Friday Finds – 24th April

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.

Everyone ok? I’m back to let you know that today is definitely Friday (I checked!) and share a few bits and pieces of reading material to help you pass the time. Mind you, lots of outlets really are working hard to keep the content coming to stave off boredom right now. In some ways, I quite like it (but having a bit more freedom wouldn’t go wrong!).

Let’s start with a few recent bits related to the current global pandemic and its impact on running and fitness:

This piece by Matt Lindner for Medium really resonated with me as I recognise so much of what he covers – the empty streets, the feeling of being the only one about and the opportunity to shift the time that I run so there’s not quite such an early start. Running and other workouts are definitely one of the things helping to keep me in balance right now and I know I’m not alone in that

Also in Medium, Rui Bento reflects on his marathon journey on a day when he should have been running his next. While I didn’t have a spring marathon planned this year, I did have running plans and have found some comfort in remembering previous race experiences. How about you?

Meanwhile Runner’s World reports on another unusual lockdown marathon – this time INSIDE a Premier Inn. I just don’t think I could face it!

As well as highlighting the ways in which being fit can help to protect us against the most severe symptoms of Covid-19.

Moving to other topics, this next piece is a bit older (from last autumn) and I’m trying hard to overlook the use of a capital ‘P’ when “parkrun” is all lower case, but the part that stands out to me most right now is about the idea of devotion to parkrun, the community spirit and group identity people gain from being a parkrunner. That’s even more obvious just now as people seek ways to create makeshift parkruns in their gardens or replicate the post-run coffee with video calls. From parkrun itself there is the weekly quiz and other online content designed to keep that spirit alive. I just wish it hadn’t taken a pandemic for us to truly realise that it always was so much more than a run.

If you’re looking for a longer read then the BBC published this piece profiling everyone’s favourite marathon runner, Eliud Kipchoge.

And finally, we may not be racing any time soon, but we can still amuse ourselves with some race-related pet peeves. Anything you would add to this list? For me it’s the “unisex” (not a thing) race T-shirt which invariably looks like a tent on me and cannot ever be worn. There are still too many race organisers who need to learn that women are not small men and produce appropriate items – after all, we’re paying the same entry fee. (Yes, this one REALLY annoys me!).

Stay safe. Be kind. Wash your hands.
The Running Princess 

Week In Review – Let’s Catch Up!

If you regularly read my posts then you’ve maybe noticed there’s been a bit of a gap since I last published anything – you might even have wondered, passingly, why not. The answer (for those interested) is that life just rather got in the way for a bit there, with our school inspection being followed by mock exams, coursework deadlines and a mild but ill-timed head cold. All of these things combined left me feeling pretty wiped out and since I’ve been putting in a lot of extra time at work, even if I had the time to write anything, the mental capacity just wasn’t there. Today I’ll catch you up and then (hopefully) get back to a reasonably normal posting schedule.

Week 1:
Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 3.9 miles, PT session with Steve + home yoga
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – rest
Friday – rest
Saturday – rest
Sunday – rest

The first week after my last Week In Review post began perfectly normally with my Monday night Hatha class. The session was all low to the floor and focused on building strength.

The next morning I was up as usual for my morning run, but it was yet another slippery morning. I kept the pace down and had to cut my route a little short, hence the 3.9 rather than 4 miles. But when I stopped running I noticed that I coughed a little bit and wondered where that had come from. I was fine the rest of the day, so figured it was probably just the cold air in my lungs.

After work I had a TRX workout in Steve’s studio then headed home for a little  bit of yoga.

I hadn’t planned a workout on the Wednesday as I was getting my nails done, but noticed throughout the day that my throat felt a little irritated and I was coughing a bit. I decided it would be wise not to run on the Thursday and focus on getting some extra sleep to try and nip whatever it was in the bud. This turned out to be the best course of action as I felt pretty wiped out on the Thursday and Friday but was able to shake off the cold completely over the weekend once I got a bit more rest. I even skipped Ashtanga yoga on the Thursday in favour of a relaxing bath and time at home.

Licorice soothes my throat and these are my favourite!

The remainder of the week was pretty much written off. I went to work as usual but it did make me feel pretty tired as I was trying to focus on marking mock exams at a time when my head felt like cotton wool. But everything else was off the table – no parkrun on the Saturday (yes, I missed Leap Day parkun) and no Sunday run. Instead I spent most of the Saturday relaxing and napping, then took it easy-ish on the Sunday with a quiet day at home and a little marking. It did the trick though and I felt so much better going into the new week (not much to be done about the constant tiredness at this time of year!). At least the kitties were pleased to have me about, even if their approach to marking was a little unhelpful!

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

Although I was feeling better, my routine wasn’t entirely back to normal in the second week as my friend who teaches my Monday night yoga class had been in touch over the weekend to say that she wasn’t feeling great and was going to cancel the class for that week. She probably had something similar to me so I totally understand her decision and did a yoga session at home instead.

I could probably have run on the Tuesday but decided to play it safe and have a full week off running before returning, just to make sure I was fully over the cold. I did, however, head to the studio for another TRX workout when I got home.

After my usual Wednesday rest day (read: another chance to work late to plough through mock exams and coursework) I made the Thursday my return to running with a gentle 4 miles. One thing I really noticed was how much lighter it was at the end of my run. It won’t be long until I can put my hi-viz away for the summer!

Sadly I didn’t make it to Ashtanga, despite my best intentions, as I had too much to finish at work and just didn’t make it back in time.

My Friday workout with Steve was a series of exercise variations based around press ups and using my body weight.

Then it was back to the parkrun sandwich on the Saturday. I fully expected to be over 25 minutes as I didn’t really want to push too hard, so was pleasantly surprised to be just under 24:30.

I spent the majority of the rest of the day at home thanks to a poorly puss throwing a spanner in the works. Nothing serious, a fairly routine matter easily and quickly resolved with the correct treatment (she’s perfectly fine now), but feeling out of sorts tends to make this one pretty grumpy and she takes it out on her poor brother so we had to keep them apart for a bit in order to keep the peace! However we had been invited to the press night of the latest show at the theatre (one of my favourites – The Importance of Being Earnest – and with the fabulous Karen Dunbar as Lady Bracknell) and Steve insisted that I should go while he stayed at home with the cats. My protestations of having work to do were met with a refusal to let me do anymore so I did end up going and I’m glad I did as the performance was fantastic. I even treated myself to an ice cream and managed not to wince too visibly at the price!

And on the Sunday I figured I would be best to drop back to 8 miles and build my distance up again. I took a route out to and through my favourite woodland park, which was a nice mental break after feeling like I was spending every waking hour at work!

So there you have it. The short version is I had a cold and probably spent too much time at work, but hopefully I can get my posts back on track now.

What have you been up to since I last posted?
Do you like going to the theatre?

Week In Review – An Inspector Calls

Do you ever have something going on in your life that seems to be the end point of all you can see? Kind of like your diary goes up to that event and you can’t really see anything past it? That’s how the last couple of weeks have been for me with the preparation for our school inspection and the experience of it this past week. My mind just didn’t compute anything past the end of the inspection week and now I find myself on the other side of it, a little surprised that everything else carries on and there are lots of other things still to do!

So with such a busy week and loads going on, I decided that I needed to be kind to myself. I knew that I would be mentally and physically drained, even with some down time last weekend, so didn’t want to put any pressure on myself with regard to any training that I did. On the one hand, I knew it would make me feel better and refresh me, but on the other hand I didn’t want to overdo it so for this week I had an “anything goes” attitude – my training was what I felt was right in the moment rather than a fixed plan…and it was ok to keep changing my mind! Here’s how the week ended up:

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

Even just typing that out, some of these activities seem so far away now and I’m glad of my training diary otherwise I likely wouldn’t remember what I did in the early part of the week! At first glance, it doesn’t look massively different (in terms of routine) to other weeks, but there were some tweaks and changes behind the scenes to reduce the overall load.

I actually felt pretty good as the week began. I was fresh from a long weekend where I made sure to take some time for myself and the inspection “proper” didn’t begin until the afternoon so at that point I had little awareness of it as an event. Still, I was glad to get on my yoga mat in the evening as I knew I would need the clarity and mental reset it would offer. We mixed things up a little by adding Gate variations into our session for the first time (although we’ve included it in SUP yoga, we’ve not done it in a studio-based class before). Then it was as early a night as I could manage as I knew Tuesday was going to be busy.

I stuck to my Tuesday routine of starting with a run, and enjoyed it despite the snow, wind, rain and cold temperatures I experienced within the first mile. I guess there’s nothing quite like tough conditions to distract you from everything else! On the plus side, the pavements were free from ice and frost so I was able to run without having to worry about my footing and the bracing conditions certainly gave me a bit of a lift to start the day.

My suspicion was that I would have an inspector observe my teaching at some point on Tuesday (we don’t know a specific time they will come to us, nor how long they will be in our classrooms) and that’s exactly what happened. On reflection, it was a positive experience, but the anticipation of something like this and the knowledge that it could be at any time (potentially more than once) does take a toll on your energy levels as you’re in such a state of high alert all the time. In the first instance I felt on a high that it was “done”, but knew I could crash and burn later. I had to keep my energy levels up as I was also involved in a focus group at the end of the school day and wanted to make sure to contribute my ideas and express myself in suitably professional terms, so there was no easing off into the afternoon. By the time I reached the studio I was feeling quite tired, but still wanted a workout to give me a different focus. This workout was probably a bit less intense, but served its purpose in giving me a break from school and the inspection, to instead focus on how to execute a move on the TRX.

To help me wind down, I completed a home yoga practice when I got home then settled down for a quiet evening.

I was glad of the rest on Wednesday as it’s always my busiest day, but another yoga session at home after work was welcome.

Another change I made was on Thursday morning. Conditions were fine for a set of form drills, but I didn’t feel like that was what I wanted to do, so opted for an easy 4 mile run instead. I didn’t want to work hard, I just wanted to have some time on my feet in the fresh air to clear my head at the start of the day. Despite the rain, that’s exactly what I got and I enjoyed it.

I also went into my Ashtanga class that evening with no expectations other than to work through the sequence in whatever way felt right for me that night. My body felt tired so I figured a headstand wouldn’t happen but wanted to see what happened if I tried to take both feet off the floor without any support. Perhaps because I had removed all pressure or expectation, I managed to hold a bent-legged headstand (i.e. both feet were off the floor but I didn’t straighten my legs out) for 5 breaths before feeling that I was losing my form. That gives me confidence that I am improving and need to try to slow things down rather than rush to get into the full posture.

By Friday afternoon my brain felt like mush. The inspection was over by lunchtime and I hadn’t been directly involved since Tuesday, but until the team left the building I didn’t feel like I could relax. As soon as that happened, I think all the pent up anxieties of the week gave way to feeling like the plug had been pulled and I was so glad when the bell rang for the end of the day. My head of department was encouraging us all to head off home and relax, and I didn’t need told twice to get out the door as I had been there later (and arriving earlier) all week. I was exhausted! I did go to the studio for another TRX workout, but again it wasn’t anything too intense as Steve saw how tired I was and at the end of the workout he suggested that I go home and have a bath.

This was the best suggestion ever and it made me so happy when my bubble bath ended up looking like this:

Even my bath is Disney themed!

Normally we go out to eat on a Friday night, but this week Steve had bought us some steaks and was going to serve them with home made chips and a chilled beer. This meant that when I got out of the bath I could get changed straight into my pyjamas and relax in my comfy chair watching tv for the evening. Perfect!

I did feel better when I woke up on Saturday but knew it would take more than a bath and a good night’s sleep to really re-energise me. The weather wasn’t too great, flipping between snow and sun so quickly I couldn’t keep up. Steve had a client before parkrun and normally this would be for a run, but with the weather how it was it was switched to a studio workout instead. I had as long a lie as I could possibly manage, then got dressed to run down the road.

I had decided not to run hard this week, and I did stick to that. Yes, I wanted a harder effort than my run down, but still feeling comfortable and not pushing for a fast time. In the end I was a few seconds over 24 minutes, which amused me as I can still remember when I would have considered that a fast time! But somehow I was so busy chatting afterwards I neglected to take a photo. Oops! As the skies clouded over once again, Steve asked if I wanted a lift home rather than running. Ordinarily I would have still run, but as part of my mission to be kinder to myself this week, I accepted the lift as it meant I would have time for a shower before heading out again for breakfast, rather than being “parkrun fresh”. (I actually don’t mind being parkrun fresh, but I remembered how cold I got last week. I wanted to get properly warm and dry before getting on with my day).

I tried to relax in the afternoon and having a bath helped, but in the evening we were out at a birthday do for some close friends of Steve’s family. Feeling as tired as I was, I probably wasn’t the best company and being with people I didn’t know in a noisy environment didn’t make it easy to talk. Thankfully none of us were up for a terribly late night so I was home and in my bed at a reasonable time. Yes, I am middle aged when it comes to these things haha!

With no alarm set for the morning, I was able to sleep until I naturally woke up and had a really lazy morning reading, drinking tea and cuddling in with the kitties until after 10am (unheard of for me!) before getting organised for a run. I was still feeling tired so decided that although I wanted to run and the conditions were ok (sunshine!) it was probably best to keep it short. While I’m not physically tired, the body just doesn’t know the difference between mental stress and physical stress, so I didn’t want to create any extra stress which might lead to me becoming ill of injured. I still remember how many times I was unwell last year and don’t want to repeat that; I want to learn the lessons from those months and make sure I look after myself. After all, a shorter run is far better than missing out because I pick up a bug or a niggle. I actually could (and would) have stayed out longer, but knew I was making the right decision for the day and was glad I had committed myself to a 10k rather than anything longer. Check me out being all sensible!

And that’s where I finished my week. I had a few errands in the afternoon but made sure to have some time to sit, relax and focus on myself, before having my usual Sunday night bath to set me up for the week ahead. Plenty more to do before I can have a proper break!

What do you do to prioritise self care?
Do you change your training plans during busy/stressful times?

Week In Review – Break Time!

This was definitely a week of two halves – REALLY busy in the early part of the week at work as we prepared for our inspection, then much more laid back as it was the long weekend we get for our mid-term break. That break was probably exactly what I needed to hit reset and get a bit of rest before a Really Big Week at work. I also made a few tweaks to my training to take account of how I was feeling and the weather conditions (Storm Ciara segued “seamlessly” into Storm Dennis).

Monday – rest
Tuesday4 miles PT session with Steve + home yoga
Wednesday –  3.5 miles + home yoga
Thursday – 5 miles + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve + Hatha yoga
Saturday – parkrun open sandwich + home yoga
Sunday – 10.5 miles + home yoga

The start of the week was really rather quiet training-wise. I had parents’ evening on Monday (the last one for this school year – yippee!) which meant missing my yoga class and what with everything else going on at work right now, overall it was a really busy day and I was exhausted by the time I got home, not least because it was a fairly tricky journey with lots of snow still about courtesy of Storm Ciara!

This meant that when my alarm went off for my Tuesday morning run, I just couldn’t face it. I STILL felt really drained from the day before and the conditions outside sounded truly awful – high winds, heavy rain – so after a quick check of the weather forecast for the following day, I decided to postpone my run and have a bit more sleep instead. I think this was probably the best idea as even though a run would have made me feel good, it was far better at this point to prioritise rest and recovery.

But I didn’t want the whole day to be a write-off so still had my PT session with Steve at the end of the day. For this one he had worked out this sequence whereby one exercise was added for each set. The first round was a simple squat, and by the end there were all sorts of other things along the way, such as a tuck jump burpee! It certainly mixed things up and woke me up!

Once home, I got back to some home yoga again as I thought it would be a great way to settle myself down a little before doing some work in the evening.

I did get up for my run on Wednesday morning and while the wind had settled a little and the rain was off, this time it was the underfoot conditions that were tricky as all the rain/snow showers from the day before had frozen so there was black ice and white, frosty paths. The roads were ok so I was able to create a shortened version of my usual run route and kept the pace down to avoid slipping. This run was more about getting time outside and adding some movement and headspace to my day than anything else, so it didn’t really matter what sort of run it was.

It was an inservice day at work and we were given almost the whole day (bar a meeting first thing) to focus on getting organised for the inspection. I was really glad of this as it had allowed me to plan for using that time for some displays I wanted to update and lesson plans I wanted to tweak, but it was still quite full-on and I instructed Steve to make sure I didn’t do any work when I got home that evening as it had already been such a busy week that I knew I had to stop and take a proper break in order to look after myself. So when I got home I made sure to do some yoga then settled down for a cosy and quiet evening.

Thankfully, that was it for work for the week (at least as far as turning up to the building was concerned) with Thursday and Friday being our mid-term break. There were a couple of things I still wanted to do for work but decided to take those two days for myself and catch up with the work stuff on Saturday afternoon. It may be a big week ahead, but I’ll be no good without proper rest to set me up for it. My car was booked into the garage on Thursday as I needed some routine work done, so I dropped it off first thing and ran the scenic route home. In better weather I would have run some form drills, but Steve had been concerned that it would still be slippery, plus there was still some wind and rain about so simply getting a run in was perfectly fine. It’s actually only about 2 miles from the garage to our house, so it was quite a detour I took to bring it to 5! Even better, I arrived home to find that my most recent virtual race medal had arrived – I just couldn’t resist Bagpuss!

I had some other errands to take care of so dealt with those in the afternoon before collecting my car, thus freeing up most of Friday for some me time. Then in the evening I had my Ashtanga class. It was interesting to be in the class feeling more rested that usual and I was conscious that I felt strong in so many of the postures. When it came to headstand, I did a little work on it by myself, holding it for about a breath or so, then had my teacher support me to hold the position for a little longer. Still building confidence there.

On Friday morning I had the time to start the day with some (professional) reading in bed with a cup of tea and the kitties.

I then headed down to the studio to have my PT session in the morning; press up variations using grips. These were really targeting my core as well and my abs have been reminding me of their existence ever since!

I’m surprised I managed a smile rather than a grimace!

My next port of call was a yoga class. Since I missed my Monday night Hatha class, my teacher was happy for me to go along to her Friday morning class instead. It’s good that she lets us do that as we pay in blocks rather than for individual classes so this means we can “catch up” if there’s one we have to miss. I think I prefer yoga in the afternoon/evening to the morning, but it was still a nice way to unwind as I had planned a quiet afternoon doing nice things for myself. By which I mean Disney movies with my blanket, several cups of tea and kitty cuddles.

We rounded off our day with our usual meal at the nearby pub and, since it was Valentine’s Day, opted for a steak dinner. Delicious!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was clear on Saturday morning that it was going to be another “character building” parkrun with a forecast of wind and rain as Storm Dennis made his entrance. Steve was RD so he went out for an early run, at which point the weather was ok, and even as I ran down to parkrun it was fine, but as the run progressed the conditions got worse – and my pace got slower! in the end I did (just) squeeze under 24 minutes, but it was quite a battle, especially on the home straight where I was running into a strong headwind and felt like I was going backwards!

Still, another parkrun done and this one was my 200th – not an official parkrun milestone and therefore not one that should be routinely celebrated, but some RDs at our parkrun do mention unofficial milestones in their briefings, especially when there aren’t many other milestone runners that week, and Steve did call out mine so I got my photo taken for this week’s “rogue’s gallery” haha!

Post-run I helped Steve out with some bits and pieces as we were going straight to the cafe for him to process the results, rather than running home. Thankfully I had the foresight to send him off in the car with a complete change of clothes for me, so I was a bit warmer than I would otherwise have been thanks to being soaked from the rain!

After all that effort I DEFINITELY wanted a bath to warm up in the afternoon, and it made me smile to see that my bubble bath had arranged itself into a love heart!

When I woke up on Sunday I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do for my run. I knew that it would be dry at the point when I wanted t go out, but the high winds and strong gusts would still be about into Monday so there was no avoiding another tough run. So how far to go? Steve had been out earlier and suggested trying to run in fairly built up areas to get a bit of shelter, so I ended up heading out with with no overall plan other than to take things as they came and see what happened. I ended up going in a different direction to begin with, then reversing some of my staple route to end up with a hard-earned 10.5 miles. I also discovered that there really was no tailwind! Despite running in a loop, pretty much every way I turned I seemed to be running straight into the wind. It definitely felt hard in places, but no doubt will be good for me long term. Besides, with no real plans right now other than to run for enjoyment, it doesn’t really matter what my run is, I’m just enjoying the time on my feet and headspace running gives me to reset and get some fresh air – and there was certainly plenty of air about on this run!

To give you a flavour of the conditions, here are a couple of pictures Steve took when he was out. The first one should be a viewpoint looking out at the river. The second is what would normally be part of our regular parkrun route (we’re still on our alternative course right now).

The water isn’t high enough for the flood defences to be activated, but there’s still quite a bit of high water here! The rain seems to have stopped for now but the high winds are still here so who knows what the week ahead will have in store!

How did Storm Dennis affect you?
What’s your favourite thing to do for a bit of down time?

Week In Review – I Love It When A Plan Comes Together!

After the most endless January of all time, February now seems to be zipping by quite quickly. Maybe it’s the impending inspection at school and the bucketloads of work heading my way with mock exams and coursework deadlines right after, but for me time seems to be moving pretty quickly right now. And with so many challenging days ahead, I’m making sure to find time to focus on more enjoyable things to come and this week pulled together some of my plans for the year – more on this in a separate post I hope to write later this week. In the meantime, here’s how training went for me this past week:

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

Monday’s yoga class was the last in the present block and this week we had no balance postures but took the opportunity to build strength through working in postures based around lunges. I love how Hatha offers a variety of ways to work – gentle and close to the mat, building strength and improving balance. It’s the way these are combined that mean every session can be different and I think that’s what I enjoy about this class.

Tuesday was a bit chilly but still decent running weather so I enjoyed my early morning, easy paced 4 miles to set me up for the day. Nothing in any way remarkable about this run, to be honest.

Then after work I went to Steve’s studio where I’m convinced he is now inventing exercises for me! This time I did lots of press up variations, using a pair of kettlebells as grips to change the stability of what I’m doing as well as opening up a greater range of movement.

Then a little home yoga when I got home to round off my day.

Wednesday ended up being a total rest day as I had arranged to get my nails done. My gel polish was definitely overdue for a change, having been on for almost 4 weeks!

But I was back on it on Thursday morning with some form drills. I’m pleased that the weather has allowed a bit of consistency in building these up a bit, and I was able to add a further 2 reps on to my set. Looking at the forecast for the week ahead, I’m not sure whether or not I’ll manage more drills on Thursday or not, but at least I’ve had a few consistent weeks for now.

In the evening I had Ashtanga yoga and I was so pleased to be back after missing it for parents’ evening last week. A big focus for me in Ashtanga right now is to work on my headstand, and I was curious to see where I was with working unsupported since I know I can do it with my teacher helping me to move properly into the posture. On my first attempt I got both feet off the floor but didn’t quite manage to straighten my legs out so reset and had another try. This time I was able to hold the posture for a couple of breaths, but wasn’t able to sustain it any longer so clearly something was still a little “off” in the way I had moved into it. Still, a bit of progress. My teacher came over to offer support, but I opted to stop at that point as I had got what I wanted from this week – to get a measure of my progress with an independent headstand. Still some work to do, but I think I’m heading in the right direction again.

On Friday we had book group at lunchtime which meant a bit of cake – always a great way to bring cheer to a Friday!

Steve wasn’t able to see me for a session as he was out of town in the afternoon, so instead I headed straight home (a bit of a surprise to the cats who were both fast asleep and clearly not expecting me!) and did a home yoga session instead. Without the session and the necessary drive there and back, it felt like I had loads of time, even though I stayed a little longer at work at the end of the day!

Saturday’s parkrun sandwich brought with it some interesting weather. It was pretty windy and since we’re still on a lap course, I knew that it would once more be a case of trying to keep the intensity about the same, but accept that my pace would vary depending on which direction the wind was coming from at any given moment. I hoped to be able to run sub-24, but wasn’t expecting it to be by much. In the end, I ran it in 23:30, only 7 seconds slower than my recent “surprise” good (for me) result on a much better morning. Awesome!

Photo credit: Roy Mitchell for Perth parkrun Facebook page

As you can see from my leggings and neck warner. I was feeling pretty “mermaid-y”. I asked Steve to take a couple of photos for me and thought that standing by our sign might be nice for a change, but the side that says “Perth” wouldn’t work because the sun would cast me in shadow, so we moved around to the other side. Steve’s laughter as he set up the shot rather gave the game away as to what he was doing 😂

I continued to be in a mermaid mood, opting for these leggings for the rest of the day:

This blanket to chill out in the afternoon:

And even my choice of pyjamas that night!

Basically still in the mermaid phase I’ve been in for the past few months 🧜‍♀️

I knew the weather for Sunday was pretty questionable thanks to the arrival in the UK of Storm Ciara. Steve headed out quite early for his run, and this picture he took is a great visual metaphor for the prevailing conditions:

His comment was that it would take more than a dish sponge to soak up all that rain 😂

I opted to go a bit later and dressed for potential rain (it wasn’t cold, hence the shorts – still mermaids!) and choosing my “less good” hat in case my nice Disney one blew away, but it actually stayed mostly dry for the duration of my 10 miles. Sadly the same can’t be said of the wind, which seemed to get stronger and stronger (I did have to chase after my hat after it blew off my head and the plait I put in my ponytail blew out, the hair tie no doubt 20 miles up the road before I even realised haha!). It wasn’t a day for any more than time on my feet and another 10 miles in the bank. Obviously my average pace was down, especially in the last couple of miles home as I seemed to be running straight into a wind tunnel, but I feel like I worked pretty hard for those 10 miles and had quite an appetite the rest of the day!

Continuing the mermaid theme, we popped to Starbucks to claim our free coffees, before finishing up our weekend errands. I’ve been needing something better than a foam roller to prop open one of my bedroom doors and after the general theme of the weekend, this little beauty made me happy:

Once home my parents wanted to FaceTime, which took up some time while we caught up. This meant no time for any home yoga before it was time to eat, but that’s ok as I’m definitely getting a more regular home practice right now but can’t expect to have time every single day. Perhaps I’ll manage a but more in the week ahead…

How did Storm Ciara affect your training this weekend?
Mermaids or unicorns?

Friday Finds – 7th February

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.

Hello and happy Friday! I do hope you’ve had a great week. It’s going to be a busy month for me so I’m just getting my head down and crossing all the things off my to-do list, but I’ve still gathered up some interesting bits and pieces to share with you today.

Of course Nike is never far from the sporting headlines these days, but having devoted quite a lot of Friday space to *those* shoes, this time I have something a little different. Olympian Nick Symmonds (you might remember this video where he tried to run a mile at Eliud Kipchoge’s sub-2 hour marathon pace) set himself the challenge of trying to get back under a 4 minute mile…wearing The Shoes. The results perhaps go some way to showing us the difference they can make to performance

Meanwhile at the other end of the distance spectrum, I’ve been reading about Don Muchow who set off last weekend on a transcontinental running adventure taking him from Mouse to Mouse. That’s right: Disneyland in California to Walt Disney World in Florida. Aside from his plans to ride “It’s A Small World” when he arrives in WDW, that’s my kind of challenge!

I’ve been following the awful stories around the coronavirus outbreak in China and the steps being taken to try and prevent its further spread, however I hadn’t considered the situation from a runner’s perspective. Unable to get outside to train, it seems that many tenacious runners are passing the time at home by completing ‘home marathons’. I have to say, the comment from one such runner that, “the joy…is not the same as road running,” seems somewhat of an understatement when describing laps of the living room, but you have to admire the indomitable spirit of those who are doing whatever it takes to keep up their training.

On a more uplifting note, I enjoyed this piece by Lindsay Crouse for The New York Times looking at the real surge in performance from American female runners right now. The change in a relatively short space of time is fantastic and just goes to show us all that even as we age, it is still possible for us to have breakout performances.

Speaking of which, did you catch the news that a new female parkrun record has been set? Charlotte Arter lowered her own existing record time by one second last Saturday. I love seeing stories like this!

And finally, we all know I’m a sucker for an animal story – especially cats – but I never expected to be including an interview with a cat in one of these posts! It seems that Shelby Houlihan, who trains with the Bowerman track club, missed her cat so much when away at training camp that she now brings him along with her. I love it!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Week In Review – Lots Going On!

This is always a busy time of year for me, but this week felt just that little bit more full than usual with lots of things to get done and time away from home in the evening – almost all for pleasant reasons though. It was also a bit of a changeable week weather-wise, so I’m pleased with the overall consistency of my training, even if there were a few unavoidable gaps:

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

I have to say, the week got off to a fairly stressful start with all staff being asked to attend an exceptional meeting at the end of the day. Although no hint was given as to the purpose, we had our suspicions, which were later confirmed with the announcement that the school had received notice of an upcoming inspection. We’ve been expecting this for a while, but the reality of it happening is still a cause for some anxiety as we obviously want to present ourselves in the best possible light. After that news I was really glad that my yoga teacher had opted for a relaxing class, keeping low to the mat, to focus on stretching and re-balancing muscles. It was exactly what I needed to clear my head a bit so I could begin to think about my forward planning and the lessons I will be teaching during the inspection week.

My Tuesday run was also needed to get a few happy endorphins in my system as I knew that work would feel a little different as everyone processed the news from the day before. The only thing was, we woke up to a fair bit of snow!

The last forecast I had seen indicated some overnight sleet, so a white landscape wasn’t entirely my expectation. Still, I quite like running on fresh snow so I headed out the door and enjoyed a slow but challenging run over the white stuff. Of course by the time I was leaving for work the pavement plough had been through so the pavements were much clearer and would have made for a very different run if I’d been going out then. Typical!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had another (planned) meeting after work then I took myself right to the studio for a workout. The medicine ball continues to be the equipment of the moment, and I had medicine ball roll outs, medicine ball burpees and some star crumps to finish.

Then a session of home yoga to round off my day. I’m already recognising that it’s going to be super important to make sure I’m looking after myself throughout February as the usual stresses of mock exams and coursework to finalise will be compounded by having school inspectors in. It would be very easy to focus on work to the detriment of everything else, so I’m going to have to make sure I still find time for things I enjoy like yoga, reading and playing with my kitties to help keep things in balance – overdo things with work and I know I’ll suffer, whereas a little time to myself should help me feel more relaxed and productive. I hope!

Wednesday is always my rest day, but so far this year I have been making sure to complete a home yoga session on a Wednesday. Not this week. This week I had plans with my sister and was meeting her when she finished work at 6pm so I left work fairly sharp (the only time in the week that happened) so I could get home, changed, into town and parked in time to meet her.

We had bought tickets for another of the Riverside Night Lights events as this one was themed to Harry Potter and I really wanted to go and check out all the photo ops and other activities on offer. The cost was only £5, presumably to cover the costs in setting this one up, so we thought we would give it a go.

To be honest, I think organisers have rather lost sight of the “light night” aspect and are more focused on the theming of each event now. There was little difference in the lights compared to when Steve and I went to the Burns Night event last Saturday, all that had changed was the decor and photo ops. When we arrived we waited in a queue to get a photo on a broomstick (had to be done) and with the Sorting Hat.

We skipped the photo op with “the UK’s premier Harry Potter lookalike” because the queue was pretty long and I was a little disappointed – not to miss HP, but the Ford Anglia he was standing beside. There were also lookalikes of other characters such as Professors Sprout and McGonagall, Bellatrix LeStrange and a Headmaster. And there were a couple of young women who must have been freezing in their golden snitch outfits! We could also have had a go at Quidditch, but again the rain rather put me off.

Instead of grabbing these pictures, we headed along to an area being used as a makeshift stage where the actors who played Percy Weasley, Crabbe and Goyle were doing a Q&A. I know it’s hard to tell with them all wrapped up against the rain, but it honestly is them in the picture! Then after the Q&A they were in different parts of the event area for photos/autographs. If it hadn’t been raining I might have had a picture with Percy Weasley, but it was a bit wet and cold to stand in a long line again.

Instead, we walked further along for a “wanted” photo and pictures with Dobby and a station trolley with wizarding luggage on it. After that, we figured it was probably time to head off to get warm and dry. It was fun (even more if it had been dry!) but I won’t feel the need to pay to do it again in future as I don’t see it being particularly different. I am glad I went though – and took the chance to wear my HP-themed leggings!

On Thursday I was up early again for a pre-work run. The weather had improved and bizarrely it was mild enough for me to be back in my shorts again! This meant I could go with the form drills I had planned so it was 6x600m – a longer interval but with the number of reps dropped back down again so I can build back up.

That was the last of my training for the day though. I had to miss yoga that night as I had a parents’ evening and by the time I get home and have some food after them it’s near enough time to go to bed so no chance to fit in a home practice.

Friday was also a rest day, which is not normally my routine, but a group of us from work had thought it might be nice to get together for a cup of tea at the end of the day, so we drove along to St Andrews so we could go somewhere pleasant that wouldn’t be hurrying us out the door so they could close. I like the idea of us having a bit of time to get together outside of the school day and have a chat without the imminent threat of a bell to cut things short. I hope it’s something we try to do a little more regularly.

Saturday was pacer day at parkrun and this month I was on 27 minutes. Of course this also had to be the day it was blowing a gale outside so it was going to be a tricky job and I resigned myself to not setting a particularly even pace. Having worked out the average pace I needed, I decided to run harder on the side of the park where the wind would be more behind me, leaving a bit of room to slow down on the more exposed section where there were strong headwinds/crosswinds (in Scotland the wind somehow manages to blow in every direction at once!). I felt like I was having to work quite hard, especially given how well I ran last week, but managed to complete the course in 26:49 so anyone trying to stick with me should have managed to get under 27 minutes. I know I definitely helped at least one person who thanked me afterwards.

We’re getting really high numbers right now, so it’s all hands on deck to try and keep things running smoothly. Since Steve is part of the RD team, when he finished running (he was the 26 minute pacer) he jumped on to start barcode scanning using the volunteer app, and I headed over to the table where runners return their tokens to numbered boxes to start sorting them out (the compartments in the boxes separate the tokens into tens: 1-10, 11-20, etc). Usually some runners start sorting them out so that by the time the tail walker comes through the bulk of it is done and the scanners/token handler don’t have another big job ahead. I was joined by a couple of others so between us we pretty much had it done by the time the field was thinning out a bit and I could head off.

The shorts were back!

After a fairly standard morning of running home, getting breakfast with Steve’s brother and sorting out the weekly food shop, I had a quiet and relaxing afternoon doing a bit of professional reading accompanied by a rather clingy Smokey who was in full-on affection mode. I suspect he missed me when I was out so much during the week and he just wanted cuddles 😻

On Sunday the weather was pretty miserable. Steve went out for his run early since he was meeting some of the parkrun core team to discuss further ways to streamline systems (and hopefully avoid problems) with the bigger numbers we’re attracting. I preferred a lazier start to my day with a bit more reading (and kitty cuddles) in bed before getting ready to head out. I got bundled up since there was a lot of sleet around and I’m glad I picked my all-terrain shoes as some of the pavements were a bit slushy and slippery for the first few miles. I planned a route that would be 10 miles but could easily be cut to 8 if I was finding it all a bit too miserable, but actually I was perfectly fine so ran the full 10.

And finished my week with another home yoga session before getting myself ready to do it all again in the week ahead.

Are you a Harry Potter fan?
Any snow for you this week?