Things I’m loving in November

November, November…how is it November?? It has to be my least favourite month in the entire year, but it does mean we’re inching closer to Christmas and I love Christmas so at least that’s a silver living. I thought I’d share a few things I’ve been loving recently.

New leggings: OK I officially have far too many leggings. It’s a real addiction. It’s leaking out into everyday life – I wear them all the time. I’m pretty sure I could wear them to work as well as my office are pretty chilled but I’m trying really hard not to. Otherwise I’ll never be out of them! But anyway, I did buy another pair at the weekend. Hear me out. I don’t usually wear full length leggings and I don’t have any grey pairs sooo…ivy-park-leggingsThese leggings are from Top Shop from the Ivy Park range. Yep, I was fully sceptical at first as well. Top Shop? Beyoncé? Sportswear? Don’t be daft. But I tried them on and was really surprised. They’re made from a lovely, thick and stretchy material that hugs and “holds everything in”. I did several squats in the changing room to test them out (does anyone do this…?) and they didn’t slip down or go see-through (a big leggings no-no in my book!). For £40 they are expensive but the quality of the cut and material is there so I thought they were worth it.

iPhone battery: I love my iPhone but it frustrates me that it runs out of battery so easily. When I go on a day-trip somewhere I’ve invariably had to take a charger with me and hope to end up in a Starbucks somewhere where I can plug my phone in. It’s ridiculous. So I bit the bullet and bought a battery caseimg_6033I got this from Amazon for about £38. It’s a cheaper alternative to some of the other battery packs out there (including the ridiculously priced Apple one) and had great reviews. It does make my iPhone more bulky and heavy but I personally think it’s worth it as I now don’t need to worry about my battery running out and can go back to charging overnight. There’s a button on the back you click and it activates the battery and charges your phone up (the battery provides 130% more battery).

Pimped up porridge: I went back to porridge. I couldn’t stay away. I was having scrambled eggs and as delicious as it was each morning…I just missed my warm, stodgy oats. My problem with porridge was that it was just very high in carbs but without a lot of protein, and after going to the gym I like to have a balance of carbs and protein. So I’ve been adding some protein powder to my porridge to boost it up.img_6307Yes it does look like prison gruel…but it tastes really nice. I’m not a big fan of adding lots of toppings and extras to my porridge and normally wouldn’t like any sweetness but it’s not crazy sweet. I only add about 15g so it’s not overwhelming (and adds about 11g protein).

New book: I’m listening to a new audio book called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking Susan Cain.quite-susan-cainI actually heard about this book through a TED talk from the same woman and it peaked my interest. I consider myself an introvert so I was keen to read the book. Being an introvert doesn’t mean you’tr anti-social or incapable of social interactions. For me it means liking to spend a bit more time alone and not being fully comfortable in social situations of which I’m not used to. I find them overwhelming. After a day with my friends or in big groups, I prefer nothing more than going home and spending time on my own to “recharge” (and why I struggled quite a bit when I went to the bootcamp in Spain).

It seems that the ideal is to be an extrovert, and being an introvert is often seen as a disadvantage, but the book shows how introverts are powerful in their own ways and how they shouldn’t be overlooked. I’m half-way through and finding it quite comforting and reassuring. It provides me with a lot of answers about the way I am in certain situations and why I feel certain ways.

Good food: On Saturday I went to Chichester with my parents. It’s kind of an annual thing to do around Christmas time as Chichester is so festive and such a pretty town. There are some nice shops that aren’t just your regular high-street ones too.

We booked a table at Bills which, though is a chain, is a really nice chain. I didn’t realise there was one in Chichester and my parent’s had never been to one before so it seemed ideal.

For starters my dad and me shared a meze board, which had hummus, tzatziki, red pepper dip, olives, flat bread, chicken skewers, calamari and falafels. It was delicious.img_6314It also wasn’t huge as some platters can be. For main I almost went for a Caesar salad but decided to go for something different for once. I had the lemon paprika chicken with some long stem broccoli on the side.img_6317It was DELICIOUS. I honestly can’t sing this enough praises. It had honey roasted root vegetables and cranberries and was just divine. And very filling. Originally I’d intended on having a pudding (I spotted a brownie with my name on it) but I sensibly decided not to. The meal had filled me up perfectly and anything more would be greedy and unnecessary and would probably spoil the satisfaction I was feeling. Who even am I?? I’m trying to not be so gluttonous when I eat out…let’s see how long that lasts 😉

And finally…beautiful crisp winter mornings: There have been some beautiful sunrises in the morning when I walk Alfie. img_6255I’m very lucky to live so close to a pretty park and where Alfie can run off his lead while I enjoy the scenery. Yes it’s been very cold, but it’s worth it.

Have you tried anything new lately?

What kind of phone do you have?

What books have you read lately?

Good things making me happy

Apart from the dark mornings and evenings, the cold and rain, things are quite happy in my neck of the woods! It’s always nice to take stock of a few things that are making me a happy Anna.

The ‘C’ word: What is this madness? Christmas stuff already out in supermarkets. This photo was actually take two or three weeks ago as well.img_4888Christmas cakes, mince pies, stollen… yep. It’s October. That said, I love all things Christmas, especially food-related items) so I’m happy with this state of affairs. More mince pies in my life can only be a good thing.

Tesco encouraging kids to eat more fruit: They’re offering a free piece of fruit to children coming into the supermarket. img_3917So they can chomp on something healthy as they walk round with their parents. What a great idea! Nice one, Tesco. We’ll let you off for your Christmas products 😉

New shoes: I bought some new shoes. They were really cheap as they’re of an older seasons but I really needed a pair of simple comfy shoes I could easily slip into and wear for quick errands or walking Alfie. img_5954I tend to have a lot of trainers, pumps, boots and then my gym shoes (Vans & Converses – ideal because they have flat soles for squatting and deadlifting which help me be more “in tune” with the ground and lifting) but nothing that I’d be happy to get a bit mucky. I had a previous pair of Skechers and I wore them to the ground. These were only £25 which I thought was a steal.

Unusual gel flavours: A lovely friend of mine (a triathlon legend it must be said – his training cycles make mine look very amateur indeed) sent me some gels as a good luck present for my marathon (though with strict instruction NOT to use them during the marathon if I hadn’t tried them first).img_5972Maple Bacon flavoured gels!! I know some (many?) of you will be thinking “that’s so gross” but I’m genuinely looking forward to trying them out. I quite like the GU gels (I still remember that salted caramel one I had once…so good. And the lemon flavoured one that tasted like a zesty pudding) so I expect good things 😉

Protein Porridge: I got a packet of this Mornflake Go! High Portein Porridge in my goodie bag from the Chester Marathon. Normally I will never use porridge packets because they always contain some form of sugar or flavouring and I can’t stand sweet porridge. For me the only sweetness I like is from the milk, so it’s very subtle.fullsizerenderBut this was different. It’s a pack of oats containing soya protein isolate and (other than a stabiliser) that’s it. No sugar, no fruit, no seeds…just oats and protein. One packet though wouldn’t be enough for me for breakfast as it was around 130 calories. So I used two with almond milk and it tasted almost identical to my normal porridge.img_5953Basically the same texture and it was really filling. I’m still regularly having scrambled eggs (with cheese, kale and olives – love it) for breakfast but I miss my porridge. The reason I swapped was because the porridge was quite low in protein but this is a great compromise. Though it is more expensive, so I’m looking into getting some unflavoured protein powder and playing around with that.

Woofins: These are adorable…even if I was disappointed when I first saw them as I thought “oooh cake” and then realised they’re actually for dogs.img_5987

Alfie isn’t a huge treat lover or chewer. For example, if I give him a dentist stick to chew on he puts it in his mouth then wanders around whimpering until I take it off him and cut it into four pieces for him (what a princess…). Although he will easily eat them normally when he’s around my parent’s dogs – but I think this is due to the fear that if he doesn’t they’ll eat it for him. Anyway, I digress, he wolfed down this mini cake – he loved it!

New car: OK it’s pretty much identical to my old car, just new.img_5968I love the Fiat 500 and wanted to stay with them. Unfortunately I did want a different colour (I quite like the mint) but they didn’t have it in stock for when I wanted it so I had red again. As someone who is rubbish with adulting, having a brand new car with no MOT or service to worry about for a while is a huge weight off my mind (especially as I was late with my last service by about 10,000 miles as I got confused <– story of my life).

But things making me nervous: A 10k obstacle course race (Chepstow Stampede) with my friends, Kate and Jamie, that’s happening Saturday. I did that obstacle course in Spain but I don’t think it can quite compare to a muddy obstacle course race in Britain during a rather wet autumn. I’m stressing a bit with what to wear as I don’t really have anything I’d happy to never see again if it got ruined… and I’m scared about being really cold and wet. But other than that, it should be a laugh. We’ll see…

Have you ever done an obstacle course race?

What kind of car do you have?

What non-workout shoes do you normally wear?

Last long run and dating frustrations

This was my last weekend before the Chester Marathon. I had one last long run to do and decided on 12 miles, an arbitrary number based on the fact that I had a good route for 12 miles.

I would have done it on Sunday morning but I was going to be marshalling fairly early at a local race so I decided to do it Saturday…But this also meant a very early morning and sadly not being able to do parkrun as my dad and me were heading to the O2 at 9am. We had gotten tickets to Empire Live, which is an event done by the Empire film review magazine. I’m a huge fan of their podcast and we had tickets to watch the it being recorded live. We also had tickets (it came as a package) to see some old and new films at the cinema there but the timings didn’t work out (we’d have had to have left super early or stayed there later than we fancied) and really we were only interested in the podcast, having a nice meal and a wander around.

Anyway, so Saturday morning saw me up again at 5.45am to be running by 6.30am. I felt very tired in general and like I should be in bed during the first mile but then I woke up a bit and got going (basically woman’ed-up). I saw a gorgeous sunrise over a farmer’s field that was growing pumpkins and it really was a beautiful sight. I wished I’d have taken a photo but I couldn’t be bothered with the faff. A bit later on though I did decide to snap a photo as I was a bit more compos mentos…img_5306The run seemed to fly by quite quickly. The temperature was lovely and cool and only started slightly warming towards the end. I did have a near miss moment with a squirrel that I almost ran over. I don’t know who was more shocked, the squirrel or me! He (she?) lept out of the bushes and in a comedy-esque moment stopped dead-still wide-eyes when he (she?) saw me. Then ran away.

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And my last long run was done! Woohoo! It’s funny because this twelve mile run was exactly the same as one of the first long runs I did when I started this marathon training. I did that run in an average pace of 8.20min/mile and for this run I did it in 8min/miles. Good progress I think!img_5329Then I got showered super fast and we were on the road to London. I decided to just have two apples for breakfast en route as I wasn’t that hungry to have anything bigger straight away and we were having a big early lunch as soon as we got there that I didn’t want to spoil.o2I’ve never been to the O2 before so it was quite cool seeing it – it’s huge! We’d booked a table at a Brazilian restaurant called Rodizio Rico which was fantastic.rodico-o2It was the usual Brazilian-style cuisine with a huge salad bar and the waiters offering different meats on skewers. I was in heaven. I was so proud of my dad who was very restrained and careful about his choices (he’s trying to lose weight). In fact, I think we were both quite good. I ate a lot but not so much that I felt uncomfortable (like I do so often!). It was very tasty but it did start to get really busy as a Marvel event finished and about 20 families with little children came in. Our cue to exit fast 😉img_5341The live podcast was fantastic and really showed how good the guys who run it are as they’re exactly the same on and off mic. They’re so charismatic and knowledgeable about films. There were two guests interviewed as well, Tom Bennett (from Love & Friendship and the Ricky Gervais film) and Mike Colter (he’s in the new Luke Cage series – I didn’t really know who he was but he was a really nice guy and built like a house). It was a really fun thing to watch. We then had a mosey about and a (free!) drink in the Empire Hub (which was like the main congregating area) and then we headed home.

The next morning I was up at 7am to help marshal the Perform 5 race, which is very local to me and is helped run by my club. I took Alfie with me and we walked to the cricket stadium, the Ageas Bowl, which is just up the road and we collected our bibs, signs and instructions.img_5348My instructions were so confusing about which side of the road needed to be closed and for how long. It was really quite stressful. I would have to stop traffic but it wasn’t clear from which way! I was so worried about telling cars to stop but not knowing if I actually should be telling them to stop. In the end another marshal came and joined me on my spot to help out as no one could work out what the instructions meant.img_5354

We worked it out thankfully after coordinating with the marshals up and down the road and could relax a bit until the race actually began. We were around 4ish miles so it would be a while until the first runners got to us. We were right next to Burger King so we used their facilities and bought some coffee 😉

img_5359The lovely Louise and me

I think our position is now a coveted one due to how convenient it’s location is 😉 As the runners started passing through I really got into cheering them on. I started yelling silly things like “Pain is temporary! Glory is forever!” and “the incline is a figment of your imagination!” and got a few laughs and wry smiles. I really enjoyed myself. Alfie even got a few quick strokes.

After my marshalling duties I then headed out for my own run. Four miles round the block. It was windy but lovely and sunny. The run started fairly sluggishly but then I got faster as I went on. The route was a new one to me and nice because it was literally two miles away from home then swinging back for two miles home again so it felt quite satisfying.4-miles

 

 

 

I then got showered super quickly and made some lunch. I had a date planned (met through Internet dating, God help me) for a coffee in Winchester at 2pm so I needed to have an early lunch. I’d luckily had an early breakfast so this worked out nicely…Until the prospective date cancelled at the last minute saying his mum wasn’t well and her partner had asked him to look after her at the last minute as he wasn’t there. I’d practically given myself indigestion trying to eat as quickly as I could to make the time. *Sighs* I’d washed my hair, put a nice outfit on and made some actual effort…for it to be wasted. Oh well! I went shopping with my mum instead. Hey hum.

Do you do any marshalling at races?

Have you been to the O2 before?

Have you ever had a date cancel on you?

Rants and Raves #34

Oooh I have a few ranty points today. Can’t beat some cathartic ranting, am I right?

Rant: I love parkrun, as you may well be aware (!), and I think people who are anti-parkrun are insane. Literally insane. But I can understand that people who don’t understand its magical properties (community spirit, getting outside, promoting volunteering, promoting health and well-being, inspiring people to do great things, etc. etc.) may not be as on board. On Saturday everyone who parked their car along a residential road next to Netley Country Park where the Netley parkrun takes place had their car keyed.

This is disgusting and there is NO REASON that this should happen. OK so a herd of cars appearing every Saturday and parking up your road could be annoying – I fully understand that. No one wants their road blocking up (by the way, the cars don’t block the road, they just park LEGALLY). But to do something as destructive as that? That’s awful. If the person responsible was so angry then surely they should have left a strongly worded note or come out of their hole house and spoken to the car owner’s – LIKE AN ADULT. Seriously what is wrong with people to think this is an acceptable way to deal with what they see as an issue?

(It was reported to parkrun and they’re investigating)

Rave: Onto more happier notes. You know I’m an idiot and booked my flight home from my recent Spanish holiday twice (read about that wonderful saga HERE)? Well, the lovely people from Expedia read my blog and sent me a very nice email. They offered to refund the ticket I booked by mistake! Happily they didn’t think I was an idiot (though who could blame them if they did?) and said they could relate to the mistake and wanted to give me a happy ending by refunding me the money. Ahh so nice of them! I hardly need to sing Expedia’s praises (most of my holidays are booked with them because, hello savings) but this has made me feel all warm and fuzzy about them Smile

Rant: Having to take Alfie to the vets for a teeth clean. I say teeth clean but this involved him having to be anaesthetised…

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He’s a sensitive soul and doesn’t like change. For example, being in the car causes him to shake (I have no idea why, he’s had no bad experiences in one!) so being at the vets is really not his cup of tea. It was quite heart-breaking to drop him off and say goodbye. The nurse told me to leave rather than her take Alfie away so it wasn’t quite as brutal (still felt it). Apart from Alfie’s displeasure of course, the two worst parts were a) the nurse calling him “borderline senior” at seven years old. WHAT? He’s going to live forever!! and b) it costing over £300. OUCH. But he’s worth it of course.

Rave: I have a bit of a resistance band addiction it appears. I now have no less than five. One is a long one I use for assisted pull-ups (as mentioned in a previous post), the other is a cheap one that I’ve tied together and use round my ankles for crab and monster walks and the other three are new purchases.

Resistance bands

I got them from Amazon very cheaply. And they come with their own little bag which is handy. They come in three different strengths. They’re a lot shorter and don’t require tying so are perfect for using doing things like clamshells and leg lifts (all about that glute activation!). And they seem a bit more hardy.

Rant: I now dread part of my walk with Alfie in a morning. As I get closer to the pond I just hope the duck lady isn’t there (the one that yelled abuse at me). Some mornings she is and some she isn’t. When she is she glares at me. She honestly stands there looking at me with this horrible look on her face! It makes me feel so uncomfortable. I refuse to put Alfie on his lead as 9/10 he doesn’t go after the ducks, but I spend my time praying that Alfie keeps his interests away from the pond. I’ve seen other dogs chase the ducks so I don’t feel quite as awful as clearly Alfie is not the devil incarnate (or more likely, I’m not a terrible owner) but it still makes for an unpleasant experience. One funny morning was Alfie running over to her and eating all the bread she’d thrown. That made my morning.

Rave: New trainers! It’s funny because I was checking on Strava the other day and noticed that the trainers I’d been using after Boston were well over 300 miles. Now I realise that to some people (you lucky souls) that’s no issue but for my last few injuries it’s always occurred with trainers that are over 300 miles. Perhaps this is entirely coincidental but I do know that most of my injuries occur because of my fallen arches (as my physio keeps telling me and stressing me to do my exercises every day). Remember when I wore those old trainers for that fateful failed 18 miler in Wales? Well, anyway this called for new trainers to be bought immediately and something I will pay stricter attention to in future.

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I kept to my trusty Mizuno’s Wave Paradoxes. I’ve used them pretty much since I started running. I’m a fan of Asics, Brookes and Adidas too but generally it’s Mizuno for the bulk of my mileage.

Rant: (at myself) For buying the wrong size *face palm*.

Rant: The real aggression there is out there for Pokémon Go (I promise I’ll stop bringing this game up in my blog). What is the issue for a bit of harmless fun? (Let’s ignore the few and far between stories of the idiots who take it to a different stupid level). My parkrun friends did have a good laugh at me though when I was playing while we were setting up on Saturday morning. They suggested a more useful game for me would be “Boyfriend Go” but the Pokémon thing was probably hindering that. Fair point.

Cinnamora Drink Review

I was contacted via Twitter by @CinnamoraDrink to try out their new cinnamon infused drink Cinnamora. I thought “why not?”. It sounded a bit weird but I was happy to give it a go.

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Basically it’s a still soft drink that, well, tastes of cinnamon. It’s almost zero in calories, contains no fat, no added sugars and made from ceylon cinnamon. The ingredients are cinnamomum zeylanicum extract, citric acid, sucralose, and water. Apparently cinnamon is widely used in ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine for conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol and indigestion.

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My thoughts? I won’t lie, I really didn’t like it. The flavour just didn’t sit well with me. To be honest I think that’s because of the cinnamon associations I have. For me cinnamon means Christmas, hot drinks, gingerbread and Christmas cake. To drink it as a cold beverage just messed with my brain a bit. It’s not an unpleasant taste or disgusting, it’s sweet and refreshing – it’s just personally for me it didn’t work. I gave a few cans to some friends to see their thoughts and they were a lot more positive than me, but they still thought it was a bit odd.

I think that this drink would probably work better in the States as they have such a huge cinnamon love over there, whereas in the UK, cinnamon really only comes out in baking and Christmas time. I could be very wrong though!

What’s getting you riled up lately?

What are your thoughts on cinnamon?

When do you buy new trainers?

**Full Disclosure: I was sent the Cinnamora drinks for free in exchange for my honest review.**

Sunny parkrun and I’m long running again!

This weekend was nice and chilled. Sometimes you need a weekend that you don’t do much and catch up on life, you know?

I headed to Netley Abbey parkrun on Saturday morning. I got there early, as usual, to help set-up the course. The chapel is being renovated for the next 18 months so the course has to change due to where the construction is going on. This meant a bit of confusion and rushing around as it wasn’t our standard set-up. Both the start and the finish were in different places and though the general route remains largely the same (still have that hill we have to do three times) it is a bit different and meant that we had to put our 1k markets, cones and arrows in different places.

IMG_3521Photo credit: Ken Grist

I’d brought Alfie with me as I knew my friend Mike wasn’t going to be running and said he was happy to look after him while I ran. I always feel mean if I leave Alfie behind when the weather is so lovely. So it was nice to bring him and give him chance to race around when we set up.

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It was quite warm so the run wasn’t that easy and there seemed to be a lot more exposure to the sun on the new route.

Netley July parkrun 3Photo credit: Ken Grist

I listened to some music for once, which I haven’t done in ages but as I had my Aftershokz headphones I thought it might be a nice change. They still let me hear my surroundings so I don’t feel as ‘locked in’ when I run.

Netley July parkrunPhoto credit: Ken Grist

Each lap I waved to Mike and Alfie. Alfie at first didn’t really notice me and then when he saw me his little face just looked like “where are you going? Come back!”.

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My time was 23:10 which I was chuffed with as I did put some effort in (it was about a minute quicker than I’ve been doing recently). I think the course is a bit easier than it used to be though as it has less turns but I’ll take it!

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Then I headed back to Mike and Alfie to cheer some of the others in. The weather was just beautiful but I was a sweaty mess!

There were some great milestones achieved this parkrun: a few 50s and a 250th! And course that meant cake…

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Very tasty! Then we headed to the cafe for a drink. I had an ice cold sparkling water instead of my peppermint tea as it was far too warm and I treated Alfie to some dog ice cream!

IMG_3503Whoops, upside down sorry!

Basically it’s frozen fruit puree with a few other relatively normal and human-safe ingredients so we all tried a bit. Not especially creamy but nice enough. Alfie certainly liked it (though I had to ‘mush’ it up for him as he couldn’t be pigged to spend his time licking away it).

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Then it was back home to have some breakfast, shower and then head to my parent’s house. They’re currently on holiday and had asked me to check in on the house and water their plants. As I was also meeting up with some friends that evening who lived in the area I planned on spending the night as well. It also meant my run the next day could be along my favourite coastal route.

I took Alfie down the beach for a nice long walk and it was just bliss.

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I bought an ice cold Fanta Zero from the ice cream van and was in heaven. The walk took about an hour and I listened to a podcast and might have played some Pokémon Go Winking smile Though this absolutely rinsed my battery.

I went to my friend’s house a bit later on and we ordered in some takeaway and had a very nice chilled evening watching the old classic, Wall Street. It was a lovely relaxed evening.

The next morning I got up and headed out for my first longish run in a while. I planned to do eight miles as I’d run five miles previously and if I’m planning on doing Chester marathon in the beginning of October I need to be increasing my mileage. I didn’t want too big a jump but I felt eight would be good.

Though it was overcast the run was still hot. I felt fairly comfortable though and the miles ticked by. I briefly thought about a tap that I knew was at the beach and would be at mile 6ish. I probably could have survived the run without water but I couldn’t get it out of my head. When I got there I couldn’t see anywhere that it said drinking water (nor that it wasn’t drinking water). But I knew people used the water for their beach huts – though I wasn’t sure if they boiled it first or not. In the end the desire for water was too much and I decided to risk it. It was nice and cold. Finger’s crossed I’m OK!

Somehow I’d gotten my route wrong (how do I always manage this?) and ended up going passed 8 miles. I decided to continue on to 8.5 miles then walk home. But then when I reached 8.5 I still felt good so pushed to 9. Then I stopped and walked home, which was about less than half a mile. I felt good though definitely like I’d run 9 miles, of which I haven’t done in a good few weeks!

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It was so nice to have a run that felt good. My hamstring is pretty much back to normal. After seeing my physio a couple of times and, as I’ve said before, he didn’t think it was my actual hamstring that was the issue. He worked on loosening my back (which was probably tweaking my sciatic nerve) and realigned my pelvis. So things have been a lot better. I’m back to squatting and deadlifting at the gym again (though not stiff-legged deadlifts just yet).

The rest of the day was life admin and chores. I also had a wonderful nap in the afternoon, perfect Sunday chill time. So basically my weekend was quiet but lovely Smile

Did you go to parkrun this weekend?

Would you drink from a suspect tap if you were thirsty?