Friday Finds – 8th December

Friday Finds is a regular feature in which I collate and share interesting articles and posts on running/health/fitness which I’ve read recently. Some might be inspiring, some might be scientific, some might provoke debate. All are things I’ve found in some way thought-provoking.

Hello! How has your week been? Mine has been interesting to say the least, but at long last it’s Friday and time to get the weekend started with some Friday Finds

As the year edges towards its close many of us are evaluating our goals for the year and contemplating the things we want to achieve in 2018. With that in mind, you might find this first article interesting. Writing for the BBC, Amanda Ruggeri investigates goals and what can lead to both success and failure. I’ll bear this in mind when setting my goals for 2018.

Also thinking about the end of the year is Strava. This week the social network for athletes released their annual report filled with statistics gleaned from the activities logged throughout 2017 (although I was surprised at the “average” people logging 120-130 miles for the year. That seems low to me, but maybe my perception is skewed by marathon training?). In the article below, Women’s Running pulls together some of the headline numbers. If you’re a data geek, enjoy!

Next, an examination of the ubiquitous pre-race kit photo. We’ve all been known to take those “flat runner” photos, especially when we travel for our race (guilty as charged!), but in this piece for Outside, Martin Fritz Huber argues that when it comes to the pros there’s more to those photos than simple sponsor promotion, that they have become part of a pre-race ritual that encourages focus and creates a degree of control. And that’s where they can be useful for all of us, whether we’re aiming to be on the podium or just happy to finish.

On a lighter note, two-time US Olympian Desi Linden posted an amusing tweet in which she described several American pro runners as emojis. I love this idea and it got me wondering about the emoji I would like to represent me. It has to be the princess since I’m The Running Princess! 👸🏻 What would you choose and why?

And finally, every week I like to finish with a lighter/humorous article or video. This week, Canadian Running Magazine has done the hard work for me and rounded up some of the strangest running moments of the year. I know I’ve covered some of these and remember reading/hearing about others. Maybe you remember some too…

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Advertisements

Friday Finds – 1st December

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.

Ok, ok, I know it’s Saturday not Friday. Unavoidable I’m afraid due to a retiral dinner on Friday evening and no time to get my post prepped in advance. Still, I’m here today to share a few interesting stories to see you into the rest of your weekend.

First up this week is a post about shoes. If I’m honest, I’m way more interested in running shoes than any other kind of shoe, probably because I spend so much time in them and have spent a long time seeking the “perfect” shoe for me. In this post, Jonathan Beverly examines some of the changes that have taken place in the design of running shoes over the past decade or so. Anyone who has been running for a while will no doubt recognise some of these:

Next, some interesting news from parkrun. I read recently that there were moves afoot to launch parkrun events within some UK prisons and the effect of this has been extraordinary. Because of a 5k run once a week, many participants have been motivated to adopt a more healthy lifestyle, make greater use of the prison gym and encourage others to follow suit. Since studies have noted that sport can engage prisoners in education and help prevent re-offending, this is a very positive step and one university is looking to measure the long-term effects of the initiative on both the prisons and the prisoners.

Now a quirky story from The Washington Post. As the city pilots a number of different bike-share systems, the newspaper decided to test them out with a race. The results came down to more than just the fastest cyclist: the bike itself, the pickup/parking locations and routes taken also played a big part. I love these kinds of ideas which really put various transport options to the test.

On a different topic, I enjoyed reading more about the positive benefits of yoga. It’s fairly well-know what a difference yoga can make to both physical and mental health, and I definitely noticed this when I did yoga every day as part of a 100 day challenge. Reading this has reminded me that I really need to get back into the habit of daily yoga. I think I feel a new goal coming on…

And finally, it was the headline of this final article that caught my eye -how on earth could Harry Potter help someone to run a marathon? Did I overlook something in my reading of the books? Perhaps some kind of “Fleet Feet” potion. But no, sadly no marathon-related sorcery to help someone to run 26.2 miles, more the power of having something good to listen to on the run. I’m a big podcast listener, but one day I’ll maybe try an audiobook instead.

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Week In Review – Stop The World!

What a week! Sometimes the world just feels a little too much and with lots to do and a cold doing its work on my immune system, much of this week outside of work was a real “time out” to give me a chance to recover. I may not have worked out much, but I’m still linking up with Jessie @ The Right Fits and Jess @ Jess Runs ATL to share how I spent my time and remind us all to listen to our bodies and take a rest when we need it!

Just to prove how little I did, here’s how my week turned out:

Monday – rest (parents’ evening)
Tuesday – bike @ the gym rest
Wednesday – short run rest
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 5 miles

Monday was always going to be a “rest” day as I had another parents’ evening. Unfortunately, by the time I was finished the demands of teaching all day and speaking all night had left me wiped out. Although I started the day feeling perfectly well, by the time I arrived home I was feeling stuffed up and rather hoarse. A cold had arrived and from that point on it was quite clear the cold was going to stay!

On Tuesday I had thought I might have a gentle cycle then sit in the steam room to clear my head – I even took my kit with me so I could go straight to the gym after work! – but by the time I was driving home this was the absolute last thing I wanted to do. The cold was making me feel exhausted as all my energy was going on teaching my classes during the day, so I decided to call it quits and head home for a relaxing evening catching up on some tv. Definitely the right decision.

I carried on in a similar vein on Wednesday as I knew I was just too congested to run. While my symptoms were technically “above the neck” and a gentle run would have been ok, with nothing specific on the horizon to train for, I knew I would benefit far more from the rest. No run, no orchestra, just another night cuddled in with the cat and watching tv. A little frustrating, but for the best.

By Thursday I felt a little more like getting on with things so went to yoga as usual. Theoretically fine, but as it turns out breathing through a congested nose whilst in downward dog is a bit of a challenge! I took it easy and didn’t push things so by the end of the class I did feel a bit better.

And by Friday I knew it was time to do a bit more again. Yes there was still a bit of congestion, but this was more the residual effects of the cold rather than me still feeling ill, so I headed over to the studio for a PT session with Steve as I knew this wouldn’t need much exertion and I could stop to blow my nose any time I needed to. Since I want to build a pre-marathon training base, we did some work with the TRX.

IMG_4750
IMG_4753After a good sleep on Friday night I was feeling pretty good on Saturday morning so there was no way I was going to miss parkrun. It was Perth parkrun’s 4th birthday and lots of runners were going in fancy dress (sadly I had no time to turn my attention to that this year, but sine the theme was “wacky runners” I decided this was a good day to break out some of my more “interesting” running tights). Due to the effects of some work going on around our usual route, this time we were on the alternate course which is 2 laps of the park on the tarmac path – no mud splashed on my nice running tights 🙂 It was also freezing cold so I picked thermal tights and cold weather gear to keep me as warm as possible.

IMG_4821

With a guest appearance by the cat!

Given I’d not run for a week I had no idea how I would feel so my plan was to start out easy then push on if I felt ok. This resulted in a huge Royal Flush Negative Split (8:38, 8:13, 7:56 and 7:10 for the last nubbin). It was never going to be my speediest day, but it was good to know that I was ok to run and could up the pace a bit without pushing hard.

I have to say, I never really felt like I got properly warm and was aware of the chill in the air the whole time. I had been worried that I might have overdone the warm clothing, but in the end I was glad of it all!

IMG_4755Run done and barcode scanned there was the much more important business of cake. All the runners had been asked to contribute something for the table so there was lots of home baking (ours was shop bought thanks to time limitations) but to offset the gluttony we were also donating to the local foodbank. Having listened to a talk from the manager of the nearest foodbank to where I work earlier in the week, I was utterly horrified at the numbers of people who were needing to turn to such facilities and how this compared to the donations they received. I duly went straight out to stock up on suitable items to donate. In the grand scheme of things I spent an amount that I barely notice as I’m fortunate enough to be in a position to not have to think about food bills, but everything that was donated by parkrunners this weekend should make a huge difference to local people at this time of year.

Back at the cake table, I chose something that bore a passing resemblance to the cake version of sticky toffee pudding and I was NOT disappointed (no photo as I was too cold to try and fish my phone out and was scared I might drop my cake which would have been a DISASTER!). I followed that up with a piece of mint traybake which was a bit like a minty brownie. Since I tend to run parkrun fasted, I basically had cake for breakfast. No complaints about that from me!

IMG_4836After a few errands the rest of the day was pretty chilled, although I did hear that Santa’s furry friends were back in town so went for a look while we were there and was pleased to find that unlike last week the reindeer were in attendance (I think they might be tapering for the Big Night since they were just lying around eating!) along with alpacas, donkeys and pygmy goats (so cute!).

IMG_4829
IMG_4824
IMG_4828I had another great sleep that night and awoke feeling great (if still a little phlegmy) on Sunday. I was keen to get back to normal and have a run but wasn’t sure how far to go. In the end I chose a route which would allow me to make a decision that would either result in 3.5ish miles or extend in a variety of ways to add a little more.

It was cold again so I layered up and through the first part of the run the ground alternated between covered in leaves and covered in frost. It looked beautiful.

IMG_4837In the end I chose to extend the run as I was feeling good and enjoying being out catching up with the Marathon Talk podcast (it wouldn’t be a Sunday run without Martin and Tom!) so ended up with 5 miles. I certainly could have gone on, but that felt right for this point in time.

IMG_4839Later in the afternoon we ventured out again to to enjoy the St Andrew’s Day celebrations in town. We were really just interested in seeing a bit of “bagrock” from the Red Hot Chilli Pipers who never disappoint.
IMG_4840Rather than some shaky phone footage, here’s a taster of their usual material. Performed live there’s also a singer, dancers and, of course, they wear kilts.

Overall a pretty quiet week, but I made up for it a bit at the weekend!

Would you run or rest with a cold?
Any exciting festive events where you live?

500!!

This week I reached a blogging milestone…my 500th post. 500 times in the last few years I’ve committed my thoughts to the screen. 500 times I’ve hit publish. 500 times I’ve wondered if anyone would really read what I had to say! Who would have thought that yesterday’s Friday Finds could be so momentous?

I’ve written before about what I enjoy about blogging so I thought today I would dig into my archives and share some of my favourite posts from that 500. Perhaps there will be something in here you’ve not read before…

As the great Julie Andrews taught us, the beginning is a very good place to start. My first ever post back in 2011 detailed the beginning of my running journey and was followed up soon after with how I came to take running a bit more seriously:

In 2012 London hosted the Olympic Games and one of the legacy aims was to inspire a generation. As the new school year began a few weeks later, I considered whether or not there had been any impact on the younger generation in my classroom:

As someone who enjoys racing, I know that races can really only take place thanks to the fantastic army of volunteers who turn up to show their support. In this next post, I wrote about why volunteering at a race is so crucial:

In 2013 I was excited to get my first age category prize (although I had to travel a fair distance to get it!):

And just a few days later got my second one – and a first place finish in my age category!

I rounded off that year with one of my most popular posts – a farewell letter to a pair of worn out running shoes. If you run, then you’ll get it!

A nice companion to that is the love letter I wrote to running for Valentine’s Day in 2014:

2014 was a big year for me: Steve and I took on a massive fundraising challenge for Macmillan Cancer Support and once of MY biggest supporters was my friend Ian who helped out through his business. Without him and the generosity of his customers, I would never have raised as much as I did. I featured Ian in a guest post that year:

I also played the proud wife card and gushed a bit about Steve and his incredible achievements in supporting Macmillan.:

That summer, I reflected on my childhood summers and how that year compared. Spoiler: it turns out some things never change!

But that autumn I had to make a tough decision. Here, I wrote about that process and how I was dealing with it:

Another first for me was my first ever link up. I must have enjoyed it since I continue to link up regularly with Jessie even now!

In 2015 I introduced Friday Finds as a regular feature. Given that an edition of FF was my 500th post, I thought it would be fun to include the first ever here:

2015 was probably my biggest year for other reasons too. Having changed my 2014 challenge thanks to injury, I had some unfinished business and it was time to go bigger than ever. That year’s Edinburgh Marathon Festival is probably one of my best running memories EVER!

Speaking of which, a few weeks later I wrote a post pulling together some of my favourite running memories:

Throughout 2015 I became a parkrunner, having immediately fallen for its charms after my first event. A year later, I summed up just what is so special (for me) about a free weekly 5k:

2016 was a strange year as we moved house and I probably didn’t blog as much as I should. Our trip to Paris that year did inspire a couple of posts though:

This was followed later in the year by a joint post with Jessie as we considered some linguistic differences between US and UK running:

Another very popular post came late in 2016 when I was once more forced to make a tough decision. There was a lot of emotion when I wrote it and I can still remember just how sad I felt:

This year, I’ve probably written more regularly than ever. A fun post at the start of the year was inspired by the book Your Pace or Mine and took the form of a record book:

I also marked “Marathon Day” by chronicling my own experiences with the big 26.2:

Which has a nice companion in my marathon tips:

In fact, I wrote a few posts this year offering some tips and advice:

As well as reflecting on the life-changing impact of yoga:

A couple of highlights were when I was interviewed for a podcast (so cool!):

And my first ever international parkrun experience:

More recently, I summed up what it’s like to taper for a marathon. Anyone who’s ever tapered will understand!

And as a counterpoint, a little bit of the aftermath:

Which brings us up to date. The posts I’ve chosen have highlighted some memorable moments as well as some reflections on training, racing and life. In amongst that there have been plenty of training logs, race reports and general musings so I’ve really enjoyed looking back through my posts and remembering all of the varied experiences that inspired the posts. I hope you’ve enjoyed indulging me by following along too and will join me for the next 500…!

Friday Finds – 24th November

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.

Happy Friday! It’s the Last Friday in November (I hope my American friends had a great Thanksgiving) and the whole world seems to have gone mad for shopping deals. If Black Friday is not your thing, then here are a few articles for you to read as you settle into the weekend.

We may not mark Thanksgiving here in the UK, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy some Thanksgiving-themed articles, beginning with this humorous piece from Motiv Running to help us prepare for the season of eating ahead. These things have to be taken seriously and this advice most definitely applies to Christmas Day as well!

Sticking with the Thanksgiving theme, I thought I’d add a few stats as I know lots of you are as keen as I am on a statistic. If that’s you, then enjoy the following infographic from Under Armour, as they share stats on eating and exercise habits from Thanksgiving 2016. I found it really interesting to see how the days around the holiday compared to the average.

Next up, something I find inspiring. I’m conscious of feeling very busy at the moment, but that’s nothing compared to the routine of one of my favourite athletes, Laura Muir. Not only is she working 70 hours per week at an animal hospital as she completes her veterinary degree, but she continues to train as an elite athlete and after an incredibly successful 2017 already has her sights set on events in 2018. She must be so efficient with her time, such as batch cooking her food, and that’s maybe something I should consider in order to make my life a bit easier through marathon training.

Another story I’ve followed this year is the story of Colin McCourt. McCourt is a former world-class runner who, after retiring from the sport, stopped running and gained weight. Earlier this year he made a bet with his friends – if he could break 16 minutes for 5k, they would each have to pay him ÂŁ100; if not, he would have to get each of their names tattooed on his body! That’s quite an incentive to get fit again! As the challenge began, McCourt was running 5k in 24 minutes, something closer to my average pace than that of a world-class competitor, but in the past few days it has been reported that he smashed his goal and ran the distance in 15:38!! I wish I could make that much difference to my pace in 8 months!

And finally, there’s nothing better than watching a race where the competitors battle right to the end…and that’s exactly what happened at this year’s Manchester Road Race in Connecticut. In the end barely a second separated first and second place in the women’s race as the tape was broken. Check out the video in the link below (and I suggest you keep scrolling through for the brilliant tweet from the winner of the men’s race!).

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Week In Review – New Wheels!

Hello! I hope you’re well. This week was another busy one for me and not overly exciting on the running/fitness front, but still a lot of fun. Join me as I link up with Jessie @ The Right Fits and Jess @ Jess Runs ATL for their weekly linkup.

Thanks to lots of things going on, I had to be pretty efficient with my time this week. Unfortunately by the end of the week my body was screaming at me to take a break so I listened (I know, who am I?!?) and made some changes. Here’s how things ended up:

Monday – swim
Tuesday – 5 miles
Wednesday – rest (parents’ evening)
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session rest
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 10k rest

I suppose the general tone for the week was set on Monday. I had it in mind to go for a swim after work since there were no meetings. I also had to nip to the supermarket for a few bits and pieces. As things turned out, I went a little “off piste” with my shopping list!

In brief, I lease my car and my current agreement is coming to an end in March, however the garage had contacted me with an offer they thought I might be interested in which would mean changing earlier to get a better price. I agreed to go in and take a look at the car/run some numbers and the upshot was that in addition to porridge oats, honey and teabags, I also ended up buying a car on Monday! All that and I still managed to squeeze in a swim before heading home – efficiency at its best!

And to cap it all off, Monday was also day 500 of my step goal streak. That’s a lot of steps!

fullsizeoutput_22eaOn Tuesday I had a decision to make. I knew that thanks to a parents’ evening on Wednesday I could only manage one of my midweek sessions – either the bike or a run. I decided that a run would be of greater benefit and took advantage of our slightly earlier finish on Tuesdays to get out and run 5 miles. It was dark, of course, but I was nice and visible thanks to my flashing shoe light!

IMG_4718
IMG_4722No workout at all on Wednesday. Frankly it was just long as I left at 7:45am and didn’t get home again until about 8:45pm!!! All I had time for was a cup of tea in front of the tv then straight to bed.

As a result of an intense Wednesday, Thursday felt like it was just a continuation of the same day. I was knackered and couldn’t wait to get to my yoga class. For some reason our teacher wasn’t there and there was another teacher covering, but I’ve done a few classes with her before. I like her but her approach is slightly different so the class is never quite the same. Not a problem through as I still get my yoga fix and it can be interesting to get some different tips for progressing through postures.

On Friday we had an inservice day, which means the pupils were off and we had a day of meetings and planning. It’s not my favourite kind of day, but things improved dramatically at morning interval when one of the office staff brought her puppy in for a visit. Of course I was straight in for puppy cuddles (and lots of puppy kisses!) and headed into the next part of the day with a smile on my face.

Unfortunately, by the end of the day I was starting to feel the effects of the busy week. When I get really tired I tend to experience similar symptoms to the start of a cold – sore throat and aches – but listening to my body and resting quickly resolves it. In this instance, I cancelled my planned session with Steve and headed home to relax. I had a few things I wanted to get done but wanted a nap first so got settled in my favourite chair and closed my eyes, thinking I would nap for about 30-40 minutes. But when I opened my eyes it had been almost 2 hours!!! I DEFINITELY needed that sleep!

I was feeling better so Steve and I headed out to eat. I had thought it might be “steak week” (my favourite) but instead the special was a mixed grill. I wasn’t sure if I would manage it all with a lower training volume, but also knew that if Steve ordered it and I didn’t then I would regret it!

fullsizeoutput_22e9I didn’t quite finish the chips, but ate all the rest and it was awesome!

After a good sleep I felt much better on Saturday morning so saw no reason not to go to parkrun, but rather than push for a time I decided to run to feel and plan to be a bit slower. This meant finishing closer to 25 minutes than sub-24, but it was what my body needed that day. I also broke out the Salomon Speedcross shoes for the first time this winter – a definite seasonal marker!

IMG_4724
IMG_4725Post-parkrun Steve went into town to meet his brother but I decided to take some time for myself and meet him later on to get the food shopping. But first, I wanted to explore some of the events happening in town as part of the Christmas lights being switched on.

First, it was open house at the theatre. It has been closed for two (maybe three, I can’t remember properly) years for a major refurbishment/extension and since I worked in there as a student I was keen to look around the newly re-opened building. It really felt like the beautiful, refurbished auditorium I’m so familiar with had been put into a whole new building, but the updates are fantastic and offer so much scope for future events.

IMG_4729
IMG_4731After that I set off in search of reindeer but only found camels(!), ponies and donkeys.

IMG_4733
IMG_4737
IMG_4738I also went to watch a giant ice sculpture being created.

IMG_4739
IMG_4740My last port of call was less exciting as I went to the chemist to get my winter flu jab (amusingly, the pharmacist recognised me from parkrun and told me I had helped her on a pacer week. Apparently I had “gently encouraged” her!). After having the flu in 2013 I make sure to get this injection every year as I really don’t want to repeat that experience. I’ve never had a problem with the jab beyond a slightly achy arm, but this time I didn’t feel too great for the rest of the day (a known side effect), perhaps because I had been feeling a little run down.

But later in the afternoon I had an important appointment so had to pull myself together for that. Can you guess? Yup, I went to collect my car…

The garage is family run and always provides nice little touches to make you feel appreciated. I was given a glass of fizz (non-alcoholic as I had to drive home!), had my name on the big screen and my car was waiting for me in the handover bay all under wraps – exciting!

IMG_4741
IMG_4742
IMG_4743
IMG_4745I also got a lovely bunch of flowers to thank me for my custom.

IMG_4746It’s basically a newer model of the car I already had, and a different colour, but that’s ideal for me and it’s quite nice to have something to brighten up these cold winter days. I just have to work out all the entertainment system as that’s had an upgrade since my last car so is really the only thing that is different for me to get to grips with.

Once home I had really had enough so got my pyjamas on and got comfy in front of the tv, not really feeling my best.

On Sunday morning Steve headed off to run in a club event and I took advantage of the chance to have a lie in and a pretty lazy morning. I was feeling pretty much back to normal but had made the decision not to run and give my body a chance to reset. Instead, I put all my things back in my car then headed off for a walk in the crisp November air as I wanted to get a bit of fresh air and exercise. I maybe didn’t achieve lots with my day, but sometimes you need to take a step back and relax. I’ll catch up on everything else now I feel more refreshed.

IMG_4748
IMG_4747My week ended, as ever, with a nice bubble bath to set me up for the week ahead. It’s going to be another busy one!

How do you know when you need to slow things down or take a break?
Ever had the flu?

Friday Finds – 17th November

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.

Helllo! Thank goodness it’s Friday! I’m rather looking forward to a relaxing weekend, but first some reading material…

After her historic win in New York the woman of the moment is most definitely Shalane Flanagan. Here, Lindsay Crouse, writing in The New York Times, examines what she refers to as the ‘Shalane Flanagan Effect’:

Next up, an article with a headline featuring a word which usually prompts a sharp intake of breath from me: the word “literally”. Thankfully, this particular writer has used it correctly and it turned out to be fairly important in introducing the idea in the article – that exercise helps an area of your brain to grow. Studies therefore suggest that exercise could play a similar part in brain health as we age as things like puzzles or taking supplements. Another big plus for regular exercisers!

Now, one for the data fans. If you’re a committed Strava user then you might already have come across the heat map the company recently released. Compiled from countless hours of running and riding (over a billion activities!) it shows the most popular routes around the world and is absolutely fascinating.

On a lighter note, if you race regularly then you probably have some awareness of the sort of sights you often see when it comes to other runners. Women’s Running staff have obviously been thinking along similar lines and have compiled a list of spectator types you always see at races. I’ve definitely seen them all…have you?

And finally, we runners can be fairly easy to poke fun at, but at least sometimes that humour is spot on. Check out this cartoon from The New Yorker that really captures the modern connection between running and social media. Guilty as charged!!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Week In Review – A Musical Interlude!

Hola! It’s been a super busy week for me, especially over the weekend, so I had to be quite creative with my time to get some workouts squeezed in. Let me share the details as I link up, as ever, with Jessie @ The Right Fits and Jess @ Jess Runs ATL.

I’m keen to get a bit more focus in my workouts as I begin to build a strong base ahead of my next round of marathon training, however that wasn’t possible for all of my workouts this week. Here’s how things ended up:

Monday – rest
Tuesday – bike @ the gym
Wednesday – short run
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 10k

Yes, my week did begin with a rest day. I was quite tired from our trip to Edinburgh last Sunday, and with an after school meeting I just couldn’t summon the energy to do anything else. Aside from that, I wanted to pay a quick visit to my mum who, following a mishap on holiday in Tenerife, has torn her hamstring and is not very mobile right now. A colleague had given me some magazines to help keep her entertained and I wanted to drop those off as well as hear about her visit to the doctor that day. My mum is generally quite fit and healthy so I’m sure this will heal well, but right now she’s needing some painkillers to help keep her comfortable as even sitting is a bit tricky right now!

I did, however, get back on it on Tuesday. I’m still not sure how best to use my Tuesday bike workouts and need to get Steve to give me some kind of progressive structure to follow again, but for this week I simply set up my Kindle and pedalled hard for half an hour. I actually covered slightly more distance that the previous week with the same effort so it is still a useful gauge of fitness. I’m reading a really great book called Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell all about the factors which influence success, and I’m finding it really interesting so the time seemed to pass quite quickly (it’s also a sneaky way to maximise my time and catch up on my reading goal for this year!).

Wedneday presented a bit of a problem: I had intended to leave work at the end of the school day, but ended up staying for almost an hour beyond that. I had an orchestra rehearsal (the final Wednesday before our concert) which I definitely wanted to be at and spent some time in the car debating whether or not to go for a run. In the end I decided I had to go for it as I’ll miss out next week thanks to a parents’ evening at work. I just had to maximise the benefit of running a short distance. Basically, I had to run hard for 20-25 minutes as that’s all the time I had. I chose a route and just went for it, getting home within my target time and being very efficient with getting some food organised while I showered and changed. Miraculously I was ready for my sister picking me up and enjoyed a great rehearsal.

IMG_4694Thursday was a little less manic in that I managed to be at home for longer than 8 minutes before my yoga class. I’m so convinced that yoga has made a big difference to my running, my flexibility and my strength that I try to prioritise getting to this class and it’s rare that I miss one. I felt good throughout and since I want to progress to more than one round of Wheel, this week did it twice but for a shorter amount of time so that I could feel what it was like to push myself up into the position twice (the bit I find hardest due to the limitation in the range of movement in my left arm). I did start to drift off during the relaxation at the end though, thanks to all the rushing about in the days before!

Speaking of which, I was back to rushing around again on Friday. I had two things I definitely needed to do and one desirable extra. First, I needed to collect the cat’s medicine from the vet, then I had an appointment to get my nails done, and I was hopeful of squeezing in a PT session with Steve after that. I did manage all of it thanks to some impressive time management on my part, but it did mean that Friday Finds just didn’t happen and went out later in the weekend. Sometimes something has to give and I prioritised what I had to do.

IMG_4695The PT session was good. I asked Steve to give me some exercises to help with my upper back mobility as my right shoulder has still been feeling a little tight, and also to help me to build a good strength base to support my forthcoming marathon training. We began with the usual mobility exercises using the broom handle, then used the TRX after that, returning to some exercises I probably haven’t done since he moved studio. I found this really interesting as at one point I stopped to ask if I was doing it right as the movement felt different. It turned out that I was actually performing the movement better thanks to the improved strength, flexibility and balance that yoga has given me. Good news!

I had known all week that Saturday was going to be super busy and there wasn’t much I could do to mitigate that. The day began, as ever, with parkrun. It was a bright but chilly morning and I decided to test out my fitness. I was running comfortably sub-24 minutes before the Loch Ness marathon, but with time off and some easing back since then my best of late was 24:20. I would love to squeeze in one last sub-24 before the end of the year, but conditions tend to be less than conducive to that as it’s more likely to be windy and the half mile or so over the grass can get pretty muddy. This was all about seeing where I was and working out if this goal would be possible. Imagine my irritation, then, to finish with a time of 24:01. So close! Still, it’s an encouraging sign and tells me that although I’ve scaled back some of my training recently, I am still improving my fitness with shorter, faster runs and some hard cycling on the bike at the gym. Watch this space to see if I manage my end of year mini-goal…

IMG_4697
fullsizeoutput_22d3Post-parkrun I had time for a quick shower then headed off to get my hair done. I had all my stuff ready to go and was accompanied by my violin as I was going straight from the hairdresser to our final orchestra rehearsal before the concert that night. I was prepared to be late to the rehearsal, but actually ended up there in good time and it was great to hear our repertoire being played in the venue where the acoustics are a little different to our rehearsal room!

IMG_4699Usually my Saturday evening is spent in my pyjamas, curled up with the cat and a cosy blanket watching TV. This time I was scrubbed up with my hair done (I’m usually pushing it a bit on hair washing by Saturday!) and make up on. I felt tired when I went home to eat between the rehearsal and concert, but as soon as we went on stage the concert adrenaline kicked in and I was ready to go.

IMG_4700I really enjoyed playing so need to work out how I can continue to fit in my weekly rehearsal and my training up to our final concert of the season in February.

After all that activity I allowed myself a bit of a lie-in on Sunday morning, then got organised for a run. Steve’s still having an issue with his calf so a trail run together was out of the question. Instead, I decided it was time I went for a slightly longer run (i.e. longer than 4 miles!) at a steadier pace so came up with a loose plan for 10k. This put me in town just as the High Constables were lining up for the council officials to walk from the council chambers to the Remembrance Day service and it looked quite a sight! (The High Constables are a society dating back to 1830 with a common interest in upholding the history and traditions of Perth and all of whom have sworn allegiance to the Queen. Their primary duties involve parading on civic occasions at the request of the Provost and Council of Perth and Kinross).

IMG_4709
IMG_4710I also stopped by to see my favourite riverside pals as I made my way home again.

IMG_4711I had covered my watch with the sleeve of my top so I would have no idea of pace and could just run however I felt. This was interesting as I probably ran much faster than I would have done if I’d been looking at my watch. My average pace was just outside of 4 hour marathon pace, however this was skewed by the last mile being uphill and most of the run was much faster than that. An interesting experiment that I may repeat some time.

IMG_4715Thankfully I found some time in the remainder of the day to relax a bit. It was a rather full-on week and I can’t see that changing much in the last few weeks of the year. I shall have to be vigilant about finding time to relax whenever I can.

Do you play a musical instrument?
What are your current running goals?

Friday Finds – 10th November

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.

Welcome to the post formerly known as Friday Finds, which this week is taking the form of Sunday Stories thanks to some difficulties with fitting in everything I had to do at the end of the week (I’ll cover this more in my Week in Review so watch out for that if you want to know more about what I’ve been up to). But never mind, let’s just call this one fashionably late and crack on with some of the articles that have caught my eye this week in the aftermath of the New York marathon.

First, a follow-up to one of last week’s stories about blind runner Simon Wheatcroft and his bid to make history by using some new technology to help him run the marathon without a guide. Here’s a more in-depth article about Wheatcroft, his background and how he got on in New York:

This next article was written in advance of the marathon, however it still remains interesting for the statistics it pulls apart. Time magazine has studied finish times of NYC marathon runners over several decades and come to the conclusion that finishing times are getting slower. Not a massive surprise as this is consistent with recent studies indicating a general slowing in times, however what I liked about this article is the discussion of possible reasons behind this, all of which are dismissed by a spokesperson for the New York Road Runners who simply points out that they want to make the distance accessible to all. Hear hear!

However the New York Times seems to suggest that the popularity of the NYC marathon (probably the biggest marathon in the world when we look at participant numbers) flies in the face of a US trend for declining participation in races. I’m sure I’ve come across this kind of thing before, however I would shy away from saying that the running boom is “over” as race participation does not necessarily correlate with the number of people running. I see more and more runners out and about when I’m training and numbers at parkrun continue to grow. Perhaps the decline in racing has more to do with costs and/or an increase in available revents which inevitably thins the field. What are your views?

History buffs may enjoy this next article which gives details of a marathon distance race in New York in 1896 – quite a bit before the NYC marathon as we know it which was founded in 1970 and a year before the inaugural Boston marathon! I do love having random facts like this up my sleeve!

And finally, everyone loves a high five as they run a race. Usually these high fives come from children lining the route but in New York one spectator went one better and positioned their dog to give runners a high five. That would have made me smile for several miles if it happened to me!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

 

Week In Review – Winter Begins…

With the clocks going back last weekend and the calendar turning over to November, I guess I have to accept that winter has officially arrived. I don’t enjoy colder weather, but I do enjoy snuggling up under a cosy blanket and looking forward to the festivities of December. In the meantime, I’m continuing to get back into the swing of regular training, but without any pressure. There needs to be some downtime after two marathon training cycles this year, so while it’s important to train, if something else comes up then I’m not going to stress about it. Join me now as I link up with Jessie @ The Right Fits and Jess @ Jess Runs ATL  (they’re both ran the NYC marathon this weekend so I hope they had an awesome race!) to share more about my week.

After being so busy in the week before, here’s how this past week worked out:

Monday – rest
Tuesday – bike @ gym
Wednesday – short run
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – Edinburgh trip

I decided on Monday that rest was the most important thing as I was feeling tired. I was at work later due to a meeting then rather than go for a swim I headed straight home to get comfy. I was actually so tired that I went to bed before 9pm and was asleep shortly after. Wow!

As a result, I awoke on Tuesday morning after 8.5 hours of sleep. I was refreshed and ready to go! When I finished work I went to the gym and got set up on the bike with my Kindle again. I started a new book and pedalled fairly hard for half an hour. Often I like to go down to the sauna after this but this week preferred to head right home and spend some time with my cat as she was a little under the weather again. This also meant that I could be in bed at a reasonable time once more.

Wednesday is still a running day, even if the distance has been a little shorter of late. This week I had longer to fit in my run before orchestra so decided on a similar loop to the one I had done the previous Sunday (a bit under 4 miles). It felt good, but was the first run of the winter that was properly dark from start to finish. Time for a bit more high-vis!

IMG_4570By Thursday I was really looking forward to Ashtanga yoga, but found myself a bit behind schedule and was worried I might not make it. By some miracle (and spending less than 10 minutes in the house to get changed!) I got there in time. It was great to have some quiet time after rushing, and I was pleased to hold “Wheel” for the full 5 breaths again. Definitely improving at that one!

Friday was another rest day, this time because the cat had a check-up scheduled at the vet. She was much better than earlier in the week, but she hadn’t been in to see the vet for a month and I wanted to review her meds as well as make sure she had a check to see if there had been any change in her health conditions. We did make a small tweak to one of her meds, but other than that she was about the same which was good news. After that I enjoyed a relaxing evening of heading out for some food with Steve then relaxing in front of the TV with a glass of wine (and the cat!).

IMG_4573I awoke on Saturday to a crisp morning for parkrun. As the first Saturday of the month it was pacer day and I was the 28 minute pacer. I was also volunteering for the 25th time which means that I will shortly be able to claim my 25 volunteer T-shirt 🙂

IMG_4576
IMG_4577As usual I was a little bit quick, but by less than 20 seconds which is not too bad, and had a lovely run. It’s nice to run at an easier pace and I enjoyed chatting to several others as I made my way around the course. It was a bumper event with 336 runners (a new record for us) which was great to see.

IMG_4581
IMG_4620Post-run Steve and I got changed then headed into town to get some shopping (after a scone and cup of tea that is!).

IMG_4629

It was an early start on Sunday to drive through to Edinburgh as Steve had a place in the men’s 10k. It was a chilly morning but bright so we had great views as we drove over the new Queensferry Crossing.

IMG_4647
IMG_4648Safely parked, we made our way over to the Royal Mile via Starbucks for a caffeine hit and toilet stop.

IMG_4651The plan was for me to set off as soon as Steve was ready, but before the race began, in order to reach the finish line at Murrayfield Stadium before he finished. I set off with a podcast playing but wasn’t even past the castle before I got a call from Steve.

IMG_4653It turned out that as he warmed up he was getting a problem with his calf and had decided not to race. Probably a sensible decision. I returned to meet him and suggested that since it was just around the corner we (really I!) should pay a visit to the Harry Potter shop Diagon House which had opened in the summer. It’s on the street that is thought to be J.K. Rowling’s inspiration for Diagon Alley and I’ve been desperate to visit, but back in the summer the queues were massive!

IMG_4654Inside, I was spellbound and passed some happy time taking photos and browsing the merchandise. I bought a cloth bag with a picture of Harry Potter in cat form, as well as a couple of postcards for my classroom.

IMG_4657
IMG_4658
IMG_4667
IMG_4660After that we went for a coffee (and the first mince pie of the season!) then had a look in the Apple Store before heading over to our favourite place – Hotel Chocolat. Their products are amazing and there’s a nice cafe. They also had festive drinks on and we had the most amazing salted caramel and clementine hot chocolate. Yum!

IMG_4682
IMG_4683Then with all that chocolate goodness inside us we headed back to the car for the drive home as we were both in need of a nap after the early start (and I hadn’t slept too well the right before).

All in all, a pretty good week rounded off with a brilliant weekend, at least for me!

Are you a Harry Potter fan?
Any exciting plans for the festive season?