What I’m Loving Lately in Lockdown

So post lockdown marathon, things have been fairly slow round here.

I’ll do a more thorough post on the things I’ve been doing to keep myself somewhat sane in terms of fitness, but immediately post marathon I didn’t do a whole lot of running. This was mostly intentional. I felt quite chilled and had a lack of urgency to get back into any sort of formal training again so gave my legs a bit of a break. Unfortunately this intentional break turned into an enforced break as I then got a tummy bug which wiped me out for a number of days.

At first I thought it was food poisoning because of the symptoms but then it recurred a day or so later for another wave of rubbishness. I felt very weak during this time so avoided anything other than just walking. I did attempt a run when my stomach felt better but it felt dreadful and I canned it.

But anyway, I’m feeling far better now and back running. So I thought I’d do a bit of a what I’m loving lately but in lockdown.

So weekends can sometimes be a bit tough as normally I’d spend the majority with Kyle. But as we’re currently self-isolating at our respective homes, we’re separated. And of course I can’t really go anywhere beyond walking and running, so this has left somewhat of a gap in my weekend.

My dad and I have watched a number of films together which has been lovely. We’ve delved into a few documentaries: McQueen, Diego Maradona, Supersonic, Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist, as well as some classics like Saving Private Ryan, A Few Good Men and some newer films like Hustlers and The Founder. I must say, all have been pretty good. Any recommendations welcome 🙂

As well as films, my family and I have been enjoying a Sunday roast, something we’d stopped doing for a while because, you know, we’re all busy people doing different things. But it’s been so lovely us all cooking together this family meal. And I really feel my cheese sauce has come to perfection now 😉

My favourite roast is pork, followed by lamb… my least favourite is beef. Of course I love chicken but I don’t see this as a proper roast meat? Is that weird? Possibly because I can eat a fair amount of a chicken on my own that it just shows how greedy I am.

Another thing I’ve been loving are my Aussie Soles, which I was sent recently. They’re flip-flops that have orthotics for your toes, heel and arch to help support your feet when walking.

Now I tell you, I’m doing a lot of walking in lockdown! When I’m not running I’m doing a long walk each day and as the weather gets warmer I love going out in flip-flops. I’ve been told by many a physio that flip-flops are quite bad for not only our feet but our posture and the way we walk, but having the additional support built in it means they’re far better for you.

There are several different colours and types, but I went for the Starfish variety. And they’re sooo comfy. I love them. Actually it’s funny because my mum gave them a try (we’re the same size) and instantly fell in love with them and bought herself a pair too!

The other good thing about them is they’re vegan too – so guilt-free 🙂

They’ve also given me a cool discount code to use at the checkout for 20% off. Just put in ANNATHEAPPLE20.

Also, I was recently made a TRR Nutrition Ambassador (so fancy eh!) and have been trialling out their products and they recently shared with me a 14 day workout plan for me to share. It’s also full of great recipes and nutrition tips from one of their advisors of nutrition and a High-Performance Nutrition, Claire Fudge RD (@the4thdiscipline). Worth a gander if you need some inspiration!

I love the TRR Nutrition products and have previously reviewed their advanced collagen supplement (you can find my review HERE). I’ve also tried out their whey protein which I adore as well. Perfect to vamp up my porridge with a bit more protein and some tasty chocolatiness. They also do a vegan variety too.

And you can get 15% off their products using my code ANNAAPPLE15 – happy days all round!

No aftertastes and not too sweet!

I love their products as they’re such good quality, sports approved and just a solid way to get some added nutrition into you.

And a final add… I received this so incredibly thoughtful and lovely medal from Kyle in the post celebrating my marathon. It was such a sweet thing for him to do and I had no idea it was coming, so it was a lovely surprise. Ahh 🙂

What have you been lovely during lockdown?

What’s your favourite roast?

Do you like flip-flops?

**Full Disclaimer I was sent the flip-flops and the TRR products for free in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

Running a marathon during the pandemic

I was meant to be in Rotterdam last weekend but of course due to the Coronavirus pandemic, it didn’t happen.

The Rotterdam Marathon that Kyle and I had trained for was not to be. It’s since been rescheduled for October. Who knows where will all be then, eh!

I’ve been feeling very out of sorts, down and just a bit meh – as I’m sure everyone else is too. To be honest, I have nothing really to complain about as my job is secure (for now); I’m WFH, Wiggle is still trading (and customers still buying! Everyone wants a turbo trainer it seems…), my family and friends are healthy. I’m just sadly separated from Kyle, which is tough.

Anyway, I had in my mind that I needed an endpoint to all the training I had done. I was running well, I wasn’t injured and I was finally feeling out of the woods. The end of last year was tough with my two major injuries which dragged on. I now felt like I had nothing to look forward to, nothing to celebrate and an endless span of days ahead with the same old nothing.

So I decided to run my marathon anyway.

I must stress several things about this first. I didn’t take this decision lightly and there was a lot of stress involved in my brain whether to run it or not. Not because I was worried it would be hard (undeniably it would be), not because there was really no point, no medal, no glory, and not because it wouldn’t count to anything anyway. My angst was down to “should I be doing this?”.

Realistically no I shouldn’t. Realistically there was no good reason to run it. But something was eating away in my brain, niggling me: not being able to close the door on last year’s injuries. I also needed something to focus on because, other than work, I currently have nothing. Days blend into days.

I decided the weekend before that I would run on the Saturday, and that gave me a solid week to psychologically prepare for it. I planned my route, planned my other runs around it and mentally got it into my head that I would run on Saturday all being well.

The route was a quiet 13(ish) mile loop. I was going to set my alarm just before 6am and start running no later than 6.30am. I would do my best but ultimately have the freedom to stop at any point for whatever reason. Only my family, Kyle and Kyle’s family knew my plans. I didn’t want to advertise what I was doing, sing and shout about it, as I knew people would have opinions about it. And I also wanted zero pressure.

Friday I did a gentle 5k shake out run, as I always would the day before. I also (jokingly) did a flat lay of my kit.

I had an Indian takeaway for dinner… crazy I know, but it’s a meal I’ve often had the night before long runs and it’s worked well. It’s not that spicy and it’s something I really enjoy and my body has no issues with.

Tandoori chicken, chicken tikka and a lot lof poppadoms (I adore this meal)

I woke up at 5.50am, I had a small black coffee, I went to the loo, I got my kit on and did a few dynamic warm-up exercises before leaving the house just after 6.20am. I didn’t have breakfast. Now normally I would of course have a bowl of porridge before a marathon but as I didn’t want to get up any earlier I decided to forgo it. I’ve run many long runs fasted before (up to 20 miles) and thought I’d be OK. I wasn’t pushing the pace and because my loop past my house halfway I could pick up some fuel to keep me going from there.

My dad (bless him) wanted to come out and support me and cycled to meet me at around 6 miles, then he was there at halfway with my fuel and water ready, and then at 20 miles.

It was cold and super misty that early but it wasn’t windy, and it wasn’t raining. Perfect marathon conditions really. I listened to the MarathonTalk podcast which actually really helped my nerves. I wasn’t nervous per se about running but more about what people would think about my run. But Martin and Tom actually debated about length of runs and the government guidelines during the show and it really put me at ease. I wasn’t breaking any of the guidance by running my marathon. I would give two metres spae to everyone I saw (very few during my first loop – more cyclists than anything) and I was technically on my “one exercise” for the day.

I got to six miles and my dad appeared on his bike and cycled alongside me for about a mile and a half. It actually really broke it up for me and one of the roads was a bit of a windy road (rather than go onto the promenade of the beach where it would likely be more busy) so having my dad there to see ahead for cars and keep me shielded was helpful.

I had hoped to use the public toilet at around 7.5 miles but of course they weren’t open. I hadn’t even thought about them not being available (of course they wouldn’t!) so this was somewhat of a blow as I really needed a wee. My dad took a quick photo and then I headed off on my own again, and he headed home (only about four miles from our house for him).

Mentally it was a good way to do the run as I knew it so well having run round these areas many times in the past. So things sort of flew by. I knew I’d be doing it all again so just focused on getting my first loop done.

I got to my house for just over 13 miles and my dad was standing outside with the fuel I’d asked for and some water. I quickly headed inside for a wee (what a total luxury – a wee in MY OWN HOUSE) – and as I would during a “real” marathon I left my watch running. I wanted this to be relatively realistic.

Then my dad handed me my fuel. I say “fuel” but again this was a bit out of my ordinary. I wanted something I could enjoy, something sugar-rich and easy to eat (and something I had easily available). So that meant some Hotel Chocolat Salted Caramel chocolates!

I’d put them in a little sandwich bag and my dad handed them to me and I ate one there and then with the water he handed me (my watch still running). I decided to leave the water with him (to give me later at 20 miles) and take two more of the chocolates for the road (I had six ready for consumption in total).

I headed off for my second loop. Now lighter, less misty but still quiet. As I got to mile 15ish Kyle rang me. He’d planned to do this after he woke up and sometime after my first loop. Unfortunately this meant just before the one large hill of my route. Thankfully the rest of my route is almost pancake flat, but this hill goes on for almost 0.5 of a mile and is a bit of a grinder.

It was so nice to hear from Kyle regardless and I huffed and puffed my way through a conversation. He was lovely and it really boosted me. Unfortunately I then heard my Airpods beep at me to say the battery was running low. Oh no! I quickly messaged my dad to ask him to bring new headphones when he saw me at mile 20 (another luxury!).

Kyle kept me company for a number of miles and then we said goodbye and I listened to some music. At mile 18(ish) I saw my dad. I hadn’t eaten the other chocolates as I was worried about needing water so I ate two more as I ran alongside him as he also had the water. It was tough to chew and breathe – which reminded me of why I prefer gels. But the chocolates were delicious and I was happy to accept their disadvantages in order to enjoy them!

I saw other runners and walkers out and about now but was able to keep my distance quite easily (the joys of quiet roads now, eh!). I chatted away to my dad and felt quite happy with how it was going. I knew the route so well and knew exactly what was to come, it wasn’t daunting. It was just time before I’d get back.

My dad left me again at the same point and now I had around 10k to go. As I turned a corner and was intending to go up the path to get onto  the road rather than stick near the beach I saw an elderly man coming down it. Instead of navigating the hurdle of trying not to get too close I decided to run up the steep grass to the side (oooof that was not fun!). He smiled so nicely at me and clapped me on – he actually clapped! And it made me smile wryly to think this is probably the first marathon I’ve run where I’ve only had one person clapping. Another nice lady later on shouted at me to “keep going, keep going” – it was weirdly like they knew. It really did help.

And then I was on the home stretch. As I ran down my lane I saw my watch creep to 26.2 miles. I saw my parents at the bottom of the lane cheering me on. It was surreal. As the miles ticked over to 26.28 I decided “that’ll do”. And just stopped, metres from my house. No finish line. No big time on the wall. No medal. No cheering. Just me coming to a stop. Clicking my watch. Done.

3:37:05 – but I guess it’s arbitrary really. It counts for nothing and had I run a metre or so further or less the time would be different.

While I know some people might disagree with me running all those miles for so long and potentially increasing the risk of catching/spreading the coronavirus, I don’t regret it and I’m proud of myself for doing it. I managed and reduced the risks as best as I could. I didn’t break any rules. I was sensible. I saw less people on my entire run than I had the other day when I walked to the local shop and stood queuing outside.

You could argue if we all ran a marathon it would create a problem. But I very much doubt there are many people that would want to go out and run a marathon so that risk is low. What if I fell over and needed medical assistance? Well, this has never happened during any of my running career before, marathon or not, so why would this suddenly be an increased risk?

And yes, my immune system will be somewhat lowered post run, despite how easy I took it. So for the days afterwards I avoided shops and busy places. I also stayed inside for the rest of the day, of course.

The run itself went really well. Surreal really. It felt odd, but good. I think I had one wobble during the entire run at mile four (so early on in the game!) where I realised I had 22 more miles to go. But other than that it was, dare I say, not bad at all.

Of course I would have loved it to be different. To have been running with Kyle in Rotterdam. To have had crowds cheering us on. To have a medal to show for it. To say I’ve run 21 marathons not 20. But it isn’t to be and that’s OK. I learnt a lot about myself during that run – that sometimes I can overcomplicate things. I stripped everything back and just ran. No pressures. That hugely helped. I could stop if I wanted – who would care? Who would know?

Anyway, it’s done. And I feel so much better. Like a weight off my mind. I can remember the experience fondly. And I’ve closed the door on that chapter.

What are your thoughts?

How long would you run for?

Running in a different world

The world is certainly feeling a bit different at the moment, isn’t it?

It’s crazy and scary and sometimes overwhelming. It feels very odd to be sitting down each evening listening to the Prime Minister. It feels like we’re going through some sort of world war… except the people are on one side and nature is on the other (arguable it’s always been this way I suppose).

I’m trying my best to be sensible in all that I do… if I take Alfie for a walk, I avoid people… if I go to the shop I space myself apart from others, if I run I cross roads or give wide berths to people I pass. I just hope that we don’t get forced indoors completely. I just hope everyone follows the “rules” of social distancing.

Sadly this has meant that Kyle and I are social distancing from each other too. He lives with his family and I live with mine, and we can’t keep seeing each other (physically). One of us could take something to the other. And with my mum being a nurse, it’s just a big risk.

It involved a lot of heart ache and sadness to make this decision. I mean, technically the decision was made for us – this is bigger than us, of course. But it’s hard when you know some others aren’t being as stringent. It’s frustrating and honestly I’ve cried a few many tears and stamped my feet, got grumpy and snapped at loved ones (Kyle very much included) and then realised I can’t change anything and I also can’t risk anything. Other people might be happy to up the risk, but we can’t.

So we’ve been Facetiming, House Partying (well, attempting – I feel very old trying to work this app out) and messaging. Sending photos of silly things like what we’re having for dinner, Alfie, and randomness throughout our day. It helps. It’s tough not having a timeframe on this. Is it weeks? Is it months? Who knows.

I’ve been trying to do some home workouts since this all started (yes, I’m one of those people posting their workouts online). Sharing these things helps me stay motivated and apparently it helps others so I’ll keep doing it.

Trying to do circuits in my living with the small amount of equipment I have is tough but actually quite fun. It’s nice to mix it up a bit. I do four rounds of seven exercises and focus on injury prevention rather than burning calories. So I do a lot of leg and glutes work with my resistance band and core work. It helps wake me up in the morning and get set for the day at least!

Running has still been going on. I’ve basically finished my marathon training plan now as next weekend would have been Rotterdam and I continued with the long runs I had scheduled regardless. I don’t know what to do now really. Just run for fun and enjoyment. I’m happy with that.

Of course I’ve been running solo now. But a couple of weeks ago (before the more strict rules were in place) Kyle and I ran to Southsea together from his house. I did 3.5 miles beforehand and then we ran together to the promenade.

I had originally intended to “only” do 16 miles, but I felt so good on the run I ran a bit more. I just felt like everything had slotted into place and I could keep running. It was just one of those lovely runs, and the sun was shining!

In the back of my mind though I was thinking “this could be my last long run” and that definitely motivated me a bit more.

Last weekend was an entirely different long run. While I felt good running, I felt a bit sad and lonely. No Kyle to run with, the roads so quiet, my route altered to avoid the usual busier promenade on the coast… it just felt very different indeed.

I felt the constant guilt of running as well… should I be running? But I luckily do live in a relatively quiet area and the routes I choose are normally, at the best of times, very quiet and so now are almost dead. And with the roads being quiet as well, it’s very easy to jump onto them if I do happen upon a walker to give enough space.

I listened to my film review podcast from BBC 5 Live while running and lifted my spirits somewhat. Despite there being no films being released, the presenters still managed to do the podcast and talk about movies and just generally keep things going. It was a nice moment of normality in this madness.

So what now? Who knows. But I’m going to continue running and being sensible. Hope you’re all safe and well!

How are you doing during this time?

Are you working from home?

Are you still running?

Well that escalated quickly…

Life has really taken a dramatic twist hasn’t it?

Since the last time I posted (blissfully happy in a bubble of long running and marathon hopes), well, everything has changed.

For us in the UK things have really ramped up quickly in the last week. From advice of washing hands regularly to now schools closing and instructions to work from home, avoiding social spaces and parkrun cancellations.

It’s undoubtedly a scary and uncertain time but I don’t want this post to be all about that because let’s be honest we all know what’s happening and it’s pretty overwhelming and consuming. I’m actually quite glad to now be working from home because it’s all everyone talks about in the office. So I’m at home with a little set-up in my room adjusting to this new way of life.

Anyway, on to what this blog is about: RUNNING. Of course all the races I’d signed up for have been cancelled or postponed. I had the Eastleigh 10k this weekend, of course Rotterdam, and then I’d optimistically signed up to the Southampton marathon as a back-up, but that too has been postponed. Rightly so. And parkrun being cancelled.

Of course this is all the right thing to do. Not going out to social areas, not mixing unnecessarily, limiting chance of exposure. My dad has a heart condition so I’m worried. But we can only control what we can control and there’s point wasting emotional energy on things outside of that. Obviously easier said than done, but I’m trying.

So no marathon in the near future and a bunch of long runs and weeks’ of trainings that seem worthless now on paper. However, for me I really enjoy the process of marathon training so personally it’s not a waste. It’s just a shame there’s not a big shebang of a race to celebrate those long runs.

That said, I’m almost certain I will run 26.2 miles in April. My plan is to run the distance around where I live. I mean, it’s going to be ridiculously tough – so much harder than if it was a race as it’ll just be me on my tod running along. But part of me is curious as to whether I can actually do this… We’ll see. My plan would probably be to run it over the Easter weekend. I’d properly plan a route, maybe get my family out to support me, do everything I’d normally do. Well, watch this space!

Last weekend Kyle and I ran 18 miles together. We both knew Rotterdam had been cancelled and potentially the miles were “pointless” but we wanted to do it anyway as we’d planned it and had mentally geared up for it. Kyle is not a huge long distance fan and now that Rotterdam isn’t happening he’ll drop his mileage back down. It makes sense.

It’s such a shame for him because he did so well with the long runs – far better than last time when he trained for the Portsmouth Coastal Marathon and got injured halfway. He was very much on for a solid race. But such is life right now. He’ll be able to train up again if he wants to (Rotterdam is technically postponed until later in the year so this is real possibility all being well in the world, of course).

The 18 miler we did around where I live, my usual along the coast style long run which I love so much. We reversed the route and set off Sunday morning. We had a more relaxed start as no parkrun to get to (this was to be a “true” long run in the sense we wouldn’t be stopping or sandwiching anything in the middle). The wind was a bit blustery which was somewhat annoying  but generally the run went really well.

It’s funny though because when you’ve been doing a run route in one direction for so long, when you change it suddenly it makes everything different and you notice all these hills that you previously hadn’t!

However, we maintained a decent pace and then towards the end I stretched it out a tiny bit just to get my legs going. It’s my usual way of running long runs that I like to speed up a bit towards the end if I have the energy. Kyle wasn’t far behind at all though.

When we got back to mine my parents handed me a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts that a lovely friend had dropped off after I’d done a favour for him. What a fantastic way to finish a run, I tell you! We didn’t eat them straight away 😉

Instead we showered and then celebrated with an almighty carvery. Honestly, so satisfying and extra delicious after all those miles!

I had roast gammon with all the trimmings. It was glorious. The doughnuts were had later when we were chilling. Perfection!

Delicious Lotus Biscoff

Anyway, stay safe and healthy everyone!

What’s your favourite doughnut flavour?

Are still long running if you’ve had a race cancellation?

17 mile parkrun sandwich

So marathon training for Rotterdam is still going well.

I mean it could all be for nothing if it gets cancelled though. Races and events are dropping all over the place. Europe doesn’t feel a particularly stable place right now – and who would have thought the problem would be a virus and not Brexit eh.

And not only this but FlyBe went bust which scuppered our plans a little. We were heading out from Southampton Airport which is so easy for us being local. It meant we could go after work on the Friday rather than take that day off. Alas, we’re now flying from Gatwick.

We managed to save some money so that’s something! And we will get our money back apparently (after the legal dust has settled) so it’s not a terrible outcome (for us at least).

Anyway, with all that in mind, we’ve decided we’ll still go to Rotterdam even if the marathon is cancelled. It’ll be a nice trip as we’ve both never been to The Netherlands and though perhaps crazy for me, it might be nice to go on holiday for holiday’s sake rather than a run 😉

That said… amazingly there’s now a Z parkrun nearby too! Well, I say “nearby”, it’d be about an hour’s journey I think but if the marathon isn’t on we’ll definitely do that on the Saturday instead of doing the much closer parkrun to where we’re staying. Either way, a parkrun will happen! This is very exciting. They only just started up in The Netherlands so I am STOKED.

So the training. Kyle and I had a 17 miler in the plan for Saturday. We decided to combine it with parkrun to break it up a bit, at least mentally. While I don’t mind the long runs (in fact, I really do love them most of the time) it was something Kyle wasn’t looking forward to. And 15 miles to 17 miles is a large step.

So to help ease us into it we planned a 10 mile route to Lee-On-Solent parkrun, then we’d do the parkrun, then run four miles back. By chunking it like this it was easier to digest.

We started off running at around 7.30am (ish… we were a tad late) and in our heads it was just “let’s run 10 miles”, which is a far more manageable distance. Unfortunately due to my very “fine-tuned” planning (ahem…) we got to about 8.5 miles and it was almost 8.50am. Right, we needed to pick it up a bit.

We started discussing strategies. If we got close (and happily because we were running along the coast we would eventually be able to see parkrun in the distance) we could make the decision about whether to do parkrun or just run on and find some more miles as we headed back to mine.

Very luckily it started about five minutes late and by the time we arrived they had literally just started. So we ran to the start line, turned around and began the parkrun course (basically back to where we’d come from).

The only snag in the plan was that because Lee-On-Solent parkrun is quite narrow it meant that we had to navigate our way through runners who were running a bit slower than us. This was easier for me as I’m a little person whereas Kyle is a bigger person so the gaps I could meander through, he could not.

Kyle mentioned it was somewhat frustrating (our own fault though of course) but actually it probably helped keep his pace consistent. I increased my pace a bit more as I wanted to get a bit of a tempo on and it worked nicely for us both in what we wanted from the  long run.

It was hardwork and I felt like I was putting in a lot of effort for a pace that wasn’t, when all said and done, *that* fast (relatively speaking). A bit like when you “sprint” the final 0.2 of a marathon when realistically you’re crawling along.

But it was good to get the legs working hard. All good training.

After we finished we scanned our barcodes quickly then immediately carried on with the run. It was so nice to know we just had to run home. We picked up the pace on the final two miles and we felt like we cruised home. 17 miles, done and dusted.

A real confidence boosting run for us both. And really helps bolster Kyle for the coming 18 miles we have planned for this weekend…

To celebrate of course we needed something epic. So we headed to 7Bone Burger in Portsmouth that afternoon (after a proper refuel of porridge for me and scrambled egg on toast for Kyle of course #health). It did not disappoint!

I had a chicken burger with an added halloumi patty (ABSOLUTELY A MUST IF YOU GO THERE), with a side of halloumi fries and a portion of chicken wings. I mean, it was truly magical.

#health

Do you like to celebrate long runs?

Do you like a parkrun sandwich long run?

Have you ever been late to a parkrun? I was once 10 minutes late to Eastleigh which was a bit stressful!