How I try to be injury-free

2017 has been my best year running. No I haven’t PB’ed in every distance (in fact, I’ve only achieved one PB this year, at the Great South Run). But I’ve had a great year of CONSISTENTLY running and side-stepping injuries.

This year I’ve only had two injuries, both lasting a short period of time (for me this is VERY good). One of those was ankle related and probably down to throwing myself back into running too soon after a marathon and going on a ridiculous seven mile off-road trail run. The second was upping my mileage from 25 miles a week to over 50 miles a week on an Austria run camp – lots of downhill running causing my knee to say ENOUGH. So in terms of those pesky over-use injuries I used to get ALL the time, I’ve done very well.

I thought I’d do a post on some of the things I’m doing that I believe might have helped me. I will obviously preface with this with: 1) I’m not a physiotherapist, coach or anyone of any notable qualifications or intelligence, 2) this might all be fluke. That said, let’s get to it.

Gaining weight

I used to be about five-six pounds lighter. Yes, yes lighter usually means faster when it comes to running but as I don’t particularly care about speed in the great scheme of things I don’t mind (that said, I’ve managed to almost reach my 5k PB from my lighter days).

I’ve put in some solid effort at the gym and gained muscle and, yes, fat. Ladies, FAT IS NEEDED. We need fat to be healthy. Boobs, bums, hips, thighs… fat is a good thing to have. Obviously there is a limit, but being ridiculously skinny is not that healthy. Embrace those love handles, jiggle those thighs and be proud of your lumps, bumps and curves. I realise I’m still a relatively slim jim, but I am definitely not as slim as I used to be and I’m very happy. I love my body and I love food. I have an insane appetite and the thought of giving up anything to be slimmer genuinely brings sadness to my heart. Happily, I truly believe that carrying a bit more jiggle has given my body more strength and the ability to endure higher mileage.

Strength training

I bang on about this all the time I know. It took me a while to get this. I’d get injured, I’d end up at the physio, he’d assess and treat me and send me away with a list of exercises I needed to do. I’d do them for a period of time and eventually be back running, forget the exercises… and then get injured again. This was quite the cycle for me. Until I finally realised I needed to keep doing the exercises. Sadly I’m not as hardy as other people and I require that added extra work in order to keep me running healthy and strong.IMG_0965So I go to the gym four times a week. Two of those sessions are focused on my legs and glutes. For legs I do squats (lots of variations from heavy low reps, to high reps with resistance bands, etc.), lunges, single leg work, leg presses, deadlifts… And for glutes I do hip thrusts, kickbacks, bridges, step ups, etc. And every day at the gym I always do at least five minutes of focused glute resistance band work, such as monster walks.

I’ve also found when I start to feel something “not right” (like my hip the other week) I focus on that area and the areas around it. I make sure I don’t cause pain or discomfort, but I aim to strengthen that area. I’ve found it also helps to get the blood flowing in that area to help keep it healthy.

Bit of stretching

I don’t really stretch after running and I don’t tend to do much warming up (unless it’s super cold or I’m waiting for someone – then I’ll do some token squats and leg swings). What I do do is stretching first thing in the morning. This is usually at the gym. I go through a sort of mini-yoga routine opening up my back and my hips. I try and make sure the movements are dynamic and not just static holds. I don’t know if this has helped me much with running but in general I feel better for it.

And nutritional things…

Now take these with a punch of salt. I thought I’d mention them because they’re something I personally like to do and in my head I think they make a difference but really I have no idea and no direct proof.

  • Turmeric: I eat a lot of turmeric. It’s gotten to the point now that most of my dinners have a slight orange tinge to them because of the turmeric. I really like the spice (I wouldn’t eat it if I didn’t, believe me!) and I’ve heard some good things about it helping reduce inflammation. So I chuck it on my meals. In my most paranoid moments (the day before a long run or a marathon for example) I might even go as far as having a turmeric latte. Yep.
  • Omega 3 supplements: I take these every single day without fail. I do try and eat fish regularly through the week but I like to fully ensure I’m getting my omega 3 anyway.
  • More protein: And in general I eat a solid amount of protein. I much prefer protein to carbs (#allthemeat) so I don’t find this too difficult. With every meal I’ll have a solid source of protein. Easy protein sources: tinned tuna (I eat this every day for lunch in a salad), protein powder (I add this to my porridge), Greek yogurt (or Skyr yogurts are really good), chicken, turkey and meat/fish in general, eggs, cottage cheese, beans, chia seeds…

Like I said, I have no idea if the above has significantly contributed to me staying uninjured but it’s a lifestyle I’m going to continue. Hopefully this has been somewhat useful to you! Now excuse me while I sip my orange-tinged coffee… 😉

How do you stay injury-free?

Do you take any supplements?

Do you go to the gym?

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 #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?

Food, fitness and finally RUNNING

I don’t think I’ve ever woken up on a Saturday and looked forward to Monday morning at work before. This is very strange to me! I mean, I didn’t hate my last job or dread going in but I never felt the excitement and genuine interest that I currently feel. Long may this last!

As I said, my posts are a bit few and far between right now as I find my new schedule and get my life in order…but for today’s post I’ll recap the weekend as it was a pretty good one!

I spent Friday night with my parents and had a very much needed long sleep and lazy morning with them on Saturday morning, walking the dogs down the beach and catching up. They wanted to know how my new job had gone and all that jazz. Though I obviously missed going to parkrun it was really nice to spend this rare Saturday morning with them for once.

A bit later I headed to the gym and had a really good session, if I do say so myself. I came up with a circuit-style workout that I did four times, and it definitely got the blood pumping and the endorphins racing.

  • 5 minutes on the rowing machine
  • 20x step ups
  • 20x lunges (w/barbell)
  • 20x squats and barbell overhead raise
  • 20x Swiss ball hamstring curls
  • 20x Swiss ball jackknives
  • 20x bench bunny hops

I then followed this with 25 minutes on the elliptical machine watching Iron Man 2. I’ve seen barely any of the Marvel films so I’m using my cross training time to catch up. So far I’ve done Iron Man and half of Iron Man 2 – only 9,000 more films to go 😉

That evening I headed out for another burger and ice cream-full evening with Andy. This time we were testing out 7Bone Burger Co., which is another Southampton burger-based restaurant (I believe there are a few around the place). This was a bit more low-key but very busy. It was literally packed! We luckily found a nice table and surveyed the menu.

I chose the Prince Charles is Overrated burger which came with a 10oz beef patty, bacon, cheese, lettuce, pickles and dirty spread (mayo-based yumminess sauce). I ordered frickles to come with it (fried pickles – ABSOLUTE dream).

And I think Andy ordered the Ronald’s Revenge (mustard, double cheese, fried onions) and chilli cheese fries. We also shared some halloumi fries.

So comparing these burgers with the burgers from last week at The Rockstone… I can say that the burgers themselves were better at The Rockstone – a bit more “meaty” and substantial. The 7Bone Burgers disappeared very easily and very quickly. However, the meal itself was better at 7Bone because of the entire package. The frickles and the halloumi fries were literally heaven.

Andy kindly shared his fries with me and they were AMAZING. I mean, I’m not really a processed cheese fan but my God these were another level.

We let things settle before walking over to the handily located Sprinkles for a deja vu moment of finishing off the meal with ice cream again. This time I decided not to go for the behemoth sundae that I went for last time and stuck to a slightly more modest pudding in a jar.

I had the Guilty Pleasure, which contained gelato, melted chocolate, strawberries, brownie bits and caramel popcorn. Actually it was a little bit of a disappointment as quite a chunk of the jar was just cream and strawberries. I got major food envy of Andy’s jar which contained freshly baked cookie bits. Ah well, you live and learn.

Ooooof, what a meal! I was stuffed (again). Enough burgers and ice cream now for a while please!

The next morning I headed out for my first “long run” in a while. I’d run twice in the week to good results – minimal knee discomfort and nothing getting worse post run. So I decided to up the ante and go for the big one. SIX MILES. Jesus, calm me down. Six whole miles. Only five weeks to the marathon… PANIC.

Not quite. I’ve been here before where I’ve been injured and my well-laid marathon plans have been scuppered. So I’m familiar with this process. Inverse taper to the big day is the way forward. The only thing that will hold me back is if my knee decides to not play ball.

I’m quietly confident at the moment though as it felt pretty good during the six miles. The first mile was a bit uncomfortable but then it was absolutely fine. I was tempted to go further but thought NO ANNA, don’t over-do it. Keep calm and level-headed and just build those miles up slowly again until the big day.

What really made me happy was that I felt very comfortable running at a good pace. I don’t appear to have lost any major fitness in terms of cardiovascular-ness (technical term there). I just need my body to get used to the impact and pounding of running on pavements again. The elliptical machine is all well and good keeping my fitness in tune but it does nothing for allowing the ligaments etc. to adjust to that ground force.

After the six miles I headed quickly to the gym to top this up with 35 minutes on the elliptical machine to kind of replicate a longer run. I felt a bit weird turning up to the gym already sweaty but hey ho. Needs must. Then it was a quick dash home, shower and head to my parents to go over on the ferry to Gunwharf for a mosey round the shops and then a walk into Southsea for lunch.The Southsea kite festival was going on which was really cool as well. So many crazy kites!SouthseaI love the photo of the man behind me wearing his very cool purple sparkly cowboy hat.

We then found the delightful Algarve Grill restaurant and had Portuguese-style tapas. Oh god, ALL THE FOOD.I was actually looking for something a bit lighter after the big meal the night before… but these things happen. I had sardines, meatballs, chicken skewers, these meat breaded pouch things and a pork dish (pork pieces cooked in a very delicious butter sauce). I was STUFFED. Happily we had quite a walk to get back to the car (all the way to Gunwharf, then over on the ferry and then to the carpark from there) so it had time to go down! Though I was shattered by the time we finally got back to the car. I’d done almost 30,000 steps!

Whew, that was a big post! Hopefully going to get back into some regular posting so watch this space 😉

How was your weekend?

What’s your favourite burger side?

What’s your favourite Marvel film, if you have one? I really like Thor but I’ve heard Captain America is really good.

On to new things…

So I finished my last day at work last Wednesday. It was definitely a bittersweet. I’ve worked there for over five and a half years. I remember joining and being this timid, terrified girl…unsure of everything, so quiet and afraid. I walked out of there on Wednesday confident, self-assured and ready for my next challenge. I’ll miss so many of the people I worked with but I’m looking forward to working with a new bunch of people and hopefully making some friends!

I had Thursday and Friday off, which was just amazing. I haven’t had a proper couple of days where I literally have nothing planned for ages. I decided to do a day of sorting schizz out in the spirit of new beginnings and all that. I also agreed to help my parents sort out their garage and under-the-stairs cupboard (a blackhole for shoes, bags and coats).

My dad took off the Friday as well and hired a skip which helped the situation. I mean, I love my parents but they just seemed to hoard so much junk. I’m not even joking when I say we took FOUR black bags of shoes to charity. Who has time to wear that many shoes?? And their garage is just full of random rubbish and charity-shop worthy items that for some reason my parents thought to keep hold of. NO ONE NEEDS THREE TOOLKITS. This is probably one of the main reasons I’m not a sentimental person when it comes to physical things and mementos. There are few items I’m irrationally attached to. All about that minimalist lifestyle (leggings aside of course. You can NEVER have too many leggings. Honest).

Found some rather hilarious old photos of my sister, mum and I.

AnnaTheApple childI mean, those hair styles…

As I was still not running it meant I could have some lovely lie-ins and then go to the gym at a more reasonable time than I usually would. I was given an Amazon gift voucher from work as part of my leaving present so I decided to buy and download some movies I’ve been wanting to see so I could make time on the elliptical machine far more bearable.

Cardio entertainmentI’ve got through Get Out (really creepy but really good) and the Lego Batman Movie (very funny). It’s actually a really good way to stay motivated on that god-awful machine. It also makes me keen to get back on it as I’ll only allow myself to watch these movies on the elliptical machine. Happy days…

On Friday night I went out to a fantastic burger place for some food. I’d heard that The Rockstone pub in Southampton literally did the best burgers around and so was fairly excited to go and eat stupid amounts of food, and of course spend time with good company.

I ordered the “BBCK” burger which was a 10oz burger with Brie, streaky bacon and a cranberry chutney. I also upgraded my fries to bacon dust fries. I mean, seriously.

The Rockstone BurgerMy partner in crime ordered the “Ban Ki-Mmm” which had Korean pork belly amongst other treats on top. I did get a little food envy on seeing his but mine was SO tasty it was only very brief. He upgraded to sweet potato fries. I have to say, usually I’m not a huge burger fan (I prefer more toppings/protein to carb ratio…), but this was heavenly.

We were both more than happy (and fairly full) on finishing our burgers. By the way, they were impossible to pick up. I did try but failed miserably. 10/10 for effort…not so much for getting covered in sticky cranberry-ness. Though we were full we decided to forgo the pudding on offer at The Rockstone and instead go to the handily located Sprinkles just down the road. Just a small pudding, eh? 😉

Sprinkles sundaeI got a cookie dough based sundae (zomggggggg) and he got a baked skillet cookie with ice cream. Mine contained hot cookie dough at the bottom, chocolate and vanilla ice cream and vanilla gelato as well as cookie pieces and molten white chocolate and regular chocolate drizzled on top. Dear god it was good. I couldn’t quite finish it all. For once my stomach said no. But I gave it my best stab! I prioritised the best bits!

So my time off was pretty damn good. I did manage two miles on Sunday to test the leg out… it felt OK but I’m not entirely convinced. More updates on that soon. Things are going pretty well right now (let’s ignore the small car accident I had Tuesday morning *sighs*, again more on that another time!)

My blogging is going to be a bit off-routine for a bit while I find my footing in my new job and adjusting to a new routine. But in the words of Lego, EVERYTHING IS AWESOME

What’s your ideal burger?

What’s your ideal sundae?

If you use cardio machines, how do you motivate yourself to stay on them?