Week In Review – Lots Of Yoga!

I know, I know. Things are slipping on the blog a bit right now as the rest of my life is just so busy and my time for writing posts seems to have disappeared. Thank goodness I will soon have some time off to sort myself out! Thankfully I am still managing to fit in a bit of training, but am listening carefully to my body so I don’t overdo things. This past week actually ended up being pretty heavy on the yoga. Here’s how it worked out:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – SUP yoga
Wednesday – short run
Thursday – Astanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun then SUP yoga
Sunday – 10k

For a variety of reasons, Monday was a pretty challenging day for me and despite REALLY needing my yoga time, I found it really hard to focus my mind and kept noticing my thoughts drifting. It was a great class as ever, but my head just wasn’t in the right place throughout and that irritated me.

Thankfully, I was a bit more focused on Tuesday and a session of SUP yoga was exactly what I needed. My friend Ella came along and there were some others new to SUP yoga so it was good to have a range of experiences out on the water. Having made great progress with the yoga postures across the classes I have done so far, I was keen to try standing up to paddle back afterwards, however right at the end of the class the wind suddenly whipped up as if from nowhere and we actually had to do a “self rescue” – lying on our stomachs on the board and paddling back with our arms. Kind of like swimming front crawl but with a paddle board under us.

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IMG_7260On Wednesday things were really busy and once more I felt a little unfocused. Steve suggested a run to clear my head, but I was wary of piling physical stress on top of mental stress so stuck to a short route and easy pace. I definitely felt much better when I got home again!

iHwMM0G3S4mtiSsZZbibMgThursday saw me at another yoga class, this time Ashtanga. My focus was back and I felt like I moved well through the postures. Still working on that headstand but I like having something that I want to improve on and am waiting for that “a-ha” moment that helps me to finally realise what to do.

On Friday I had an appointment to get my nails done but not until a bit later than usual so squeezed in a personal training session with Steve first. We did some work with the TRX and Core Momentum Trainer as well as some mobility work to really test me out. It’s been a few weeks since I went down to the studio and I really enjoyed it.

r0EnpOIlR%CmvcAF+nXzrgThe weekend, whilst much needed, was also really busy. I began on Saturday with parkrun. I really wasn’t sure how I was feeling after a tiring week so decided just to see what happened. And what happened was I ran a sub-24 minute time for the first time since the marathon at the end of April! I said recently that I really wanted to be back in that sort of form before going away on holiday so I guess I’ve achieved that now. It will be interesting to see if my time improves any further in the next couple of weeks.

t4SMTI0eTlKa7ue8637OlgPost-parkrun I was back on the paddleboard for another SUP yoga session. It was raining but with a wetsuit on that didn’t really matter. It was, however, still rather windy so that affected the postures we were able to do. All that yoga, especially the SUP sessions, really worked my core this week!

I had to get myself organised fairly quickly afterwards as we were picking my sister up and heading over to Glasgow for the evening as she had got us tickets to see comedian Michael McIntyre at the SSE Hydro. There aren’t too many food options in that area (and I’m not a fan of the food in the venue) so we grabbed some food at a nearby hotel. I had a pizza which was fine but pretty average compared to the ones Steve makes.

gjqqWgB8S0mtRcPHpJ+PBQThe show, however, was brilliant. I wasn’t a massive fan of the support act, but Michael McIntyre was hilarious so I’m glad we were able to see him, even if it did mean a late night!

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bIp%I7dDRzi7vxNIjP%1kgAs a result, I was pretty tired on Sunday morning so decided to head out for 10k rather than trying to increase my mileage any further. I was pretty tired and sluggish for the first mile but then my body woke up and remembered what it had to do and the rest of the run felt great.

IMG_7302The rest of Sunday involved a number of errands followed by a visit to my parents since it was Fathers’ Day.

How much longer until the summer holidays???

Other than running, how do you combat the stresses of life?
Are you going away this summer?

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Friday Finds – 15th June

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.

Yes, I am late with this. It’s been a bit of a tricky week and time just totally got away from me. But never fear, I do have some interesting bits and bobs to share with you in this week’s Friday Finds Saturday Stories

Since I’m actually writing this on Saturday morning, I’ll start with an article about parkrun. Last weekend parkrun in the UK teamed up with the NHS to celebrate 70 years of the NHS. In this article from The Guardian, Jack Dickenson considers how the two might continue to work together to improve public health.

Next, a report on a recent study into arthritis which suggests that despite what the “you’ll ruin your knees” brigade has to say, marathon runners actually have less arthritis than non-runners. Even more reason to get down to your local parkrun and keep your body healthy!

In a more lighthearted story, Canadian Running magazine rounded up some of the more unusual running-related world records. It must be really cool to know you have, however briefly, held a world record. Problem is, all of these records are faster than my PB even whilst doing something like knitting or carrying an egg and spoon!

I also loved this story from a 50km event in Australia. A couple of race volunteers met a koala along the course and gave it a drink from their hydration pack. What an amazing thing to have happened. I generally just return from a run with a story about stopping to talk to a cat haha!

And finally, I never expected to be including an article from Vogue in a Friday Finds post, but there’s a first time for everything! With International Yoga Day coming up this week, I think I’ve found my ultimate yoga experience – Disneyland Paris! This special event taking place in front of the castle sounds amazing and I only wish I could be there. Work can be such an inconvenience sometimes 😉

Happy reading,
The Running Princess 

Week In Review – Nose To The Grindstone!

I always find this a rather odd time of year in school. On the one hand, it feels like we should be winding down towards the summer holidays, but on the other hand we’re beginning our new timetable so teaching brand new classes and with my additional duties surrounding the recent national exams, it tends to feel like there is an awful lot to do in June! I’m trying to find a balance between continuing to train (since I know it makes me feel so much better) and avoiding completely overdoing things as the last thing I want is to reach the end of this month with a niggle or injury. This week, that required a little bit of creativity:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – early run 3.8 miles
Wednesday – evening run 10k
Thursday – rest
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 8 miles

Monday’s yoga class came at the end of a very timely day off. The authority I work for always takes this Monday holiday at the start of June and I actually used it to catch up on a few chores around the house that had been neglected lately. As a result I felt much fresher than usual when I rolled out my mat, but it was good to have the mental focus and time for myself ahead of what I knew was going to be a really busy week.

PJ4AbEn3QWeNjtNCIG%6BQOn Tuesday we had an inservice day so no pupils but lots of things to do. I had realised that since I had an appointment after work to get my hair cut and a commitment on Thursday evening, fitting in much training was going to be a challenge. So I decided to get up on Tuesday morning and go for a short run. Ordinarily I don’t tend to run on a Tuesday as I like to give my body a bit more time to recover from a Sunday long run, but with my Sunday run having been short, I knew I would be ok. The early alarm was a bit of a shock to the system again and I definitely felt sluggish in the first mile (why did I pick a route that begins with a slight incline???) but once my body woke up it felt good and gave me some happy endorphins to see me into a difficult day.

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fullsizeoutput_25e0Wednesday was the first teaching day of our new timetable (most Scottish schools change early as the pupils who have just sat exams are returning for the last month of the school year and we need to get the new courses started). This meant a whole day of largely unfamiliar pupils in front of me which is pretty draining! I was really glad to get out for a run that evening, even if it was rather warm. Fortunately I found a running top with plenty of “air conditioning” lol!

1Ec%3fhqTRy1BzDmkoF0nAI had thought that I was going to miss out on Ashtanga yoga on Thursday thanks to having plans with my mum and my sister, but as it turned out the class was cancelled this week anyway. I compensated by doing some home practice before getting my lift into town. We were going to see Strictly Come Dancing favourites Ian Waite and Oti Mabuse in their touring show and, as ever, booked in for dinner beforehand. I think I opted for the same starter and main as the last time (chicken strips and a gourmet burger) but this time there was enough time for dessert. Good thing too since I had clocked king of all desserts sticky toffee pudding on the menu!

6aVO%mEpS1GawO3c19dobAThe show itself was brilliant and brought a little sparkle to my week. It was good to get away from the exam duties for a bit since this involves a lot of screen time.

Pzt%8fQzS4mBIzmsK3clngBy Friday, however, I was exhausted. My Friday timetable is pretty full for the year ahead and at this point in the year it’s hard work. I actually needed a nap when I got home (not something I’m in the habit of unless I really need it!) before catching up with some exam stuff. Steve and I went out for some food as usual, and when we got back home I realised I was still pretty tired so opted for an early night. Such a party animal!

But after a good, long sleep I was refreshed and ready to go on Saturday morning. My parkun 100 milestone Tshirt arrived along with my volunteer Tshirt that I wore last week so it was time to give it a whirl.

lsFuwSXnRcyZocfle%EV%gThis was to be just the 3rd parkrun I had run since the marathon and since one of those was pacing, I was curious to see if I could run a bit quicker than the 24:32 I ran on my first post-marathon run. I tried to keep the pace fairly steady and somehow ended up locked in a bit of a battle with two other women who were alongside me for most of the run – we actually all finished within a second of each other! Although they outkicked me at the end, I know I ran the best I could for this point in time and was really pleased with a 24:11. Getting back into the sort of form I like and I would really love to be back in sub-24 form again before my summer holiday (I need all the fitness I can get before running in that humidity!).

IMG_7215After all the usual Saturday errands, I settled in the garden for a while with my laptop to do some exam marking before the sun disappeared and I had to retreat inside.

On a more positive note, Saturday was World Gin Day so Steve and I made sure to mark the occasion with a gin and tonic that evening. We bought this gin when we were getting our food shop and it was actually really nice.

2tt40AtSSNiTNmfV1upBvgSince I had been so tired, I decided not to set an alarm for Sunday morning and just wake up naturally. I woke a bit before 8am (I must have really needed the sleep!) and realised I had been dreaming about cats. Not sure if this is because the exam paper I’m marking happens to be about cats or if I just have cats on the brain generally!

Since I had run 10k midweek, I wanted to stretch things for my Sunday run and go for 8 miles at an easy pace. This meant I could run out to, and through, my favourite woodland path, so after a bit of hydration I got changed and headed out the door. It was actually a bit stickier than it seemed when I left so I was glad to be in shorts and Tshirt, but it was also good to run at an easy pace with no pressure to hit a certain time.

IMG_7246When I got back, Steve had gone out on some errands so I spent some time stretching in the garden and enjoying a bit of warmth on my skin before heading inside to get showered and changed.

It was a tiring week overall, even with a Monday holiday, but then this time of year is always tiring! Roll on the summer holidays…!

Do you get up early to run?
What are you looking forward to this summer?

Week In Review – Fun! Fun! Fun!

It’s been an unusual week – another day out of school for exam marking duties, a couple of more unusual days in school and a full-on weekend of fun events to round it all off. Plenty of training in there too (including a massive leap out of my comfort zone!) so here’s what I got up to:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – bike @ the gym + swim
Wednesday – sports massage
Thursday – run + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun + SUP yoga
Sunday – beach race

The week began pretty much as normal, but with the weather still beautiful I spent some time marking in the garden before going to my yoga class – got to make the most of the sunshine when it puts in an appearance in Scotland! It was the first yoga class in a block that will see us right up to the summer holidays and due to it being a UK bank holiday (not a holiday for me) and the weather being so nice, it was a quiet class but I don’t mind that at all. We worked on a new posture and it was fun to try something different and see how far my body could progress into it right now. It will give a great measure as I continue to work on it.

Tuesday was also pretty straightforward. Work then right to the gym. With my exam marking duties I wanted to be fairly swift so went with a steady cycle for about half an hour then headed down to the pool for a few lengths. Already my swimming felt so much better than last week and I enjoyed being in the water to cool off a bit.

cIUb%3rGQQ2xPg+vPKmIMQIt was from Wednesday that things were a bit more out of the ordinary. First of all, I was out of school for an exam meeting. I was back on the early train to Glasgow and heading to a different hotel for the day (no overnight stay needed this time). It was a beautiful morning and Glasgow is always lovely in the sunshine so I opted to walk to the hotel. A few people had raised their eyebrows at this, but with the logic of a runner, I knew it wasn’t that far since the venue was at the far point of the Santa Run course which is a 5k loop from right by the station I was arriving at. I therefore knew it would be a little over 1.5 miles away and probably only a 30 minute walk. I had plenty of time and really enjoyed the walk.

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H5+roKLuT5+I+BM+7d9rigSince it was so nice I headed out with a friend from the marking team for a walk at lunchtime and everything looked amazing.

8vKvDuouRb2H3GvTSZlVGAThen after the meeting I walked back to the station for my journey home. By the time I got back I had walked a fair distance but still had a run on my schedule. However I also had a sports massage booked and realised I wouldnt be able to squeeze a decent run in before heading along there (it was 6pm and the massage was at 7pm) so began to wonder if I could possibly get up early and run in the morning. I actually laid out my running kit and mentioned to a couple of people that I might do this as that would keep me accountable…

…and I did it! Out the door just before 5:30am for a 4.5 mile run. Waaaaay out of my comfort zone to be running so early but I felt so energised afterwards that I began to wonder if I could do it more often, but as a natural night owl it’s not really best for my rhythms. Still, I know it’s there as a possibility if I need to fit a run in again in future.

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DRnwc0c2TQa+T9UnpLfPQgI rounded off my Thursday with Ashtanga yoga. I was feeling good and surprised myself by managing TWO full rounds of Wheel for the first time. Now I can tick that off as something I have progressed to in the sequence, next up is to keep working on my headstand as I’d love to be able to do this unsupported.

By Friday I was exhausted from 2 early starts and a tiring work day on Thursday and Friday as the pupils were off timetable for our health/activity days. I took a rest day and caught up on myself a bit ahead of a busy weekend.

Saturday was pacer day at parkrun and I had picked the 28 minute slot this month. It was a pretty humid morning so I was pleased not to have to slog it out for a faster time. I also got my first opportunity to wear my new 25 volunteer T-shirt which had finally arrived.

2GUQXPpNTCqdMajUjZRblQI had a group running with me, some of whom were looking to run a faster time than they had been of late, and at least one who was hoping for a PB. I always find it so strange to run along with a group bunched around me – like having an entourage! Despite the heat and the group working hard, we managed to smile for the photographer so it looked like we were all having fun!

34201958_1794687760625242_8411694200835276800_nI came in at 27:52 so everyone wanting sub-28 was fine and there was definitely a PB in there for someone. It’s always so nice when this happens. The runner has put in the work to get that time, but it’s nice to feel like setting a steady pace has helped them to reach that goal and seeing how pleased someone is to run a new PB is fantastic.

Y98W47jTRS2KUjcaIDe3SwPost-parkrun I got myself organised for another session of SUP yoga. It was feeling warm and I was in two minds about the wetsuit but just couldn’t face the idea of going in the water without it so decided to sweat it out in the wetsuit. It was a fantastic session and I was able to stand not just in Mountain pose but in Warrior this time (I only managed this for about a millisecond last time!) so I know I have made progress on the board. Towards the end of the class there were a couple of people in the water so I decided to slide in off the side of my board as I was conscious that I needed to get in the water to overcome my fear of falling in. It felt really nice and I loved just bobbing about with my floatation device on. Now I’ve been in, I’m less scared of the thought of a fall. I’m, also considering buying a “shorty” wetsuit for warmer days as I know I can borrow Steve’s full length one if I need it.

On Sunday I headed to St Andrew for the Chariots of Fire beach race. I’ll write a separate post on this one, but it was a great event and although they suffered a couple of hiccups on the day, I would happily go back again as I really enjoyed it. I mean, dressed in all white, running on the beach to the strains of Vangelis, what’s not to like? A great day out!

g0lx95HSTS+THhuBgfhcvQI do love this time of year when I don’t have anything imminent to train for and can keep my training up but without too much pressure so there’s room for a bit of fun. With all that exam marking to fit in, it’s a welcome distraction!

Do you like early morning runs?
Ever run on a beach?

The Daily Post – Volunteer

What’s not to love about parkrun? The free, weekly, timed 5k has become a staple part of my week since I first went along at the start of 2015. Since then I’ve earned my 50 and 100 run milestone T-shirts as well as my T-shirt for volunteering on 25 separate occasions. And while one of the wonderful things about parkrun is that the milestone achievements are inclusive and can be reached by everyone whether they run, walk or jog their Saturday morning 5k, this post is not about taking part in a parkun, it’s about the crucial role of volunteer – after all, no parkrun event can run without the high-vis heroes who set up, marshal, time, hand out finish tokens, scan barcodes, manage funnels, tail walk, pace, take photographs and clear away in parks up and down the country (in fact, around the world!) every week.

IRVvVcWyTVysW1q5x7JbogBeing a volunteer at parkrun is an awesome job. It gives you the opportunity to interact with all the participants, not just those you normally run/walk beside. It gives you the opportunity to feel appreciated as those taking part smile, wave, nod and say thanks. And it gives you the opportunity to give something back to the parkrun community. Most parkruns have enough participants that if each one volunteered just twice in a year, the whole operation would run smoothly (and give the poor run directors much less stress in the days before the event!).

Yet it can be all too easy for some to overlook the opportunity to volunteer. For those new to parkrun, being involved in the running of the event might seem intimidating. For those suffering an injury, watching others run might be torture. For those who want to run every week and not “give up” a run to help out…shame on you! EVERYONE can find a couple of occasions in the year to help out, and there are a number of jobs to be done that would still allow you to run – I’ve known some super-speedy types to finish their run then grab a scanner and start scanning barcodes, so there really is no excuse not to do your bit. I always sign up to volunteer on the two Saturdays right after a marathon so that I stick to my recovery plan and avoid the temptation to run sooner than I should. I also take on the role of pacer on a number occasions throughout the year. Others volunteer the day before a big race when they want to make sure they are rested. And although turning up to a run when you’re injured sounds tortuous, it’s actually a great way to stay in touch with the running community and still feel involved. I spent much of the winter of 2015/6 volunteering when I had a stress fracture in my foot and I really enjoyed it as I still felt like it was part of my routine and I was getting the chance to catch up with my running friends.

IMG_3972So what do the volunteers actually do? In a nutshell, they make sure that parkun happens every Saturday morning. It’s the volunteers who set up the start/finish areas, stand at assigned marshal points to ensure everyone goes the right way, time runners crossing the line, hand out the finish tokens and scan the all-important barcodes to make sure you get your time later. There are also volunteers who check out the course beforehand, who act as pacers to help others reach a time goal and who take photos of all those grimacing smiling faces striving to do their best. The roles are all really straightforward, and you would only ever be asked to do something you feel comfortable with, especially if it’s your first time. I had only run about 10 times before I volunteered for the first time, and there are plenty who start out by volunteering, perhaps if a family member is a regular participant and they want to get involved too. In fact, if you’re considering going to parkrun but are feeling a bit anxious about trying something new, volunteering can be a great way to see what it’s all about first.

My favourite role is probably pacer. I love taking time away from worrying about my own times to run at an a easy (for me) pace to help someone else reach a new time goal. It’s incredibly satisfying to have someone say thank you and tell me they got a new PB or ran faster than they had expected because they were running with me or keeping me in sight. I also love barcode scanning as I get to be one of the first people to chat to runners after they finish, to ask about how their run was, congratulate them on taking part/getting a PB and help out with any queries.

UntitledFeeling tempted? Then getting involved is dead easy. Either speak directly to the team at your local parkun (they will be delighted to have you on board) or opt-in to the volunteer emails via your event’s website or the option within your weekly parkrun email. You’re sure to love the experience.

How often do you volunteer?
What’s your favourite role as a parkrun volunteer?

Week In Review – Wickedly Good!

Now that I’ve had a couple of weeks off running, this week it was time to re-introduce some easy running to my week. I would only ever start running again on the basis that everything felt good and there were no obvious tight/sore spots remaining. I also make sure to take things easy for a couple of weeks since I know it can take up to a month for the body to be fully recovered from a marathon. Here’s how things shaped up:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – bike @ the gym
Wednesday – short run
ThursdayAshtanga yoga rest
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun + SUP yoga
Sunday – 5ish miles

Monday’s class was the last in the current block of Hatha classes. Next week my teacher is on holiday but we’ll be back the following week for the final 5 week block up to the school holidays. When you say it like that, it makes it sound like there’s not too much longer to go this term, but I know there’s still plenty of hard work ahead too! The class itself was great. It’s always such a relaxed and friendly atmosphere and I love working through the various postures to stretch my body out.

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Trying out my new leggings which have cats on them!

On Tuesday I took myself back to the gym for a cycle. Still no intervals just yet, but I did want to work a bit harder than last week. In the end I was only on the bike for a few minutes longer but covered a greater “distance” in that time so will have a think about how I’m going to develop that next week. Once again, I followed it up with a visit to the hot tub and sauna. Well, my membership gives me access so why wouldn’t I?

All day Wednesday I was keen to get home and into my running kit as this was the day I was FINALLY going to head out for a run. It was a lovely evening and definitely time for the running shorts. The plan was to keep things easy, but for the first few minutes I didn’t pay enough attention so was going too fast for where I am right now, but soon reigned it in. It felt great to be out again, even though starting again always feels so hard. I chose a loop I like that’s around 3.7 miles, starting uphill but with a lovely long downhill later on. The only thing that sullied the experience was a slightly grumbly achilles on my left side towards the end of the run, so when Steve got home I had him check out my movement patterns and guide me on the exercises I needed to do to help it settle down again – no way I want to be on the injury bench if I can avoid it!

cN1hG%ESRs2ZZMSe+6JYrQOn the plus side, Steve came home with another pudding-based gift from a client. This time bread and butter pudding. Yum!

+TKMXJEQQ9C65Mmfeh0vPAOn Thursday my achilles was still bothersome, especially on stairs, so I tried to do the exercises as often as I could. I had hoped to get to my Ashtanga class that night as I thought it might help, however a work commitment meant I just couldn’t get there in time – even with my mat and kit in the back of the car so I wouldn’t have to go home. It was disappointing, but not unexpected so I opted for a home practice instead. I didn’t have much opportunity to do the exercises for my achilles through part of the afternoon so made sure to work on it plenty in the evening and did notice the difference.

When I got up on Friday my achilles felt much better. Literally overnight I had gone from thinking I maybe wouldn’t be able to go to parkrun, to thinking it might still be a possibility. I kept up the exercises to give myself the best possible chance.

It was an exciting day because it was the day I was at long last getting my Christmas present. Steve had got us tickets to see the tour of Wicked in Edinburgh (yes, it involved a decent level of hinting again!) so as soon as we were both home and changed we set off and got the car parked near the venue. We weren’t sure where we were going to eat but knew there were plenty of quick and inexpensive options in the Omni centre next door. In the end we picked Tony Macaroni, a chain I had never visited before, and I was promptly faced with the dilemma of what to order from a menu where EVERYTHING sounded good. After some deliberation, we both opted for pizza. Mine had a bbq base and was topped with bbq sauce, bacon, spicy ‘nduja (I didn’t know this one, but Google tells me its’s a kind of spicy, spreadable pork salami), paprika, mozzarella, rocket and FRENCH FRIES! Ok, so I ordered this one because I was fascinated by the idea of french fries on a pizza. One or two people have said it sounds wrong, but having taken one for the team and tried it, I can confirm that it was delicious!

jnvES40+TBiO+qZLqhi2OAI was, however, a little confused by the couple next to us. They split a pizza between them (literally they were each brought a plate with half a pizza on it) and NEITHER OF THEM FINISHED IT!?! What on earth? That is just so strange to me (and a waste of good pizza!).

The show itself was incredible. Steve got us tickets the last time Wicked toured to Edinburgh as I had been desperate to see it for year, having been obsessed with the soundtrack for a while. I do love a musical and this certainly didn’t disappoint, particularly the finale to Act 1 which is Defying Gravity. There was a great audience too, cheering and clapping, which really added to the atmosphere. A later night, but totally worth it.

Oi8QnnJbR0KyKD5U7ZxN8AI was tired on Saturday morning but I also knew I could go to parkrun as my achilles was no longer bothering me (although I’ll keep going with the exercises for another few days to be sure). I had seen a suggestion earlier in the week that people might want to wear something to mark the royal wedding, so I decided this was the perfect time for this Running Princess to try out her tiara hairband (my sister picked it up for me at the Disney Princess Half Marathon expo at Disney World earlier this year and I really wanted to wear it but was never sure when I could without looking a bit odd!).

IMG_6630I actually love how it sits up like a tiara, and yes it did attract some attention!

zsDR8CorR4GzdeDP0C5ntQI had no expectations for this run as I knew running faster would feel hard. For the first couple of weeks when I start running again I know I need to let go of all expectations while my body gets used to the idea again, after which it will feel a lot better. I therefore expected to be somewhere around 25 minutes.

or1V4SH9R024SVp%MSrEEQObviously, I ended up running faster than was probably sensible, but although hard I still felt I could maintain my pace and with splits of 8:05, 7:59, 8:03 and a last nubbin of 7:00, I ran the the bulk of it pretty steadily for a 24:32 finish. I usually think of 24:30ish as being an indicator that I’m in reasonable form, so to return at that point is pretty pleasing and I know in a few weeks I’ll be able to start bringing that time down a bit again.

IMG_6682Post-parkrun I had my second session of SUP yoga. This time I borrowed Steve’s wetsuit and headed down to the activity centre in the glorious sunshine. This time my goal was to stand on the board (probably briefly before falling off!) and I did manage to stand in Mountain Pose feeling fairly steady (Warrior II was less graceful with only a millisecond in the posture before I wobbled too much, but I did stay on the board). Lying in savasana in the sunshine just felt lovely and I could have floated around out there for hours if I wasn’t melting in the wetsuit – probably should have let myself fall in to feel more refreshed!). Next time, I want to try and stand up to paddle, so still a decent chance of a dunking!

Q9pQRb8eT5GoCBIAOS45kg
IMG_6697One of my favourite moments was when my teacher’s husband took their dog onto the board with him. The dog is a rescue and he’s brilliant. When they first got him he was scared of his own shadow and they’ve done so well to get him settled and trained. He loves to swim in the water and run about with endless energy. He was a little unsure about the board, but did stick it out for a minute or two.

IMG_6700I really like everyone in our group so it was great to have lunch with them again afterwards. The cafe at the activity centre is really nice and since the weather was good we sat outside. I had the same type of sandwich as last time since it was so tasty and we all had a good natter until it was time to head home.

+91dE%NPQrue+RVlQyJFzgI rounded my day off by taking a blanket into the garden to sit and respond to some messages in the fresh air, then headed back in to finally watch the royal wedding which I had recorded. My first childhood memory is of watching Prince Charles and Lady Diana’s wedding and I found myself thinking of that as I watched her son marrying the beautiful Meghan Markle. It looked like a lovely day.

I also got a bit carried away and entered a couple of races – a 5k at the start of June and an autumn half marathon. I’ll need to be half marathon fit for Disneyland Paris, but have no intention of racing so I thought I would enter another race a couple of weeks later to capitalise on that training.

Sunday meant a “longer” run and a chance to get back into my usual routine. I did sleep a bit later after a couple of tiring days then got myself ready and headed out. I thought somewhere between 5 and 6 miles would be ideal right now and settled upon a loop I knew would be somewhere in there. I’ll admit it did feel hard, even at a slower pace, after running faster at parkrun, but I also know this is part of the process of my body recovering from a marathon and getting used to running again. Generally I have a couple of weeks like this then I feel much more settled with my running so I’m happy to ignore my pace and just enjoy being out in the fresh air with my legs turning under me, especially now the weather is a bit nicer.

IMG_6708I’m now looking forward to getting the consistency back into my training and feeling that moment when things start to click into place and I feel strong and ready to build through the summer.

What events do you have coming up?
Do you like musicals?

Week In Review – Getting Restless

Experience has taught me that my “sweet spot” for effective post-marathon recovery is to take two full weeks off (well if it’s good enough for the elites, it’s good enough for me, right?) but I always find the second week tricky. By the time I’m a week on from the race my legs are feeling back to normal, with the difficulty of negotiating stairs just a few days previously now a dim and distant memory, but I know that there’s more to recovery than having my legs feel good. So in the second week I really am fighting the desire to get out there. I get restless and fidgety, even with adding a bit of light cross-training and activity into the week, and would compare it a little bit to that point in the taper where you feel like a coiled spring, ready to unleash your energies on the race (but without the maranoia and constant certainty that the world is determined to make you ill or injured!). Sounds good, but without a race to look forward to, its not always easy to remember WHY I’m not running and quickly get fed up of the time off I was quite keen to have when feeling tired from all the training. Some people are never happy!

Thankfully, I had a fairly busy week to keep me distracted, but by the time the weekend rolled around I was definitely champing at the bit to run which is always a positive sign of a good recovery.

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – easy cycle @ the gym
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – rest
Sunday – rest

It was good to get back to yoga again this week and catch up with some of my SUP yoga pals from the Saturday before. I felt back to “normal” so no need to be looking for adaptations or easier variations this time, although with the option to do so if I found I was wearier than I thought! As always a good class and I thoroughly enjoyed it, especially after my day off work for the UK bank holiday.

Qgl4+kFJTT6gcbqn2NC1VwOn Tuesday it was back to work and I packed my gym kit for a visit to the gym on my way home. Usually this is for intervals on the bike, but I knew better than to do something like that just yet. Instead, a gentle 30 minute bike “warm up” whilst reading my Kindle book, followed by a 10 minute hot tub session then an indefinite sauna recovery😂 . The basic idea was to get my legs turning again, without impact, and to get some endorphins. On days like that it’s always a bit of a disappointment to reach the end of the workout, but it felt good to be active.

Wednesday was a rest day out of necessity. Ordinarily I might have returned to the bike or gone for a swim, but this was the night Steve and I were going to see Skid Row Marathon. The cinema here wasn’t showing it so we had to go to Dundee, about 20 miles away. Not that big a deal but it meant that I was straight home from work for something to eat then away soon after (packing our own cinema snacks of course, because they cost HOW MUCH at the cinema?!?!)

CBerC1vOSXe1BhyaB6abegWe actually bumped into quite a lot of people we knew and I was amused by the conversations I could hear around me as we waited for the film to start as it was near-enough all running-related. You don’t get that on your average cinema trip! The film itself was incredible and a few words here really can’t do it justice, so I wrote a separate post which you can read here.

IMG_6565I don’t tweet much but did take to twitter to discuss this film and ACTUAL Dame Kelly Holmes liked my tweet! Yes I did squeal when I saw that!

Screen Shot 2018-05-11 at 21.29.25On Thursday I had my favourite non-running session of the week, my Ashtanga yoga class. This week I was able to fully embrace it again, working more deeply into postures, moving into ‘Wheel’ for my back bend and choosing to work a little more on my headstand, supported by my lovely teacher. There were only 3 of us and all regulars, which I always like as it means we don’t have so many pauses to demonstrate postures and we can practice more of the Ashtanga sequence. I would love to be able to work in headstand unsupported, so my next goal is to add that into some of my home practice until I feel more confident.

I had another rest day on Friday as it was time to get my nails done. My lovely gold sparkly polish had seen me through my orchestral performance and my marathon, but it was starting to suffer a bit. I had no idea what polish I wanted, but opted for some more sparkle so it was a purple glitter over some black polish. I get my nails done by a friend who also runs so it’s always great to have a bit of time to catch up with her and have a good chat when I go round. Plus, fresh gel polish always makes me feel much more “together” as my nails grow really fast so slightly chipped and overgrown nails is never a good look!

8ExgqdioTlC%GoYil5v+0gSaturday was beautiful. The sun was out and it had a bit of warmth in it. Perfect running conditions and I was glad I had committed to volunteering at parkrun otherwise I might have ended up running (and going far too hard) before the end of my self-imposed break. I know it wouldn’t have been too big a deal, but I’m a stickler for sensibly following my plans!

mW0NfeWnSWm6Op4RSStXqwI was barcode scanning again so took up my same position at the end of the funnel and enjoyed chatting to the other volunteers, some park users I know and, of course, the runners. Parkrunners are generally encouraged to volunteer twice a year to keep things running smoothly, so I always sign up for my 2 in the weeks right after a marathon (plus I volunteer as a pacer as often as I can). So important to get involved and it helps create a balance between using the run as part of my training and helping with the smooth running of the event.

1vf2yjeWR5Cpy%CCRtyA%gI had toyed with the idea of walking to the gym on Sunday morning and having a cycle, but when I woke up it was pouring so I decided to take advantage of the fact that I had no training commitments to instead read a bit of my book in bed then have a leisurely morning getting showered and organised. Steve went out for a run (he has a triathlon and half Ironman to get ready for!) then when he got back we went out for our coffee before lunch as I wanted to visit my parents, mainly my mum, in the afternoon. By a weird quirk of dates, my mum is always away in the US when it’s Mothers’ Day here in the UK, then is here when it’s US Mothers’ Day. Gah! My sister and I have therefore fallen into the habit of presenting her with the requisite card and gift on the US date, but in the UK, since that’s when we’re all in one place! It’s a bit confusing but it works. As it turned out, we timed it perfectly for a refreshment – iced tea and a slice of cake (yes, that is a Disney plate!)

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Now I’m ready to get back into a more regular training routine, but will keep the sessions fairly easy for another week or two.

What’s your recovery strategy?
Did you get to see Skid Row Marathon?

PS Are you following me on Facebook? Blog updates, training updates and right now I’m sharing some archive posts on #ThrowbackThursday.

Week In Review – Recovery and Having Some Fun!

The first few days after a marathon are always pretty interesting, what with tricky considerations like negotiating stairs and rising from a chair without making the same kind of sounds you remember your grandparents making. For me, it’s generally a week of doing very little and eating lots and this week pretty much unfolded like that (but with a bit of fun planned at the end):

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – rest
Wednesday – sports massage
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – SUP yoga
Sunday – rest

As you can see, lots of yoga and lots of rest. The ideal recovery week!

On Monday I wasn’t feeling too bad and a number of people commented on how well I was walking (although this was invariably whilst walking on a flat surface as going down stairs was definitely interesting!). I still wanted to go to my Hatha yoga class as I knew a bit of movement and stretching would be good, but at the same time I left my ego at the door and chose all the easiest options for each posture as both my legs and my core were pretty weary. As ever it was a great class and I definitely felt better afterwards.

And there was one other important thing I did on Monday, because when you’re sore from one marathon the logical thing to do is enter the ballot for another one, right?

fullsizeoutput_252fOf course Tuesday brought with it Tuesday Legs. I got away from work in good time and headed to the gym to sit in the hot tub and sauna for a bit to unwind then when I got home I found a Yoga with Adriene video titled ‘Yoga for Tired Legs’. It was just what I needed!

Things were beginning to improve on Wednesday and there were hints of having my own legs back under me, but I was still very much looking forward to my sports massage that evening. I do this regularly which means my massage therapist can spot any knots or potential problems and she was surprised to find that my legs were in ok shape. Yes, there were some tight spots, but nothing unexpected for right after a marathon so that was good news and the massage made a difference to my recovery.

G%d9BXAiSrGZfr1z3hWt4wI also got home that evening to find the most lovely surprise from my charity:

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I love how they put my photo in it. Such a nice surprise.

By Thursday I was definitely feeling much more myself. I had been sleeping well and was much more mobile. Despite that, I knew I still wasn’t up to tackling Ashtanga yoga at the level I usually would so checked my ego at the door once more and stuck to easier variations and skipped the headstand as I didn’t feel ready for that yet. Again, yoga helped me to feel so much better so it was worth going.

Friday was when things started to get a bit more exciting. I took a complete rest day as I had plans with my mum and my sister. Another of the pro couples from Strictly Come Dancing (my favourite TV show) were coming to Perth with their show celebrating Fred Astaire. Since my sister works at the venue she managed to score us signed programmes which was a bonus.

wzK2FgYfRWa8x408AlO5xAWe booked in to have dinner before the show – chicken strips followed by the gourmet burger for me. I had fully intended to have the chocolate fudge cake as well but there wasn’t enough time before the show. Sad times 🙁

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VLlV+lpOSdyITTe1t3J6og
qvwcS0kYRkORw9jO+5L0DgThe show itself was amazing with lots of incredible dancers, singers and costumes. I could have sat watching them all night – a great way to start the long weekend.

And then it was Saturday. Parkrunday. No running for me just yet so I had put my name down to volunteer and was on barcode scanning duties. Incidentally, someone has knitted little cases for our scanners since I last did this job! I can only assume the scanners were getting cold.

VgmT%l9uTKy5w2Sz%ZcJPg
fWFGtPjpRamnC0m0Z8j2YwI love barcode scanning because I get to talk to the runners right after they’ve finished, and as well as asking about their run I had lots of people asking me about Stirling, which was lovely.

After parkrun I headed off to try something new – SUP yoga. This is something I’ve been really keen to try for a while, but also something a bit out of my comfort zone. Yoga I love, but I’ve very little experience of any water-based activities. But the teacher was my friend who teaches the Monday night Hatha class and there was a group which included several people I already knew all heading down to the local activity centre for the class (the first of a block of 4 which I have booked) so this was the ideal opportunity.

Everything was provided for us – boards, paddles, wetsuits and buoyancy aids – so all we had to do was turn up with a towel and change of clothes for afterwards. We got sorted out with equipment and were given some instructions about how to position ourselves on the board and how to paddle. We then got set up on the water (an enclosed, shallow “pond”) and had a chance to get used to paddling (in a kneeling position) for a bit before making our way to the line which had been set up across the water for us to attach our boards to for the class.

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IMG_6550For this first week we stuck to postures in a kneeling, seated or lying position – child’s pose, cat/cow, kneeling lunge, kneeling warrior, seated forward fold, etc. It was really good and I surprised myself by not falling in the water having, fully expected to be the Bridget Jones of the group (yes, even wrestling myself into a wetsuit was a source of some concern, but this passed without incident). Before I knew it we were paddling back in and heading off to get changed.

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IMG_6555There’s a nice cafe at the activity centre so we all stayed for some food afterwards and a good chat about what we had just done. We were all buzzing and can’t wait for the next session in a couple of weeks.

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VhupV3RIRJCXOZIhoDs+zAI’ll admit to needing an afternoon nap after all that outdoors excitement! The rest of the day was restful after that.

Steve and I have made a tradition out of going out for breakfast on the first Sunday after a marathon as a kind of reward for all those weeks of hard work – after all, it’s now May and we’ve been out running every Sunday this year! We went to our favourite place for a cooked breakfast and polished off this delicious selection:

87yfmB1QT52YElkWKC9sagWe then claimed our free drink at Starbucks (thank you Fitness Rewards) and since it was a nice day it was time for the first frappuccino of the year. It tasted like summer!

TKTPt%pPQICYgs4PqDnyJwWe then had a nice relaxing afternoon. The day felt so long without a run to fit in and was a nice way to round off the week.

Have you/would you try SUP yoga?
What would be your ideal day “off” training?

Friday Finds – 4th 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.

May the fourth be with you! (I’m not much of a Star Wars fan but I always love that joke!). It’s a bank holiday weekend here in the UK so if you have an extra day off then I hope you have something great planned. Personally, I’ll be enjoying the downtime after last weekend’s marathon. But to get the weekend started, here are some bits and pieces for your reading pleasure…

Being less than a week on from a marathon (race report coming this weekend!) I found this first article particularly interesting. On Monday and Tuesday, walking was definitely “interesting”, especially stairs, and I could feel every one of those 26.2 miles in my legs. Today, my legs feel just about back to normal and already the memory of those sore, tight muscles is fading, so I read with interest this explanation of why we soon forget the pain and discomfort of the race. What really stands out to me is the reference to the “episodic” nature of our race memories and that is certainly true for me – for all of my marathons I can remember particular moments clearly whilst there are other parts of the course lost to the mists of time. Even from Sunday there are no doubt details missing, yet I have incredibly strong memories of particular parts of the course where I got a shout from someone I knew or a landmark stood out. The human brain truly is a wonderful thing!

Also of interest is this next piece about marathon running and colds. The received wisdom has always been that hard workouts can lower the immune system and marathon runners often report getting colds soon after their race. But according to some latest research, this is not necessarily true. If you feel like you often get ill after a marathon or tough race/workout then this might be worth a look.

One of the things that I believe helped me to run well this time was working on my mental strength. I knew my legs could carry me 26.2 miles but wanted to make sure my mind wouldn’t give up before the finish. In this article we learn a bit more about this from US elite Deena Kastor, whose book I am currently reading. I’ll write a review for the blog once I’m done, but I would DEFINITELY recommend it from what I’ve read so far. Here are some insights:

I was also pleased this week to read the confirmation of what we runners pretty much knew already – running makes us happier. Research amongst users of parkrun and Strava (two of my favourite things!) reveals that those who run regularly score themselves higher on the happiness scale than the general population. What’s particularly interesting is that the social aspect of parkrun and sharing runs on Strava contributes to this greater happiness. As a massive parkrun fan, I can definitely see how that would happen as I always look forward to my Saturday morning parkrun fix.

And finally, if you’re always looking for the perfect food to fuel your adventures, perhaps a peanut butter and jelly (jam here in the UK) sandwich is worth a try. Based on this article, it’s the perfect fuel and there’s perhaps something in that as Scottish cyclist Graeme Obree famously set records after fuelling with his favourite jam sandwiches! One to consider…?

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Week In Review – Here We Go!!!

Yes, indeed. Race week has rolled around once more, and with it a whole new level of maranoia in which my Pocket Bac was attached to me (because the germs wanted to hunt me down), I thought my calf hurt (it didn’t), I thought I was getting a cold (I wasn’t) and I generally wanted to be enveloped in bubble wrap and shut off from other people 😂

IMG_0497Sadly, that wasn’t possible so I had to go to work as usual in the germ factory of many many young people (hence the Pocket Bac lol!) as well as complete my last, gentle workouts ahead of the marathon:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – bike reps @ the gym
Wednesday – form drills
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – RACE DAY!!!

For me, taper weeks are all about continuing with the routine of my workouts but dialling down the volume a bit as the race gets nearer. That way I don’t go totally crazy but make sure I feel fresh and ready to go on race day. All my key workouts were in place this week, but the running was much more minimal so as to save my legs for the big day.

I began the week with my Hatha yoga class, which is always a gentle stretch out but with options to add a bit more intensity or work on strength. I often do choose different options, but I imagine my class the day after the marathon will see me choosing all the easiest options there are. Maybe spending the whole class in savasana?

On Tuesday I headed for the gym straight after work. My bike reps have been increasing in number by 2 reps per week up to 20 before changing the resistance level of the bike, and this week was 20 reps at my current level as a finale to this cycle of training. While that sounds like a lot, it was still early in the week and was a non-impact workout so it was fine to do this given that the rest of the week was going to be pretty gentle. There was something very satisfying about completing this set and rounding off all the hard work I’ve been doing – 20 reps at an intensity level I would barely have managed 1 at back in January (and for those wondering, yes I did get the bike I like!).

7qb9STY4RamPdw43%andpwI usually alternate form drills and hill reps on a Wednesday, but this week stuck to the drills. Last week I did 10x 1km so this week dropped it back to 6x 1km. Including my warm up and cool down that gave me less than 6 miles so was an ideal workout to keep my legs ticking over and allow me some sections of faster running to satisfy the urge created by having fresher legs. I’ll admit the first couple of reps felt a little hard, but they were mainly uphill and it was a bit windy so I felt great after that.

IMG_6423Even better, I got home to find that one of Steve’s clients had baked him a carrot cake. Cake = carbs so I had a slice with a cup of tea after I ate. It was delicious!

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ABzSp9IJQySiLBgFpMFEeQThursday was Ashtanga yoga. I was pretty last-minute getting there thanks to some unusually heavy traffic, but soon settled in and enjoyed the class. I was super careful not to overdo things and asked for support in my headstand as I didn’t want to risk taking a tumble, but I really wanted to stretch things out and clear my head so this was ideal.

By Friday a rest day was in order. I had as restful a day as possible then did a short Yoga with Adriene video so I would feel like I had a little activity. We then headed out to eat as usual and I decided I fancied the curry this week. Yes, that is a beer you see but I always have a beer on a Friday and it’s important to do everything the same in the days before the race, right?

P5pvTi1RQPmx0I77c4JftgBefore I knew it, parkrunday was with us once more. I knew I shouldn’t do too much so drove there, paid for a parking space at the park rather than walking/jogging from a free space further away and treated the run as a shakeout run. I decided that averaging out around a 9 minute mile would be good and so a time absolutely no faster than 27 minutes (but probably nearer 28 minutes) would be ideal.

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National Superhero Day = Wonder Woman leggings

I positioned myself a bit further back behind crowds of people with the strict instruction to myself not to weave about, then tried to settle into my pace. I felt fresh and ready to go, so the taper had done its job. I actually managed 9:08 for the first mile (well done me!) then caught up with someone I’ve not spoken to in a while so ran with her for a bit to have a chat. This took in the grass section (yes, we were FINALLY back on our main route!) and kept my pace down to 9:20. I did speed up a little in the last mile to 8:50 and allowed myself to kick it up for the last tiny bit for a faster finish, but overall I did get my planned average with 9:03 and a 27:55 time. Perfect!

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Photo from Perth parkrun facebook page. No, I didn’t spot the photographer 😂

I spent the remainder of the day sitting down/relaxing as much as possible and got all my kit sorted out for Sunday morning as I knew it would be an early start so wanted to be as organised as possible.

KcAAk30YTEShARkyD8rauwDinner was carb loading with some of Steve’s amazing pizza (he used to be a pizza chef before he trained as a Personal Trainer – useful!).

GQ0+1AHHTuyAIak76RHv6QThen I had a nice bath to help me relax and sleep well. It felt so strange actually being at home the night before a marathon. Almost like I wasn’t really doing it, which was good as I felt relaxed.

N4LTpq5eQGaRUjfbpkyidQI’ll write a separate post soon on the race itself, but anyone who follows me on social media or knows me in real life will probably already know how it went. My main goal was to do the best I could under whatever circumstances presented themselves on the day. Turns out my best was 4:05:40. That’s only 33 seconds slower than my PB (set in Paris, a much flatter course than Stirling!) and I really wasn’t expecting that. Had you twisted my arm last week I would have suggested between 4:10 and 4:15 as my likely finish time so I’m absolutely thrilled with this. I guess it just goes to show what’s possible when the pressure is removed and you trust in the process. More on that in a future post.

IMG_6499Post-race it was nice to be home quite quickly, showered and enjoying some food. Chinese really hit the spot!

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M+nb6+u1SfyoL8KQLkNQCwThen we shuffled to the pub down the road for a celebratory beer before heading home so I could have a nice hot bath with epsom salts before bed. Rock and roll!

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Rehydrating like a pro!!

As marathon weekends go, it was a great one!

8wkBqBnaR86Qh+sG9Dr0mAWhat’s your favourite post-race food?
Would you prefer to be in a hotel or at home the night before a race?

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