Rave, rave, rave

I was thinking of doing a Rants and Raves post but actually I couldn’t really find much to rant about. What a problem eh!

I am in such a happy place right now. My life seems to be floating along so nicely! I know this is mostly due to changing jobs and changing up my routine but it really has made me a much happier person.

Rave: Speaking of routines, so as you probably know along with running, I love going to the gym as well. I enjoy the different type of workouts I can get; focusing on strength training and making myself stronger. After moving into my parent’s house I realised I needed to change my gym as it was now too far away to make logical sense.

I did a bit of hunting. I briefly, VERY briefly, considered joining a ridiculous expensive gym right next to work…and then found a far cheaper and 24/7 gym on the way to work. This was perfect because a) I don’t want to spend a fortune on some fancy shmancy gym which probably will have a ratio of 10:1 cardio to weights ratio and b) I like to go SUPER early. I’m not an evening gym person and I like starting the day with a workout. Plus going early means beating any crowds.So the gym I found (called 24/7 Fitness) is SO good. It has several different rooms, which I quite like. A room that’s like a Crossfit room with hanging ropes, TRX’s, a rower and a climbing frame type thing and lots of mat areas with free weights and dumbbells. It has another room focused on chest presses and chest isolation machines. Another one focused on leg weights with squat racks etc. and then a room with just free weights and benches. It also has a “women’s only” area… lots of machines, all pink (*sighs*) – at least it’s not just full of cardio machines, eh! And a few other rooms with more machines and then cardio equipment. It is a bit shabby but I’m not there to admire the paintwork so it suits me fine.I drive there after walking Alfie, do my thing and then shower and get ready there. Other than making me get super organised the night before with packing what I need to take with me (so far no forgotten bra yet) but it’s saved me so much time sitting in traffic as I’m past all the busy stuff before the gym and then it’s a quick 10 mins from the gym the rest of the way. What a win!

Rave: Finding the most comfy and well-fitting jeans! As a runner my legs tend to have problems with fitting into jeans (hey there strong thighs). It’s mainly just the ratio of my body I guess. I’m sure non-runners feel this exact pain as well because, let’s be honest, we all have different shapes, lumps and bumps.I don’t regularly shop in Top Shop as it’s a bit…young?… for me. It’s like when you scroll too far on the Forever21 website and you go, “really, who actually wears this?”. But Top Shop have consistently done be well when it comes to jeans. I like that they do a waist measurement and a leg measurement. I popped quickly in there one day after work (SO MUCH MORE TIME IN LIFE!) and saw a pair that looked nice along with a lovely jumper and didn’t bother trying them on as I was heading to Nando’s with a friend. I could return them at the weekend if they didn’t fit so it wasn’t an issue.

BUT MY GOD. They fit like a glove, AND are super comfy. I love them.

Rave: Muffin market research… it was such a stroke of luck that this happened on the Wednesday. Any other day and I probably wouldn’t have seen it. But on a Wednesday I go downstairs to the Starbucks and was thus able to spot the market research table that had been set up…Muffins! Muffins galore! They had a load of different samples for people to try of either lemon, chocolate or blueberry muffins. You had to give your preference of muffin in terms of texture, taste and appearance. I mean, it was a tough job but I stepped up to the bar. I probably ate about four muffins in total. I was surprised at how much I quite enjoyed the chocolate muffins. Normally I’m not a big fan (well, actually I’m normally not a big muffin fan in general but they were free…). Some of the chocolate muffins had this delicious chocolaty oozy middle which worked against the dryness issue that muffins often face. Delicious!

Rave: New trainers. To put my work discount to good use I bought a pair of these ASICS Gel-Exalt. I get on well with ASICS and they’re a great colour.It’s funny because as I was packing before I moved back to my parents I actually found a pair of Adidas Boosts (Supernovas I believe) that have barely been worn so despite buying a brand new pair of trainers I actually don’t need them just yet. Always handy to have a few pairs to rotate with too!

Biggest rave of all: If you follow me on any form of social media (Instagram, Twitter, Strava or Facebook) then you’ll probably already know that the Bournemouth Marathon went very well for me. I’ll be (hopefully) getting my recap post up this week. I’m SO glad it went well and I can now look back at Bournemouth fondly and wear the marathon t-shirt with pride.What do you look for in a gym?

Have you ever taken part in any market research before?

What do you look for in a muffin?

Rants and Raves #39

A Friday post for you! And I’m ranting and raving… sorry for the complete randomness of this.

Rave: Well I really have no excuse not to go to the local 5k race that takes place literally at my work. We have this lovely lake right next to the big office building (which is why it’s called Lakeside…) and there is a 5k series (Lakeside 5k) that goes on on some Wednesday evenings during the summer. I’ve never gone before because I’ve never been able to get back from work in time and then get there…and it’s a 5k. I hate 5ks. However it was my friend’s birthday and he was going and it is literally at my work so I figured I best make an appearance! I’d probably only run 3-4 miles anyway on my own. It’s always nicer to run with other people.Anyway, loads of my running club turned up which was nice and my birthday buddy, Joe, so it was a lovely social evening. I did a 1.5 mile warm up round the lake with a couple of the guys and convinced myself a fast run was not happening. Why do warm-ups always feel so crap and you feel so sluggish?

But weirdly as soon as we started going as the race began my legs were like “let’s do this”. I managed to maintain a decent speed and chip away at my time as the miles continued. I overtook some Hedgies in front of me and tried to encourage them with me (without sounding like a cocky so and so). My friend, Robbie, was ahead and I caught up with him and we raced to the finish together. I was dying a death inside but Robbie managed to sprint ahead of me (I was barely maintaining my final burst of speed!) and slam dunked the finish. What a sprint finish! Super impressive. Apparently the fastest 5k he’s done in ages, so major kudos to him!

I’m also really pleased with my time. I got 21:26 which is definitely the fastest Ive run in a good while. But jeeeeze, it was tough! Glad I went though as it was some good speedy miles that I’d have never done on my own.

Rave: I’ve now been to the cinema three times in the past two weeks. This is incredible for me. I love watching films and I do love going to the cinema but with my (old) commute and needing to get back for Alfie…well, I just had no time in the evening to really do anything but walk Alfie, make and eat dinner and chill a little before bed! Now that I have more time in an evening and more time in the morning (so less ridiculously early mornings) I’ve been able to get out a bit more. Ahh freedom!

This does unfortunately mean spending more money. And this is both on eating out and the actual film. I’ve been eating at Nando’s each time before the cinema because it’s a) easy, b) relatively cheap (OK it’s not really for just chicken), c) I love it and it’s always a consistently good meal for me. It’s also not something super indulgent on a weekday (all about that balance). I can’t always avoid the temptation of a pudding in other restaurants, whereas at Nando’s I feel fully satisfied after my meal (always a whole chicken, plain, with a side salad and sometimes a corn on the cob depending how I feel) to be content with just a main (I say “just” but we all know it’s a ridiculous meal for a girl my size).

Anyway so recently I’ve seen The Black Tower, Logan Lucky and American Made. The Black Tower was tolerably interesting but ultimately I wouldn’t recommend at all. Logan Lucky was hilarious, quick-moving and definitely worth a watch. American Made was a good watch but it dragged a little. It’s Tom Cruise’s new one and he basically plays Tom Cruise. A fun evening though anyway.

This also means that when I listen to my two movie review podcasts (Empire and BBC Five Live Kermode & Mayo) I actually have an opinion on the films for once!

Rant: Ahh Game of Thrones is over. The last episode was really good and made me feel more positive towards it then some of the other episodes. I really can’t wait for the next two books to come out though to see how George R.R. Martin will deal with the different characters and story-line.

Rave: The Great British Bake Off is back! OK yes it’s moved to Channel 4 (overseas readers, this is such a bugbear for us Brits as it used to be on the BBC, so there weren’t any adverts and it had the very British charm and gentleness that the BBC bring to TV, whereas Channel 4 is a bit more racy and ‘different’). But this does mean that every Tuesday evening I’ll be craving cake *sighs*. I haven’t actually watched the first one yet due to my busy evenings but I’m excited to catch up.

Rave: Speaking of cake…We recently had a successful big project complete at Wiggle so cake and fruit was brought for everyone in the office.Now THIS is how you get and maintain good levels of morale in a workplace. OK, not just bringing in food, but the fact that the workforce is thanked in such a nice way. It’s the little things that really help keep things consistently happy in a workplace.The cakes were really good as well. Lots of different flavours. I had a chocolate one (not normally my flavour of choice when it comes to cake but it had a wedge of Galaxy chocolate in the icing…) and a carrot cake one. SO good.

Rant: It really annoys me when shops try to upmarket something that you can get somewhere else for like half the price. Popcorn kernels are easily available and far more affordable in supermarkets!Don’t be won over by the fancy packaging. Believe me, as a girl who regular pops her own popcorn. They’re the same kernels!

Rant: OK not really a rant but just a bit of a “what?”. These fluffy things seem to be everywhere… I see them all over people’s handbags.And don’t get me started on those weird furry sandal things (sliders?) that girls are wearing. They look like slippers! What is going on!?

Finally… Not sure if this is a rant or a rave. But on my walk with my dad the other day we walked past a farmer’s field to find a load of pumpkins appearing. Summer is definitely over!

Are you sad summer is coming to end?

Do you adorn your handbag with fluffy things or similar?

Does your work treat you to fun things and cakes?

Rants and Raves #38

What’s been bugging me and making me smile lately? Let’s find out… (did that read as cheesy as it sounded when I read it out-loud? Yeah).

Rave: Time. I have so much more time in my life at the moment. When I worked in Basingstoke it would take at absolute best 40 minutes to get home. But that was from sitting in the car in the carpark to parking my car in the garage. From my new office in Portsmouth (incidentally the same location as the Lakeside parkrun and also the D Day 10k I did back in June), from being in my office to standing in my flat it takes 25 minutes. It literally takes 15-20 minutes to drive there. THIS IS INCREDIBLE. For over five and a half years I have driven up and down the M27 and M3 and more times than not it will take me over and hour to get home. OK yes it is currently school holidays so the roads are quieter, but even still if it takes less than hour from door to door I will be over the moon. Alfie doesn’t know what’s going on. He’s dead asleep when I get in.

And, similar to my last job, the working hours are fairly relaxed. Obviously you make sure you do your core hours and necessary tasks over the week but you can come in earlier or later and then correspondingly leave earlier or later. It’s fantastic. I think offices like this are far more realistic to how people want to work (obviously I know not all workplaces can or should do this but for a lot of office-based work it makes a lot of sense). It gives a good level of morale.

Rave: And while we’re on the subject of my new job… I love it. I mean it’s early days of course, but it is so interesting and everyone is so friendly and nice. The majority of people who work at Wiggle have some level of interest in cycling or running. You hear people chatting about their latest rides and runs all over the place. And there are bikes and trainers everywhere as the brand and design teams check them out. I mean, it is SUPER cool. And not to mention the bikes hanging from the walls, one of the Brownlee brother’s GB tri-suit framed, bikes wheels as clock faces, pictures all over the place. I’m very happy. And my job itself is something I have a genuine interest in and can’t wait to get more stuck into a progress further. I won’t be posting a huge deal about it because I want to maintain a level of professionalism but I will share where I can the little tidbits tat I get excited over 🙂

Rave: OK, OK one more rave about my new job. Every Friday they have a mini food festival on the field outside the office. EVERY FRIDAY.When I heard about this I had to swallow down a squeal (can’t let all the craziness out on the first week, of course). Sadly I’d already brought lunch with me but decided to venture downstairs and see what was on offer for future Friday lunches.Well, they had Caribbean food, Mexican food, pizzas, some American-style BBQ… and cakes. Oh the cakes.I stood there for too long and caved under the might cake pressure. I had to get myself a rocky road slab. And I say slab because it was HUMUNGOUS.Rant: I had a car accident on my second day driving into work. It was my fault and it was very stupid. Luckily no one was injured. I was in a queue for some traffic lights and we’d stopped. I then saw the lights go green ahead and I went forward…straight into the still stationary car in front of me. Completely my fault for not checking the car RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME. Luckily the man I drove into was very nice and didn’t yell at me. He calmly asked for my details and told me (after I’d apologised about a zillion times) that in the great scheme of things, it wasn’t that big an accident. No one had died or been badly hurt. So my little Fiat 500 is at the garage getting fixed and I have a little Citroen C1 and a £250 excess to cover. I’m trying not to think about how much my insurance will be when I renew it at the end of the year…*Sighs* you live and learn. Life was clearly going far too well for me currently!

Rant: Turning up to my gym (luckily a bit later than my usual 5.30am, I think it was about 6am) to find that the fire alarm was going off and everyone was stuck outside waiting to go back in.
Thankfully it was an error and luckily it was quite mild…in the middle of winter I would not have been amused. It was fairly cool to see a fire engine show up and a load of firemen ‘save the day’. Made for an interesting morning anyway!
Rave: Being interviewed for thrunABC magazine. It was a while ago I was sent the email so I’d kind of forgotten about it until someone Tweeted me letting me know. Ahh, fame! 😉
 My mum was so proud!
Rave: And a final rave…I was sent a crafty little hand-held device, called Zap-It!, which helps stop you itching when you get attacked by mosquitoes and bugs. Basically it generates a low, electrical impulse when clicked against the bite and what this does is reduce the histamine flow and stimulate capillaries, which flushes out the toxins (that make you want to itch).The shock is really very small so not painful at all. Not like that HORRENDOUS Tough Mudder electric shock obstacle, dear God. It can also be used up to 1,000 times (the poor soul who gets 1,000 bites…). A great addition to your essential gear for BBQ’s, festivals and of course any trail races! You can buy it in lots of chemists and supermarkets or online.
What are you ranting and raving about this week?
 
Have you ever had a car accident?
 
What’s most important to you about the environment you work in?

Currently – July

Goodbye July, hello August. WHAT. How is this even possible? We’re hurtling our way to Christmas! OK that’s dramatic. But seriously, I can tell that winter is coming because I get up so damn early and it’s a lot cooler and darker in the morning. Sad times indeed.

So anyway, July has been a weird month. So much running, then not so much. A very weird month. I’ve only got one whole month before the marathon and the Dorney Half I’ve signed up to mid-August (so the need to run is getting stronger. But anyway, I thought I’d do a “currently” post to mark the transition between months.

TV: Game of Thrones. Geek time here commences… I am both extremely happy about the current situation but also sad. Things are happening at breakneck speed due to the limited number of episodes. And the fact that we’re “off book” now is also concerning. George R. R. Martin is an unbelievably talented author, similar to Tolkien, in creating vast and complex worlds. I worry that the show won’t live up to his storytelling and they’ll try and get the most dramatic ending rather than staying faithful to the book’s groundwork. We shall see. Though I will be very excited when the final books are finally finished. Sorry geeking over.

Books: I’ve just recently finished reading The Circle by Dave Eggers.I really enjoyed it but it felt a little close to home. All about the rise of technology and knowing everything about everything and nothing is private anymore. The all encompassing nature of social media. Creepy stuff.

I actually started reading the book because I saw a trailer for the film and it looked interesting. Then read the book and started the film (a Netflix Original) and Emma Watson just annoyed me too much. I think I’m in the minority here when I say I don’t like her acting. I tolerated her in Harry Potter and to be honest she seems the same in all other films. I find her very wooden. I like her as a person though (not that I know her obviously) and how she’s quite forthright in her opinion on feminism.

Food: Since I’ve come back from Austria I’ve been really craving whole baked fish. We had it as one of the evening meals and since then I just want it all the time. It’s weird because, though I do like seafood, it’s not usually something I’ll go out of my way for. In a restaurant I never order it. But popped it in the oven, wrapped in foil with lemon and spices, it is DIVINE. I like that it takes me ages to eat as well because of all the bones. I’m such a fast eater that anything that slows down the process is a win for me. I was going to have a photo but it’s really not that pretty a meal!

Treats: God, where do I start? Cake. All the cake. As a farewell to work I bought a dozen Krispy Kremes (original glazed, god I love them) and an Emoji cake because…well, do I need a reason??I was also bought a very delicious slice of bannoffe cake on Sunday… happy girl.

Fitness Clothes: I’m now the proud owner of a Strava vest. I don’t think they make clothing to sell but I managed to get my hands on one because it was originally sent to Martin Yelling (of Austrian Marathon Talk Run camp – I promise I will stop going on about this soon) but it was clearly too small for him so I got it instead! (I was the quickest to claim it).And hilariously as a late birthday present from my lovely friend she bought me an Under Armour top. I love it, it’s got long-sleeves and wicking material. The only thing is, when I went to pick Alfie up from my parents on Saturday (they kindly looked after him for me) I saw what my dad was wearing.

We met half-way, my parents don’t live in a car park

So I got my mum to hold up my top in comparison. Hilarious. Just means my dad and I can never wear them at the same time. Still a good top nonetheless!

Beauty: Yeah I don’t really “do” beauty I guess… all about the low maintenance over here! That said, I do love moisturisers and lip balm. Keeping the skin all nice and soft. I always carry lip balm around with me because I hate my lips getting dry (also, dry lips and buffalo chicken wings – the WORST). I never wear lip gloss or lipstick (#longhairproblems… have you ever got hair stuck in lip gloss? It is GROSS) but lip balm is my thing.

So I was recently sent Liquorice Balm, which, as you can imagine, is a liquorice lip balm. Now I’m not a fan of liquorice at all so I was a little dubious about trailing this product. But actually I thought it’s probably handy as I know there are many people who are similar.This balm is aimed at reducing cold sores, which actually affect almost 30 million people in the UK! Incidentally this occurs most often when travelling as there’s a lot of air changes from when you’re flying, being in air con and being out in the sun. Lots of stress to the lips.

The Liquorice Balm can help because is contains a key cold sore fighting ingredient from the liquorice called glycyrrhizic acid, which targets the genes that are required to maintain the virus in its latent state by interfering with the production of special proteins that feed the infected cells. It’s also free from parabens, perfumes, MI and SLS and is under the 100ml limit so you can take it with you in hand luggage.It’s quite oily but once on the lips it sticks nicely and I find it does help soften my lips when they’re feeling a bit flaky and dry (niiiiice). It does smell of liquorice but actually doesn’t really taste of it at all. Definitely not after being on your lips a while. As someone who HATES liquorice this was fine! It’s available to buy from www.skinshop.co.uk.

Have you bought any new fitness gear lately?

Do you wear lip balm?

Game of Thrones fan? Any crazy theories?

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent the lip balm for free in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

Rants and Raves #37

Happy Friday Eve! It’s so strange to me that this is my last Thursday at work… I only have five working days left. I finish next Wednesday then have Thursday and Friday off before starting at Wiggle on Monday. I’m not panicking… yet! Anyway, on to some good ol’ rants and raves.

Rant: Still not running. Dwelling on this is both boring and pointless. I’m cross-training at the gym (elliptical machine. Woo). Fingers crossed it won’t be long. It doesn’t feel like an injury that will put me out for weeks and weeks, but with me you never know. As I said though, ZERO regrets. So can’t complain really.

Rave: While I was on holiday my parents took Alfie to the groomers for me. I’d intended on doing this before (or after) I’d gone to Austria but my parents were taking their dogs so it made sense while they were looking after Alfie. They sent me a photo while I was away so I could see how dapper he looked.They kept his beard thankfully (he’d be practically naked otherwise). My parents upgraded his grooming from the standard one to the super duper pampering which, I’m not even joking, included a blueberry facial. I mean, what? Now I love Alfie, but would I get him a blueberry facial? No. I see Alfie as the Bear Grills of the dog world. He’s a basic pooch. But apparently he enjoyed it. Traitor.

Rant: Having said I see Alfie as a “Bear Grills dog” I might need to backtrack somewhat. When it comes to thunder and lightning he’s such a wuss. He freaks out. He trembles, whimpers, barks, paces… and I do try to be sympathetic and cuddle him but at 2am in the morning my sympathy can somewhat wane a little. I had to put the light on and some music to try and cover up the weather. Neither of which are any more conducive to a good night’s sleep. But it’s fine because Alfie has all day to sleep so don’t worry, his sleeping hours probably wasn’t affected. *Sighs*.

Rave: I’ve mentioned a few times that my dad has been steadily losing weight using Slimming World. My mum and him go every week and, bless him, he always texts me how it goes (how much they lost or gained).He started last September and he’s already lost three stone. That’s obviously quite a lot in under a year but his starting point was quite high. He didn’t make any crazy drastic cuts but just became more conscious about what he was eating and making better choices. He became aware he was eating far too much bread, having extra slices with main meals and as snacks, and he wasn’t eating as many vegetables.

So in reality his meals haven’t changed a great deal, just tweaked a bit, and beer, bread and chocolate kept in moderation. He’s done it in a very slow and sensible way. Losing a lot of weight quickly because you’ve made huge changes to your diet simply to reach a lofty weight-loss goal is never going to be sustainable. My dad still goes out to dinner, still has the odd pudding, he still drinks beer and he still enjoys his food without being hungry or changing his lifestyle in a radical way. Weight-loss and then keeping to that target weight can only happen if you see yourself doing it forever. There’s no point in trying to reach a certain goal and then reverting back to your old ways.

As you can imagine, I’m hugely proud of him. He says he did this because my mum and I were nagging him, but I know that this isn’t entirely true. We’ve nagged him for years. He did this on his own and for himself, and really that’s the best way to do it.

Rave: OK OK I’ve gone a bit marathon crazy with the ones I’ve already signed up to. The New Forest (10th September), Bournemouth (8th October) and Brighton (15th April). And a cheeky one to start 2018…I mean, let’s just quickly put the standard Anna Disclaimer in: who knows if I’ll make any of these marathons (see above Rant 1). But the intent is firmly there. A few people have said that this marathon is rather dull as it’s pretty much all on a boring bit of main road. That may be so, but it’s a “big” marathon that attracts a lot of elites and fanfare due to the prize money and I’ve never been to Dubai so for me it’s more about exploring a different country and being part of something quite exciting. Plus the flights are cheap and the lovely Lily will hopefully be able to show me her favourite avocado on toast haunts. (And there’s a Cheesecake Foactory…).

Rant: My neighbour having a full on rave at 1am. I was particularly tired that evening and not in the mood for his loud music and continuous opening and slamming of his front door. In a perhaps ill-judged move, I went out in my PJ’s and told him sternly to turn it down (#grandmastatus). To be fair to him, he looked very abashed and promptly quietened it all down (perhaps my crazy nighttime hair scared him?).

Rave: Spotted this adorable little fella on my way to grab a coffee in the local Costa.He was just plodding along down the path. I was a bit worried as there’s usually a cat which hangs out down this path but when I walked back down the path later at lunch the cat was just sat next to him without even glancing at him/her.

Rave: Bamboo Towels! I’ve recently been sent some luxury gym towels from The Towel ShopOne of my biggest pet peeves is people not wiping down equipment when at the gym. I mean, it is GROSS. I try not to think about the amount of dried sweat, dirt and bacteria on the equipment when I’m using it and will often over up a seat with a towel to help matters. This is actually really good timing to have been sent these towels as my current white one is looking a bit sorry for itself (and has bright yellow stains on it from where my BCAA’s in my water have dripped on it – making me wonder what it’s doing to my insides…).

Anyway, these towels are SO soft. Like unreal soft.  They’re made with bamboo fibres (ooh er!). They are also three times more absorbent than a standard towel and have anti-fungal properties (ideal for gym use!). They’re also eco-friendly and available in six different colours.I personally love the silver colour. I have a few different sizes – a couple of hand towels and a bigger one which I’ll be using as a bath towel. OMG so soft.

I washed them before using them (I don’t actually do this with clothes or anything – I know that might be a bit weird but I’m not that bothered). With towels I find you need to wash them first otherwise they don’t really “work” if you know what I mean. But after washing and tumble drying, they’re fantastic. Super absorbent. And I love using the smaller towels at the gym. It fits nicely into my gym bag!

Do you wash new clothes before wearing them?

Have you ever tried Slimming World or Weight Watchers?

How noisy are your neighbours?

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent the towels for free in exchange for a review on my blog. All opinions are my own honest ones.**