Brueton parkrun and so much food

Surprise surprise I was in Birmingham again this Easter weekend. Just can’t keep me away I guess…

I drove up there on Thursday after work. I had a really good dinner of chili in a tortilla bowl. If you’ve never done this, make it immediately. It’s a very tasty way of eating chili. As someone not hugely fond of rice, using a tortilla as a bowl it’s a nice way to get some carbs in (we had cauliflower rice instead, how fancy).Friday James and I went on a run together. Ooooof it was tough. I wasn’t going to be running Sunday as I was going to support James’ 10k race and so would do my long run the next day to parkrun, so it seemed like a good idea to try a little tempo run. Normally I’d have pushed it at parkrun so this was a good switch-up. James was the one suggested it – like I said, he’s good with this proper training malarkey and I probably wouldn’t have gone out and done this on my own (or at least not as fast anyway).

We headed out for a one mile warm-up and then it was pedal to the metal with three miles of tempo effort. I was really dreading this as running fast is just not my bag. We started on a nice downhill so that helped but then headed to a gentle incline. Afterwards though it was just flat. The miles sloooowly ticked by as I tried to focus on keeping my legs turning over and essentially not dying. It’s hard for me to do these sorts of efforts when I’m not in a race or parkrun, or I don’t have music so it helped James was there to push me along. Eventually I finished and had a nice gentle mile cool down. Ehhhh that was tough. It’s nice to see that my miles got quicker… and a 6:19min/mile! I do think there was a downhill that helped speed me up but still I will take that confidence booster!

Saturday was another new-to-me parkrun, Brueton parkrun. I needed to get my long run in so James planned me a route to run there (as he obviously knows the area and how to get to that parkrun) and then I’d do a few more miles afterwards to make it up to 17 miles in total. I mean I could have run all the miles I needed beforehand but I wanted a bit more sleep.

James put the route on my watch so I didn’t have to memorise anything – this was so new to me, having my watch tell me where to go! Very handy as he wasn’t going to be running with me due to his 10k the next day, but he’d meet me there and then drive me back.

But I think there was still a strong level of concern from both of us about where I’d actually end up… the Anna’isms are strong to overcome. I headed out just after 7am into the cold and wet weather. It was pretty miserable. I got my watch going and was fascinated when the little arrows appeared telling me where to turn. It was relatively straightforward but I did manage to go the wrong way WITHIN TWO MILES. I mean, come on Anna get it together. I just couldn’t see the way I was supposed to go as it looked like a dead-end. So I went back on myself and then found a route that followed the little map line as close as I could so I knew I was at least heading in the right vague direction. My watch told me I was off course but when I eventually found my way back onto the planned route it told me I was back on it, which was handy.After that there were no major issues, aside from my hands being rather cold and having to dodge out of the way of cars flying through large puddles in the road and almost splashing me. I took a quick photo on a pretty bridge crossing a canal but otherwise ploughed on to the park and found James warming up. Woohoo! Disaster averted.My legs however were feeling heavy and tired. parkrun was going to be a grind.I plodded round as best as I could and faded majorly in the middle…my legs just seemed to go “nope” before I eventually managed to claw my speed slightly back up as I could see the end was in sight.
The course was a two lapper and split nicely into a loop round the park bit and then a loop next to the pretty lake. It was a flat course and I’m sure it would have been a nice one to have tried some speed on had I felt any oomph in my legs and not run 11 miles there.My time was 24.32 but definitely felt a lot slower. Honestly it felt like a terrible run.After finishing parkrun we went for another three mile run to get my long run up to 17 miles. If I felt tired during parkrun it was nothing compared to this awful crawling grind. I just felt empty and flat. I felt bad for James as I was properly slogging along and dragging my feet.My hands were SO cold. I’d made the mistake of using my Nike gloves which are basically just material and because it had been wet they were soaked and this made my hands colder. Taking them off actually felt a lot better than leaving them on! I enjoyed a very nice hot bath (somewhat of a luxury for this shower-loving girl) when I got back which helped me warm up as I felt cold and damp to my bones.

That evening we went to the cinema and saw Ready Player One, which was so good. The music, the characters and the cool pop culture references throughout were really good. I thoroughly enjoyed the film and will check the book out now. I even managed to not buy any pick ‘n’ mix in efforts to save a bit of money and try and be a little healthier in the lead-up to all the chocolate that would inevitably happen the next day.Sunday the tables were turned as I was supporting and not running running at James’ 10k race. I wasn’t really sure how it would be on the other side but actually it was really good fun. The race was the Massey Ferguson RC Easter Tractor 10k, which was a flat three lapper. Having three laps made supporting a lot more interesting as I got to see James and the other runners three times. It was also nice not having to run a 10k race, which I personally detest and nice not running because I was injured. I’d done my running for the week so I could chill.James did amazingly, smashing his PB and getting 37:04…I mean whaaaat. Makes me feel ill it’s so fast. I did get a little annoyed at a fellow supporter who was near the finish while I was cheering. I was clapping and yelling generic supportive things, as you do, like “final push” and “keep going”, that kind of thing. He turned round to me and said “don’t say that, he was miles ahead of the person behind so just needs to cruise into the finish and not push anymore”. Erm, huh? What if he was after a certain time or wanted to smash his PB? Also, don’t tell me what I can and can’t cheer, buddy. What a knob.That afternoon saw me almost completely demolish my extra thick Daim Cadbury’s Easter egg (good god it was good). I was in a very happy place. I did have a moment of panic when I hurt my jaw though. I think I bit into the chocolate a bit too hard and something clicked making chewing really painful. I had a painkiller and it pretty much disappeared after about 10 minutes, thank god. Honestly, can you imagine that?? During Easter of all times! (Probably karma for my greediness I suppose).That evening to fully concrete my greedy person status, we went to an amazing restaurant called Hickory’s Smokehouse in Castle Bromwich. It’s a BBQ restaurant serving American-style food which just completely rocks my world.I went for the full rack of Kansas ribs while James had a BBQ platter and we both shared some chicken wings. Ahhh heavenly. I even managed to swap my fries for some frickles.Sadly though for once in my life it just got the better of me. I was UNABLE to finish the ribs. I think I’d overdone the chocolate earlier if I’m honest. My ego was very much dented and I felt like a failure 😉 After a pause of eating we did go for some pudding though as I feel like that’s an entirely different stomach.I went for the s’mores…which was a buttery biscuit base with melted chocolate and toasted marshmallows. Ahh soo good. And luckily not hugely rich or stodgy so could fit quite nicely into my already stuffed tummy. Happy days 😀

Did you eat a lot of chocolate over Easter?

Do you like to saviour your egg or eat it quickly? I wish I could but I’m far too greedy.

Have you ever run a route using your watch?

Rants and Raves #36

Things have been fairly busy round here but I thought I’d drop in a little Rants and Raves posts because I do like getting these things off my chest 😉

Rant: So I bought new trainers straight after the Tokyo Marathon because I thought I’d like a fresh start and all that jazz. I’m a Mizuno, Brooks and ASICS fan, but I do tend to favour Mizuno. Or at least I did. I’ve actually been loving running in my Brooks Adrenaline GTS’s but Mizuno’s are a bit cheaper and in general I seem to wear them more. So for around £50 on Amazon I found my usual trainers and went for them.They’re the Mizuno Wave Paradox 2 – in such a lovely colour. I wore them on a few of my post-marathon runs and then hurt my ankle/lower calf. Since then I’ve not worn these trainers again. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the trainers that caused my injury and most likely was the fact that I jumped straight back into some tough running less than a week after a marathon…but my irrational brain doesn’t want to wear the trainers now! I know this is ridiculous. My Brooks will be seeing the end of their time soon and it seems ridiculous to buy another pair of new trainers just because I’ve convinced myself the above trainers aren’t good. Does anyone else get these irrational fears (almost superstitions) about things like this?

Rant: Easter eggs sitting in my living room but aren’t for me.Ahh the daily temptation. I’ve bought a selection of eggs for family and friends and I did this early so there wouldn’t be an issue closer to Easter. On that note, isn’t it ridiculous just how many eggs are sold over Easter? Supermarkets have stacks and stacks of them and yet still they’ll be a dearth of supplies the closer it gets to Easter. It does make me worry about the amount of food packaging waste generated…I hope people recycle where they can.

Also, let’s ignore that that’s a Lindt reindeer and not a bunny. I was going to buy a bunny when my mum told me she had one I could have instead as my parents don’t want any eggs or chocolate as they’re trying to be more healthy. However, it turns out she had a spare reindeer instead – from Christmas. *Sighs*

Rave: Being an adult now (well, in terms of my age anyway I suppose), I don’t get many Easter eggs. My parents still treat me to one. I’m very cheeky and ask for a ludicrously expensive one. However because I’m all “sad and alone with no one to love me” (I believe this is how my mother thinks of me now) they buy this to make up for things (“things” being that very generic and all-encompassing term for the fact that I’m still single). Behold the Extra Thick Patisserie Egg from Hotel Chocolat.

It contains *clears throat* two egg halves, one 50% milk chocolate and pecan praline to be like a pecan pie and the other caramel chocolate, mascarpone, yoghurt and pinch of salt to be like a salted caramel cheesecake. And the full of chocolates themed as puddings, such as carrot cake, treacle tart, Eton mess and fudge sundae, amongst others. The hardship will be trying to not eat this all at once – I think I might die of sugar overload otherwise.

Rant: And speaking of being all single and alone (by the way, this is entirely tongue and cheeky – I actually am very happy right now. If you intend on pitying me, please leave immediately), I have one dress that I can’t wear unless I’m getting changed at someone else’s house.It’s impossible. I can’t do up the back. I can’t do it up before I get into it because it’s too tight then to get over my shoulders or hips, and I can’t reach around because the buttons are tiny. When people make dresses they need to consider single people!

Whew, actually quite a few rants today!

Natruflex Supplement – The Naked Pharamacy

And lastly I have a review from a company called The Naked Pharmacy. This company is a “natural pharmacy dedicated to evidence-based natural medicines, nutraceuticals and cosmeceuticals” [Source]. I was sent the Natruflex product.

This contains a high strength of turmeric and black pepper which provides a daily dose of 760mg total Curcuminoids and 19mg Piperine (95% strength of both active ingredients). Apparently these give joint and muscular benefits, reducing discomfort. The supplement also contains magnesium.

The supplement is gluten-free, suitable for vegetarians and not tested on animals.I had a little look on examine.com (which is a great website for checking scientific claims of supplements) and it seems there’s some evidence behind curcuminoid as being helpful to the body. But I’m neither a pharmacist nor a doctor (or anything science-related) so this is a very laymen point of view. I can’t say I’ve felt a huge difference but it is something I’d continue to take as I know how good turmeric is supposed to be for inflammation and, let’s be honest, I need all the help I can get to avoid injuries!

And finally, a lovely little Rave to finish off with. SUNSHINE! At the beach no less! Good days are coming, wheeee!

How are you enjoying these sunnier days?

Do you use turmeric to boost your body?

What Easter egg, if any, are you planning on eating?

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent the supplement from The Naked Pharmacy for free in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

Easter Weekend

And just like that the four day Bank holiday Easter weekend is over… But it was a pretty good one!

I didn’t do that much on Friday as I was driving up to Cardiff to see some friends and also to do the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff on the Saturday (sounds way more exciting than just saying the Cardiff Half Marathon). From Southampton to Cardiff it’s about three hours and as one of my friends and her husband lives there I went and stayed over on the Friday night so it wouldn’t be as stressful getting up there in the morning.

It was really nice to see them and they cooked an amazing chicken chorizo meal that evening (I stole the recipe, a Hairy Biker’s one, and will be recreating!) They even got slices of cake from a bakery as pudding – now that is good hospitality! Winking smile

The next morning I’d planned on getting up and doing the Cardiff parkrun in the morning as the half marathon didn’t actually start until 2.10pm (which I assume is so they could get optimum TV coverage). As I raced my last weekend’s half marathon I wasn’t intending on racing this one and wanted to try and get to around 18 miles for the day, though it would obviously be a bit disjointed as parkrun starts at 9am.

I went to Cardiff University so it was such a blast from the past to be back again. Though I have obviously been back since, just not for a while and usually just to visit my friends who live in the suburbs. I love the city and have such great memories so this was one of the main reasons I wanted to do the race (and the parkrun).

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The parkrun is right next to a huge Tesco so they’d advised parking there, which was very handy as I knew exactly where that was. I got there just before 8.30am. I was meeting up with my friend, Matt (a good running friend who went to the MT running camp weekend). A few of my running club were doing the Half but most of them wouldn’t be up until later and Matt was happy to run a couple of miles before parkrun with me to get my mileage up.

One half of a running club couple, Mark, who had also stayed in Cardiff on the Friday night joined as well and ran down from the hotel (another marathoner in training) so it was nice to catch him too there.

IMG_9497Matt, Mark and me resplendent in red!

Matt and me ran 2.5 miles nice and easily and quite close to the parkrun starting time so there wasn’t much of a gap. The parkrun course was super flat and followed the Taf Trail. It was such a walk (or run!) down memory lane as I used to live in the student flats literally five minutes away and we’d often come down to the park. I wasn’t a runner back then so it was quite surreal.

Cardiff parkrun

I ran with Mark and we both decided to keep it easy… though this didn’t exactly work out that way as we were both enjoying the flatness and also both being too polite to the other person to slow down in case the other person didn’t want to.

IMG_9583(Photo credit: Danothy Bennett)

So in the end we went faster than we’d intended and tried not to worry what that would mean for the half later on!

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The above splits include the 2.5 miles at the start (obviously). My parkrun time was 22:59. I’m really chuffed with the royal flush negative split for the entire run – not too shabby! (Though it was entirely unplanned).

Mark ran back to his hotel (hardcore), and Matt graciously invited me back to his hotel (wahay! Joke) so I could freshen up and get changed before the next run. I packed so much kit as I wasn’t sure what the weather would be like. I really didn’t want it to rain at parkrun and then for me to be soaked for the rest of the day. Luckily parkrun was lovely and pleasant and rain-free. I sensibly brought some warm trousers and a good coat to put on over my shorts and vest this time. We now had a long time to kill before 2.10pm!

After changing we walked into the centre of town (so handy for me to leave me car outside his hotel as it meant I could avoid ridiculously expensive car parks and could get home quickly at the end without getting stuck in traffic coming out – thanks Matt!).

The city was buzzing with excitement for the upcoming race. Runners were walking round everywhere, brandishing coffees and bananas looking at maps and carrying their race packs.Cardiff Half Marathon

The sky was looking more and more ominous as the time ticked by. There had been weather warnings for Wales and the chance of rain was now almost guaranteed.

To fuel up, keep warm and pass the time, Matt and me headed to a Welsh cafe for breakfast, though really brunch at this point. My friends the night before had recommended this place to me the evening before saying they did great breakfasts and it was just slightly off the beaten trail down one of the boutiquey alleyways.

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It was called Garlands Eatery and it was a lovely quaint cafe with beautiful, random decor (lots of old pictures all over the walls). We both saw the ‘Full Meaty’ English breakfast (Welsh breakfast I suppose!) and ordered that with some coffee and some added black pudding for me – I love the stuff!IMG_9509

It was about 10.30-11ish by the time we were eating and I thought this was pretty safe for such a big meal before a race. I’m too greedy to resist a Full English and it was a training run (these were the arguments I told myself as I tucked into that epic meal). It was, as you can imagine, delicious.

To pass some more time we had another coffee and just chilled out chatting. Then we left for a wander around and to help digestion!

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We checked out the bag drop area and race centre which was packed already full of people and good atmosphere. Matt then indulged me by walking with me to my old psychology building where I used to go to lectures etc. Compared to the beautiful Hogwarts-style university building nearby, the psychology building is so ugly!IMG_9514

A 12-floor tower block of ugliness. But it brought back good memories nonetheless. At just after 1pm we headed to the bag drop again as the race drew closer. The race pack came with ponchos so we quickly put those on after de-robing. It was windy and chilly but nothing as bad as I’d felt in Weymouth the week before. The rain was just about holding off…for now.

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This obviously required a poncho selfie Winking smile I then met up with my running club mates who were equally attired in the latest look.

IMG_9562Hedge End Running Club (Photo credit: Andy Cockerell)

I’ll recap the race in full in another post as this will be far too long otherwise.

So skipping instead to Sunday… I had a terrible night sleep on the Saturday. I think the combination of the later than normal race, a Costa coffee late afternoon on the journey home, aching legs from a big mileage day and just general excitement and buzzy-ness from a good day meant I was a bit wired. I didn’t fall asleep until about 1am, and then woke up around 7am (though because of the clock changes it was actually 8am now). I was at my parent’s house so I did have the absolute bliss of laying in bed and watching stuff on my iPad for a couple of hours  as Alfie could just go out in their back-garden with the other dogs so I had no reason to have to get up straight away.

I also had no long run as I’d done it the day before! I did want to have a 3 mile recovery run though to shake my legs out as they felt pretty terrible (especially after the three hour car journey home). I was a bit dubious to go for a run after such a hard day the day before but in the end it was the best thing I could have done.

The weather was sunny and the temperature cool, though it was still so gusty. Surprisingly my legs felt OK. I thought they’d be niggling and heavy but they felt good. I just ran comfortably and went with it, listening to the radio (Radio 1 had a requests show all weekend so there were some great and random songs being planned, not just the top 40). Then at around two miles it suddenly went really dark and the heavens opened up. A ridiculous amount of rain and hail descended upon me and I was literally drenched. This sped me up somewhat as I ran back to the warm and dry. My dad found it hilarious when he opened the door for me.

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But I’m glad I got it done as my legs felt a lot better afterwards. I’ve never really been fully on-board with recovery runs as I always fear the pounding will only make things worse for me and my injury prone body…but actually it worked nicely.

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A hot shower felt so good after that run!! After breakfast my parents gave me my Easter egg. I realise this makes me sound about 12 with that sentence but I’m doing my parents a favour in a few weeks and I jokingly said they could repay me with an expensive Easter egg… They thought it a great idea and who am I to disagree?? Especially when it’s a Hotel Chocolat THICK chocolate egg (£25!).

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It’s a ridiculously thick egg (as you bloody well should expect for that price!). One half of the egg is packed full of cookie and puff rice pieces and the other half with caramel pieces. Inside the egg it’s full of different chocolates. Best. Egg. Ever.

The rest of the Easter break was full of a) lots more food with my family and enjoying some film-time and walks, b) lots more chocolate, and c) lots of chilling out and a bit of shopping! I did manage to get the gym on the Monday but it was heaving with people. Not a fun experience! Clarifying why I prefer to go so ridiculously early normally! Everyone clearly had some calories to burn Winking smile

What did you do over the Easter weekend?

Did you get any Easter eggs?

Thoughts on recovery runs?

Easter fun – part 2

Soo continuing on with my Easter weekend (catch up HERE for part 1).

After running 14 miles on the Sunday (and enjoying a very tasty smoothie) I zipped off to Winchester to meet up with a friend to have a mosey about the shops and have lunch (I suppose the theme of Easter for me really!). Not all the shops were open as it was Easter Sunday but it really didn’t matter as we just walked and walked chatting away – actually it was wonderfully quiet which is just brilliant for Winchester as it’s usually rammed. The weather was lovely and the scenery very pretty so it was rather pleasant!

Winchester 5.05.15

When we stopped for air after chatting so much we realised it was probably a good idea to get some lunch (runger was attacking with a vengeance)! We stopped at CaféMonde which was surprisingly good as it looked quite small and non-descript from the outside. I went for a salad…surprise surprise! And not just any salad, but my favourite…the Caesar of course.

Caesar salad Winchester

At first I was a bit disappointed as it wasn’t huge and from experience usually the main bits of a salad in restaurants are all on the top. However, on digging deeper there were just tons of olives, slices of parmesan and chicken, along with a boiled egg and pitta bread. This is up there with one of the best Caesar salads I’ve had in a while (and I’ve had a lot!). My friend had a crayfish and avocado salad which also looked very tasty. Very reasonably priced as well (around £7 for the salad and a drink).

We then did some more walking (and shopping). We also found Jane Austen’s house which I’ve never seen before, despite going to Winchester many times…

Jane Austen's house

And we went on the hunt for cake of course. My friend chose a banoffee cheesecake slice to take home to share with her son, which I thought was immensely saintly and selfless of her – I however do not share cakes. I found the last slice of simnel cake in a little cafe and was over the moon because not only have I not had this cake before but because it was the last slice I got all the crumbs from the platter too!

Simnel cake It was pretty much like Christmas cake but without icing and perhaps not as dense. It was delicious! Big fat juicy bits of dried fruit, marzipan topping, moist sponge…oh it was delicious and I very much enjoyed gobbling this all as I sat watching Masterchef that evening at home.

At the end of the day I couldn’t believe how many steps I’d done! And my legs definitely felt it. I had that pleasant drained feeling of a very busy but good day.

42500 steps This included a walk with Alfie when I got back from Winchester but I was truly shocked at how far I’d gone even knowing I’d run 14 miles. For the day of the Berlin marathon I ran/walked 55k steps!

And guess what I was doing Monday? More walking!! I met up with a bunch of friends to enjoy the Queen Elizabeth Country Park with Alfie. One of the couple’s brought their whippet, Willow, and I think Alfie felt a bit chunky alongside her 😉

6.04.15 QECP walk (6) Willow bounced along so daintily and was incredibly fast. Alfie was a little apprehensive (he’s a friendly but shy dog) and kept looking back to make sure I was there, bless him.

6.04.15 QECP walk (7)

The walk was lovely – though tough at times for my friends who brought along their little baby boy in a pram. We all took turns to push the pram and I got nominated for the hilly sections because I “run lots”. I’ll accept that weird compliment I think!

The views were fantastic and the weather superb. I even took my coat off and walked in my T-shirt! I have every intention of going there again soon as it’s not far from me at all and Alfie loved it.6.04.15 QECP walk (3)And what a day for it! I even think I caught the sun! Beautiful 😀

Not as many steps as the day before (I think it was 25k which isn’t bad!) but Alfie was well and truly pooped. We settled down for the evening with The Imitation Game and though I really thought it was going to be dull and not my thing, I was hooked instantly. The acting was superb and the story was fascinating but tragic. It made me so angry about the way Alan Turing was treated, though I felt woefully ignorant to what had happened. I learnt about the Turing test during university when I studied psychology but knew nothing about his life. I also found out that Alan Turing achieved a 2:43 marathon time – how incredible is that?? Brains and speed!

Do you enjoy walking?

What’s your favourite salad?

If you have a pedometer, what’s the highest number of steps you’ve achieved in a day?

Finding the small things

I don’t know about you but when I get stressed, or angry, or sad sometimes I can find myself wallowing in the emotion. This isn’t good to do for long periods of time obviously. It’s not good for your mind, your health or you spirit.

Pardon my French, but when the shit hits the fan I just want to run away and hide. I want to moan, cry and beat my fists: “why me?”. But what good does this do really? OK sometimes it’s very cathartic and I’m not saying to have a good cry is wrong from time to time. But you still have your life to live and things to get done. So when I’m feeling this way I try and find stuff to keep me smiling and make me happy.

As I’ve mentioned before, I love reading. I’m a self-confessed book worm and I am not ashamed! After the very sad death of Terry Pratchett I realised I hadn’t actually read many of his books (possibly just one, The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents which was one of his younger books). My dad is a huge Terry Pratchett fan so I asked his advice about where to start because the Discworld (where most of the books are set) is massive. I was slightly dubious as I’m not that into fantasy but I thought I’d give it a crack. My dad leant me Going Postal and I’m hooked.

Going Postal Terry Pratchett Source

It’s exactly what I need right now – a story about a world far enough from reality that I can forget any problems I have and just sink into the story. For me reading is a brilliant escape and perfect to help you relax just before you go to bed (that terrible time when the demons always appear).

And in daily life seeing the hints of spring always makes me feel good. Knowing that better weather is round the corner, lighter evenings, lighter mornings and wearing less layers.

Spring daffodilsLet’s not think about losing an hour this weekend though! Meaning my 5am gym wake-ups might feel like 4am for a bit. Dear lord.

And spring time means my motivation to walk Alfie is far higher. It’s no longer a trudge through the cold, but sometimes the sun is shining and it’s just perfect. I know I keep going on about them, but the Jabra ear buds are also making walks with Alfie easier.

IMG_0174 Having a dog lead and ear phone cables to contend with makes things a bit stressful and occasionally I’ll accidentally catch the cable and yank one from my ear, which is always painful. But as the Jabra ones are wireless it means just one thing to contend with – Alfie…who’s hard enough on his own with chasing birds and pooing in bushes!

Obviously running makes me happy and is a fabulous escape and refresher of the mind. I’ve been running the same very hilly 10k(ish) route every week around Basingstoke where I work before I go home on a Wednesday night. Strava is brilliant because it let’s me compare runs when I do the same route. I’ve now done this route five times and so far I’ve just kept improving slightly.

image To be honest though I don’t think I can continue this trend. It is a hard run and I’m not sure how much faster I can do it. But it’s not necessarily just about the speed for the run – it’s about those horrific hills and the strength I’m hoping I’m building up in my legs.

image There’s no point just running easy flat routes all the time. Make your training hard to make racing easy is my plan. Though always remember to make it easy when your body tells you to – we’re not superheroes!

As I run from work on a Wednesday night it means I’m not going to get dinner until I get home. So by the time I’m home and dinner is prepared it can be at least an hour and a half later. I do need something to refuel me to make the next day not feel like hell. The people from Upbeat sent me some protein smoothies to review for my blog.

IMG_0167 So I’ve been taking them to work and having them post-run on a Wednesday night when I drive back home. Luckily we have a fridge at work so I just grab it as soon as I’ve finished my run and drink while I do some stretching in the mini work gym.

Upbeat smoothie Post run stretch and refuel

Upbeat drinks are dairy protein drinks. They’re high in protein (20g per bottle – and this comes from whey protein from the milk), low in fat and relatively lower in sugar than most smoothies. Each bottle also has less than 150 calories. The available flavours are Strawberry, Blueberry & Raspberry and Mango & Passion Fruit. The ingredients list reads very nicely without any crazy artificial flavourings or chemicals.

Mango and Passion Fruit Upbeat

My thoughts? I actually really enjoyed these, which I was surprised about as I thought “ooh whey protein and a smoothie? Hmm”. The consistency was fairly thick (like a smoothie) but lovely and, well, smooth. I definitely felt like I was being filled up when I drank it. It didn’t feel like “empty calories”. I never want actual food straight after a run but the length of time between running and dinner is too long to not have something and this fits the bill perfectly.

Upbeat bag

They also sent me a lovely material bag for life and notepad as well, which just made me smile. Maybe I’m not feeling that upbeat right now, but it helps to have a reminder to at least try!

And if all else fails, just have a bit of what you fancy. I don’t believe you should eat for your moods all the time but I do believe sometimes you just bloody well need chocolate.

IMG_0198How good does that sound?? Salted fudge! It’s currently sat in my fridge just waiting…I’ll crack into it soon (no pun intended…) but just knowing it’s there like an old friend ready to help me when I most need it is just wonderful.

How do you get yourself out of dark moods?

What is making you smile lately?

What is your perfect East egg?

***Full Disclosure: I was sent the Upbeat protein smoothies for free to review. All opinions are my own honest ones.***