Hamstring Update

Not to dwell too much on the old hamstring situation because I’m trying to stay POSITIVE. But a little update in how it’s going.

So I’ve been strengthening it as much as I can at the gym. I would guess I’m in the phase of the injury where it’s more safe to stress it out a bit in order to strengthen it. I’m doing more functional and, well, “weighty” exercises. These include nordic curls, sled pushing, reverse box jumping, glute kickbacks with more weight and lying hamstring curls.

I attempted a mini run last night. I went out aiming for about 1km… it didn’t feel great I won’t lie. It didn’t feel terrible but it certainly didn’t feel like a particularly comfortable run. It niggled the entire way but stayed consistent in its discomfort rather than getting worse. Walking around afterwards and the next day didn’t feel any different either.

I do wonder whether that length of a run isn’t really much of a good test but I’m being super cautious because of Chicago (14.5 weeks away). I want to try another run soon, but longer. If I’m honest I’m not sure I’m doing the right thing at the moment but at the same time, I’m taking a very measured and gentle approach. Any set-back on my hamstring and I’d immediately stop. My thoughts are that I do need to stress the hamstring out a little in this very functional way in order to get stronger.

When I had this issue after Boston a few years ago (where I believe this is where it all started but has been low level hiding since) I ran quite a lot through the issue. I’m very fastidious with tracking my “training”. I have an Excel sheet that I track all my workouts, gym and running, and will write details about them. It helps me track what I’m doing at the gym (weights, sets, reps) and when I’m injured I can refer back and read about how that run workout, what I was doing to manage things etc. This is obviously super helpful now. Each run I did I would say things like “urgh hamstring niggled throughout” or “deadlifts definitely made my hamstring worse” and I can see how many miles I ran and when it started to get better.

From the looks of it, it took about 11 weeks to heal. 11 weeks. I actually feel sick typing that. What I quickly have to remind myself though is that I’m a lot more “educated” now. Like when the issue first cropped up then I continued doing heavy deadlifts and pushing my hamstring when I should have let it calm down before gentle incorporating very specific hamstring exercises back in (like I am at the moment). I was also super reluctant to stop running (I continued to run for 5 weeks).

So my hope is that THIS time around I’ll be back to comfortable running in less time. I’m currently on week 5 of not running and strength training diligently and sensibly. By dealing with my injury in a very controlled way and having this plan and focus I’m helping myself not fall too much into the Well of Darkness that often plagues injured runners. I have my down moments and I’m trying not to panic about Chicago but I’m only human after all.

Anyway, onto happier and more pleasant things…. sausages. I was sent some sausages and burgers again from the lovely people from Wild and Game.

They sent me some Premium Grouse & Wild Boar sausages.
I adore these sausages (to be honest I really really like all Wild & Game sausages).

They are SO fricking tasty. I made a really random meal for Kyle and I one evening – basically emptying the fridge of stuff that needed eating and I threw in the sausages chopped up with a load of vegetables and it was DIVINE.

Kyle was even super impressed – he loved them.

And they also sent some Pheasant & Venison burgers.

Again, these were so tasty. The sausages and burgers do have a rich and gamy taste but not overwhelmingly so. They just taste very flavoursome and meaty.

This is because there is 47% Wild Boar and 25% Grouse in the sausages (for comparison Richmond Thick sausages contain 42% pork). The burgers contain 40% Pheasant and 35% Venison. Good quality ingredients and less “filler”. And the products are low fat because of the meat they’re using (game is less fatty compared to traditional sausage and burger meat like pork and beef).

What’s your favourite kind of sausage?

Do you eat game a lot?

Do you think I’m doing the right thing with my hamstring?

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent the Wild & Game products for free inexchange for a review. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

The highs far outweigh the lows

The other week Kyle and I took off Thursday and Friday and had a little adventure.

OK it wasn’t so much of an adventure as just a trip to Bristol. But hey ho, let’s go with it. We were off to see Sons of the East at the Thekla, a very intimate gig location on a boat.

We woke up and had did 6 miles on the Thursday morning. The run for me felt terrible. Like truly terrible. I was so tired and lethargic and it just felt awful. I couldn’t seem to get going. I wondered if it was just one of those rubbish runs and didn’t think too much of it.

We then headed to Bristol to do a little bit of shopping and then check in to our AirBnb. Thankfully this AirBnb was lovely. It was right next to the River Avon in such a beautiful location. The AirBnb host was beyond nice and the place itself was GORGEOUS. We had our own room and bathroom and even chocolates on the pillow!

From there we walked about a mile to The Burger Theory for dinner. I’d done a bit of research to find somewhere and this seemed like the perfect spot. Unfortunately it didn’t quite live up to my high expectations. This is one of the downsides of researching places to the max… you build it up and get a vision in your mind of what it’s going to be like and when it’s not quite as good as you’ve been led to believe it can be really disappointing.

Don’t get me wrong, it was nice and the food was good. It just wasn’t how I thought. I’d heard the halloumi fries were seriously good but actually turned out to be really dry and overly chewy.

My chicken wings were tasty but they were TINY. Though I’d ordered the starter portion and added extra wings to make it up to 12 it was (for me and my greedy, overly big appetite) quite unsatisfying.

Kyle and I shared the karaage chicken loaded fries which were very nice, but basically just fries at the end of the day with some toppings (as they’re meant to be, to be fair) so didn’t hugely fulfill my want for something a bit more “meaty”.

Kyle enjoyed his burger though! To be honest, he was so excited about the gig that we probably could have been eating cardboard and he wouldn’t have cared. Sons of the East are his favourite band so this trip really was mainly for him. Of course I was excited to be there too and I do enjoy their music, but I’m not a “super” fan like Kyle.

The gig itself was really good. The band were SO good live and we had a great time. We got to chat to the band afterwards and get some photos. We were going to go to the Creams Gelato after for some late night pudding but I’d started to feel quite ropy and exhausted so we headed back.

Unfortunately I then had a terrible night’s sleep and on waking feeling even  more tired realised I actually had a cold. Whomp whomp!

Beautiful view from the Mud Dock

This was fairly disappointing because we were meeting my friend, Kate, and her baby, Dexter, for brunch at the Mud Dock. I really didn’t fancy anything and just had porridge. A very safe and comforting meal for me. Not the fry-up I’d previously had in mind.

Saturday I went to Netley parkrun (probably ill advised to be honest) and did a very gentle run with Mike. It felt very hard-going!

Sadly this later translated into a failed run on the Sunday as well. I woke up feeling still not 100% and my hamstring was niggling a bit. It had been very slightly annoying me since the Manchester 10k. Not really because of the run per se but because I sat for 4 hours straight on the train ride back. I remember standing up and getting off the train and feeling it being very unhappy and tight.

My left upper hamstring has always caused me issues on and off for a few years now. It usually remains dormant and fine unless I do any sort of deadlifts or severe hamstring stretches and it will occasionally make itself known if I do any super long runs. But it’s usually fine. However it was on and off bugging me.

I decided to cut the long run short (2 miles in) and Kyle and I headed back. Surprisingly I wasn’t too sad. There have been many times in my running life that a niggle, injury or failed run would have really ruined my day but now I’m a bit more chilled about it. Of course I was a little down about not being able to do the run but I have a different perspective now so I don’t dwell. Kyle and I had a fun day ahead going to my friend’s wedding.

The wedding was good fun. We were both able to drink as we got the train to the venue and we let our hair down a bit (in fact, Kyle’s sister very kindly curled my hair which is something I never do!).

We felt very glam in our wedding outfits and had a good time. The ceremony was beautiful. There were two people on our table who didn’t show up so we got to share their starter and main (by the time pudding arrived the staff had cottoned on, damn!).

It became quite the day I can tell you. The bride’s brother kept persuading us to do shots. In the end I had FIVE shots, on top of other drinks!

I mean, I had certainly peaked by 6pm haha!

I had three slices of this strawberry and champagne flavoured cake

Monday we woke up late a teeny bit hungover and had a nice lazy morning. Then I decided to head off to the gym. I did 60 minutes on the stair machine while watching Graham Norton. I like the stair machine – it’s a definite challenge and I find it’s helping strengthen my legs. It does sap you though! My hamstring felt fine using it and it was a nice way to get in a solid workout after my failed run the day before.

So despite a few little niggles, the bank holiday weekend was a lovely one!

Do you enjoy weddings?

Do you go to any gigs?

What I’m loving lately – December

I’m not stressed that I still have so many presents to buy for Christmas. I’m not stressed. I’m not stressed. Panic is not ensuing…

Anyway while that inner monologue continues, here are some things I’m loving lately and wanted to share.

Date nights: Kyle and I always make it a priority to have at least one date night a week and this usually involves the cinema (though I’m sure everyone has worked this out already, though I’ve not explicitly said it on the blog, Kyle is my boyfriend!).

We both love going to the cinema; the whole experience is just a fun one, whether the film is really good or… not (*cough* I’m looking at you, Robin Hood). We generally see one film a week. Last week we saw Ralph Breaks the Internet which was a good laugh (I loved the Disney princess bit), and a few more standouts were First Man and Bohemian Rhapsody. It’s just nice to do something mid-week and as we both work at the same place it’s an easy thing to go straight there. We buy a Subway from work (which after 3pm goes down in price), and a fizzy drink from the cinema (we take our reusable straws because we are super cool eco warriors) and enjoy a fairly inexpensive but fun evening.Not only did we go to the cinema last week but we also went out for dinner and then saw Jurassic Park in Concert. Basically this is a showing of Jurassic Park on the big screen with a live orchestra on the stage below the screen playing the soundtrack as the film played. It was INCREDIBLE.The orchestra were amazing. Like you could forget that they were’t actually part of the film. It was fascinating to watch them play as the film went on (though I imagine they’re so sick of Jurassic Park now having toured around the country doing this!). They were perfectly in sync and it was just so all-encompassing. Dinner was pretty good as well. Before the showing, we went to 7Bone Burger. I had the Triple-D burger (which comes with blue cheese sauce and bacon) and halloumi fries…And a cheeky side of chicken wings. Kyle had a fried chicken burger with halloumi fries and a chocolate milkshake. It was goooood. The milkshake (as I did help Kyle out a bit with it…*cough*) was SUPER thick. Personally I’m not a huge milkshake fan but if I were to have one myself it would be a thick one. It was delicious.Podcasts: I listen to a number of podcasts every week: BBC Five Live Film Review, Marathon Talk, Empire Film Review, TED Radio Hour, My Dad Wrote a Porno – and dip in and out of other ones that take my interest. But I’ve recently been finding myself running out of them (I listen to them in the car, walking Alfie or when I’m doing boring chores around the house). My lovely friend, Emma, recommended Fearne Cotton’s podcast Happy Place and it’s great!I listened to the Gary Barlow one first and found it really interesting. It’s amazing how celebrities who are so famous, earning so much money and seemingly living their “best life” can be taken down by depression or body image issues. I’ve since listened to the interview with Mel C and Stephen Fry and both were just as good. Heartily recommend.

Recovery: I’ve come a long way since I first started running. When I was facing all my injury and niggle woes I’d be foam rolling, stretching and icing until the cows came home. But recently I’ve been finding I only really need to do a bit of light stretching after my circuit workouts, foam rolling on my calves maybe once a week and, when I get the chance, lovely soaks in the bath with some of this amazing stuff.Vie Epsom foot and Bath Salts are fantastic addition to a hot bath. It apparently helps increase your magnesium levels and sulfates, which are quite tricky to get through food but can actually be absorbed through the skin. Both are really good for your joints and muscles in terms of recovery.I add a couple of cups (as you can see above – the cup doesn’t come with the salts FYI) in the bath and just relax and enjoy. I’ve found it can really decrease how much I’ll ache the next day. I don’t know about injury prevention but it definitely makes me feel better anyway.

Blondies: Amazingly I won more baked goods on Instagram again. I just seem to be very lucky (or enter ALL the competitions…). Anyway, the lovely company Fully Loaded Treats sent me six blondies, three different flavours.Oh my god they were good. There were M&M ones, Hershey’s Cookies and Cream ones and another type that I think were Kinder Bueno that were awesome.There’s something about blondies that I so love. I mean I do prefer brownies I think but blondies are a nice change now and again.

Dylan: My parents have three dogs (Lexi, Dylan and Sam) where I have just Alfie. Dylan is probably the most stupid out of them all (in a really cute and lovable way though). I can’t help but share how cute he looked the other morning.He’s very much a “I’d rather sleep than do anything else” kind of dog. Well, actually he’d rather eat than do anything else but sleep is a close second. I mean, let’s be honest, I think we all have a little Dylan inside of us all.

Do you prefer blondies or brownies?

Do you have any recovery tips or routines?

What podcasts do you listen to?

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent the Epsom salts for free in return for a review on my blog. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

All the food and 18 miles

And now we have the long grind until Christmas… I kid, I kid. It’s just sad that it’s our last Bank Holiday for a good while.

But such is life. I’m actually quite happy tootling along right now. Work is good. Life is good. Running is good. SOMEONE TOUCH WOOD. I’ve got to get Zary parkrun planned at some point but it’s looking to be October now because I’m fairly busy during September now. It will be done by the end of the year though, 100%!

My Bank Holiday weekend was a really good one. On Saturday I was finally back to Netley parkrun. I took Kyle along so he could see what I’d been harping on about for ages. His home parkrun is Havant, which I’ve yet to do, but is apparently VERY tough. It’s always fun seeing your home parkrun through a tourist’s eyes.Everyone, of course, was super friendly as normal. The sun was shining but it wasn’t too hot. I was going to run with Kyle and we were going to take it relatively easy because he was only just coming back from an annoying shin niggle. We started off nice and gentle and chatted as we ran round. My legs did feel quite heavy though. I’d run 11 miles on Thursday evening with my friend Kim and they weren’t feeling as rested and fresh as usual.But my plan was to keep Kyle going a bit slower (we’re both bad at not going slow when we need to) which was ideal for my tired legs, but as we warmed up into the run this clearly didn’t pan out as we both increased our speed to the end.I did advise Kyle not to do some crazy sprint finish though because that’s usually when terrible things happen like injuries. He resisted the temptation and just maintained the speed. My time was 23:21, which I was happy with! We helped clear away and then had a coffee. It’s still nice enough to sit outside and enjoy a drink, but soon we’ll be squirreled inside again with all our layers *shudders*.

For lunch we headed to The Rockstone pub in Southampton (by the time we’d had coffee and gotten sorted it was lunchtime!). I’ve been to The Rockstone before and loved the burger I’d had there last time. They’re renowned for their giant portions and crazy sounding burgers.

For starters I had the loaded nachos (still loving my nachos). Hands down, best nachos I’ve ever had. Pulled pork, guacamole, cheese, sour cream, black beans…it had the works.It was giant! I probably should have shared them and I would assume most normal people would but ehhhh. Kyle had some insanely good chicken goujons as well.For the main, this time I went for the Black and Blue burger, which was a beef patty, mushrooms, black pudding and blue cheese. I love black pudding and blue cheese so this was right up my street.I wasn’t fussed about the chips but was keen to try the chicken wings (the nachos had won in the starter battle) so I ordered three chicken wings as a side (just three this time…). Kyle said he’d eat my chips.

Well the size of the burgers (and the size of my starter!) meant that neither of us touched my chips. I also decided to forgo most of the bun because honestly the burger was huge and the filling is the important part in my eyes. The bun was one of those floury baps as well which isn’t appealing to me at all (give me a brioche or a pretzel bun any day).

The burger itself was a little overdone but the blue cheese and TWO pieces of black pudding were delicious. The chicken wings however were plain and very boring. The main meal itself was just a little disappointing I must say. A lot of quantity but not much taste. We rated it 6/10… but the starters a solid 8.

I had every intention of suggesting a trip to Sprinkles afterwards but both of us were so stuffed we really didn’t fancy it. So instead we headed to Manor Farm Country Park for a nice long walk. The weather was still sunny but not too hot so it was perfect.It was exactly what we needed to help the food baby situation going on! I forget how pretty Manor Farm Country Park is. I only ever run around it when I’m in that area (I used to run there a lot more when I lived in Hedge End).The next day I had 17 miles planned. I was meeting my two friends, Martin and Mark, in Titchfield at the delightful time of 9.20am. Now that’s my kinda running time! Cheeky little lie-in, no stress. I ran two miles down to meet them and then we did my usual 10 mile route from Titchfield, to Lee-on-Solent, to Stubbington and back to Titchfield. It’s lovely and flat and goes along the sea front. It was a bit windy and rainy but thankfully nice and cool.Martin only wanted 10 miles so we dropped him back to his car before heading off for another three with Mark. We did a little out-and-back and were both feeling the grind. The weather was turning and it was getting very overcast. After the three with Mark, I realised I could get my run to 18 miles if I ran slightly longer on the way back.By this point the heavens had opened up and it was tipping it down. This helped quicken my pace! By the time I got home I was drenched through. But I was so happy to have gotten 18 miles because usually that’s quite a daunting run. But it honestly didn’t feel like 18. For the rest of the day I wasn’t overly tired and my legs felt good. Woohoo! Hopefully this means the training is going well and I’m running strong.Monday was a far more chilled day. I felt good so went to the gym and did a Sweat class (basically circuits for 45 minutes) and then had a lovely pub lunch with Kyle.Yes, yes more nachos. I can’t be stopped. A more manageable portion size this time! And Kyle catching me take awkward photos of my food 😉This time we did have room for pudding! I had a delicious rocky road sundae. Kyle had a really tasty looking chocolate orange “crownie” (a cookie brownie) which looked amazing but as I hate chocolate orange I gave a miss.We had another lovely walk and a chilled Bank Holiday Monday. Solid weekend!

How was your Bank Holiday weekend?

What food can’t you get enough of at the moment?

Are there any popular food flavour combos you don’t like?

Yeovil parkrun – getting my Y

The parkrun Alphabet Challenge has genuinely been something I’ve loved doing. Like I’ve said many times before, ticking things off a list and “collecting” things is something I really enjoy (weird? Maybe. But I know I’m not alone in this). So I had three letters left… Y, I, and Z (X doesn’t currently exist). So it was time to crack on with getting Y.

There aren’t many Y’s about in the UK sadly. As much as I’d love to have gone all the way to the beautiful city of York to do it as everyone suggested, it was just a bit too far for a quick day-trip. I’m trying to not spend stupid money doing this (bearing in mind that I have a small trip to Poland to do soon to get Z…). Living in Southampton made York a slightly unrealistic quick day-trip option. Instead, I settled with going to Yeovil. This was still about two hours away so not exactly a quick trip and the very ‘lovely’ early morning leaving time of 6.30am.

Happily I didn’t have to go solo as Kyle joined me. I had previously warned him about my driving skills and navigational ability so it was no surprise to anyone when I missed a crucial turning and added 10 more miles to the journey making our ETA somewhat dangerously close to the start time. Remember, I never add contingency time. I live in Anna La La Land where everything is jolly and nothing goes wrong.We did actually arrive in OK timing (well, we got to the car park in good timing). There were marshals to direct us in to park which I’d never seen before at a parkrun. But I guess made sense as it was located at Montacute House, which was a National Trust location, and the parking was a bit all over the place.Anywho we parked, went to the loo (absolutely crucial for me and my tiny bladder) and walked to the starting area. It was right in front of the Montacute House and I started taking some photos as it was so pretty. Oneof the marshals gently told us perhaps we’d like to get ready rather than take photos and were we tourists? As we replied we heard “go!”. Blimey!! We were off already! We just hadn’t noticed the time fly by. We raced after the other runners, frantically starting our watches, and cracked on.Yeovil parkrun course is all on grass and the start is a bit of a free-for-all as you leg it off in a big group away from the house. Then it narrows up as you join a rough path, still on grass. There are a lot of sheep about so you do have to be mindful of them and the copious amounts of sheep poo everywhere. It was mostly out of the shade and as the sun was beating down already it proved to be quite a sweaty run.Kyle and I were able to overtake a fair number of people as we caught up with the pack and get ourselves into a comfortable position amongst the other runners. A herd of sheep ran across the path of the runners at one point which was quite amusing. And you had to watch your foot placings quite keenly because it was rough underneath, meaning ankles could turn quite easily. Basically it wasn’t a parkrun to switch off from and enjoy the views, you had to be aware of your surroundings.I felt like the first half dragged on and I felt quite unfit. But by mile two I got a second wind and found myself stretching on and starting to overtake more people as I gained speed. The course isn’t hilly but it’s fairly undulating, with little hills and dips, which gave for good downhill surges. There’s a final significant incline at the end and then it’s round the corner to the finish. I was happy to finish as second female with 22:42. Not too shabby!After quickly freshening up in the toilets (which were lovely by the way) and getting changed, we headed off for some breakfast. A friend at work had recommended the Cow and Apple in Yeovil itself so we headed there.We got a table outside and sat in the blazing sunshine sweating away. The food was good though. A good spot – and lots of people watching opportunities (there are some funny sorts out and about on a Saturday morning aren’t there!).From Yeovil we drove to Dorchester. It seemed silly to not make a day of it driving all that way and people had recommended Dorchester as a good place to mosey about. And it has a dinosaur museum! With my strange love of dinosaurs this seemed perfect. It was quite an amusing experience though. Clearly more geared towards children…though it was a fun way to spend an hour or so. It was quite interactive in places and we both made the mistake of “smelling a t-rex’s breath”. URGH. It was VILE. It was a good giggle tho.We grabbed a quick rocky road snack to share (just OK, not the best I’ve ever had) and then headed off for pit-stop number three, the Sculpture by the Lakes, just outside of the main area of Dorchester in Pallington Lakes. We weren’t really sure what to expect but it had lots of really good reviews and the weather seemed ideal.It was VERY posh. Like you could tell straight away it was a “nice” place. Located in the back-garden (I use this term VERY loosely) of the artist’s house was this incredible set-up of lakes with beautiful sculptures located in different spots around and a posh café (well restaurant really) to sit and enjoy food and drink at. We paid for two tickets (£10 each, not too bad considering you could stay all day and just enjoy the scenery and have a picnic if you fancied) and then wandered around the lake. It was beautiful and the sculptures were amazing. There were birds, words and sentences and fruit… it was very diverse but all impressive. There were a number of people just laying about in the sun or having a picnic but you could tell this was not a place for, as my dad says, the great unwashed! And children and dogs were strictly not allowed.We spent a good amount of time walking around and sitting by the water before deciding that the call for food might be coming as our earlier fry-up wore off. Our next stop was Bournemouth where I knew an amazing burger spot was and had wanted to excuse to try it out for ages. I’d been following Monty’s Lounge on Instagram for ages…oh the food porn! Kyle told the waitress I was a bit of an obsessed customer and she laughed – she also gave us some extra special burger sauce as well so hey it helps to be keen in these scenarios! We both ordered the same… chicken wings to start, a pulled pork topped burger with fries (I went for sweet potato) and a very tasty brownie with ice cream for pudding. A pretty damn tasty meal! I’m both sad and happy that this place is just that bit too far from me…

Then we headed home. I was planning a long run the next day and was already dreading it. I’d have to get up early to beat the heat and after an early morning on Saturday I was a bit miffed to lose another one. But if I laid in then I’d be running 15 miles (my planned run) in the heat at peak times. I walked Alfie when I got in and despaired at how cool it felt that evening. Why couldn’t it be like this tomorrow? As I walked around I actually found myself not feeling too tired… what if I just went out for a few miles tonight and subtracted them from my run the next day to make things easier?

 

Before I could change my mind, I dropped Alfie back off at home, got back into my running gear and headed out. Ok first mile felt…OK. Asides from the fact that I was super full and could feel brownie bouncing around the place, I felt energised and comfortable running.

In my head I planned three miles but as the run went on I just felt better and better. I decided to just go with the flow and see how far I could go. It was now about 9pm and the weather was SO nice. It reminded me of the runs I’ve had during autumn, that blissful time of cool weather running. Yes I did feel a little sick and a little like I might be revisiting my dinner, but otherwise it was a FANTASTIC run. I ran down the seafront and just thoroughly enjoyed myself. It was one of those runs where you could go forever. A run that reminded you why you loved running.As I got back towards my house I added another mile on, embracing my enthusiasm, and totalled 12 miles in the end. I was ecstatic!A solid run at a solid pace feeling amazing, with the bonus of not being sick. Hurrah!

Have you ever done a long run quite soon after a big meal?

Do you enjoy going round museums?

Do you like to do day-trips to visit different places?