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?

Advertisements

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!

IMG_3894

  • 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!

IMG_3852

  • 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.

IMG_3397
IMG_4549

  • 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!

IMG_1329

  • 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!

IMG_1388

  • 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…!

IMG_4947
Want to join the linkup? All the instructions are here.

Eat Pray Run DC

Podcast Picks Part Two

Last summer I wrote a post highlighting some of my favourite podcasts. Since then, my love for podcasts has continued to grow and I probably listen to at least one a day now, often more. I listen to podcasts when I’m running, completing my bike workout at the gym, when I’m walking, on my drive home (I still like the radio in the morning) and when I’m doing bits and pieces around the house if I’m by myself. All that means I go through podcasts quite quickly, and while I still listen to (and love) all the ones I highlighted before, I’ve now added a few more to my regular rotation, so thought it was high time I wrote a follow-up post:

Running For Real
In my previous post I mentioned that I had begun listening to the Runners Connect Run to the Top podcast, hosted by elite GB athlete Tina Muir. I ended up listening to all of Tina’s back catalogue and found myself following her blog closely as I found her so relatable and “real”. So when Tina announced earlier this year that she was leaving Runners Connect to start her own business, which would include a podcast, I knew I would be a  listener. The new podcast follows a similar format of having a guest interview, with some comment either side from Tina, but the focus is very much on the realities of running and wellness, the ups and downs we all encounter and how we can overcome them to become stronger. Tina is always very honest so listening to the podcast feels reassuring, like a chat with a friend, and I look forward to downloading a new episode every week.

You can find out more about Tina and Running for Real on her website

Marathon Training Academy
This is one that I often saw referenced in other blog posts about podcasts to listen to, and I was aware that husband and wife hosts Trevor and Angie had a big following so decided to give it a go. Then, in a strange coincidence, they did a crossover episode with Martin and Tom from Marathon Talk (my favourite long-run podcast) and I became a regular listener from that point. Angie is a registered nurse and running coach, while Trevor is a much newer runner so it is an effective pairing. They produce three podcasts per month and their format includes some recent running news, updates from listeners, a feature interview or race report segment and some training tips. Great for learning new things or highlighting an interesting guest to look into further and I love their tag line, “you’ve got what it takes to run a marathon and change your life.”

You can learn more on the MTA website

Sparta Chicks
On the surface, it may seem a little strange that I find myself listening to a podcast hosted by an Australian coach/PT, but I was led to this one through my interest in Tough Girl Challenges. Host Jen Brown was an interviewee on TGC and she mentioned that she would soon be starting her own podcast. I enjoyed the interview so took a look at her website and signed up to her email list so I would know when the podcast launched. I love it because like TGC, the focus is on sharing inspiring stories from women (and the occasional man) who have chased their dreams. A regular discussion topic is how we can overcome fear and self-doubt, in particular the imposter complex that makes us feel like we’re not good enough, when we most certainly are. If you’re a fan of Tough Girl Challenges and looking for something else in the same vein, then this may be one for you.

Visit the Sparta Chicks website for more information

Dirt In Your Skirt
I think this is another one I discovered through Tough Girl Challenges as host Margaret Schlachter was an interviewee. Margaret is an OCR runner and while many of her guests come from the obstacle racing field, it’s certainly not all of them and OCR is not always the focus of the discussion. Interviewees are always female and the tag line of the show is to “explore new topics, conquer old fears and inspire those around us”. I’ve not yet managed to listen to all of the episodes, but am really enjoying the different topics discussed as I catch up. I’ve learned all sorts of things I was unaware of about tiny houses, bee keeping and coffee! And of course I’ve heard from inspiring women who have taken on male-dominated fields and been successful.

The Dirt in Your Skirt website can be found here.

Run Selfie Repeat
You may already be familiar with this blog from New York-based runner Kelly Roberts, however earlier this year she started a podcast to accompany it. Kelly is very honest and often uses her own experiences of grief, shame and self-doubt to help encourage others to overcome these barriers and move forward positively. If you read her blog then you will notice some overlap, however she also invites guests on to give advice on mental strategies, training plans and other running-related matters. Kelly is a strong voice in the running community, having started the #sportsbrasquad in the summer of 2016 and her own #bqorbust campaign to try and qualify for the Boston marathon. Being a strong character means that she can ruffle some feathers and it seems people either love her or hate her, but she is doing a lot of good and is a really positive role model for women.

You can read Kelly’s blog and find out more here

Run Eat Repeat
Another blog I’ve read for a while is this one from California-based Monica Olivas. The blog does exactly what it says in the title, discussing running and eating (both VERY important to me!) and I love Monica’s conversational style. The podcast is a new departure for her as she looks ahead to how she can continue to add value to her blog and share her ideas within the running community. There are usually a couple of episodes a week featuring chat from Monica, some guests, training tips and encouragement. They’re a good length for a commute ( the Fast Friday episodes are usually around 10 minutes long) and while the podcast is in its early days, is developing steadily.

Check out Monica’s website for more information

So there you have it. Six more podcasts I’ve added to my weekly rotation and listen to regularly in addition to the ones I highlighted last time. I’m always on the lookout for new podcasts to try, so if you have any suggestions for me, why not add them in the comments below…

Are you a podcast fan?
When do you like to listen?

NB Nobody has offered me any incentive to write this. It’s simply an honest post highlighting more of the podcasts I enjoy.

Tough Girl

Back in the summer of 2015 I spotted a tweet from double Olympian and Commonwealth Games medallist Liz Yelling sharing a link to a new podcast she had been interviewed for. Thinking it sounded interesting, I downloaded the podcast and loved it. I immediately subscribed and downloaded the handful of previous episodes so I could catch up. I was hooked and have remained a huge fan ever since. What was that podcast? The Tough Girl Podcast hosted by Sarah Williams (I wrote a bit about this in my Podcast Picks post last summer).

Everything Sarah wants to achieve through her podcast, website and social media channels really speaks to me. Her core aim is to motivate and inspire women and girls, to provide positive role models of women pushing boundaries and taking on challenges. Whether that’s running, cycling, swimming or something completely different like climbing, rowing or powerlifting, the chances are there’s a podcast episode to suit you. Nor does it matter how old you are – Sarah has interviewed guests from 17 to 70 – and age should never be a barrier to trying something new. These are the very things I feel passionate about. So many women are put off participating in sport or taking on challenges for a variety of reasons, and I want to try and help break down those barriers, perhaps even be a positive role model, and show that we can all do ANYTHING we put our minds to. For me, this podcast was perfect and listening to all the incredible women on it made me feel part of something special.

Such was my passion for Sarah’s mission, I found myself getting more and more involved. First, I became part of a team of volunteers helping her with some of her social media commitments (you can follow her Facebook page here and female listeners can become part of the Tough Girl Tribe, a closed group of supportive and like-minded women). More recently, I decided to financially help support the podcast by making a monthly contribution through Patreon. For me, this was important as Sarah puts so much time and effort into everything she does and produces some fantastic free content. Support on Patreon is really the only way she can earn an income from that work right now, and while the content is free there are all sorts of costs involved in producing a quality podcast, maintaining a website and so on. I get value from the podcast and wanted to do my bit to help out.

A week ago I was lying on the floor of my Paris hotel room with my legs up the wall to start my post-marathon recovery. I’ve done this after every long run this year and like to use the time to catch up on social media posts. On marathon days there are always loads, but one in particular caught my eye. One of the awesome members of the Tough Girl Tribe had put up a post inviting other members to write positive, inspiring messages for me to read after the race. As I scrolled through the comments, I noticed one from Sarah asking me if I would like to be a guest on her daily podcast, a short daily update she has been producing to help keep her accountable during the preparations for her next challenge. I have been listening to these podcasts and been struck by how honest and real Sarah has been – not every day can be completely positive, regardless of what social media might have us believe, and sometimes we have to acknowledge our struggles and be honest about how we are feeling. It was listening to these episodes that motivated me to become a patron of the show.

I’ve never been on a podcast, nor have I vlogged or shared video/audio content of myself on any social media platform, but I agreed to the podcast interview as I thought it was a great opportunity to discuss my running and perhaps inspire someone else to give it a go. I feel like I know Sarah having listened to all her podcasts and having a previous conversation with her, so I knew it would feel like a chat between friends. The interview took place via Skype on Wednesday and the episode went live on Friday morning (I got a bit over-excited and shared it just about everywhere!). It’s not long, only around 15 minutes, but I’d love for you to have a listen. If you don’t already subscribe to the Tough Girl Podcast (or Daily Podcast) then I highly recommend it. I listened to the latest instalment of 7 Women 7 Challenges during the Paris Marathon as I wanted to be inspired by the awesome women involved and their words will forever be linked in my mind with different parts of that day.

I was delighted to be interviewed and so wanted to share it with you today. You can access the show notes for the episode and listen via Libsyn here (or if you prefer to use your favourite podcast directory, search for Tough Girl Daily Podcast). Alternatively, you can listen via the YouTube link below. I hope you enjoy it.

If you’d like to find out more about Sarah Williams, check out this interview she did for another blogger or visit her website.

And remember: If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.

Podcast Picks

In the June 10th edition of Friday Finds, I included an article which explained why running is the perfect time to listen to podcasts. According to that article, the act of running helps to free up some space in our minds for processing ideas. That means that either we can be more creative with our own ideas, or that we can be more receptive to the ideas of others. When I first started running I was so tied to my iPod that I didn’t believe I could run without it, but these days you’re more likely to find me listening to a podcast (a running one of course) and saving the music for a race so my playlist still feels fresh. My preference for podcasts has been touched on in one or two posts, so today thought I would dedicate a post to rounding up some of my favourites.

Marathon Talk
This is where it all started for me. I had been aware of Marathon Talk for some time, but I think it was in the early part of 2015 when I began the Jantastic challenge that I became a committed listener. Hosted by Martin Yelling and Tom Williams, this weekly podcast looks at the news from the world of running, offers opportunities for listeners to get a mention for rating their run or getting on that week’s marathon podium, and features an interview with a guest every week. I often find myself laughing out loud at some segments of the show, which makes me look like a bit of a lunatic when I’m running, but as someone who often runs alone, this feels a bit like having someone beside me chatting away and filling me in on all the news. I’ve even managed to get a mention a couple of times!

This is my go-to podcast for long runs and you can find out more on the show website.

marathontalk

The Tough Girl Podcast
I absolutely LOVE the Tough Girl podcast which was started by Sarah WIlliams in August of 2015. I first came across it when Olympian Liz Yelling tweeted a link to the episode she was in around September. I listened to the episode and loved it so much that I went back and listened to all the previous ones immediately. Every week Sarah interviews an inspiring woman who has taken on some sort of challenge. There have been runners, cyclists, sailors, and all manner of challenges covered. Sarah’s driving force is to motivate and inspire women and girls, to show them they CAN take on a challenge, whether that’s running their first 5k or cycling across a continent. I just love anything like this, and Sarah’s mantra, “if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.” I really look forward to downloading a new episode every week and listen to it on my midweek run – fantastic motivation to push hard!

To learn more about Sarah Williams and Tough Girl Challenges, visit her website.

medium_tough-girl-podcast-1469685337

Runners Connect Run to the Top
This is a more recent discovery for me. Having become a real podcast aficionado, I’m always on the look out for something new that I might enjoy and noticed a few bloggers mentioning this one. In a way, it’s a bit like Marathon Talk as each weekly episode is centred around an interview with a guest. But unlike Marathon Talk, this one is based in the US (although hosted by GB elite athlete Tina Muir who now lives in the USA). I first gave this a listen towards the end of the school term, I think in June, and have since been making my way back though all the previous episodes. Although Tina may make brief mention of a time of year or recent race of her own, the focus is on the interview therefore it doesn’t really matter when you listen to it. I’ve now listened to all of the episodes from this year and have been thoroughly enjoying the range of guests. I’ve also been reading Tina’s blog and really like how honest she is about her training and how she is feeling. It’s reassuring to know that an elite runner suffers the same worries and anxieties as the rest of us!

This podcast has been seeing me though my weekly session of bike intervals in the gym. If you fancy it, then check out the Runners Connect website.

runnersconnect-podcast-artw

Running Commentary
A recent entry to the podcast world, this is one I’ve been with pretty much since the beginning. The hosts are comedians Rob Deering and Paul Tonkinson (who also writes a column in Runner’s World) and the format of this one is a little different. Basically, the guys record the podcast as they are running, and in the main it simply follows their random running chat (and we all know just how random that can get when we’re deep into a long run – often they will be discussing something then one of them will suddenly point out a bird or something!). They are beginning to introduce some guests to the show, but the idea is that the guest runs with them rather than being an interview edited in. Most of the time this is one I listen to either in the car or while doing odds and ends around the house, however I recently had an amusing incident whilst listening to it as I walked into town for some errands. When I run, I only put one earphone in, however since I was walking I was using both. Because the guys are recording on the run, there is inevitably the odd bit of heavy breathing. You don’t really notice this if you’re running too, but on this occasion I got a real fright at a particularly heavy breath as I though someone had crept up behind me, before realising it was just my podcast! Maybe I should stick to listening to this one elsewhere!

You can catch up wth Running Commentary on Facebook.

running-commentary

The DC Rainmaker Podcast
Another one I’ve listened to from the start, this one indulges my techie side. I do love a gadget, especially a bit of sports tech, and have been reading the DC Rainmaker blog for a while. DC Rainmaker, aka Ray Maker, announced last year that he would be launching a new podcast with his friend Ben Hobbs of TRS Triathlon and I was intrigued. The focus here is to answer sports tech questions asked by podcast listeners. While the questions might not always relate to gadgets/brands that I have, it’s still interesting to listen to and the banter between the two hosts can be amusing. We also learn a bit more about Ray and his life as an American in Paris. I usually listen to this in the car on the way home from work as the length is about right for my journey and I can let it drift over me a bit as I concentrate on the road.

You can find out more over on the DC Rainmaker website.

1200x630bf

 

Lazy Girl Running
I’ve long been a reader of the Lazy Girl Running blog by Laura Fountain and read her book The Lazy Runner a couple of summers ago. The podcast is a little more intermittent in release, however it’s usually a chat between Laura and a guest, or Laura and some of her friends taking on an event. This is another one that is usually recorded on the run in order for both the host and the guest to maximise their time, and whenever a new episode is available it’s another one that suits me on my journey home from work. Thanks to a recent episode I discovered the Jasyoga website and even ordered the accompanying book. Yes, I am really easily influenced sometimes!

You can find out more on the Lazy Girl Running website.

cover170x170

 

So there you have it. These are the podcasts I listen to regularly, although I have been known to listen to the odd episode of other ones if there’s a guest or topic that interests me. I can just about fit these into my week through a couple of runs and my car journeys home from work (I like to listen to the radio in the morning) but I know if I spot something else that interests me I’ll no doubt add it into the mix and try to find time for it.

What about you? Do you like to listen to podcasts? Any recommendation for me?

 

NB no affiliate links or sponsored content here. Just a genuine post featuring the podcasts I enjoy listening to.