What I’m loving lately – October

I haven’t done one of these posts in a while… all the things I’m currently loving lately.

Harry Potter clothing: During my meanderings around the delights of Amazingstoke’s Festival Place last weekend I popped into Primark. In general I don’t do much shopping in physical life. As in, non-online shopping. But occasionally I’ll pop into H&M as there’s one local to me. We don’t have a very accessible Primark nearby (it’s in the centre of Southampton and I don’t generally go there that often because the Internet and Whiteley, a little but fantastic shopping village nearby, save me from such efforts).

Anyway, I’ve digressed. So I went into Primark to hunt down a really nice sports bra someone at work wore when running (she wore it as her running top outside, I didn’t spy on her getting changed or anything weird). I didn’t find the sports bra but I DID find a Harry Potter jumper. And, weirdly, Harry Potter underwear.I bought the jumper but not the pants (and forgot to take a photo of said jumper…). The jumper will go nicely with my Harry Potter t-shirt ready for my friends and my Harry Potter-themed escape room at the beginning of December. There are four of us and we’ve each got a house that fits our personality. I’m Gryffindor 😀New boots: And as a nice segue… a few weeks ago when I was in Chichester my friends and I popped into a charity shop because the Harry Potter-themed window lured us in. Most of the window items had been sold (including an amazing looking Harry Potter chess set!). However I then spotted a very cool pair of boots in almost perfect condition. For £8.50!
OK I rarely wear heels but I’m sure I can push the boat out one day… After all, I no longer have a standing desk at work (I mourn for it daily, believe me. It just means I have to get up and move about more frequently. But it does mean I can relax a bit more at work) so really I could wear heels.

Gin: And another great segue(!), my lovely friend Charlotte and her husband, Paddy, gave me a prototype Christmas present when we were in Chichester. A sort of “make-you-own hipster gin” ingredients set.How cool is this? So each little jar contains different ingredients, like dried lemon peel, cinnamon, juniper berries etc. that you can add to a gin and tonic to spruce it up. Gin has become rather “in vogue” (though to be fair to Paddy and Charlotte, they were loving it waaaay before it became cool) and my dear mother has appointed herself some sort of gin connoisseur recently. She’s bought about five different kinds of gins! So when I showed her this little set she was VERY excited. That evening we made up a few glasses of lemon and juniper berry flavoured gin. Ooh er!So fancy! It tasted very nice. I’m not a big drinker but my drink of choice is a G&T. So crisp and delicate.

Protein powder: Speaking of tasty things. I am currently OBSESSED with the MyProtein marzipan-flavoured protein-powder. I adore it. I add about 20g (so maybe a scoop?) of it to my porridge and it rocks my world. It’s not overwhelmingly sweet or crazy strong, but subtly almondy. I was using the Chocolate Smooth flavour but this is SO much better. I got a small pack as I wasn’t sure what I would think (450g I think) but I’ve since gone back and bought a 1kg. I also bought the Cinnamon Danish flavour and the Speculoos. I had to Google what Speculoos was though. It’s a limited edition flavour (as is Marzipan) so I thought what the hell, why not.As a side note, as I’m living at home I obviously get these things delivered there. My dad also buys lots online as well (usually some random cables or part for his latest robot craze or yet another Alexa – I swear Alexa is becoming an omnipresence in the house. You can’t move for her) and he mentioned the other day that it can be quite disappointing when something is delivered but it’s for me not him. He grumbled that it’s usually “running gear or some powder of some sort”, which did make me laugh. He’s not wrong.

Cake: Cake has been very much in my life in a big way recently. The guys at Wiggle are fantastic at bringing in snacks and baking. It seems like every week we have something new to munch on. I’m not mad. On Monday last week it was one of the guy’s birthday and he brought in a chocolate cake he made. Someone else from another team had also baked him a cake too! A chocolate melt-in-the-middle cake. Obviously I had a bit of both. I was glad to have tried both as well because at the end of the day as he picked up the cake he’d baked to put in the fridge he dropped it on the floor! How devastating! I mean, it was hilarious but equally heart-breaking at the same time. RIP cake.And I’ll try not to think of just how many bits of cake I had the other week when someone left. There was literally an idea table covered in delicious home-baked goodies. I’m an absolute sucker for anything home-baked. After eating 80% of what was in the bowl I decided not to have any more (it was only 10am…). I put it in my drawer and tried to forget about it. Well, the afternoon came and the cake was promptly eaten. *Sighs* I had the best intentions at least.

Christmas snacks: And on the note of delicious snacking, I popped into Lidl before work one morning (handily located on the road from my gym to work. I love Lidl and am really glad I can frequent it more often). I love browsing supermarkets (I’m a strange breed I know) and Lidl’s Christmas selection is always worth a gander. As a side note though, their bakery is at the front of their shop and it gave off the most intoxicating, delicious scents of freshly baked pastries, bread and cakes. I almost passed out (this was post-workout after all). Once I came to my senses though I found one of my favourite Christmas snacks: lebkuchen gingerbread. I first had them when I was in Berlin visiting my friend and they were amazing. I mean the big fat ones you can get at the Christmas markets are the best (I don’t know if they’re the same things but they’re very similar). They’re gingerbread but very soft and almost cake like. I’m not a huge fan of hard gingerbread (the British creations) but these are DIVINE.Running: And finally something to do with running! I’ve “officially” started marathon training. I mean, nothing much has really changed to be honest. My long runs will be getting longer and I hope to do a speed session once a week. The speed session is a new addition to the rota because I never normally do it (other than a speedy parkrun occasionally).

Yesterday I went out at lunch with the intention to do some sort of speed workout. Originally I was going to do two minutes of hard effort, followed by 30 seconds of easy as many times as I could be bothered but during my (almost) mile warm-up I decided to do mile repeats. The lake next to the office has a gravel path around it and it’s about a mile long so I decided to just blast it round, have a jogging break, then repeat. My intention was to go sub-seven minutes for the mile as this is what I’ve been able to do on some miles at parkrun. Well, I definitely surprised myself. I managed THREE mile repeats (with 0.4 mile jogging recovery) at sub 6.45 pace. I mean it was TOUGH, both mentally and physically. But I did it! I definitely needed those recoveries between but I felt strong maintaining the pace (though it did feel like death. God I hate speed work). Afterwards though the feeling was AMAZING. In the end I did 10k total and I was around a minute off my PB! Not too shabby. SplitsUnfortunately though after showering and getting back to the office, I had the most ridiculous red face which quite a few people commented on. Wonderful.

What kind of speed work do you do?

What Christmas treats do you like?

Are you a Harry Potter fan?

A few things to talk about…

Impending marathon aside (THIS Sunday, Chester Marathon in case I haven’t said it enough times…), I’ve been feeling rather positive and upbeat lately. OK in general I’m a positive and upbeat person anyway so this really isn’t that much of a change.

I’m a very much “glass half full” kinda girl. This can definitely work against me at times though when I think things like, “Oh I’m sure I’ll find my way back from my run in this unknown-to-me place, I don’t need to check my route/map” or “I have loads of time before I need to leave for this important appointment…”. But in general I think being optimistic is far better than pessimistic. Just my two pence (pence? Cents? Don’t know but I’m British so “pence” it is!).

After that random tangent… let’s crack on with some stuff on my mind.

New trainers: What is better, right? Actually they’re not that new anymore really but I haven’t mentioned them on the blog I don’t think. As part of the Run Reigate blogging experience (check out my race recap; it’s a great event!), I was gifted Brooks trainers to help me train – the dream scenario right? Thankfully I got to choose which trainers as I’m quite sensitive and injury-prone. I went for the Brook Adrenaline GTS trainers, which I’ve had previously but have since retired due to too high mileage.img_4897

I love the colour of these – minty gorgeousness! These trainers are ideal for me as I need support for my rubbish flat feet to stop me over-pronating. I know people argue that pronation isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I am very flat footed that I do need support. O’m continually working on strengthening my arches… though it is ongoing and painfully slow (though I’ve made a lot of improvements, hurrah).

Anyway, the trainers are very springy and supportive and I love them. I wear them alongside my Mizunos Wave Paradoxes. I’ve yet to decide which to wear for the marathon though…decisions decisions.

elete Holistic Hydrate electrolytes: I read about this initially from Lauren’s blog and was intrigued. The company reached out to me after I commented on the blog post so I happily got to try it out myself (for free, in exchange for a review).img_5435elete Holistic Hydrate is a zero calorie and zero artificial nasties product that is used to add to water in order to hydrate effectively. It contains a balance of magnesium, potassium, sodium and chloride, which are all key electrolytes, as well as over 60 other naturally occurring trace and ultra trace elements.img_5434Why are electrolytes important? Well in fairly basic terms, electrolytes help keep the body functioning as muscles use electrical impulses to do certain things and so we require a number of minerals in electrolyte form (ionical charged minerals) to help this happen. The electrolytes help keep the fluid and pH balance in your body. I’m not a scientist (obviously) so that’s about as far as I’ll go with this, but the website has lots more information. Basically electrolytes can help maintain hydration, prevent muscle cramps, sustain energy and endurance and enhance mental focus.

I’m a big fan of using electrolytes during and after running. I really like this product for many reasons. One because it has the decent line up of electrolytes and two because it’s practically tasteless. I say practically only because if you don’t dilute it with enough water it can taste slightly salty. However this is easily eliminated by increasing the amount of water you use (2.5ml teaspoon of elete to one litre of water is ideal, I can barely taste a difference). You can also add this to food!! It’s such a small dinky bottle as well that i can take it with me to races or in my handbag. Very very handy. Just a few drops and boom, your water is upgraded. Love it.

Getting the itch to speed train: This whole marathon cycle I really haven’t done any proper speed workouts. I’ve done some very informal fartleks and speedier parkruns, but in general I’ve just ran however I fancied. Now this has been fantastic and also sensible due to my hamstring niggle/issue that I was still feeling the effects of months after Boston. It didn’t hinder my running or cause me pain but it was definitely an echo and made me think twice before pushing things. (Incidentally, my hamstring is 100% fine now thankfully! *Touch wood*)

My times therefore haven’t increased dramatically. I’m minutes away from PBs in most distances. But I’m OK with that because I’ve enjoyed injury-free running and I’m not PB hunting anyway and, finger’s crossed, I’ll get to this marathon unscathed and hopefully finish similarly.

The half marathon the other day did get me itching for the buzz of a speedier run though. I decided to head out the other evening and do some intervals on my own. I did a mile warm-up which gave me a chance to see how my legs were feeling and whether mentally I was up for pushing things. I was, so decided to do three fairly fast (for me at the moment) 1km loops, with 1km slower loops in between.1k-intervals

My speeds aren’t exactly crazy fast (for me) but it’s encouraging. After this marathon I’m going to be trying my hardest to put more effort into doing speed workouts. So going to the track workout sessions with my club and doing hill sessions. It’s not with a view to smash out PBs but rather to change things up as I feel like my running has become a bit stagnant and my paces all blur into one. It’s nice sometimes to feel that “omg I’m going to die” burst of speed and the feeling of satisfaction at the end of a session.

But, like I said, after the marathon and that very much assumes I’ll survive it uninjured! And we all know, that’s not a given for me!

Do you do speed workouts regularly?

What are your favourite speed workout sessions? I love a good hills session.

How do you stay hydrated?