Week In Review – Always Have a Plan B…!

The first week of my October break presented an opportunity to press reset and get caught up on a few things. Yes, it would have been nice to go away somewhere, but on this occasion it was good to be at home. With a half marathon to run at the weekend, I took the chance to mix up a bit of training with some decent rest:

Monday – rest
Tuesday – 5 miles
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – 4 miles + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – half marathon

Start as you mean to go on, I say. I don’t generally like to sleep in (although obviously don’t set my alarm for as early as a school day!) but it is good to have a lazy start to the day and I decided I wanted to spend the first week of my holiday getting back into a habit I had back during my Easter break. So when I awoke I headed for the kitchen to make a cup of tea which I took right back to bed to read for about an hour. The kittens quite liked this and after running around daft for a bit they settled down at my feet for a snooze. Bliss!

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Nothing better than a long lie with Gary!

I then spent some time on the afternoon on my “homework”. I’m studying this with my Advanced Higher class and felt in need of a re-watch of my favourite adaptation of my favourite novel. Such a hardship lol!

fullsizeoutput_28ccOn Tuesday I followed my tea and book in bed with a run – not totally lazy! I set myself up with a kind of “mini taper” into my race so headed out for 5 miles. It was nice to get out in daylight after early morning runs last week, and the weather wasn’t too bad either.

RAHqgPkQRIGW3ynzZZhW5AWhen I arrived home I could spy a red package through the glass and knew exactly what it would be – my annual subscription to the London marathon rejection magazine. At least the running jacket I got with it is pretty good.

zTGJBzEOSzWboebQdiEYVwGiven the numbers in the ballot I didn’t expect to get a place, but until that magazine arrives there is always a glimmer of hope that this might be the year. Still, with 7 rejections (and counting…) I know to have a Plan B in mind for what I’ll do when that inevitable “nope” arrives, and for 2019 I knew my Plan B would be to sign up for the Stirling marathon again. I really enjoyed it this year and liked how conveniently close to home it was, so by the time the day was done, this had happened:

fullsizeoutput_28cfWednesday was another rest day. I had a few errands in town so clocked up loads of steps walking there and back (after some time spent reading with my cup of tea, of course!). At least my mail was more pleasing as I got some new casual leggings – and got photobombed by the kittens when I tried to take a picture!

fullsizeoutput_28f8On Thursday I doubled up – run in the morning and Ashtanga yoga class in the evening. My self-styled “mini taper” called for a 4 mile run and this time it was even pleasant enough to break my shorts back out of hibernation. I do love it when I can still wear my shorts without freezing to death!

IMG_9861Yoga was, as always, great. I had been curious to see how I would get on with the headstand after my breakthrough last week – was it a one-off or could I actually manage the posture by myself? As it turned out, there was no need to be concerned as I once more moved into the headstand on my own. I didn’t hold it for as long, probably because  I rushed to straighten my legs out before I had my balance feeling as secure as last time, but now I know it wasn’t a fluke I’ll take more care to move into the posture more mindfully as I go forward.

Steve offered me a training session on Friday morning (at a time which still allowed me my “soft start” to the day with my book and tea!) so I headed over to the studio. I was reluctant to do anything that would make my legs feel heavy on the Sunday, so we used the TRX and Core Momentum Trainer to do some work on my arms and upper body instead. Somehow I neglected to take a picture during the session, but did manage to take a photo of the coffee I had afterwards. Not sure what that says about me haha!

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The new “cordusio”. I think I ordered it because I thought it was a funny word!

The rest of the day was about as busy as things get during school holidays. First I had my flu jab (definitely want to avoid getting the flu!) and then I had my nails done which meant a good chat with my friend who does my nails.

Saturday, as ever, began with parkrun. I’m not always good at taking it easy when it’s not pacer day, but I was determined not to overdo things and risk having weary legs for the following day. I started out at a fairly steady pace and allowed myself to push on a bit as the run went on (securing a nice Royal Flush Negative Split) but still coming in at a slower (for me) time of 25:44. I had thought averaging 8:20-8:30 pace overall would be ideal so that was perfect.

IMG_9884Steve’s brother was away on holiday, but the Steve and I still went for a post-run bacon croissant before getting the food shopping done (such Saturday glamour!).

5xGLC%9CReanCYiH2wKjugI actually felt a bit “off”, kind of like I was going to get a headache but without actually having a headache. Not sure if that makes any sense, but I could feel my body telling me to have a nap so once home I had some soup then settled down for a nap. I did feel a bit better after that, but decided to take it easy and spend the afternoon watching a film. Time to break out Beauty and the Beast, because sometimes only a Disney film will do.

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As the evening wore on I began to realise that the reason I felt “off” was because my upper back and shoulders were tight and this was travelling up my neck and into my head. I got Steve to work on it a bit and began to feel a lot better. Good thing too since we were getting up early for our race!

We had decided not to stay in Aviemore the night before, and instead get up early to make the journey north into the Highlands – only about an hour and a half away and the roads are pretty clear at that time of day. We were away before 6:30am and got into Aviemore just before 8. I’ll write a separate post with all the details of the race, but it was all pretty familiar even though I hadn’t been up there since 2013.

This was my last serious race of the year. Anything else from this point will be more in the “fun run” category, so I also made it the last hurrah for my fundraising efforts. I teamed my Cats Protection running vest with paw print leggings (actual running leggings) and a hairband with ears (an actual running headband). It got me a fair amount of shouts and made a few people smile along the route!

DrgrJJvKTpCFm6VK7VXaegPost-race we tidied ourselves up a bit and on the way home called in to see a lovely couple Steve trains. They are in their 70s and so fit! I had never met them before but they had insisted we call in on our way home for a cup of tea, and despite being “race fresh” they were perfectly happy to sit and chat over some refreshments for a while and were so kind, waving away my apologies for not being at my most presentable! It was a nice way to break up the journey home and the cups of tea and choccy biccies were definitely appreciated!

The remainder of the day was pretty chilled and I headed to bed feeling really tired from the combination of an early start, racing a half marathon and having the long-ish car journeys as well.

When was the last time you needed to call on Plan B?
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Week In Review – Up And Running

After a pretty lazy week training-wise (not sorry – it was EXACTLY what I needed!) last week it was time to get back in to some more “normal” training again. It’s a real eye-opener about what I consider normal now when rearranging things in my week to make sure I can get a run in counts! Here’s how things looked:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 4 miles
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – 4 miles + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun pacing
Sunday – 10 miles

I tried to really savour my Monday yoga class as I knew it would be the last for three weeks.  Since this was the last week of term I was feeling pretty tired and although I’ll miss having the class during the school holidays and first day back, I know I’ll be able to do some home practice in its place. I felt really relaxed at the end of the class and ready for the rest of my week.

Another thing I was quite keen to do was fit in a little more running this week since I have another half marathon coming up mid-October. I was also really determined to make it to my Wednesday orchestra rehearsal, so decided that a little bit of re-arranging was in order to make sure I could manage both without having to cut my run short, arrive at rehearsal late or feel really flustered. The obvious solution was to have another go at the pre-work running I tried back in June. Back then it wasn’t too bad as the mornings were light and with the heatwave (such a distant memory now!) it was far more pleasant to run in the cool morning air. At the time I enjoyed it but wasn’t sure if it was sustainable for me on darker mornings. Time to find out. So I laid out some kit, set my alarm and did it – without any prior announcement to Steve or anyone else to keep me accountable! I was out the door by 5:30am (!!!) and although I felt a little sluggish on this run, I wasn’t too bothered and enjoyed an active start to my day. I actually felt pretty good for the remainder of the day afterwards as well.

f%9uXt%dTwWXicTm9NZ0RwThis meant that I had no pressure to get a workout done on Wednesday and so didn’t have to rush away from work. Instead I got a few bits and pieces done, did a little yoga before my dinner and was ready for my sister to pick me up for the rehearsal. She was feeling pretty tired and needed to go home when we took our rehearsal break, but we probably only missed about half an hour so that was ok with me and meant I got to bed nice and early.

I was pleased with the early night as I had planned a SECOND early run. Clearly it can’t have been too bad on the Tuesday! I was out the door about 5:30am again and ran pretty much the same route but this time I wasn’t feeling so sluggish and with the same effort level covered the distance faster. This was very pleasing.

YBOlAJdRQR6gNIP5Ue3IKAI’m not sure if it was the run, the routine or the fact that the holidays were nearly upon me, but I felt great in my Ashtanga class that evening. I was moving well with my breath, felt strong in Wheel and – drumroll please – managed my very first totally unsupported headstand! If you read these weekly reviews regularly then you may be aware that this is something I have been working on during this year. I’ve been doing headstands with my teacher there to support me, but recently have noticed her starting to try and give a little less support. Perhaps that gave me some confidence, but since she was supporting someone else first, I decided to see if I could take my feet off the ground and find balance with my legs still bent. I expected that would be all I would manage, but felt so good that I thought I would try and straighten my legs after a few breaths to see what would happen…and I held it! I had to work hard not to get so excited about it that I lost the position, but as I moved into child’s pose afterwards I was grinning from ear to ear. I did it! Hopefully that will now give me the confidence to keep working on the posture independently because I will always know that I managed it, therefore I can manage it again. I was so pleased!

Friday was the last day of term and I stayed after work to finish up some marking. After a busy week I took it as a rest day and enjoyed a relaxing evening to start my holidays.

When I got up on Saturday morning it was cold. Thin layer of frost on the windscreen cold. Base layer and gloves cold. Steve had an early client then returned home to change and pick me up for parkrun where as well as being International Parkrun Day, we were having our monthly pacer week.

IMG_9809I had 28 minutes again and after coming in slightly after the time last month, I was keen to do better this time. I settled into pace and soon realised I had some parkrunners with me who were hoping to break 28. I offered advice, tips and “encouragement” which saw them over the line with great new PBs and I was so happy to have been able to help them. I finished in 27:45 – a little faster than the goal but this was mainly because I settled into pace beside the runners I was helping and that’s fine. They were all really pleased and I got a nice message that evening from one of them to say thank you. Definitely my favourite volunteer role as I still get a run but also get to help other people to run their best.

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Photo by Roy Mitchell for Perth parkrun facebook page

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IMG_9796Post-run I was able to join Steve and his brother for a bacon croissant for the first time in ages. Saturdays have clearly been very busy for most of the first term so it was good to get back into my previous routine of post-run breakfast, food shopping and a relaxing afternoon.

T3DUSvIDR8mp5QBxLt98tgThe evening was spent in front of the TV as it was movie week on Strictly and I had some furry company too.

kM3u3edgQOmjh47FzSe28wOn Sunday I knew I needed a longer run as my half marathon was just a week away. My last longer run was the Disneyland Paris half, but I was in no hurry then and had lots of photo stops so my most consistent long run before that was a 10 miler about a fortnight before. I decided it had best be a 10 mile run and got myself ready at a fairly leisurely pace. The weather was cool, but not cold like the day before so no gloves were necessary and I enjoyed catching up on the Marathon Talk podcast as I ran. Even more pleasing, I completed the route a bit faster than the last time so am feeling good ahead of next weekend. I don’t think I’m in PB shape, but I’m still curious to see where my fitness lies right now after losing a bit of momentum over the summer when my ankle was bothering me (it’s fine now – total mystery!).

IMG_9836I actually spent the rest of Sunday in a fairly lazy fashion (read: I hardly moved!) as I watched coverage of the Chicago marathon. Did you see it? Such a great race for Mo Farah! I even got lots more kitten cuddles as I lazed about – I could get used to this!

V3WXPwa7TlexLbi929WtbwHow do you make sure you can fit everything in?
Are you working on any yoga postures right now?

Friday Finds – 5th October

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.

Phew! This is one of those Fridays that feels like it’s been a long time coming around. After 8 weeks of school term, it’s time for a break here in Scotland and I’m looking forward to a chance to rest, relax and recharge. To start us off, here are some articles that caught my eye this week.

For the parkrun fan, this weekend is an exciting one as parkrun celebrates its 14th birthday. That’s right, tomorrow is International Parkrun Day. Not only that, but last week the 5,000,000th person registered for their parkrun barcode. That’s incredible! Here’s the always excellent Sean Ingle with a roundup of how parkrun has grown and developed over the past 14 years.

It’s also that time of year when everyone (and I’m including myself in this) goes a bit marathon mad – the results of the London marathon ballot are due to drop onto doorsteps in the next week and this weekend sees the next of the Marathon Majors take place in Chicago. With marathon fever tightening its grip, my attention was caught by these musings on the distance. I’d love to know your thoughts.

Speaking of Chicago, the elite field is looking exciting with appearances from Mo Farah, Gwen Jorgensen and “Citizen Runner” Yuki Kawauchi. Fans of the Marathon Talk podcast have been familiar with Yuki for some time and he became better known as a result of his Boston win earlier this year. With that in mind, you may enjoy this piece exploring Japan’s most well-known marathoner.

Following some high profile reports of cheats in marathons (most notably in Mexico City) race organisers in China are finding new ways to crack down on cheats. Having used facial recognition software in a half marathon last year, the software is now to be used in a marathon early next month. Good to prevent cheating or another layer of potential complication for runners? What are your thoughts?

And finally, I love those “expectation v reality” memes that pop up from time to time so this article appealed to me. It’s another classic from Canadian Running which has gathered together a variety of stock images related to running and compared them to the reality. I think my favourite is the one about winter running!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Week In Review – The Magic Of Disney

What a week! I can’t believe my magical weekend finally came around and there will be a post on the Disney race itself to follow as soon as I have some time to sit down and think about it properly. In the meantime, here’s my regular week in review post with how I spent my week as a whole (fair warning: there are LOADS of photos here!).

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – run + sports massage
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – travel
Saturday – Disneyland!!!
Sunday – half marathon

My main priority throughout the week was to be as rested as possible as I knew the weekend would be tiring. This meant cutting back some of my workouts and making a point of maximising sleep by getting to bed at a reasonable time and cutting out anything unnecessary in the morning so I could sleep a little later. I also made sure to include some yoga each day to help me unwind, starting with my usual Hatha class on Monday night. As ever, the perfect end to my busy Monday.

I had already decided to move my midweek run to Tuesday so I could have Wednesday completely free to pack. As it turned out, this was most fortuitous as Storm Ali paid us a visit on Wednesday and running would have been pretty challenging. It was actually quite windy on Tuesday, but I was only looking to run at an easy pace and this was perfectly achievable. I followed this up with a sports massage to make sure my legs were in tip top shape for a weekend of theme parks and running.

gP8GtmpQRrOQVgblNat%9wAs well as a rest from any training, I also skipped my orchestra rehearsal on Wednesday so I had the night free to get myself packed and organised for the weekend. This made me feel much better as I knew I had little time the following evening and had to leave straight from work on Friday.

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My packing “helper”. Mum was on kitten care duties over the weekend so they were spoiled rotten!

It was then really important to me to get to my Ashtanga class on Thursday after missing it the previous week. I wanted the chance to calm my mind and stretch my body before the busy weekend. Unfortunately, due to some heavy traffic I was a few minutes late and this affected how I felt as I joined in with the class. Still, it was much better than not getting there at all and I did feel a lot more chilled by the time the class finished. I then went straight off to get my nails done to match my running costume.

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Can you guess…?

And then it was Friday. A colleague of mine very kindly offered to take the last few minutes of my class at the end of the day so I could get changed and get out of the car park ahead of all the school buses and parental pickups. This put us at the airport in good time for our flight and we got some food while we waited in the departure lounge.

EaU0qkeiR7qPQgjNOvQ61gThings began to unravel a bit when our flight was delayed (without much by way of explanation) for a little over an hour. By the time we moved an hour forward to Paris time, this meant it was getting quite late. We had always known we would be too late for any of the trains or coach transfers to Disney, so had booked a shared taxi but with the delays we ended up missing our slot and it took some time to get things reorganised – not helped by that laid back French attitude towards such things! By the time we got to our hotel it was 1am local time and had been a looooooooong day! We were booked into the Cheyenne which had a wild west/Toy Story theme and our room was ideal for our needs.

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+poMDiMqRc6QoaVNe3AvvwWe were up sharp on Saturday morning as we had loads we wanted/needed to do. But first, breakfast. The buffet in our hotel was pretty good with a selection of hot and cold items. But the best bit was while we were eating there was an announcement that Disneyland was open! I think I squealed!!!

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xsfqfrjNQo2TjNsbMxS6xwOur first port of call after breakfast was the expo to collect our race packets and the items I had preordered. This part of it was easy enough, leaving some time to explore the merchandise. I may have bought one or two all the things!

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%3Y%tQYkTqiJy4SX%t+UzwFinally, we went to check out the exhibitors but there were very few. I think perhaps I’ve been spoiled by bigger expos so found this a bit disappointing. I did enjoy finding my name on the wall of runners and taking some photos to mark the beginning of the weekend.

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76vF2EVqRXqLKRMo61%+tAWe took our things back to the hotel then it was time to hit the parks!

kfyuY8hzSIWEr6PhsWAOZwFirst, we headed into the Studios as I wanted to devote much of the latter part of the day to the main park. In the Studios our priority was to get on the Ratatouille ride since this was new to us and is currently under construction at WDW in Florida. We got a Fastpass but had some time to wait so went shopping then got in the queue for the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. It’s been a while since we’ve done that one since we haven’t been in the Studios in Florida for a while and it was brilliant!

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Hq9MdPDkRiOvd0Tdlh4KrARatatouille was amazing! It was a ride where you needed 3D glasses and were “shrunk” to the size of a rat. Doing something new was fantastic and it was a real highlight of our park day.

FZZpf3HJRRqbKPTbxC1uoQFrom there, we headed into the main Disneyland park. I found it quite confusing as it was similar to the Magic Kingdom in Florida, yet familiar things were in different places so it felt like being in a weird dream. Here, we wanted a Fastpass for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad as I knew it was different to the Florida version. We headed straight there, admiring the seasonal decor on the way.

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fZfsNc8xTKelJTxOamaAPAIn Frontierland, where Big Thunder is located, it looked like being in the movie Coco as there was a Day of the Dead theme.

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7YTlCD78SwK2aJUmw9YuWAWe knew the parks would be busy and didn’t expect to get on loads of rides, hence our priorities (the others were Hyperspace Mountain, which was having a technical issue and Phantom Manor which was closed for refurbishment. Next time!). Given the long queues, we walked around soaking up the atmosphere and trying to get our bearings. We also needed some lunch so, on my sister’s recommendation, chose a place in Discoveryland (which I think of as Tomorrowland) that did burgers. I chose a chicken burger with fries and an ice cream for dessert.

6XAfgOrwQBmwCfiQ2GNi9wThroughout the remainder of our day we managed to get on Pirates of the Caribbean (again, different to the Florida version), used our Fastpass for Big Thunder (which was brilliant!), watched the afternoon parade (Disney parades are the best!), bought souvenirs, took a million photos and found some more food before getting ourselves ready for the fireworks.

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UvfmsSsHTWeqSwdO7R4gNQThere was some rain in the area so the actual fireworks were removed from the evening show, but the projections onto the castle (similar to what I saw in Florida last year) were so good that I barely even noticed. It was all set to Disney music, some in the original version and some in French. Pretty sure the words to Let it Go were a bit different in French…

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iKJ7PZ4FR2aABdIvSePLIw
KrcfqeOhREuFamriaLD2Pw
WWiUTEmTQNm9SagBcmOX6wWith that, our day came to a close and we headed back to the hotel to get our race things ready and try to get some sleep.

When our alarm went off it felt like the middle of the night…because it pretty much was! We got dressed and headed for breakfast which was laid on from 5am. We were actually given a wristband which meant we could go back for a second breakfast after the run, presumably because what we would eat before a run would be different to what we might prefer to have. We actually didn’t use this because of timings, but it was a great idea and we had been aware of loads of 10k runners coming in for breakfast while we ate the previous morning.

fullsizeoutput_27b1From there, it was final organisation in our room then over to the expo where the start corrals were and the bag drop. It also meant we could wait inside, where there were reasonable toilets, until we had to get into our corral.

I’ll write a more detailed race report to cover everything else, but the short version is I had THE BEST time! It was my slowest ever half marathon by far, but probably my favourite race experience EVER! I think it’s safe to say we’ll be doing this again in future. I’m already mulling over costume ideas…!

sqAvuFYPR6KyXHms0O3DNQPost-race we nipped back to our hotel for a quick freshen up and to drop some things off, then made a whistle-stop visit to the main Disneyland park so we could take some photos with our medals and buy a couple of last-minute souvenirs before leaving.

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52I6N3BlS8mR5tWnFwX+2gThe hotels gave runners a 1pm checkout so we had a quick shower, packed and were ready for the shuttle to the airport at 1:15. Perfect!

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A Beastly “stowaway” in my carry-on bag!

The journey home was much more straightforward and even with a stop for some food, we were home and organised in time to watch the finale of Bodyguard on tv. I even think these cheeky faces might have missed me!

p5WhqWM6T6KaOiIu0aigMwI really truly loved my weekend, I mean what’s not to like about a Run Disney event when you’re a runner who loves Disney? It was perfect! Look our for my race report (which will contain LOADS MORE photos!) to find out more about my experience.

b276uzRLS6q+9FFXqvgcaQWhat’s been your favourite race experience ever?
Have you/would you run a Disney race?

Week In Review – The One Where I Couldn’t Think Of A Title

Ohboyohboyohboy! I’m getting so excited! As this post goes live I’m just a few short days away from my much-anticipated trip to Disneyland Paris for the half marathon weekend. My costume is ready, my list is made and I’m well on my way to being packed already since I’m leaving straight from work on Friday and need to be organised. It’s going to be a whirlwind trip and no doubt will go by in a flash, but I’m sure it’s going to create come amazing memories.

Since I know it’s going to be a busy weekend, I’ve been really trying to strike a balance between continuing to build up my fitness, whilst also prioritising rest. Usually I get up quite early and start my day with a short walk, but this week I’ve skipped that in favour of sleeping a bit longer and have really tried to make my workouts work for me in terms of getting the most I can from a little bit less time:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – bike reps @ the gym
Wednesday – short run
ThursdayAshtanga yoga rest
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 8 miles

After yet another mad Monday, Hatha yoga was a welcome way to unwind and relax. Our balance was Half Moon, a posture we previously worked on using a wall to support, but this time I tried it unaided and was surprised to actually manage it (although it took a few attempts to work out how my body wanted to move into the posture without falling over!)

On Tuesday I headed to the gym as the bike intervals have been a staple part of my training in recent times and I do think they make a difference to my fitness. This week I used the same work/rest intervals as last time, but added on 2 further reps to add some progression.

When it got to Wednesday I was a little short on time. I knew I wanted to run before orchestra, but also knew that realistically I could only afford about 30 minutes if I wanted to be ready in time. Somehow in my brain this translated to “run really hard” which of course meant I was in danger of arriving home without completing the full 30 minutes (the minimum duration that would give me my Vitality points for the day!) so I had to add on a couple of extra bits as I went. I did feel much better afterwards and it gave me the energy to concentrate through my rehearsal.

3OvPO2WXR4K5fmEiK3tWkgI had originally intended to go to Ashtanga yoga on Thursday, however I ended up shelving that idea as the kittens had spent the day at the vet for their Very Important Operations and since they were just home (and a bit groggy) I wanted to stay with them to make sure they were ok and not messing with their stitches. My poor wee girl looked rather bewildered and her brother, who bounced back remarkably quickly, was so cute as he kept an eye on her and helped her to wash. They really are such an adorable pair (and both were perfectly fine after a good sleep). Once they were settled I did some yoga myself where I could watch them.

I had always intended Friday to be a rest day as I wanted to nip into town after work for some bits and pieces for our trip, most importantly to get some Euros! Once I got home I did a little more yoga before getting organised to head out for some food at the pub down the road.

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We were seen off the premises!

The kitten alarm clock had me up a little earlier than intended on Saturday, however I made good use of the time to tidy up a little before parkrun. It was quite chilly and I actually wore a pair of capris (I’m usually at the extremes – shorts or full leggings and very few “in between” runs) and as I walked from the car to the start area I briefly wished I had some gloves! My intention was to see if I could shave a couple more seconds off my time from last week (24:44) so set off reasonably hard. As the run went on I felt better and better, so much so that I ran a Royal Flush Negative Split! And as I stopped my watch at the finish I was rather surprised to see that I had shaved off more than a couple of seconds to finish in 24:07!! I really don’t know where that sudden return to decent form came from, but I suspect the cooler weather, my recent consistent training and being well rested all contributed. Fingers crossed I can get back to sub-24 before the conditions make that too tricky.

IMG_9136From parkrun I had an appointment to get my hair cut (need to be presentable for my trip next weekend!) then after lunch Steve and I walked down the road to the ice rink. No, we weren’t getting in some sneaky practice for our festive skating, we were headed for the function rooms there as we had tickets for the Gin Festival that was taking place. It was a gathering of lots of Scottish gin producers, many of them small batch/artisan producers, offering the opportunity to sample their wares. My favourites included a hot spiced gin punch, a gin served with a piece of honeycomb in it (as in the sweet treat that we associate with the inside of a Crunchie bar, not the stuff from a bee hive) and the one I bought – a mocha gin. Yum! We actually bumped into loads of people we knew and it was nice to have a chat to people and compare notes on our favourites.

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mNXIC7NOSyedynHHJ8m4VAOnce home it was pizza and a relaxing evening in front of the tv with lots of kitten cuddles. So good!

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DuHvzo+HQoq6Ih+PqD8MQQI hadn’t been sure of the distance I wanted to run on Sunday – after 10 miles last week should I go up to 12 or cut back? After a consultation with Steve, we both decided to run 8 miles and covered similar routes which meant we saw each other while we were out. It was REALLY windy, yet I felt I was running well again and when I compared my run to the similar one I ran a couple of weeks ago, I averaged about 10 seconds per mile faster yet felt comfortable throughout. Clearly this distance was the right decision as I have no ambition for time next weekend and am better served by being well rested and just keeping my running ticking over for a few days.

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IMG_9187After an assortment of Sunday errands, we had another visit from my parents (cue more Sunday cake) since my mum will be looking after the kittens next weekend and needed to go over a few things. It will be weird leaving them, but I know they will be just fine and are perfectly happy with each other. Besides, mum will totally spoil them!

Now just 5 more work days until I get on the plane. Squeeeeee!!!

What is your favourite way to serve gin?
What is your dream event that you long to do?

Week In Review – Seasons of Change

September in Scotland definitely brings with it a change in the air – the mornings are chillier, the nights longer and autumn colours begin to creep across the landscape. I always find it such a shock after the long summer days, but this time of year is one of my favourites for running and I’m so pleased that the changing season has brought with it a change (for the better) in the ankle that has been niggling since July. I’m even starting to sense a return of fitness and form. Here’s how my week went:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – bike intervals @ the gym
Wednesday – run
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – long run

With almost everything else in my life back on, things feel pretty hectic right now and I’m finding I don’t have much headspace during the week for anything other than work and whatever training I am doing. I think I can accept this so long as I know there are occasions when I can take some time for myself during the week and my Monday evening Hatha class is perfect for this. We start and finish in savasana and the movement during the class is nice and gentle – the ideal Monday yoga practice.

On Tuesdays we have our shorter day at work so this gives me a little more time in the evening and I have been trying to build on this with a short workout at the gym before heading home. After a couple of weeks of 30 seconds on/30 seconds recovery on the bike, this week I increased the work interval to 45 seconds and took just 15 seconds recovery. I have to push a little out of my comfort zone in order to improve my fitness and this is a sequence I’ve done before so I was happy it was achievable.

P3N43p%pQDmXzMYzkXabXAWednesdays right now are quite packed, but once more I managed to fit in a run between school and orchestra.To keep it simple, I stuck to the same loop as last week as I knew I could fit it in and still have enough time to shower and eat before heading out. It felt good and I think my time was fairly comparable to the last time so at least there is some consistency.

ssPSBat6T0CAVB4RPiaWhwAfter missing my Ashtanga class last week thanks to staying at work too long then getting caught in traffic, I made sure to be away in plenty of time to get to the class this time. As it turned out, my teacher had been away the previous week so there were only a couple of people there, so maybe I didn’t miss out too much. Still, it felt good to move through the sequence again and it really helped to reset my head for the end of the working week.

I made Friday a rest day and did a home yoga practice to help me unwind from the week. Poor Steve was suffering with a back issue so it was probably just as well I didn’t want a training session!

Since Steve’s back was still a problem on Saturday, I was off to parkrun by myself. I was feeling good and felt like I ran well so was pleased to find my time back under 25 minutes again (I was in sub-24 form in June but lost some momentum with the ankle issue. It’s good to see the progress I’m making again).

DWZ1x2gGR6WwvdIqRMdhTAWe also had a special guest as part of the UK-wide #teamparkrun event. We were joined by international orienteer and track runner Kris Jones, who happens to hold TWO parkrun course records – one in Swansea where he’s originally from and the other in Dundee where he now lives and trains – and his time for 5k on the track is 13:XX!! He ran out to one of the marshal points and cheered runners on before returning to the start/finish area where he was happy to chat and be photographed. In Steve’s absence I found a stand-in photographer who suggested we do a jumping shot together and our visitor actually agreed – he may need to work on his jumping game though 😂

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O%9dGaxHQ1OREB0HpdLfrQThe remainder of Saturday was pretty chilled as Steve couldn’t really move far, which meant I felt fairly rested for a longer run on Sunday morning. With a couple of half marathons coming up I was keen to hit double digits so headed off for a 10 mile loop. I enjoyed the run and my ankle felt fine, which was good news. Even better, my time was roughly the same as my last 10 miler back in June so my endurance is maybe not too bad after all. Besides, I’m not looking for any pace in my half marathon next weekend so as long as I can comfortably cover the distance I’ll be happy!

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qMr6RRJVSLqsKqM6alO1dAPost-run I had to get the food shopping (by myself thanks to Steve’s dodgy back) and have a bit of a tidy up as my parents were visiting again to spend some more time with the kittens. Given the amount of treats my mum seems to be able to produce form her handbag, they certainly didn’t object! Once they left, we had a quiet evening in front of the tv to relax before the new week began. Phew!

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Watching for their visitors 😹

Did you attend a #teamparkrun event?
How is your training going?

Week In Review – Business As Usual

The week after my birthday was always going to feel a bit “dull” in comparison, but it certainly wasn’t dull in terms of things to do and I had quite a busy week. With a bit of careful planning, I managed to fit in a good amount of training too:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – bike @ gym
Wednesday – run
ThursdayAshtanga yoga rest
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun + SUP yoga
Sunday – run

It’s not taken me long to realise that my Mondays this year are really busy. I have a full timetable at work and often we have a meeting at the end of the day too – it’s why I enjoy getting to my yoga class so much. This week I also had to squeeze an appointment in between my meeting and my yoga class, so there just wasn’t enough time to get home and after the class I had to drop something off to my sister so it was 8:30pm before I got in. I’m so glad I had a nice relaxing yoga class to help me unwind and begin to settle into the remainder of my evening!

Tuesday was a bit less frantic and I was able to get away from school pretty much straight away at the end of the so I could have a bit more time to myself. I headed first to the gym and did another set of bike intervals, but this time at a higher intensity than last week. It still felt ok so I’ll have to give a bit of thought to my next bike workout.

jnRGEszvTnioRQWnwITPtAAnd then it was back to business (or busy-ness) on Wednesday. I was home as quickly as possible to head out for a run before the first orchestra rehearsal of the new academic year (this always makes me feel like winter is just around the corner!). I knew roughly how long I had so headed off on one of my favourite loops which is about 3.7 miles and can be completed in under 35 minutes. This gives me enough time to grab a shower and some food before my sister picks me up for the rehearsal. I was super organised and even got my lunch made for the next day, but I don’t expect such over-achieving to last long!

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We almost had an extra orchestra member!

VioF%tbmRKC7NasSEBV3xgThursday was one of those days that just didn’t go my way. I had been stuck behind a tractor on the way to work in the morning then on my way home got stuck in a huge queue behind a slow-moving vehicle. Given that I wasn’t yet home at the time I usually leave for my yoga class, I decided to spare myself the stress and do a home practice instead. I was disappointed to miss my class, but I really don’t think I would have made it there in time. It was quite nice to have a relaxing evening at home after a busy few days.

By Friday I knew I was having a rest day as I had an appointment to get my nails done, so once more enjoyed a bit of down time.

Saturday was another busy day though. I began with parkrun, where I was the 28 minute pacer. I was a little off this month and came in just over, but I had adjusted in order to help some other runners and was pleased to find they got the results they wanted.

IMG_8991After that, it was a session of SUP yoga followed by lunch at the activity centre cafe. They were celebrating being open for a year so it seemed rude not to order a cupcake for dessert!

o0SqDeWwQwe8WarQx1c7owI took the chance to relax for the rest of the day as I knew Sunday would be quite busy as well, beginning with an 8 mile training run (for those asking, my ankle is much better. Not completely resolved, but well on its way). I included a section though the woodland park that I like and it was nice to be back out there again.

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IMG_9073Next up, shopping and errands in town before some household chores as my parents were coming to meet the kittens for the first time. Mum was well prepared, producing an assortment of toys and treats from her handbag and totally spoiling the pair of them. I’ll have no worries about their care any time we go away for a night or two!

Finally, a busy week ended with some TV and a relaxing bath. I hope the week ahead is a little less frenetic!

What was the highlight of your week?
Any winter routines starting for you?

Friday Finds – 31st 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.

How can August be over? I don’t think I’m quite ready to be done with summer but there’s most definitely a nip in the air first thing in the morning now. At least we’ve had plenty of good weather (and I’m on time with my post this week haha!). Here are the things that caught my eye over the past few days.

We’ll start with a serious one as the Mexico City marathon is once more attracting attention for the number of alleged cheats claiming medals without completing the course. The number of alleged cheats is staggering, however the problem appears to be arising from a desire to collect the medals – each year being one letter to ultimately spell out MEXICO. Looks like there will have to be much tighter measures in place to ensure those who claim a medal have genuinely run the course, otherwise it makes a mockery of those who put in the work to run.

As someone who has recently celebrated a milestone birthday, I was inexorably drawn to this next piece which has been getting some traction on social media this week. Some of the statistics about runners/triathletes in their 40s are incredible – numbers and speeds compared to other age groups – and the writer is comprehensive in exploring some of the motivating factors leading to this level of participation. As an added bonus, it was actually published on my birthday! Guess I’d better go and come up with my next crazy idea…

I also enjoyed this interview with Desi Linden, winner of the women’s race in this year’s Boston marathon. I know there has been plenty written about her since her historic victory back in April, however what’s interesting about this interview is that it was conducted by the US women’s marathon record holder, Deena Kastor. Worth checking out to see how two friends and olympians interact.

Moving to a more recent race, did you see this footage from the Diamond League steeplechase final this week? Conseslus Kipruto came through to win the race (dipping his opponent on the line) despite losing his shoe early in the race. Incredible! If you’ve not seen it, be sure to watch the clip.

And finally, this last article seems fitting as my weekly orchestra rehearsals began again this week. I’ve thought for a while it might be fun to put together a concert featuring well-known sporting themes (definitely The Trap) and look – Classic FM only went and produced the ideal list. What would you like to see on a list like this?

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Week In Review – A Milestone

All this year I have been declaring it The Year Of Me. I set goals designed to add value and positive habits to my life. Why? Because 2018 would feature a milestone birthday for me. Let’s face it, I’ve been making a bit of a thing of celebrating this one of late, with celebrations spanning July- September, but this week was my actual, official birthday. Did I celebrate? You bet!

I also found time to train:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – bike intervals + sports massage
Wednesday – run
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturdayparkrun rest
Sunday – run

I’ve said it before but I love my Monday Hatha class. Mondays as so busy for me at work and this is just the perfect way to relax and unwind. It’s a bit of time for myself, but also a way to continue to build strength and flexibility. Perfect.

On Tuesday I decided it was time to up my game on the bike, so rather than just head to the gym and pedal for 30-45 minutes, it’s time to make more of a workout from my time. So, back to a set of intervals again. I haven’t done these in ages to I’m trying to gauge where I am and pitch it to something challenging but achievable to try and build my fitness for my autumn half marathons (which seem to be fast approaching!). This week I did a warm up then 30 second efforts with 30 seconds recovery in between. After that, I headed off to my regular sports massage.

Wednesday was The Big Day. The day I officially celebrated my Big Birthday. I felt totally spoiled all day – cards and presents at home (my main present, of course, being the Disneyland Paris adventure next month), cards and presents on my desk at work (I even got a card from the janitors!), cake with my colleagues at lunchtime and more cake with Steve in the evening (this time accompanied by some celebratory fizz!). I could get used to this!

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The “work cake”

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Guess who needed to inspect my presents!

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The most amazing peanut butter millionaire shortbread from a colleague

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My unicorn cake. Heavy hints were dropped!

6ijAWpJQQaOpN4ysNqh7aAAnd of course I went for a run. I fancied running my age, but since I was running after work it was a bit much to consider running my age in miles/km (waaaaaay too big a number for that!) so I settled for running my age in minutes. This involved making a couple of adjustments to a favourite route, but I only had to run past my house once as I made sure to get in the last minute or so!

IMG_8922After all that, Thursday almost seemed a bit of a disappointment in comparison, but I had my Ashtanga class to look forward to in the evening. I don’t know what it was, but something felt really good about the class this week – I felt like I was flowing really well with my breath and when it came to headstand I could feel that my teacher was supporting me less so I must be progressing here. I felt so good afterwards.

Friday was a pretty busy day. I had a couple of errands after work so no time to fit anything else in, then we were off to a friend’s birthday gathering. It was built around tasting a variety of gins and I learned a very valuable lesson – I’m getting far too old for excess alcohol consumption (I don’t really drink all that much ordinarily) and suffered a bit as a result.

Unsurprisingly, my plans to get to parkrun on Saturday morning were overly optimistic as I needed the time to sleep off the excesses of the night before. I actually spent most of the day feeling a bit “jet lagged” with a fuzzy head and that slightly giddy feeling of being sleepy and not having enough food inside you. Still, I roused myself to accompany Steve and his family to Dunblane to watch his nephew sing in a lunchtime concert (he has just graduated from the Royal Conservatoire and is off to London for a post-graduate course in a few weeks). It was really good. It never ceases to amaze me how far he has come (even though in my head he is about 14 rather than a young man in his early 20s haha!)

After the concert we dropped Steve’s nephew off in Edinburgh for a concert rehearsal, then we all headed to South Queensferry for a late lunch. I realised that I have never actually been there before and it was such a beautiful place. We ate at a lovely place right by the rail bridge and it was such nice weather we were able to sit outside. Then we took a walk along past all the quaint shops towards Port Edgar where there are loads of boats moored (I just kept thinking of the episode of Friends where Joey gets a boat and Rachel tries to teach him to sail!) and there are brilliant views of the old road bridge and new Queensferry crossing. I think we will definitely be back another time.

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ulec6vogR5aWFEP9bBJ21gSadly, the weather on Sunday was not quite so nice and I headed out for my run in the rain. That’s 3 Sundays in a row! I figured my preparations in the days before were less that ideal, so stuck to 10k with the intention of building mileage from next Sunday. Still plenty of time to be ready for Disneyland Paris, especially since I am intending to stop en route for character photo ops!

W26%xqGPQgySb+h9SQs1aAThe rest of the day was all about catching up on bits and pieces, running some errands and trying to find time to relax. Weekends during term time just slip away so quickly!

How did you celebrate your last birthday?
Would gin be your drink of choice? Tell me your favourite.

Friday Finds – 24th 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.

So. Yeah. Today is Sunday. I’ll admit to making no attempt to write this on Friday as I was out at a friend’s birthday gathering then had a packed Saturday to navigate whilst feeling slightly delicate! So for this week we’re having some Sunday Stories 😂

Let’s start with a bit of science from the always engaging Alex Hutchinson (if, like me, you enjoy his columns, I can recommend his book which I am about to finish reading). This time Hutchinson digs into the recently published study on exercise and mental health, getting to the real science behind the headlines and debunking some of the more sensationalised elements. Worth a read if this is an area of interest for you.

An excellent companion piece to this comes in the form of Brad Stulberg’s column, also published in Outside, in which some pro athletes share their own mental health journeys and the strategies they use to cope when issues arise. It’s always useful to be reminded that those at the top of their game are no different to the rest of us, and we can learn a lot from their stories.

Another study which caught my attention concerned our memories of P.E classes at school and how they affect our attitudes to exercise as an adult. For me, P.E was a chore and I tried to avoid it as much as I could. I liked the idea of fitness and being able to take part in sports, but the setup when I was at school was quite off-putting and my strongest memory is of being absolutely freezing on the playing fields on a miserable day. Not overly encouraging! Yet as an adult I found activities I enjoy, hence why I happily run around in all sorts of weather conditions – I expect to have fun. What are your P.E. memories?

Since this is actually coming out on Sunday, you might fancy a longer read. How about this piece from National Geographic which examines how technology is helping athletes to push the boundaries of their sports? There are even some cool graphs, for those who like such things!

And finally, one of my favourite quirky events is the beer mile (although I’m not sure I’m fond enough of the idea to actually try it!) so was amused to find that at a recent event, the winner was ultimately disqualified…for not drinking enough beer! Now there’s a headline you don’t see every day!

Happy reading!
The Running Princess