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 😂). 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

Advertisements

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

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

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

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

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

Oh, and my new toy arrived:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday Finds – 10th 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.

I’m not sure how it happened, but it’s the last Friday of the summer holidays. I was just getting nicely settled into my summer routine (to be fair, mainly watching the kittens, but they answer back waaaaay less than your average teenager!) and now reality is threatening to force its way back in. Oh well, I suppose it couldn’t last forever. Let’s kick off this final weekend of freedom with a few interesting bits and pieces I’ve found this week.

First, a couple of pieces from Alex Hutchinson’s Sweat Science column. I’m currently reading Hutchinson’s book Endure and am finding it fascinating to learn more about the impact of our brains on our endurance. In this column (also featured in The Guardian today) he examines how emotional intelligence can impact on our performance. The key finding looked at is the notion that emotional intelligence can be a better predictor of race times than training. Could it really be true?

The second Sweat Science column looks at how a machine was used to differentiate between “competitive” and “recreational” runners. While those labels may not necessarily be helpful, the results from the machine were interesting in identifying aspects of stride patterns which could be used to learn more about (and perhaps prevent) injuries. Anyone else now wondering what the machine would say about their running form?

Still in a scientific vein, this piece from Canadian Running magazine looks at the link between athletic success and academic success. Do athletes perform well academically because running improves their cognition, or is good academic performance a result of positive habits and mindset brought to studying from training? What do you think?

Moving on, I also came across this report on a US study into the effects of exercise on mental health. There have been so many studies now looking at various physical and mental benefits of exercise, but this seems to be the biggest such study to date. What was interesting here was that team sports seemed to have the most positive impact. While running is more of a solo pursuit, there are plenty of opportunities to spend time with others e.g. on group runs or taking part in parkrun. Whatever your choice, regular exercise definitely seems to make a difference to our mental health as well as improving our physical health.

And finally, I do love when people create their own quirky events and challenges, so this last story caught my eye. Readers in the UK will no doubt know of the bakery chain Greggs, well-known for its sausage rolls, but it’s not normally somewhere we would associate with healthy living. Enter a group of students who have taken their love of Greggs to a whole new level by plotting their own marathon route taking in every branch of the bakery chain in Newcastle to raise money for charity. That’s a lot of sausage rolls!

Happ reading,
The Running Princess

Book Review – Tricurious

Laura was a self-certified couch potato. Until six years ago she couldn’t run for more than a few minutes at a time. Since then she has completed eight marathons and is now a committed triathlete. But Laura couldn’t have achieved what she has without her mentor and friend Katie. A life-long runner, fair-weather cyclist, and born-again swimmer, the more experienced Katie helped Laura through the ups and downs of training for a triathlon. Their triathlon journey gave them the opportunity to break boundaries while forging a life-long friendship. Tricurious tells Laura’s and Katie’s story, with energy and humour. Filled with anecdotes and advice about the trials and tribulations of preparing for a triathlon, this inspiring book will leave you hungry to experience the joy (and pain) of swim, bike, run.

You may know Laura Fountain from her book The Lazy Runner which documented her journey from couch potato to marathoner. As with many runners, Laura asked herself, “what next?” and the answer was triathlon. While triathlon may not (yet) be on the cards for me, I enjoyed reading about her journey towards the iron distance from being a complete beginner.

What drew me to this book, apart from my knowledge of Laura from her previous book and her blog, was how accessible the it was. When trying something new we all experience fears and doubts, we convince ourselves that everybody else was somehow born knowing how to do it and that we are going to make complete fools of ourselves. This book takes us through the process of getting to grips with each of the disciplines (including learning to swim pretty much from scratch – usually the most intimidating aspect of triathlon for beginners) and is filled with amusing stories of mishaps and mistakes, as well as answering all those questions that we’re too afraid to ask, about the things no one ever tells us.

Throughout the book we get Laura’s perspective as a beginner, as well as Katie King’s perspective as the more experienced triathlete, so those with a triathlon or two under their (race) belts can still get something from this book. We get a glimpse into training for iron distance events as well as some advice on how to ensure a balance between training and our “real” lives.

We are also shown, crucially, that it’s ok not to succeed the first time – whether that’s swimming a length, clipping into our bike pedals or making the cut-off time in an iron distance event. A great example of this was Laura’s first iron distance tri in which she didn’t feel great during the swim and lost too much time. As a result, she didn’t make one of the bike cut-offs and her race ended. It would have been easy to wallow in self-pity, but instead Laura set up her own personal event not long after. With no fanfare, just her watch to give her the distance markers and the support of her loved ones, Laura completed the iron distance triathlon she had trained for (her “Iron Person”) and did so within her own meaningful cut-off times – completing the swim within the session times at the reservoir, being off her her bike before her nieces went to bed and finishing the run in time for last orders in the pub! Amazing!

I loved the interplay between the two writers and the “turn about” approach to chapters. I also loved the honesty, sense of humour and practical advice they both give. I’d say it’s the ideal book for women keen to try triathlon, and should I ever decide to give it a go I’ll be re-reading this book as it shows quite clearly that anything is possible.

Friday Finds – 3rd 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.

Friday? I swear I only just wrote a Friday post a couple of days ago! Time definitely speeds up towards the end of the summer holidays! The week has clearly gone by in a blur but I’ve still got a few articles to share with you…

First, an update on the I Move London relay which I mentioned in last week’s post. This was a Guinness World Record attempt and at the beginning of the week the relay ended successfully by setting a new world record. It must have been an amazing thing to take part in/support. I wish it had been a bit closer to me so I could have been involved.

Speaking of records, I also spotted this crazy story from the US. A runner got stung on the mouth during an ultra yet still went on to not only win the race, but actually beat the course record…set by Scott Jurek!

Something that appealed to the tech geek side of me was the news that an app allowed runners in the recent San Franciso marathon to visualise the course ahead of the race. This app went further than looking at a map (that’s meaningless unless you know the area) and seeing an elevation graph, this actually let runners see how wide the street was and if there might be any obstacles like bollards or other potential hazards they should avoid. Being able to visualise a race is a great way to mentally prepare, so anything that might add further detail sounds like a potentially useful tool. Would you use it?

On a lighter note, I enjoyed this piece from Canadian Running in which readers reveal their experiences of running helping them out in their day to day lives. Several of these made me smile. Do you have any similar stories?

And finally, it’s a cute story about a dog! I love reading stories where animals randomly join in a race and I’m certain that there will be a long line of people wanting to adopt this particular pup now that he’s completed a half marathon and been awarded a medal!

Happy reading!
The Running Princess

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?

Tunes on Tuesday – The Greatest

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

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

The Greatest – Sia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Week In Review – Bonding

Well I hope you like kitten photos because I’ve taken approximately eleventy million this week 😂. I have, however, been out and about running and going to yoga classes so my fitness shouldn’t have suffered too much while I’ve bonded with the kittens and watched them racing about the parts of the house they have had access to. No need for tv with kittens about!

Here’s what I’ve been up to:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – SUP yoga
Wednesday – run
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun + SUP yoga
Sundayrun rest

I began the week with a nice, gentle Hatha class on Monday evening (after a day mainly playing with the kittens and helping them to settle into some kind of routine). Since there had been no class for the previous 3 weeks it was all about easing us back in and stretching out our bodies. So relaxing and I was definitely dozing off in savasana at the end!

jG%7c79qRNSz3M+NUOgT2ATuesday was another day with the kittens, then in the evening I had a SUP yoga class. I was sooooo excited to be back on the board and in the water – I actually have really missed doing this. It was a lovely warm evening, but a bit windy which added to the challenge. My new shorty wetsuit that I got from Aldi before going away was ideal for the conditions and I felt much more able to move than in Steve’s full length one I had been wearing before. Best of all, I FINALLY braved standing up to paddle back rather than staying on my knees. I had really wanted to do this back in June but the conditions were pretty blustery for the last couple of classes so it wasn’t possible. This was probably the last thing I was really wanting to do on the board at this stage so I was really pleased.

IMG_8276On Wednesday I wanted to try a run after giving my tight ankle a bit of time to resolve. It was feeling much much better and I knew the only way to really find out how it was feeling was to run. I set off on a route that could easily be shortened but ended up on the full loop which is about 3.7 miles. Ankle was fine and actually improved as I went so I suspect this is something I should be able to fully resolve quickly.

IMG_8261Later in the day I did some yoga in the living room, hopeful that it might become kitten yoga, but sadly they were too sleepy to join me. Maybe next time…

Thursday was a really warm day and since I knew there was some rain forecast for the weekend I decided to take advantage of the kittens’ afternoon siesta to head out into the garden and soak up some rays. This heatwave may have been going on for a while, but this is Scotland so I’m convinced that “normal service” will resume at any time!

TPEtF7bkRA2gl0QNivd22ASince it was so nice my Ashtanga class headed outside again and it was lovely. A little breezy but I love practicing in the outdoors and feeling the sun on me as I move through the postures. At one point I was conscious of someone standing nearby so turned for a look. It was an older couple watching the demonstration of a sequence and waiting to see us do it. As I moved into my shoulder stand I could hear them saying to each other how impressive it all looked and how lovely to see the class out in the park. I think one or two people in the class are a little hesitant about heading outside, but I figure just about everyone I know thinks I’m mad anyway so wouldn’t bat an eyelid at me doing yoga in public!

Prqg7UDQSIK1E3W+Ug35egI took Friday as a rest day as I had a few errands (ok, I had to go out for kitten food and kitty litter but ended up spending a long and rather fascinating time examining the cat/kitten food aisle in the pet shop – so many interesting options since I was last doing this kind of thing!). I also had an appointment with my doctor to get my medical certificate signed for the Disneyland Paris half marathon so I did manage something productive with my day.

Sw9zsuiGRD+Rts3xapONwgWith my ankle so much better it was time to head back to parkrun on Saturday. I was actually ready really early…and then was almost late due to fishing the kittens out from behind the tv as I didn’t want them playing among the cables (we’ve now bought some trunking to sort that out!). Fortunately I made it in time and was even able to have a quick chat before we got underway. Not having pushed myself much recently I wasn’t sure how it would go, but I felt ok and was happy with 24:17.

IMG_8392Post-parkrun I headed straight home to get changed, have a snack and drive over to the activity centre for SUP yoga. After some storms on Friday night we hadn’t been too sure if it would go ahead but all was fine when we arrived. It was pretty windy though – I didn’t have to paddle to get up to where the line was set up across the water, just point myself in the right direction and let the wind take me haha!

Towards the end of the class we were hit with a monsoon-esque downpour and for a good few minutes all you could hear was the bouncing rain and us laughing at how ridiculous we must look doing yoga on a paddle board in the middle of the pouring rain! It was pretty funny and, predictably, the rain went off just in time for us to paddle back in at the end of the class. I tried to stand up to paddle but the wind just kept pushing me back every time I did so it was easier to stay on my knees this time.

Although my ankle had felt fine, it was a little tight again on Saturday evening so I decided not to push my luck with a Sunday run and instead do some mobility work to help finally resolve the issue. That gave me some time to tidy up the house a bit (while the kittens were napping) as Steve’s brother and his wife were visiting in the afternoon (funny how many visitors we’ve had since the kittens arrive!) and tackle the ironing – such glamour!

We all headed into town together in the evening as this was the weekend of the Southern Fried music festival and that meant one of our favourite things…Soul Food!

yF3shf0yRriL+D3Zf%FrVQI ordered Mexican corn coup with cornbread followed by 3 pieces of fried chicken (and got 4 – bonus!) with cajun fries and red beans & rice. All washed down with a beer. We were going to order salted caramel beignets from the food stand outside, but didn’t get our acts together in time so managed to miss out. Again. Next year…!

IZCunyjwSQmNlz95QPkZog
YhAH92IPTmCz4dVBGkpESASteve and I then walked home and got caught in such an almighty downpour that we were drenched even with a rain jacket and basically had to peel our clothes off at the front door and grab towels to dry off before we could do anything else. Needless to say those clothes went straight in the washing machine on the basis that they would be drier when they came out!

And with that the first full week at home with the kittens came to an end. Now that they have a bit more of a routine I think I’ll probably be out of the house a little more in the week ahead so they get used to the idea that they will have parts of the day by themselves. I might even go to the gym!

Did you have any rain/storms this week?
What would you have ordered at Southern Fried?

The Daily Post – Animal

I really wanted this month’s blog prompt response to be something cat-related (since the wee floofs are very much on my mind right now) so when I found the prompt Animal it seemed ideal. Ok, so I often think about cats (actually, I think I might be becoming one 😹) but this year as a whole has been very cat-centric: I said good bye to Morven, I ran the Stirling marathon for Cats Protection, and now I have welcomed two new furry friends into my life.

Recently I was asked to write a piece for the local Cats Protection “Newslitter” (see what they did there?) and having received my copy this week, I wanted to share it here as well…

Bk3K8MwbT3C6+WBAqsnOdgMiles for Morven
It all began back in the summer of 2000. Fresh from university and embarking on the adventure of an independent adult life, I knew I wanted a cat to complete my cosy little world. Enter Morven, a tiny bundle of fluff and love I adopted from Cats Protection. Right from the start she was a mummy’s girl and she brought joy to my life every single day, staying firmly by my side through the very worst that life could throw at me.

Fast forward to 2016 when it became clear that something wasn’t quite right with my beautiful little girl. She was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, a condition that affects many older cats, but with a prescription diet and daily medications we were able to manage the condition and Morven continued to enjoy a good quality of life with plenty of love, comfortable places to sleep and a clear preference for curling up on my lap – even when I went to bed!

Morven’s condition was further complicated by the discovery of a mass in her small intestine midway through 2017. Again, medication helped her to sustain her quality of life. She was happy and fought bravely through every health issue until, in January of this year, her journey came to an end quite suddenly.

IMG_6660As it turns out, there is no preparing for the loss of a pet, even when you know in your heart of hearts that the end is near. As I came to terms with the loss of my best friend and companion, I knew that I wanted to do something positive in her name, to honour all those years of loyal, loving friendship she gave me. And what better to do than to support the charity that gave me that loving friendship all those years ago – Cats Protection.

I have been told many times that Morven was a lucky cat: she was loved, she had everything a (spoiled) cat could want and when she became ill I made sure that she received all the treatment she needed without question. I was her dedicated nurse administering daily medications, giving her subcutaneous fluids at home and becoming a bit of a “frequent flyer” at the vet!

But I know that not every cat is as lucky as Morven and the thought of a cat without a fur-ever home breaks my heart. If I could, I would adopt them all, but that isn’t possible. What is possible is raising funds for cats in need in this area. Cats who need food, litter, toys and veterinary care. Cats who deserve to be loved.

And so a plan began to take shape. I already had a place in the 2018 Stirling marathon and, at the point when I said goodbye to Morven, was beginning to train. The day after I lost her I went for a run. I no doubt looked a state with tears running down my face as I snivelled my way around the streets, but when I returned I contacted Fiona at Cats Protection Perth to tell her I would like to be a Cat Champion, to do what I could to raise money for the Perth branch though my running in 2018. #milesformorven had been born.

Becoming a Cat Champion was probably the best thing I could have done. At a time of year that was dark and gloomy, a time when I was grieving for Morven (how could such a small creature leave such a huge gap in my life?) I had a focus. Every mile I ran in training was another mile for Morven. Every penny I raised was going directly to Cats Protection to help them make a difference to the cats in their care and the thought of this was soothing. On race day, remembering how brave she was helped me to dig in when things got hard and I used the rhythm of my mantra – “Morven’s tough, I’m tough” – to keep my legs moving steadily. Crossing the finish line I knew I had done my best and done Morven proud.

YDBkbIBmRMW9SVArj30AGARunning the Stirling marathon provided the closure I needed to let me remember those years with Morven fondly rather than with sadness. More importantly, all the wonderful people who donated to my cause helped me to raise over £680 for Cats Protection Perth, funds which I know will help boost the “kitty”.

In October I will run the Aviemore Half Marathon as a Cat Champion and hope to increase that total further. In the meantime, I’m thinking it’s time to bring another furry friend (or two!) into my life and I know exactly where I’ll turn…

IMG_5348Of course, as my mum pointed out, the story will now have to continue with Sooty and Smokey…

EZnNyD9uReyRGYVBOdH1BQWant to help? You can donate here:JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

Friday Finds – 27th July

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.

How can it be Friday again already? It feels like no time at all since I last wrote a Friday Finds post, yet here we are again. I’ve had a pretty chilled week and am looking forward to a weekend of running and yoga. Hope you have some great plans too.

Let’s begin this week by returning to the Nike 4% shoes that I included last week. Unsurprisingly, the revelation that the claims of a 4% improvement in performance may actually be true have attracted a lot of commentary, so I wanted to share a couple of other pieces I came across this week which look at the shoes from a more wary standpoint. First, Sean Ingle from The Guardian considers how fair the shoes are in terms of creating a level playing field, then Brian Dalek (I wonder if he likes Dr Who?) writing for Runner’s World discusses what is holding him back from trying them himself. Interesting food for thought.

Sticking with Runner’s World for now, and an update on a challenge I first mentioned on here back in April. Peter Thompson set out with the aim of running the entire Tour de France route and finishing ahead of the cyclists. Well he’s only gone and done it – and 3 days ahead of schedule! That’s a remarkable feat and I’m sure we’ve not heard the last of Thompson!

Speaking of challenges, those of you who are avid parkrunners may have come across this intriguing notion – 2 parkruns on the same day. Yes, it is possible in many areas to do two on New Year’s Day, but this challenge is a little more complex involving flights, the international date line and a lot of determination. Anyone up for it?

Speaking of challenges, I also came across this great idea for creating a challenge much closer to home. It’s a fantastic reminder than we don’t have to travel great distances or spend lots of money to create a new challenge – we can simply look to what’s around us and get creative.

And finally, you may have heard about the I Move London relay which is taking place this month as an attempt to set a new world record for the longest non-stop relay, but you perhaps didn’t hear about the “divine” intervention that took place a few days ago. Relay runner Max Livingstone-Learmonth chased down and stopped a purse snatcher – all while dressed as a bishop. I think my favourite part of this is that not only did our hero apprehend a criminal, but he kept hold of the relay baton the whole time. Brilliant!

Happy Reading,
The Running Princess