Things I’ve Been Loving Lately – October/November

So we’ve almost survived Lockdown 2.0, hurrah!

Christmas is just around the corner and I’m feeling positive for 2021. Here’s what I’ve been enjoying recently.

MINI Runner’s Gift Box

The lovely people from Adventusaur sent me one of their personalised running letterbox hampers which I think is just the sweetest and fun idea.

Basically it’s a little box full of handy running essentials. It’s such a great gift to send someone before a big race they’re about to do. It contains things like Vaseline (we’ve all been there…), a gel, Haribo (of course), a protein bar (handy for post-race recovery), amongst other items.

They’re a small up and coming business so I really hope people go for this sort of thing. During these COVID times it’s nice to be able to send someone something like this if you can’t actually see them. I guess it doesn’t even have to be for a race – but someone new to running as like a starter pack for them.

Free Train

I’m a big fan of taking my phone out with me on a run – whether for listening to music or a podcast or for the standard mid-run selfie/photo.

This is a very secure way to carry your phone and what’s handy is that you can fish it out very easily on the move, or if you want to stop.

I do love a running belt and the Koala Clip I have that attaches  to my sports bra, but it’s tricky to get my phone out easily if I want to quickly change a song or whatever. It feels super secure, doesn’t bounce and didn’t rub. It’s a great idea!

Floreseca Dried Flowers

I saw this on Instagram and just fell in love with their dried flowers. I’ve become a big fan of flowers in general but they never last long (obviously). However dried flowers obviously last a lot longer. And I knew they were about to launch their Christmas collection. They’re a small business so sell out quickly so I set my alarm for when they were launching and managed to snag myself a one of their Winter arrangements.

Ahhh they’re so beautiful! Love our sparkly and Christmassy they are, but not overly in your face Christmasssy, you know? I could potentially leave them up after Christmas – so very much worth their money!

Care packages

My amazingly talented baker (and runner) friend Emma sent me the sweetest care package recently.

It contained one of her freshly baked sourdough loaves, brownies and a GIANT 1kg bag of peanut M&M’s.

This was such a lovely thoughtful gift! I will have to show great restraint not to eat too many M&M’s in one sitting though haha.

Hello Fresh

So I’m back on the Hello Fresh train again. I really do love it. Previously I’d find myself scouring the Internet for recipes and wondering what to cook every week night for Kyle and I. I wanted healthy, filling and tasty but I was finding we were just falling into boring routines and bad habits. And takeaways, while I do love them so, were becoming easier to just fall back to if we’d had a particularly tough day.

Now we have three guaranteed week night meals of healthy, exciting and very tasty meals. I thoroughly enjoy cooking and this is just perfect. I love listening to a podcast while I prepare dinner. And then Kyle and I will sit down to something new and see what we think.

Most of the time we love the meals, occassionally (though it’s rare) we’re a bit “meh” (there was a Mexican tostada meal that didn’t float our boat for example) but we always enjoy trying them regardless and always feel full and happy. There nice and balanced too. It’s made my week far less stressful now! I also like that the company is very eco-focused too.

If you’d like to get £20 your first week you can use my link HERE (I get money off as well then too FYI).

Bare Grill’s Smokehouse and Mrs Potts

A few weeks ago I saw two of my close uni friends and we went out for an epic lunch at Bare Grills in Bristol. It was GIANT and exactly the type of meal I love. BBQ ribs, pulled pork, smoked sausage, chicken wings and brisket with a mountain of deliciously seasoned chips. It was epic!

How we then had room to go to Mrs Potts for dessert I have no idea. It was a good job that we had to queue for a 10-15 mins to get a seat though. It’s a very popular café in Bristol and serves so much chocolate-related items, like hot chocolate made from melted chocolate, brownies, cookies, cake… it’s incredible.

I went for a brownie hot chocolate and took away a slice of cake (with a pot of melted chocolate to drizzle over), a stuffed cookie and a white chocolate rocky road.

Kyle and I shared and the cake and cookie later that evening after I’d gotten home (and made space!). They were absolutely divine. The cookie was definitely the best out of the bunch but the cake with the chocolate over it was incredible too.

Caithness Paperweight

My grandad who lives in Stoke-On-Trent sent Kyle and I such a lovely present. He called it a “glass dump” which just doesn’t do justice to the beauty of the gift. I guess it’s a kind of paperweight, but it’s basically a unique hand-crafted glass ornament.

It’s such a gorgeous gift and will sit proudly in our house. I do worry about my grandad living alone in Stoke in this horrible time but I ring him regularly. He does so much volunteering which had to stop during the lockdowns so I worry he’s a bit out of sorts, but he seems in good spirits. He has such a positive and happy outlook to life.

So here’s to just as happy a December 🙂

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent the Free Train and Adventusaur for free in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

Adding some focus back into my running

Is it just me or has this summer has felt like it’s gone on for eternity?

I feel like I’ve been living in shorts for an exceptionally long time. I think it’s because WFH means I can wear my shorter shorts and can go for a walk in the morning and lunchtime easily… so it feels like I’m experiencing summer a lot more “fully” I guess compared to when I sat all day in an air conditioned office.

And while that’s quite nice – not having to layer up, not having to put a coat on – I’m a little fed up of it now. It’s too hot. It makes me tired mid-afternoon. I hate feeling sweaty and lethargic. I like to go to bed feeling cold, then warming up under my duvet. I don’t like this hot, sweaty, oppressive weather. As a side note, this is how I know I’m a true Brit. I like the variations of the seasons  –  and reserve the right to complain about them at any opportunity of course. But anyway, I’m ready for it to get colder. I’m ready for winter!

My running, despite the heat, has been a bit different lately. I’ve actually incorporated a weekly speed session into my training (and I feel confident to call my running “training”). Now if you’ve read this blog for a while you’ll know I’m quite a lazy runner… Lazy in that I don’t often push myself, I don’t tend to do planned “sessions” and when I do a race I rarely go for a time. I know there’s nothing wrong with that sort of approach to running. For me it’s important I just get to run and that I can continue to run throughout my life – regardless of whether I hit PB’s. I just like to be outside in the fresh air moving. I don’t feel particularly competitive with other people’s times or even my own times. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved so motivation to improve my times is always a bit lacking.

But with no races in the near future and my running becoming a bit samey I got the urge to jazz things up. A lot of my friends do “proper” speed sessions and talk about reps and recoveries and suddenly I was motivated.

So after doing a bit of research and seeking some advice from said friends, I headed out on a Tuesday evening to do 4x800m with the same amount of time recovery. I mean, nothing crazy. I didn’t want to destroy myself or my motivation by doing too much too soon.

This was a tough session though I can tell you! I ran 1.65miles to a nice long, wide, flat strip of sandy trail and got to it. Angry, fast music on (it’s what works for me) and off I went. Ooooof!

I haven’t done proper speed work or any sort of races to challenge myself (sometimes I’ll do a speedy parkrun when the mood takes me) so I knew it would be tough and I knew I wouldn’t be breaking any records (of my own), but it’s a stake in the ground and I will take it!

I did another session a week later but this time 8x400m with 90 seconds recovery and this mentally felt better as it was shorter (weird how that works as normally longer distances mentally feel better to me in general).

Weirdly I’m enjoying this addition to my running. It’s nice to go out with a purpose rather than “hmmm I’ll just do seven miles tonight” or whatever. I don’t know how long I’ll keep it up or whether I’m going to be able to “show off” this hard work in a proper race eventually but for now it’s nice to have something different going on.

I’ve also been back to my personal trainer (@JonhPridham_rule5coaching on Instagram) to get back to some heavier leg training. He’s massively helped in the past to keep my strong and injury-free alongside my running. As a keen cyclist he understands the need for a well-rounded athlete!

My squats and general strength have diminished a lot of course as I haven’t been able to lift any sort of heavy weights for a number of months now, but it’s good to be working my way up again. Though the DOMS is unreal – three days afterwards!!

So I feel like I’m getting back to some level of focus for my running, both in terms of speed and in terms of strength. Fingers crossed I don’t lose motivation and, more importantly, don’t get injured!

And on a different note… I was sent a pair of PaMu Slide Mini Bluetooth earphones for running.

The earphones are kept in a little box that you charge up (very similar to iPhone Earbuds) and they also come with a cute little bag to keep them in. Charging is very simple – it’s just a micro USB that you put into a plug.

The earphones themselves are easy to pop in, stay nicely in my ears, even when running, and the sound quality is decent. I definitely prefer to wear these rather than the expensive Apple Earbuds!

Also, these have 30 hours playback on one charge which is more than enough for a few runs and walks.

So all in all, things are going well round here with my running 🙂

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

NURVV Run Insoles review

A month or so ago I was sent a pair of NURVV Run Insoles to try out and let me tell you, I was excited.

If you’re anything like me as a runner you’ll love the data you can get from a run – whether that’s recorded by your fitness tracker or app, you can dissect the minute details of your run afterwards. From the elevation, your pace and heart rate, so much data can be recorded nowadays. I mean, did you even run if it’s not on Strava, eh? (Let’s not talk about Garmin being down a few weeks ago tho…).

The NURVV Insoles give you a whole lot more data to look at for each run. Basically you put the insoles into your trainers with tracking devices that are securely fitted to the side of the trainers and then it records SO MUCH DATA about your run. Things like foot strike, stride length, pronation, cadence…it’s all there to see, even as the run progresses.

For example, I can see at the start of the run, when I’m just warming up, my stride length is shorter than towards the end when I’ve sped up a bit more and got into things. The same for my cadence. But likewise, on a long run my form starts to get a bit squiffy as I get more tired.

So to go into a bit more detail… can I feel it on my trainers during a run? No, I cant. Maybe if you’re super sensitive or if you’re really careful about the weight of your shoes. But to be honest, you’re more likely to use these on training runs rather than key races (though I’d love to see my data of a marathon, I’d find that fascinating).

It’s really easy to use – once you get the hang of it. The set-up itself is very easy and once the insoles are in your shoes (which you can’t feel, they’re very thin), you just turn the trackers on and then use the app to start finding satellites for their GPS and then you’re ready to go.

The insoles themselves

It can be a little bit of a faff to wait for the trackers to find GPS but no longer than a Garmin so that doesn’t bother me. Though it IS something else to remember for a run and potentially over-complicate things. I guess that’s the price you pay for wanting more data on a run. In my eyes, it’s totally worth it.

You see a little light flashing on the trackers once you’ve started the run on the app and then you’re off. Handily you can leave your phone at home as well and the trackers will save the data and then upload later (like the Garmin). One thing I will say is that a couple of times I haven’t pressed the start button properly and have gone for my run and got home to realise it hadn’t recorded anything, which is a bit annoying. It’s not overly clear when it’s on, asides from the small flashing light and in sunlight it’s hard to see.

Footstrike data

Aside from that though, I really love geeking out with the data after a run (when I have correctly turned it on!). It’s made me become more aware of my form as I run. For example, I try not to over stride but keep my feet landing beneath my body.

It also lets you know how much you over or under pronate. From most of my runs it appears I over pronate a fair amount on my left side. I vaguely knew this already but it’s really interesting that it’s mainly my left foot – whereas I assumed both were as bad. It also gives you helpful advice on how to improve this. Things like increasing foot strength and improving your arch strength and single leg balance.

I love the NURVV app as it gives you so much information per run (and throughout the run) and it also collates all your runs together to give you overall scores and an overall health rating across the different metrics. I can see where I need to improve on and what I need to keep in my mind as I run. I’m a big believe in running being a skill and to run better doesn’t just mean to run more. There are things you need to do outside of running to keep you strong and injury-free. Things like strength training (and single leg strength – so you can work on individual weaknesses), running drills and mobility.

What’s also good is that the NURVV team are continually improving. Since I’ve started using them there have been some decent updates, such as syncing with Strava and the data being broken down as the run progresses, and upcoming updates include auto-pause (currently you press a button on the tracker to pause), heart rate integration, elevation and manual run entry. Very exciting!

So needless to say, I’m a big fan. I’ll continue to use the trackers and hopefully improve my form and avoid injuries… it’s definitely good motivation to keep up my strength training and mobility work!

Do you like to look at your running data after a run?

Do you do anything outside of running to improve your form?

Do you over/under pronate?

Full Disclaimer: I was sent the NURVV Run Insoles for free in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own honest ones.

What I’m Loving Lately – May/June

Time is flying but also moving so slowly, eh?

So Kyle and I have been continuing to settle in nicely to our new little home and while there is still so much to do (not one room is fully “finished” yet) we’re loving our new way of life.

Luckily we’ve only had to paint one wall, and that was only because we wanted to change the colour. The whole house was left in such pristine condition and the previous owners had only recently decorated so thankfully it’s just furniture and organising that we need to sort out. (But big thank you shout out to the previous owners for their kindness and thoroughness – and the bottle of fizz they left us!)

Though we did have a rather stressful time of lack of internet which wasn’t fun. Ordinarily this would just be annoying but because Kyle and I are working from home we needed something to cover us for the week that our internet wouldn’t be in place. We bought a mobile broadband thing (like a dongle I guess) to cover us but the signal wasn’t great. But after a week or so, we now have proper internet and it’s lovely and fast. Work has become so much easier I can tell you! No more fuzzy stuttering Team meetings or waiting for a webpage to load.

My standing desk is doing well!

Anyway I thought I’d catch you up with some things I’ve been loving lately…House warming gifts

We’ve been really touched and grateful for lots of lovely cards and presents we’ve received since arriving. Kyle’s sister, Lucy, popped round (well, stood outside the door 2 metres away!) and gave us these gorgeous cupcakes she’d made (she’s actually got a baking Instagram that she’s looking into starting as a full-on business –> @dirrty.cakes to check her out).

There were some lemon flavoured ones and some chocolate flavoured ones. And they were INCREDIBLE. I’m not usually a big chocolate cake fan but damn these were so good.

So fantastic detail!

My lovely friend Emma made us some DELICIOUS rocky road as well and had it sent to us. This was amazing!

We adore rocky road and honestly it really didn’t last long… Such a thoughtful and lovely gift.

Marshmallows, cherries, biscuits… so good

And Kyle’s dad gave us a selection of Tony’s Chocolonely.

This was incredible! So many flavours I’ve never tried. My favourite is the dark chocolate and pretzel one, but the almond and honey was SO good too. A bit like Toblerone. Trying to pace ourselves and not eat them all at one.

FourfiveCBD Immunity Bundle

I was also recently sent the fiveCBDd Immunity Bundle, which contains a whole host of cool products:

  • CBD Effervescent Multivitamins (containing 5mg/0.13% Broad Spectrum CBD, vitamins, minerals and amino acids
  • Advanced Daily Biotic
  • Raw Organic Cacao Powder
  • Vitamin C supplements
  • Vegan Vitamin D3 2000iu supplements
  • Peanut Choc protein bar
  • Food-Grown KSM-66 Ashwagandha supplements

What’s cool is that they have a charity partnership with Compassion London who are supporting those most in need during the pandemic – which is just such a fantastic scheme. When you purchase this box, £5 is donated to help provide three meals to vulnerable people, the homeless and key workers.

The CBD multivitamin is easy to take – you just drop a tablet into water (like the nuun or High 5 hydration tabs). It has sweet organge flavour and 5mg of CBD per tablet.

The cacao powder which is untreated, high in magnesium and iron (good against fatigue) and can be used in protein shakes or baking (a great addition to porridge too!).

I didn’t know what Ashwagandha was before getting this box, but apparently it’s clinically proven to reduce feelings of anxiety and lower cortisol, as well as aid muscle recovery. It’s also supposed to help optimise libido in men and women, wahay 😉

The Daily Biotic provides Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, which is apparently the most scientifically studied strain of beneficial bacteria. This helps to support general wellbeing and keep you healthy.

I really like this selection box as it has a bit of everything. And to be honest, recently it’s been a big help what with all the stress of moving house, sorting things out and what with one with and another… it’s been a nice boost to my health I feel.

33 Fuel Ultimate Daily Greens

And to top  up my health even more, I’ve also been sent the Ultimate Daily Greens from 33 Fuel. I’ve tried other products from 33 Fuel and really like them (their chia seed energy gels are fantastic – I did a review of them a while ago).

The Ultimate Daily Greens is like a power drink for your health, containing good stuff like wheatgrass, barley grass, chlorella, spirulina, kale, spinach and without sugar, sweeteners, preservatives or flavourings.

Also what I love is that they don’t give you a plastic scoop – the world definitely needs less plastic (side note: MyProtein should really get on board with this as people who regularly buy protein powders have no need for more scoops! Just buy one separately if you need it). For this you only need a tablespoon so you can work that out yourself. You just add it to water and guzzle away.

I add it to squash and it’s perfect. You can add it to your porridge as well if you so desire. It’s an easy mix-in.

So things are very good round here at the moment. With lots of fantastic (and super tasty!) stuff from lots of lovely people and cool companies 🙂

Do you take any supplements?

Do you add anything to your porridge?

Do you have a favourite Tony’s Chocolonely flavour?

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent the immunity box and daily greens for free in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

One final long run before the next chapter

So Kyle and I have finally moved out!

Even during this crazy lockdown Covid-19 era, we managed to sell my flat and move into our newly bought home. There’s still a lot to do and a lot to buy (allllllll the furniture) but we are super happy.

It was a busy day on Saturday packing everything into the van my parents got. I didn’t bring any of the furniture from my flat home as I sold furnished (which was what I wanted to do because I want to start fresh with Kyle) so it was just things like clothes, crockery and homeware like that… which is still a lot of stuff! But few items that were “big” other than a dining table, outdoor table and chairs and my bike (ha!). We dropped everything off at the house, then headed home again.

It was my mum’s birthday on the Sunday so it seemed like a nice last day with my family. Then Monday I’ll move out properly. It also helped keep Kyle and my family separate during the moving in process as he moved his things Sunday. (Alfie will of course be coming but once we’re a bit more settled so it’s not so disruptive for him).

On the Saturday I was able to do one last long run before we moved which was just so lovely. My long run route is a route I’ve been doing for so long. I can easily add bits on, take bits off and get anywhere from 6 miles to 20 miles. It goes all along the coast from Hill Head, Lee-On-Solent to Stokes Bay. I just love it. It’s super flat which helps 😉

I ran 15 miles and while it was super windy it was a lovely run. I tried to soak it all in and appreciate it. I’m sure I’ll find runs just as good in my new home – the coastline will just be slightly different.

Running, amazingly, has been going so well recently. I’m really chuffed about this because while there are no races to train for and no pressures, I’d hate to not have the ability to run right now. The freedom and the mental breather it provides is just so helpful right now in this time of uncertainty and restraint.

I haven’t been doing any sort of formal training or sessions, but this is hardly any different to my usual way of running! I’ve kept to around 15-16 miles as my long run and this has been a nice length for me. I don’t know how long it will be until races are back of course, as no one does, so it does feel weird not having anything in the horizon but for now I’m happy.

And now onto a review of a new protein range from MyProtein that sounded very intriguing: their Keto Blend. It’s been created to have a keto-friendly ratio of macronutrients for anyone on the keto diet, which is quite a strict low carb high fat diet. Now I will stress, I’m neither keto nor on any sort of diet but I do love MyProtein’s Whey Protein (I have it every day in my porridge). So I was happy to give this a go!

I tried their Strawberry & Vanilla flavour and their Chocolate & Caramel flavour.

I tried the Strawberry & Vanilla in my porridge and as a drink. As a drink (I mixed with semi-skimmed milk) and it was just like a strawberry milkshake. It mixed well and was lovely and smooth. Both flavours were great in porridge too.

No issues in how it mixed and made my porridge taste lovely and subtly sweet (not overwhelmingly so).

So the blend contains 60% fat, 35% protein and 5% carbs. One scoop (25g) contains around 115 calories and about 10g of protein. They also do a Coffee Walnut flavour. So not too shabby! A nice way to get some extra fat and protein into the diet.

Now back to sorting and unpacking!

Do you have a favourite long run route?

Do you enjoy sorting out things for your home? I’m a big fan of organising!

Do you have protein powder in your diet?