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

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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?

Week In Review – Yoga, Yoga And More Yoga!

Confession: my name is Allison and it has been a week since my last run.

Having decided last weekend to take a time out to allow the tightness around my ankle to resolve, I reached this past weekend feeling like a could run, but with the Disneyland Paris half marathon next month I’m taking no risks, so decided to give it a few more days to feel 100% right rather than risking an injury. Just call me Captain Sensible lol!

I still managed to keep myself busy though – plenty of time playing with the kittens (and watching them sleep since they’re so gosh darned cute!), reading, working out in the gym and yoga, lots and lots of yoga:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 30 mins bike, brief swim and SUP yoga
Wednesday – 30 mins bike
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – Vinyasa flow yoga
Saturdayparkrun SUP yoga
Sunday – 1 hour bike

I’ve reached that point in the holidays when I’m gloriously relaxed and all the days kind of merge into each other (in a good way) so I actually just had to check my diary to try and remember what I did with myself on Monday. The answer was that I had some errands in town in the morning then a good friend from work visited in the afternoon. She said it was so we could have a catch-up (and we do normally try to meet in the holidays) but realistically she wanted to meet the kittens. True to form, the kittens put on their best display of cuteness, including purring, grooming each other and sleeping all curled up together, so she got the full effect!

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Their latest hidey-hole!

In the evening I had my Hatha yoga class, the first of several yoga sessions in the week, and I enjoyed continuing to build strength and stability. I’m definitely seeing how this is improving my yoga when I’m on the paddleboard and I’m still convinced this benefits my running too.

On Tuesday I decided it was time to get my butt in gear and do something that would work my cv system a bit more, so I walked down to the gym and spent half an hour on the bike. Steve had suggested that the movement would likely help my ankle and it was good to get my heart rate up a bit. I used the time to read some of my book on my Kindle (multi-tasking for the win!) which helps the time pass quite pleasantly even when I’m working reasonably hard.

Since I had some time, I headed down to the pool and swam a few lengths to see where I was. Surprisingly it was ok given that I haven’t had a swim in some time, and I remembered once again that I probably should swim a bit more often if I can.

In the evening I was booked into a SUP yoga session. The weather was a bit cooler and I suspected some rain in the air (nothing like last Saturday’s monsoon, thank goodness!) so I wore Steve’s full length wetsuit so I would be warm enough. It was a great class and with the conditions a bit better I was able to stand up on my board to paddle back in after the class again. I really want to keep building my confidence with this as I’m definitely feeling much more confident on the board in general these days (famous last words, right!).

Since I wasn’t running on Wednesday, I walked back down to the gym for another half hour bike session. This week was the first time I’d really been on the bike for a while and my poor rear felt a bit tender after two sessions in a row! I skipped the swim this time since I couldn’t be bothered with washing my hair, but did treat myself to a sauna before getting changed to head home. The remainder of the day was spent between time with the kittens, a bit of reading and some catching up on tv.

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4vzgY4IuTkWK886SH46YsAThursday was really chilled again. Steve suggested a trip out the farm shop to get some eggs and have a coffee, so I met him there and watched the ducks while I was waiting.

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U5RuRAFmQzOTyOKAXXhS+AI also decided that I need ALL of these!

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The rest of the day was spent mainly at home until it was time to head out to Ashtanga yoga. It was quite a busy class but since we are now including headstand in the session on a regular basis, I had a chance to keep working on it. I’m still working with my teacher on hand to spot me, but am just about able to move into it by myself now, and might actually be able to do more than I realise if I just had the confidence to try. I’ll keep working on it.

I was back in the yoga studio on Friday morning as there was a taster session of a new Vinyasa Flow class happening. The teacher was a guy we knew from when he worked at the gym I go to (Steve was based there before he had his own studio) and we both fancied giving it a go. The style of yoga was new to me, but the basics were very much what I knew, so although it was a challenging workout, I really enjoyed it and will likely go again at some point when it’s the school holidays.

Again, the rest of the day was pretty chilled – I even got a little time reading in the garden before a big cloud blocked the sun – and the kittens continued to work their cuteness!

IMG_8464I was originally to be a pacer at parkrun on Saturday, but my gut was telling me not to run just yet so I withdrew (where did all this common sense come from?!). That gave me a bit more time to myself in the morning before heading over to the activity centre for SUP yoga. It was another fantastic class and everyone there had been to the majority of the sessions so we were able to move into standing warriors (a little wobbly as there was some wind). I actually came the closest I ever have to falling in whilst moving into warrior, but I somehow managed to regain my balance and continue into the posture. I don’t think I would have been able to do that before so either my balance is improving or my core is getting stronger. Or both.

IMG_8475

Happy paddle board yogis getting ready to head out on the water.

I was able to stand on the board to paddle back, although the wind did mean I overshot the jetty and had to manoeuvre my way back! We also needed to help each other to take the boards out of the water as the wind was catching them like kites. It made me realise how used to it we’ve become – when we first started that would have been really intimidating, but now we happily work with the equipment and pitch in as we have a better idea of what we’re doing.

After the session we went for a lovely lunch in the cafe by the centre. They do really nice sandwiches and the weather was good enough to sit outside – although there were quite a lot of wasps around!

qpycGD0zSOuRkNHSsoM0JASince I was still not running on Sunday (the ankle had continued to make significant improvements but I was still playing it safe) I headed back down to the gym to have a longer cycle. This time I was on the bike for an hour (with my Kindle, of course) then headed home so we could get on with the rest of our Sunday chores. I’m rather hoping to be running again next weekend, so keep your fingers crossed. In the meantime, KITTENS!

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What’s your next event?
Have you tried Vinyasa Flow yoga?

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…!

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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?

Week In Review – Fairy Tales and Furry Tails

Aloha! I am back home in sunny Scotland. Missing the Florida lifestyle but still plenty of training and life moments to fill you in on (get ready for lots of photos again!). Here’s how last week worked out training-wise:

Monday – rest
Tuesday – run
Wednesday – run
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – rest
Sunday – rest

Having aborted my run last Sunday, I decided a day off on Monday would be a good idea. Most of the day was spent reading in the sunshine, interrupted only by a light lunch of soup and sandwich thins.

bmsfEwKDTuu4DQi4Y5IQ4QThen it was time to get changed ready for an evening excursion to Disney’s Grand Floridian. Months ago dad booked a meal for us all at 1900 Park Fayre (a character dining location) within the hotel for us all to celebrate my Big Birthday, so for the second time on this trip, I was required to wear a badge and pretend it was my actual birthday 😂

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c15w3ZioRkiLjwQvqcZFgQIt was a fully buffet meal and throughout it we were visited by Prince Charming, Cinderella, the Ugly Sisters (Anastasia and Drizella) and their mother, Lady Tremaine. Great fun!

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I always knew that some day my prince would come! 😂

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2+Ofxb+FTe2Hqe1aVVSJrgI made a decent go of the buffet, taking several plates with small portions of various things I wanted to try. The desserts were AMAZING!

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8avHkL%CRYy+0JY0783ZBwWhen I returned from collecting my desserts I found that I had been brought a Mickey Mouse birthday cupcake, which I asked to have put in a box to take home as there was no way I was fitting it in after everything else!

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X4FPq1kPQzOewY8X+LlN7QAs we left the restaurant there was a photo op by the glass slipper, so we got a few pictures taken.

IMG_0016
IMG_0021And then we headed outside and walked along to the jetty as you can actually see the Magic Kingdom fireworks from there and the soundtrack is played on speakers at the jetty too. We may not have been able to see the projections onto the castle, but it was still a really nice end to the evening and a fantastic (early) birthday celebration.

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IMG_8127The next morning Steve and I got up for a rather sluggish run to try and burn off some of the buffet. It wasn’t our speediest effort, but it was good to move and being up early meant I had time to get my suitcase packed before breakfast, freeing up the rest of the day to soak up the last of the sunshine.

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kwTnSn03RGSOJiLGHa70agOf course, mum made a nice lunch. This time, sausages.

x0O0+%jOTeaf7sV7a2mlPAWe had another meal out that evening as Steve and I always take my parents out on the last night of our holiday. Mum likes The Red Lobster so we headed over there so she could have a plate of snow crab legs. I’m not a massive seafood fan so opted for a New York strip steak instead.

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FyFx2fXyROmWmY4Y0myoAwAnd when we got home, my dessert was the cupcake I had saved from the previous evening. If you ever get one of those Mickey celebration cupcakes, I can tell you they’re delicious!

We began Wednesday with another run as we knew we would be cooped up on planes for the rest of the day. Our route took in another Strava segment and despite feeling tired, I scored a PR on that segment and propelled myself to second on the women’s all-time list. Not a bad effort!

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C3aQ2OUfQNSZJz3lpzUUBwSteve and I both had a free stack of pancakes to claim at IHOP so we got showered and dressed then walked around there for breakfast. We both chose double blueberry pancakes and they were delicious (although Steve had to take one for the team and eat my last one – I’m such a failure!).

yGcumllHTYmorNO527I3aQThere was a bit of time to double check and finalise our packing, then dad drove us up to the airport for our flight to Newark Liberty. During the trip we had watched the short 4-episode season of Dancing with the Stars (like a little Strictly Come Dancing taster for me!) which dad had recorded earlier in the year. All the competitors were athletes, one being figure skater Tonya Harding, so I was keen to watch the movie I, Tonya on the flight. If you’ve not seen it, it’s really good.

g49lA7OnTJaRqWT2IGJZ7gOnce at Newark Liberty we had a little time to find our new departure gate and have a snack before boarding for the transatlantic flight. This is my least favourite part of the entire process as you don’t really get a good sleep on this overnight flight. I dozed a bit but mostly read my book and relaxed (as much as I could) ahead of landing in Edinburgh on Thursday morning.

Since we arrived home first thing, we actually headed to bed to stretch out and sleep for a couple of hours before trying to spend the day as normally as possible. I was tired, but was doing ok so decided to go to my usual Ashtanga yoga class as the idea of stretching my body out after being folded up into an airline seat for hours just sounded so good – I even managed not to fall asleep in savasana! I enjoyed doing the Ashtanga sequence again as I although I did some yoga while I was away, it was always Hatha yoga using Yoga with Adriene videos.

I made it to about 9pm then went to bed and slept right through until the morning. Steve was at work on Friday morning so I got the house tidied up then got ready for the one thing that made returning from holiday worthwhile… KITTENS!

Yes, you read that right. Kittens!

You might remember me having to say goodbye to my beautiful (but elderly) cat at the beginning of the year. She was my best friend and had been with me through my entire adult life. For the past few months I’ve found it really strange not having a pet about the place (for a number of years I had two cats but the younger one went first). After the Stirling marathon, which gave me a bit of closure through my fundraising efforts, I began to feel ready for a new furry friend, but knew that I would have to wait until I got back from Florida. Still, I began a conversation with my local branch of Cats Protection and was told about a litter of kittens that would be ready to be re-homed at just the right time. We went to visit them in June and were greeted with this adorable sight – a pile of kittens!

aRrnZam3QSutneNkZuOqowWe chose two (yes, two!) who seemed to be good friends and played together a lot. We then visited them again the day I finished work for the summer so that we could see how they had grown as it seemed an awfully long wait until we got back. And finally, on Friday lunchtime, a lovely representative from CP brought them to us.

Allow me to introduce… Sooty (the wee girl on the left) and Smokey (her brother on the right). Two from a litter of four (the other two were re-homed together as well).

EZnNyD9uReyRGYVBOdH1BQBasically the rest of Friday was spent making sure the kittens were settled, playing with them and beginning to bond with them. So far Sooty has been very affectionate, with a VERY loud purr; Smokey is playing things cool but he enjoys attention and plays enthusiastically. I can’t wait to see how their little personalities develop, and just can’t get over how cute they are when they groom each other and sleep all curled up together ❤️. Apart from anything else, it’s just so good to have pets in the house again and having this time off work for the summer means I get to spend plenty of time with them before term begins.

s5g3m8%CRh2wdOC5fl+brQI should have been at parkrun on Saturday, but for the previous few days I had been aware of a niggling tightness on the outside of my left ankle so decided to skip parkrun so I could do a little work to help it to ease off rather than prolong it. And having the kittens to play with made skipping a week sooooo much easier to bear!

fullsizeoutput_2650For the same reason, I took Sunday off and stayed at home with the kittens while Steve went for his run. My ankle is already feeling much better so I should hopefully be able to try a run during the week ahead. And if I can’t? Well I have kittens so everything is ok!

fullsizeoutput_2658In many ways it’s been a funny week. It’s always strange to think that as the week began I was basically in Disney World then finished the week at home in Scotland. Stranger still (in a good way) to have new furry friends to think about, but it definitely took the edge off coming home from our holiday!

Any tricks for coping with long haul flights?
Are you a cat person or a dog person (or both, like me!)?

If you would like to help more cats like Sooty and Smokey to find a loving fur-ever home, my Just Giving page is still open here.

Friday Finds – 20th 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.

Hola! Friday once again (edit: it’s now Saturday – blame the jet lag!) and this time I’m back home in Scotland. It’s kind of weird to think that just a couple of days ago I was in the Florida sunshine! It was a great holiday and I hope you’ve had a great week. Let’s kick off the weekend with a few interesting articles…

First up, an interesting story about prize money as one ultramarathon is offering a financial incentive to set a new course record. As the article notes, money is likely to either motivate more people to enter, or provide a strong reason to train hard. But could it also lead to more underhand methods of performing well, something that so far seems to have stayed out of such events? What are your thoughts?

Related to this, Martin Fritz Huber’s piece for Outside examining why we attach such importance to time “barriers”. It’s funny how we can become obsessed with these times, whether elite or not – note that recreational runners who are close to a time e.g. 4 hours in the marathon are recorded as slowing less than others during the final kilometres. From my own experience in Stirling earlier this year, I can see how that would be true as I pushed on when in the past, with any hope of the time gone, I definitely slowed more. Times certainly aren’t important to everyone, but to those for whom they are, it’s easy to become obsessed!

And on the subject of time, I was intrigued by this piece from The New York Times about the Nike Vaporfly 4% shoes. From their analysis of Strava data, it seems that the claims of a 4% improvement in race times may actually be accurate, and for me, that could equate to shaving around 8 minutes off my marathon time! Of course that only works if a) you can actually get hold of a pair of the shoes, b) are prepared to pay the hefty price tag and c) they actually suit you, but that’s mere detail! I must admit, I’d be interested in trying a pair on to see how they feel.

Another interesting study came from the IAAF who analysed biomechanical data from the 2017 World Championships in London. It’s fascinating to read about the differences between and within athletes which lead to their success and I’d love to learn even more about this.

And finally, since it was World Emoji Day earlier in the week, Canadian Running magazine put together a week of marathon training in emojis. Sunday definitely looks like my favourite. What’s yours?

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Week In Review – Florida Fun!

I’ve enjoyed a full week of Florida fun – sunshine, running and food…as well as a visit to the playground of a certain mouse! Here’s the lowdown:

Monday – rest
Tuesday – 30 minute run
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – run
Friday – Epcot!
Saturday – parkrun
Sundayrun rest

Monday is usually a fairly easy day for me when it comes to my training, and after running both Saturday and Sunday, I decided a day off was needed. So while Steve went out for a morning run, I stayed in and did a little yoga before getting settled on my sun lounger for the day. For those keeping track of my holiday eating, lunch was pizza and dinner was my mum’s delicious curry.

C77E8A3D-BE01-4A80-9E1A-9637F9366644
2C09650B-B798-4410-9EC4-70B0374A31EBOn Tuesday it was time to head out for a run again. We were leaving fairly sharp as mum and dad had appointments to get to, so Steve and I headed out just before sunrise when it was still really hazy looking.

36D95339-DAAC-4EE1-93C0-6A8A9C1CBD42And we saw the sun coming up at the end of the road.

A7D73561-41DF-4E65-8A51-FC23B297C35CMy legs were a little sluggish, but I felt much better afterwards and ready for the day.

050C3697-031C-46D6-97B8-267C717FC717While mum and dad were busy, Steve and I took the chance to do a little shopping at the outlet mall…once we’d had a frozen mocha from Panera Bread!

E5CFD420-2457-4881-9390-09BA0543E078Lunch this time was in the outlet mall food court and we opted for a combo – mine is orange chicken and chicken with broccoli. We followed that with an iced tea by the fountain before shopping some more.

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C933C9E0-3A08-4DCB-A8B6-06C54F9D8870After all that (and another frozen mocha later in the afternoon) we weren’t wanting a huge dinner and since my parents were out, we just had a simple dinner of soup whilst enjoying the sunset.

88BB4804-D7E2-48F5-82A9-32B230C0A609I opted for another rest day on Wednesday and spent the day reading in the sunshine – more or less my perfect day! Mum made her version of chicken à la king (chicken in white sauce) for lunch.

806BF393-0CD4-493A-A179-70240465C330In the evening I did a little more yoga and then it was time for more of mum’s yummy cooking. This time, pasta and meatballs followed by ice cream with a Cadbury Flake. Oh, and another amazing sunset. Perfect.

5EFC2C08-0095-4D6C-92CB-C76ACAFFCA26
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A3D1FAC6-9EF7-4AD6-A205-3D9CEC15D2BFThursday began with another run, this time 4.5 miles. Thanks to an unusually dry week for Florida at this time of year, the humidity was much higher and we could feel it in the air even early on. It definitely makes for more challenging running conditions, but my hope is that when I get home running will feel much easier and my pace will have benefitted.

3554C524-7CBD-44D9-B1E8-F0C742B37C1BWe then had a chilled morning and light lunch of soup before getting ready and heading out for our favourite treat of the trip – afternoon tea at Disney’s Grand Floridian resort. Honestly, if you want one non-park tip for a Disney vacation then this is it. There are a variety of options (including one for children) to suit every budget and absolutely everything is delicious. Well worth it (but make sure you’re hungry when you get there!).

71068D11-856E-4751-A6E0-99EAD4F13C0C
0E7BF326-0DA4-4A6B-B424-95A58D96AE88
73A637E6-B0DB-45CB-B134-DBD1E7A6A3A2The Disney theme carried on into Friday as we enjoyed a theme park day. As usual, dad presented us with a Disney gift card by way of birthday present (basically he gives all of us our birthday present in July, even though both my sister and I have August birthdays and Steve’s isn’t until December!). We always use our cards to buy a one day Disney pass and this year we chose to have a day at Epcot.

9E95758D-B394-403C-B8E7-C529DDAD4CDC
748BB200-7E66-4E97-AADA-99C93D6B257CSince it was technically my birthday present, I wore one of those “I’m celebrating” badges (buttons) and pretty much treated the day as my birthday! We set off sharp with my sister so had breakfast when we arrived – coffee and the biggest doughnut I’ve ever seen!

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Yeah, I smudged it. I ALWAYS smudge it!

3EA1E20C-4354-4346-A6A2-F1799BCBC555We then enjoyed an awesome day of rides, character greetings, shopping and touring World Showcase.

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22ADA1F3-B813-4C29-993D-0DB5B785200EMid-afternoon we actually nipped out of the park to head over to the nearby Boardwalk as we had heard about these incredible cupcakes which had both a unicorn horn and Mickey ears that were being sold exclusively at the Boardwalk Bakery and we HAD to have one. I was still wearing my “I’m celebrating” badge and this led to me receiving a Magical Moment when the bakery staff gave me my cupcake for free as a birthday present. I love things like that in Disney and the cupcake itself was AMAZING!

DABDE175-2A7E-4288-B998-DC49D498E355Another highlight was the dinner reservation Steve made for the Akershus restaurant in the Norway pavilion. I had been here before for breakfast with my sister years before, but not for dinner and I was looking forward to it.

53FFEA47-DDA1-4E6C-BB5C-CAD356C5A838It’s a character dining experience with the Disney princesses. You’re greeted by Belle (my favourite) upon arrival then Aurora, Cinderella, Ariel and Snow White visit your table at some point during your meal.

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2AC337C0-7099-411E-9C53-8C6A482999F3The meal itself was fantastic and actually quite a healthy option for theme park food. You begin with the Taste of Norway buffet which has salad, cheeses, cured meats and fish to create your own plate.

66A2E1E6-85B7-4959-9297-CB58AC17137AYou then choose a main course. We couldn’t decide so opted for the Viking Mixed Grill which had tasting portions of 3 of the dishes. My favourite was the salmon and if we were to return to the Akershus I would definitely order the salmon for my main course. So good!

3E2FB641-6A71-4AB7-A159-62CC60FBB7ABDessert is a sharing platter brought by your server. We don’t normally “share” in this way, but we were pretty stuffed so relieved not to have a massive portion each (besides, our server had threatened to bring another if we actually finished it lol!). On the plate was rice cream (a little like rice pudding but a creamier consistency and actually pretty good. Apparently it’s traditionally made at Christmas from leftovers), apple cake with coconut cream and salted caramel sauce, and a chocolate mousse. They were all incredible but it was definitely an effort to finish it off and we left a little of the apple cake as a sacrifice to ensure we managed the chocolate mousse!

48E6E9E4-BDD1-4978-8BD9-BB92C565566FAfter dinner we met up with my parents who had a dinner reservation in the France pavilion and we watched the fireworks together before heading home.

As a result, we weren’t at our freshest on Saturday morning but we were still up and away to head over to Clermont for parkrun. Because of another event in the park, this time we were on their alternative course which is on the mostly shaded trail within the preserve rather than on the paved path along the waterfront. I was looking forward to a different run but knew I wouldn’t be terribly speedy – I was tired, it was VERY humid even early on and the course was harder thanks to the different terrain and having a few more twists and turns.

DECDD29B-BE06-47F9-8EC7-4C69DE7DC6FAI ran comfortably hard and finished in 26:42. Quite happy with that since I had no expectations at all for this one.

D710E30B-9830-4936-A567-5D4E93ACEA28When we were at Disney Springs last weekend I bought a pair of Goodr sunglasses as I had heard loads of good things about them from US-based runners and I tried them out at parkrun (our runs during the week had been early enough that sunglasses weren’t required). I have to say, I loved them! Really comfortable, even when wearing my Aftershokz earphones, and they didn’t bounce or move around. Add to that the cool colours, mirrored lenses and $25 price tag and I think I’m a convert. Perhaps another pair next year…

F43DD606-61DC-4AE2-8A6B-5277BF4BB6B1Once home and showered, we treated my parents to breakfast at Denny’s where I chose the French Toast Slam.

7A51418E-B916-4D13-B205-DC2F748F48F5The remainder of the day was pretty chilled after a busy couple of days. I finished my book and got another one underway, then in the evening there was a really amazing sunset with some stunning colours to watch while we ate our dinner (“Christmas” ham with wedges and veg) followed by key lime pie.

EA097BCE-4C5B-4A3B-80E0-75106613C1CA
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5395E1CB-7A5C-4A2A-B221-2D244EDEFB6BOn Sunday I was up and ready for a 10k run with Steve, but after about a mile I aborted the run and ran home. I was feeling pretty sluggish which I would normally push through, but I also started to feel a bit “off” with cramps so decided it just wasn’t worth the misery. Of course as soon as I stopped running I felt much better, but I’m glad I listened to my body as it was clearly telling me not to run this time (I was still gutted to miss the run though).

Fortunately, we did have plans to go to a different outlet mall so that took my mind off it. Despite battling some huge tour groups and having to stand in the most enormous queues to pay for anything, I did manage to find a few bargains so was happy with that. Lunch was a similar combo to on Tuesday but no photo this time as we were squeezed into a table and it was just too much effort. Sorry!

And the week was rounded off with the last home-cooked dinner of the trip – mum’s sweet chilli chicken with rice.

EE88B3DC-7F96-4E6B-A83B-49252D653926Sadly only a few days left of this trip now, but we’ve packed in all the things we wanted to do and have one or two things to look forward to once we’re home.

Are you still dealing with hot weather training where you are?
How would you like to celebrate your birthday?