A very Anna weekend

Ahh I can’t tell you how happy it makes me feel to be able to write a post like this. My usual “Anna post” whereby I eat a lot of good food and run a lot of good miles. The only thing missing is a parkrun, but soon!

On Friday night Kyle and I met up with fellow running friends Ben and Caroline for some food in Portsmouth. We went to 7Bone Burger Co. which do exceptionally greasy, over-sized burgers that hit that certain spot.

I’ve been to 7Bone many many times (both in Portsmouth and Southampton). It’s not the greatest food you’ll ever eat and I imagine you’ll get far better burgers elsewhere but it’s really the whole package of the burger and sides.

I managed to steer myself away from just ordering chicken wings and ordering the fried chicken burger with added halloumi patty, with chicken wings on the side and frickles (fried pickles).

It was delicious. Adding a halloumi patty is the way forward!

it was lovely to see Ben and Caroline. They’re very similar to ourselves and so no one held back on their order. I do love couples who eat just as much as us 😉

The next day instead of parkrun I went to the gym for some stair machine time. I would have loved to have gone to parkrun but I’m still trying to not run twice in a row, just to be absolutely certain the hamstring has time to recover.

I wanted to hit a long run on Sunday and this was more important. I think soon I’ll be able to run twice in a row, but for now Chicago is too important to risk anything – regardless of how good everything feels right now!

So Sunday I got up after a little lie-in (let’s not be sensible and beat the heat of course…) and headed out for 12-15 miles. Psychologically it’s far easier to give yourself a range of miles. I have a great route that I can pretty much cut short from 6 miles onwards, and can increase to pretty much 18 miles. And it’s lovely and flat and along the sea front.

I adore these long runs and mentally have missed them so much when I was injured. It’s my time to listen to a podcast, zone out and just run. It’s one of my favourite parts of running. Long runs just seem to click for me (unlike speed work or shorter distances which absolutely do not click for me).

I was a bit nervous, as I always am with running at the moment but I needn’t have been. It just flowed. About six miles in I need I would be doing 15 miles. My hamstring barely made an appearance until towards the end when I could just start to feel the discomfort.

I probably shouldn’t have sped up in the final miles but it’s something that happens very naturally for me.

And when I finished, though very tired and sweaty, I was so happy. Don’t get my wrong, it was hard. Mentally and physically I felt every one of those miles, but it felt like I was making gains – like I was literally levelling up my running as I went. These are solid miles for my Chicago Marathon bank. I feel very positive right now.

And what better way to celebrate a great long run? A delicious roast dinner!

I went to Kyle’s dad’s for the rest of Sunday and enjoyed an incredible roast pork spread which was perfection.

Followed by a rich Lindt chocolate cake, I refuelled very well indeed.

A solid weekend in my book!

How was your weekend?

Do you have a particular burger you like? I much prefer chicken burgers.

How to Nail the Morning Routine

I have another colloborative post for you guys today, all about a morning routine. I am a HUGE routine-based person. I literally have my morning’s down to the minute… clothes laid out, gym bag ready, all my food sorted. Literally most work day mornings are identical. I mean it’s quite anal I’ll give you that, but I love how much time it saves me and how much less mental energy I have to exert when it’s half past stupid in the morning… hope you enjoy the article 🙂

There’s no point in hiding from the truth: mornings can truly suck, if not always, then at least often. Our alarms go off, and all we want to do is spend a little extra time in bed, but nope, we can’t — there’s that annoying old thing called life calling, and we have to rush around getting ready and then take ourselves off to work. But what if we could change the way we think about the mornings? What if we could — oh god — actually begin to enjoy them? Well, perhaps we can, if we make some small changes. Below, we take a look at a few ways you can make your mornings work for you.

Pexels – CC0 Licence

Sleep Well

First thing’s first: make sure you’re getting a good night’s sleep. There’s a big difference in our moods in the mornings following a splendid night of rest, and one where we barely got a few hours under our belt. If you’re consistently finding it difficult to hit the land of Nod, then look at changing your pre-sleep routine. Avoiding screen time, and taking the time to calm down your mind (be it through meditation, taking a bath, or reading) will do wonders.

Be Prepared

We might normally be able to take things in our stride, but first thing in the morning? Nope, at that time of day, even small things can knock us off stride. So make sure that you’re prepared for your mornings — it’ll make everything much smoother. First, keep things simple — an easy to make, healthy breakfast will get your day off to a good start. Second, keep the essentials in stock. If you’re a coffee lover (and who isn’t?), then set a subscription to TwoChimpsCoffee.com — you’ll get a regular delivery, so you never have that “oh no, I’m out of coffee” moment first thing in the morning.

A Spot of Exercise

One of the problems many people have first thing in the morning is that, oh, they’re so tired, all they want to do is stay in bed. To get around this torturous moment, it’s recommended that you put as much distance between you and your sleeping self as possible. Exercise is a terrific way to do this. Don’t overthink it — just get up and go for a short run. Even ten minutes will be enough to get the blood pumping. Once you get back, a cold shower will burst you into life — you will be ready to face the day. People hate the idea of cold showers, but there’s nothing like stepping out, feeling completely refreshed. Give it a go!

Calm and Relaxed

Everything is going to suck if you feel rushed, so why not slow down the time? By getting up earlier, you’ll have a chance to have a calm and relaxing morning. Spend some time nursing a cup of coffee, reading, enjoying the silence. It’ll make the day feel longer, and give you more time to enjoy for yourself — people who get up later have work on their mind all day! 

Do you exercise in the morning?

Do you have a set routine that you stick to?

What are your morning tips?

Game on, Chicago

I really don’t want to jinx things, but it looks like things are definitely getting there with my hamstring.

I obviously need to continue to play things safe and not suddenly be like wheyyyyyy 18 miler booooom. This hamstring injury (hamstring tendinopathy) is one that can easily be triggered again and regress. So I continue to proceed with caution. But *whispers* things are going well.

Daily discomfort is minimal – if it’s even there. Previously when it was at its worst, I’d feel it All. The. Time. I’d feel it walking. I’d feel it lying down. Now it’s rarely ever there. And happily sitting doesn’t trigger it anymore.

Most importantly, running isn’t an awful experience. There were runs at the start (like only a mile or a tester run) where it’d feel so uncomfortable that I’d feel this great stab of fear thinking “I cannot run 26.2 miles like this” and really doubt getting more training done. But now the discomfort is minimal. It’s still there, but every run it gets a bit less.

I ran 12 miles at the weekend and it was a run that gave me great confidence. Yes it did feel uncomfortable towards the end, but not the worst discomfort I’ve felt over this injury.

And the rest of the day it felt fine! Even the next day it felt absolutely fine. My first few runs when I was coming back I’d feel my hamstring discomfort a lot more post-run and that night and the next day, then it would die off again. But now it’s not there anymore.

Running those 12 miles felt like an absolute joy. Listening to a podcast, zoning out, having that time just running for a long time. Yes it was hard (Jesus how did 12 used to feel so easy??) and yes it wasn’t perfect, but it was so much better. I know I’m at that point in the injury lifecycle where it’s going. Every day is better, every run is better.

After speaking with a professional who knows a lot about this injury, he advised upping my hamstring strength routine and planning out my runs in relation to that a bit more sensibly. With the strength I was previously taking the weights very gently on the hamstring curl machine (as to not cause any regressions) and doing about 20 reps at light weight. Now I’ve upped the weight and I do around 10 reps, so it starts to get tough at the last rep. And he gave me a few more exercises to incorporate which focus primarily on my hamstring.

Previously I was very much focused on my glutes. But now I’m focusing on my hamstring (I still work my glutes and the surrounding muscles but the focus of my rehab is most definitely the hamstring now).

Single leg hamstring bridges

Just to be clear though, if you’re suffering from this issue too, you need to have a gentle and gradual build-up. It’s taken me many weeks to get to this point and it was only after talking to this specialist and him checking my strength and mobility that I was given the all clear to fully work the hamstring harder. The first few weeks of this injury you wouldn’t necessarilly do that.

I also asked if he thought me doing Chicago was sensible or if I’d do myself any long term damage. He said as long as I didn’t regress or get worse, Chicago would be fine. This is EXACTLY what I needed to hear. Someone who knows their stuff giving me solid advice. My mind is so much calmer now.

So going forward I’m running three times a week, one of those being a long run. Though realistically I won’t be going that long… probably 16 miles top. And between that I have set hamstring easy and hard days. So far so good! My hamstring is responding well. It’s getting stronger. The discomfort is getting less.

The thing about this injury is that you have to be patient, be sensible and not neglect rehab. It won’t get better on its own with rest. You have to push it and strengthen it. But it’s a very fine balance of not pushing it too hard and knowing when to back off. I think the past 15 or so weeks have evidently shown this for me! I’m going to do a more thorough post later on how I combatted this (though I don’t want to speak too soon because this could all fall down again!!).

I’ve read a lot of forums and I just want to put something positive into the Internet about this injury because so much of it was doom and gloom and never feeling normal again. I’m not quite back to normal, but eventually (all things being well and me not being an idiot) I hope to provide a bit of positivity from what I’ve learnt and experienced. (TOUCH WOOD!!)

Have you ever had a long-term injury?

Do you do regular strength work to keep an injury at bay?

Fall In Love With Fall Fashion Trends

Hello! I have a bit of a different colloborative post today – about fashion! I’m not the most fashionable or chic person out there but I do enjoy that lovely feeling of confidence when you wear something nice. Though I do need to wear more colours… I have a lot of craziness in my fitness wardrobe but not daily life. Happily it seems black is back…

While summer was all about vintage, denim and florals, fall fashion couldn’t be more different. Instead of the swinging sixties, this years fall fashion fixes are focusing on the kitch 80s and 90s for some autumnal inspiration. If you need to express your fashionista credentials wherever you go, you will want to be on trend. Take a look at these fall fashion hits that you can’t help but fall in love with.

Image source Pixabay – CC0 Licence

Back To Black

While summer was all about pink and purple, autumn is hitting back with a homage to black. While everyone has something little and black in their wardrobe, very few craft an entire ensemble or two or three around the darker shade. Black has always been a staple of any wardrobe, but now designers are choosing to put it center stage. Even online retailers are getting in on the trend with companies like Boohoo showing off a range of jackets, tops and bodysuits that are unapologetically monochrome.

Capes

While you might not feel like Wonderwoman, you can at least get yourself a cape or two to pay homage to a superhero. Capes don’t mean that you have to go for garish colors like the comics. Capes can be classy and add a touch of sophistication to any fall outfit. When heading outdoors, you may not need a full on coat. This is where the cape comes in. Chanel went for the tweed cape look at the fashion shows this year. Others chose a sleeker velvet variety whereas others went all out with leopard and tiger print long length capes. If you’ve never had a cape before, think of it as a longer poncho or shawl and wear it in the same way.

Image source Pixabay – CC0 Licence

Longer Coats

Remember in the 1990s when everyone wanted a trench coat a la Inspector Gadget. Well, the trend is back. Longer coats are making a return after what seems like a ridiculous amount of time of coats getting ever shorter. While trench coats are very much en vogue so is the duffle. A more fitted duffle that shows of your waistline is the trend of the season. While you might be tempted to wear your lined leather jacket, the chances are that it’ll be too short. Instead, go for a neon orange shell suit ankle length coat that will make a bold statement when out and about. 

For something a little more sophisticated, combine the longer coat and black trends to source a heavy black wool coat, perfect for those chillier winter evenings.

Fashion trends do come and go, but more often than not, they return once again. You never know, you may even find some of your older pieces moving from the back of your wardrobe to make a return this season. Forget fast fashion and think about upcycling your older pieces. If you had a trench coat in 1995, whip it out, get it dry cleaned and wear it once again. Owning an original retro piece will boost your fashionista credentials no end.

Do you buy items as investment pieces, to last and last?

Or do you go with the latest trends and chop and change often?

What I’m Loving Lately – August

August has come and gone. I’ve realised that I’m totally ready to say goodbye to hot weather. I much prefer cooler weather. So bring on autumn!

This “what I’m loving” post is going to be heavily food-related but hey they’re the best right?

Have you seen the new White Giant Buttons from Cadbury?? They only sell them at Asda so when my dad was there the other day I panic text him to buy me some.

They are SO good. Do you remember how tasty the Milky Bar was before it changed its recipe? Well it’s like that. Creamy, slightly custardy and so moreish. I could easily eat an entire packet.

They also sell the white chocolate bar but I haven’t found it yet (apparently it’s even better than the old school Dream was).

And following that, I’m also loving the Tony’s Chocolonely.

I tried the pretzel caramel dark chocolate bar, but there are a few others I’m keen to try too. It’s so thick!

You feel a bit like Charlie from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory eating it. And money from the sales go towards ending slavery. So you can feel good about gobbling it up.

Moving on to more savoury things. I’m still on a big carvery love right now. I think I just love that you can pile your plate high with vegetables, stuffing and gravy.

I’m a big fan of cauliflower cheese and roasted parsnips too. Yum! We had a carvery when we saw my friends in Bristol last weekend.

The cake selection was incredible too. And despite being fairly full, I couldn’t say no to a slice slab of chocolate fudge cake.

Heated up with ice cream. Omg it was DIVINE.

Last food-related item… The Good Cookie cookies. I literally ADORE these cookies. Vegan and refined sugar free, but you would never know.

So soft!! I need more of these in my life. Thank you to my lovely friend Emma for introducing them to me and then gifting me a pack. What a friend!

Now on to more things fitness. I’ve been really enjoying the stair machine. It’s better for my hamstring than the elliptical machine and I’ve become a pro at just grinding away and supplementing my running fitness with this.

I love watching the new series of Peaky Blinders while mindless stepping. Don’t get me started on Tommy Shelby… *sighs*.

I was also recently sent a pair of the OOFOS sandals to try out. As I’m back into running again these came at a perfect time.

They are so fricking soft! My feet feel so comfortable and like they’re walking on clouds in them. After a run I love slipping them on and just enjoying the bliss.

They have a footbed designed to absorb impact, cradle your arches and allow your body to move naturally (check out some science-y bits HERE). They’re apparently supposed to reduce stress and enable a more natural motion of walking. And you can really feel it. These bad boys will be joining me in Chicago for after the marathon (*touch wood* I make it to both the start and finish line!).

And that’s all folks!

How do you look after your feet post-run?

What’s your favourite part of a roast dinner?

What’s your favourite chocolate?

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent the OOFOS recovery sandals for free to test for my blog. All opinions are my own honest ones.**