night before as we planned to leave about 8:30am to drive to Dundee (less than 30 minutes away). The only real snag was that neither of the parkruns would have toilets available as all the usual locations used are closed over the festive period. This meant I had to make sure I didn’t drink too much before leaving as a wild pee in January was not appealing!

Since we were in good time we were able to park right by the start in Camperdown park (last year we had to go all the way to the other side of the park and it was a fair distance!). We greeted a few friends from Perth and tried to stay warm while we waited to start, then I went over to the visitors’ briefing as I knew there had been a slight change to the course.

The change meant that the route started and finished a little further down the hill – great news for the end but less of a downhill to start with. I think it was the same run director as last year, in his customary kilt, and he got the run underway fairly swiftly after the usual announcements.

I knew that there was a fairly steep hill for about a third of a mile at the far end of the course (it adds around 2 minutes to your parkrun time from Perth!) and I also knew that my fitness was not where I wanted it to be thanks to that virus I had in early December, so my plan was to take things easy and not overdo it. Probably wise since the parts of the course on tarmac paths were quite slippy and while my trail shoes were doing a great job on the trail sections, they weren’t gripping so well on the path.

I kept my effort level fairly even and finished in a time of 29:16, around 9:35 per mile. More like long run pace but realistically that’s what I was going for.

After having my token scanned I found Steve for a couple of pictures then we jumped back in the car to head back to Perth.

IMG_5116
IMG_5133There was enough time to swing by the house for a quick “comfort break” and a change of shoes before heading down to more familiar parkrun territory where there were a fair few people about (308 parkrunners after the 220 in Dundee). We greeted a few we hadn’t seen, re-connected with others we had spoken to in Dundee and listened to the briefing. The paths were a lot less slippy than they had been on Saturday, however the ground over the grass section was still pretty solid and rutted so there was still potential for a fall.

Again I went by my effort level and enjoyed listening to my music and chatting to some people on the way round. Thanks to the flatter terrain my time was a bit quicker at 27:20 which is around 8:50 per mile – ideal marathon pace for me – and only about 4 seconds slower than on Saturday on the icy paths. Not bad since it was my second run of the day!

IMG_5146
IMG_5160I had grabbed a running jacket when we went home as we had passed though some heavy rain and I didn’t want my top to be soaking wet for the rest of the day. I was so glad I did as the rain started just as I finished but we weren’t in a hurry to leave since a very generous couple of parkrunners had brought mulled wine for everyone. It was a lovely way to warm up post-run and I enjoyed mine while chatting to some friends.

IMG_5145But then it was time to get back in the car and drive the half hour or so to Blairgowrie. I was starting to feel hungry so ate an energy bar I’d packed to keep me going (I had plenty of time to digest it since I wasn’t running again until 1pm). I suspect the caffeine gave me a bit of a boost!

IMG_5225We seemed to get to Blairgowrie much quicker than last year when we were travelling from Dundee (it’s about the same distance but the journey was really slow last year) so we were able to park right around the corner from the Town Hall which is used as event HQ. I popped my road shoes on (I’d been wearing my trusty all-terrain shoes in Perth), grabbed some dry gloves and we went in to register. It’s a real bargain at just £2 each and there’s the added bonus of the hall having nice INDOOR toilets to use while we waited to start.

With my number pinned on, I sat in the hall and chatted to some friends until it was time to head outside. This was the 34th consecutive year this event has taken place (never a cancellation or postponement in all that time) and it attracts a decent crowd of people. It’s one of those events that isn’t publicised, people just know when and were to turn up!

I had decided to switch from music to a podcast for this one as I expected my legs to feel a bit weary as we got underway. Strangely enough, though, I felt ok and when I spotted our MSP (also the Deputy First Minister of Scotland) a bit ahead of me, I wondered if  I would be able to catch him…

About half way around the course I found myself right behind him, having kept up a comfortably brisk pace and had to decide on my next move. Back in 2014 when I did this run for the first time I passed him only to be beaten at the end as I hadn’t realised how close I was to the finish. This time I knew that if I made a move I would have to hold the lead. Game on!

So I went for it. With two previous experiences of this route I knew exactly how far I still had to go and had a landmark in mind (a convenience store) to begin speeding up to the finish. Unfortunately, just as that store came into view my legs started to take on a distinctly jelly-like sensation!

I dug in and kept on going to the finish. 3.8 miles in 32:46/8:37 per mile (they only time the top ten males/females so this is all from my watch). I had run each event a little quicker than the one before so was really pleased given the lack of training in the weeks before. As soon as I finished I turned back to watch for my “rival” and probably had a minute or so lead. I had done it. I had won a race the only other competitor had been unaware he was in! 😂

Steve was waiting for me and we grabbed some photos before heading back up to the hall where we had left our warm clothes.

IMG_5174
IMG_5189Included in our bargain entry fee is post-run soup (which tastes AMAZING after 3 events!) and some kind of sweet treat – this year some chocolate bars. I actually ended up having 2 cups of the soup as it was so good and I was really hungry. The chocolate I took away with me and ate when I got home.

IMG_5217
IMG_5224After a while we decided it was time to go home so headed back to the car (and I embraced my inner old lady by draping my blanket over my legs to stay warm!). As soon as we were in the door the wet kit went straight in the washing machine and the shoes were left out to dry.

IMG_5220Once showered and in my onesie (with compression socks underneath lol!) we had some bacon rolls to keep us going and relaxed in front of the TV. Despite the distances being relatively short, I still felt tired. Probably more from the travelling around from one place to the next and the effort of 3 separate runs rather than 1 long one. Still, it was great fun and I think has probably become a New Year tradition for us. If you have the chance to do something similar, like the double parkrun, then I highly recommend it. There’s such an amazing atmosphere and it feels so good to start the year off with a good run (or two…or three!).

IMG_5227
IMG_5229Did you do the double parkrun?
Anyone go for a New Year dip in the sea?

Week In Review – Christmas And The In-Between

What a week! We kicked off with Christmas Day then, with both Steve and I not at work, soon found ourselves lost in the “in between” limbo where most conversations seemed to revolve around food, drink or whether we were supposed to put the bin out! The week wasn’t entirely bereft of activity though, so this won’t just be pictures of Christmas turkey haha!

Here’s how my week ended up:

Monday – Christmas Day parkrun
Tuesday – rest
Wednesday – 6 miles
Thursday – rest
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – rest

After all the excitement of running my 100th parkrun just a couple of days before, I was really keen on the idea of a Christmas Day parkrun. We’ve not had a Christmas Day event in Perth before so for the team this was a bit of a test. Our festive RD was very open in saying that he would have been happy if 30-40 people turned up, so imagine his surprise when we had 217 parkrunners in an assortment of festive finery! The course was pretty muddy which made for an interesting run, but it was Christmas, I was dressed up and a Christmas elf gave me a sweetie at the end, so what’s not to like? And by some weird coincidence I ended up with exactly the same finishing time as on Saturday. I’m nothing if not consistent!

IMG_9194
IMG_9237Post-parkrun we headed home to change and get started on the rest of our celebrations. This year was a Christmas Day à deux so I saw absolutely no reason to make any further effort with my clothing: cue me spending the rest of the day in my cosy Christmas onesie! We opened the Bucks Fizz, made our bacon rolls (with Christmas spiced bacon which was DELICIOUS) and got down to opening presents.

IMG_9248

Guess who was interested in the bacon!

IMG_5006
Steve was thrilled with his new trisuit and dry robe (Santa must’ve got his email 😂) whilst I was happy that Santa got my “subtle” hints about wanting to see the touring production of Wicked when it returns to Edinburgh in the spring. Oh, and there were gin baubles so that made my day!

fullsizeoutput_2327
IMG_5031And if you follow me on social media, you may have seen that we managed (not for the first time) to buy each other the same Christmas card!

IMG_5011As for the cat, she doesn’t need much these days as she really just likes to sit on my lap and sleep (and her health conditions rule out any food-related treats) but the fleecy lap blanket I saw in a pet shop over the weekend turned out to be a big hit. (My mum bought some pouches of the food she used to enjoy as a special treat and told me to donate them to a local cat shelter on her behalf, and I was delighted to do so. It breaks my heart thinking about pets without a warm and comfortable home like my little fur baby has).

IMG_5015Christmas dinner didn’t happen until much later on as we were on a pretty flexible schedule. I had made a pot of French onion soup for our starter then the main course was turkey and all the trimmings. For dessert, Steve made his (in)famous sherry trifle, which I enjoyed in front of the TV after a short break while I descended into a food coma!

IMG_5021
IMG_5022
IMG_5026It was a gloriously relaxing day, and although Christmas seemed to sneak up on me a bit this year, I was perfectly content.

On Boxing Day we decided we should really get out of the house so took a walk into town. Some shops were open and I ended up buying a Fabletics gift pack in the sales to re-stock my gym bag for the new year. I’ve never tried any of their products but was tempted by the half price offer.

IMG_5111Other than that it was Christmas dinner leftovers and hot drinks in front of the TV while I placed a couple of online orders. First, I was so impressed with the quality of the Christmas running tights I had for Christmas Day parkrun that I decided to jump at the chance to buy a second pair in the sales. These ones feature my childhood favourites the Little Miss and Mr Men by Roger Hargreaves. It will be next Christmas before I wear them, but I’m already looking forward to it!

IMG_5112My other purchase was my own pair of “the pants of perspective” as featured in Anna McNuff’s book by the same name. I loved this book when I read it earlier in the year (I’ll write a review soon) and thought it was brilliant that I could buy my own pair from her website. After all, as Anna herself says: “because everyone needs a unicorn and a robot having a fight under a rainbow, on their legs.”

IMG_5113The day after that was Wednesday (I think!) and I wanted to get a run in to build on my consistency of heading out every other day since getting back to running last week. It was pretty frosty so I decided to stick to main roads and wore my all-terrain shoes which have a pretty good grip. 6 miles without falling on my bottom was definitely a good run!

IMG_5044To be honest, I had to ask Steve what we did on Thursday as I had no pictures and all of the days have merged into each other! It turns out that we went into town for a bit to have coffee with some old friends of his who are here from Italy for a short time. Given that I can’t remember anything else, I probably spent the rest of the day watching TV, reading and working on blog posts!

On Friday we had considered a trip to Glasgow, but by the time we had been out for our New Year food shopping it was beginning to snow quite heavily and we thought it best to stay close to home (as it turned out, Glasgow airport was shut for a while and several Glasgow parkruns were apparently cancelled on Saturday so it seems like we made the right decision). Since we were out, we went out to the farm shop for a couple of things and went to the cafe while we were there. I had a cinnamon hot chocolate and mince pie whilst watching the snow coming down.

IMG_5057
IMG_5058I also enjoyed their display of the gin baubles:

IMG_5055Once home I got started on another pot of French onion soup (a great winter warmer), then we had a relaxing afternoon before going out for our usual Friday food at the pub down the road. This week we both fancied the not-very-festive chilli burger!

IMG_5062Saturday was parkunday again. I didn’t realise until afterwards that this was actually my 100th in Perth (102nd overall since I have a couple of runs elsewhere in my history). The snow had mostly melted but the paths were slippy in places, the grass section frozen solid and it was pretty chilly. I donned my warm kit and chose my all-terrain shoes again to give me some confidence on the paths but kept the pace down so I felt a bit more in control of what I was doing – no point in starting the new year injured! Fortunately, I remained upright the whole way around, although I did clock my slowest time (outside of pacing duties) for 2017. Oh well!

IMG_5091

Fun fact: whilst setting up for this photo a dog ran off with one of my running gloves. The dog was on a lead though so we were able to retrieve it! 😂

Post-parkun it was another bacon croissant with Steve’s brother. Good job too since I got a text from my mum later declaring it to be National Bacon Day. There’s a holiday I don’t mind celebrating!

IMG_5101We then had a few errands and I came across a very tempting book:

IMG_5106I amused myself that afternoon by joining a linkup about my year of running and claiming my Instagram Best Nine for 2017. Mainly running and some epic food = quite a year!

princessallison78_fullWe also decided that since we have plans to repeat the New Year Triple on Monday, we should have homemade pizza (aka running fuel!) on Hogmanay, so had our awesome Dine-In deal on Saturday night: salmon royale (basically a blini topped with a poached egg wrapped in salmon and served with hollandaise sauce. Delicious!), steak with peppercorn sauce and chips, then profiteroles for dessert. Yummy!

IMG_5108
IMG_5107
IMG_5109Sunday was pretty chilled to save energy for Monday. Steve did brave Storm Dylan to get in 5 miles since Strava told him he had 995 miles for the year and he wanted the round 1000! While he was out I tidied up a bit around the house and we finished the chores together later on – we even hung some pictures we’ve been meaning to get to! Then an evening in front of the TV with nibbles and a couple of drinks before getting to bed early ahead of our New Year running. Don’t worry, we plan to celebrate the New Year after we’ve completed the challenge!

To finish, I want to thank you for joining me in my weekly roundups this year. Much more to come in 2018 I’m sure!

Have a wonderful New Year, however you spend it.
The Running Princess

My Year of Running 2017 (Link Up)

This time last year I linked up with Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC to reflect on my year of running. I really enjoyed writing that post so am joining in again this year.

  • Best race experience 
    Apparently I’m getting fussy in my old age and hardly raced this year even though I ran loads. It would be tempting to choose Paris here (as I did last year) but I’m going to mix things up and choose the Loch Ness marathon. It was third time lucky for me having previously entered the race and not made the start line and although I didn’t quite reach my goal of a marathon PB, the scenery was stunning and I finished with my second-fastest marathon time ever (and the only sub-4:30 outside of my PB). I have to be pleased with that!

IMG_3894

  • Best run
    My best run came in September, just one week before the Loch Ness marathon, when I wanted to test myself at parkrun. I had no expectation of a PB but felt in shape to run my fastest time of the year. I ran well, felt good all the way round and was stunned to find myself just 5 seconds outside of what had been, until that moment, a “rogue outlier” of a PB. Most unexpected result of my life and I was probably just as pleased as if I had run the PB!

IMG_3852

  • Best new piece of running gear
    Got to be my Aftershokz Trekz Titanium headphones. I love to listen podcasts when I’m running and had begun to move away from wired headphones, but all the wireless ones had fairly bulky earpieces and/or plugged my ears too much. I love my Aftershokz as they’re not only comfortable, but use bone conduction to send the sound to my ears so I am fully aware of noises around me. Out of all the new kit I’ve bought this year, these have been the biggest game changer. Pricey, but worth it.

IMG_3397
IMG_4549

  • Best running advice you’ve received all year
    Not strictly advice, but this year I did try out a method of approaching my long runs that my husband has found useful. Combining the idea of running at a slow pace to build endurance with the idea of faster pick-ups during the run, I ran every 3rd mile at a quicker pace. This taught me that I could pick up the pace when I needed to and was a useful strategy heading into my goal race.
  • Most inspirational runner
    I’m inspired by many people, but for this one I’m going to pick Laura Muir. Laura has had an amazing year of setting records, challenging records and stepping up to the mark against strong competitors. I have been impressed by her attitude as she never shied away from her goals but was upfront about what she wanted to achieve. Even more impressive is that she has done all of this around her studies to become a vet. Incredible!
  • Favourite picture from a run or race this year
    More of a post-run choice, but I loved the pictures Steve and I took in the Champ de Mars after the Paris Breakfast Run. I think my favourite is this one of me in Warrior Pose!

IMG_1329

  • Race experience you would repeat in a heartbeat
    If you don’t race very much but one of your race experiences was in Paris, what else are you going to choose? It may have been a ridiculously hot day, but even though my time wasn’t as I had hoped I was still running through the streets of Paris on a glorious spring day and there’s not much that can top that!

IMG_1388

  • If you could sum up your year in a couple of words what would they be?
    Making progress. I had a very consistent and solid year of running, with a new half marathon PB, improvements in my marathon time and some very pleasing parkrun results. I tried a bit of international parkrun tourism and just this month reached the milestone of my 100th parkrun. All in all it’s been a great year!

Despite a pretty light racing schedule, 2017 was an awesome year of running. I kicked it all off with a mega New Year challenge, went to Paris, raced in Florida and racked up my highest yearly mileage yet. Now bring on 2018…!

IMG_4947
Want to join the linkup? All the instructions are here.

Eat Pray Run DC

7 For 2017 – The Final Roundup

I actually can’t believe it’s the end of 2017 already – it must be true what they say about time moving faster with age! Back at the start of the year I set my 7 goals for the year and, having checked in with them at various stages through the year (here, here and here) it’s time for a final look at how I got on and what I have learnt from my experiences.

1.Set some new race PBs
I was very upfront about the things I wanted to achieve. My main goal was a new marathon PB (ideally sub-4 hours), but I also really wanted to lower my half marathon time (as close to 1:52 as I could) and had half an eye on a sub-50 minute 10k. So how did I get on?
Despite 2 attempts I haven’t (yet) set that new marathon PB (I ran the Paris and Loch Ness marathons), but I did make positive progress through the year and achieved my second-fastest time so I’ll have to be patient on this one.
Things went much better in the half marathon with an early success in Inverness which brought me tantalisingly close to 1:52:XX. I’m not a half marathon fan so I’m happy to let that one stand for a while!
As for the 10k, I just didn’t get round to racing one this year as there was never a point where it fitted with my plans. Maybe next year…
For me what eclipses this goal entirely is that I was able to run all year without picking up an injury. The only thing that stopped me was a December chest infection which has cleared now. Yes there were peaks and troughs in my training, but that’s how it should be and as an injury-prone runner I’m thrilled with that success.
Result: Partially achieved

IMG_39492.Run my 100th parkrun
This was more of a process goal which relied on me being consistent in going to parkrun almost every week – there are no shortcuts in parkrun! – and I was confident that I could do this so long as I didn’t suffer an injury. There was a slightly anxious period in early December when I picked up a chest infection and couldn’t run, but on the Saturday before Christmas parkrun 100 happened and now I’m on my way to the next milestone.
As a bonus, I also achieved my volunteering milestone and have qualified for my 25 volunteer T-shirt. I love volunteering at parkrun and usually help out for a couple of weeks after a marathon (and if I have an injury) but being a pacer once a month this year was a brilliant role and I loved helping people to achieve their parkrun goals. I highly recommend it.
Result: Goal achieved

IMG_9183
IMG_39733.Maintain my step goal streak
What began as a mini-challenge in the summer of 2016 became a 6 month streak of reaching 10,000+ steps per day by the end of the year and I was curious to see where it would go. I set a target of maintaining the streak for 365 days, but was hopeful of making it every day in 2017.
I passed day 365 in July and made it all the way to 519 days at the beginning of December, but on day 520 I lost my battle against a virus that was doing the rounds and was forced to stop as I took to my bed for a couple of days. I thought it would be weird to let the streak go, but in actual fact I found it quite liberating and while I know I feel better both physically and mentally when I move more, I’ve enjoyed not having any pressure on myself to meet a step goal every single day this month. I’ve listened to my body and taken the time to rest.
Result: Partially achieved

fullsizeoutput_23044.Read at least 30 books
Last year I read 25 books and wanted to see if I could manage a bit more. I actually began the year a little ahead but soon found myself falling behind with this one and for a long time I thought I was going to come up short. But being ill turned into an opportunity as I was able to read a bit more and over Christmas I took advantage of the fact that I wasn’t rushing about trying to get 10,000 steps to read a bit more (I did panic and read a couple of short books to make sure I reached my goal, but I had no length stipulated so that’s ok). I’m pleased I reached the goal but want to make sure that in 2018 I’m able to make even more time for reading.
Result: Goal achieved

5.Make more time to relax and prioritise rest during the work week
This was always the one that I knew would need the most work. While it sounds simple, in practice it can be quite tricky as I’m a natural night owl trying to lead the existence of an early bird. Between work, training and real life, finding that down time can be a challenge.
That said, I think I did make progress here. I learned that aa Saturday afternoon nap helps me to recharge and for a lot of the year I was very good about not stying up too late. I think I could still be better, but that will be something to work on in 2018!
Result: Working towards goal

IMG_45736.Commit to more yoga outside of my weekly classes
I think this is the one I’m most proud of. While it took me a bit of time to get organised for this, the Tough Girl 100 challenge gave me just the impetus I needed to commit to short, daily yoga practices and the school holidays meant I could find more time for classes. I’ve probably not been as good towards the end of the year, but I know I feel much better when I’m doing yoga regularly so will build this into my 2018 goals too.
I also developed my “interesting” habit of doing yoga by iconic landmarks…
Result: Goal achieved

IMG_3019
IMG_4196
IMG_13287.Blog more consistently
I was very clear here and declared that my aim was at least one post per week in addition to Friday Finds (which was my sole output for a decent chunk of 2016). I therefore introduced my Week in Review posts which went out every Monday and frequently posted something else too. I hoped that this would help me to connect with more people (which it has – hello to my newer readers!) and increase my views (a big tick there too). This blog is a hobby and I would probably still write it even if it was just my husband and a couple of friends reading it, but it’s still nice to see that my ideas are reaching more people and generating conversations and connections.
Result: Goal achieved

IMG_1529So 4 out of 7 fully achieved, 2 partially achieved and 1 a work in progress. I’ll take that! If they had all been easy to complete then there wouldn’t have been the same level of challenge or enough to keep me interested. This way, I can see that I have made progress but also know what I would still like to work on in 2018.

My 2017 goals have taught me to invest more in the process and not focus solely on outcome: to get a PB I need to train a lot, something I enjoy doing; to reach 100 parkruns I had to turn up almost every week; to read 30 books I got to spend time enjoying the lifelong pleasure of sitting down with a good book. There may have been an end outcome, but the process was actually more important, and this is a lesson I’m going to bring into my 2018 goals. Look out for those in the next few days…

How did you get on with your goals for 2017?
What have you learnt from the what you did/did not achieve?