Back to my usual antics…

I cannot tell you how happy I am right now with my knee.

Things have improved so much! After spending so many weeks with a knee that either constantly ached, clicked, niggled and just felt uncomfortable to slowly seeing different symptoms disappear is just fantastic. To walk down a corridor without thinking about my knee is a relief in itself. I want to do a more in depth post on the things that helped and what I did so keep an eye out for that.

This weekend was full of good stuff. Friday night Kyle and I made rocky road ready for the morning as we would be going to Netley parkrun for his 50th. I do feel somewhat bad about how long this has taken because because obviously Kyle could have gone to parkrun without me or have me support, but when I’m injured we’re both a bit more inclined to stay in bed and make the most of not having to rush out the door on a Saturday. But now my knee feels better, we’re back at it.

We made the rocky road by basically melting a load of chocolate we had stashed from Christmas and random times with a load of butter and then mixing in marshmallows, chopped glace cherries, M&M’s and broken biscuits. SO GOOD.

The next morning we luckily naturally woke up earlier than the alarm and decided to get up and sort out the rocky road as it still needed slicing. Jeeze it was hard work! And I ended up eating lots of little pieces that fell off (“tidying up”). So much sugar so early, oops. It did not make me feel that great I must say… greedy Anna strikes again.

Kyle got a milestone shout-out in the run briefing which was lovely and then we were off. I ran a fairly easy pace with my friend Mike as I hadn’t seen him a while and it was nice to have a chatty run. He was running every day in January so he was happy to plod with me. Kyle had more in his legs so zoomed off ahead.

Photo credit: Ken Grist

We ran the winter course which is harder going, but to be honest I felt very comfortable running.

Photo credit: Ken Grist

In fact, chatting to Mike just took my mind completely off how my knee was feeling and when we finished I realised I’d just had a normal run!

My time was 24:55 which I was happy with.

We then handed out rocky road chunks and cleared down the course before heading to the café for tea, more rocky road and a slice of cake from someone else celebrating a milestone.

While I enjoyed all the delicious treats, I didn’t feel it did me any favours not having had anything substantial to eat yet. But it was worth it.

After lots of chores and boring life admin, Kyle and I went to Smith and Western for an early dinner. I mean, this really is our kind of place. Lots of ribs, burgers and, of course my favourite, chicken wings. It was nice and quiet though (it apparently gets very busy and loud later with lots of birthday shout-outs).

Of course I’d already checked out the menu and knew I was almost certainly having the chicken wing sharing platter… but just for me. Kyle was tempted as well. We asked the waitress what kind of numbers we were looking at because that would dictate if we would have one each, one between us or need to order something else alongside (yes, we are greedy people).

The waitress said it was 21 wings, 7 of each flavour (Southern Comfort, BBQ and Buffalo). That sounded like a reasonable number for us to have one each. The waitress laughed at us and said we clearly loved our wings. Yep! Kyle also ordered curly fries.

When the meals came out it looked massive. The waitress then told us that they’d actually just changed their ratios of chicken wings and it was now THIRTY per platter, 10 of each flavour. Wowza! The wings were so tasty. I definitely preferred the buffalo flavour though to the sweeter ones. The BBQ was nice and tangy but the Southern Comfort was really quite sweet if you had a few in a row.

We were well and truly stuffed afterwards of course. The waitress said she was super impressed. She asked us if we wanted pudding and I was like “we’re good but we’re not THAT good”!

That said, I did somehow manage to squeeze in a couple of pieces of rocky road later on as we chilled watched a film. A sweet end to the evening 😉

The next morning I felt well and truly fuelled to go to my personal training session. With my PT we just focus on leg strength. The idea is to get me strong for running so we do a lot of running focused exercises. It’s only been the last month or so I’ve been back seeing him due to my knee, but now I feel so much stronger. My squats are back up to where they were last year (75kg – not a huge weight I guess, but for me it is!), my hip thrusts are back at 90kg and I feel GOOD. I really like seeing my PT as he knows exactly what my goals are and understands my injury history and fears.

Then I headed off to Kyle’s dad’s to have a lovely pork roast dinner. I know, who would have thought I’d be hungry again after all those wings? But clearly my stomach is a bottomless pit!

Happy times indeed 🙂

What’s your favourite roast dinner?

Do you ever see a personal trainer?

Would you say you’re greedy?

Why Following A Healthy Lifestyle Isn’t A Sacrifice

Hope you had a lovely weekend. I have another article today and it’s one close to my heart: being healthy for life.

I couldn’t imagine not exercising or thinking about the longevity of my health. Yes I love eating less nutritious food (cake…chicken wings…) but a lot of the time I eat vegetables, fruit and get a balanced diet – without becoming obsessive over it. And sleep! Sleep is SO important. I get up stupidly early but I go to bed at a reasonable time, which definitely helps! So here we go…

Pexels – CC0 License

There are many sentiments, easily found online, that hold mistaken impressions or somewhat incorrect premises. This is likely not news to anyone. However, when these impressions become the norm, or when they permeate culture, they can become a real problem. Perhaps the latest of these worrying trends is, that while accepting overweight people is absolutely paramount and should be commended, the ‘healthy at any size’ fad is leading to a harmful debate.

Most of us understand this. However, while this can seem like an extreme example, it’s often an attitude that we find throughout culture. For instance, we might hear people joke at the office about how they’ve already fallen off the gym wagon, or that they hate to run, or that it’s much easier to fall in love with pizza than it is to diet.

Of course, we’re not here to judge, nor act superior, nor pretend that those people are in any way lesser. The delicious call of a morning fry-up breakfast or how much we love to indulge over the Christmas period are facts better left unsaid. However, we’re here to discuss why, despite many claims to the opposite, following a healthy lifestyle is not a sacrifice, or something you have to pay for with true hardship.

Please, consider our warm advice:

A Good Sleep Schedule Is Everything

Getting your sleep schedule right can feel equal parts science and art. Science, because there are very real habits and practices that contribute to sleep hygiene, and sometimes your nutrition can make a massive impact. Art, because getting to sleep is an experience. It takes a practical ability, more than just switching off a light switch – if only things were that easy.

A good sleep schedule can aid your life in ways you may not understand. Any energy you feel will be thanks to a good nights sleep, and your body’s ability to repair itself. Even with the best nutrition, the best exercise, the healthiest body, the strongest genetics, you will feel like an absolute shadow of yourself if sleep-deprived for a few days.

In Matthew Walker’s illuminating book ‘Why We Sleep,’ he sheds like on many myths related to sleep hygiene and practice. One of these is the idea of ‘sleep debt,’ which he shows is very real, but trying to ‘pay off the debt’ as if a bank overdraft simply does not work. A good sleep schedule is able to get at least 7-9 hours of sleep a night, and if we fail to do that, then we slowly erode our health just a fraction more. This is why it’s important to take your sleep seriously, perhaps even as a prescription. Our society is fundamentally sleep deprived.

This means that living your best life, feeling energized, ensuring you keep a good memory, boosting your immune system and staying emotionally stable is all fundamentally aided by good sleep habits. Sure, you may not be able to watch that Netflix series late into the night, or it might be that partying all night each weekend may be a little less attractive, but what you miss in those small considerations you make up for in a healthy, well-sustained life. Of course, don’t be a fascist with yourself about this. Just aim for better sleep habits.

Losing Weight Feels Powerful

We can often see losing weight as a harmful challenge. We know that having to observe what we eat with clarity and care, or trying to limit our indulgences isn’t very nice. If we could, we would love to live in a world where going for that extra slice of cake for dessert or eating a large greasy breakfast each morning wouldn’t add on the pounds, but unfortunately, that’s not a possibility.

However, losing weight needn’t feel like some intensive and aggressive approach you need to take. In fact, losing weight can be an extremely worthwhile process. To begin with, it can teach you certain lifestyle skills that will help you in the long run. Learning to cook better, more nutritionally dense meals, perhaps with the help of a Sunday meal prep program, can help you feel more autonomy in the kitchen. Sooner rather than later you’ll find it intriguing to browse your local supermarket shelves to see what health foods are on offer, what international cuisine you may try, and much more.

Additionally, eating lighter, healthier meals simply feels good. It helps you feel less lethargic after that intensive carb load routine you are used to, and switching from intensive coffees to green teas, all while staying hydrated, feels phenomenal. The more weight you lose, the healthier you’ll feel, and the better your body will be to handle. You’ll also notice your face becoming thinner and your natural self shining through, and this can have major impacts on your skin quality, your hair density, and how in-shape you feel. Losing weight is not a sacrifice. It can be an absolutely emotionally rewarding, powerful journey.  If you’ve ever accomplished anything that gave you a sense of pride in life, imagine that but also felt during every single moment of your day.

Now, we’re not here to disparage overweight or obese people for a second. Many are trying their best to adopt healthier habits. But when you take a direct, structured approach to losing weight, learning your BMI and caloric maintenance, staying as active as you can, and eating a healthy, balanced diet, you’ll slowly notice yourself blossom. For some, this can be life-affirming to the extreme.

Furthermore, this most fundamental of healthy practices can help you start looking to other changes you can make. For instance, if needing to quit smoking, you can research the best nicotine therapy product and buy it online to aid in your efforts.

The Hard Challenge Of Exercise Can Help You Grow

Many consider exercise to be a hard challenge, and they’d be right. But there’s nothing like the feeling of coming off a treadmill after a good workout well completed. It is a glow that lasts for hours, and will help you in all social situations, in the confidence you have, and in the self-respect you curate.

Many people think of attending the gym and are instantly put off. We see those who have amazing physiques, those who are lifting hundreds of kilograms/pounds or those running a 10k on a treadmill and think that this is certainly not the place for us. But remember, you don’t need to be particularly physically skilled to join a gym. It could be that through using a program such as Couch 2 5k, joining a few classes, or simply getting back into the motion of using a rowing machine, you feel able and active.

When you have a training plan in place, you have something to look forward to and aim towards. You can move on from that point with confidence and care. Every little achievement you make means something. Take it day by day, perhaps twice a week, then three times, then four. When you get into the schedule you’ll start feeling more active, you’ll sleep more easily, and you’ll start noticing your body start to feel much, much healthier, even in the way you breathe. This will have a positive impact on all other aspects of your life, so don’t be afraid to begin in a humble context.

With all of this advice, we hope you can take worthwhile steps towards following a healthy lifestyle. As time passes on, you will feel nothing but pride and a renewed sense of confidence, knowing that the cost of feeling good was never that bad after all.

Do you get enough sleep?

Do you enjoy going to the gym?

Do you think about your health 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?

Do You Hear Wedding Bells?

We survived Blue Monday! 😉

I have a post for you today about weddings (no I’m not getting married anytime soon!). Wedding season is going to be upon us soon and it can be a very stressful time if you’re organising a wedding but it’s important to remember the bigger picture and what it represents. Anyway, hope you enjoy!

If you hear wedding bells then you’re a very lucky person. To be planning a wedding and to have been proposed to by the person that you love is a magical thing. Weddings are actually dying out more than you might realise. Weddings used to be something people would find themselves at a few times a year, but now it seems to be engagement parties.

Engagement parties are the new most popular thing because that’s all people seem to be doing, getting engaged. To get to the stage of planning a wedding and making that fabulous memory takes years, and it takes a hell of a lot of money. So, many people are put off by the thought of having a wedding.

So, if you are planning a wedding, then you’re lucky. You have the love and the funds to do so, and that means that wedding bells are definitely on the horizon for you. So, we’re going to talk you through some wedding planning tips to help those bells sound so much better!

Wedding Attire Essentials

The wedding attire is what most people are going to be thinking about. The wedding attire is a chance for people to get dolled up and wear things that they wouldn’t usually wear, just so that they can enjoy the day. But it’s not just your dress that you need to be thinking about, your bank account is going to be in charge of the dresses that your bridesmaids want to wear.

You can search by colors to see what styles and colour you’d like best for your big day. At the end of the day, the bridesmaids should be wearing what you want them to wear, but we know it doesn’t always work out that way. Try and keep it as cheap as possible as well. Some brides spend thousands on their bridesmaids for a dress they’ll probably never wear again! You could even think about renting one to save some money.

Venue Meltdowns

Venue meltdowns are going to come in thick and fast when things don’t go your way. A venue meltdown can be anything from them changing the numbers that you’re allowed to invite, to them changing the time of the wedding, to the catering company saying they won’t travel to the location.

All we’d recommend is that you make sure you’re planning everything far enough in advance so that you can account for all of this happening. If something is going wrong when your wedding is a year or so in advance, you can’t really complain!

Wedding Day Meltdowns

Hopefully there won’t be any meltdowns on the day, but let’s be honest, anything could happen! If something doesn’t go how it should do, it’s so easy to have a meltdown. But our best advice for the day is to make sure you’re just relax into the day. As long as you and your partner are there and you’re getting married, that’s all that matters. Chances are your guests won’t even know if anything does go wrong!

Have you ever planned a wedding?

Do you enjoy going to weddings?

Have you ever gotten married?

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!