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?

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?

All moved in and exploring the local routes for running

So we are in the new house!

Kyle and I had a week off of work to sort ALL THE THINGS and while we definitely could have done with another week (or month) off, we got so much done. As I sold my flat furnished (and Kyle was moving from his mum’s house), we didn’t have a huge amount of furniture to move in with so it was a real timing act for certain items we bought before we actually moved in, like the bed and the sofa.

The bed arrived a couple of days after we moved in (which meant sleeping on several duvets for the first couple of nights – not particularly comfy!) and that was a HUGE feat to get it upstairs. Normally the delivery people would help you get things in and to the room you want it, but during this pandemic era they now just leave it at the doorstep.

Of course we understand this but it makes for tough work for just the two of us to get a super king size mattress up the rather narrow stairs. And we can’t ask for help from our family because we’re now isolating from them… so things are a lot harder.

It took us over 40 minutes to get the mattress up the stairs and honestly we weren’t sure it was going to happen. It took all our strength to pivot, pivot, PIVOT that bad boy. Whhhy did we order super king size?? But our bedroom is quite a big size and as Kyle is quite tall it seemed like a nice indulgence. We had not considered actually getting it into the bedroom though.

Likewise the sofa was another drama. This time the delivery men went above and beyond what they were technically allowed to do and helped us actually get it in.

We stood awkwardly back while they heaved to and fro to get the sofa in to our living room. It wouldn’t go through the door so in the end (after trying all the angles) they took our living room window off and got it through there.

THANK GOD. We were so grateful and sent them away with lots of biscuits.

So between cleaning, unpacking, buying and constructing furniture and organising our life, I have also been doing a bit of exploring on my runs. It is SO cool to have a whole new area to run round. Though it does mean my running has become less about switching off and more about being super alert with my surroundings and working out distances and where to go. It’s been great though.

We’re kind of living in the centre of Portsmouth as an area (not central city, just the central geography of the island if you get what I mean) so I have the luxury of heading out in any direction. Previously at my parent’s house this wasn’t really possible to do because of their location, so I’d always just head out in one of two directions most of the time.

And what’s lovely is the sea is just 1.5 miles away to the east of us, and Southsea is just over 2 miles to the south of us. So I’m still so close to the sea. While I’m definitely a land creature, I’ve always lived by the sea and just love being near to it. The possibilities of running and walking are just endless and I’m so excited. Kyle and I adore Southsea – it has very special memories for us throughout our relationship, and so to be so close to it (and all the incredible restaurants) is just so exciting to us. Unfortunately of course the coronavirus has meant that we can’t actually enjoy those restaurants at the moment, but hopefully in time…

This week was my highest mileage week in a while (almost 40 miles) and my running has been going so well (TOUCH WOOD). On Saturday I ran 18 miles and it went so well! I felt strong, had no niggles or issues and enjoyed it immensely. I had a vague route in mind and was able to run along Southsea seafront, along to Eastney and then followed the Portsmouth Coastal Marathon route up to the Farlington Marshes  and run round there. So it was a really interesting and, at times, very scenic route.

But it was hot. Of course I hadn’t gone  out super early and probably went out in the peak of the day’s heat but that’s just how I roll. I didn’t take any water with me (of course I didn’t, because I’m an idiot)… Though to be fair, I knew I could run back to the house to get some water and Kyle said he’d walk out to me to give me some if I rang him. Where we live is literally central to the route, so it would have been only 2 miles or less for me to get back. But being stubborn, I just pushed through. It was the final two miles when I was like “OK now I am THIRSTY”.

And Kyle, being the incredible human he is, had tracked me on his phone (not the entire run I must stress, he’s not a weirdo ha) and was standing outside our house with Alfie and a glass of ice cold water. Oh my god, that water was SO needed. I was so grateful!

The next day my legs felt tired but good! And Kyle and I enjoyed a gentle 3 mile run after a lovely lie in. Kyle does not enjoy running in the heat at all (whereas I can endure it) so he didn’t quite have my enthusiasm, but it was nice to FINALLY be able to run together. I mean, running aside, it’s nice to finally be together at all. This week has been so so lovely.

Do you enjoy running in new places?

Are the routes round you hilly or flat?

Have you had any moving in drama?

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?

A run to stand two metres apart

How’s lockdown been treating you? For me, it’s a funny one.

While my daily life is quite easy and, dare I say, somewhat relaxed, there are other parts which are uncomfortably hard and frustrating.

So the easy stuff is that I have my job with my full salary and I’m working from home. Working from home is admittedly quite nice. I don’t get up stupidly early for the gym anymore, so I get more sleep. I can go for a nice leisurely walk in the sunshine before work or during my lunchbreak and listen to a podcast. I can be in the comfort of my own home with zero commute stress.

I can wear leggings all day every day. I can wash my hair less and NO ONE CARES. Granted, it’s likely no one cared previously but Zoom calls are very forgiving so I feel more comfortable letting my hair get just that bit more greasy than I ordinarily would.

On this side note, by washing my hair less it appears to now needs to be washed less – if that makes sense? I’ve done a bit of reading on this front and apparently after an initial period, your hair adjusts to the change of hair washing and becomes greasy less quickly than before. Something about washing stripping your hair of its natural oils I believe. Where I would wash my hair every other day pre-lockdown, I can now get away with washing it every four days. It’s incredibly freeing. Washing and blow-drying my hair is such a chore.

Anyway, WFH isn’t bad at all. I have a solid routine, I can get my work done easily and it feels incredible to switch the laptop off and be like “OK now I can chill” IMMEDIATELY. My dad is at home as well so it’s not like I have no company. And Alfie of course.

(By the way, how much are dogs just LOVING this period? It’s like happiness 24/7 for them now).

The hard part is not seeing Kyle. I won’t harp on with all the reasons why as it’s fairly obvious, but it’s tough. And it’s tougher when you see people who aren’t following the rules and the temptation to be the same and have the same “who cares” mentality. But we know this won’t last forever and when people are literally dying and key workers are doing so much in such tough conditions it feels like a finger up to them by taking the situation so flippantly. We can look back at this time and know we did our part to help “flatten the curve”.

But we did decide to just slightly push the boundaries and meet-up…

We planned to run to a half-way location between us both so we could stand 2 metres away from each other and chat face-to-face IN PERSON. FaceTime, Zoom and phone calls are all well and good, but seeing someone in the flesh is irreplaceable.

So we both left our respective houses as the same time on Saturday morning and ran to each other, about eight miles for us both. It’s funny because our half-way spot is actually work, but we chose a nearby layby – classy eh!

My run was good. I listened to a podcast and just gently made my way there.

We arrived pretty much around the same time and then sat on some grass (slightly hidden it must be said) two metres from each other and just chatted about fluff and nonsense, but both enjoying it immensely.

Then Kyle’s mum picked him up. This was also nice as I got to speak to her as well – I miss Kyle’s whole family, they’re just such lovely people.

Then I turned and headed back the way I came. I felt lighter but heavier all at once.

I decided to stop about just less than a mile from my house to walk back as I was quite happy with 15 miles for the day rather than 16. My legs were tired and there’s no real need for me to be pushing the distances right now. I don’t want to get injured during this time! Running is a vital part of my sanity and happiness right now. A stable in all the change.

How is lockdown treating you?

Are you separated from someone significant?