Things I’m loving lately – February/March

I’m sure I write the same thing every year but it’s so nice to be getting into spring. The lighter evenings and mornings… ahh bliss (well, when it isn’t snowing of course).

Bodum Coffee flask: I get up ridiculously early for the gym as you may be aware. It’s actually not that bad anymore. I genuinly enjoy my super early mornings and going to the gym. It’s part of my routine. I’m verrrry routine based and it just fits nicely. I’m an early bird and get decent sleep so it’s only the initial alarm going off that is tough and then I’m awake and raring to go.One of the things I look forward to is my coffee in the car on the way to the gym. While I take Alfie for a walk (in ALL the layers) I’ve put my coffee on and it’s ready by the time I get back. I take it with me on the drive (I use a straw so it’s easier/safer to drink whilst driving) and it’s just bliss. Especially when it’s super cold. The coffee flask I use is a Bodum Vacuum Travel Mug. It is perfect. It’s never leaked or spilt (even when I fill it to the top) and it doesn’t burn my hand to hold while keeping my coffee super hot.

R8 Roller: This isn’t mine. I’ve stolen borrowed it off a friend after Marathon Talk Run Camp.I would buy one myself but it’s from the States so there’s a high shipping cost added on to the actual cost of the product, making it well over £100. I’ve been wanting to try one of these for ages and it doesn’t disappoint. It’s fantastic for your quads and hamstring. Though it’s a bit more awkward on the calf because it also rolls the shin which is a little painful and the glutes are super awkward to do (I’ll stick to my tennis ball). But it’s SO good in terms of pressure and hitting trigger points. Love this.

Lava-Activ Hydration BeltI was sent this hydration belt to test out and review. It’s similar to a hydration belt I’ve used before and got on well. The only annoyance about my previous belt is that the bottles are TINY. During the summer I’d have to top them up mid-way through my long run at my “dodgy tap”. These (BPA-free!) bottles however are a bit bigger (2x 300ml), which is so much better.The belt sat nicely on my hips, didn’t chafe and didn’t bounce. The pocket  is big enough for a few gels, coins and keys or your phone (apparently iPhoner 8’s are fine). It’s not a massive pocket but it’s big enough for what you need!  There’s handily also a pocket divider to prevent items from rubbing against each other. There are also clips to attach a bib, but I’m not a huge fan of doing this.You can wear it either way I think, but I prefer the bottles at the back than the front. It’s predominately black, but the stripe on the pocket comes in three colours (orange, blue or green). You can buy the belt on Amazon.

Cake: OK two things about cake. Firstly, I had the most amazing cake a couple of weekends ago and it ROCKED my world.It was salted caramel flavour and it was divine. The icing was deliciously sticky. Ahhh to have that cake again…

And in other cake news… I’ve won one on Instagram!! I follow the very lovely Nicki Chan-Lam (@Nickichanlam on Instagram) who has a ridiculously huge appetite! And coming from me, that’s big. She posted a competition about a cake giveaway from the amazing bakery Whisk and Drizzle in London and my comment won! I mentioned that it was my mum’s 60th birthday in May. So I win a a Whisk and Drizzle cake which I can pick up when I’m in London (for my mum’s birthday). AMAZING AMAZING. Could I be any more excited?? (said in Chandler’s voice).

Cinema trips: I went to the cinema twice last week. I took my mum to see Finding Your Feet for a Mother’s Day (but not on Mother’s Day as I wasn’t there) treat and she loved it. I mean, it ticked all her boxes of what she loves in a film so I was super pleased she enjoyed it. I enjoyed the night, but the film wasn’t really my kind of thing. I feel for my dad really as that film will probably now be on repeat for the rest of his life. That along with Bridget Jones’ Diary and Mama Mia!

The second cinema trip was with my running friend Joe. Bless him, he cooked me a hearty sausage casserole and then we headed to the very fancy Showcase cinema in Southampton. WITH RECLINING LEATHER CHAIRS. It was epically comfortable. We saw Shape of Water which was so good. It was very dream-like and gentle…you had to let yourself get swept along with it. It was very romantic and I just loved it.

Alfie: And because Alfie hasn’t been featured on the blog in a while, here he is in all his cutness.My heart just melts.

Running: I completely forgot to mention this in my last post, but when I was at the Walsall Arboretum parkrun on Saturday I noticed a woman signing the run director’s instructions. How good is that! I’ve never seen that before but I thought it was such a fantastic idea. Typical parkrun eh being so inclusive and thoughtful 😉

And this weekend is the Reading Half Marathon! I’m quite excited (despite hearing horrible rumours about how cold it’s going to be…please no more snow).I won’t be going for a PB as I’m not in that shape but I will give it a good go I think. I’m in a good place with my running, no niggles (EVERYONE TOUCH WOOD PLEASE) and I feel strong. It’ll be nice to see where I’m at in terms of putting some faster paces on for a long run. We shall see…

What are you loving lately?

Have you been to the cinema recently?

Do you foam roll?

**Full Disclosure: I was sent the belt for free in exchange for a post on Instagram. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

That boring gym person…

First and foremost, my thoughts are with all those affected by the devastating events on Friday in Paris. I woke up Saturday morning and couldn’t believe what had happened. It’s very sad and terrifying time.

Prayers for Paris

 

Saturday morning was very sombre. I headed to parkrun with Alfie where it was cold and overcast. No one was really in that jolly a mood considering what had happened the night before. Alfie though was carefree as anything and raced around the place and dove into as many puddles as he could.

Again I wasn’t running this week. I had seen my physio on Thursday and both he and I could tell there was a marked improvement from Sunday when I saw him for an hour and a half. On Sunday he assessed me completely and rather than finding anything wrong specifically with my knee, he said it was a combination of a tight calf, a tight hamstring and a tight back that was causing my left leg to internally rotate and aggravate my knee. On both Sunday and Thursday he worked into those areas and released so much tension. Now it feels like a bit of a niggle rather than the sharp and eye-watering pain I felt just last week.

I was tempted to run at parkrun but he advised against it, saying just take one more week. He showed this very cool Tensegrity model to demonstrate what was happening.

TENSEGRITY MODEL

All the wooden sticks are held together by elastic bands and when he pulled slightly on one elastic band on one side you could see how the entire shape changed due to that small amount of tension. He said this is what was happening in my left side. As I was still tight my body would have to change its biometrics to compensate and I wouldn’t be doing myself any favours. Great visual representation!

Anyway, back to parkrun where it had now started to rain. My friend Mark was supposed to be time keeper but he hadn’t shown up so I was asked to take over as I was otherwise just a marshal. Cue immediate panic as time keeping is not a job I’ve ever done before and a lot rides on it!!

parkrun time keeper

Mark did turn up in the end (and took the above photo of me, thank you!) but I kind of wanted to give time keeping a go so he kindly let me do it. At the start of parkrun, just before they sounded the whistle, we held a minute silence in respect for Paris. It was very moving as everyone stood there in silence. And then they were off.

Annoyingly I’d lost Alfie’s lead (I’d put it in the wrong parkrun bag that had got taken away to someone’s car) so I had to time-keep while also making sure Alfie didn’t trip anyone up when they finished. Mark took over at the end so I could help start clearing away the flags etc. with the other guys. I didn’t mess up, hurrah!

After clearing everything away I was cold and wet and though people were heading to the cafe I thought it best to just go home as I couldn’t take Alfie inside and it would be mean to either leave him outside or make people sit outside in the wet. I was sad to miss the hot drink but I got home and had some lovely hot porridge instead.

Alfie once again got a bath as he was covered in mud and then I got myself together and headed to the gym for my ‘legs day’.

IMG_6025

Lift, selfie, repeat 😉

Legs day is my favourite day. I just feel really strong and can feel myself getting stronger. It’s my escapism at the moment while I can’t run. Though I have to say midday Saturday is peak time! The weights area was packed but I was lucky to have a squat rack to do my thing.

I did:

  • Squats: warming up with 12 reps of 45kg a few times then one rep of 65kg, then seven reps between 4-10 from 55kg to 65kg.
  • Box squats: Five 6-10 reps 65kg-70kg
  • Deadlifts: warming up with a few 12 reps of 30kg and one at 62.5kg, then six reps between 4-6 from 62.5kg to 67.5kg.
  • Leg press: warmup of 20 reps of 46.7kg, then 8-12 reps from 67.7kg to 112kg
  • Sumo squat: warmup of 20 with 10kg, then four reps of 20 with 20kg
  • Ab work: hanging knee raises and then parallel bar leg raises

This took two hours in the gym! As I a) wasn’t moving and b) wasn’t going to Cardiff anymore I had some time on my hands and I really enjoyed just going through these exercises, listening to music and zoning out. The next day (and still today) my legs are feeling some serious DOMs.

Foam rolling

On Sunday I spent a good amount of time rolling my aches and tightnesses, which was both painful and strangely enjoyable. While rolling and stretching I watched the film Margin Call, a tense drama about the financial crash. I know that sounds quite dull but the acting was really good (Kevin Spacey, Demi Moore, Paul Bettany, etc.) and I was fully engaged the entire time (no iPad/phone distraction at all – just the foam roller).

So my weekend was fairly low-key. I’ve become that boring gym person I’m afraid, but it makes a change from that boring injured runner…or that boring runner 😉 Hopefully next week I’ll be running. I have another session with my physio and finger’s crossed…

What’s your favourite muscle group to work on at the gym?

What fims have you watched recently? (New or old)

How do you recover from a hard workout?