Week In Review – Always Have a Plan B…!

The first week of my October break presented an opportunity to press reset and get caught up on a few things. Yes, it would have been nice to go away somewhere, but on this occasion it was good to be at home. With a half marathon to run at the weekend, I took the chance to mix up a bit of training with some decent rest:

Monday – rest
Tuesday – 5 miles
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – 4 miles + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – half marathon

Start as you mean to go on, I say. I don’t generally like to sleep in (although obviously don’t set my alarm for as early as a school day!) but it is good to have a lazy start to the day and I decided I wanted to spend the first week of my holiday getting back into a habit I had back during my Easter break. So when I awoke I headed for the kitchen to make a cup of tea which I took right back to bed to read for about an hour. The kittens quite liked this and after running around daft for a bit they settled down at my feet for a snooze. Bliss!

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Nothing better than a long lie with Gary!

I then spent some time on the afternoon on my “homework”. I’m studying this with my Advanced Higher class and felt in need of a re-watch of my favourite adaptation of my favourite novel. Such a hardship lol!

fullsizeoutput_28ccOn Tuesday I followed my tea and book in bed with a run – not totally lazy! I set myself up with a kind of “mini taper” into my race so headed out for 5 miles. It was nice to get out in daylight after early morning runs last week, and the weather wasn’t too bad either.

RAHqgPkQRIGW3ynzZZhW5AWhen I arrived home I could spy a red package through the glass and knew exactly what it would be – my annual subscription to the London marathon rejection magazine. At least the running jacket I got with it is pretty good.

zTGJBzEOSzWboebQdiEYVwGiven the numbers in the ballot I didn’t expect to get a place, but until that magazine arrives there is always a glimmer of hope that this might be the year. Still, with 7 rejections (and counting…) I know to have a Plan B in mind for what I’ll do when that inevitable “nope” arrives, and for 2019 I knew my Plan B would be to sign up for the Stirling marathon again. I really enjoyed it this year and liked how conveniently close to home it was, so by the time the day was done, this had happened:

fullsizeoutput_28cfWednesday was another rest day. I had a few errands in town so clocked up loads of steps walking there and back (after some time spent reading with my cup of tea, of course!). At least my mail was more pleasing as I got some new casual leggings – and got photobombed by the kittens when I tried to take a picture!

fullsizeoutput_28f8On Thursday I doubled up – run in the morning and Ashtanga yoga class in the evening. My self-styled “mini taper” called for a 4 mile run and this time it was even pleasant enough to break my shorts back out of hibernation. I do love it when I can still wear my shorts without freezing to death!

IMG_9861Yoga was, as always, great. I had been curious to see how I would get on with the headstand after my breakthrough last week – was it a one-off or could I actually manage the posture by myself? As it turned out, there was no need to be concerned as I once more moved into the headstand on my own. I didn’t hold it for as long, probably because  I rushed to straighten my legs out before I had my balance feeling as secure as last time, but now I know it wasn’t a fluke I’ll take more care to move into the posture more mindfully as I go forward.

Steve offered me a training session on Friday morning (at a time which still allowed me my “soft start” to the day with my book and tea!) so I headed over to the studio. I was reluctant to do anything that would make my legs feel heavy on the Sunday, so we used the TRX and Core Momentum Trainer to do some work on my arms and upper body instead. Somehow I neglected to take a picture during the session, but did manage to take a photo of the coffee I had afterwards. Not sure what that says about me haha!

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The new “cordusio”. I think I ordered it because I thought it was a funny word!

The rest of the day was about as busy as things get during school holidays. First I had my flu jab (definitely want to avoid getting the flu!) and then I had my nails done which meant a good chat with my friend who does my nails.

Saturday, as ever, began with parkrun. I’m not always good at taking it easy when it’s not pacer day, but I was determined not to overdo things and risk having weary legs for the following day. I started out at a fairly steady pace and allowed myself to push on a bit as the run went on (securing a nice Royal Flush Negative Split) but still coming in at a slower (for me) time of 25:44. I had thought averaging 8:20-8:30 pace overall would be ideal so that was perfect.

IMG_9884Steve’s brother was away on holiday, but the Steve and I still went for a post-run bacon croissant before getting the food shopping done (such Saturday glamour!).

5xGLC%9CReanCYiH2wKjugI actually felt a bit “off”, kind of like I was going to get a headache but without actually having a headache. Not sure if that makes any sense, but I could feel my body telling me to have a nap so once home I had some soup then settled down for a nap. I did feel a bit better after that, but decided to take it easy and spend the afternoon watching a film. Time to break out Beauty and the Beast, because sometimes only a Disney film will do.

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As the evening wore on I began to realise that the reason I felt “off” was because my upper back and shoulders were tight and this was travelling up my neck and into my head. I got Steve to work on it a bit and began to feel a lot better. Good thing too since we were getting up early for our race!

We had decided not to stay in Aviemore the night before, and instead get up early to make the journey north into the Highlands – only about an hour and a half away and the roads are pretty clear at that time of day. We were away before 6:30am and got into Aviemore just before 8. I’ll write a separate post with all the details of the race, but it was all pretty familiar even though I hadn’t been up there since 2013.

This was my last serious race of the year. Anything else from this point will be more in the “fun run” category, so I also made it the last hurrah for my fundraising efforts. I teamed my Cats Protection running vest with paw print leggings (actual running leggings) and a hairband with ears (an actual running headband). It got me a fair amount of shouts and made a few people smile along the route!

DrgrJJvKTpCFm6VK7VXaegPost-race we tidied ourselves up a bit and on the way home called in to see a lovely couple Steve trains. They are in their 70s and so fit! I had never met them before but they had insisted we call in on our way home for a cup of tea, and despite being “race fresh” they were perfectly happy to sit and chat over some refreshments for a while and were so kind, waving away my apologies for not being at my most presentable! It was a nice way to break up the journey home and the cups of tea and choccy biccies were definitely appreciated!

The remainder of the day was pretty chilled and I headed to bed feeling really tired from the combination of an early start, racing a half marathon and having the long-ish car journeys as well.

When was the last time you needed to call on Plan B?
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Week In Review – Up And Running

After a pretty lazy week training-wise (not sorry – it was EXACTLY what I needed!) last week it was time to get back in to some more “normal” training again. It’s a real eye-opener about what I consider normal now when rearranging things in my week to make sure I can get a run in counts! Here’s how things looked:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 4 miles
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – 4 miles + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun pacing
Sunday – 10 miles

I tried to really savour my Monday yoga class as I knew it would be the last for three weeks.  Since this was the last week of term I was feeling pretty tired and although I’ll miss having the class during the school holidays and first day back, I know I’ll be able to do some home practice in its place. I felt really relaxed at the end of the class and ready for the rest of my week.

Another thing I was quite keen to do was fit in a little more running this week since I have another half marathon coming up mid-October. I was also really determined to make it to my Wednesday orchestra rehearsal, so decided that a little bit of re-arranging was in order to make sure I could manage both without having to cut my run short, arrive at rehearsal late or feel really flustered. The obvious solution was to have another go at the pre-work running I tried back in June. Back then it wasn’t too bad as the mornings were light and with the heatwave (such a distant memory now!) it was far more pleasant to run in the cool morning air. At the time I enjoyed it but wasn’t sure if it was sustainable for me on darker mornings. Time to find out. So I laid out some kit, set my alarm and did it – without any prior announcement to Steve or anyone else to keep me accountable! I was out the door by 5:30am (!!!) and although I felt a little sluggish on this run, I wasn’t too bothered and enjoyed an active start to my day. I actually felt pretty good for the remainder of the day afterwards as well.

f%9uXt%dTwWXicTm9NZ0RwThis meant that I had no pressure to get a workout done on Wednesday and so didn’t have to rush away from work. Instead I got a few bits and pieces done, did a little yoga before my dinner and was ready for my sister to pick me up for the rehearsal. She was feeling pretty tired and needed to go home when we took our rehearsal break, but we probably only missed about half an hour so that was ok with me and meant I got to bed nice and early.

I was pleased with the early night as I had planned a SECOND early run. Clearly it can’t have been too bad on the Tuesday! I was out the door about 5:30am again and ran pretty much the same route but this time I wasn’t feeling so sluggish and with the same effort level covered the distance faster. This was very pleasing.

YBOlAJdRQR6gNIP5Ue3IKAI’m not sure if it was the run, the routine or the fact that the holidays were nearly upon me, but I felt great in my Ashtanga class that evening. I was moving well with my breath, felt strong in Wheel and – drumroll please – managed my very first totally unsupported headstand! If you read these weekly reviews regularly then you may be aware that this is something I have been working on during this year. I’ve been doing headstands with my teacher there to support me, but recently have noticed her starting to try and give a little less support. Perhaps that gave me some confidence, but since she was supporting someone else first, I decided to see if I could take my feet off the ground and find balance with my legs still bent. I expected that would be all I would manage, but felt so good that I thought I would try and straighten my legs after a few breaths to see what would happen…and I held it! I had to work hard not to get so excited about it that I lost the position, but as I moved into child’s pose afterwards I was grinning from ear to ear. I did it! Hopefully that will now give me the confidence to keep working on the posture independently because I will always know that I managed it, therefore I can manage it again. I was so pleased!

Friday was the last day of term and I stayed after work to finish up some marking. After a busy week I took it as a rest day and enjoyed a relaxing evening to start my holidays.

When I got up on Saturday morning it was cold. Thin layer of frost on the windscreen cold. Base layer and gloves cold. Steve had an early client then returned home to change and pick me up for parkrun where as well as being International Parkrun Day, we were having our monthly pacer week.

IMG_9809I had 28 minutes again and after coming in slightly after the time last month, I was keen to do better this time. I settled into pace and soon realised I had some parkrunners with me who were hoping to break 28. I offered advice, tips and “encouragement” which saw them over the line with great new PBs and I was so happy to have been able to help them. I finished in 27:45 – a little faster than the goal but this was mainly because I settled into pace beside the runners I was helping and that’s fine. They were all really pleased and I got a nice message that evening from one of them to say thank you. Definitely my favourite volunteer role as I still get a run but also get to help other people to run their best.

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Photo by Roy Mitchell for Perth parkrun facebook page

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IMG_9796Post-run I was able to join Steve and his brother for a bacon croissant for the first time in ages. Saturdays have clearly been very busy for most of the first term so it was good to get back into my previous routine of post-run breakfast, food shopping and a relaxing afternoon.

T3DUSvIDR8mp5QBxLt98tgThe evening was spent in front of the TV as it was movie week on Strictly and I had some furry company too.

kM3u3edgQOmjh47FzSe28wOn Sunday I knew I needed a longer run as my half marathon was just a week away. My last longer run was the Disneyland Paris half, but I was in no hurry then and had lots of photo stops so my most consistent long run before that was a 10 miler about a fortnight before. I decided it had best be a 10 mile run and got myself ready at a fairly leisurely pace. The weather was cool, but not cold like the day before so no gloves were necessary and I enjoyed catching up on the Marathon Talk podcast as I ran. Even more pleasing, I completed the route a bit faster than the last time so am feeling good ahead of next weekend. I don’t think I’m in PB shape, but I’m still curious to see where my fitness lies right now after losing a bit of momentum over the summer when my ankle was bothering me (it’s fine now – total mystery!).

IMG_9836I actually spent the rest of Sunday in a fairly lazy fashion (read: I hardly moved!) as I watched coverage of the Chicago marathon. Did you see it? Such a great race for Mo Farah! I even got lots more kitten cuddles as I lazed about – I could get used to this!

V3WXPwa7TlexLbi929WtbwHow do you make sure you can fit everything in?
Are you working on any yoga postures right now?

Friday Finds – 5th October

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.

Phew! This is one of those Fridays that feels like it’s been a long time coming around. After 8 weeks of school term, it’s time for a break here in Scotland and I’m looking forward to a chance to rest, relax and recharge. To start us off, here are some articles that caught my eye this week.

For the parkrun fan, this weekend is an exciting one as parkrun celebrates its 14th birthday. That’s right, tomorrow is International Parkrun Day. Not only that, but last week the 5,000,000th person registered for their parkrun barcode. That’s incredible! Here’s the always excellent Sean Ingle with a roundup of how parkrun has grown and developed over the past 14 years.

It’s also that time of year when everyone (and I’m including myself in this) goes a bit marathon mad – the results of the London marathon ballot are due to drop onto doorsteps in the next week and this weekend sees the next of the Marathon Majors take place in Chicago. With marathon fever tightening its grip, my attention was caught by these musings on the distance. I’d love to know your thoughts.

Speaking of Chicago, the elite field is looking exciting with appearances from Mo Farah, Gwen Jorgensen and “Citizen Runner” Yuki Kawauchi. Fans of the Marathon Talk podcast have been familiar with Yuki for some time and he became better known as a result of his Boston win earlier this year. With that in mind, you may enjoy this piece exploring Japan’s most well-known marathoner.

Following some high profile reports of cheats in marathons (most notably in Mexico City) race organisers in China are finding new ways to crack down on cheats. Having used facial recognition software in a half marathon last year, the software is now to be used in a marathon early next month. Good to prevent cheating or another layer of potential complication for runners? What are your thoughts?

And finally, I love those “expectation v reality” memes that pop up from time to time so this article appealed to me. It’s another classic from Canadian Running which has gathered together a variety of stock images related to running and compared them to the reality. I think my favourite is the one about winter running!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Week In Review – Remembering the Magic

To be honest, I’m not sure how to follow last week’s review! I didn’t really do much at all as the packed weekend away during term time left me quite tired so I opted to take the week off from training (except yoga) and get some rest to make sure I didn’t overdo things. I did, however, spend most of the week floating along in a post-Disney bubble. Turns out there’s nothing quite like a weekend of fairy dust and Mickey Magic to lift the spirits!

rybjuRqVSKeF5pb8N6EeFAAs a result, I suspect this post will be quite short:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – rest
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – rest

Yup, lots of rest. Both of my yoga classes were exactly what I needed but on the other evenings I didn’t do much at all other than gradually unpack/get the post-trip laundry done, watch some tv and read a bit. I didn’t go to orchestra again on Wednesday as I wanted to have a restful evening and was just too tired for that level of concentration.

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Good job I had an expert to help me rest!

There was some mid-week excitement when I secured tickets to see Take That on tour next year. April seems so far away but I’ll no doubt have a spring marathon to train for which will make the time pass incredibly quickly!

fullsizeoutput_27b4By the weekend I was feeling restored and glad I took the time off (realistically I didn’t need recovery time from the running, just the chance to catch up on my sleep!). Good thing too since I had quite a lot of plans and didn’t want to feel exhausted.

The Women of the World festival returned to Perth for the second year. I had intended to buy a weekend pass but held off since I wasn’t sure how I would feel the week after being away. Then a couple of weeks before the festival my sister won passes so gave one of them to me. That meant I could go along to the sessions I wanted without worrying about having to “get my money’s worth”.

This year, one of the festival activities was to go along to parkrun so that suited me just fine. To avoid having to worry about parking my car all day, I ran into town (Steve had left earlier for a client but had my bag with a change of clothes in his car) and met the group heading over to the run.

fullsizeoutput_27b9It was great to be back at parkrun and I felt I ran fairly well given I hadn’t run all week and had felt pretty tired and sluggish.

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Steve suggested a “Disney Special” jump 😂

After the run I grabbed my bag from Steve and walked back to the theatre (the festival venue) to get changed and have some breakfast before the first session I wanted to go to.

DMxWljRQSpiVWtLMCFC01gI went to several interesting sessions during the day then Steve picked me up to head home to eat and chill at home for the evening.

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This looked like fun!

4jYqJ+9dSrSMgLGqtlu8MgThe first Sunday session was at 10:30am so rather than squeeze in a super short run and/or get up really early, I opted to take another day off training and take my time getting ready (although I did walk into town to get some movement).

DNud5pD+TuqiSF7kTfTRBgThere were some further interesting and thought-provoking sessions during Sunday then when the festival finished in the afternoon Steve came to meet me to get the food shopping sorted. Oh the glamour!

So overall not the most exciting or active of weeks, but it was what I needed it to be and gave me time to reflect on my Disney experience. The school holidays are coming up so I’ll be able to write my race report in the next week or so. Promise!

Have you ever attended a WoW festival?
What are your priorities right now?

Week In Review – The One Where I Couldn’t Think Of A Title

Ohboyohboyohboy! I’m getting so excited! As this post goes live I’m just a few short days away from my much-anticipated trip to Disneyland Paris for the half marathon weekend. My costume is ready, my list is made and I’m well on my way to being packed already since I’m leaving straight from work on Friday and need to be organised. It’s going to be a whirlwind trip and no doubt will go by in a flash, but I’m sure it’s going to create come amazing memories.

Since I know it’s going to be a busy weekend, I’ve been really trying to strike a balance between continuing to build up my fitness, whilst also prioritising rest. Usually I get up quite early and start my day with a short walk, but this week I’ve skipped that in favour of sleeping a bit longer and have really tried to make my workouts work for me in terms of getting the most I can from a little bit less time:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – bike reps @ the gym
Wednesday – short run
ThursdayAshtanga yoga rest
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 8 miles

After yet another mad Monday, Hatha yoga was a welcome way to unwind and relax. Our balance was Half Moon, a posture we previously worked on using a wall to support, but this time I tried it unaided and was surprised to actually manage it (although it took a few attempts to work out how my body wanted to move into the posture without falling over!)

On Tuesday I headed to the gym as the bike intervals have been a staple part of my training in recent times and I do think they make a difference to my fitness. This week I used the same work/rest intervals as last time, but added on 2 further reps to add some progression.

When it got to Wednesday I was a little short on time. I knew I wanted to run before orchestra, but also knew that realistically I could only afford about 30 minutes if I wanted to be ready in time. Somehow in my brain this translated to “run really hard” which of course meant I was in danger of arriving home without completing the full 30 minutes (the minimum duration that would give me my Vitality points for the day!) so I had to add on a couple of extra bits as I went. I did feel much better afterwards and it gave me the energy to concentrate through my rehearsal.

3OvPO2WXR4K5fmEiK3tWkgI had originally intended to go to Ashtanga yoga on Thursday, however I ended up shelving that idea as the kittens had spent the day at the vet for their Very Important Operations and since they were just home (and a bit groggy) I wanted to stay with them to make sure they were ok and not messing with their stitches. My poor wee girl looked rather bewildered and her brother, who bounced back remarkably quickly, was so cute as he kept an eye on her and helped her to wash. They really are such an adorable pair (and both were perfectly fine after a good sleep). Once they were settled I did some yoga myself where I could watch them.

I had always intended Friday to be a rest day as I wanted to nip into town after work for some bits and pieces for our trip, most importantly to get some Euros! Once I got home I did a little more yoga before getting organised to head out for some food at the pub down the road.

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We were seen off the premises!

The kitten alarm clock had me up a little earlier than intended on Saturday, however I made good use of the time to tidy up a little before parkrun. It was quite chilly and I actually wore a pair of capris (I’m usually at the extremes – shorts or full leggings and very few “in between” runs) and as I walked from the car to the start area I briefly wished I had some gloves! My intention was to see if I could shave a couple more seconds off my time from last week (24:44) so set off reasonably hard. As the run went on I felt better and better, so much so that I ran a Royal Flush Negative Split! And as I stopped my watch at the finish I was rather surprised to see that I had shaved off more than a couple of seconds to finish in 24:07!! I really don’t know where that sudden return to decent form came from, but I suspect the cooler weather, my recent consistent training and being well rested all contributed. Fingers crossed I can get back to sub-24 before the conditions make that too tricky.

IMG_9136From parkrun I had an appointment to get my hair cut (need to be presentable for my trip next weekend!) then after lunch Steve and I walked down the road to the ice rink. No, we weren’t getting in some sneaky practice for our festive skating, we were headed for the function rooms there as we had tickets for the Gin Festival that was taking place. It was a gathering of lots of Scottish gin producers, many of them small batch/artisan producers, offering the opportunity to sample their wares. My favourites included a hot spiced gin punch, a gin served with a piece of honeycomb in it (as in the sweet treat that we associate with the inside of a Crunchie bar, not the stuff from a bee hive) and the one I bought – a mocha gin. Yum! We actually bumped into loads of people we knew and it was nice to have a chat to people and compare notes on our favourites.

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mNXIC7NOSyedynHHJ8m4VAOnce home it was pizza and a relaxing evening in front of the tv with lots of kitten cuddles. So good!

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DuHvzo+HQoq6Ih+PqD8MQQI hadn’t been sure of the distance I wanted to run on Sunday – after 10 miles last week should I go up to 12 or cut back? After a consultation with Steve, we both decided to run 8 miles and covered similar routes which meant we saw each other while we were out. It was REALLY windy, yet I felt I was running well again and when I compared my run to the similar one I ran a couple of weeks ago, I averaged about 10 seconds per mile faster yet felt comfortable throughout. Clearly this distance was the right decision as I have no ambition for time next weekend and am better served by being well rested and just keeping my running ticking over for a few days.

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IMG_9187After an assortment of Sunday errands, we had another visit from my parents (cue more Sunday cake) since my mum will be looking after the kittens next weekend and needed to go over a few things. It will be weird leaving them, but I know they will be just fine and are perfectly happy with each other. Besides, mum will totally spoil them!

Now just 5 more work days until I get on the plane. Squeeeeee!!!

What is your favourite way to serve gin?
What is your dream event that you long to do?

Week In Review – Seasons of Change

September in Scotland definitely brings with it a change in the air – the mornings are chillier, the nights longer and autumn colours begin to creep across the landscape. I always find it such a shock after the long summer days, but this time of year is one of my favourites for running and I’m so pleased that the changing season has brought with it a change (for the better) in the ankle that has been niggling since July. I’m even starting to sense a return of fitness and form. Here’s how my week went:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – bike intervals @ the gym
Wednesday – run
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – long run

With almost everything else in my life back on, things feel pretty hectic right now and I’m finding I don’t have much headspace during the week for anything other than work and whatever training I am doing. I think I can accept this so long as I know there are occasions when I can take some time for myself during the week and my Monday evening Hatha class is perfect for this. We start and finish in savasana and the movement during the class is nice and gentle – the ideal Monday yoga practice.

On Tuesdays we have our shorter day at work so this gives me a little more time in the evening and I have been trying to build on this with a short workout at the gym before heading home. After a couple of weeks of 30 seconds on/30 seconds recovery on the bike, this week I increased the work interval to 45 seconds and took just 15 seconds recovery. I have to push a little out of my comfort zone in order to improve my fitness and this is a sequence I’ve done before so I was happy it was achievable.

P3N43p%pQDmXzMYzkXabXAWednesdays right now are quite packed, but once more I managed to fit in a run between school and orchestra.To keep it simple, I stuck to the same loop as last week as I knew I could fit it in and still have enough time to shower and eat before heading out. It felt good and I think my time was fairly comparable to the last time so at least there is some consistency.

ssPSBat6T0CAVB4RPiaWhwAfter missing my Ashtanga class last week thanks to staying at work too long then getting caught in traffic, I made sure to be away in plenty of time to get to the class this time. As it turned out, my teacher had been away the previous week so there were only a couple of people there, so maybe I didn’t miss out too much. Still, it felt good to move through the sequence again and it really helped to reset my head for the end of the working week.

I made Friday a rest day and did a home yoga practice to help me unwind from the week. Poor Steve was suffering with a back issue so it was probably just as well I didn’t want a training session!

Since Steve’s back was still a problem on Saturday, I was off to parkrun by myself. I was feeling good and felt like I ran well so was pleased to find my time back under 25 minutes again (I was in sub-24 form in June but lost some momentum with the ankle issue. It’s good to see the progress I’m making again).

DWZ1x2gGR6WwvdIqRMdhTAWe also had a special guest as part of the UK-wide #teamparkrun event. We were joined by international orienteer and track runner Kris Jones, who happens to hold TWO parkrun course records – one in Swansea where he’s originally from and the other in Dundee where he now lives and trains – and his time for 5k on the track is 13:XX!! He ran out to one of the marshal points and cheered runners on before returning to the start/finish area where he was happy to chat and be photographed. In Steve’s absence I found a stand-in photographer who suggested we do a jumping shot together and our visitor actually agreed – he may need to work on his jumping game though 😂

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O%9dGaxHQ1OREB0HpdLfrQThe remainder of Saturday was pretty chilled as Steve couldn’t really move far, which meant I felt fairly rested for a longer run on Sunday morning. With a couple of half marathons coming up I was keen to hit double digits so headed off for a 10 mile loop. I enjoyed the run and my ankle felt fine, which was good news. Even better, my time was roughly the same as my last 10 miler back in June so my endurance is maybe not too bad after all. Besides, I’m not looking for any pace in my half marathon next weekend so as long as I can comfortably cover the distance I’ll be happy!

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qMr6RRJVSLqsKqM6alO1dAPost-run I had to get the food shopping (by myself thanks to Steve’s dodgy back) and have a bit of a tidy up as my parents were visiting again to spend some more time with the kittens. Given the amount of treats my mum seems to be able to produce form her handbag, they certainly didn’t object! Once they left, we had a quiet evening in front of the tv to relax before the new week began. Phew!

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Watching for their visitors 😹

Did you attend a #teamparkrun event?
How is your training going?

Week In Review – Business As Usual

The week after my birthday was always going to feel a bit “dull” in comparison, but it certainly wasn’t dull in terms of things to do and I had quite a busy week. With a bit of careful planning, I managed to fit in a good amount of training too:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – bike @ gym
Wednesday – run
ThursdayAshtanga yoga rest
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun + SUP yoga
Sunday – run

It’s not taken me long to realise that my Mondays this year are really busy. I have a full timetable at work and often we have a meeting at the end of the day too – it’s why I enjoy getting to my yoga class so much. This week I also had to squeeze an appointment in between my meeting and my yoga class, so there just wasn’t enough time to get home and after the class I had to drop something off to my sister so it was 8:30pm before I got in. I’m so glad I had a nice relaxing yoga class to help me unwind and begin to settle into the remainder of my evening!

Tuesday was a bit less frantic and I was able to get away from school pretty much straight away at the end of the so I could have a bit more time to myself. I headed first to the gym and did another set of bike intervals, but this time at a higher intensity than last week. It still felt ok so I’ll have to give a bit of thought to my next bike workout.

jnRGEszvTnioRQWnwITPtAAnd then it was back to business (or busy-ness) on Wednesday. I was home as quickly as possible to head out for a run before the first orchestra rehearsal of the new academic year (this always makes me feel like winter is just around the corner!). I knew roughly how long I had so headed off on one of my favourite loops which is about 3.7 miles and can be completed in under 35 minutes. This gives me enough time to grab a shower and some food before my sister picks me up for the rehearsal. I was super organised and even got my lunch made for the next day, but I don’t expect such over-achieving to last long!

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We almost had an extra orchestra member!

VioF%tbmRKC7NasSEBV3xgThursday was one of those days that just didn’t go my way. I had been stuck behind a tractor on the way to work in the morning then on my way home got stuck in a huge queue behind a slow-moving vehicle. Given that I wasn’t yet home at the time I usually leave for my yoga class, I decided to spare myself the stress and do a home practice instead. I was disappointed to miss my class, but I really don’t think I would have made it there in time. It was quite nice to have a relaxing evening at home after a busy few days.

By Friday I knew I was having a rest day as I had an appointment to get my nails done, so once more enjoyed a bit of down time.

Saturday was another busy day though. I began with parkrun, where I was the 28 minute pacer. I was a little off this month and came in just over, but I had adjusted in order to help some other runners and was pleased to find they got the results they wanted.

IMG_8991After that, it was a session of SUP yoga followed by lunch at the activity centre cafe. They were celebrating being open for a year so it seemed rude not to order a cupcake for dessert!

o0SqDeWwQwe8WarQx1c7owI took the chance to relax for the rest of the day as I knew Sunday would be quite busy as well, beginning with an 8 mile training run (for those asking, my ankle is much better. Not completely resolved, but well on its way). I included a section though the woodland park that I like and it was nice to be back out there again.

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IMG_9073Next up, shopping and errands in town before some household chores as my parents were coming to meet the kittens for the first time. Mum was well prepared, producing an assortment of toys and treats from her handbag and totally spoiling the pair of them. I’ll have no worries about their care any time we go away for a night or two!

Finally, a busy week ended with some TV and a relaxing bath. I hope the week ahead is a little less frenetic!

What was the highlight of your week?
Any winter routines starting for you?

Week In Review – And So It Begins…

Ah, the new school year. Shiny new shoes, brand new pencil cases and a fresh start – and that’s just the teachers! 😂 In reality, a bit of a shock to the system all round after 6 weeks of getting up a little later and not having to live on a fixed schedule, but I’ll soon settle back into the routine. I was kind to myself this week when it came to exercise as I wanted to allow a little time to adjust:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – bike @ gym
Wednesdayrun rest
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – personal training with Steve
Saturday – parkrun + SUP yoga
Sunday – run

Monday was the first work day of the new school year for me, but without pupils so it was mainly staff meetings, reviewing exam results and getting ready for the year ahead. After getting up a little earlier than I had been during the holidays, Hatha yoga was just what I needed at the end of the day and I felt so much better afterwards. The kittens coped pretty well with the change of routine, but I missed being around them and watching their antics.

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aPyQ+eGeQGS4lLsLs3hXywThere was much of the same on Tuesday and I rounded off my day with a trip to the gym to cycle for half an hour. I had some reading I needed to do so that combined a workout with my “homework”. When I got home, I figured the kittens needed some attention so we explored a bit (they hadn’t yet had access to all the rooms in the house as I’ve been opening up a bit at a time). I think their favourite was jumping from the bed in the spare room onto the windowsill to look through the trees behind us.

ItRS57ZWTQ6Y8TKFWs+EUAAnd then, D-Day. The first teaching day of the year. It was nice to see my pupils, albeit with sleepy faces, and we got stuck into some learning, but by the end of the day I felt really tired. I always forget how draining it is to be in front of a class all day, especially after a break. I had originally planned a short run, but I just wasn’t feeling like it and my ankle felt a little bothersome again. Rather than just chill out for a bit, I instead threw my toys out the pram about how this ankle tightness just wasn’t disappearing totally. It’s not painful, it just really annoys me that it won’t go away and it’s been about a month now. Steve re-assesed it and came to the conclusion that there was an issue with the stability around my ankle which has put some strain on it. He gave me some exercises to do to resolve it and I could immediately feel a difference, so I’m tentatively hoping that I might get rid of it at long last. Keep your fingers crossed.

By Thursday I was feeling better and was looking forward to my Ashtanga class. I did my ankle exercises as often as I could during the day and was definitely noticing an improvement in the stability and felt much better in the balance poses in yoga (until I lost my balance on the other leg – d’oh!!). I enjoyed the class and felt like I was moving a little more deeply into some postures again. I’m also feeling stronger and stronger in headstand as I continue to work towards doing it independently.

To continue improving my ankle, I arranged to go down to the studio after work on Friday and have a training session with Steve. It’s actually been a while since I had a session and that, among other things, may have contributed to the loss of stability in my left ankle. We worked with the Core Momentum Trainer and after the session tested the ankle out with a jog in the car park. Although not 100% gone, it felt better again so I’ll continue to work with the CMT on as many days as I can to finally shift the issue.

But by far the biggest news from Friday was listening to the Running 4 Real podcast hosted by Tina Muir. I’m a member of her Facebook community the Superstars and in the latest episode she interviewed 6 members of the community…including me! If you don’t already listen to this podcast then it’s one of my favourites and I highly recommend it. You can find the episode here.

Screen Shot 2018-08-19 at 17.39.57On Saturday morning I headed down to parkrun. Since I hadn’t run in almost a week, I knew I wouldn’t have much so my aim was simply to enjoy the run. I set off listening to a podcast but switched it off so I could have a chat to other runners and the run passed rather pleasantly. I did feel like I was working hard, so was pleased to find that even with  the chat I was actually faster than last week, so progress is being made.

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OxIOZH7gREWbEPw9gNN3OwAfter that, a session of SUP yoga. It was really windy and it was actually suggested that rather than paddle up to the line we attach the boards to, we might be better to “swim” up on our bellies. Apparently we’re all more hardcore than that so we all paddled up (on our knees rather than standing) which was a decent workout in itself. The wind definitely provided a challenge in the class and I actually only stood up once as I felt pretty unstable, but the return to the jetty was the best part. No need to paddle at all, in fact I just sat on my board with my legs crossed and let the wind take me back! We’re not going to have too many more classes now as there are only so many weeks left that the weather is likely to be ok, but it’s been such a great summer learning to use the SUP boards and building confidence on them. Roll on next summer!

GPTempDownloadSunday morning was rather miserable. It was wet, although not cold, so I headed out for my run. As ever, my ankle felt better the longer I was running, but the tightness never totally went away so still a bit more work to do there. I ran 10k and my pace was a little quicker than my run last Sunday so although it still feels harder than I would like, I am making progress and once I’m not feeling the nag of a tight ankle, hopefully things will improve even more.

w3yoOeaEQhCjzimrzNa5IQPost-run we ran some errands then while I hung out with the kittens Steve popped out again. He returned with a nice snack of chocolate caramel brownie to have with my afternoon cup of tea and it was delicious!

49VEFK6jT4Kkp5qT3MUU4gThe remainder of the day was chilled – playing with the kittens, catching up on blogs and generally relaxing ahead of a full week of teaching.

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Now for week two…!

What are your current favourite podcasts?
How is the weather where you are?

Week In Review – All Good Things Must Come To An End

IMG_0519Where have the last 6 weeks gone? I can’t believe how fast 6 weeks of holiday disappear compared to the slog of 6 working weeks, but I know I’ll soon be back in the swing of things (and I have next summer to look forward to – flights to Florida and holiday accommodations for the kittens are already booked!). I’ve tried to make the most of my last week of freedom with plenty of relaxing, some running and a bit of yoga, so I do feel refreshed and ready to get started on the new school year (or as ready as I’ll ever be).

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – bike @ gym
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – run + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun, SUP yoga, Tattie Run(!)
Sunday – run

Monday was a really chilled out day. I caught up on some bits and pieces at home, read and played with the kittens.

dX59%MF1Ro2R45FnUzXylwThen in the early evening I had my Hatha yoga class. It was the last class in the holiday block, but the next block begins next week so I wont be missing out. It was a nice conclusion to my day and meant I got a good sleep that night.

Oh, and my new toy arrived:

hWJnsQzCQYGOarlwFO%nCwOn Tuesday I walked down to the gym and pedalled it out on the bike for about 45 minutes. I knew that I had reached a stage with my ankle that it seemed to be getting better through movement so was keen to try a run, but wanted to wait another day or two first. In the meantime, the bike was fine and gave me a chance to do a little more reading on my Kindle.

I had toyed with trying a run on Wednesday but I wasn’t able to go in the morning because of an appointment then later on I had some errands. By the time I had done all of that I just didn’t feel like heading out again so took some time to myself instead. Probably the best thing I could do and no need to cram in loads of activity when I still had the luxury of time. I did do some yoga though, and it did become kitten yoga this time!

3OsEKhqRSEmQRbQQJE4OaAI did, however, head out first thing on Thursday for a short run to see how my ankle felt. I can still feel a little tightness, but it actually eases off as I run and feels a lot better afterwards for the movement, so I think I’ll tentatively build in some running again, but carefully monitoring how things feel. If I think it’s getting worse then I’ll stop, but otherwise I’m hoping to now “run it out”. Sometimes that’s just the way these things seem to work.

ca5k3CJLQO6gM5211F7b7AThat evening I had my Ashtanga class and it was really busy again. I’ve no idea where all these people are coming from, but it’s great for my teacher. My biggest news from the class is that I moved much closer to doing a headstand unsupported. I began to move into the posture on my own and had both feet off the ground with my legs bent, holding the pose. I was wondering if I would be able to straighten my legs and wondered if my teacher was there to spot me, and that moment of doubt was just enough for me to lose confidence and come out of it. Turns out she was there so I had another go with her to support. Definite progress and hopefully that will continue to boost my confidence with this posture as I really want to be able to do it by myself as testament to my improved balance and core strength.

I took Friday as a total rest day as I had appointments to get both my hair and nails done ready for going back to work – priorities lol! I even managed to organise myself to fill my car up so there’s no Monday morning groaning at the empty fuel tank. All of that somehow took up quite a lot of my day, but I still found some time to read my book and chill out for the last “official” day of the holidays (because I always have my weekends).

fullsizeoutput_272bSaturday was a really busy and active day. It began with parkrun. I took it easy to see how my ankle was and it felt fine, but I could definitely feel the impact of the time out of running over the last few weeks as it felt much harder than usual – I don’t think my CV system could keep up with my legs!

7tCFJyRNRHi5QgOLVRgNlAAfter parkun I got changed and headed over to my SUP yoga class. Since my new GoPro is waterproof, I took it with me (on a grip that floats, just in case) so I could play about with it and start learning how it works. I’m really loving it so far and cant wait to use it in Disneyland Paris 🙂

GPTempDownloadWhen the session was finished (still standing up to paddle – I think I’m feeling quite confident on the board now) I got changed really quickly and drove back into town to meet Steve so we could take part in a novelty event. I’ll write a separate post on The Great Perthshire Tattie Run, but the short version is that it was a fun challenge and I’ll be signing up again next year.

AHfz1jKLRmKMaDeXX+6%tABy the time I’d done all that I was STARVING so headed home for something to eat then just hung out at home. I didn’t have a nap but did feel sleepy from all the fresh air and rushing about.

On Sunday morning it was raining but I still headed out for a slightly longer run of 4.5 miles – that’s the furthest I’ve run since the end of June (I ran 4.5 miles one morning in Florida, but nothing longer). Again, my ankle felt ok and I was aware of the tight feeling easing off the longer I was out there. Hopefully one day soon I’ll go for a run and realise the tightness has disappeared completely thanks to the moving and stretching I’m doing. I have to say, it wasn’t the easiest of runs as I know I’ve lost some of my fitness and conditioning, but it should come back fairly quickly and I still have 6 weeks until I need to be able to run half marathon distance – plenty of time, especially since I’m not planning on running it hard.

UpUQ%vqmQtmLZUPEAC%NQwAll that remained of Sunday was the usual errands accompanied by a general sense of doom about going back to work. I certainly wasn’t dreading it, but it’s a long enough time to get out of the way of things and fall into different routines so it’s always a bit of a shock! This time next week it will seem like I was never away…

Ever taken part in any novelty events?
What’s your favourite thing about summer?

Tunes on Tuesday – The Greatest

Many studies have shown that working out to music can have a number of positive effects and help us to push ourselves further. Music is also strongly linked to personal memories and hearing certain tracks can transport us to a particular moment in time. In this occasional series of posts, I’d like to introduce some of my favourite tracks from my workout playlist and share some of the memories they have given me.

It’s been a while since I’ve written a Tunes on Tuesday post, but a parkrun experience earlier this year inspired me to write about this particular song.

The Greatest – Sia

Picture the scene: it’s 2 weeks before my goal marathon, I really want to run a sub-24 minute parkrun to reassure myself that my fitness levels are at their peak and it’s the last opportunity for me to do so before the race. 2 weeks prior to this, I had narrowly (and frustratingly) missed it with a 24:01 and had since continued to ramp up the miles (and thus fatigue) in my legs with 18 and 20 mile runs on consecutive weekends. Could I do it?

On that particular occasion, we were still running on our alternative course due to the condition of the grass on our main route. With the intention of pushing the pace, I positioned myself near the front and shot out like a rocket as soon as the RD said go! I’ll admit, I thought the pace was a bit nippy and fully expected to pay for a first mile at 7:33, but was still hanging on as I embarked on my second lap of the park. It was during this lap, as I wondered if (when?) my legs might turn to jelly some time soon, that my iPhone shuffled serendipitously to this song and I knew I could keep digging in to reach the finish line.

Uh-oh, running out of breath, but I
Oh, I, I got stamina
Uh-oh, running now, I close my eyes
Well, oh, I got stamina

When you’re pushing the pace hard, breathing equally hard and willing the finish line closer, hearing, “I got stamina” is a great boost. I remember thinking, “yes, I do have stamina,” gritting my teeth and pushing on. I actually smiled to myself at the uncanny ability of the Apple device to play just the right track for the moment even when on shuffle. How does it manage?

The chorus, too, has just the right message for running a hard race:

Don’t give up, I won’t give up
Don’t give up, no no no
Don’t give up, I won’t give up
Don’t give up, no no no

And it was exactly what I needed to hear. With less than a mile to go, the temptation was there to slow down. I was running fast enough that a slight slowing would still see me reach my sub-24 goal that day (runner sums for the win!), but a big focus for me through this cycle of marathon training had been to improve my mental game, to make sure I didn’t mentally give up when the going got tough. The repetition of don’t give up spurred me on as it emphasised just the message I was needing at that point.

The remainder of the lyrics also have a distinctly celebratory feel to them. They’re the kind of lyrics that put you in mind of a big, movie-style finish of rousing music, heart-stopping (possibly slo-mo) action and cheering crowds as you defy the odds to reach your goal:

I’m free to be the greatest, I’m alive
I’m free to be the greatest here tonight, the greatest
The greatest, the greatest alive
The greatest, the greatest alive

I know, I know, parkrun isn’t exactly the Olympics, but in that moment it was special to me and this is a great soundtrack to a visualisation, something I try to make use of as part of my mental training for an event. Even now, writing this a few weeks (er, months!) later, I can still picture exactly where I was on the parkrun course when this song began to play, still remember exactly how I felt and hearing the lyrics once more brings it all into much sharper focus. The mind is a powerful thing, and training it to believe that success will happen is a fantastic tool in your race armour.

Did it work? It most certainly did as I finished with a time of 23:26 that week. Running sub-23:30 is fairly exceptional for me (I’ve only done it on 2 previous occasions) and it was exactly what I needed heading into my marathon taper. And while I know a big part of that success was the consistency in my training and the hard work I put in over weeks and weeks through the winter, some credit also has to be attributed to this song, as without it I may have backed off the pace and allowed my mind to give up once more. Instead I learned a valuable lesson about the importance of mental training and the tools we can use to help us out.

Please note that under UK Athletics rules, racing with headphones whilst on open roads is banned. If you choose to train with headphones, please be careful and make sure you are aware of your surroundings at all times.

Feel free to share your favourite workout tracks in the comments below…