parkrun, long running and a natural body polish review

This weekend was a really quiet one. I had no plans for once and it was a great time to catch up on house chores and jobs and have a chilled weekend.

I went to Netley parkrun on the Saturday morning. It was a warm morning but windy. I took Alfie along again with me. Now that it’s summer it’s so nice to be able to bring him so he can have a good run about while we set the course up. I don’t always bring him with me to parkrun though because I have to have someone to look after him while I run. My running friend Mike has been bringing his daughter, Kelci, to parkrun lately and she enjoys looking after Alfie, which is very helpful.I always feel so mean leaving Alfie at home while I go off running on a Saturday morning, especially when the weather’s so nice. So I’m very grateful for Kelci helping out! They’re planning on getting a dog of their own so it’s good practice.

I headed to the loo for a quick pre-parkrun pee to find a gathering of people and locked toilets. The person who normally unlocks them was late. Suddenly my desire for a wee intensified, purely on the basis that I might not be able to relieve myself! One of the parkrun regulars, an older and lovely lady, stated rather elegantly that she was “off to find herself a bush”. She said it in such a dignified and polite way it made me chuckle. Luckily though it wasn’t that much longer before the caretaker showed up with the keys. Whew!

And then onto the start and a squinty selfie.The sun was shining and I was fancying a time of around 22-23 minutes. With the wind and temperature I knew realistically breaking 22 minutes wasn’t going to happen, especially after having quite a heavy week of running for me (the intervals on Tuesday and a nine miler with my friend on Thursday evening). As soon as I started running I knew I should have had a warm-up. Why don’t I ever learn? Trying to run fast straight from the start never works and I feel terrible on mile one. It wasn’t hugely busy as the Endure 24 event in Reading was on and a lot of my club and other local clubs were doing it. The Isle of Wight Festival was on as well.I got stronger and felt better as the run continued thankfully (which is why I should warm up!). I waved to Kelci and Alfie on the way round, not that Alfie took a blind bit of notice as he was having far too much fun sniffing and playing with Kelci.The photographer, Chris Stapleford, took all the running photos this week so a big thank you to him. He said to me afterwards that I was one of the few runners that consistently smiled all the way round. Well, I don’t know quite about that as every photo I seem to be looking very serious!!In the end I got 22:05 which I’m chuffed with (damn those 6 seconds though…).Netley parkrun always seems to be a bit short on the Garmin because we go into the trees for a bit of it and it messes with the satellite. We’ve been reassured it’s accurate after several times measuring the course but it does annoy me when Strava thinks it’s 3 or 2.9 miles.

My running friend, Kate, was running with a buggy and she mentioned afterwards how she finds it annoying when people overtake her, cut in front and then slow down right in front of the buggy. I never really considered what running with a buggy would be like and it was interesting to hear Kate’s perspective. I always tend try to get past buggies as it can be annoying to get stuck behind one but Kate’s a fast runner so it must be very frustrating when people will assume she’s slow and just hurry past and then slow down again in front of her simply because she has a buggy. I know it bugs me when people do it to me on the motorway. If you’re going to overtake, maintain that speed afterwards!

I munched on two cookies afterwards (I do love it when it’s someone’s milestone!) and helped clear the course. Another solid parkrun complete.

The next day I had a long run planned with Mike and Kate, aiming for around 13 miles. As I’ve said before, I’m really enjoying running with others and obviously running with Mike is good training as we’ll be running the New Forest Marathon together eventually (me pacing him).

Happily we met at the very socially friendly time of 9am (I like my 8am lie-ins on a Sunday!). It was a very warm morning so we all took water with us. We stuck to around 9 min/miles which felt comfortable but not as comfortable as it might have felt on a cooler day.Annoyingly I stopped my Garmin and saved it again when we crossed for some lights. SO annoying. The route we took is a really boring and annoying route, one I only do if I’m running with others. It becomes more undulating in the later part of the run which is never fun. But it did the job. For Mike to get a sub-4 we need to be running around 9 minute miles for the marathon, though the plan is to start a bit slower than this and pick it up later. I think he found the run quite tough but we’ve only really just started marathon training and it was a very hot day. Plus I think we’re both conscious of how we run the day before at parkrun will definitely have an effect on the next day’s running, so that’s something to bare in mind going forward.

And now onto a review of a body polish I’ve recently been using. When it comes to cosmetics and skincare I’m somewhat…lacklustre? I don’t really have a “routine”. I used to be really good about cleansing and toning, but now? Eh…not so much. I just can’t be bothered. I’m lucky to have good skin (asides from the occasional spot now and again) and I don’t wear make-up so really I don’t do much else than wash with water. When it comes to the shower I just use a shower gel.

I find though I do get a bit of dry skin on my legs so moisturise those after showering. So when I heard about the Beauty Kitchen’s Inspire Me Brightening & Toning Body Polish I was quite intrigued. I’ve found in the past exfoliating can help with my dry skin and this sounded like a really nice product. It contains minerals and naturals oils for detox, exfoliation and rejuvenation. It’s also never tested on animals and suitable for vegans.I use a scoop of it when I’m in the shower and basically rub it all over my legs in a circular motion. You can feel the grainy texture of it working with (against?) your skin as you do so. Then I shower it off. It does take some showering to get it off though as it is quite oily but afterwards my legs felt so silky! And the smell is heavenly. I don’t use it every time I shower because who has time for that!? But I try and use it once every two or three days and honestly it feels quite indulgent.My only annoyance is that it leaves little black flecks in my shower that I then have to use the shower head to wash away. But it’s worth it as my legs are super shiny!  It’s available from Holland & Barrett at £14.99, which is quite pricey (especially for someone who leans towards the cheaper shower gels…). But you only need a small scoop each time so I can see this lasting me a while. I love how natural the product is too. Thumbs up!

How was your weekend?

Do you have a skincare regime?

Do you have routes you’ll only run with other people on?

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

Running Lately

So last week I  felt pretty rubbish. I mean, it was a kind of unspecific rubbish. Like I felt overwhelming tired and really nauseous when I woke up in the morning but then I’d feel relatively fine (asides from tired) in the day. In a parallel universe these symptoms might suggest pregnancy, but yeah: NO.

And when it came to running it was awful. I ran 10k on Tuesday and it was such a grind.It was a combination of the tiredness/bug thing and the fact that I’d done some heavy squats and glute workout at the gym the day before. So my legs were basically giving me the finger (what a sentence…).

On Thursday I ran with Mike and, as we were both doing the D Day 10k on the Sunday, we decided to do our long run that evening together. But those 10 miles, Jeeeeeeeesus. I felt bad for Mike as I was just dragging and literally counting down every 0.1 mile.I was glad to have run with Mike though as I’m almost certain I’d have binned this run had I been on my own.

Then at parkrun I felt terrible again. The only way to describe it is like I was trying to run 6min/miles and failing.

Photo Credit: Ken Grist

But I was running over 8min/miles…and failing. In the end, I just stopped looking at my watch. I chatted to a guy who fell in step with me and that helped take my mind of the struggle. As the run went on though I felt more alive.

I finished feeling a bit better than the previous week, in 24:03.

Photo Credit: Ken Grist

As I headed back to my car to grab my barcode I saw a girl who was still running suddenly fall over. At first I thought she’d injured herself and tripped but then I saw she’d basically almost fainted, like I’d done the week before.

I ran over to help. Others who were still running stopped too but as I’d finished I said I’d look after her while they carried on. She was OK but a bit out of it. She was adamant to finish so myself and another girl helped her walk the last 400m of the parkrun to the finish while she lent on us. Then I guided her to some shade and gave her some water. Eventually she felt a bit better and I told her about my wobbly the week before. Happens to the best of us 😉 I think she was OK in the end, just a bit overly hot.

Happily it was my friend Geoff’s 250th parkrun (amazing, right??) so there was lots of cake.Cake definitely helped improve my mood and how I was feeling. Sitting in the sunshine in the cafe as well afterwards was fabulous. I’d taken Alfie with me to parkrun and he’d been immensely spoiled and fussed over by some very helpful volunteers, my friend Carlos’ daughter and Mike’s daughter. So I had no reason to rush home. A few of us also managed to plant the seed of having a BBQ in Mike’s mind. He’d just oomphed up his garden and bought a BBQ so really it was an absolute necessity to test it out on such a sunny day.

A few of us reconvened a bit later for lots of tasty food and just general chilling outness, of which, again, Alfie was able to join.It was a modest selection (*cough*) of burgers, sausages, ribs, pork chops, lots of chicken skewers, a rogue couple of turkey skewers and chicken wings. It’s entirely possibly that I ran so well at the D Day 10k the next day purely because I was so well fed. Either way it was very tasty and a nice way to spend the afternoon.

So this week I FINALLY went to speed training. Occasionally, when I’m feeling good, I’ll go out and do my own speed training session. There’s a killer hill near where I work and I tend to use that as some hill training on my own from time to time. But recently I’ve lacked the enthusiasm. On a Tuesday night I’ve gotten into the habit of just plodding round 3-4 miles.

But I’m adamant to make more of an effort. I’m always wary about speed training with others as I’m scared I’ll push myself too hard and injure myself. I’m so competitive that I’ll try and keep up with people and won’t listen to my body. That said, when I train on my own I can be lazy and lacklustre when it comes to speed… so there’s a balance somewhere but I’ve yet to find it. For now I’ll try and get to speed sessions once every two weeks? It’s entirely possible this won’t happen, but at least I’ve acknowledged what I need to do…*sighs*

So I ran the 1.5(ish) miles to training and then did a hill session with my running club. We did two different hills and paired up with someone else. One person would sprint up the hill and back down and then their partner would do the same, giving the first person some recovery time. We did this for two different hills which kept it interesting. But wowza it was tough! Check out my splits though – never have I had such a fast pace for me.I paused my watch during each recovery and obviously I was sprinting the entire time (and so many downhills) so this is why it looks so fast. Pretty cool though. Afterwards I ran back home. So a fairly tasty Tuesday night run!

I’m definitely feeling better compared to last week, of which I’m obviously very pleased about. I’m just under 13 weeks away from the New Forest marathon and feeling in a very good place. I’ll be starting to increase my long runs soon and I just hope that everything continues as smoothly. With me, you never know. I’d like to think that I’m being sensible though in my training but I guess we’ll see!

What’s your favourite speed session?

Do you run when you’re not feeling 100%?

Do you often get tired during the week? I tend to get quite a solid amount of sleep. I get up very early (5am four times a week) but find I naturally get tired early so am in bed by 10pm which tends to give me a solid amount of sleep.

Long running and being forgotten

The second part of my bank holiday weekend was just as full of running and eating as the first part.

On Sunday I met up with Mike for a long run. I’ve become quite used to running with other people for a long run that I tend to not look forward to running on my own as much. It’s weird because I used to love long running solo so much more. I think it’s just perhaps because I’ve been training for marathons so often that I need to change things up.

I’ve also found when I run with others I run a lot slower, close to 9min/miles rather than 8min/miles. As I won’t be running on my own for the New Forest Marathon and will be running slower than I normally would (as I’ll be pacing Mike), this does make sense. Plus it makes the training a lot less intense and more enjoyable right now. Perhaps this is why I’ve managed to remain uninjured…who knows (*cough* let’s be honest, this is the way it’s normally done during marathon training and I definitely do need to slow down long runs). That said, I won’t be running all my long runs with others as I know mentally I need that time by myself running.

So anyway I ran 1.5 miles to the location I was meeting Mike. He was nice enough to meet closer to where I was (I was at my parent’s – they live about 15 minutes from Southampton) as I had a good route for about 11 miles that was quite pretty along the coast. It was fairly warm but not as oppressive as the day before. It was nice doing my usual route with someone else and the miles flew by as we chatted away.

I will explain why those mile splits look weird and actually further than 12.75 miles! The first reason is that I stopped my watch when I got to my parents so I could throw my water bottle on the drive after I decided to run back to Mike’s car…but I then accidentally saved the activity. So then had to start my watch again to record the last 1.5 miles recorded as we got going again.

For Mike to get a sub 4 hour marathon we need to be running around 9 min/miles so this kind of training is good. I ran back to Mike’s car so I totalled almost 13 miles whereas Mike did over 11. A good solid long run. Mike kindly drove me back to my parents and we waved goodbye. As I knocked on my parent’s door I realised both cars weren’t there…and I didn’t have a key. Hmmm. I decided to just chill outside on the grass as I’d said I’d be finished at 11am and it was just that now. As time ticked by I realised perhaps they weren’t coming back for 11 and had forgotten I didn’t have a key.

As I’d run 11.75 miles I decided I might as well run 1.25 miles to get up to 13 as it meant I could run along the pavement that I knew my parents would drive along if they were to come back and then I could hop in the car with them. Nope, still not back. Then I walked to the shop and bought a drink as I was now really thirsty. I was lucky that the weather was so nice as if this had happened in winter I might have been huddled in the garage instead!Eventually my dad arrived back at 12. He looked surprised to see me. As well he might!! Ah well. My time for any sort of breakfast had disappeared as we were planning to have a BBQ at 1pm so I had a shower instead.

And then to add insult to injury, I walked with my mum to the Stubbington village to buy a Costa to find their coffee machines weren’t working. And then it started raining. The universe is out to get me!

We decided to have the BBQ anyway as we had all the food, and to be honest we’re British and if you plan a BBQ you DO the BBQ regardless of the weather.My dad manned the BBQ under a large parasol and would run back into the kitchen with plates of cooked food for us to eat inside. We had a lovely spread of chicken skewers, turkey skewers, steak and burgers. Delicious and much needed refuelling!

Monday was a fairly boring day. I went to the gym, I did lots of housework and food prep for the coming week… but it’s always nice to get that stuff done. I met with my parents for coffee but otherwise had a very relaxed day. Sometimes you just need it!

How did your Bank Holiday weekend go?

Have you ever been locked out?

Have you ever BBQ’ed in the rain?

A weekend of running and vegan food

I know, vegan food and me. I’m like the biggest meat-eater and meat-lover alive…but first let’s start with parkrun.

I was back at Netley parkrun this Saturday which was nice. The weather was lovely, though there were some loitering dark clouds overhead which thankfully didn’t come to anything during our time there.I helped with set-up as usual. We were on the summer course…three laps with three hills, oh joy. I actually don’t mind this course as it breaks up the running monotony that can come with a flat course.I’ve recently been sent some SIS products to test out so I thought it the ideal occasion to test out their new caffeine shots. I gave one to my friend, Mike, as well for him to try. We toasted to a good parkrun and downed the 60ml shot.I had the tropical flavour, which has a very sweet and sour flavour to it. It contains 150mg of caffeine so a hefty dose for such a small bottle. I really like the taste of these (though they are quite sour) and I’m keen to test it out in other scenarios, like pre-races and pre-early morning gym sessions when I need a kick up the backside.

Photo credit: Chris Stapleford

I did feel, whether psychologically or physically, ready to hit the ground running at the start. I gave it my best but it was tough having become so used to the flatter courses. The hill kind of breaks your flow a bit but I do prefer a three lap course and mentally it’s a lot more interesting.My time was 21:30. I gave it a good effort and with the hills I’m quite happy with this time. Though looking back the last time I was on the Netley summer course I got 21:38 so the progress isn’t that great! I’m not too bothered about parkrun times in general but it’s nice to keep track of my times and see progress being made. I do feel that my running has become somewhat lazy recently though. I will run the majority of my runs all the same pace. I need to get back into doing some speed work if I do want to get a bit faster. Maybe once every two weeks? That’s the intention anyway.After parkrun, and scoffing down half a large slice of cake that my friend’s daughter was eating (she needed help, I was more than happy to assist!) I headed home to get ready to head out to have coffee with my mum, dad, sister, her fiance and my nieces.We had a lovely coffee and then mooched around the shops. I got some nice pieces from H&M, including a £7 leather jacket! I don’t actually understand why it was so cheap and thought it was marked up incorrectly. There’s nothing wrong with it but I won’t argue with the price! I now have a good outfit sorted for my birthday trip to London next month with my girlfriends. Whoop whoop!

I’d planned to do a long run from my parent’s house the next day, around 10-13 miles, but then via my running club Facebook group I heard a couple of people heading out at 9am for around 10 miles which sounded perfect. It’s always nicer to run with other people so I tagged on with them.

I’m so glad I did as the miles just fly by when you’re with company as you’re chatting away. Also I didn’t have to think about the route as they already had something planned. It was a lovely route through Manor Farm, which is a local park/woodland area with lots of off-road trails and a couple of hills.

Unfortunately one of the guys felt ill and decided to stop at 4 miles. After checking he was OK and him pushing us to carry on, we continued on. It was just the two of us then, a lovely lady from the running club and myself, and it was just such a nice run, both in company and the route.

After the run I rushed back home to shower and get ready to head out to meet my lovely friend, April. She’s a fellow blogger who’s mum lives in Southampton so was down for the week. We’ve been meaning to catch up and she knew of a very cool-sounding vegan restaurant, Off Beet in Wickham. I’ve seen her numerous Instagram posts for this cafe but have never been myself so it seemed like the opportune moment.Located in the old mill, it’s quite hidden away. It’s a small set-up, with only a few tables so booking is necessary, and the menu is quite small but everything is home-made and beautifully presented. I was quite hungry by this point so I was won over by the beetroot burger with polenta chips.

It was really tasty. The burger was made up primarily of beetroot with lots of vegetables and salady bits in a portobello mushroom “bun”. There was also cashew cheese on the burger! The sauce was a home-made sugar-free BBQ sauce with polenta chips.It was very tasty (like like the plate tasty) but I wasn’t quite full afterwards. You know me, big appetite and all that. Thankfully April is the same so we decided pudding was a necessity.

We both had the brownie cheesecake (yes, still vegan!) and I went for a 70% hot chocolate made with almond milk. WOWZA. Rocked. My. World.It was so creamy and tasty. Not hugely sweet like a Cheesecake Factory cheesecake but sweet enough to be very yummy indeed. This certified meat-eater approves! See, I can forgo meat occasionally 😉

It was a lovely afternoon catching up with April (both of us discussing all things running and our wanderlust desires of travelling and seeing the world…). And the sun was shining which just made it perfect.

Do you enjoy vegan food?

Have you ever tried a caffeine shot?

Do you do intervals or speed work regularly?

Lee-On-Solent parkrun and a kebab fuelled long run

This weekend I was still at my parent’s house. I thought I’d hate this week of living at my parent’s but actually, aside from not being able to go to the gym in the morning and the 30 minutes extra on my commute (1.5 hours to work!) it’s actually been really nice.

I can’t exactly put my finger on why. Perhaps it’s the ease of walking Alfie (just walk out the front door rather than go up and down two flights of stairs), the larger space and more rooms, the garden and I suppose the general familiarity and comforts of my childhood home.

That said, I am looking forward to going back to my flat though. There is something so lovely about having your own space and independence. And a shorter commute…As my parent’s live in Stubbington the closest parkrun is Lee-On-Solent so I decided to go there on Saturday as a bit of a change. It was their 100th parkrun birthday as well so it seemed quite fitting. A bit of a lie-in as well was nice as it meant I didn’t need to leave as early as it’s so close.I decided to park 1.5 miles away so I could run there as a bit of a warm-up to wake the legs up. Clearly LoS parkrun is a popular one! The start area got very busy as 9am drew closer. Gosport Road Runners had “taken over” for the week so there were lots of yellow shirts all over the place. There was also a pacing event. A friend I knew through social media, Ben, was running 21 minutes and had suggested I run with him as I wanted to break it again this week, like I had last week.

I’m in the red t-shirt

I wasn’t entirely sure whether sticking with a pacer was a good idea as I like to run at my own pace. I tend to start slower and get faster and I wasn’t sure I wanted to give over my pacing control to someone else, as nice as Ben is!

I lined up near him anyway, fairly near the front as it gets ridiculously busy at the start and as I was aiming for a particular time I wanted to give myself the best opportunity. It worked out well as, though it was busy, I was able to have no issues at the start with dodging round people or being hemmed in.

I lost Ben immediately. He started so quickly. In my opinion, far too quickly! I was looking at my watch and it was between 6.40-45min/miles so I can’t imagine how fast he was running to suddenly be quite a distance ahead. I was glad I hadn’t stuck with him. I’m not even sure I could have anyway. (I spoke to him afterwards and he says he always tries to start quickly…).

So I kept to myself and focused on keeping my legs going. I felt strong but it was tough. This was proper full effort being put it. The wind was somewhat favourable on the first mile, but as we turned around it was slightly against us so this added to the pain. Somehow I was able to gain a little bit more speed as the parkrun continued and when we made the other turnaround to head back to the finish I was able to push on, now with the physically and psychological help of the wind. There’s one ramp you have to run up and down and as you come down the other side you can see the finish ahead. I looked at my watch and saw 20:30. I knew I’d never get to the finish under 21 minutes. It was just too far. But I kept up the pace and sprinted to the end. My time was 21:15 and I’m happy with that. I couldn’t have pushed any harder.Though it wasn’t a sub-21, I do think I ran faster than last week at Netley. When I compare my splits I run slightly faster each mile. As with all parkruns this could be due to the courses being slightly different lengths. Alternatively it could be GPS error on either one so who really knows! Either way I’m more than happy with my fairly consistent running right now.After finishing and chatting with some people I knew (and a lovely and speedy blog reader – hello Graham!), I headed to the tail runner to walk with my friend, Rebecca, who was doing her first ever parkrun. Rebecca actually has volunteered like a zillion times but only recently decided to give doing one a try. She did amazingly! She was chatting away as she was walking and looked quite comfortable. I told her it would only get harder now as the next time she did one she’d need to beat this time 😉 Huge well done to her, she’s a star and a lovely, lovely person.

Then we surveyed the cake selection… of which was SO impressive.There were so many different kinds of cakes, from cup cakes, to brownies, to lemon sponges, Victoria sponges… And the amazing parkrun cake!As much as I wanted to fill my boots with ALL THE CAKE, I decided to play it sensible and not have anything as I still needed to run 1.5 miles back to the car. I know, I know, who even am I!?The run back felt harder than the run there, for obvious reasons, but it was nice to shake my legs out a bit. As I got closer to the car rain started to drip down and I literally just made it into the car before a downpour began!

After a day of odd jobs and a lovely coffee catch-up with a friend, I headed to my friend’s house for a girl’s evening. I had my second take-away of the weekend…! I hadn’t planned on two take-aways but I’d promised myself an Indian for Friday night and the girl’s night with a cheeky take-away was only planned at the last minute. So I switched it up and had a kebab. I haven’t had a kebab in YEARS.And as takeaways go, it wasn’t the worst thing I could have had. Pizzas and fish and chips tend to rank quite badly in terms of “overall unhealthiness” due to their carb and fat content, not to mention salt. Fair enough the quantity of kebab I had was not what you’d class as a healthy meal (go big or go home…always my mantra unfortunately) but if I’d have gone for a slightly smaller one, my chicken shish and kofta kebab with a pitta bread and salad was actually a fairly OK meal in the great take-away universe. Though it was still fairly salty and the meat quality probably wasn’t that great. It tasted insanely good though.

But anyway, we enjoyed a nice evening in with food, chatting and a good film. It was a late night but I decided to treat myself to a lie-in the next morning. I actually slept until 9.30am! (Though I did have to get up at 5am to let the dogs out…).

I woke up not feeling like my long run at all but decided to just head out for six miles and see how I felt. Ideally I wanted 10-12 but I felt so lethargic and unmotivated that I didn’t think that would happen.

Heading out after 10am on a very sunny and warm day wasn’t entirely wise, but I tucked a £2 coin in my sports bra just in case I needed water. I listened to a new favourite podcast (My Dad Wrote A Porno… if you haven’t heard it, you really must. It’s literally laugh out loud funny). The first few miles were about as horrific as I’d envisaged. I had heavy legs, I felt overly hot and I just wanted to be at home. But as I hit the fourth mile I started to get into it. I lost myself in the podcast and found the miles flew by. I did need to stop at a petrol station for water but otherwise I felt pretty strong. I finished with 11 miles and feeling good. Mind games really do work 😉Strava tells me I last ran this route in January 2016 and depressingly I ran it a lot quicker (7:51min/mile average compared to my average of 8:17min/mile). But it is what it is. Progress to be made! I felt good at the end and that’s what counts in my eyes. Afterwards I attempted a selfie in the garden, which kind of didn’t work as the dogs wanted to get involved 😉It did make me laugh though!

Hope you had a nice weekend too 🙂

What did you get up to?

What’s your take-away of choice?

How do you get yourself motivated for a long run?