Feeling a bit lost

Initially I wasn’t really sure whether to write a post like this or not. But then I guess I like to be honest and transparent in my blog so might as well.

In general, I’m a very happy and upbeat person. I’m a glass half-full kind of girl. And a lot of times this can get me into trouble because I won’t have back-up plans or contingencies because I assume everything will be fine. I don’t like to dwell on sad things or not see things in a positive light – I’m very much an optimist. I’ll bat of things with positivity and jokes. Happiness is my default, and I know I’m lucky in that respect.

But lately I’ve been a bit down. I don’t really like to mention these sorts of things on my blog as my blog is, in general, a happy space where I waffle on about running and random fluffy stuff. But sometimes it’s good to be honest and to show that whatever you might see on the outside, it’s not necessarily true of reality.

I feel like I’m lost. I don’t know what I’m doing any more (did I ever? Does anyone ever?). I’ve just turned 29 and I don’t know where my life is going. I thought I had it all figured out. When I was growing up I studied hard, always with the goal of university and a career I loved. That sort of turned out as it should but other things happened and the years flew by and now I’m not so certain of anything anymore.

Yes it’s partly that horrible comparison trap again. Seeing what others are doing around me. My friends, family and people on social media all seeming to have such control and direction in their life. While I feel like I’m a ship in the middle of the ocean and I don’t know which direction to sail. I’m floating aimlessly. I’m not sinking but I’m not going anywhere either.

I’m happy in general, don’t get me wrong. Life is very good. I have a good job, I earn good money, I own my own flat, I have wonderful and supportive friends and family, I can go on nice holidays and buy nice things…I really have nothing to complain about. But I have no purpose and a bit of an emptiness inside. Oh I know, this is such a “first world problem” and one of those horribly cliched ideals of modern life. I am well aware of how blessed and lucky I am. But I still can’t help but feel down.

I think my issue is my current lifestyle. I live in a lovely suburban area full of lovely friendly people… but people who have their 2.4 children, their family homes and they’re all settled down. I however am not in that world. I don’t have kids, I don’t have a “family”. But nor am I living the lifestyle of a young (yes? I’m still young right?) single woman. It’s a full on 20 minute drive to get into town and the nearest shop to me is the huge Next Home shop and PC World.

I should be in the thick of it, amongst other young, carefree people who aren’t planning their baby showers or what they’ll do in the school holidays. But I’m not. I’m going to work and coming home, going to work and coming home. I can’t go out with my work colleagues because it’s an hour away from where I live (by car) and I have Alfie at home waiting for me. I can’t, on a whim, ring up a nearby friend and just head out for the evening because they either live too far away or have family-orientated plans. I’ve got all these barriers stopping me from living a proper single life. The only way to date is online dating and so far this has not gone particularly well. I feel like I’m watching life pass me by.

I’m happy and comfortable…But I’m worried that I’ll tick along like this on autopilot and one day wake up and I’m still single, still floating aimlessly and years have flown by. Something has to change I guess. It’s just being brave enough to make that change.

Have you ever felt like this?

What advice would you give?

Feeling left behind

I’m 28 years old (29 in June) and I realise this is not very old at all. And I won’t sit here and complain that I feel old and creaky, don’t worry.

I might not be a spring chicken anymore but I am not old (SOCIETY, DO YOU HEAR THAT!?). Yes I can see the fine lines on my face and the odd grey hair springing up, but I am not old. I am, however, in the minority among my friends now.

I have more pregnant friends, or friends with children or friends thinking about getting pregnant than I have friends who are not. In fact, I only have one close friend my age who is in similar position to me (i.e. unattached and childless).

I’m at that age when this is inevitable. Weddings have come and gone and time is a’ticking. My mum had my sister before she was 30 (I mean, I know it was a different time back then but still). Does this bother me? Well no not really because honest to God the thought of having children scares the living daylights out of me and I’m quite enjoying the way my life is right now. The freedom, the disposable income, the flexibility of booking holidays whenever I want, the lie-ins.

But whenever I tell my mum about a couple who’s gotten pregnant I can see a little part of her die inside. She’ll deny this but it’s true. Mother, I know you too well. And I do feel a little like I’m being left behind. I can’t join in with pregnancy conversations about morning sickness and the first trimester tiredness. I’m awkward around my best friend’s little ones. I stare in amazement at how she’s able to be a fully functioning adult, make amazing cakes and crafts, go to work and still be able to bring up two beautiful children. And she still looks amazing (Louise, you truly do).

But I’ll say it again, I’m happy with my childless life. Who knows, I might never have children. And that’s OK too. I never grew up wanting children or wanting to be a mum. I can count on my hand the times I’ve looked at a child or baby and thought, “it might be nice to have one myself”. I only have to see the Facebook statues, the Tweets, and hear the mums at the running club talk about how tired they are, how they can’t fit in a run because of Child One or scheduling conflicts or being too tired/stressed to realise that I think myself lucky to not have children.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that a part of me will feel like I’ve failed as a woman or that I’ve missed out on something crucial if I don’t have children (I know this is entirely incorrect and purely my own thinking), but right now that’s not how I think.

Yes I realise I am only 28 years old and I’m not exactly running out of time in the great scheme of things, but I defy any single woman to not have these little niggles and concerns in the back of her mind as she creeps towards her thirties.

Though I don’t want children right now, and I’m not 100% certain I’ll ever want them, I do feel like the odd one out. I’m running out of friends to turn to and chat about how good not having children is. Meet-ups and dinner dates are harder to schedule as babysitters are required or pregnancy makes things a bit more tricky. And I still get those side-eye pitying looks, almost apologetic smiles, when all things babies are being discussed when I’m there…

I don’t know where this post is going or what this post was for. To reassure myself I’m OK? To reassure my mum I’m OK? To sound like I protest too much? I don’t know.

What I do know is that something does need to change in my life. I’ve let things become a bit stale and stagnant. I need to do something to change things up. I need to embrace my single life and do something a bit more crazy than sign up to another marathon or go on holiday (and run a marathon). I just need to decide what and whether I’m brave enough.

Do you want children/have children?

Do you ever feel like you’re missing out on something?

Everything is good

January is the worst month of the year, I’m sure most of us we’ll agree. Conversely, however, I’m starting the year feeling pretty good.

To be honest, I shouldn’t really be in such a great mood. My leg is still feeling a tad niggly and my runs aren’t going as smoothly as they should this close to the marathon (sorry this is such a boring repetition right now). There’s no pain or horrendous discomfort, but I know in myself it’s not perfect and running twice in a row or pushing out the mileage or number of times I run in the week would definitely be risky. Not only this but my longest run for a fair few weeks (months!) is six miles. Seven weeks out to a marathon this is not ideal.

That said, I’m a glass half-full kind of girl (which is one of the reasons I have so many adult fails as I just presume things are going to work out and neglect to double check or consider contingency plans). I’ve got a general fitness, I’ve run seven marathons before, I have seven hours to complete it… I mean, it could go terribly let’s be honest. My leg could really start to bother me and walking could even eventually be an issue. I might DNF my first marathon. I might be in the middle of a foreign country I’ve never been to, knowing no one, half-way through a marathon I can’t complete, in tears. I mean, that’s the worst case scenario and if it happens it happens. The silver lining is that it’ll make for a great blog post 😉 In a very schadenfreuden way, failures and mishaps are sometimes a more interesting read than someone who succeeds. Obviously I don’t want to fail. More than anything, it’s a bloody expensive failure. And also, having a marathon meltdown isn’t that fun when it’s actually happening to you.

Foam rolling like a trooper

Marathons aside, mentally and physically I’m in a fantastic place.  I feel strong and healthy. Though I’m not running regularly, at the gym I’m lifting heavier weights and feeling strong. I’m still maintaining a level of fitness through running two-three times a week as well as some of my own spinning sessions and steady-state elliptical machine.Long-term readers may remember some frustrations I had a year or so ago about my body basically failing me in certain ways. Things have changed, for the better! I’ve put on about three pounds over the year – which I know isn’t massive and is probably a mix of muscle and fat. I mean, my weight probably varies a few pounds either way but long-term I’ve remained at the same consistent weight. It seems be a nice happy point for me and it’s clearly helped bump me in the right direction to feel and be in optimal health. I feel happier where I am at the moment and really like how I look and what my body can do. My main intention is obviously not lose any weight when my running increases but I’ve got a pretty good handle on this.

Key things that I’ve found that helped get me here:

  • Eating good food and lots of it. I tend to be fairly healthy during the week and then relax at the weekend. If I want cake, I’ll eat it. If I want a takeaway, I’ll have it. I don’t restrict anything but I am conscious of what I’m eating in general. I eat lots of good fats, complex carbs and protein. I’d say my diet is probably more protein and fat heavy though than carb-based. And I’ll tend to time my carbs around when I’m running to get the max benefit. But I do eat a lot, as I’m sure you’ve seen by now! I’m a three course kinda girl 😉 Essentially, I don’t worry about what I eat as throughout the week it all balances nicely.
  • Sleeping enough. I get up ridiculously early in the morning to go to the gym (3-4 times a week, lifting weights). I try not to stay up past 10pm and I find that works for me.
  • Minimising stress. In general my life is not that stressful. I enjoy my job, though my commute sucks at times. I’ve just come to accept some days are good and some days are bad – learn to control the controllables and don’t worry about things are out of your control. I have a great network of friends and family so when life does get hard I’m fully supported. I know I’m very lucky and blessed in this respect.
  • Being sensible with running. Running is a stressor and clearly my body is sensitive. So not training for a marathon all year round will help. After the spring I will be spending the summer and winter just enjoying running and entering races I fancy, but not a marathon. The training for a marathon is a fairly long and arduous process, one that my body might appreciate not doing all the time. I will be running marathons in the future, obviously, but it’s no longer as big a priority as it used to be.

So yeah. I’m feeling pretty happy right now. Mentally over the past year I’ve become a lot more happy in myself and confident. It’s nice that that’s also being reflected to how I feel and how my body functions.

What are important things for you in terms of reaching optimal health?

How much sleep do you get?

How is January for you?

Full of positivity and MuscleFood pre-workout review

I’m in a super positive and happy place right now. I’ve started 2017 just feeling good and ready to take on the year. I came into work on Tuesday feeling in a good mood, much to the delight of my colleagues 😉

Though I don’t tend to make big grand New Year’s resolutions (last year’s resolution was to be more punctual. That lasted a week) I have made a couple of notes to myself on things I’d like to improve on. One being more conscious of my spending – so only one takeaway a month rather than three or four… Another is being more confident and ready to take on new challenges at work.

I’ve recently bee promoted, to start the new role in March, and it gave me all the anxieties before Christmas wondering if I could actually do it, whether I’d fail, whether they’d demote me once they found out I couldn’t do it…But instead I’ve switched it round and thought, “OK let’s do this”. If people have confidence in me, then who am I to argue with that? I just need to stay focused, work hard and not be afraid to ask for help.

In terms of running and goals in the fitness area? I actually haven’t a clue. I’ve become a lot more relaxed about running in general and I no longer feel the desperate urgency to fulfil my Marathon Major goals as soon as possible. After Tokyo I want to reset and chill for a bit. Just run for fun. Enter races that make me happy and just pootle along. I’m enjoying the gym so I’ll carry on there, maybe look for some new challenges in that area. Basically I’m content and it feels like a weird place to be in, but also very nice. I think I’ve relaxed a bit more….weird.

Onto my review then!

MuscleFood Rampage™ Pre-Workout Formula

A few weeks ago MuscleFood sent me some pre-workout to try out.Pre-workout is actually something I’ve only just become familiar with. I drink BCCAs (branched-chain amino acida) during my workout which help maintain muscle mass when doing strength workouts, especially as I do my morning workouts fasted. My goals are not to lose fat and I don’t want to lose muscle either.

So what’s a pre-workout then? You basically drink it before you workout as the name suggests! It usually contains a stimulant like caffeine and some other supplements to help get the most out of your workout and reduce fatigue.MuscleFood kindly sent me two different flavours of the their pre-workout Rampage (what a name, eh): Lem & Pink Grapefruit and Orange & Pineapple. It contains BCAAs to reduce muscle breakdown and help with recovery, as I mentioned above, Arginine AKG which is another essential amino aciden which helps the body to create energy from protein, fats and carbs, Beta Alaine which helps with performance (though be warned, it does cause some rather odd tingling!), Taurine for muscle growth promotion and recovery, Citrulline Malate to help fatigue and manage lactic acid, Creatine Monohydrate which is a well documented and studies supplement to help with building muscle and Beet4Perf™ which is a natural beetroot ingredient to help boost performance as well (I love my beetroot supplements!). It also contains 200mg of caffeine (the equivalent two cups of instant coffee).To be honest, I was highly sceptical of pre-workouts in general when I first heard about them as it all sounds a bit weird. Stimulants for working out? Hmmm. But then caffeine has been proven to help push harder and I often use caffeinated gels during marathons and drink a coffee before a race – and in general most mornings. I obviously don’t want to become dependent on caffeine but getting up at 5am to start my workout at 5.30am is tough going and having caffeine just before really helps. I just make sure I don’t have any further caffeine later in the day.

Though to be honest I don’t find I need anymore, whereas if I don’t drink the pre-workout by 10am I definitely need my morning cup of coffee. Normally I’d have two cups of coffee a day so now I’ve switched to decaf on days I drink this. I’m not hugely sensitive to caffeine and don’t get any headaches of withdrawal symptoms if I don’t drink it for a few days so I think I’m OK.

So what did I think? Well, the taste isn’t amazing. It’s not disgusting or unpleasant, it’s just something to get used to. Both flavours are nice enough but some mornings it does take an effort to get it down. I make up one scoop with 200ml of water and that seems like the perfect amount. Any more water and the taste gets worse as it waters down. The grapefruit flavour is better than the pineapple in my opinion.

Taste aside, did it aid with my performance and recovery? It’s a tough one to know for certain, but I do believe it’s helped me. Within 15 minutes of drinking it I start to get the tingles (they’re no hugely unpleasant, just a weird itchy palms kind of feeling) and then I feel a lot more awake. It’s not made me feel invicible and nor can I suddenly deadlift 10kg more. However I felt more “get up and go” and more alert. Obviously the caffeine is a big factor here but the other bits and bobs could be contributing too. After particularly heavy squats, my legs weren’t quite as sore as they might be. But again this is all very cause-effect stipulation and subjectivity.

I do enjoy taking it though and am happy to keep it in my routine. I won’t take it before every gym visit, just when I think I need it. I’ll also have a week or so without it every now and again to help keep my caffeine tolerance at a nice level. I don’t want to become too dependent or used to it.

I don’t think it’s necessary for the gym or to make any significant gains. It’s more of a pick-me-up to help supplement you as and when you need it – if you need it at all! But I do recommend it if you fancy adding a little it of oomph to your workout occasionally. I’m tempted to try it before a race as well to see how that goes.

Have you ever tried using per-workout?

Do you use any supplements?

Have you made any big goals for this year?

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent the Rampage Pre-Workout from MuscleFood for free in return for a review. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

 

But I’m still a runner

I’m in a quite frustrating position. I’m still not running. And I’m not hugely bothered.

Who even am I? I feel like I’m in a really odd place. Normally when I’m injured I feel really down, really frustrated and angry.

Not running, just volunteering at parkrun

Normally going to parkrun and volunteering every week would be hard; watching runners get their parkrun mojo on. I would feel a huge leap of jealously at any runners I drive past. I’d wonder if today is “the day” I’ll try running again before I’ve even gotten out of bed.

But…I’m actually not thinking those things. I mean, it obviously helps that the weather is pretty gnarly. It’s dark, cold, wet and unappealing to be outside. During the warmer months I find it hard because I just want to be outside in the fresh air. But right now all I want to do is hibernate away in fluffy socks and Christmas jumpers.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve not suddenly become a couch potato and happy to lapse into inactivity for days at an end. Quite the opposite. I’m loving the time I spend at the gym right now. I can lift heavy weights without wondering how it will affect my running the next day. I can push my limits of my strength and reach new PBs. I can work on non-running-focused strength training without feeling guilty.

And my gym is lovely and bright, cool not cold and it’s full of other like-minded people. Rather than the dark, lonely streets at ridiculously o’clock in the morning or straight after work, I can skip into the gym at 5.30am and it’s full of people. I don’t converse with these people, good God no! I’m there to workout and my social switch is firmly in the OFF position until I get to work, but I’m around other people and don’t feel like I’m the only person in the world working out.

This is obviously a problem though. I mean it would be a fantastic situation ordinarily…had I not got an impending marathon in February. Every time I think about the marathon I feel a bit stressed and a bit sick. Oh sure I could bin it, but I’d rather not waste the money I already spent on it (a fair chunk) and I do actually want to do it. I just don’t want to train for it.

I only have myself to blame for this situation. Too many marathons, too much running, stupid biomechanical faults, questionable training… Yes I know I’m an idiot when it comes to running in a variety of different ways. But marathons are not 5ks or 10ks, or even half marathons. You can’t decided one week to just enter one and run it in the near future. You don’t know what the situation is going to be like in the months ahead. And this marathon more than most is one you need to apply months and months away from the start date.

I’m just in a sticky situation of not being able to train for a marathon I’m not sure I want to train for. Problematic. I suppose it’s better that I’m feeling indifferent than to be feeling full of despair for not running. Mentally I’m in a good place (increasing nausea and panic attacks for impending marathon aside of course). I just need to hope that I can run soon so I can find the love again… Though I love the gym, I’ll always still be a runner first and foremost.

Have you ever felt demotivated for a race coming up?

What do you consider yourself – a runner, crossfitter, climber, cyclist, etc.?