Friday Finds – 17th August

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.

Thank goodness it’s Friday! The first week of term is always a bit of a shock to the system and I’m definitely ready for the weekend! Time to get things started with the articles that have caught my eye this week.

You might remember that last weekend I took part in the Great Perthshire Tattie Run – lugging a sack of spuds around a course of just under a mile. Part of the race “swag” was to keep our potatoes, so Steve and I have ended up with quite a lot of spuds to get through (we’re willing to share if you need any potatoes ūüėā). I actually couldn’t believe it when this first piece showed up in my inbox during the course of the week – a great encouragement to include potatoes with pretty much all our meals for the foreseeable future!

On a rather more jaw-dropping note, did you see the European Championship women’s marathon? Winner¬†Volha Mazuronak experienced the stuff of anxiety dreams when she not only suffered a nose bleed (and ran much of the race covered in blood!) but took a wrong turn and had to backtrack before finally crossing the finish line in first place. Some real grit and determination there.

Also catching my eye in today’s edition of The Guardian was this piece about Ethiopian runners. Writer Michael Crawley, who is currently writing a book on the subject, reveals some of the things he discovered whilst in Ethiopia and explains why there’s more to the success of runners from the country than living at altitude and seeking a way out of poverty. A very interesting read.

An entertaining piece I came across was this one, in which the writer marvels at the results of a survey that suggest people are more intimidated by organising their home than training for a marathon. The writer is definitely having a tough time training for her first marathon, however I may actually agree with the survey participants – I would much rather go for a long run than tidy out my kitchen cupboards! What about you?

And finally, something to listen to this week. In my last Podcast Picks post I highlighted Running 4 Real as one of my favourites, and this week I’m thrilled to have featured in the episode – fame at last!! You can access the episode via the link below (I’m around 33:15 but please do listen to all the other amazing guests and their stories). It’s a little cringe-y hearing my own voice, but I’m putting myself out there and sharing the episode – please be kind!

Happy reading (and listening!),
The Running Princess

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The Year Of Me!!! – July Update

I can’t believe July is over. It’s my favourite month of the whole year (no work, a couple of weeks spent on a sun lounger in Florida, lots of relaxing…) but I suppose all good things must come to an end. Meanwhile, The Year of Me continues (as my birthday creeps ever closer!) and this is my monthly check-in with how I’m getting on with my goals to add positive habits and value to my life.

1.Run 1000km (621 miles)
I ran 4x per week when we were in Florida, however they were mostly runs of less than 4 miles and since getting home I’ve hardly run thanks to a slightly niggly ankle. As a result, my mileage is down a bit at just 41 miles for the entire month, however with 521 miles completed this year so far, I’m now just 100 miles from achieving my goal. This one has been all about consistency and hopefully the ankle issue will resolve quickly so I can get back out there.

2.Commit to a minimum of 5 minutes of yoga on at least 5 days of the week
I’ve been able to turn my attention back to this one, especially since getting home and having the opportunity to go to more SUP yoga sessions, so I think there was only one week in the month when I didn’t manage 5 yoga sessions. I love how much stronger I feel as a result of this and it’s amazing to note my own progress within certain postures, especially on the paddle board.

3.Read at least 30 books
Absolutely storming it on this one! I read on both my flights, on my sun lounger, in my garden when we had good weather, in my comfy chair in the evenings, and have added 5 complete books to my count for the year (with a couple of others on the go alongside them). Getting involved in some online book groups has really motivated me to find more time to read and this, in turn, has helped me to ignore distractions such as social media (see point 8 below) and focus on something far more valuable.

4.Be in bed by 10pm at least 3 times per week
I’ve probably not been so good with this one this month since I’ve been on holiday. That’s not to say I’ve been staying up late, indeed I’ve been making sure to keep to a fairly consistent schedule, but there has been no need for really early nights so for now I’m happy with my consistency as it means I haven’t become nocturnal or developed bad habits during my time off!

5.Watch at least one Ted/Ted X talk per week
I seem to have let this one go a bit, which is a pity. Shortly after arriving in Florida I actually sat and watched several Ted talks and fully intended to find some time to watch one every day, however the changes to my routine with being away then getting the kittens means I just never got back on top of this again. Such a shame as I really enjoy watching talks and following the suggestions that come up, so this is one to try and sort out as we head into August…

6.Listen to at least 8 podcast episodes per week
I think I’ve mostly been managing this one. I suspect that while we were away I maybe didn’t quite reach 8 episodes one of the weeks (I didn’t particularly count) and without a commute I haven’t had the same dedicated time to listen, yet I still feel like I am using my podcast player every day so would probably be surprised if I counted things up. I even found a couple of new shows to listen to, which is always fun!

7.Respond to at least one WordPress prompt per month
Not quite as last minute as some months, but last week I responded to the prompt Animal.

8.Be more mindful in my phone/social media use
In June I refocused on this one after letting things slide a bit, and of course things changed again in July. A bit more time on my hands meant more scope for idly picking up my phone and scrolling for no reason, but I have tried to keep myself in check on this one by making sure I have my book or Kindle nearby so that rather than picking up my phone, I pick up my book instead. Much more productive and enjoyable!

 

While July is my favourite month, it’s easy to lose all notion of routine during school holidays (not necessarily a bad thing!) and then things slide a bit. That said, I’m pleased with my month, especially my reading, and am looking forward to getting everything back on track.

How have you made the most of your month?
Read any good books lately?

The Year Of Me!!! – June Update (Half way there!)

Wow! Half of the year gone already! That means I’m half way through The Year of Me, adding positive habits and value to my life. I’ve been checking in every month with an update on how things are going.

1.Run 1000km (621 miles)
Looking at my Strava stats, I’m still ahead of the game on this one. I’ve really been enjoying my running this year and certainly haven’t been “chasing” mileage, so it’s pleasing to feel that I have been consistent through the first half of the year.

2.Commit to a minimum of 5 minutes of yoga on at least 5 days of the week
I am doing much more than 5 minutes of yoga (classes are an hour and home practice in the region of 15-30 minutes) however throughout this month there have still been a couple of times that I just haven’t managed to practice on 5 days. I’m putting that one down to everything else getting in the way and am looking forward to refocusing on this one during the summer holidays.

3.Read at least 30 books
So happy with this one. Like my running, my reading has been really consistent and I’m pleased that I’m still ahead of schedule. I’ve read a fair amount of non-fiction but have some novels lined up ready. With a summer holiday coming up it will be interesting to see what I manage to add to the total in July…

4.Be in bed by 10pm at least 3 times per week
Although my end of term exhaustion may suggest otherwise, I have actually been pretty good with this one. It’s been good to get to bed a bit earlier, and on the mornings when I chose to go for an early run it definitely made a difference!

5.Watch at least one Ted/Ted X talk per week
I think there were ¬†a couple of weeks when I didn’t fit this in, but I think in the main this one is going well – I even watched a couple with one of my classes as they are going to be doing some work using Ted talks next term! It’s such a great website full of interesting talks and also a great classroom resource for me.

6.Listen to at least 8 podcast episodes per week
This one I KNOW I’m doing well with. Left to my own devices I would probably listen to podcasts non-stop and now that I’ve caught up on the backlog from my favourite shows, I’m now catching up with a couple of other ones I enjoy. I just love listening to interviews with interesting guests and often learn something new from what I hear. Perfect!

7.Respond to at least one WordPress prompt per month
Ok, so I was a little bit last minute again, but in June I responded to the prompt Summer.

8.Be more mindful in my phone/social media use
I’ve made an effort to improve on this after feeling I was being sucked back in to using my phone too much again. I’m trying hard to leave it alone when I’m reading or watching TV and am trying to return to the habit of carving out specific moments during the day to check my notifications. Things will be different when I’m not at work, but already I feel so much better for doing this again.

Half way through the year and things are looking good. Now it’s time to refocus a little and see how things go in the second half of the year…

How are you getting on with your goals?
What habits make you feel happier in life?

 

 

The Year Of Me!!! – May Update

I’m a little later with this one than I wanted, but better late than never! 2018 is the Year of Me! A year of adding positive habits and value to my life. Each month I’m checking in to see how it’s going, so today it’s my May roundup.

1.Run 1000km (621 miles)
Despite beginning the month with a couple of weeks off to recover from the Stirling marathon, I’m still ahead of schedule with this one. I may have only run about 27 miles, but by the end of May I had brought my total to 404 miles for the year, keeping me ahead of the pace.

IMG_67082.Commit to a minimum of 5 minutes of yoga on at least 5 days of the week
I’ve written frequently about how much I’m loving yoga and in May I added SUP yoga to the mix. But despite that there were definitely a couple of weeks in May when I only managed to practice yoga 4 times in the week. It sounds so easy to fit in just 5 minutes, but some of my work commitments really interfered and I suspect this may continue into June. I’ll need to think about how I can address that since yoga really helps to calm my mind when things are busy so it’s even more important to try and carve out time in my day to go to my mat at those times.

IMG_65553.Read at least 30 books
My reading dropped off a little in May and I’m fairly certain this is what happened last year too, ¬†however I did still read a further 2 books, bringing me to the halfway mark of this particular challenge ahead of schedule. I’m really looking forward to having a bit more time to devote to reading from late June through the summer and have already got a reading list prepared!

4.Be in bed by 10pm at least 3 times per week
I’m still very conscious of getting to bed early, however I definitely find this one harder in the summer months. Even when I’m tired exhausted, the lighter evenings mean that my body just isn’t getting the signals to wind down and sleep. With work getting increasingly busy, I must make more of an effort to get to bed early more often to balance this out.

5.Watch at least oneTed/Ted X talk per week
I’ve kept up with this one well and watched a variety of interesting talks. I only wish I could find more time to watch talks and this is another thing I’m looking forward to in the summer as I can probably watch a talk most days. Bliss!

6.Listen to at least 8 podcast episodes per week
I was concerned that without the lengthy runs of marathon training that I might not keep up with this one, but I still found plenty of occasions to listen to podcasts. I listen when I take my morning walk, in the car home at the end of the day and while doing chores (as well as when I’m running). I’m now totally up to date with my favourites and have listened to one or two episodes of other podcasts that sounded interesting. To be honest, i’d happily listen to podcasts all day if I could.

7.Respond to at least one WordPress prompt per month
I returned to a written post with my (rather last minute!) response to the prompt Volunteer.

8.Be more mindful in my phone/social media use
I really don’t know what to say about this one. I’m trying not to use my phone so much, especially in social situations and when watching TV, yet I have a nagging sense that it’s creeping back in a bit. I think I’m needing to take a step back and try to find better ways to keep up to date with the groups I’m involved in and the social media for this blog. Probably I need to set aside particular times of the day for this, however at a time of year that can feel a bit chaotic, it’s difficult to impose a bit of order on things. This is one I really think I need to focus on a bit more as the school year draws to a close.

Despite some slips, I continue to think the Year of Me is going well. I can’t expect to meet all my goals every single day/week/month and need to accept that there will be times when things don’t go exactly as I would like. What’s more important is to keep on doing these things I’m enjoying and look for more ways to fit then into my life.

How is your 2018 going?
What positive habits add value to your life?

The Year Of Me!!! – April Update

Another month gone in what is shaping up to be an awesome Year of Me! 2018 is all about the process rather than the outcome and how I can add value to my life. I’m checking in each month to keep myself accountable and see how I’m getting on, so here’s how things went in April.

1.Run 1000km (621 miles)
Another successful month of running, culminating in the Stirling marathon. I did rearrange things a bit one weekend so I could watch the London marathon on tv,¬†but I still completed all my runs. I finished on 127 miles for the month and 377 for the year so I’m over half way there. That said, May will be a lot lighter on miles as I’m taking a couple of weeks off and when I start running again it will be pretty low mileage so it’s good to have a bit of a cushion built up.

2.Commit to a minimum of 5 minutes of yoga on at least 5 days of the week
Still loving this one and feeling strong from regular yoga. Despite not having one of my classes to go to for a couple of weeks during the school holidays (it’s a term-time class) I kept up my home practice and easily fell into a daily routine using my favourite Yoga with Adriene videos.

3.Read at least 30 books
I’m doing so much better with this one than last year. Thanks to getting involved in some online reading groups (and my new-found school holiday habit of starting the day reading in bed with a cup of tea!) I’m still ahead of schedule with this one and still managing to find time to read more often. I’ve been reading a lot of non-fiction and have been loving filling my mind with adventures and interesting facts.

4.Be in bed by 10pm at least 3 times per week
I was so good at this in the week before the marathon, heading to bed as soon as the “bedtime” function on my phone told me it was time for bed. I’m not always quite so diligent, nor am I keeping any kind of record, but I’m certain I’m getting to bed by 10pm quite often as it has become a great way to maximise my reading time.

5.Watch at least one Ted/Ted X talk per week
It has become my habit to watch a talk at the weekend, however part of my routine during the school holidays was to watch one every day. I loved this and only wish I had time to do this more often as for every one I watched I think I saved about 3 more to my list for the future!

6.LIsten to at least 8 podcast episodes per week
There’s nothing like the peak weeks of marathon training to provide a chance to listen to lots of podcasts. I’m pretty much all caught up on episodes of my favourites now and have a few random episodes of other ones downloaded to give them a try. I feel like I learn so much from podcasts and you never know when that knowledge might come in handy!

7.Respond to at least one WordPress prompt per month
Another photo prompt this month as I published my response to Rise/Set.

8.Be more mindful in my phone/social media use
It’s difficult to judge this one. Having time off work inevitably meant I used my phone more, and of course I used it a lot in my post-marathon euphoria, but the rest of the time I am being more careful about mindless use of my phone. I’m trying to be really present and focused if I’m watching tv, rather than getting sucked into a pointless scroll and missing things. I’m also trying not to pick up my phone so much when I’m with other people as I know it actually really annoys me to see groups of people “together” but all sitting silently staring at their own screens. The phone (and social media) has a place, but I don’t want it to replace actually living life and experiencing the world. Right now, this is probably still the one I need to be a ¬†bit more conscious of.

Overall, I’m still pretty happy with how things are going. I’m creating positive habits and definitely feel like I’m adding value to my life through the routines I’m creating. The Year of Me is going well!

How are you getting on with your goals for this year?
Do you prefer to read fiction or non-fiction?

The Year of Me!!! – March Update

It hardly seems like any time at all since I was setting my goals for the year – this year focusing on process over outcome and looking at ways to create positive habits and add value to my life – yet here we are at the end of March already! I’m checking in each month to keep me accountable and reflect on how I’m getting on.

1.Run 1000km (621 miles)
I have, once more, completed all the runs on my training schedule, but thanks to some pretty insane weather this month there were a few tweaks along the way – most notably when we were hit by The Beast from the East. Running in the snow seems to have made me stronger and has made some of my longer runs actually feel a bit easier! With increasing mileage I come in at 107 miles for the month and Strava tells me I’ve now at 250 miles for the year. That’s 97 miles ahead of schedule, but I’m not going to get over-excited about that since I don’t anticipate particularly high mileage in May as I take some time out to recover post-marathon.

2.Commit to a minimum of 5 minutes of yoga on at least 5 days of the week
I think this is the one I’m loving best of all. I’ve easily fallen into the habit of an at-home yoga practice on 3-4 days of the week (and go to a yoga class on 2 days). Far from the minimum 5 minutes, most of the home practice has been around 30 minutes long. Still using the Yoga with Adriene videos and having completed one 30 day journey, I went back and began a previous one so I maintain the consistency. I’ll confess to one week where I only managed yoga 4 times, but that was due to time constraints in a super busy week. Had I known, I would have planned around it better but one yoga session isn’t something to get worked up about and I can’t expect a perfect result with my goals all the time!

3.Read at least 30 books
Somehow I’m still ahead of schedule here with 9 books completed. This time last year I had read 8 books, however by the end of June I was only at 11 books and I never quite got things back on track. I’ll need to keep making sure that I set aside time for reading as the days get longer as I’ve really been enjoying my reading so far this year.

4.Be in bed by 10pm at least 3 times per week
I really didn’t expect to be very good at this one, but getting to bed a bit earlier is now becoming a habit. I’ve set the “bedtime” function on my phone to give me a nightly reminder and that usually galvanises me to head upstairs and get settled in to read a few pages of my book. Yes I feel tired from the combined effects of a busy school term and marathon training, but overall I do think I’m a bit better rested than usual. The real test will be to see if I can keep this habit up while I have my spring break as the lure of it not being a school night has tended to keep me up later in the past!

5.Watch at least one Ted/Ted X talk per week
This has been great! To fit in with my schedule I’ve been watching reasonably short talks (including one delivered by the author of a book I read – look at my goals crossing over!) however I’m hoping to find time for some longer ones while I’m on holiday for the first two weeks of April. Let’s see how that goes…

6.Listen to at least 8 podcast episodes per week
Having been quite far behind with episodes, I’ve now managed to just about catch up. I’ve generally been listening to a couple of podcasts every day across my morning walk, commute and training, then the longer training runs on a Sunday are often another 3. It’s great to feel a bit more up to date with the shows I listen to regularly and I no longer feel like I’m missing out on information being shared. I might even try listening to something different if I keep going like this!

7.Respond to at least one WordPress prompt per month
This month I chose a photo prompt and published my response to I’d Rather Be…¬†I have a couple of others lined up too for the coming weeks so it’s so far so good on this one.

8.Be more mindful in my phone/social media use
I began the year really well with this one, however the weather issues at the start of March sucked me back in a little as this was where information was being shared the quickest. Since then I’ve noticed some slippage into random scrolling, however I figure that my awareness of it means I’ll be able to do something about it. I suspect I’ll use my phone a bit more while I’m not at work, but I’ll also be careful about making sure I don’t lose precious time to a mindless time suck. A lapse, but not a serious one and I can easily get back on track again.

Overall I’ve not been too bad at maintaining the positive habits I introduced in the early part of the year, even with some pressures on my time. I’ve spotted a couple of snags to iron out, but for the most part I’m really happy that the choices I’m making are adding value to my life and are worth continuing long term.

Which of your goals for the year are going well?
Any setbacks you need to overcome?

The Year Of Me!!! – February Update

When I set my goals for 2018 I declared it to be The Year of Me – a year of developing positive habits and adding value to my life. As I am focusing on processes over outcomes, I’m aiming to provide an update every month to keep myself accountable and see how I’m getting on.

1. Run 1000km (621 miles)
Just like last month, I’ve completed every run on my training schedule. There were a couple of Wednesdays when I couldn’t run but I knew this would be the case and the gaps were planned so I’m ok with that – life happens! My monthly mileage should be 70-something again and slightly higher than January. According to Strava, this puts me ahead of target but there will equally be times in the year, eg post-marathon, when I don’t run as much so it should all even out.

2. Commit to a minimum of 5 minutes of yoga on at least 5 days of the week
This has been going really well too and I’m cultivating a great at-home practice. I still go to 2 classes per week (Hatha on Monday and Ashtanga on Thursday) and aim to complete a yoga video at home on at least 3 other days. I’ve now finished the Yoga with Adriene 30-day journey I signed up to at the start of the year and will likely now turn to her monthly calendars for inspiration. I’m loving doing so much yoga and really think it is helping me both mentally and physically.

3. Read at least 30 books
I remain ahead of schedule here and am currently finishing up my 6th book of the year. I’m making reading a priority in the evenings and have been choosing a mixture of fiction and non-fiction. I’m also involved in a couple of online book groups so can dip into the choices there when I need inspiration or want to try something I might not otherwise have chosen.

4. Be in bed by 10pm at least 3 times per week
I think I’ve been adjusting my mindset on this one and am much better at heading upstairs earlier in the evening. The idea of getting cosy in my bed is very appealing and there’s not really anything to keep me up now that I’m working on not getting caught in the “infinite scroll” of social media (see below) so early to bed, my Lumie light gradually dimming and a book to read is bliss!

5. Watch at least one Ted/Ted X talk per week
I’m still watching relatively short talks (10-15 minutes on average) but am steadily building this into my weekend routine. I’m already thinking that I might try and watch more during school holidays and over the summer should definitely have time for some of the slightly longer talks I have saved. In the meantime I’m really loving hearing from a range of interesting speakers and can’t wait to learn more from them.

6. Listen to at least 8 podcast episodes per week
I’m still a bit behind in my episodes but am listening to loads of podcasts each week. I’ve returned to my previous habit of a short walk in the morning before getting ready and this gives me a chance to get some air, enjoy some of a podcast and get my head ready for the day ahead. I then finish listening on my commute home and also listen to podcasts during my gym session on the bike and my training runs – a Sunday long run right now could see me easily listen to 2 podcasts and when I hit the Big Ones it could be 3 in one morning alone. Listening to podcasts is a habit I really enjoy and I’m keen to get a bit more up to date with some of my favourites.

7. Respond to at least one WordPress prompt per month
This month I had an idea I might want to write about leggings after all the crazy, patterned pairs I started wearing, but when I saw an op-ed written by someone clearly not a fan of leggings (yoga pants) I decided to add my voice to the debate and picked the prompt Controversy.

8. Be more mindful in my phone/social media use
I’m still being very disciplined about when I pick up my phone and trying hard not to just pick it up and mindlessly scroll at random moments. I’m trying to set aside points in the day to check emails/notifications then leave my phone aside so that I can read/watch tv/blog without feeling the pull of the phone. The combination of this with my goals of reading more and being in bed earlier are working beautifully together to help me establish a positive routine.

February has been a bit of a strange month with the usual pressures of this time in the school year plus a few commitments which kept me out a bit later in the evening, but the routines built in January have continued and I have been able to make a few further adjustments to develop them. Now to keep it all going into March…

How are you getting on with your goals for the year?
What’s your favourite thing you set out to do/achieve this year?

The Year of Me!!! – January Update

As I set my goals for 2018 I declared it to be The Year of Me i.e. a year of developing positive habits and adding value to my life. In the past I have checked in with my goals on a quarterly basis, but since this year is more about the processes than the outcomes, I’m aiming to provide a short update at the end of each month to keep myself accountable and see how I am getting on.

1. Run 1000km (621 miles)
I’ve completed every run on my training schedule for January and it looks like I’ll finish up with 70-something miles. In 2017 I ran 67 miles in January so I’m already up on that. So far so good!

IMG_53742. Commit to a minimum of 5 minutes of yoga on at least 5 days of the week
I’m loving this one. Currently I go to 2 yoga classes per week – Hatha on a Monday and Ashtanga on a Thursday. I signed up to Yoga with Adriene‘s 30 day yoga for January and have been doing that on almost all the other days of the week. It’s tricky to fit in on a Wednesday if I’m going to orchestra, but overall there are very few days in January that I haven’t done any yoga. I’m already feeling the benefit of it so this is definitely a valuable habit to create.

3. Read at least 30 books
Currently finishing up my 4th book of the year which puts me ahead of schedule. I think I was ahead at the start of 2017 but fell behind so I’m hoping to avoid that this time. Over the last week or two I’ve tried to carve out a bit of time in the evening to read a little before going to bed (where I always read to help me fall asleep) so if I’m able to continue that then I might find time to read even more books. That will definitely make me happy!

4. Be in bed by 10pm at least three times per week
I wasn’t sure if I’d be very good at this one, but I’m finding that as I settle down to read I’m more inclined to head upstairs and get ready for bed around 9:30pm. I’m using the sunset feature on my Lumie light to help me wind down and can be asleep just after 10. Right now I’m feeling pretty well rested but this is a busy term so I’ll see how that progresses.

5. Watch at least one Ted/Ted X talk per week
I’ll admit to missing this the week I said goodbye to my cat as I was too unsettled, but I did make up for it by watching 2 talks the following weekend. So far it’s mainly been short talks but as this habit grows I’ll hopefully find more time for the longer ones I have saved in my list. There are just so many good talks out there that I want to watch!

6. Listen to at least 8 podcast episodes per week
I’m actually about 3-ish weeks behind on most of the podcasts I listen to, but am getting back into the swing of listening to them daily and have so far listened to 8-10 per week. I know this will increase as my long runs get longer plus I want to get back into the habit of a morning walk as that really sets me up for the day, so that will give me another chance to listen to something.

7. Respond to at least one WordPress prompt per month
This month I knew I would write about Morven so responded to a photo prompt titled Friend.

8. Be more mindful in my phone/social media use
I’m happy with how this is going too. I’ve stopped looking at my phone when I wake up which means I’m actually ready quicker and take a few minutes to check emails and notifications over breakfast. I then largely ignore my phone until I’m home for the evening and do the same thing BEFORE I settle down to read. Being more into my book means I’m less likely to get sucked in by my phone at bedtime so this is probably having a real impact on my rest, my reading and my bedtime, which will in turn benefit my running. Brilliant!

January may not have been the happiest month for me as I said goodbye to Morven, but the positive habits I have adopted have helped me to cope by providing a routine and adding things I enjoy/benefit from to my life. Now to build on this in February…

How are you getting on with your goals for the year?
What positive habits have you created?

2018 – The Year of Me!!!

That’s right, the year of me. I don’t mean I’m going to be utterly selfish in 2018, more that my goals for the year ahead are going to be about creating habits that add value to and/or improve my life. As I reflected on my goals for 2017¬†the thing that struck me was that the goals I felt most invested in were those that were about a process rather than an outcome,¬†and that got me thinking: how can I set goals that will challenge me but also allow for some kind of progress, regardless of outcome? For example, by setting the goal of a marathon PB, my only options were to achieve it or not (I didn’t) but that didn’t take account of all the miles I ran in training that helped my running to progress. In contrast, by setting the goal of reaching my 100th parkrun, even if I hadn’t made it to 100 I would still have reached a number that advanced on the 60 I began the year with. That requires consistency and therefore is a progression. Since I celebrate a “significant birthday” in 2018 I want to focus on myself and how I can enrich my life, so¬†it’s out with “I want to run X time in a race” and in with aims that involve a year-long process of self-improvement and developing positive habits, aims that will take time and commitment to achieve rather than hanging on a one-off performance. I didn’t set out to come up with 8 for 2018 (to follow 7 for 2017), it just worked out that way – apparently even my unconscious mind likes things to be neat!

1. Run 1000km (621 miles)
Rather than focus on time, this year I want my running to be about cumulative distance. On average, I probably do run around 1000km in a year but have never made this a goal before as I was so conscious of being injury-prone. I probably still am, but I’m also better at listening to my body now and have done a lot of work to help keep me injury-free, so this year I want to make my total distance a goal. 2017 may have been a year of very little racing (I actually only raced 5 times!) but I ran very consistently and my final total of 752 miles was my highest annual mileage ever. Of course I won’t be aiming to meet my goal no matter what – if I get an injury or have an illness then recovery will be my priority, but it’s important to me that my miles mean something beyond “just” another training run. To that end, I have signed up to the 1000km challenge on Virtual Runner UK so assuming I reach my goal, there will be a medal at the end of the year to mark my achievement. Running consistently make me a better runner, and I want every mile in 2018 to count.

2. Commit to a minimum of 5 minutes of yoga on at least 5 days of the week
Last year one of my goals was to commit to more yoga, but I was a little vague about what “more” meant. Not a very SMART goal! But when I did finally get to grips with it thanks to the Tough Girl 100 challenge, I absolutely loved it. My Ashtanga class is a real highlight of my week and throughout the 100 days when I was doing some yoga daily, I felt great. It became my habit to turn to a yoga practice that met my needs that day e.g. to address a tight muscle or aching shoulder, to help me to sleep better or to energise me in the morning. For that challenge my goal was at least 10 minutes per day, but I discovered a number of shorter sequences that I really enjoyed, so when thinking about my goals for 2018 I kept coming back to yoga. I really regretted letting that regular practice fall by the wayside towards the end of the year, so decided that 5 minutes (minimum) of yoga on 5 days of the week would be achievable. To get back into the habit, I signed up to the Yoga with Adriene 30 Days of Yoga to begin the year and am really looking forward to it. Steve has been promising to turn our smallest room int a space where I can roll out my yoga mat so perhaps we’ll finally get that done too…!

3. Read at least 30 books
Back in 2016 I set myself the goal of reading “more” as I was conscious that I just wasn’t finding as much time to read as I had in the past. I’ve ALWAYS been a reader (hence a degree in English!) and it frustrated me that I seemed to be completing so few books. To make that a SMARTer goal I used Goodreads to track my reading and joined their annual reading challenge, setting a target of 15 books on the basis that I probably read about a book a month with some extras during my summer holiday. I actually ended up reading 27 books, so my 2017 target was 30 books, a goal I met by the skin of my teeth! This year I’m keeping the goal this same, but hoping to stay a little more on top of it (although I suspect that the first few days of January will be the only point in the year when 0 books will be declared “on track” haha!). I actually read a fair amount of non-fiction in 2017 so plan to have a balance between fiction and non-fiction on my reading list. I can’t wait to see where reading will take me in 2018…

4. Be in bed by 10pm at least 3 times per week
This one is a development of my 2017 goal to prioritise rest more during the work week. I did make progress on this one but still would fall into the trap of staying up a bit too late sometimes (I’m a natural night owl) so in 2018 I want to do even more to make sure I’m as well rested as possible. This goal is really for term time as it’s much easier to be well rested during school holidays, and by making it a public goal then that will hopefully make me more accountable. I often start thinking about going to bed around 10pm, then spend time getting changed, brushing my teeth, etc and before I know it another half hour has passed. This goal is set in such a way that I should do all this earlier and actually be IN my bed at 10pm, settled with my book. Perhaps I’m just getting boring with age, but the thought of more time in my cosy bed is rather appealing and I know that being better rested will make me feel more alert, keep my immune system more robust and improve my running performance.

5. Watch at least one Ted/Ted X talk per week
I LOVE Ted talks and use them frequently in the classroom. There are so many incredible speakers sharing a range of fascinating information and I’ve worked up a massive list of talks I would like to watch…but never take the time to do so. This year I’m committing to watching at least one per week, either on the Ted Talks website or one of their youtube channels. There is so much out there to learn about and by making this commitment I’m committing myself to broadening my mind and learning more about the experiences of others. What a huge offering from a free platform!

6. Listen to at least 8 podcast episodes per week
When I first started to run I couldn’t set foot out the door without my trusty iPod and some music to distract me. These days I’m happy to run with just my own thoughts for company, but I much prefer listening to podcasts and use them to learn a lot, mainly about running or incredible adventures and challenges that inspire me. I have a huge number of podcasts that I enjoy (and a list of others I’d like to try!) but for various reasons have fallen a little behind in listening to them. So in 2018 my aim is to listen to at least 8 per week, which is basically one per day (usually on my drive home) and a couple during my Sunday long run. My only “rule” is that it must be over 10 minutes to count. I do listen to one or two shorter, daily updates and will continue to do so, but 8 short podcasts (maybe 80 minutes in total) is not quite the same as, say, 8 hours of quality content when it comes to broadening my horizons. If you fancy joining me then I wrote about some of my favourites here and here.

7. Respond to at least one WordPress prompt per month
I wanted to have a blog-related goal as well to help me develop my writing a little bit further, but I know that time-wise I’m quite limited in being able to produce any more content than I am at the moment. However I often see the WordPress daily prompts/challenges and think it would be a good idea to produce a response to them – I’ve even wondered about a mini-goal of completing all of them for a month in the summer, but never actually done it! – and so I thought it might be fun to try one (or maybe more) each month. I’m being fairly flexible with my “rules” around this one so the prompt doesn’t have to be from the month in question, it might be an older prompt or even come from one of the ebooks of daily prompts. I might choose a prompt requiring a written response or I might choose a photographic prompt. Who knows where this might take me…

8. Be more mindful in my phone/social media use
My final goal is interesting as it’s a little harder to quantify, but I am concerned in general about the amount of mindlessly scrolling through social media and/or staring at smartphone screens in the world today. As a teacher I find that my tolerance for phones is getting pretty low and I am catching myself getting more and more annoyed when I look around me and just see people staring at screens rather than interacting. People don’t look around and notice the world anymore and even when groups are together they are often sitting in silence all tapping away on different screens, any conversation being to ask if someone has seen a particular post. Is that what the future is going to be?¬†When I was in France in October I barely looked at my phone all week other than to take photos and communicate with Steve, and I found it rather liberating. Since then, I have tried to cut back on the amount of time I spend using my phone as it’s so easy to get sucked into infinite timelines, especially when little of what I see enhances my life in any great way. I enjoy being part of some specific groups, and interacting with people I rarely see, but it’s a problem when I can’t sit and watch a TV programme without checking my phone. And so I want to be a bit more present in my own life and mindful in my phone use. If I’m on social media then it should be for a purpose (e.g. interacting in a running group or sharing my blog posts), not mindlessly scrolling through drivel when I could be reading blog posts from writers I’m interested in or getting lost in a good book. I often feel like my time is squeezed, so why waste it looking at “copy and paste” status updates, vague posts fishing for “u ok hun?” responses and people falling for hoaxes like to-good-to-be-true competitions or that privacy statement that keeps resurfacing? Yes, I will keep posting photos from my runs, yes I will share content that I find interesting (or might win me a good prize!) and yes I will “like” things I genuinely like. What I won’t do is let these things suck away my precious time and prevent me taking part in more fulfilling activities. It will be interesting to see how that goes.

So there you have it, my goals for the year which will (hopefully) develop positive habits and add value to my life. I will post the usual updates throughout the year to keep myself accountable and share how I’m getting on, but in the meantime, let’s go…!

What are your goals for 2018?
What one thing would you like to do to either create a positive habit or add value to your life this year?

My Year of Running 2017 (Link Up)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eat Pray Run DC