Half Marathon Training – Week 6

Please accept my apologies for the lack of… anything interesting in this post. As I haven’t been running I didn’t want to do a day-by-day breakdown as I have done throughout my training cycle but I still wanted to keep you all semi-updated. It’s also made me wonder if all I talk about is running because I feel really boring without it in my life.

I went to pilates on Monday and then my warm yoga class on Wednesday and have found that I’m improving in both and increasing my flexibility week to week. I can even touch my toes when bending over and can almost put my hands on the ground now!

I have taken (grudgingly) a total rest from running and have been icing (with my frozen peas) my shins every night when I get in from work. I’m currently cursing every runner I see out of jealousy that they are fit and uninjured (not that I’d wish this on anyone)!

On Thursday, I relaxed a little and went out for dinner with a friend to a new restaurant chain that’s just opened in Edinburgh, Vapiano. It’s an Italian, where you order your food with the chefs and they swipe the card you’re given and then you pay for your meal by presenting your card on the way out. The concept originated in London and I can see how it’s cool down there where everything’s so fast paced and busy but up in wee Edinburgh, we just found ourselves in an empty restaurant and having to get up and order our food as well as collecting it when it was ready. Not so cool.

I was really hungover on Friday and ended up spending my entire weekend doing nothing and eating shit food. Less than the ideal scenario with a half marathon 8 weeks away! On the plus side, I discovered How To Get Away With Murder on Netflix and now I’m hooked on that which is absolutely fine as I love having a TV series to watch!

I did attempt to go for a run on Saturday but after about 10 metres I could feel the pain in my shins and knew it was just too soon!

Next week will be my comeback week. Fingers crossed!

L x

Half Marathon Training – Week 5

It’s actually pretty hard to write about something when you’re feeling so negative about that particular subject. I had a tough week last week between shin splints and then being hit with illness (again!) at the end of the week. Truth be told, I’m not feeling all that motivated to run and I’m actually pretty scared of failure right now.

Monday

No part of me wanted to run. I was still feeling pretty unwell but I decided I had to force myself. I’m not entirely sure if that was the correct decision or not – but I’m writing this now, so it can’t have been that bad! I got through 4 miles on my lunch break and after work attended my first Pilates class. I loved the class and despite not being able to breathe (without sounding like darth vader) I found that I wasn’t as terrible at it as I was at yoga. I really felt my core working hard throughout the class and I can tell already that regular practise is going to benefit me greatly.

Tuesday

Queue the breakdown. Have you all been reading my posts and waiting for this?! It happened after work. I threw a bit of a strop at not wanting to run and broke down in tears to Brandon, explaining to him that I had been hating running recently and had 0 motivation. He managed to calm me down and we went out for a little 2.4 mile jaunt. Not quite the 5 miles on my training plan but it was better than nothing.

Wednesday

I decided to take a rest day as my shins were still pretty sore. I was pretty anxious about this decision as I couldn’t tell if I was making excuses or if I was actually needing to rest. I went to a yoga class in the evening and I felt much better after leaving. I’d got a bit of a sweat on (it was warm yoga at 26 degrees) and my head was in a much better place. I also found I’d progressed from last week and I think my stretching may actually be working! This was the little bit of positive progression I’d needed…

Thursday

The anxiety about excuses vs. actual need for rest for the better of me and I decided I should do the run I’d missed the previous day. It was meant to be 4 miles. I managed 2.45 miles on my lunch break before I decided I was being an idiot and should not be running through the pain in my shins. Brandon (my saviour) picked up two small bags of frozen peas on the way home from work and I spent the night icing my shins (and drowning my sorrows in HaloTop ice cream!)

Friday

Another rest day. I just need to keep it together in my head and stay sensible with my training. I know that right now I need to rest my legs or my shins are just going to worsen and I’ll be out for longer. No running. Lots of ice and compression is what’s on the cards for the next few days. Brandon and I had a relaxing evening at the Dominion cinema – a posh cinema in Edinburgh with reclining sofas! We went to see Den of Thieves. It was a great film (8/10) and lovely to spend an evening out, not worrying about an early morning run and pigging out on goodies!

Saturday

We planned another date day. I have so much time for dates whilst I’m not running! If you live in Edinburgh and haven’t been to Bross Bagels in Portobello, STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING RIGHT NOW AND GO! It’s a quirky little shop inspired by Montreal (the bagel capital of the world) and their bagels are to die for. Brandon and I both opted for ‘The Big Apple.’ Anything that involved pastrami, cheese and gherkins has my name written all over it! After the brunch of dreams, we did our weekly shop, finally managing to bag the PB cup and cinnamon roll HaloTop flavours! Result!! Then we visited family and headed home to chill out before my big day on Sunday.

Sunday

Day 3 of no running. Except I’m still eating like I’m logging some serious miles. I was up at 6.30am to head to Stirling for my JogScotland Jog Leader course. I was so excited but nervous too. I didn’t know what to expect from the course but I needn’t have been nervous at all. Any doubts I had about being inexperienced were soon firmly squashed when I got into it and just immersed myself in the day and its tasks! It was absolutely fantastic and I genuinely feel like I’ve gained so much confidence and knowledge. I’m now looking forward to getting my running group up and running! (I love running puns!)

Overall, it’s been a pretty mixed week with both highs and lows. I’m delighted with the progress I’ve made in yoga, I tried pilates for the first time (and loved it) and I ended the week on a high with gaining my Jog Leader qualification. All of these things and the prospects they present, excite me. I don’t know where I’m going to be in my yoga practise in 6 months time, nor do I know where I’ll be with my running group (hopefully in the middle of nowhere on a great long run). As for the lack of running, I’m gutted but know I have to be sensible and think about the future rather than the short term.

I’m continuing with icing my shins, focusing on resting and stretching my muscles and I’ll just have to wait and see what next week brings.

L x

Half Marathon Training – Week 4

It’s 11 weeks to go until my first half marathon which also happens to be my next race so with no other races planned, I’ll be giving 100% commitment to my training runs. It’s tempting to sign up for other races in February and March but it means messing around with my training plan to make sure I’m hitting mileage and maximising rest on the days I need it most! I just don’t want to be doing that as the half marathon is my focus! I’ve also got a lot planned outside of running in the coming months so it would just be too much to juggle it all.

Monday

I took a rest day after I neglected it on Sunday last week. I could feel the familiar niggle of shin splints on my left leg and I didn’t want to jeopardise the rest of my runs for the week. Brandon and I got a takeaway pizza and sat and enjoyed a nice glass of red before he heads down south with work for the week!

Tuesday

I ran 4 miles in the morning. The pizza and wine was not the best pre-workout fuel! My run felt heavy (probably because I felt heavy) and I just could not settle into a rhythm. After work I went along to (dragged myself to) my third ever yoga session and my first for months. I really enjoyed the ‘Flow Yoga’ class and am looking forward to incorporating regular classes into my routine alongside running to increase my flexibility and stretch off these tight muscles of mine. I was a complete beginner in that class and was surrounded by other women bending and twisting themselves into unimaginable positions. It’s hard to challenge yourself when you are utterly terrible at something but as long as I stick at it, I know I’ll improve and those improvements will only benefit me. I have a long road ahead with my yoga practise – but luckily I quite like long roads!!

Wednesday

Anyone who says that yoga is not intense enough for them or ‘not really exercise’, etc, has clearly never done a yoga class! I woke up feeling slightly sore, most likely due to the fact I was engaging muscles I didn’t even know existed! I went to the gym after work to do my 3 mile run on the treadmill but could unfortunately only run 1.2 miles due to shin splints giving me bother. I was going to just power through and finish the run but decided it would be better in the long run (pun not intended) to give my body the rest it needs. After a good foam rolling session, I left the gym feeling pretty disappointed.

Thursday

I really needed a rest day given the current situation with my shin splints. After work I had a sports massage and felt much better afterwards! I then went home and baked a banana loaf – it was my first attempt and pretty yummy too. This may well be a favourite for a quick pre or post run snack!

Friday

I had planned a 6am run but I woke up feeling absolutely awful! How can I possibly have this cold/flu bug again?! I ran on my lunch break instead as I wanted to get it out the way due to our plans in the evening. I was feeling pretty bunged up but I managed. After work Brandon and I went to his Mum’s to join family for a Burn’s Supper. My difficult run was worth it for the haggis!

Saturday

After throwing up all night, my 5 mile run was put firmly on hold! I had no sleep and no energy. I knew that I wasn’t just making excuses and had to put my health first on this occasion.

Sunday

It was another planned rest day so I didn’t have to feel guilty about skipping a run – thank god! I shouldn’t feel guilty anyway but after missing so many runs so early in my training programme it’s just starting to feel as though things are spiralling out of my control a little bit!

My week ended on just 9.2 miles. I am now very very worried about how this training cycle is going to go. I’m trying not to let the fear/anxiety get the better of me but it’s hard when things are just going tits up.

I hope you’ve all had a better week than I have!

L x

Half Marathon Training – Week 3

I’m not even going to jinx myself by writing a positive message about my training cycle here! The goal is to get through it and complete my race calendar injury free…

Monday

We all rise to the news that it is blue Monday – the most depressing day of the year… without a single piece of scientific evidence to prove it. In actual fact, it was named by Sky Travel in 2005 as part of an press release. However, being part of a generation highly influence by the media, it’s hard to wake up and be told you’re meant to be sad and then not be sad. But, I did it. I had a great day and my 3 miles on the treadmill after work went swimmingly (I ran quite fast) which I attribute to the fact that I was trying my hardest to be positive!

Tuesday

My first 6am rise in god knows how long! I had another pretty quick treadmill run. 4 miles before breakfast does make you feel like a bit of a hero! I then started to think that I’ve not been working hard enough during my runs in the last few months and settling into a pace when I was capable of much faster times.

Wednesday

I got up at 6am for the second time in a row which has been pretty unheard of all winter. I was tired out by the time I got to the gym after a long walk up a hill in the snow! My shoulders were then feeling pretty tense and tight during my 3 miles but I got it done and logged another pretty quick time! I’m feeling much better about my pace in comparison to last week when I was sick.

Thursday

It was rest day and I used my free evening after work to go give my eyebrows some TLC. Is it just me who feels like a new woman after an eyebrow wax?

Friday

Scientific studies confirm that late night cereal munching leads to some pretty good times on the treadmill! Another 6am start, another walk to the gym in the snow and I bagged 4 miles in just under 31 minutes! Running is starting to feel a little bit easier again after being ill in week 1 and still recovering for most of week 2. Brandon and I went out for a burger after work and I enjoyed every bite without feeling guilty!

Saturday

I was actually slightly hungover when I woke up to get ready to head to my first ever Parkrun. I had planned 3 miles. It had been pretty icy and I stupidly didn’t check to see if it would 100% still be running. I got there with a guy from work and it was cancelled… I was gutted, especially after making all that effort so early on a Saturday morning with a bit of a sore head. We ended up running/walking 6 miles home. I might try again next week!

Sunday

I was meant to take a rest day but with a lot going on in my personal life, I needed to clear my head and couldn’t resist lacing up my trainers. I ran 3 miles and whilst the effort level feels the same, I’m getting faster! After Saturday’s extra miles I’d run 6 miles more than I intended to this week and ignored one of my rest days. I’m just hoping my legs don’t punish me for this. In the evening, Brandon and I took a very important trip to Tesco (which is not our local supermarket) to get our hands on some HaloTop (a healthy ice cream alternative which has just arrived in the UK). We tried the mint chip and chocolate cookie dough flavours… The verdict? It will change your life!

Have any of you gone along your local Parkrun before? Have you tried HaloTop yet?

L x

Race Recap: SimplyHealth Great Edinburgh Winter Run 2018

Last Saturday I ran a PB around the 5k course at Holyrood Park in the Great Winter Run (part of the Great Run series) so I was excited to tell you all about it! I’ve now exhausted Instagram spamming so I have had to resort to another outlet to relay (see what I did there) my excitement!!

With the elite XC race being shown on the BBC following the 5k which was open to the public, I expected great things from this race and it didn’t disappoint.

The Great Run website is so easy to navigate and has a lot of information on their races, as well as training plans, not to mention the all important results and photo sections! I signed up pretty early on and recieved my race pack in the post a few months prior to the event – it’s ok, I’m a really organised person and have a ‘safe place’ to keep these until race day!

Included on the bib number were some tear-off vouchers for retailers, including Run4It, which I thought was a nice touch.

Now for race day itself…

I woke up and actually didn’t really want to run this race. I was nervous and still not back to full fitness. I had only just been scraping sub-30 minute runs in training throughout the week due to the lurgy I was recovering from so I wasn’t best pleased at the thought of ‘just finishing’ the course, rather than racing it.

I got there just before the assembly area on the start line opened and obviously then my body decides I need a nervous wee (sorry tmi)! My only little moan about the organisation of the race was that there wasn’t enough toilets! The queue was massive and I was really stressing about missing the start of the race…

When it was time to take to the start line, I got a little burst of energy and I was really enjoying the atmosphere! I could sense that those around me were hungry for a new PB or a good position within the race and this got me fired up a little. Seeing the club and fast paced runners just in front of me also gave me some motivation – as I’m not far off running within those times. Hopefully one day I’ll be wearing a stripey bib number!

We set off and the pace was around a 7.30 minute mile. This was faster than I was used to running and as we were about to hit a hill, I was pretty cautious about not getting swept along with the crowds and burning myself out too quickly, but as we made our way up the hill on Arthurs Seat (an elevation gain of approximately 366ft according to my Garmin) the pace slowed naturally. My legs and my lungs were so glad of this! My main goal on the hill was to just keep moving and not stop to walk no matter how slow this meant I was ‘running’.

At the top of the hill (after about 1.5km) the course flattens out and I tried to speed up but my legs were full of lactic acid and were not obeying orders! I kept going as fast as I could willing my legs to ease off. Eventually, around the 2.5km mark they did and I was able to speed up over the flat.

Luckily, I knew the route well and this meant I could afford to push my pace as I knew the downhill section was coming up. This is where everyone basically flies downhill for about 1km until the last 600m flattens out before the finish line.

I was seriously struggling by the 3km mark. I had a stitch, my lungs were heaving to get enough air but I wasn’t willing to ease off the gas! The hill offered some respite but not enough and when I reached the flat at the bottom I thought my legs were going to give up and I was going to lose pace altogether. I did slow somewhat and was worried I’d given it everything and didn’t have anything left for the last push to the finish line. It was only when I saw the crowds and timer clock with ’22:something’ showing in the distance that I was like ‘come on you can do this, don’t slow down’ and I gave it everything I had.

I passed the finish line knowing my time was ’23:something’ but I had been too distracted with moving quicker that I hadn’t caught the time on the clock as I passed under it. I then proceeded to retch into my hands as I thought I was going to be sick!! But I’d done it… I chased my PB and I got it! Now I just need to perfect the finish line pose…

If you absolutely hate hills (more than you hate burpees) I wouldn’t recommend entering this race but if you’re up for a bit of a challenge and fancy seeing a bit more of Edinburgh, then it’s a no brainer!

Have any of you run any of the Great Run series before?

L x

Half Marathon Training – Week 2

After a brutal week of being unwell, I now have week 2 of marathon training under my belt. The same belt I am now able to tighten by a few notches again after my Festive indulgence which is a result in itself! My body is feeling semi-normal. Emphasis on the semi.

Monday

I was looking forward to getting back to running after the awful flu-type bug I’d been struck down with last week. Even though I wasn’t feeling 100% and could have easily talked myself out of getting back to the pavements, I went after work and felt 10000x better for it. The 3 miles I had planned were in the bag.

Tuesday

This was a planned rest day… but my brain was like, ‘a rest day only one day after you’ve been back into your normal routine after a week off, say what?!’ so I convinced Brandon to join me for a run (there was no way I could have talked myself into it alone). We ran 2.35 miles and it was hard. I was tired, my legs felt heavy and I just wasn’t over my cold/flu thing. I should listen to the plan and rest more often!

Wednesday

I had a really bad day at work – nothing actually happened really but I just felt angry so I decided to run my 3 miles on my lunch break. Bad idea. The run went terribly. My legs felt heavier than they did on Tuesday and then my hair bobble fell out and I had to run a mile and a half with my hair (I have a lot of hair) flapping around all over the place. This then preceded to make me even more annoyed and I had an even worse afternoon (for no real reason) in work. A bath with epsom salts and a Lush bath-bomb in the evening seemed to help. Does this make me a basic bitch?

Thursday

A very much needed rest day and it’s only week 2!! I used this time wisely and started watching Celebrity Big Brother from the beginning of the series. Please note the sarcasm! Now I’m hooked on another thing that’s going to distract me from actual life stuff.. I watched 7 episodes in a row and didn’t get to sleep until well after midnight!

Friday

The 6am alarm was not pretty given the new addiction to CBB which kept me up so late the night before. However, I was determined to head home straight after work so I sucked it up, got up and ran 4 miles before work. I didn’t even have time for a coffee first! It wasn’t the fastest run but it felt pretty good and I had gotten my mojo back. By mojo, I mean feeling superior to everyone else because I ‘got stuff done’ before 8am.

Saturday

I was pretty nervous to be running in the Great Edinburgh Winter Run after my really slow week of running. I wasn’t back to feeling 100% and my feet felt like lead on the end of my legs. I wanted a PB so badly and it turns out I had nothing to worry about! The atmosphere on race day pulled me through and I ran my fastest time over 5k in 23:24. I was absolutely elated! It was the hardest I’d ever ran and I felt like my lungs were going to explode but I just kept telling myself to keep going! I’m really glad I wasn’t captured on the BBC retching at the finish line…

Sunday

It was another rest day! I hadn’t woken up with sore legs from running in forever but my god they hurt! Maybe that’s what happens when you actually run fast? I wouldn’t know… Brandon and I went for a 3 mile walk along the North Queensferry Coastal Route and it was great to stretch off my legs and get some steps in! The view was gorgeous. We also had a well deserved Galaxy and Honeycomb McFlurry afterwards and some cake after dinner. I’m making the most of my new found ‘life is for living’ attitude!

I’m delighted to be rounding off a pretty average (terrible) week of training. Despite getting my 13 miles done as planned, plus a couple extra, it just hasn’t felt like a great week. However, every mile counts and I’m going into next week on a high after my race on Saturday! 12 weeks to go!

L x

Why I’ve Deleted MyFitnessPal

Disclaimer: This post may contain a number of contradictions given that I just got a Garmin for Christmas and am now obsessed with the statistics delivered by this fancy piece of wrist tech.

Anyways, back to the original point of this post…

For those of you who religiously weigh your rice krispies and log a 234536 day streak on MyFitnessPal, you must be thinking I’ve lost it! Even I thought I’d lost it when I first considered the idea. How could I even contemplate deleting an app I’d used on and off (mostly on) for around 4 years, an app I’ve recommended multiple times on this blog (and still do recommend – it’s great!), an app which brings me back down to reality when I’m like ‘that portion of pasta was only like 200 kcals’ when it was actually 1000 and enough to feed a family of 4! Ok, that’s a slight exaggeration but you get my gist.

It actually wasn’t that easy to hold the little square for 10 seconds and press the cross when all my apps starting vibrating. It took me 3 or 4 days to actually do it.

Now here’s why it had to go…

It brought back far too much obsessive behaviour into my life. The kind of behaviour I’ve worked really hard over the last 2 and a bit years to control.

I loved logging low numbers and then entering my runs which would shoot my ‘calories left’ number way up! I was weighing everything that passed my lips, questioning if I should have another cup of tea or even allow myself 1 cup with milk and sugar to begin with (the answer is yes, you should always have another cup of tea especially if you’re not out drinking like everyone else in December) and then it spiralled.

I think I went out twice during December, barely drank and did not allow myself to indulge in any chocolate (except my daily advent chocolate). I didn’t want to have to log these things on MFP, so I chose going home to my flat after work (alone, as Brandon was away with work) instead of enjoying time with my friends over the Festive period. I was smashing the gym and logging a lot of miles, but I was also disconnected from the rest of the world and their celebrations.

I then realised I was weighing myself daily again – again, so I could update my weight on MFP every couple of days. I was even weighing myself sometimes in the middle of the night if I got up to go pee, which is quite frankly ridiculous.

The only positive of dealing with this for such a long period of time is I know when I’m being an idiot now… and I’m reasonable enough (with myself) to make changes to stop myself when this behaviour rears its ugly head every now and again.

Why was I doing all this? 

A goddamn dress!! Yes, you did read that correctly. The dress I’d planned to wear for New Year’s Eve. It was a size 6 and I didn’t want to look fat in it. Idiotic, I know but it seemed to make sense to me at the time.

I actually ended up binge eating a lot over Christmas (probably because I was so desperate to have all the things I’d forbidden for so long) and guess what? I didn’t look fat in the dress… And that was 7lbs heavier than I’d been before Christmas!

Some of you reading this may think I’m crazy but sometimes even when I know I’m being silly, I just can’t stop myself… even when logical Louise is right in the back of my head screaming and telling me to do the opposite of what I’m doing!

Long story, short…

I decided to delete MyFitnessPal in a bid to rid myself of this controlling behaviour.

I’m ditching weighing food for now and I’m going to be eating intuitively (within reason) whilst maintaining a healthy diet and my current training plan. I actually favour good, healthy foods over the processed ‘bad for you’ kind anyways – I just don’t need to tell an app every time I eat them!

Plus, I’m training for two half marathons this year so I don’t need to be obsessively worrying about what I’m eating! I’m burning a lot of calories and my body needs fuel if I’m going to complete my goals.

Since deleting the app I’m much happier! No more hangry Louise!! I’ve been eating bigger breakfasts and am taking an extra snack to work to give me fuel for running after work or on my lunch break. I’ve also noticed that I’m not absolutely starving by lunch time. I even ate some of Brandon and I’s home baking the other night. We made salted caramel brownies and chocolate chip cookies and I can now confirm that you may see me as the winner of The Great British Bake Off 2018. Before, I would have made Brandon taste all the goodies and given away the rest, so it feels like a small victory!

This is not to say that MyFitnessPal is in anyway responsible for my behaviour or damaging to the user. It’s actually a very useful tool for tracking macros, accountability and especially for those just starting out, as a tool to see exactly what you are eating! It’s just not something I want to be doing right now.

Have you found yourself in a similar position recently where something you once swore by just isn’t working for you anymore?

L x

Half Marathon Training – Week 1

Lol.

I could end this post there… but I won’t! Instead, here’s a little account of how my first week of 2018 went!

Monday

It was New Year’s Day and I woke up feeling not that hungover from the night before and I contemplated just popping out for a quick 3 miles but as my training plan had a scheduled rest day I said to myself just follow the plan and rest! So I rested… and ate Chinese! It was total heaven but I was eager to get back into my normal routine.

Tuesday

As I was going back to work the following day this was my last leisurely lunchtime run. Anyone who’s schedule allows for this regularly – I envy you! Anyway, it turns out Chinese and chocolate provide great fuel and I smashed a 3 mile run on the treadmill followed by a 45 minute spin class. The spin class was unplanned but I hadn’t done one in ages and when I still had a lot of energy left after my run, I just quite fancied it! The 700-odd calories that I burned didn’t hurt either. I felt great afterwards and ready for the rest of the week. I was back!!

Wednesday

This is where it all went downhill. My first day back to work and I woke up feeling like I’d swallowed knives in the middle of the night. My throat and my chest were agony. I had to skip my planned 3 miles. I only just about made it through work.

Thursday

It only got worse from there. Luckily, Thursday was a rest day on my plan so I’d technically only missed one run so far! I went into work and as I was so unwell, my boss gave me the Friday off to recover.

Friday

Another 3 miles skipped. I was off work and this was actually the worst day of this dreaded lurgy so I was glad of the rest. Brandon was unwell too but we managed to nip out later in the day and get a big food shop. A fridge stocked full of veggies to aid recovery and lots of healthy food for the following week when we were better – perfect! Then I lay on the sofa and ate half a packet of biscuits… I just wanted to run by this point!!

Saturday

I was still unwell. Possibly better than Friday but there was still no way I was getting out to run! I offered to go to the Post Office for Brandon just to get outdoors and get some steps in. I tend to get really claustrophobic if I’m in the flat all day. Netflix is now my best friend. By this point I’d watched a a number of very inspiring  documentaries from various different ones about the Reebok CrossFit Games to Finding Traction (an account of a woman’s quest to beat the men’s record on the The Long Trail – a 273 mile trail in Vermont). If I couldn’t work out myself, I was going to watch other people do it. This was another scheduled rest day anyway.

Sunday

Finally I felt like I was starting to get a little better but a pounding headache and a niggly feeling in my chest meant I wasn’t quite ready to lace up my trainers yet. I asked Brandon what he thought and despite hoping he’d say ‘run’ I knew he was right in telling me to rest for 1 more day. I had to skip my 3 miles again but I got myself prepared for the week ahead and I was feeling more positive.

When deciding whether on not to work out when you’re unwell, common sense and knowing your own body goes a long way. However, there’s a little rule that I’ve read about in various different articles/running magazines, etc called the ‘neck rule’. Basically, it states that if your symptoms are above the neck (runny nose, headache, etc) you’re most likely ok to work out if you feel like you can, perhaps dropping the intensity and duration of your workout slightly. However, if your symptoms are below the neck (congestion in your chest, fever, feeling achy etc) then it’s probably best to rest up as it’s most likely a sign of flu or something more serious than a head cold. Working out when you feel like that can increase your risk of dehydration and knock your immune system further – not a good idea! This is obviously just a guide and one that helped me to make the most sensible decision for me but you should do what you feel is right for you. Equally, whilst many people push through illness and ignore all the signs they should be taking a few days off you also don’t need to feel pressured into working out just because an article says you should feel fine. Rest is never going to hurt you.

In total, I missed 3 x 3 mile runs this week. It was frustrating with it being my first week back to normality and I wanted to dive right in. But, I should know by now… things don’t always go to plan. Is the 9 miles I lost going to have any massive impact on my training for this half marathon? I very much doubt it. I have every confidence in myself that I made the right decision in resting up and I’m looking forward to next week!

Do you find it hard to take time off training when you’re unwell?

L x

2018 – Contemplation, Reflection and Goals

I spent a lot of 2017 contemplating if I was on the wrong path in my life. I know that I’ve never been doing ‘what I love’ because I avoid conversations about work and I am unfortunately one of those people who live for the weekend. I count the days from Monday to Friday and at 5pm on Friday it finally feels like I’m free. I have this same sense of freedom when I have a break from work approaching. But it’s not just that I’m excited for a long lie (lol, what’s that?), it goes much deeper than that. It’s more like what I’m doing for the majority of my time is not enough for me and I’m constantly asking myself, am I cut out for the 9-5 desk job?

It’s always suited me perfectly because I can fit in all the other activities I want to be doing around work, but then I wonder, is there a way that these things could be the central focus of my day to day life, whilst still earning a living? We see it all the time on social media where people give up their day jobs to pursue their passions. What I have promised myself to look into this year is; how realistic is it? With a mortgage to pay, I have to consider my income more carefully when thinking about going back to study or starting something from the ground up. I can’t shirk my financial responsibilities and this is one thing you don’t see on Instagram; what did these (now) successful people have to do to get there? Was there struggle on their journey or did it all just fall into place as it looks?

It’s not necessarily that I’ve waited until the New Year to start thinking about my career, but it’s as good a time as any. With life being a lot quieter in January I’m able to think clearly and put the appropriate plans in place to take action (if any is to be taken).

A new year is a time where the majority of people feel like they have a fresh start to focus on their ‘resolutions’ or goals. The important thing to remember is that each goal should come with an action plan to achieve it, otherwise you’re setting yourself up for complete disappointment. Dream big but keep things realistic. I have found that smaller, short term goals allow me to work more effectively towards a larger long time goal.

So, what are my goals for 2018? 

  1. Finish a Half-Marathon. Achieving this starts with signing up and I’ve signed myself up to 2 this year! I’ve got my training plans written out and if the injury gods allow, I’ll be smashing this goal in April.
  2. Run a sub-25 minute 5k. I want to push myself to improve on my current times (which admittedly haven’t been improving much at all recently). Have I reached my limit? I don’t know but I’m going to find out.
  3. Climb a Munro. After getting into hill-walking last year and thoroughly enjoying and experiencing the great outdoors this seemed like an obvious one for me. First step; get myself a new pair of walking boots.
  4. Read 30 books. It works out at 1 book every week and a half to 2 weeks. I think it’s a perfectly achievable goal as an avid reader and it will also encourage me to record what I’m reading and hopefully to pick up some new things I wouldn’t usually read.
  5. Bake a cake. I got a stand mixer for Christmas and I’m definitely a beginner on the baking front. I have tried to challenge myself in the kitchen and my cooking is coming along, so I want my baking abilities to follow suit. Plus, I think baking a cake for someone or a special is occasion is super cute.

I’ll likely come back to these and re-evaluate throughout the year, hopefully ticking them off and adding more!

What are your goals for 2018? Do you set yourself New Year’s resolutions?

L x

Festivities and Fitness

With the Festive season now pretty much in full swing it can be easy to get distracted by the clever marketing of the not-so-healthy indulgent goodies! Trips to the supermarket at this time of year can be torture. Nights out with lots of drinking and eating involved become more frequent and sometimes you don’t want to miss out.

You don’t have to worry. These things don’t mean you have to de-rail the fitness train. I get people ask me, ‘how do you stay on track over Christmas?’

The honest answer is; I haven’t always. However, this December I am currently at my lowest weight in 2017 and I’m consistently training 5 or 6 days per week. My training has not suffered for a number of reasons.

  1. I love it. In fact, I love training and running more than I love chocolate, cake and ice-cream. Say what?! Ok, maybe not at the time but my appreciation when I lose myself in a long run or the feeling of contentment afterwards trumps the cake high hands down! Looking after myself is what makes me happy. I might not be getting up at 5.30am like I was in the summer months but I’m making adjustments and going to the gym to run on the treadmill after work instead! It’s been -4 here in Edinburgh!
  2. I’ve worked at my goals all year. I’ve stayed true to my goals and put all the steps in place to achieve them for the last 2 years, so why would I throw them out the window in one month… just because that particular month typically involves lots of food and drinks?! I’ve also set new goals for 2018 and they are spurring me on to work even harder!
  3. I’m learning to accept myself and prioritising me. If I don’t want to drink, I don’t have to just because others are. This is something I’ve struggled with in the past and always thought I needed alcohol to have a good time. I’m realising now that I don’t but I also don’t have to miss out by staying in. By not drinking excessively (or at all), I’m prioritising what makes me happy (getting up to run the next day) over what everyone else would have to say about my lack of drinking! Do what you want and don’t jeopardise yourself or your happiness to please others.

With regards to dieting in December, it’s not necessarily going to be easy. Especially, if like me you don’t have the strongest willpower around chocolate and there’s a chance you could be swayed off track. My problem is that 1 chocolate could lead to a binge, so I find it best to avoid ‘treats’ as much as possible. This is something I’m working on. In fact, the advent calendar chocolate is working really well for me. I get one chocolate a day but there’s no more after that – even if I wanted it as I refuse to open the windows on the wrong days.

There’s also more likely to be temptations of the chocolate variety circulating the office, compared with June/July when everyone’s eating salads and kale chips to get ‘beach ready’. A 3-course Festive meal for your work Christmas night out, drinks and meals out with friends and then the hangover cures…

These calories can all add up (and inevitably will result in weight gain) if you allow this be become the norm 2 or 3 times a week at this time of year, but you can minimise the damage. How?

Brandon and I went to my former place of work The Dome, in Edinburgh last weekend for a Festive lunch with our Mums. The three course menu was full of rich indulgent options and I didn’t want to restrict myself too much. Here’s what I did for damage control;

  • I went for a run in the morning before lunch. A 5k run typically burns anywhere between 350-400 calories depending on speed/time etc, giving me a bit of leeway with the extra calories!
  • Pre-planning your daily intake around this meal can really help to reduce your calorie consumption for the day. If you know you’re going to eat 1500 in one meal, it’s a good idea to reduce the number of calories you consume in your other meals. I had two Weetabix with milk for breakfast after my run (around 250 kcals) and as we weren’t actually that hungry in the evening afterwards, I just had two slices of wholemeal toast with raspberry jam (again, only 250 kcals). On a normal day I would obviously usually consume more calories for dinner, but I did not need them after allowing myself more for lunch.
  • I opted for the fish main course, rather than the typical high-calorie Christmas dinner. I’m saving that for Christmas Day at my Mum’s! You can’t beat your homemade Christmas dinner anyway! Whilst the fish option still had a saffron butter and was most likely cooked in oil (not how I’d typically serve it at home), it will still be much lower in calories and fat than the other options; beef, lamb and full turkey dinner.

Then, this week I had a drinks reception in my office and my Christmas night out. Did I have a drink and eat dessert? Yes. Did I gain weight? No.

It’s all about everything in moderation. Don’t write off the entire month of December just because of 3 or 4 nights out where you may be out of your usual routine. Equally, don’t restrict yourself on these nights.

Enjoy the Festive Season!

L x