What I’m Loving Lately – July

There have been so many things I’ve been loving lately.

Let’s start with some good old running stuff. I was really chuffed to be chosen to do a review of the VERY cool running tracker gadget Nurvv. Basically they’re electronic soles you put into your trainers and when you run it tracks how you run. Data such as cadence, pronation and foot strike is collecting (amongst other information) throughout the run so you can properly geek out afterwards.

The trackers sits outside the shoe

As someone who loves seeing splits, elevation and information like this from my watch (I use a Garmin) this was a dream come true. It gives a real insight into how you run and, importantly, how this changes throughout a run and between the different kinds of runs you do.

Some data from the app after my run

For example, when I did a quicker 5k my data was a lot different to when I did a long slow run. This makes a lot of sense because your feet turnover is greater and your moving in a different way than more of a “plodding” run. I find it very handy because I’m so injury prone that I need to be wary of my form and keep it the best I can. And with these trackers on my trainers it helps me concentrate – don’t over-stride, don’t slump, keep my feet landing beneath my centre of gravity… things like that. Anyway I’ll do a proper post on this soon after I’ve got more of comprehensive experience of the trackers. But needless to say, I’m enjoying them!

I’ve also been challenging myself in a different way lately. I’m attempting to get better at handstands.

I want to be able to hold myself on my own without support… but it is HARD. So far I can last mere seconds before dropping back down. I’ve been practising up against the wall in our house and trying to keep my body straight, push up through my hands and keep my head aligned, but that’s about all I can manage. It’s fun though. I can do headstands find, but handstands are a whole different ball game! I’ll continue to keep practising every week and watching YouTube videos for advice.

Another bit of running coolness is the fact that my incredible grandad made me a calf stretcher! My calves get very tight and my physio recommended getting a device to stretch them while I did other things, like brushing my teeth, and as I was Googling them I had an idea that my grandad might be able to build one himself. He’s such a talented carpenter. I mentioned it to him and he loved the idea.

While he’s over 80 now, he still likes to be busy and loves helping people out (he does a lot for charity and goes up to help out with looking after the reindeers in the Cairngorms Reindeer Centre every year.

Anyway he made the most amazing adjustable (!) calf stretcher which I now regularly use while working from home.

How cool, right?

I’ve also recently been sent an anti-chafe cream, called Slipstream, for when I’m running. I get such bad chafe under my arms when it’s warm and this has been an absolute life-saver. It’s easy to apply, doesn’t leave horrible white marks or anything like that and reduces my chafe SO much.

It only uses natural ingredients, waterproof and vegan. Love it!

And I’ve finally got my Six Star medal up in the frame that Kyle bought me for Christmas.

My favourite medal without a doubt. So much time and effort. And to think no Majors have happened this year (to the public, Tokyo was only for the elites). Chicago has recently cancelled and London… well, who knows? I cannot imagine how they could still go through with it. And is it responsible if they do? I imagine there are a lot of talks behind the scenes going on and a lot of it to with contracts, insurance and, most likely, money.

I’m so grateful I was able to run Chicago Marathon last year and get my medal. I almost didn’t run because of my hamstring and then my knee issue. I’m just SO glad I went ahead. Though I feel terrible for people who had planned this year to be the year they got theirs. But hopefully, next year.

Is there a race you were looking forward to doing this year?

What’s your favourite medal?

Can you do a handstand?

**Full disclaimer: I was sent the anti-chafe cream and the running trackers for free in exchange for a review. All opions are my own honest ones.**

Back to normal running and eating

I’m happy to update that my calf niggle has gone.

My runs feel back to normal and I’m slowly building up the miles again. As there are no races on the horizon it’s tricky to plan how to run right now, where I would have a peak to an end point then a rest for a bit before building back up. So I think what’s clear is that I shouldn’t just be smashing out 16-17 mile long runs every single week and plan in a cut-back week once in a while. So ideally mimicking my usual race schedule.

At the weekend Kyle and I went out for our long run on Saturday morning. I’m really loving our weekends together in our home. We set an alarm for 8.30am (so we don’t sleep too late – we have black-out curtains which are both amazing and dangerous) and then loll in bed with a cup of tea for a bit before getting up and heading out.

The long run is my favourite run of the week (whereas for Kyle…well, he’s less enthused). My plan was to run seven miles with Kyle, then he would run the final mile home, whereas I would head off for a few more miles solo. I had in my mind that I’d like to do at least 10 but see how I felt.

What’s nice about where we live is that there are lots of ways to cut back home without being stranded for miles or having to make decisions about the length of the route early on.

We ran down Southsea seafront which is lovely and flat but has no shade at all and in the beating sun it was quite hard work. While it’s lovely to be near the sea and run by it, it’s so open to the elements. When it’s windy it’s WINDY. When it’s hot it’s HOT.

As we got to where Kyle was to head off I’d pretty much decided to do 13 miles. I felt good and my calf was absolutely fine. I put on the MarathonTalk podcast and just zoned out. I had to do some quick mental maths and thoughts on the route I was going to do though while I listened. While I definitely could have just done an out and back style route I always find them so unsatisfying, so chanced it with more of a loop. I knew though it would likely be about 14 miles but I felt good so went with it. I finished the run happy, no calf issues but very hot.

Kyle and I then headed off to visit my parents and then off to Red Dog Saloon for some late lunch/early dinner. We, like everyone else, haven’t been out for food in so long. Red Dog Saloon was actually the last place we went to before lockdown happened and knew they were “on it” with their safety measures so felt safe heading back there. And as we assumed, they were. Waiting staff wore masks, tables were far enough apart etc. They sadly had a reduced menu though.

At first we were a bit worried they wouldn’t have what we wanted but turns out to get what I wanted I’d just have to order three chicken wings starters… yep.

The food was SO good. I’m  guessing because they have less on the menu they can really focus on doing the stuff they do offer really well. Honestly, it was some of the best buffalo chicken wings I’ve had in the UK! Previously they had been drenched in the buffalo sauce, which while I do love can be too overpowering and spicy, but now they were just lightly coated with such a tasty crispiness. Kyle equally enjoyed his Philly cheesesteak burger. A big thumbs up for our first meal out!

The next day we took a long walk down to Southsea with Alfie.

The weather was just perfect. Not too hot but warm and sunny enough to enjoy a quick dip in the sea with Alfie. Though it did take him some persuading to come into the water. He was very apprehensive. He’s been in water before but he’s not one of those dogs that throws himself in. He did several swims though (as long as we were in there too). Though he did look a little grumpy afterwards 😉

(And even more grumpy later when he had to have a bath).

Then we grabbed a drink and sat on the pebbles enjoying the rays. I just adore being close to the sea, it feels like being on holiday. All the smells of chips, doughnuts, coffee and suntan lotion. I love it.

We then walked back. All in all it was a 5 mile round walk. This nicely set us up for an appetite of roast pork later. I popped the meat in the oven then dashed out the door for a quick 5k (nothing makes me run faster than food, I tell you).

It’s the fastest 5k I’ve done in a while, so I was quite pleased. And a solid 29 miles for the week (a good 10 less than I was running previously before my calf issue – I’m trying to be cautious and sensible).

Then I was back in the kitchen sorting the roast out.

I rustled up home-made roast potatoes, Yorkshire puddings, cauliflower cheese, with veg and stuffing.

It all came together nicely. I can’t tell you how proud of myself I was! It tasted incredible (if I do say so myself…).

So a very satisfying and fun filled weekend!

Do you like roast dinners?

Do you like going to the beach?

My yearly calf niggle, home improvements and potential races

Life lately has continued to be fairly hectic.

Work has been busy and house stuff has been ongoing. I also picked up a little niggle in my calf – the ever present yearly calf niggle I get. So lots has been going on.

Firstly with the house… I’m so so happy with our little home.

It’s really coming together. We’ve got most of our furniture sorted now and now it’s more a case of getting pictures up, cushions and those little details that make the house inviting and “ours”. It’s definitely an ongoing and slow process, but one I’ve very much loving. Building a home with Kyle is making me very happy.

I have a never ending list of the things I want to get done but I’m trying not to let it overwhelm or stress me. We have time. And to be honest, working from home has allowed things to happen so much easier than if we weren’t at home… getting deliveries, being able to build furniture in our lunch breaks and things like that.

So my calf niggle. Well, it was time really for it to crop up. With running around 40 miles a week and a consistent 16-17 miler every week as my long run, it was really tempting fate. It’s so weird that my calf niggle (always the same, a sore spot that feels uncomfortable when I run and, when it gets bad, when I walk) always happens to me. I can’t seem to ever escape it.

That said, I’ve become really good at spotting it and backing off. Though I don’t know how to completely cure it, I definitely have a tried and tested mechanism to nip it in the bud. The main thing being to back off from running and reduce my mileage, which (amazingly for me being all sensible) I did. And shock horror, it faded away.

Previously I’ve tried calf strengthening, I’ve tried foam rolling… it just seems to be something that will always crop up when I’m beginning to do higher mileage. It’s like an adjustment. But then when it’s gone it’s gone.

Basically I took about five days off of running (and jumping – the YouTube workouts do love a squat jump don’t they?) and then added back some lower mileage runs in with space between each to recover. And now two weeks later I’m  pretty much back to feeling normal. Of course I won’t just jump back into 40 mile week mileage right away as this would be stupid (watch this space…).

To be quite honest, I’m quite glad to have had a break from the high mileage. Without a marathon to do it was getting a bit pointless to keep running so far every week (as much as I did love it). It’s nice to have dropped back down to eight miles for a long run, and then gradually build up again – something during marathon training I really enjoy doing.

I also got new trainers. I tried the Nike Epic Reacts and while they felt OK I did wonder if they were just a bit too different for me. They’re very tight across the top of my feet and have quite a loose back of the heel. I’m not sure how I feel about them. They just didn’t feel “right”.

So I’m going to try some Saucony Guide ISO 2 shoes which are more supportive. My feet pronate and are quite sensitive to change so fingers crossed this will work a bit better. I think I tried to get too jazzy.

So I ran eight miles with Kyle at the weekend as my first “long” run post niggle and it went well.

It was windy and on the verge of raining but it was just nice to be out running.

My calf felt almost perfect and afterwards was good. So fingers crossed this continues!

I have a few race question marks coming up. Obviously everything is very much in the air at the moment so who really  knows what’s going to happen. One of them was a marathon… only problem is that it’s in Canada! The plan was for my friend Emma and I to stay with our lovely friend Cortney in Toronto (like I did last year) and then we were going to do the Niagara Falls Marathon, which crosses over the border into the New York state in the US. But due to the borders being closed the marathon can’t happen, so I was planning to drop to the half. The latest on flights from the UK to Canada though involves a two week quarantine both sides so that is currently not possible. It might change I guess… it’s in October so who knows!

The race might not happen but I still hope to go to Toronto (as long as there’s no quarantine). I’ve got my flights already booked – though of course that could easily change.

The Rotterdam Marathon date was postponed from March to 25th October, which incidentally is the same day as the Niagara race! So that adds to the confusion too. Obviously I can’t do both… but if I can get to Canada that’ll be my first choice. Then Rotterdam with Kyle supporting (he’s bailed which is understandable from someone who isn’t a big long distance fan. I’m happy to train for a marathon and it not go ahead whereas Kyle isn’t).

I’ll just keep on running regardless with the vague aim of an autumn marathon. Maybe there’s a chance the Portsmouth Coastal Marathon at the end of December will still carry on? With around 1,000 runners maybe? But again, WHO KNOWS. This might be the year I run no races.

Have you got any races still in the diary?

How has your training been affected through all of this?

Create A Style That Is Uniquely You In Simple Steps

Life is so hectic and busy right now it’s crazy!

Work has ramped up, so much is happening with the house (all good stuff – lots of Ikea trips, deliveries and flat pack action making our house into a home) and just life in general. I will be back on form with my blog soon… but for now I have a post talking about style. I’m by no means a stylish person but I do believe I have my own “Anna style” which is just generally comfy and simple 😉 Anyway here we go…

If you are looking for advice on how you can create a style that is uniquely yours without a whole bunch of hassle, then you have come to the right place. In this article, we’re going to be looking at some of the simple steps that you can take to create this kind of style. We know that a lot of people say fashion is a universal thing, but it really isn’t, and a lot of it is down to a person’s individual preferences. Instead of stamping out the differences between your idea of style and someone else’s, we think you should be embracing them. Anyway, if you want to know more about some of the steps that you can take, keep reading down below to find out more.

Link Pic – CC0 Licence

Be Comfortable

The first thing that you’ve got to think about is how to be comfortable. It’s important that your style allows for some level of comfort. We’re going to look at beauty being pain a little lower down in this article, but this doesn’t always have to be the case, and sometimes beauty comes from when we are most relaxed. If you’re comfortable, you’re more likely to be relaxed than if you’re not, which is why this is something you should be thinking about. It is often the case that we look our best when we feel our best, and if you feel like you can’t breathe because your clothes are too tight or you’re so hot that your clothes are literally stuck to your skin, then this isn’t going to be the case.

It’s up to you to work out how to have a style that is both comfortable and still looks fantastic. At the end of the day, if you think that it looks good, then it looks good. It’s up to you how you style yourself and don’t listen to anyone else. Be comfortable, and let the haters hate if that’s what they want to do.

Sometimes Beauty Is Pain

CC0 Licence – Pic Source

We know that we just discussed beauty being about being comfortable, and a lot of the time, this is true, but on some occasions, it does require a little bit of pain. There is always going to be an opposite, and it’s like the dark to the light. You’re going to need both at some point! Sometimes you will find that your style is painful. For example, if you want to wear 5 inch plus heels, then you’re going to have some sore feet by the time you take them off. Depending on how often you are standing and walking obviously because these are certainly not the most comfortable shoes in the world. You’re going to have blisters and squashed toes until you get used to the feeling, but while you’re adjusting, it’s going to hurt a lot. But, sometimes, these heels are worth it when they take that outfit from a 7 to a 10.

Or, sometimes, you’ll find that you’re wearing clothing that is really tight. Some people wear bodices to keep their stomachs in (yes, they’re still a thing!), and the point is that they are so tight it keeps everything in one place. It can be uncomfortable like you’re fighting to breathe for a little while, but eventually, you just get used to it. If some of your styles require something like this, don’t be afraid of a little pain for the gain.

There Are So Many Accessory Choices

Another thing that you’re going to have to think about is all the accessories that are on offer for you to choose from. Not everyone likes to accessorize their outfits, and that’s completely fine, but some people don’t have a choice. For example, if you wear glasses, then you’re certainly going to have to figure out a way to make your style work around then. Glasses can be an incredible accessory, though, as they even make some outfits as long as you have the right style and color to fit in with what’s going on. Sunglasses are the same, although you don’t need them to enhance your vision, so they aren’t the vital piece that glasses can be!

You’ve also got hats, scarves, gloves, jewelry, purses, the right shoes, and so many others that you might even find yourself overwhelmed with all of the options. Keep in mind that however you choose to accessorize your outfit is entirely up to you. Go with what makes you feel confident. Find things that match your style and love them, be unapologetically you!

Think About Your Colors

Link Location – CC0 Licence

Have you thought about your colors? What looks good on you? What are the colors that you like to wear? What colors make you feel confident and happy with the way you look? These are all important questions and ones that you should be asking yourself when you are creating your own style. Considering it’s a style that is singularly about you, it’s important that you are taking into account all of your personal preferences. If you have found yourself wearing the same kind of colors for the past couple of years, then you might want to look at why this is. Is it because these are the ones that make you feel good or because they’re the ones you feel more comfortable in? It doesn’t matter as long as you love the style you have.

But, you might want to branch out a little bit more and experiment with a few more colors. You can look online or speak to a professional about what kind of colors would suit you the most, and then try to incorporate these into your new look if you like them as well. If you don’t, stick with what you know!

What Makes You Feel Good?

What makes you feel like the fabulous person that you are when you are walking outside? What kind of clothes gives you that feeling that you’re a boss and you know it? These are the clothes that you should have in your closet, nothing else. You don’t want to wear something that doesn’t make you feel incredible. Of course, you can have your sweats for when you’re lounging at home, but when you head out, you want to feel like the powerful, fierce person that you are, and your clothes are going to have a lot to do with this. We want you to feel confident all the time, so you’ve got to decide what makes you feel good and what doesn’t.

There is no room in your style for anything less than awesome. If it doesn’t make you feel fantastic, then get rid of it. Don’t settle for less, creating this style is your chance to show the world who you are.

Your Figure

Pic Source – CC0 Licence

You might want to think about your figure. You can wear anything that you want, no matter what body shape you have, but some people find it more comfortable if they are wearing clothes that flatter their figure. Others don’t care, and if they have a bit of a tummy, this isn’t going to stop them wearing those shorts or that crop top. This can’t be said of everyone though, so don’t worry if you are more concerned with the way clothes look on your figure. Like we have been emphasizing through this article, it’s all about you and what makes you feel the best you can.

Certain types of clothes are better for enhancing certain figures, which is what you might want to look into. There are style guides online to give you an idea of what these clothing types are, and there are also professionals that you can talk to if you would rather have in person advice.

Take Your Time To Decide

Never rush your style. You don’t want to make decisions because you think you are short on time and then end up regretting them at a later date. All of your choices have to be made because they are what you want. Don’t ever let yourself feel as though you are settling for something that doesn’t 100% fit with the style you are trying to create. If you find something that is an outlier and you love it, then there’s no reason you can’t incorporate it. The same way that if you find something that does fit with your style, but you don’t like it as much as everything else, it has no place in your new look.

Keep in mind that if you don’t love it when you first buy it, you won’t grow to like it any better. The store is the place you love it the most, and if it’s not screaming at you, it’s not the one you should choose.

We hope that you have found this article helpful, and now see how you can go about creating a style that is uniquely you using simple steps. Put this advice into practice, and you’re going to end up with a style that you adore, no matter what anyone else says! You do you and forget anyone else.

Source Image – CC0 Licence

Do you think you have a unique style?

Do you enjoy following fashionn trends?

Brownies, street bingo and running happy

Another week of lockdown living…

Kyle and I are still working from home, sorting out our new house, and staying “alert”… whatever that means. We ventured to Ikea a few days after it opened and thankfully didn’t have to wait in any crazy queues. In fact, we literally just walked in. Of course we had to keep away from other people and you couldn’t go inside one of the “fake rooms” if someone else was. But it wasn’t busy at all so felt all very normal. We got some bits and pieces but as I only have a Fiat 500, couldn’t get the armchair we wanted. But we’re hopefully going to ask a favour from Kyle’s brother who has a larger car to see if he can help us.

Ikea selfie

It’s been a lot easier buying furniture online. We bought a chest of drawers and a matching wardrobe. Unfortunately it required assembling and really wasn’t that simple. Pages of diagrams, parts and screws…

We built the drawers one weekend and the wardrobe the next. It literally took us four hours a piece and we still managed to mess it up somehow. We got the top of the drawers on backwards and managed to nail into the wrong areas in the wardrobe. Ah well, they’re both standing and doing the job intended so that’s all that matters!

Every week we’ve been getting involved with the “street bingo” that happens on our road at 2pm on Sundays. It’s run by an amazing guy who runs an Instagram page called @dontsufferinsilence1 which is all about improving mental health and looking out for each other. He got everyone together (he’s been doing it for like 10 weeks!) and loads of people sit on their doorstep and do the bingo and get involved (social distanced of course).

I’ve never seen anything like it in real life. To be honest it was somewhat overwhelming to begin with because suddenly you’re being introduced to loads of people but everyone is super chatty and lovely.

So we’ve sat outside with Alfie and did the bingo and got to know our neighbours each week. It’s really nice to see how much everyone looks out for each other – like proper old school Britain, you know?

Kyle thinks he’s cool…

What’s also been lovely is more house warming presents from lovely people! And OMG trying the BEST brownies I’ve ever had. Our lovely friend Shell sent us some Gower Brownies and Jesus Christ they were incredible. Perfect texture, dense gooey delicious squares of pure heaven. They don’t look like they’ll rock your world but honestly they were amazing. So moreish as well 😉

Running is still going well, happily! Without having any marathons coming up and not being injured or coming back from an injury has left me in a novel position whereby I can literally run whatever I want and my long runs have naturally just fell in the 15-18 mile region, which I love.

I don’t really set a concrete distance in my brain before I head out but I have a rough range. It’s very relaxed and it’s actually one of my favourite runs of the week.

Last weekend Kyle joined me for 6 miles before heading  home and I carried on to get 16 in total. It was windy and hot – not a great combo, but it was nice to zone out to the MarathonTalk podcast and enjoy the sunshine.

And less getting lost as the weeks go on, winning! I reallly love my long run route because it’s so varied, road, trail, promenade along the beach, coastal paths, and super flat! Perhaps not the greatest training for hills but ehhh I fully enjoy it.

What’s your ideal long run distance?

Do you enjoy putting furniture together? I’ve been surprised at how many people said they love it!

Have you ever been involved in something like street bingo?