Friday Finds – 19th 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.

Happy Friday! You may have noticed that I took a little bit of a blogging break while I was away on holiday, but never fear, I have plenty to share about the month so far and will catch you up with all the news (and photos. So. Many. Photos!) soon. In the meantime, let’s get back to the routine of sharing some articles on Friday. I suspect this one will be a bit of an odd mixture of things I’ve been storing over the past two or three weeks…

First up, a positive outcome to a high profile story from earlier this year. You might remember that some participants in the London marathon complained about the way they were treated during the race and, thankfully, organisers have listened and are implementing changes to ensure it doesn’t happen again. It really saddened me to read the original story, so I’m pleased that action has been taken and hope that those affected are able to return to the race for a far more positive experience.

On a lighter note, I was amused to read this piece about a recent school sports day. Events in our school are simply for pupils – no staff or parent races – but I know that up and down the country the prospect of parents racing can result in either a degree of worry and/or overly competitive performances. But we can all be reassured that even being an Olympic champion is no guarantee of success – just ask Mo Farah who was recently beaten by another dad who wasn’t exactly attired for sporting greatness!

Next up, a story of real commitment. A great thing about travelling is finding new places to run, but when we have specific training goals it can be a little stressful to make sure we find the best route. Step in two butlers at a high-end Italian hotel who not only found a route for a guest who was marathon training, but actually ran with him and joined him for the actual marathon. You certainly don’t get that kind of service everywhere!

Catching my eye today was this piece in which one researcher attempted to answer an interesting question: why do we walk with straight arms but run with them bent? The results of their research may surprise you! Got any theories?

And finally, if you like to share your runs on Strava, you may have noticed the different approaches people take to sharing their posts, from the default “morning run” to a lengthy mile by mile essay. Here’s a rundown of some of the different types. Which one are you?

Happy reading,
The Running Princess  

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Week In Review – Crawling to the Finish!

So much for getting back on track with consistent workouts as the school year drew to a close. Early in the week I got hit with symptoms which were either some kind of virus/cold my body fought off, or a product of complete and utter exhaustion. Either way I felt like death warmed up, set aside any effort to train and instead limped my way to the end of the week and the summer holidays.

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 4 miles
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – rest
Friday – rest
Saturday – rest
Sunday – 4 miles

It all started out fine. I was about as refreshed as one can feel in the final week of term and enjoyed a relaxing Hatha class on Monday evening. I’ll not have another for about 3 weeks, so made the most of the time on my mat.

Even Tuesday morning was fine. I ran my usual 4 miles and felt better than last week. Naively, I thought I might actually make it through this last week, but later in the day I began to feel a bit of a scratch in my throat accompanied by the lethargy and achy feeling I usually get ahead of a cold. Certain I was just too tired (I get the same symptoms when I get really tired) I went to bed to sleep it off.

But this time sleeping it off didn’t work and I didn’t feel at my best heading to work on Wednesday. No coughs or sniffles, just a sore throat and those same aches so I was straight out of there at the end of the day and within an hour of the school bell I was tucked up in my bed and slept for a couple of hours. I actually did feel a bit better when I woke up so had some food, nipped out for my sports massage then had a bath before bed (where I had no problem getting right back to sleep!).

I knew a run on Thursday morning would be a bad idea so didn’t even bother setting my alarm. Instead, I got a bit more sleep then headed off for the last full day of the school year. I definitely felt better, but not back to 100% and actually by the end of the day was feeling really tired again so I skipped yoga and had another sleep. I woke up when Steve got home so that was my cue to get up and have dinner. My sister popped in for a bit then I opted for another bath before bed. And despite all the extra (and lengthy!) naps I had no problem sleeping so must have REALLY needed it as that’s not like me.

Funnily enough, I felt quite a lot better on Friday morning (nothing to do with knowing I only had a half day to work, I’m sure!).

I had a couple of classes first thing but then was done not just for the day or week, but the WHOLE SCHOOL YEAR!!! I got tidied up and enjoyed a bit of space to chat to colleagues before the bell – I even had a visitor!

For the first time in days I didn’t have a nap as soon as I got home – in fact I think I stayed awake for the whole rest of the day! The weather was good for much of the week and I was able to spend a couple of hours in the garden reading during the afternoon. So nice after weeks of pretty “meh” weather.

I had considered parkrun on Saturday morning, but was still feeling really worn out and decided it was much more important to me to feel refreshed and able to run/train lots in the coming weeks than to squeeze in one parkrun that might result in me later feeling ill or being more prone to injury. I’ve no idea where this startling level of common sense came from, but I also knew it was the right decision when I didn’t feel too bad about missing out. Instead, I had a quiet morning getting some of my stuff tidied up then joined Steve and his brothers for a bacon croissant before going to get my hair done. Steve picked me up afterwards so we could run some errands, after which I needed a nap before an evening in front of the telly. So rock and roll haha!

By Sunday I felt ready to try a little run. I’d been keeping an eye on my resting heart rate and it was back to normal after plenty of rest. My throat was no longer sore and no other symptoms had materialised, so with a quick visit to my parents’ house needed, I decided to run there the long way round so I would have a 4 mile loop. I felt absolutely fine and probably could have done more but stuck to being sensible since I hadn’t run in a few days.

Steve was away at a race just outside of Edinburgh so with a bit of time to myself I decided it was finally time to have a go at the craft project I’ve been wanting to try since Easter. It should be noted that I don’t have an artistic bone in my body so trying something that needed craft supplies (and repeated watching of a YouTube tutorial!) was a firm step outside of my comfort zone. Presenting, my first pair of DIY mouse ears. They may not bear terribly close scrutiny, but I’m pleased with the results.

Once I had cleaned up the sequin storm from making the bow (damn, those things get EVERYWHERE!) Steve and I headed out for a refreshment.

And now with some work-free weeks stretching ahead of me, it’s time to turn my attention to my holiday – pretty sure some sun lounger time will soon sort me out!

Are you good at arts and crafts?
What are your summer plans?

Week In Review – Running Out of Oomph!

This week definitely felt a little easier than the previous couple of weeks, but it being the second last week of the school year here in Scotland meant that it felt a little bit like being at mile 18 of a marathon: the bulk of it is done and the real exhaustion is setting in, but the finish line is just that little bit too far away! Still, I made it through the week and now there’s just 4.5 days left before I can properly recharge my batteries, soak up some sunshine and get caught up on my life again! Training-wise there was a little shifting around, so here’s how things ended up:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 4 miles
Wednesday – 4.5 miles
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 10 miles

It was a quiet yoga class on Monday evening. I guess we’re at that point in the year when lots of people, especially those with kids, have lots of other commitments that take up their time, or they are away on holiday. Many of us in the class have been feeling pretty tired so we had a class designed not just to build strength and flexibility, but also to help re-energise a little. Only one more class left in this current term-time block, but my teacher hopes to have a few classes over the summer so fingers crossed I can still get my Monday night yoga fix!

On Tuesday morning I was up and out the door for my usual 4 mile run and it soon became apparent that every ounce of weariness in my body had located itself in my legs! There was no soreness or heaviness, it was just one of those days where I felt like I was wading through treacle and even a slow pace felt like hard work. At this point in the year (and with everything that’s been going on) I’m happy to recognise that this will have an impact, so rather than worry about performance I’ll simply focus on consistency, on getting outside for some fresh air and headspace while I keep my legs turning over. There’s plenty of time over the summer to sharpen up my pace once I’m feeling more rested.

That said, I actually noticed a big difference in my performance when I ran on Wednesday evening. Wednesday was our wedding anniversary and since it was a school night we opted to celebrate at home with fajitas and fizz. However I was a little concerned that this particular combination may not sit well in my digestive system when it came to an early run, so opted to run on Wednesday evening rather than Thursday morning to avoid a potentially uncomfortable (and unplanned!) “sprint finish”. I had actually spent a good part of the afternoon out on our playing fields watching sports day and miraculously it was really nice weather, so the chance to run in minimal clothing on a nice summer evening was pretty appealing. There hasn’t been much in the way of good summer weather so far this year so it was good to take advantage of the opportunity. Almost immediately, I noticed that I felt so much better  – springier and like running was a bit less effort – and my overall pace was much more pleasing too. I do like running in the evening, but the morning runs definitely suit my routine and energy levels better these days so I’ll be sticking with those for the time being.

Post-run I made the fajitas, which featured the debut of my new “tortilla warmer” which I picked up in the wondrous middle aisle of Aldi last week – surely not just me that loves a wander along there to pick up random goodies?

And Steve had made one of his signature sherry trifles for dessert. Yum!

The change to my running schedule meant that I didn’t have to get up quite so early on Thursday, but it did feel weird not to be going out for a run. The weather was still good so it would have been nice to be out early and feeling that coolness that still hints at a warmer day to come. That said, a little extra sleep was good and I still had some energy when I arrived at my Ashtanga class that evening. Sadly the regular teacher was ill so we had a “substitute teacher”. She seemed nice enough, but taught the class very differently and I don’t think I always respond well to that as my practice has adapted to suit the teacher we usually have. I was hoping to have another go at the headstand, but we didn’t do it in this class so it will have to wait another week.

I had plans on Friday evening, but since we’re close to the end of term I was able to leave work quite swiftly at the end of the day and make it back to Steve’s studio for a PT session. He managed to set up another different arm circuit for me and although I am definitely beginning to feel more strength, by the end of the session my arms were ready to give up!

After this I headed home to get showered and changed for an evening out with my mum and my sister. We were heading to the concert hall for a show by three of the male pros from Strictly Come Dancing and I’ve been looking forward to this for a while, not just because I was getting to see the dancers, but also because I knew that it would mean my summer holidays were just around the corner. My dad was the chauffeur for the evening and he picked me up in time for us to get to the concert hall for our dinner (I had chicken strips followed by a gourmet burger).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had great seats and the show was fantastic – really high energy and lots of fun banter between the guys (who were obviously playing up to a predominantly female crowd!). This show was actually quite early in the tour but you wouldn’t have known it. A fantastic evening.

Saturday was also destined to be a busy day so I “only” had time for parkrun, and had to skip running there and back. I know my body is tired so had no real aim for this run, but I ended up running a little faster than last week. Somehow my pace is still improving, no doubt because I have been very consistent lately, which I’m happy about.

We seemed to be home so quickly since we had the car, but we wanted time to get properly cleaned up since we were going to an event to celebrate the life of someone the world lost recently. It was fairly low-key, but not an occasion to be parkrun fresh!

The first part of the event took place at the top of the hill overlooking Perth so we had a slow walk up there and listened to a few people saying some words in tribute. The weather was perfect and afterwards I took a few minutes to look at the views. It’s been a while since I was up there.

Right in the middle of this photo, just below the river, is the pond where I do SUP yoga.

Then, there was a small gathering for some food and drinks. Although we were there for a sad reason, it was nice to reconnect with some people we’ve not seen in a while.

After all that exertion we both had a short nap before a relaxing evening at home.

For my Sunday run I decided on 10 miles, but was in absolutely no hurry to get out so took my time getting organised and out the door. Steve wasn’t feeling great so he got some extra sleep while I was out – totally unlike him but he was much better when I got back. It was a bit of a strange run as the temperature didn’t sound all that high and it was pretty dull, but it felt really muggy so even in shorts and a T-shirt I was absolutely dripping by the time I finished. I may have also inadvertently infiltrated an event taking place on the Inch. It was a fundraiser for the local football team where participants were encouraged to walk or run up to 3 laps (personal choice – no, I don’t understand either!) whilst wearing blue (the team colours). I had planned on running a lap as part of my route and when I got down there I noticed some marshals but nobody who seemed to be taking part in an event, so it was onto when I met someone I knew in one of the marshal roles that I found out. But as I completed my lap I found myself behind a small group walking around and since I was wearing my Edinburgh finishers’ T-shirt, which is the same blue as the football team colours, I think some people thought I was taking part as I was aware of some shouts and claps as I ran past. Oops! How do these things always happen to me? 😂

Once home it was time for the glamorous job of some housework. I’d have left it a couple of days longer, but my parents were visiting in the afternoon so I had to have everything nice and tidy. At least having visitors meant we could have tea and a slice of cake!

Now just this one, endless last week before school finishes for the summer. I keep telling myself I can make it!

Are you going on holiday this summer?
Ever had anyone think you were part of a race/event when you were simply out for a run?

Friday Finds – 21st June

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

Happy Friday one and all! This week I’m actually organised and have written this in advance as I’m spending Friday evening at a show with my mum and sister. I’m sure I’ll share more in my next Week In Review so you can watch out for that. In the meantime, here are the things that have been catching my eye lately.

I want to start with one of my favourite things: running data. I have written before about previous studies from Run Repeat and their latest study, The State of Running 2019, is a fascinating and in-depth study of global participation. For me, the things that really stand out are the findings that there are now more female runners than male (go girls!), that runners are older (good news for me!) and that travelling to race is increasingly popular (definitely something I enjoy). It’s really worth taking some time to check out the graphs and data in the report, and I bet you won’t be able to resist using the comparison tool to see how you measure up!

Next up, a little something to watch. As I’ve previously mentioned, Eliud Kipchoge is going to have another crack at the sub-2 hour marathon later this year. The more I watch Kipchoge race, the more I like him and now we have the opportunity to follow along with his preparation for the sub-2 attempt. I suspect for us mere mortals simply watching his training will be exhausting!

Ultrarunning may not be my thing, but it’s still an aspect of running that I find fascinating. Recently I’ve very much been relying on running to give me some headspace, reset my mind and process some difficult times, so when I saw this article examining the impact ultrarunning has had on the lives of the contributors, I knew it would be one I would want to share. I’m quite sure many of the benfits they discuss will apply to runners everywhere, regardless of how often or how far they run.

On the subject of ultrarunning, I recently came across this excerpt from The Rise of the Ultrarunners, a new book from Adharanand Finn. I’ve previously enjoyed reading his books and his newspaper columns, so this will no doubt be another one for my reading list.

And finally, if you enjoy movies then a movie about running will no doubt be one you want to see. I’ve come across a few bits and pieces mentioning the movie Brittany Runs A Marathon, and having watched the trailer, I’m now looking forward to having a chance to see this later in the year. Can you relate to anything here?

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

(Two) Week(s) In Review – Let’s Catch Up!

Did you miss me? Things got pretty darn busy over here for a while there and something had to give. On this occasion, I decided a short break from the blog was going to be needed as other things – including my own sanity! – had to take priority. So for the last couple of weeks I’ve been super busy with a lot of work-related stuff, but since I knew it would only be for a short time it was (mostly) ok. Now that things are more settled, I’m back and here to catch you up on some of the highlights from the last couple of weeks of training and life. Here we go!

Week 1:
Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 4 miles
Wednesday – 5k
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – 4 miles + PT session with Steve
Saturday – rest
Sunday – 10k + SUP yoga

To be honest, this is the week that really threw a spanner in the works. There was a lot of stuff going on and as you can see I moved a lot of my training around in order to fit it in. Yes, I could have set some sessions aside, but running is my chance to get fresh air and clear my head, it’s something I need to maintain good mental health and in this particular week I needed to make sure I had that time. The week actually kicked off with a day off work for a really localised holiday, and I took the chance to set work aside, relax and reset as much as I could. My yoga class at the end of the day was the perfect way to finish.

Tuesday was also pretty normal as far as training went. It was an inset day at work and I headed out before hand for a nice, steady run. To find balance, I did some home yoga at the end of the day to get moving again after a day spent sitting in meetings.

It was from Wednesday that things really changed around. This Wednesday was Global Running Day and while my current weekly plan doesn’t have me running on a Wednesday, I was keen to mark the occasion so got up to run 5k before work. It was pretty soggy, but still a nice way to begin my day. Our new school timetable began that day (we change timetable when the seniors come back from study leave as there is a month before the summer holidays) and I always find it exhausting meeting new classes and no longer having familiar groups in front of me.

After 2 days in a row of running, I didn’t run on the Thursday and instead looked forward to my Ashtanga class that evening. I had missed it the week before when I was just too tired to head out, and the week before that was a different teacher who led us through a rather different session, so I initially felt a bit rusty, but as the class went on I felt better and better. My headstand was pretty poor though!

In another change from the norm, I was up again on Friday for a run. It definitely felt odd to be running on a Friday, but still good. That evening I then went down to the studio for a PT session with Steve. I’m still wanting to work on my arms/upper body right now so he has been setting up a different circuit each week using a combination of weights, TRX and some exercises using my own body weight. Tough but worthwhile.

The reason for the Friday run was that, most unusually, I was missing parkrun on the Saturday. Sadly, this was because I was going to a funeral. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t considered a bit of tourism on the way there (I had to drive about an hour to get to the funeral location) but there was no way to make the logistics of a run followed by turning up appropriately attired and fragrant for such a sombre occasion work. This time, being at that funeral was way more important than notching up another parkrun, and I didn’t want to run later in the day as I knew I would be tired and still had all the usual Saturday chores to do. So a Saturday “off” it was,

Sunday was a much happier day. I began with a 10k run first thing and ran quite hard – clearly my body was needing to feel that sense of “aliveness” only a hard run can give you.

Then after a light breakfast and change of clothes, I was off to the outdoor centre for a SUP yoga session. Steve came along to watch so I was able to get a few photos this time.

We then had a lovely lunch in the cafe (back to my usual chicken mayo sandwich) with almost the whole SUP group before heading home to relax as I knew there was another testing week ahead of me.

Week 2:
Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 4 miles
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – 4 miles + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun sandwich
Sunday – 8 miles

This past week was a tough one. It had felt recently like the universe was being particularly cruel, and having just attended a funeral on Saturday, my week began with (almost) a morning in school followed by attending another funeral. As a tribute to someone’s life and influence, it was very fitting, but an emotional drain and hard way to spend a Monday. I accepted from that point that the week was going to feel long, that I was going to feel even more tired and that I was just going to have to do my best to keep on going. I made sure to get to my yoga class that evening, but will admit to finding the start of the class difficult as we were invited to reflect on our day and let go of the stresses and strains – my emotions were still running high and a tear or two rolled down my cheek at that point. After that, the class was a welcome distraction from everything that had happened over the previous few days.

While sleeping later on Tuesday morning might have felt good, for my own self care it was far more important that I headed out for a run. Pace was unimportant, this was a run to give me a bit of quiet time to process the previous day before going to work. I certainly felt better than I had at bedtime, but still a little emotional and needed to get on with things as a distraction. As if sensing it, one of the neighbourhood cats came over fr a “chat” when I arrived home.

I did, however, give myself a rest on Wednesday. I had an appointment in town after school so took the chance to run a few errands I hadn’t got to at the weekend then did a little home yoga when I got back to the house. A restful evening was in order after that, although there was still a little of my exam work left to do.

Once again, I was up on Thursday to run. I definitely noticed it feeling much harder to get up, but once I was out and moving it felt good.

I made it to my Ashtanga class again in the evening and enjoyed a quiet class where we could flow through the postures. I actually felt pretty good and my body felt strong, but I struggled with headstand again. It’s a while now since that one has gone well for me, and while I can accept where my body and mind are right now, I’m curious as to the cause: is it a physical issue from not doing as much yoga and other training as I have in the past, is it all in my head and I’m overthinking it, or am I simply so tired that I just don’t have the energy for a harder pose right now? It will be interesting to see how this unfolds over the summer when I’m more refreshed and have more time for training.

Miraculously, I made it to Friday and Steve was able to fit me in for a session. He had quite a tough arm workout for me this time and I REALLY felt it as I was working. While I was there, we talked about having some extra sessions in my week during the summer holidays so I can go into the autumn feeling strong. I know this will also help my running so is probably my summer goal now.

Steve was out that night so I had a quiet night with the kittens watching a bit of tv. It was just what I needed.

By Saturday morning I was feeling a bit better, and was looking forward to parkrun after missing the previous week. I opted for the parkrun sandwich to get a few extra miles in, but had no plans for how I would run parkrun itself. What with taking a little time off after the marathon and a couple of other weeks where I was running a bit easier because of other events, I felt like I had forgotten how to run fast (for me). We are still on an alternative course due to council works on the regular route and I set off at a fairly steady pace. While I’m nowhere near the sub-24 form I like to be in as I head into the summer, I was pleased to find that my 24:46 was the fastest I’ve run since late March and my fastest time over the alternative course. At least I’m making progress!

And check out the consistent pace over the first 3 miles. If I hadn’t speeded up at the end it would have been a straight line!

Afterwards, I refuelled with a delicious bacon croissant before getting the food shopping then was able to have a really relaxing afternoon to recharge a bit.

Sunday morning I got myself organised at a fairly leisurely pace then headed off for an 8 miles run. It was quite bright when I left so I had my sunglasses on, but wouldn’t you know it, as soon as I was at the furthest point from home it began raining. And when I say raining, I mean like Florida afternoons in the summer. Huge, fat drops hurtling towards the ground at a rate of knots and me in a pair of shorts and a T-shirt! I sheltered under a tree to text Steve and ask him to stick some dry stuff at the front door for me to put on when I got back and really struggled to write the message as the rain hitting the screen kept typing extra letters and making bizarre predictive text choices! I managed in the end, then didn’t need the dry things after all as the rain stopped and I had dried out by the time I got home. Typical!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had been invited to a barbecue so once we were organised we headed out there for a bit. On the way there was thunder (!) and the rain was back on, but luckily it didn’t last too long and it ended up being quite good fun – yummy food, friendly company and a photo scavenger hunt to provide a bit of a laugh. Good times!

Finally, we dropped in to see my parents and catch up over a cup of tea and slice of cake before it was time to head home and get ready for the new week.

Tell me something fun you’ve done recently.
What are your summer goals?

Week In Review – So Busy!

What a week! You know how sometimes you have weeks where you have zero headspace with so much going on? That. Between work commitments, personal commitments and my dogged determination to fit some running in, the week seemed to whip by without me having the slightest chance to think about anything else. Mind you, it did make for a fairly quick week and with four more to go before the summer holidays, I could do with quick weeks for the next month!

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – rest + sports massage
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – 4 miles + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun + SUP yoga
Sunday – 5k race (Chariots of Fire beach race)

It was back to a normal work week for me after being away doing other things for part of the week before. Having been out of school on Friday I had a little catching up to do on Monday morning but it was otherwise a decent day. We had overnight visitors (a friend of Steve’s travelling around Scotland with his children) and they arrived shortly after I got home so my yoga class was a good opportunity to get some headspace. I was actually really impressed with how well-mannered the children (aged 7 and 12) were, but even so finding space to do a little of my exam marking was a little trickier for this one night.

Because of our visitors (and possibly because I had just run a half marathon a couple of days earlier) I took Tuesday as a rest day. My legs had been a little weary first thing on Monday morning but had felt fine since and I probably would have been ok for a run but thought I would be sensible and have a day off to let my body recover. I did, rather fortuitously, have my sports massage booked that evening so that was a nice way to make sure everything felt good before my next run.

Wednesday actually ended up being another rest day because I had managed to get an appointment to get my nails done. It had dawned on me that I had polish put on for my marathon at the end of April and somehow it was about to be June! I normally get them done every 3 weeks as my nails grow really quickly and I tend to start chipping the polish, but this time the polish had lasted really well. The regrowth, on the other hand, was insane! I’m not good with having my nails too long so it was nice to get them tidied up and have a good chat. Another thing in the diary, but my best chance of a bit of time to myself on that day.

I was up early to go for a run on Thursday morning. It was my usual 4 miles and I kept it nice and easy since it was my first post-half marathon. I felt pretty good during the run but for the rest of the day I was feeling a little “off”. No particular symptoms to speak of, but by the time I got home I was feeling really sleepy and still not quite right so I decided to skip my yoga class and take it easy. By this time I had realised that my electrolytes were probably a bit off as that can make me feel kind of ropey, and sure enough drinking lots of electrolytes and having a nap meant I woke up the next day feeling brand new.

On Friday afternoon I actually headed out of school again for a CPD event at Dundee university with a couple of my colleagues. It was a really nice afternoon as we arrived in time to get ourselves some lunch in a nice cafe then the event itself – about approaches to writing – was really enjoyable and provoked a great deal of useful professional discussion. It was an example of the very sort of thing that we just never have time for yet is so valuable when we do. The session didn’t finish until after 5pm and then there were refreshments brought in (orange juice for me since I was driving) so it was a bit after 6pm before I headed off. That meant no workout this week as I was really only home in time to head out for some food.

On parkrunday Steve decided to volunteer and while I would have loved to at least run down, I knew I didn’t have time to run back home again and had to leave before Steve would finish so I ended up driving down. It was one of those runs that felt like pretty hard work, perhaps after racing last weekend and perhaps because there was a bit of a wind, but I definitely felt like I was working a lot harder than the pace I was getting. Still, I hadn’t planned on running really hard so was happy enough with 25:09 at this point.

From parkrun, I nipped home to change and mark a few papers before heading out for another session of SUP yoga. It was so calm when we headed out on the water, but wouldn’t you know, the wind whipped up again just as we got to standing postures! I was fine with the sun salutations but my body just refused to get into a warrior pose this time. Moving to standing on the board was really the first time all week that I felt any residual weariness from the half marathon in my legs, so I just accepted where my body was and carried on with the other postures, before standing to paddle back in again.

The group went for lunch in the cafe afterwards again and this time I broke away from my usual chicken mayo sandwich (my favourite on their menu) and opted for one of the specials – a chorizo and fried egg wrap with rocket and capers. It was so good!!

With that done, it was back home for a glamorous combination of food shopping, exam marking and being amused by the cats, before Steve wanted to watch the football and I decided I fancied having a bath to unwind a bit after such a busy week.

Sunday was race day, but this time we were keeping much more civilised hours. I got up when the chief spokescat declared it breakfast time, but as soon as the wee monkeys were fed I headed back to bed and Steve brought me a cup of tea which I drank whilst catching up on a few social media threads. I got up for some breakfast, got ready for the race and we left around 9:30am to drive to St Andrews (it takes about an hour to get there and it’s worth being sharp for the 12 noon race to ensure you get a good parking place!).

I’ll write a separate report on the race so I won’t say too much here, but we both had great fun. I mean what’s not to like about 5k on the beach, dressed in white and hearing that iconic movie theme, before being rewarded with a medal (which doubles as a bottle opener), fudge doughnut and specially produced beer. We both ate our doughnuts when we got back to the car and the beers went in the fridge when we got home, ready to be enjoyed in the evening.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We then had a fairly restful afternoon, although I did do a little more of my exam work. We also popped out for a coffee but since the weather had improved and I didn’t get an ice cream when I was at the beach, I opted for a Frappuccino this time. Yummy!

So there you have it. A busy week, but the weekend was loads of fun with parkrun, SUP yoga, the beach race – all involving time spent with good friends. I wonder what the week ahead will bring…

Have you ever run or raced on the sand?
What are you looking forward to right now?

Week In Review – Half Crazy!

This was an unusual week for me as my exam marking duties took me away from my normal routine, however I was still able to prepare for my half marathon on Sunday (and enjoyed having a break from the norm!).

Monday – rest
Tuesday – 4 miles
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – 4 miles + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun sandwich
Sunday – half marathon

The week began with me on the train to Glasgow to begin preparations for the exam marking process. It was a day of fairly intense discussion mixed with quite a lot of walking about as I walked from the station to the venue, the venue to my hotel and then out for a look around the shops since I had a bit of time. Since we were based in hotels I was pretty well fed:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And I was excited to find that my hotel gave you a warm cookie as a welcome. So warm it actually fell apart in my hadn’t, hence the lack of photo!

I saw this really cool street art when I was out for a walk:

And after dinner at my hotel I enjoyed a nice relaxing bath before heading to bed. Bliss!

On Tuesday morning I stuck to my usual routine of a 4 mile run, however this time I was leaving from my hotel and obviously was running somewhere different. I opted to run down to the river and head along the riverside path until my watch read 2 miles then turn and retrace my steps. I do know the centre of Glasgow fairly well, however this approach meant there was no need to map out a route in advance as I knew I wouldn’t have time. It greatly amused me that rather than my usual turning point of a lamppost, on this occasion I turned back here:

And saw this classic Glasgow sight on my return!

Once back and showered, it was time to make the most of the hotel breakfast. It was a buffet and since I take these things seriously, I made it a 3 course breakfast (because, you know, I needed the fuel after my 4 mile run haha!) and grabbed an “emergency apple” for later. Apparently I was concerned they might not feed us again lol!

The remainder of the day was back in the room discussing the exam paper… with a bit more food along the way!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When we were finished, I grabbed a drink at Hotel Chocolat with a friend before getting the train home again. In case you were wondering, the kittens were perfectly fine with Steve, however my wee fluffy mummy’s boy was definitely being a bit pathetic and was glad to have me back!

I was back in school on Wednesday, but with a lot of catching up to do and things going on outside of school, I made it a rest day.

Thursday had me back to my normal morning run. I was happy to take it easy as a kind of “mini taper” for my race, but I was also feeling a bit sluggish thanks to all the food at the beginning of the week and probably not having as much rest as I needed.

That evening I had my Ashtanga yoga class, however when I got there I found that we had someone else covering the class. That doesn’t bother me at all, however on this occasion we weren’t doing Ashtanga, it became a Hatha class. At first I wasn’t sure how I would feel about that, but as the class went on I realised that while it might not have been the class I was expecting, it was most definitely the class I needed at that particular moment and I left feeling mentally restored.

I was back on the Glasgow train the next morning as it was time for the big meeting with all the exam markers. Once again a mixed day of walking lots and thinking hard. And yes, the good food was back again (although not pictured this time – it was basically the same).

Steve was Run Director at parkrun on Saturday so I decided this was an ideal time for a parkrun “open sandwich” i.e. I ran there but not home again as I went with him to the café right afterwards. By some miracle I managed to take the run fairly easily and then enjoyed my post-run bacon roll very much.

The rest of the day was pretty busy: we got the food shopping, I went to the hairdresser and then devoted much of the rest of the day to my marking duties whilst also preparing for my race the following day. We had all been sent a not-very-encouraging email with an adverse weather warning as it was looking pretty miserable for Edinburgh on Sunday morning. To be honest, running in the rain didn’t really bother me, but I was very conscious of making sure I kept dry before and after.

With this in mind, I packed a fairly extensive selection of stuff and organised my race kit.

As forecast, the weather was pretty rotten on the drive through and I’d be lying if I didn’t say I had questioned my life choices at that point, however I knew once I got going it would be fine.

It was an “emergency hat” kind of a day!

We parked in our normal spot in town and walked over to the start area at Edinburgh university. The start area changed last year so this was my first time taking part in one of the EMF events since that change was made. I’ll post a separate race report with all the details, however I will say that I quite liked the new start as the university buildings provided proper toilets as well as some shelter from the rain.

Once organised, I headed to my start area (Steve and I were at different points) and waited to get underway. It was a little congested at first so I didn’t spot some of the main landmarks (although to be fair, most I had seen before) but once we hit the coast around 5-ish miles  I knew the rest of the route pretty well.

Prior to the race I had thought that while I might not be in PB shape, I should be fit enough for a sub-2 finish so had my watch set so I could see my overall average pace. I was ahead of the pace I needed for most of the race, but found the last couple of miles tough as we turned into a fairly brutal headwind which made it rather a battle. Still, I was pleased to cross the line with a time of 1:59:09. Yes, perhaps I could have been a minute or so faster, but this wasn’t a big goal race for me and I was quite happy with the experience.

I gathered all the post-race goodies, met Steve and collected my bag. There then ensued a rather inelegant change of clothes in the portable toilets (it was raining and I wanted some shelter for this) before heading up to the event buses to get back into town. After a half or full marathon my body craves McDonald’s (something I just wouldn’t want to eat at any other time) and the bus seemed to take forever. As it turned out, I wasn’t the only one with an eye on the Golden Arches judging by the audible disappointment as we passed by a branch. I suspect if the driver had offered to hit the drive thru there would have been little objection!

We were eventually returned to the start area, where the race crew was busy dismantling everything. It was quite cool to see this part of the event.

Of course we made a bee-line for McDonald’s, pausing only to take photos of a couple of the points of interest we had earlier run by:

Greyfriars Bobby

As ever, I can confirm that my McDonald’s was just what I needed to replace the salts and carbs. Amusingly, we followed it with a quick visit to Hotel Chocolat (well it would be rude not to!) before heading home – the ridiculous to the sublime! I took this photo on the way back to the car: I may keep missing Andy Murray’s gold postbox in Dunblane, but I did spot Chris Hoy’s in Edinburgh!

All in all, a pretty good week. Busy, but a lot of things different to the norm and sometimes that’s just what we need.

What do you crave after a long run?
Do you notice landmarks when you race or are you so focused that you never spot them?