Our trip to London and all the food

I’m so behind on my posts. I have so much to talk about as well!

I’ll start first with an incredible weekend I had with Kyle that as just SO good. Kyle and I were super excited about it. It was literally all our favourite things, but sadly without any running.

We planned to go to London for my Christmas present, which Kyle had gotten me. A chicken wings tour! I mean, this was a perfect gift and a perfect excuse for us to spend a night in London and enjoy ourselves.

Originally we’d planned to do the tour on the Friday, stay over and then do parkrun and brunch Saturday. However it turned out that the chicken wings thing was only available Wednesday or Sunday… ehhh. So no parkrun for us sadly as we’d be travelling up Sunday morning to get there for the wings at lunch, then head home Monday after brunch.

It’s funny because after we got there we wondered why we hadn’t brought our running kit so we could do a cheeky run Monday morning. It was a bit of a lost opportunity but I think we were both just too focused on the food.

We did Lee-On-Solent parkrun on Saturday though and ran 1.5 miles there and 1.5 miles back to the car so we could get in a “long run” of just over 6 miles. Obviously 6 miles isn’t that long in comparison to previous runs I’ve done but I’m being super sensible about this comeback and I don’t want to just jump into a 10 miler and bugger everything up.

Anyway, parkrun was good. I saw a few people I knew, which is always nice and had a nice run with Kyle. We took it relatively easy and had a very enjoyable run. We made sure not to stand too close to the back as we have done in the past as it gets crazy busy at Lee and it’s a fairly narrow start.

Sunday we woke up early without an alarm – which is always nice. We got into a bad habit of sleeping very late a few weeks ago which made us feel terrible. I say late, it was about 9am, but this is late for us. We just felt so groggy and like we’d had too much sleep. As lovely as lie-ins are I’d rather naturally wake up earlier and feel refreshed. We relaxed in bed for a while as our train wasn’t until 10 and I decided to go for another short run.

I wanted to be running two days in a row again and adding another 3 mile run to the weekend would help me gently transition into this. The run went really well. No issues and it felt OK (asides from it being around Clanfield which is so fricking hilly!).

It was a fantastic Airbnb!

After the run we got ready and headed to London on the train. It was very tight on timings to get to Shoreditch, check in at our Airbnb (we love an Airbnb) and then meet our tour guide for the wings experience. But we made it bang on time!

It was just us on the tour which was really nice (the tour can have up to 15 people I think). The woman who was our guide (I’m embarrassed to say that while we did get her name I don’t think I’d be able to spell it correctly) was SO lovely. She was friendly, knew so much about the local area and just the right amount of involved. (If you’re interested it’s THIS experience).

She took us to Orange Buffalo to begin with an we got to try two different heat levels. Both flavours were fantastic and it came with a thick blue cheese dip. Honest to God, I could bathe in this stuff. One of my absolute favourite things in the entire world is a buffalo chicken wing with a thick cold blue cheese dip. NOTHING beats that texture and flavour combo for me. I am a simple creature I know.

She showed us around the local area (an area I’d heard about but never been myself), with all the street art, the food market, Banksy artwork… it was fascinating. It was hustling and bustling and busy with electrically (and far cooler) dressed people. It felt very “hip” (and by saying hip I have now fully separated myself from any form of coolness, I do realise this). She had fantastic tid-bits of information and interesting local knowledge.

Cool street art and a tree with lots of trainers hanging from it

The second stop was in the Boxpark in Shoreditch called Coqfighter. It was very exciting for me because I’d heard about these places on social media (follow my Instagram @AnnaTheCake88 for my foodie loving) and now I was getting to actually go there.

The wings were so different from this location because they were of the fried chicken variety so had a crispy Vodka and sesame coating and came with a soy sauce and chilli dip. Damn they were SO good. So different to what I’ve usually had before. The soy sauce dip, dear lord, was good. And the crispiness of the chicken just rocked my world. I was in heaven.

Then we headed, somewhat sadly, to our last location called the Blue Kitchen. We had double fried buffalo wings and Szechuan wings (pictured above). I didn’t think anything could top what we’d had so far but these were FRICKING AMAZING. Double fried? Yes please. In my excitement I sadly didn’t get a picture of the buffalo…but they were fantastic I assure you.

I think I amused our guide a bit because I was clearly VERY into my wings and did a good job of polishing everything off. She was amazed that we ran as much as we did as well – all the marathons and parkruns. It was fun talking to her about it. I felt like we just bamboozled her with our weird lives of eating and running haha.

After the wings tour, we headed to Doughnut Time for some pudding. I mean I was pretty full to be honest but we wanted to get some of these oh so Instagrammable doughnuts. Kyle was VERY excited. We’ve both had them before and had decided as a treat to get a box (and take a couple home for Kyle’s parents – my parents declined as they’re both on Slimming World).

We got over-excited and bought NINE. I mean, Jesus, they’re not exactly cheap either. I think they are a little over-priced and over-hyped for what they are, but it was good fun choosing and enjoying the moment.

We took a big box back with us to the Airbnb and enjoyed a few there. The ones I’d chosen (Sia Later, Ice Ice Bae and Caramacklemore) were delicious. The Sia Later (red velvet) was the best, Ice Ice Bae (with cookie dough and brownie bites) was VERY sweet but tasty and the Caramacklemore (white chocolate) was somewhat disappointing, but possibly because I was quite sugared out by that point. Yes, I was that greedy and ate three. I fully enjoyed them 🙂

Caramacklemore

The next morning, after a lovely little lie-in, we walked to Covent Garden with a little stop in Starbucks for a coffee. We had brunch booked for 12 at the Big Easy (blows my mind that this was the earlier we could book – surely this is now lunch?). We’ve had brunch here before and it’s all you can eat and it’s just fantastic. I mean, if you’re a big meat-eater of course.

We did have a little stop in ANOTHER Doughnut Time, but this time the Doughtnut Time “World”. You can really tell how much they bank on social media for their notoriety.

The shop was set up specifically for taking photos and promoting to Instagram. While it was good fun and quite quirky, it felt a little odd and, well, clinical.

I imagine when they have events it’s a bit better but just Kyle and I in the shop meant it was a bit weird. And the posters around the shop saying that the props were for photos only furthered this. I obviously fully enjoy social media and taking photos, but it was a tad overkill (tho tbf, it had worked for us right?).

Anyway, Kyle bought another of the OG doughnuts because he enjoyed it so much the day before and wanted to take one home. I refrained – I’d eaten three the day before and had one to take home, so I was happy.

Then we got to the Big Easy in Covent Garden and enjoyed even more excess of food. BBQ ribs, smoked sausage, BBQ chicken, pulled pork, chips, cornbread, coleslaw and beans.

It was fantastic and we left very full! The staff are very attentive and brought out more of what we asked and we enjoyed ourselves a lot, but we were now dunzo’ed on food haha.

So a whole lot of eating and a little bit of running!

Do you like all you can eat experiences?

Are you a doughnut fan?

Do you like social media? Do you use it a lot?

A happy knee, a happy Anna

FINALLY somewhat of a positive update with ACTUAL running.

I don’t want to jinx anything, of course, but I genuinely feel like I’m (mostly) out of the woods with this knee injury. Obviously things could easily regress back and all go wrong again but at the moment things are looking very positive.

At the weekend Kyle and I went to Southsea parkrun. The week before I’d run a tester mile and another tester two miles and my knee had responded well. So three miles was my next challenge. I could have run the three miles on my own but I really wanted to do a parkrun as it had been so long and we could go for brunch in the amazing Parade Tearooms a short walk away.

Kyle’s mum, Sarah, came with us to support. She’s just started the Couch to 5k programme and was building up to do a parkrun herself. She wanted to see what kind of runners parkrun had and to reassure herself she wouldn’t be right at the back (she definitely wouldn’t be).

The great thing about parkrun is that firstly no one is ever last because of the tail walker and that the run is full of all different kinds of runners, of all different abilities, shapes and sizes. While she has seen a parkrun before, she’s never really watched with the interest of a potential runner.

I woke up and my knee was feeling amazing. It felt almost normal. The ever-helpful Steve Bonthrone had given me some great advice going into this run. He said I should try really hard to visualise and think about the best run I’ve ever had. This way it’ll keep me positive and stop me focusing on “how’s my knee?” or that I think I’m injured and will expect pain. This was fantastic advice.

There’s so much about having a longer term injury that’s in your head. The way you think about yourself, the issue and how much pain and discomfort you believe there to be – or expect there to be. Having Sarah there hugely helped as well as I could chat away to her about her running and her worries, which made me completely forget about mine.

It was very cold. But I do love a cold, dry and still morning for a run. You know you won’t be cold for long. We wedged ourselves within the middle – Southsea gets so busy! There were 657 runners, which is crazy. It’s a narrow area to start and a lot of bollards, fences and people to be wary of at the start so if you ever want a PB here you really need to be as much in the front as you can.

The first mile was an absolute dream. It was like the best kind of running – I felt smooth in my running and with not even a hint of difference between my legs. Through the second mile it started to feel a bit harder and I got a slight niggle just under my knee but it wasn’t concerning and it didn’t last. Whew! More than anything it was just tough on my endurance. Three miles is a long way, eh! 😉

We finished the run and my knee still felt good. Halleluiah! My time was 24:24.

To be honest, I could have gotten 28 minutes and I’d have been just as pleased! Times right now don’t matter (arguably, do they ever…).

Then we walked to the Parade Tearooms and met up with my parents for brunch. It’s lovely that Kyle and my family get on so well 🙂 My dad and Kyle ordered the fry-up while Sarah, my mum and I ordered the Jayne Salad, which is just a BEAST of a salad.

It has chicken, bacon, potatoes, coleslaw, beetroot, corn, tomatoes, berries, onion, carrot, lettuce AND a mid-way hidden layer of cheese. This salad is not for the faint of heart. The waitress even said “you can box it don’t worry”. Oh pahh-leeeease. I will be fine. The two mums however, epically failed and had to box over half for home.

It was a lovely morning, and I felt so happy and relieved that the run went well. And for the rest of the day and days after it still felt good. THANK GOD!

I had another run on Tuesday at lunchtime planned with Kyle. It had been so long since I ran at work. In fact, even people I didn’t know at work had been commenting on my lack of running! So it was so nice to don my gear and head out in the cold sunshine at lunch and go for a run. And while the run was hard work (my legs were feeling heavy from the gym) it was so wonderful to be outside in the fresh air. Yesssss!

A more sensibly paced run

So my next run is planned for tomorrow… long may this streak of good running and happy knee continue.

Do you enjoy running when it’s cold?

Do you find your parkrun getting busier and busier?

Gradually does it – a comeback?

Time for another update on what’s been going on recently with my knee.

So the last you heard on the blog was that I was getting some solid advice from Steve Bonthrone (Twitter: @pt_steveb) and I was planning another run.

Well, I attempted three miles after such a good week with my knee and it sort of blipped a bit and niggled a lot afterwards. I had a mini-meltdown (it was long-time coming to be honest). But after some ugly crying, I got a grip and re-assessed the situation (this was entirely down to some level-headed talking to from Kyle and my parents – I take no credit here in any rational arguments of the situation).

Essentially, what I assumed was a gradual comebackin my head was skewed with what “gradual” actually means to me. Three miles is not a wise move to attempt as a way to test my knee. I must remember I’m not the Anna fresh from marathon season with all the miles in my legs. With the time off I’ve had from running (10 weeks before I attempted to get back into things over Christmas) my body is no longer used to running. Trying to jump back in with what I consider to be short runs didn’t work because, no shit Anna, three miles is no longer a short run for me.

So I scaled it back, on Steve’s advice, and tried one single mile instead when my knee felt good again. The mile went fine. Afterwards it was much better so I felt very encouraged.

Two days later (Thursday) I tried two miles. Again it felt fine during the run. Afterwards it ached a bit and the next day (today) it aches a little. But it hasn’t got terribly worse and in general things feel OK. While this, I guess, is good news, I can’t get excited too quickly because my knee still isn’t as good as the other knee.

The thing is, I work in absolutes in my brain. Is my knee GOOD or is my knee BAD? There’s no in-between. However, there is in reality. I want a run to feel perfect or I want a run to feel rubbish. I can work that out in my brain how to feel then. But having the run feel good but still my knee is niggly or a bit achy after… what do I think?

I know my brain is over-analysing and over-thinking and I’m expecting too much from my comeback, so basically I need to CHILL OUT. The fact that running itself is feeling OK is a win, and unless it suddenly feels painful I think I can take it as a positive and continue building (G.R.A.D.U.A.L.L.Y) the miles up with no issues I’ll be OK.

So my plan is to continue with the good stuff Steve has advised me to do, the rehab I do at the gym and being less hyper-critical on how things feel. I’m hoping to attempt a gentle three mile parkrun tomorrow. If things continue with as they have been next week will be something similar… no sudden jump ups in mileage. Sensible Anna is back in town.

What’s a short run for you?

Do you ever have melt-downs? I’m a very emotional person it seems!

Knee update

I’ve been fairly quiet on the old blog recently due to the obvious matter of not doing much running as of late. I probably owe you guys a bit of an explanation of where I’m at with that (if you care!).

So post-Chicago Marathon I had a full nine weeks off of running due to my knee giving me a lot of grief. Grief when I walked, grief when I would bend down and even grief just lying prone in my bed. After a few physio appointments with different people, different diagnoses, a clear MRI (“structurally perfect”  apparently), lots of rest… it did eventually get better. Better in terms of daily life mostly. Bending my knee completely was still super stiff and uncomfortable, but walking was fine. Running? Nope.

After lots of trial and error, advice from people with more brain cells than me, and Internet searching, I found some good rehab exercises to get my affected leg stronger. As it had been quite a while that I had been feeling discomfort my brain and muscles were now protecting the movement on that side and had consequently those muscles had weakened. I added lots of single leg strength exercises several times a week to get it back up to strength.

Previously these exercises would be too painful to do. Now they were fine (rest does help, imagine that!). And the difference between the two legs was obvious. I mean I’d clearly done a good amount of strength on my left leg post-hamstring issue before Chicago and my poor right leg was now lagging behind. Ah injuries, don’t we love them and their patterns? So this time I worked both legs consistently (slow clap for Anna).

The good days of my leg were now outweighing the bad days. Things were looking up. And perfectly in time for the Christmas parkrun. Not wanting to ruin anyone’s Christmas (or just annoy people in general) I decided to do my first run BEFORE the parkrun so if it went badly I could skip the parkrun and just enjoy Christmas, rather than it potentially go badly and then feel a bit pants about it. However, both runs (easy 5ks) seem to go quite well.

The trouble was afterwards. My knee felt very niggly, grumpy and tight. It was like taking a step back from where I had previously been. I foam rolled, I iced (does any of that ever work? Mentally I needed to do something) and it slooowly got better again but reluctantly. Frustrating.

During this time of year it seems every runner is doing something (races, festive parkruns, 12 Days of Christmas running bonanzas, etc.). It can be mentally very difficult to be injured at this time. You want to join in, you want to be out there running along looking like a pilock in your Santa’s hat. It’s a great time to run as well because you’re so well fuelled from all the chocolate, mince pies and festive treats 😉

And being the stubborn idiot I am, as soon as my knee felt reasonably better, I tried another run. During the run I knew it wasn’t working. It didn’t hurt per se but you know when a run feels crappy. Something wasn’t right. My knee felt off and like at any moment it would start to hurt.

This entire injury period (and my hamstring too) I’ve felt like I’ve been very controlled and not done stupid stuff that Past Anna might have done. But here I regressed. I ignored my family saying wait a bit longer, I ignored Kyle asking what the rush was. And I ignored that my knee wasn’t feel super great. I just wanted to get out there and be part of that world again. And of course I made things worse.

So here I am, almost two weeks from that last run. I’ve been sensible, consistent with my rehab and not pushed anything. I also had the very welcome and helpful advice from a friend on Twitter (the super Steve Bonthrone: @pt_steveb) who gave up over half an hour of his time on a Saturday to video call with me.

He gave me such good advice, talked through my issues and gave me some new exercises and stretches. And things have gotten so much better. To the point I don’t realise anything is different with my knee until I try and bend it very firmly or crouch down and put a lot of pressure on my knee (I avoid this obviously). I’ve also taped up my knee using KT tape (and the help of Kyle and a YouTube video).

I need to bite the bullet and try another run now. I feel strong, my knee feels stable and good and mentally I need to test it. It feels so much better than it did before the other runs. But I feel so scared and worried it’ll regress. It’s so difficult to know when to start again. I hope I’m making the right decision. Finger’s crossed.

Do you find icing or foam rolling helpful when you’re injured?

Do you ever use tape for injuries?

Things I’m loving – December

Christmas is ALMOST here. I cannot wait. We have our work Christmas do tonight, Kyle and I have a day off tomorrow and we’re seeing Star Wars. Things are pretty good!

I thought I’d do a quick run down of some things in December I’ve been enjoying.

I was recently sent two items from the website Born Tough to review. A pair of tracksuit bottoms and a matching jacket.

I went for the rose colour which I think is really subtle and pretty. The fabrics are super soft, stretchy and fit nicely. The material is relatively thick. I went for medium as I was advised that the sizing runs quite small. They fit perfectly. To be honest, I’m not a big fan of matching items but actually I quite liked how this looked when I put them both on.

The jogging bottoms are high waisted with a draw-string waist and have contoured markings on them to sort of enhance your assets.

I like the jacket’s thumb holes too.

All in all I lovely set!

I would wear when mooching around the house as well as going to the gym (the bottoms are very squattable and easy to move about it). They’re super comfy and flattering – and not a bad price at all!

I’ve also been loving my birthday cake flavoured tea from Bird and Blend.

It’s verrry subtle but delicious. It’s basically a rooibos tea with a hint of vanilla-y sweetness. I’ve been using my mum’s David’s Tea mug to brew it which is super handy. It has a tea strainer sieve thing that sits on top to let the tea leaves move around and brew.

I’ve actually nicked the mug from her so she won’t be getting that back now 😉 She doesn’t even use it so it’s fair game in my opinion.

I’ve also recently being wearing my new trainers, the Hoka Arahi’s.

They’re super cushioned and bouncy. They do take a bit of getting used to but so far I’m pleased with them.

I’ll be testing them out soon for a… run. Yep. An actual real-life run will be happening soon. I’ve been working hard at the gym on my single leg strength and rehabbing like a pro (well I hope I have anyway) and things are feeling A LOT better. Whether that translates to a successful pain-free run, WHO KNOWS. Please keep your fingers crossed for me.

And on the subject of running… I was sent my Six Star certifcate from Abbott.

I have a digital copy and a very nice thick paper copy. I guess I should frame it or do something exciting with my medals but for the moment I’m just pleased to have it.

Anyway, I hope you lovely lot have a wonderful Christmas! Eat lots of food and enjoy yourself 🙂

What are your Christmas plans?

Have you ever tried Hokas?

What’s your favourite tea blend?

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