Training and food lately

I know I start 90% of my posts about the weather, but I’m British soo… It is raining ridiculous amounts at the moment. I realise I’m extremely lucky to not live in any part of the UK that has flooding risks or issues, or places in America that were snowed under, but I can only comment on where I am right now. And it’s soggy to say the least.

Despite the rain and wind, I went out after work and did some hill training on Tuesday evening. I’d wussed out last week to do this specific hill because it’s not lit at all. It’s a long path off the main road and there are no street lights along it so it’s actually really hard to run up it without any light as it winds and turns. I don’t normally run in a headtorch unless I’m trail running when it’s dark, but I needed it for the hill.IMG_7854

Despite the rain, the shorts are back in action – as is my new Forever21 ‘Focused’ top (light and waterproof)

I’ve mentioned this hill before in this post, but basically it’s a12% incline for over 0.2 miles, which usually lasts about 3 minutes. It’s a beast. There’s a Strava segment on it as well and I love to test my fitness to see how well I’m currently running.

I did a mile warm-up then ran up and down the hill three times. I’d planned on four but three was enough! I had my music going (the only way I can survive a solo speed session) and just focused on my form (swing arms, use my bum, look ahead), trying to ignore the pain. The rain was pounding down but I was oblivious to it. I then continued on with my hilly route to make a total of six miles. Honestly, this run was awesome. OK it was painful and tiring but for whatever reason I felt like I was flying. I felt like my form was on point (or as on point as I can achieve!!) and like I was cutting through the rain. When I checked back to my splits and the hill segment I found I’m doing nicely in gaining back my speed. I’m not at my fastest for the hill but I’m getting there.

I love this about marathon training (when I get it right that is…). Seeing the progress, even if it’s tiny, is just so motivating each week. For me the two important things that really help my running are hill training and long runs. I’m always a bit weary of intervals and, whether justified or not, I feel like I dice with injury with them. But with hills I feel I get stronger.

Another important factor for me for marathon training is maintaining my strength work. I know I say this so often but my glute, leg and core work are really important for me to remain uninjured. This involves lifting heavy weights to keep my body strong; big compound moves like squats and deadlifts help strengthen not just your legs but your core and posterior chain. And the more running-specific moves, like wall sits, glute kickbacks, crab walks and box jumps help too. For me the strength side of things isn’t to increase my power or speed, it’s to keep me healthy. It’s also a something I thoroughly enjoy doing – who’d have thought?! Fabletics leggings

I know my focus shouldn’t be on how much I can lift and squat but there is something so empowering about increasing your weights or reps. It’s also, in a weird way, a nice comfort to know I have the love of lifting to fall back to if running and me have another fall out (*touch wood* I don’t!).

I just need to make sure I don’t burn out. Nutrition is a big factor in this and I can assure you, I’m eating lots of good nutritious food. For one thing I’m on a culinary exploration of all the cheeses. So far I’m in love with Stilton… but Camembert and Brie make regular appearances. I’ve found some nice cheese from MuscleFood as well (the French Chevre and Lincolnshire Poacher).Cheese

Lately a lot of my dinners have been fairly simple with meat, veg and cheese. And honestly, I’m loving it!


Most of my carbs happen earlier in the day: porridge for breakfast and with my lunch at work I have my standard popcorn (home-popped with salt and pepper). I’m not a huge carb eater, as I’ve said a few times on the blog. I don’t eat a lot of bread unless it’s good stuff at a restaurant and I don’t eat pasta. It works for me though!

Tonight I have an easy 5 mile planned, then parkrun on Saturday and a 16 mile run planned Sunday. The long runs are getting longer! Speaking of long runs… In a couple of a weeks I head to my grandad’s in Wales, who I’ve visited a few times. That weekend I had an 18 mile run planned and I mentioned it to him and asked if he had any ideas of good routes. He came back with this:Boston marathon prep

He planned an 18 mile route that compared to the Boston marathon course elevation!! How amazing is that?? I’m so pleased. He’s also offered to cycle alongside me to help navigate and provide a bit of support. I mean, can you get better than that? This is my 82 year old grandfather by the way, who has his own Strava account capturing his regular walks up and down the nearby hills of Llandudno. Yep.

How do you plan your really long runs? Do you go anywhere interesting?

Carbs, protein or fat? What’s your favourite? Unsurprisingly mine is protein!

What do you prefer: intervals or hills?

Afternoon Tea Connoisseur

Thank you all for your lovely and kind words for my last post. It’s a fairly rubbish situation, I won’t lie, but such is life.

Having a marathon to look forward (yes I am really looking forward to it weirdly enough) and having a training focus really helps. It means weekends are pretty much spent running, seeing friends/family, and eating. Very good uses of my time, I’m sure you’ll agree 😉 No sitting around on my own feeling sorry for myself.

This weekend was good fun. I had parkrun Saturday morning and when I looked out the window at the sunny, cloudless sky I was very happy. That was until I stepped outside to give Alfie a quick walk before I left. It was freezing! OK, not freezing, but the wind had a nasty bite to it.

I wrapped up warm to help set-up and then reluctantly peeled off my layers at the last possible minute.IMG_0370

Brrr! My legs were chilly! My friend Mike turned up without a coat in just shorts and a T-shirt and I felt very sorry for him. He was jumping around desperate to get warm. The weather can be very deceptive!

Anyway off we went. It was a frustrating run. It felt great, I pushed hard and I thought I was running faster than before…but I wasn’t. I’m consistent at least but I just cannot get past 21 minutes – not on the current course anyway. To be honest, I’m not that bothered as being near 21 minutes is good enough for me as I haven’t been there in a while and my 5k time is right at the bottom of my running wishes at the moment (keeping injury free, enjoyment and marathon training are my priorities right now). But it still irks me!

IMG_0367 I did get to wear my new Nike running top though so that was nice. It fits like a dream and is a really nice cut. Also nice that I coincidentally have a matching hair band – small things 🙂 And despite being freezing at the start, I started getting really hot on the second mile so I was glad to have worn what I did.

I saw my parents in the afternoon (after quite a cathartic deep clean in the house – very refreshing!) and my dad and me went for another nice walk along Stokes Bay with the dogs. They’re all very good after the walk at just jumping straight into the boot of the car…except Dylan.IMG_0368

Dylan, bless him, is not what you’d describe as an athletic dog…the others will zoom across the fields and chase birds, while Dylan will trot beside you gently. He’ll keep looking up at you as if to say “are we done yet?” And at the end of the walk he just lies down and rolls over when we try to get him into the car. Very cute, but a little annoying!

In the evening I saw some friends and we just hung out having a very easy evening chatting and watching Britain’s Got Talent. It was a lovely, relaxed evening. I headed back home afterwards, rather than stay at my parents (sort of got to get a grip with spending Saturday night’s alone at some point!)

This meant a new route for my long run on Sunday morning. I had 17 miles planned and decided to psychologically break it up so it didn’t seem so scary. I ran towards where my local parkrun is held (Netley Abbey) which is about 4 miles, ran around there for a bit as it’s very pretty and off-roady, then ran back past my house to find another seven miles. It almost felt like two runs if that makes sense. It also meant that on my pre-run walk with Alfie I could leave a bottle of water in a plastic bag in some bushes near my house.


Though I actually didn’t feel thirsty at all during the bulk of the run so I left it there. It was literally only the last mile or so that I fancied any water and passed it again just at the end so it worked out nicely.

IMG_0375 The run felt really good and the change of route was a nice change. Though it had more hills than the beach run I do at my parent’s. This meant a far quicker start as I went downhill at the beginning, then slower coming back. Despite my best efforts to keep things consistently slow I just couldn’t get to grips with what I should be running with all the elevation changes. So instead I kept an eye on my heart rate and effort level.

(Ave. pace 7.59mins/mile)


I only started to find the run tough towards the end, probably 14 miles onwards. It didn’t help that I had changed my route last minute and was having to mentally work out where to run and the mental arithmetic involved (the simplest maths becomes very tricky on a long run). My legs felt tired but not niggly or broken, so I pushed through and finished strong.

IMG_0373 Cat photo bombing!

My lovely short tan lines are reappearing again. Good job I have no holidays in sight requiring me to wear a bikini!

I enjoyed such a luxuriously hot shower after the run. It sounds weird but, as hot as I was running, there is nothing more lovely that a hot shower afterwards!

I stole borrowed my parent’s Nutribullet so I could have a post-long run smoothie. Unfortunately I had limited ingredients so it was just kale, blueberries, summer berries, almond milk and the Nutribullet super powder mix.


There you have Smoothie Sludge. There are other descriptions but I’ll leave it to your imagination… I’m not sure why it turned so brown (all the dark berries?) but there you have it. It was edible, that’s all I’ll say. I hope my body appreciated the goodness at least! I wasn’t hungry at all so it was a struggle to drink (spoon?).

My mum popped over to go for a walk with Alfie and me which was lovely. I always find a leisurely walk after a long run really helps keep things loose. It’s tempting to sit down and stay there all day but from past experience I know this doesn’t help. Plus, who wants to be inside on such a sunny day?

Runger appeared with a vengeance suddenly as we headed back from our walk. This was handy because we’d planned to have afternoon tea. We went to a different tea room this time as unfortunately our plan to go to my local and favourite tea room, Elsie’s in Botley, had a private party.

We went to The Tea Party (another tea room in Lee-On-Solent). The perk of this place is they have a licence to sell alcohol so we had a cheeky glass of Prosecco to toast the cake occasion.


The Tea Party is lovely and quirky with its decoration and the range of cakes looked delicious.

IMG_0380We both ordered afternoon tea. I went for ham and mustard sandwiches and a slice of lemon meringue cake (my mum had cheese and chutney sandwiches and toffee apple cake).

IMG_0386 I like to think of myself as somewhat of an afternoon tea connoisseur having done this now a fair few times so I feel I am a good judge on these things. The sandwiches were lovely. Lots of cheese for my mum and thick tasty ham for me. The scones were warm and crumbly but smaller than other tea rooms I’ve been too, and we had a small pot of cream to share between us. For someone who struggles with sharing food, this was annoying.

My cake was absolutely divine. Very light and lemony. However the slice was small. Now perhaps this is the Cake Monster within but my mum also commented that they looked small. She took hers home though in the end whereas I polished mine off very easily and quickly. Very nice, but slightly disappointing.

I probably should find better ways to refuel after long runs, but this is a far more fun way to do it!

What do you look for in a good tea room (and/or afternoon tea)?

Have you had any smoothie disasters?

How do you stay hydrated during long runs?

Almost there…!

I can’t believe I’ve done 49 parkruns! Next week is my 50th, whoop whoop! If you’re not well acquainted with parkrun check out the website for more info – it’s a free 5k event every Saturday all around the UK, and indeed the world. And getting to 50 parkruns is a milestone achievement. They even send you a parkrun T-shirt with ‘50’ printed on the back. The next milestone is 100 which is just amazing (I think you then get a jacket).

When I woke up on Saturday to go to parkrun I was disappointed with the weather: cold and wet. I wasn’t really feeling it like I was last weekend so I thought I might just plod round. Surprisingly though after I warmed up I felt more alive and ready to go. Even more surprisingly I was only two seconds slower than last week: 21:07.

Netley Abbey March parkrunWhat was lovely to see as well was a younger guy, Robson, from our running club getting a PB. He’s literally on fire smashing every PB in sight. It’s phenomenal the improvements he’s made since last year. To put it into perspective, a bunch of us from the club had helped pace him last year on parkrun. Now he’s blowing everyone out of the water – minutes ahead in his half marathon and 10k times (times I dream of!). What’s really lovely is he’s such a nice person with a big heart so he truly deserves it. Couldn’t happen to a nicer chap.

I caught up with some friends later for a good old chinwag and then headed to my parents to, er, maybe have another Indian takeaway (bit déjà vu to last week I’m afraid). It was lovely though, even if I did have to suffer through The Voice again…damn that Rita Ora making me like her. 😉 And seriously, what is Will I am on?! He’s mental!

The next morning I woke up and walked Alfie. The weather was awful. The wind was just incredible and it was cold and wet. I did not foresee a pleasant run! I had 13 miles planned and I almost backed out as a lot of it was along the sea front. I knew I’d regret it all day though if I didn’t so I put on my capris (not shorts, ohhh no!) and my windproof jacket and got out there.

I had big plans of sticking to a strict 8.15-20min/mile pace but as I set off I just knew this would be impossible. When the wind blew behind me I sailed along effortlessly, but then when it blew at me it was like running through treacle. So I just did what I could without pushing too hard.

Because I had eaten a lot of salty tandoori chicken the night before I had been thirsty all night, meaning I drank an entire pint of water and then more in the morning. Unfortunately this resulted in my needing a pee stop two miles in. Luckily along the beach there were public toilets that were open so I was OK (despite it requiring a huge amount of force to open the damn door because of the wind).


My pace is all over the place purely because of the wind. It was definitely a tough run and I felt exhausted at the end. But I felt strong at the same time and let my mind just float away listening to a podcast, leaving me mentally refreshed and free. My hair though is another story; windswept doesn’t quite cover it.

Because I hadn’t eaten breakfast before I went (I never really do before a long run) and it was almost 11am by the time I got home I realised I needed to be sensible. For lunch we were going to head to Jamie’s Italian and the table was booked for 1.30pm and I knew I couldn’t eat breakfast straight away as I never can straight after a run. So I decided to have a shower and get ready and then have a smoothie to tide me over until lunch, rather than fill up on breakfast and not fancy lunch. I never have smoothies but as my parents have a Nutrbullet and have been spouting the wonders of it to me I was tempted.

IMG_0204Unfortunate placement of daffodils there…

In the mix were strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries, with almond milk, natural yogurt, a whole lot of kale and that Nutriblast Superboost stuff in the photo (it’s a blend of cacao, macha, goji and hemp).

FullSizeRenderIt wasn’t overly sweet but it was tasty and it definitely filled a hole until I got something proper. My dad was chuffed as he got a glassful as well. I love that my parents drink smoothies! It makes me proud 😉

Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth was unbelievably windy but ducking into shops helped! Then we got to Jamie’s Italian ready for lunch. And I was definitely ready for food!

Jamie's Italian, Portsmouth

Yes I know I have a slight obsession with this restaurant (I can’t count how many times I’ve been there) but I just love it. And as a tip if you’re a fellow lover, get a Gold Card. It costs nothing (just register on the website) because you get lots of freebies when you show them your card before you order. Over the years I’ve had £10 off meals, free drinks, a free side, free little appetisers to try – it’s so worth it!

This time we had a free tester of a risotto meal.

IMG_0214 It was only a very small portion (on a saucer really) but it’s lovely to have a taste of something random. It was so tasty and rich – though I’m not sure I could have had a full meal of it.

For main…oh I know I’m so predictable. But this is literally one of my favourite meals in the whole world (aside from ribs obviously). I don’t even know why! I just love the Turkey Milanese.


It’s such a huge portion that I need nothing else with it. Though we did get a free side of polenta chips as part of being a Gold member so a couple of those helped 😉 And it tasted just as good as usual (well, better as 13 miles really heightens the taste of everything!)

And for pudding I had the Epic Brownie.


A delicious warm brownie with caramelised popcorn and vanilla ice cream. Heavenly. I was beyond stuffed, but so very satisfied.

A bit more shopping commenced (hello Nike shop – outlet prices with a 30% off on women’s clothes!) and then time for home. I gave Alfie a walk (to also help with digestion…) and then plonked myself on my sofa and watched Masterchef (love that programme) and some horrific show called Rich Kids of Beverley Hills. Car crash telly but for my tired body and brain it was all I needed! 😉

How was your weekend?

What’s your TV guilty pleasure?

Are you a smoothie fan? I’m pretty sure I’m in the minority with not being that big a smoothie fan, but I did enjoy it on Saturday so who knows!

Finding the small things

I don’t know about you but when I get stressed, or angry, or sad sometimes I can find myself wallowing in the emotion. This isn’t good to do for long periods of time obviously. It’s not good for your mind, your health or you spirit.

Pardon my French, but when the shit hits the fan I just want to run away and hide. I want to moan, cry and beat my fists: “why me?”. But what good does this do really? OK sometimes it’s very cathartic and I’m not saying to have a good cry is wrong from time to time. But you still have your life to live and things to get done. So when I’m feeling this way I try and find stuff to keep me smiling and make me happy.

As I’ve mentioned before, I love reading. I’m a self-confessed book worm and I am not ashamed! After the very sad death of Terry Pratchett I realised I hadn’t actually read many of his books (possibly just one, The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents which was one of his younger books). My dad is a huge Terry Pratchett fan so I asked his advice about where to start because the Discworld (where most of the books are set) is massive. I was slightly dubious as I’m not that into fantasy but I thought I’d give it a crack. My dad leant me Going Postal and I’m hooked.

Going Postal Terry Pratchett Source

It’s exactly what I need right now – a story about a world far enough from reality that I can forget any problems I have and just sink into the story. For me reading is a brilliant escape and perfect to help you relax just before you go to bed (that terrible time when the demons always appear).

And in daily life seeing the hints of spring always makes me feel good. Knowing that better weather is round the corner, lighter evenings, lighter mornings and wearing less layers.

Spring daffodilsLet’s not think about losing an hour this weekend though! Meaning my 5am gym wake-ups might feel like 4am for a bit. Dear lord.

And spring time means my motivation to walk Alfie is far higher. It’s no longer a trudge through the cold, but sometimes the sun is shining and it’s just perfect. I know I keep going on about them, but the Jabra ear buds are also making walks with Alfie easier.

IMG_0174 Having a dog lead and ear phone cables to contend with makes things a bit stressful and occasionally I’ll accidentally catch the cable and yank one from my ear, which is always painful. But as the Jabra ones are wireless it means just one thing to contend with – Alfie…who’s hard enough on his own with chasing birds and pooing in bushes!

Obviously running makes me happy and is a fabulous escape and refresher of the mind. I’ve been running the same very hilly 10k(ish) route every week around Basingstoke where I work before I go home on a Wednesday night. Strava is brilliant because it let’s me compare runs when I do the same route. I’ve now done this route five times and so far I’ve just kept improving slightly.

image To be honest though I don’t think I can continue this trend. It is a hard run and I’m not sure how much faster I can do it. But it’s not necessarily just about the speed for the run – it’s about those horrific hills and the strength I’m hoping I’m building up in my legs.

image There’s no point just running easy flat routes all the time. Make your training hard to make racing easy is my plan. Though always remember to make it easy when your body tells you to – we’re not superheroes!

As I run from work on a Wednesday night it means I’m not going to get dinner until I get home. So by the time I’m home and dinner is prepared it can be at least an hour and a half later. I do need something to refuel me to make the next day not feel like hell. The people from Upbeat sent me some protein smoothies to review for my blog.

IMG_0167 So I’ve been taking them to work and having them post-run on a Wednesday night when I drive back home. Luckily we have a fridge at work so I just grab it as soon as I’ve finished my run and drink while I do some stretching in the mini work gym.

Upbeat smoothie Post run stretch and refuel

Upbeat drinks are dairy protein drinks. They’re high in protein (20g per bottle – and this comes from whey protein from the milk), low in fat and relatively lower in sugar than most smoothies. Each bottle also has less than 150 calories. The available flavours are Strawberry, Blueberry & Raspberry and Mango & Passion Fruit. The ingredients list reads very nicely without any crazy artificial flavourings or chemicals.

Mango and Passion Fruit Upbeat

My thoughts? I actually really enjoyed these, which I was surprised about as I thought “ooh whey protein and a smoothie? Hmm”. The consistency was fairly thick (like a smoothie) but lovely and, well, smooth. I definitely felt like I was being filled up when I drank it. It didn’t feel like “empty calories”. I never want actual food straight after a run but the length of time between running and dinner is too long to not have something and this fits the bill perfectly.

Upbeat bag

They also sent me a lovely material bag for life and notepad as well, which just made me smile. Maybe I’m not feeling that upbeat right now, but it helps to have a reminder to at least try!

And if all else fails, just have a bit of what you fancy. I don’t believe you should eat for your moods all the time but I do believe sometimes you just bloody well need chocolate.

IMG_0198How good does that sound?? Salted fudge! It’s currently sat in my fridge just waiting…I’ll crack into it soon (no pun intended…) but just knowing it’s there like an old friend ready to help me when I most need it is just wonderful.

How do you get yourself out of dark moods?

What is making you smile lately?

What is your perfect East egg?

***Full Disclosure: I was sent the Upbeat protein smoothies for free to review. All opinions are my own honest ones.***

WIAW #4 – and the beginning of a change?

Happy WIAW! Wow these things come around so quickly, don’t they?

This week I’m feeling really good. Really positive and happy. Things with the wedding are ticking along nicely. I’ve not woken up in a cold sweat worrying or struggled to get to sleep for ages. Everything seems to be in hand. Hurrah! I’ve got my hen do to look forward to [dread?] and then the weekends aren’t as jam-packed as they previously were. Whew.

It’s my fourth WIAW (my little blog is getting a bit older!).

I love being involved in this, it feels like one massive community. During my lunch breaks at work (and maybe a few times through the day sneakily if I feel my concentration waning) I love perusing other blogs that I don’t usually read or just checking out people’s food. It always makes me think I eat such boring food and I’m always inspired to change things up a bit or try a new recipe. So thank you Jenn!


15.08 breakfast

My porridge made with oats and hazelnut milk and a tsp of wheatgrass. It looks like sludge, I know. It’s the mix of wheatgrass and the brown hazelnut milk. Still tasted good though (I promise!).

Lunchtime (at the weekend) was a bit samey I’m sorry, but I’m really enjoying my salads right now (*desperately clings on to the last dregs of our British summer*):

8.08 dinner

Chicken fried in a Moroccan spice blend, mozzarella, cashew nuts sliced pear, beets, tomatoes, cucumber and leaves. Whew! Quite a variety I guess. I love meals like that though where you just bung everything in them. It’s great that every forkful is slightly different. [Although Ben, the strange guy that he is, leaves all his mozzarella to the end – apparently he likes to get through the ‘boring’ healthy stuff and leave the good stuff until the end *sighs*]

And dinner last night was my favourite meal of the week.

9.08 dinner

In comparison to lunch, this is obviously a lot less varied. However, I love love this meal right now. Crunchy no-added sugar peanut butter, sweet potato, Brussels sprouts and broad beans. Usually I have carrots alongside this but I forgot. I was a little bit devastated when I sat down and realised my mistake. I almost ran back to the kitchen in a deranged panic. But then calmed myself down and convinced myself it was fine without. But carrots and sweet potato are a match made in heaven… Sad smile

Snack-wise I have been loving my smoothies (still).

Smoothie at desk

I take my green monster smoothie to work with me and drink it surreptitiously, hoping no one will see. Though sometimes when I make the smoothie too thick it’s really hard to sneakily drink it. It has the consistency of sludge, meaning I have to tilt back my head so far to drink the damn thing…It’s cool, no one’s noticed. All is fine. *Looks round furtively*

And in the evening I’ve been experimenting with different chocolatey-style smoothies:

Smoothie 13.08

This one contained a handful of frozen berries, 100g (1/2 cup) of Alpro Soya yogurt, 1tbs P2B and 1 tsp carob powder and a little splash of hazelnut milk.

Smoothie2 13.08

I ate it straight out of my blender container to save washing up (yep, presentation score of 10/10). Yum! I always need a snack in the evening. Even if I’m not hungry (a cardinal sin, I know). I just have to have something. I can’t bare to think that dinner is my last meal before breakfast (that’s hours away!! I’ll die of starvation in my sleep!)

And for fitness side of things. My usual running.

13.08 run

I love running (you might have guessed) but I’ve started to have a think. Nothing dramatic as of yet, but I’ve been reading quite a few blogs and the benefits of doing more strength training. I enjoy using weights as you really feel the burn the next day. The thought of reducing my running down makes me nervous (I’ve always done something cardio-based) and I couldn’t not run. I love the feeling, the effort of pushing yourself (OK maybe I enjoy that afterwards) and the feeling of accomplishment at the end of a long run. But something keeps niggling me at the back of my mind that running isn’t everything. Reading Meg’s blog and Sara’s blog and hearing them reap the benefits just makes me think. I’m a fairly healthy person, I’m a fairly fit person, but I (like all girls) I know there are some improvements I could make (call me a perfectionist, I know). A bit more toning maybe. And running just doesn’t seem to help. My thoughts are all over the place at the moment, but I’m starting to wonder if I should give it a one week trial of doing less running and more weight training…

Oh I’m in such a quandary! Any advice would be much appreciated!!

P.S. I just had to upload this photo of Alfie:

Alfie TV

He just loves Smallville!