Week In Review – Running Out of Oomph!

This week definitely felt a little easier than the previous couple of weeks, but it being the second last week of the school year here in Scotland meant that it felt a little bit like being at mile 18 of a marathon: the bulk of it is done and the real exhaustion is setting in, but the finish line is just that little bit too far away! Still, I made it through the week and now there’s just 4.5 days left before I can properly recharge my batteries, soak up some sunshine and get caught up on my life again! Training-wise there was a little shifting around, so here’s how things ended up:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 4 miles
Wednesday – 4.5 miles
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 10 miles

It was a quiet yoga class on Monday evening. I guess we’re at that point in the year when lots of people, especially those with kids, have lots of other commitments that take up their time, or they are away on holiday. Many of us in the class have been feeling pretty tired so we had a class designed not just to build strength and flexibility, but also to help re-energise a little. Only one more class left in this current term-time block, but my teacher hopes to have a few classes over the summer so fingers crossed I can still get my Monday night yoga fix!

On Tuesday morning I was up and out the door for my usual 4 mile run and it soon became apparent that every ounce of weariness in my body had located itself in my legs! There was no soreness or heaviness, it was just one of those days where I felt like I was wading through treacle and even a slow pace felt like hard work. At this point in the year (and with everything that’s been going on) I’m happy to recognise that this will have an impact, so rather than worry about performance I’ll simply focus on consistency, on getting outside for some fresh air and headspace while I keep my legs turning over. There’s plenty of time over the summer to sharpen up my pace once I’m feeling more rested.

That said, I actually noticed a big difference in my performance when I ran on Wednesday evening. Wednesday was our wedding anniversary and since it was a school night we opted to celebrate at home with fajitas and fizz. However I was a little concerned that this particular combination may not sit well in my digestive system when it came to an early run, so opted to run on Wednesday evening rather than Thursday morning to avoid a potentially uncomfortable (and unplanned!) “sprint finish”. I had actually spent a good part of the afternoon out on our playing fields watching sports day and miraculously it was really nice weather, so the chance to run in minimal clothing on a nice summer evening was pretty appealing. There hasn’t been much in the way of good summer weather so far this year so it was good to take advantage of the opportunity. Almost immediately, I noticed that I felt so much better  – springier and like running was a bit less effort – and my overall pace was much more pleasing too. I do like running in the evening, but the morning runs definitely suit my routine and energy levels better these days so I’ll be sticking with those for the time being.

Post-run I made the fajitas, which featured the debut of my new “tortilla warmer” which I picked up in the wondrous middle aisle of Aldi last week – surely not just me that loves a wander along there to pick up random goodies?

And Steve had made one of his signature sherry trifles for dessert. Yum!

The change to my running schedule meant that I didn’t have to get up quite so early on Thursday, but it did feel weird not to be going out for a run. The weather was still good so it would have been nice to be out early and feeling that coolness that still hints at a warmer day to come. That said, a little extra sleep was good and I still had some energy when I arrived at my Ashtanga class that evening. Sadly the regular teacher was ill so we had a “substitute teacher”. She seemed nice enough, but taught the class very differently and I don’t think I always respond well to that as my practice has adapted to suit the teacher we usually have. I was hoping to have another go at the headstand, but we didn’t do it in this class so it will have to wait another week.

I had plans on Friday evening, but since we’re close to the end of term I was able to leave work quite swiftly at the end of the day and make it back to Steve’s studio for a PT session. He managed to set up another different arm circuit for me and although I am definitely beginning to feel more strength, by the end of the session my arms were ready to give up!

After this I headed home to get showered and changed for an evening out with my mum and my sister. We were heading to the concert hall for a show by three of the male pros from Strictly Come Dancing and I’ve been looking forward to this for a while, not just because I was getting to see the dancers, but also because I knew that it would mean my summer holidays were just around the corner. My dad was the chauffeur for the evening and he picked me up in time for us to get to the concert hall for our dinner (I had chicken strips followed by a gourmet burger).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had great seats and the show was fantastic – really high energy and lots of fun banter between the guys (who were obviously playing up to a predominantly female crowd!). This show was actually quite early in the tour but you wouldn’t have known it. A fantastic evening.

Saturday was also destined to be a busy day so I “only” had time for parkrun, and had to skip running there and back. I know my body is tired so had no real aim for this run, but I ended up running a little faster than last week. Somehow my pace is still improving, no doubt because I have been very consistent lately, which I’m happy about.

We seemed to be home so quickly since we had the car, but we wanted time to get properly cleaned up since we were going to an event to celebrate the life of someone the world lost recently. It was fairly low-key, but not an occasion to be parkrun fresh!

The first part of the event took place at the top of the hill overlooking Perth so we had a slow walk up there and listened to a few people saying some words in tribute. The weather was perfect and afterwards I took a few minutes to look at the views. It’s been a while since I was up there.

Right in the middle of this photo, just below the river, is the pond where I do SUP yoga.

Then, there was a small gathering for some food and drinks. Although we were there for a sad reason, it was nice to reconnect with some people we’ve not seen in a while.

After all that exertion we both had a short nap before a relaxing evening at home.

For my Sunday run I decided on 10 miles, but was in absolutely no hurry to get out so took my time getting organised and out the door. Steve wasn’t feeling great so he got some extra sleep while I was out – totally unlike him but he was much better when I got back. It was a bit of a strange run as the temperature didn’t sound all that high and it was pretty dull, but it felt really muggy so even in shorts and a T-shirt I was absolutely dripping by the time I finished. I may have also inadvertently infiltrated an event taking place on the Inch. It was a fundraiser for the local football team where participants were encouraged to walk or run up to 3 laps (personal choice – no, I don’t understand either!) whilst wearing blue (the team colours). I had planned on running a lap as part of my route and when I got down there I noticed some marshals but nobody who seemed to be taking part in an event, so it was onto when I met someone I knew in one of the marshal roles that I found out. But as I completed my lap I found myself behind a small group walking around and since I was wearing my Edinburgh finishers’ T-shirt, which is the same blue as the football team colours, I think some people thought I was taking part as I was aware of some shouts and claps as I ran past. Oops! How do these things always happen to me? 😂

Once home it was time for the glamorous job of some housework. I’d have left it a couple of days longer, but my parents were visiting in the afternoon so I had to have everything nice and tidy. At least having visitors meant we could have tea and a slice of cake!

Now just this one, endless last week before school finishes for the summer. I keep telling myself I can make it!

Are you going on holiday this summer?
Ever had anyone think you were part of a race/event when you were simply out for a run?

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(Two) Week(s) In Review – Let’s Catch Up!

Did you miss me? Things got pretty darn busy over here for a while there and something had to give. On this occasion, I decided a short break from the blog was going to be needed as other things – including my own sanity! – had to take priority. So for the last couple of weeks I’ve been super busy with a lot of work-related stuff, but since I knew it would only be for a short time it was (mostly) ok. Now that things are more settled, I’m back and here to catch you up on some of the highlights from the last couple of weeks of training and life. Here we go!

Week 1:
Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 4 miles
Wednesday – 5k
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – 4 miles + PT session with Steve
Saturday – rest
Sunday – 10k + SUP yoga

To be honest, this is the week that really threw a spanner in the works. There was a lot of stuff going on and as you can see I moved a lot of my training around in order to fit it in. Yes, I could have set some sessions aside, but running is my chance to get fresh air and clear my head, it’s something I need to maintain good mental health and in this particular week I needed to make sure I had that time. The week actually kicked off with a day off work for a really localised holiday, and I took the chance to set work aside, relax and reset as much as I could. My yoga class at the end of the day was the perfect way to finish.

Tuesday was also pretty normal as far as training went. It was an inset day at work and I headed out before hand for a nice, steady run. To find balance, I did some home yoga at the end of the day to get moving again after a day spent sitting in meetings.

It was from Wednesday that things really changed around. This Wednesday was Global Running Day and while my current weekly plan doesn’t have me running on a Wednesday, I was keen to mark the occasion so got up to run 5k before work. It was pretty soggy, but still a nice way to begin my day. Our new school timetable began that day (we change timetable when the seniors come back from study leave as there is a month before the summer holidays) and I always find it exhausting meeting new classes and no longer having familiar groups in front of me.

After 2 days in a row of running, I didn’t run on the Thursday and instead looked forward to my Ashtanga class that evening. I had missed it the week before when I was just too tired to head out, and the week before that was a different teacher who led us through a rather different session, so I initially felt a bit rusty, but as the class went on I felt better and better. My headstand was pretty poor though!

In another change from the norm, I was up again on Friday for a run. It definitely felt odd to be running on a Friday, but still good. That evening I then went down to the studio for a PT session with Steve. I’m still wanting to work on my arms/upper body right now so he has been setting up a different circuit each week using a combination of weights, TRX and some exercises using my own body weight. Tough but worthwhile.

The reason for the Friday run was that, most unusually, I was missing parkrun on the Saturday. Sadly, this was because I was going to a funeral. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t considered a bit of tourism on the way there (I had to drive about an hour to get to the funeral location) but there was no way to make the logistics of a run followed by turning up appropriately attired and fragrant for such a sombre occasion work. This time, being at that funeral was way more important than notching up another parkrun, and I didn’t want to run later in the day as I knew I would be tired and still had all the usual Saturday chores to do. So a Saturday “off” it was,

Sunday was a much happier day. I began with a 10k run first thing and ran quite hard – clearly my body was needing to feel that sense of “aliveness” only a hard run can give you.

Then after a light breakfast and change of clothes, I was off to the outdoor centre for a SUP yoga session. Steve came along to watch so I was able to get a few photos this time.

We then had a lovely lunch in the cafe (back to my usual chicken mayo sandwich) with almost the whole SUP group before heading home to relax as I knew there was another testing week ahead of me.

Week 2:
Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 4 miles
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – 4 miles + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun sandwich
Sunday – 8 miles

This past week was a tough one. It had felt recently like the universe was being particularly cruel, and having just attended a funeral on Saturday, my week began with (almost) a morning in school followed by attending another funeral. As a tribute to someone’s life and influence, it was very fitting, but an emotional drain and hard way to spend a Monday. I accepted from that point that the week was going to feel long, that I was going to feel even more tired and that I was just going to have to do my best to keep on going. I made sure to get to my yoga class that evening, but will admit to finding the start of the class difficult as we were invited to reflect on our day and let go of the stresses and strains – my emotions were still running high and a tear or two rolled down my cheek at that point. After that, the class was a welcome distraction from everything that had happened over the previous few days.

While sleeping later on Tuesday morning might have felt good, for my own self care it was far more important that I headed out for a run. Pace was unimportant, this was a run to give me a bit of quiet time to process the previous day before going to work. I certainly felt better than I had at bedtime, but still a little emotional and needed to get on with things as a distraction. As if sensing it, one of the neighbourhood cats came over fr a “chat” when I arrived home.

I did, however, give myself a rest on Wednesday. I had an appointment in town after school so took the chance to run a few errands I hadn’t got to at the weekend then did a little home yoga when I got back to the house. A restful evening was in order after that, although there was still a little of my exam work left to do.

Once again, I was up on Thursday to run. I definitely noticed it feeling much harder to get up, but once I was out and moving it felt good.

I made it to my Ashtanga class again in the evening and enjoyed a quiet class where we could flow through the postures. I actually felt pretty good and my body felt strong, but I struggled with headstand again. It’s a while now since that one has gone well for me, and while I can accept where my body and mind are right now, I’m curious as to the cause: is it a physical issue from not doing as much yoga and other training as I have in the past, is it all in my head and I’m overthinking it, or am I simply so tired that I just don’t have the energy for a harder pose right now? It will be interesting to see how this unfolds over the summer when I’m more refreshed and have more time for training.

Miraculously, I made it to Friday and Steve was able to fit me in for a session. He had quite a tough arm workout for me this time and I REALLY felt it as I was working. While I was there, we talked about having some extra sessions in my week during the summer holidays so I can go into the autumn feeling strong. I know this will also help my running so is probably my summer goal now.

Steve was out that night so I had a quiet night with the kittens watching a bit of tv. It was just what I needed.

By Saturday morning I was feeling a bit better, and was looking forward to parkrun after missing the previous week. I opted for the parkrun sandwich to get a few extra miles in, but had no plans for how I would run parkrun itself. What with taking a little time off after the marathon and a couple of other weeks where I was running a bit easier because of other events, I felt like I had forgotten how to run fast (for me). We are still on an alternative course due to council works on the regular route and I set off at a fairly steady pace. While I’m nowhere near the sub-24 form I like to be in as I head into the summer, I was pleased to find that my 24:46 was the fastest I’ve run since late March and my fastest time over the alternative course. At least I’m making progress!

And check out the consistent pace over the first 3 miles. If I hadn’t speeded up at the end it would have been a straight line!

Afterwards, I refuelled with a delicious bacon croissant before getting the food shopping then was able to have a really relaxing afternoon to recharge a bit.

Sunday morning I got myself organised at a fairly leisurely pace then headed off for an 8 miles run. It was quite bright when I left so I had my sunglasses on, but wouldn’t you know it, as soon as I was at the furthest point from home it began raining. And when I say raining, I mean like Florida afternoons in the summer. Huge, fat drops hurtling towards the ground at a rate of knots and me in a pair of shorts and a T-shirt! I sheltered under a tree to text Steve and ask him to stick some dry stuff at the front door for me to put on when I got back and really struggled to write the message as the rain hitting the screen kept typing extra letters and making bizarre predictive text choices! I managed in the end, then didn’t need the dry things after all as the rain stopped and I had dried out by the time I got home. Typical!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had been invited to a barbecue so once we were organised we headed out there for a bit. On the way there was thunder (!) and the rain was back on, but luckily it didn’t last too long and it ended up being quite good fun – yummy food, friendly company and a photo scavenger hunt to provide a bit of a laugh. Good times!

Finally, we dropped in to see my parents and catch up over a cup of tea and slice of cake before it was time to head home and get ready for the new week.

Tell me something fun you’ve done recently.
What are your summer goals?

Week In Review – So Busy!

What a week! You know how sometimes you have weeks where you have zero headspace with so much going on? That. Between work commitments, personal commitments and my dogged determination to fit some running in, the week seemed to whip by without me having the slightest chance to think about anything else. Mind you, it did make for a fairly quick week and with four more to go before the summer holidays, I could do with quick weeks for the next month!

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – rest + sports massage
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – 4 miles + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun + SUP yoga
Sunday – 5k race (Chariots of Fire beach race)

It was back to a normal work week for me after being away doing other things for part of the week before. Having been out of school on Friday I had a little catching up to do on Monday morning but it was otherwise a decent day. We had overnight visitors (a friend of Steve’s travelling around Scotland with his children) and they arrived shortly after I got home so my yoga class was a good opportunity to get some headspace. I was actually really impressed with how well-mannered the children (aged 7 and 12) were, but even so finding space to do a little of my exam marking was a little trickier for this one night.

Because of our visitors (and possibly because I had just run a half marathon a couple of days earlier) I took Tuesday as a rest day. My legs had been a little weary first thing on Monday morning but had felt fine since and I probably would have been ok for a run but thought I would be sensible and have a day off to let my body recover. I did, rather fortuitously, have my sports massage booked that evening so that was a nice way to make sure everything felt good before my next run.

Wednesday actually ended up being another rest day because I had managed to get an appointment to get my nails done. It had dawned on me that I had polish put on for my marathon at the end of April and somehow it was about to be June! I normally get them done every 3 weeks as my nails grow really quickly and I tend to start chipping the polish, but this time the polish had lasted really well. The regrowth, on the other hand, was insane! I’m not good with having my nails too long so it was nice to get them tidied up and have a good chat. Another thing in the diary, but my best chance of a bit of time to myself on that day.

I was up early to go for a run on Thursday morning. It was my usual 4 miles and I kept it nice and easy since it was my first post-half marathon. I felt pretty good during the run but for the rest of the day I was feeling a little “off”. No particular symptoms to speak of, but by the time I got home I was feeling really sleepy and still not quite right so I decided to skip my yoga class and take it easy. By this time I had realised that my electrolytes were probably a bit off as that can make me feel kind of ropey, and sure enough drinking lots of electrolytes and having a nap meant I woke up the next day feeling brand new.

On Friday afternoon I actually headed out of school again for a CPD event at Dundee university with a couple of my colleagues. It was a really nice afternoon as we arrived in time to get ourselves some lunch in a nice cafe then the event itself – about approaches to writing – was really enjoyable and provoked a great deal of useful professional discussion. It was an example of the very sort of thing that we just never have time for yet is so valuable when we do. The session didn’t finish until after 5pm and then there were refreshments brought in (orange juice for me since I was driving) so it was a bit after 6pm before I headed off. That meant no workout this week as I was really only home in time to head out for some food.

On parkrunday Steve decided to volunteer and while I would have loved to at least run down, I knew I didn’t have time to run back home again and had to leave before Steve would finish so I ended up driving down. It was one of those runs that felt like pretty hard work, perhaps after racing last weekend and perhaps because there was a bit of a wind, but I definitely felt like I was working a lot harder than the pace I was getting. Still, I hadn’t planned on running really hard so was happy enough with 25:09 at this point.

From parkrun, I nipped home to change and mark a few papers before heading out for another session of SUP yoga. It was so calm when we headed out on the water, but wouldn’t you know, the wind whipped up again just as we got to standing postures! I was fine with the sun salutations but my body just refused to get into a warrior pose this time. Moving to standing on the board was really the first time all week that I felt any residual weariness from the half marathon in my legs, so I just accepted where my body was and carried on with the other postures, before standing to paddle back in again.

The group went for lunch in the cafe afterwards again and this time I broke away from my usual chicken mayo sandwich (my favourite on their menu) and opted for one of the specials – a chorizo and fried egg wrap with rocket and capers. It was so good!!

With that done, it was back home for a glamorous combination of food shopping, exam marking and being amused by the cats, before Steve wanted to watch the football and I decided I fancied having a bath to unwind a bit after such a busy week.

Sunday was race day, but this time we were keeping much more civilised hours. I got up when the chief spokescat declared it breakfast time, but as soon as the wee monkeys were fed I headed back to bed and Steve brought me a cup of tea which I drank whilst catching up on a few social media threads. I got up for some breakfast, got ready for the race and we left around 9:30am to drive to St Andrews (it takes about an hour to get there and it’s worth being sharp for the 12 noon race to ensure you get a good parking place!).

I’ll write a separate report on the race so I won’t say too much here, but we both had great fun. I mean what’s not to like about 5k on the beach, dressed in white and hearing that iconic movie theme, before being rewarded with a medal (which doubles as a bottle opener), fudge doughnut and specially produced beer. We both ate our doughnuts when we got back to the car and the beers went in the fridge when we got home, ready to be enjoyed in the evening.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We then had a fairly restful afternoon, although I did do a little more of my exam work. We also popped out for a coffee but since the weather had improved and I didn’t get an ice cream when I was at the beach, I opted for a Frappuccino this time. Yummy!

So there you have it. A busy week, but the weekend was loads of fun with parkrun, SUP yoga, the beach race – all involving time spent with good friends. I wonder what the week ahead will bring…

Have you ever run or raced on the sand?
What are you looking forward to right now?

Week In Review – Half Crazy!

This was an unusual week for me as my exam marking duties took me away from my normal routine, however I was still able to prepare for my half marathon on Sunday (and enjoyed having a break from the norm!).

Monday – rest
Tuesday – 4 miles
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – 4 miles + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun sandwich
Sunday – half marathon

The week began with me on the train to Glasgow to begin preparations for the exam marking process. It was a day of fairly intense discussion mixed with quite a lot of walking about as I walked from the station to the venue, the venue to my hotel and then out for a look around the shops since I had a bit of time. Since we were based in hotels I was pretty well fed:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And I was excited to find that my hotel gave you a warm cookie as a welcome. So warm it actually fell apart in my hadn’t, hence the lack of photo!

I saw this really cool street art when I was out for a walk:

And after dinner at my hotel I enjoyed a nice relaxing bath before heading to bed. Bliss!

On Tuesday morning I stuck to my usual routine of a 4 mile run, however this time I was leaving from my hotel and obviously was running somewhere different. I opted to run down to the river and head along the riverside path until my watch read 2 miles then turn and retrace my steps. I do know the centre of Glasgow fairly well, however this approach meant there was no need to map out a route in advance as I knew I wouldn’t have time. It greatly amused me that rather than my usual turning point of a lamppost, on this occasion I turned back here:

And saw this classic Glasgow sight on my return!

Once back and showered, it was time to make the most of the hotel breakfast. It was a buffet and since I take these things seriously, I made it a 3 course breakfast (because, you know, I needed the fuel after my 4 mile run haha!) and grabbed an “emergency apple” for later. Apparently I was concerned they might not feed us again lol!

The remainder of the day was back in the room discussing the exam paper… with a bit more food along the way!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When we were finished, I grabbed a drink at Hotel Chocolat with a friend before getting the train home again. In case you were wondering, the kittens were perfectly fine with Steve, however my wee fluffy mummy’s boy was definitely being a bit pathetic and was glad to have me back!

I was back in school on Wednesday, but with a lot of catching up to do and things going on outside of school, I made it a rest day.

Thursday had me back to my normal morning run. I was happy to take it easy as a kind of “mini taper” for my race, but I was also feeling a bit sluggish thanks to all the food at the beginning of the week and probably not having as much rest as I needed.

That evening I had my Ashtanga yoga class, however when I got there I found that we had someone else covering the class. That doesn’t bother me at all, however on this occasion we weren’t doing Ashtanga, it became a Hatha class. At first I wasn’t sure how I would feel about that, but as the class went on I realised that while it might not have been the class I was expecting, it was most definitely the class I needed at that particular moment and I left feeling mentally restored.

I was back on the Glasgow train the next morning as it was time for the big meeting with all the exam markers. Once again a mixed day of walking lots and thinking hard. And yes, the good food was back again (although not pictured this time – it was basically the same).

Steve was Run Director at parkrun on Saturday so I decided this was an ideal time for a parkrun “open sandwich” i.e. I ran there but not home again as I went with him to the café right afterwards. By some miracle I managed to take the run fairly easily and then enjoyed my post-run bacon roll very much.

The rest of the day was pretty busy: we got the food shopping, I went to the hairdresser and then devoted much of the rest of the day to my marking duties whilst also preparing for my race the following day. We had all been sent a not-very-encouraging email with an adverse weather warning as it was looking pretty miserable for Edinburgh on Sunday morning. To be honest, running in the rain didn’t really bother me, but I was very conscious of making sure I kept dry before and after.

With this in mind, I packed a fairly extensive selection of stuff and organised my race kit.

As forecast, the weather was pretty rotten on the drive through and I’d be lying if I didn’t say I had questioned my life choices at that point, however I knew once I got going it would be fine.

It was an “emergency hat” kind of a day!

We parked in our normal spot in town and walked over to the start area at Edinburgh university. The start area changed last year so this was my first time taking part in one of the EMF events since that change was made. I’ll post a separate race report with all the details, however I will say that I quite liked the new start as the university buildings provided proper toilets as well as some shelter from the rain.

Once organised, I headed to my start area (Steve and I were at different points) and waited to get underway. It was a little congested at first so I didn’t spot some of the main landmarks (although to be fair, most I had seen before) but once we hit the coast around 5-ish miles  I knew the rest of the route pretty well.

Prior to the race I had thought that while I might not be in PB shape, I should be fit enough for a sub-2 finish so had my watch set so I could see my overall average pace. I was ahead of the pace I needed for most of the race, but found the last couple of miles tough as we turned into a fairly brutal headwind which made it rather a battle. Still, I was pleased to cross the line with a time of 1:59:09. Yes, perhaps I could have been a minute or so faster, but this wasn’t a big goal race for me and I was quite happy with the experience.

I gathered all the post-race goodies, met Steve and collected my bag. There then ensued a rather inelegant change of clothes in the portable toilets (it was raining and I wanted some shelter for this) before heading up to the event buses to get back into town. After a half or full marathon my body craves McDonald’s (something I just wouldn’t want to eat at any other time) and the bus seemed to take forever. As it turned out, I wasn’t the only one with an eye on the Golden Arches judging by the audible disappointment as we passed by a branch. I suspect if the driver had offered to hit the drive thru there would have been little objection!

We were eventually returned to the start area, where the race crew was busy dismantling everything. It was quite cool to see this part of the event.

Of course we made a bee-line for McDonald’s, pausing only to take photos of a couple of the points of interest we had earlier run by:

Greyfriars Bobby

As ever, I can confirm that my McDonald’s was just what I needed to replace the salts and carbs. Amusingly, we followed it with a quick visit to Hotel Chocolat (well it would be rude not to!) before heading home – the ridiculous to the sublime! I took this photo on the way back to the car: I may keep missing Andy Murray’s gold postbox in Dunblane, but I did spot Chris Hoy’s in Edinburgh!

All in all, a pretty good week. Busy, but a lot of things different to the norm and sometimes that’s just what we need.

What do you crave after a long run?
Do you notice landmarks when you race or are you so focused that you never spot them?

Week In Review – Nice And Consistent

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look at that steely-eyed focus haha!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday Finds – 17th May

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

Well hello there! I hope you have had a great week and have an even better weekend ahead to look forward to. I’ve got a bit of a mixed bag for you this week, so let’s get started with your weekend reading material…

First, a follow-up on the recent story about London marathon pacer Elizabeth Ayres and her viral Facebook post detailing the experiences she, and the participants she was with, endured. While this is still being investigated, the stories shared in this piece about the abuse and shaming “plus size” runners encounter on a regular basis just appal me. I cannot understand why other people would think it’s ok to treat other human beings in the ways described here, especially when they are engaged in healthy activities. What right does someone else have to comment on the choices made by someone they don’t even know and which will not affect them in any way? At a time when the overall health of the nation is often in the news, surely we would be better to offer encouragement rather than knock people’s confidence. We were all taught that if we didn’t have anything nice to say, we should just keep quiet!

As I have often written, running is a great way to improve our mental health – I definitely know that it helps clear the cobwebs away and “resets” me during times of stress or pressure. Here in the UK this past week has been Mental Health Awareness week, so I want to focus the bulk of this week’s post on the mental health benefits of running, starting with a reminder of the benefits we get from running, beyond the physical:

Followed by some first-hand accounts of how running helped improve the mental health of some Runner’s World readers:

Then finishing with this more detailed piece from Grazia which demonstrates the huge difference running can make:

And finally, something a little lighter. Like many others, I’ll be getting my endorphins and boosting my mental health at parkrun this weekend. I’m really looking forward to running it again after being a volunteer for the past two weeks. Volunteering is easy and it gives us that fuzzy warm feeling of having given something back to the community. But spare a thought for Ian Guest, a parkrunner who ended up on quite a journey to get that volunteering glow after he realised he had accidentally signed up to help at the wrong event…but still went anyway! Now that’s commitment to the cause!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Week In Review – Done Resting!

Usually, I like to take two weeks off after a marathon. Once upon a time I would try a run after a few days when the soreness was gone and I thought I was “fine”, but this would inevitably end in an injury as I returned too soon. Since then two weeks has been the sweet spot, even if I was chomping at the bit by the second week. But this time, things felt different. Ok, so my training hadn’t exactly been optimal, but I actually expected that to mean I needed MORE recovery time. Yet for whatever reason – possibly the fact that I basically did my taper BEFORE my longest runs 😂 – the soreness faded within a day or two and I was having dreams about running, something which is usually a signal to me that I’ve had enough of a mental break from it and my body wants to run again. So I decided this week to try an easy run and see how things felt: all good and I could begin to run regularly again; not so good and I could continue to rest, safe in the knowledge that it was the best thing for my body. That run felt good and was enough to tell me that I could now move to a more “active recovery” and build some consistency again since I have a couple of events coming up within the next month:

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

As ever, I began the week with a Hatha yoga class. It was a Monday holiday for us and having been busy over the weekend I made this day pretty restful so yoga was a great way to bring the day to a close and set me up for the work days ahead.

Tuesday was the appointed day for my test run so it was back to the established routine of an early alarm call (kit laid out the night before, of course) and out the door with 4 miles in mind (and plenty of options to cut it short if it became apparent I wasn’t ready to run yet). Straight away I knew it was the right decision. My legs felt good and I kept the pace down, just making sure I felt comfortable and had no problem completing the whole route. It put a smile on my face for the rest of the day knowing that I could get back into my happy place again and now the mornings are light I’m looking forward to early runs when the sun is up and there are signs of summer approaching.

That evening I did a little yoga at home then, with Wednesday pegged as a rest day, I did the same when I got home from work that evening. Two of the English exams were on Wednesday so it had been quite a day of catching up with pupils and looking over papers to reassure myself that they offered good options for the material I had covered – always a big relief!

I was up early again on Thursday for another run. No need for any drills or structured workouts right now, I simply repeated what I had done on Tuesday with an easy pace and ran to feel comfortable rather than anything else. But this time I actually stopped running just a minute or so into the run, not because there was a problem but because I had spotted this on the other side of the road:

The development we live in is really close to some woodland and the houses sit on what used to be a big public garden. I’m told that prior to the houses being there, deer often used to be seen there in the mornings and I’ve spotted them a few times disappearing back over the fence just as I come around the corner, but this one didn’t seem bothered by me and stood watching while I got my phone out to snap a quick picture. Such a nice start to my run!

It was Ashtanga yoga that evening and possibly the thing I was most curious about all week. Last week I had felt good but my body was too weary for a headstand. This week I felt strong, and when it came to headstand I actually held it for a couple of breaths longer than usual. Yet another sign that I was well recovered and ready to train some more.

So with that in mind, I headed to the studio after work on Friday for a session with Steve. I’m still really wanting to focus on my arms for now so he gave me a series of exercises to do combining weights, my own body weight and some mobility. Each round got progressively harder as we played with executing them slowly and with power in different combinations. Hard work but it’s bound to make me feel strong.

I had already committed to barcode scanning at parkrun on Saturday and while I was a little disappointed not to be running, there was no way I was going to back out. I decided to try using the volunteer app for the first time and was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was. I felt it gave much better and clearer feedback so I could check that everything had scanned ok. I also felt like I was moving through runners much faster than with the scanners. I’m a little reluctant to use it for timing (although I’m told it works well for that too) but would definitely recommend it for scanning – just make sure your battery is full as it does use a bit of power.

On any other day I might have squeezed some running in around parkrun, but on this occasion I had other plans…the first SUP yoga session of the year! I was so excited as I loved doing this last year (after I got over my initial nerves) and was keen to get back out on the water. I fully expected to feel a little rusty and need some reminders about adjusting my paddle and getting set up on the board, but as it turned out I remembered everything. I also thought I would feel pretty wobbly, but my body seemed to remember what to do and I happily stood as we moved through some sun salutations and took to my feet to paddle back in rather than staying on my knees as I had at the start. It was a really nice sunny day and fairly still, so ideal for a session on the water. I’m now really looking forward to more of these through the coming weeks. I didn’t take a camera out with me this time so I could concentrate (I’ll maybe take it next time) but a member of the centre staff took a couple of photos while we were in relaxation at the end.

After the session we went to the cafe for lunch and I was pleased to find they still did my favourite from last year: chicken mayo sandwich with the most amazing side salad. Then I indulged in a sweet treat as I spotted some lemon meringue cupcakes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since we had postponed our traditional cooked breakfast treat from last Sunday (we normally do this the Sunday after our marathon but I had other plans that day), we made sure to fit it in this time. But first, we both headed out for a run. I only wanted to do 10k since I was keeping things fairly easy this week, so simply got up, got changed and headed out the door. It was actually a nice, sunny morning again and I’m hoping this means a warmer week ahead than last week!

Getting out sharp meant when I got back in there was plenty of time to get showered and dressed then get down to our chosen cafe in time to get breakfast. I can confirm that it was delicious!

We had to get the food shopping after that so called in to claim our free drink from Starbucks on the way. I noticed they were doing frozen iced teas so decided to try the strawberry lime one. It was really refreshing and a nice change from a frappuccino for those days when you fancy something different.

After that, a pretty chilled afternoon to end the week.

Now that I’ve re-introduced the routine, in the week ahead I’ll start to build up a little more again. Next event in two weeks…!

What’s your favourite indulgent breakfast?
Have you tried the parkrun volunteer app?