One final long run before the next chapter

So Kyle and I have finally moved out!

Even during this crazy lockdown Covid-19 era, we managed to sell my flat and move into our newly bought home. There’s still a lot to do and a lot to buy (allllllll the furniture) but we are super happy.

It was a busy day on Saturday packing everything into the van my parents got. I didn’t bring any of the furniture from my flat home as I sold furnished (which was what I wanted to do because I want to start fresh with Kyle) so it was just things like clothes, crockery and homeware like that… which is still a lot of stuff! But few items that were “big” other than a dining table, outdoor table and chairs and my bike (ha!). We dropped everything off at the house, then headed home again.

It was my mum’s birthday on the Sunday so it seemed like a nice last day with my family. Then Monday I’ll move out properly. It also helped keep Kyle and my family separate during the moving in process as he moved his things Sunday. (Alfie will of course be coming but once we’re a bit more settled so it’s not so disruptive for him).

On the Saturday I was able to do one last long run before we moved which was just so lovely. My long run route is a route I’ve been doing for so long. I can easily add bits on, take bits off and get anywhere from 6 miles to 20 miles. It goes all along the coast from Hill Head, Lee-On-Solent to Stokes Bay. I just love it. It’s super flat which helps 😉

I ran 15 miles and while it was super windy it was a lovely run. I tried to soak it all in and appreciate it. I’m sure I’ll find runs just as good in my new home – the coastline will just be slightly different.

Running, amazingly, has been going so well recently. I’m really chuffed about this because while there are no races to train for and no pressures, I’d hate to not have the ability to run right now. The freedom and the mental breather it provides is just so helpful right now in this time of uncertainty and restraint.

I haven’t been doing any sort of formal training or sessions, but this is hardly any different to my usual way of running! I’ve kept to around 15-16 miles as my long run and this has been a nice length for me. I don’t know how long it will be until races are back of course, as no one does, so it does feel weird not having anything in the horizon but for now I’m happy.

And now onto a review of a new protein range from MyProtein that sounded very intriguing: their Keto Blend. It’s been created to have a keto-friendly ratio of macronutrients for anyone on the keto diet, which is quite a strict low carb high fat diet. Now I will stress, I’m neither keto nor on any sort of diet but I do love MyProtein’s Whey Protein (I have it every day in my porridge). So I was happy to give this a go!

I tried their Strawberry & Vanilla flavour and their Chocolate & Caramel flavour.

I tried the Strawberry & Vanilla in my porridge and as a drink. As a drink (I mixed with semi-skimmed milk) and it was just like a strawberry milkshake. It mixed well and was lovely and smooth. Both flavours were great in porridge too.

No issues in how it mixed and made my porridge taste lovely and subtly sweet (not overwhelmingly so).

So the blend contains 60% fat, 35% protein and 5% carbs. One scoop (25g) contains around 115 calories and about 10g of protein. They also do a Coffee Walnut flavour. So not too shabby! A nice way to get some extra fat and protein into the diet.

Now back to sorting and unpacking!

Do you have a favourite long run route?

Do you enjoy sorting out things for your home? I’m a big fan of organising!

Do you have protein powder in your diet?

Fori Bars Review

When I was contacted to do a review of these snacks I was straight away intrigued. A meat-based snack…high in protein…no processed rubbish? Sign me up!

I’m a big fan of protein-high snacks and you’re probably aware of how much of a meat fan I am so it was a no brainer to accept this review. I was also very intrigued as they said they weren’t like protein or cereal bars and they weren’t like jerky or biltong either. How very intriguing!

The company is called Fori (who have a really great tagline of “Devour & Conquer – something I could definitely live by!). They’re a fairly new brand, having launched in October 2016. They wanted a snack that wasn’t overly processed, full of good nutrition and good ingredients. They also wanted to avoid creating a snack that was overly sweet. Now I love my sweet things but I do prefer a savoury snack mid-afternoon which doesn’t get me itching for more sugar or give me a crash half an hour later.

Fori sent me a box of their snacks containing the four different flavours: Chilli Beef, Moroccan Lamb, Piri Piri Chicken and Thai Turkey. What I really like about the company is that the meat is sourced from free-roaming animals; their beef and lamb enjoy a grass diet, whilst their poultry are free to forage.

Each bar also contains 20g of protein, which is quite a hefty punch! And they’re all around 150 calories or so. So a reasonably sized snack. But what were they actually like?

I loved them. Absolutely loved them. They are right up my street. I’m a big fan of biltong but these are completely different. It’s difficult to describe exactly what they’re like as they’re not similar to anything I’ve had before.

The only way to describe them is that they’re like a burger. That may sound a bit random and unappealing but it’s just what it reminded me. A definite meaty taste with bits of dried fruit and seeds in it. Really very tasty.

I quite liked that each bar had a different flavour as well. I was a little dubious about the Chilli Beef as beef isn’t my favourite meat and I’m not that into hugely spicy food. However it was delicately spiced and still very tasty.The ingredients list is pretty damn good as well. Check this out for the Moroccan Lamb:

British Grass Fed Lamb (69%), Free Range Egg White Powder, Sunflower Seeds, Beef Stock, Dried Apricots (5%), Dried Dates (4%) [Dates, Sunflower Oil], Cumin, Coriander, Smoked Paprika, Cayenne, Cinnamon, Ginger, Turmeric, Allspice, Salt, Vegetable Fibre, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Mint, Parsley, Dehydrated Garlic, Red Bell Pepper, Dehydrated Lemon Peel, Spice Extracts.

Ans the egg whites are free range as well! And the nutritional stats are really good for a snack (again for the Lamb):So it is a rather protein-heavy snack and lighter on the carbs and fats. But this is how I prefer my snacks so I’m fairly happy with this. I find protein fills me up a lot more than carbs.I can imagine these snacks might not be for everyone (obviously not vegetarians or vegans) but I’d definitely say give them a try. I loved the texture of them (like I said, a bit like a beanie meat burger if that makes sense) and the taste was really good. My favourite was the Thai Turkey but really any of them were up there! The Moroccan Lamb is nice and fragrant and the Peri Peri Chicken and Chilli Beef have a gentle spicy kick.

Fully recommend these. If I could eat them every day, I would! I’m just hoping they’ll become more wide-spread and available. Check out their website for more info on where to get them.

What kind of snacks do you prefer?

What’s your favourite meat?

Veggie burger or real burger? I’m not a bean burger fan at all. I prefer meat (who’d have thought, eh?)

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent these bars for free in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

Good things making me happy

Apart from the dark mornings and evenings, the cold and rain, things are quite happy in my neck of the woods! It’s always nice to take stock of a few things that are making me a happy Anna.

The ‘C’ word: What is this madness? Christmas stuff already out in supermarkets. This photo was actually take two or three weeks ago as well.Christmas cakes, mince pies, stollen… yep. It’s October. That said, I love all things Christmas, especially food-related items) so I’m happy with this state of affairs. More mince pies in my life can only be a good thing.

Tesco encouraging kids to eat more fruit: They’re offering a free piece of fruit to children coming into the supermarket.

So they can chomp on something healthy as they walk round with their parents. What a great idea! Nice one, Tesco. We’ll let you off for your Christmas products 😉

New shoes: I bought some new shoes. They were really cheap as they’re of an older seasons but I really needed a pair of simple comfy shoes I could easily slip into and wear for quick errands or walking Alfie.

I tend to have a lot of trainers, pumps, boots and then my gym shoes (Vans & Converses – ideal because they have flat soles for squatting and deadlifting which help me be more “in tune” with the ground and lifting) but nothing that I’d be happy to get a bit mucky. I had a previous pair of Skechers and I wore them to the ground. These were only £25 which I thought was a steal.

Unusual gel flavours: A lovely friend of mine (a triathlon legend it must be said – his training cycles make mine look very amateur indeed) sent me some gels as a good luck present for my marathon (though with strict instruction NOT to use them during the marathon if I hadn’t tried them first).

Maple Bacon flavoured gels!! I know some (many?) of you will be thinking “that’s so gross” but I’m genuinely looking forward to trying them out. I quite like the GU gels (I still remember that salted caramel one I had once…so good. And the lemon flavoured one that tasted like a zesty pudding) so I expect good things 😉

Protein Porridge: I got a packet of this Mornflake Go! High Portein Porridge in my goodie bag from the Chester Marathon. Normally I will never use porridge packets because they always contain some form of sugar or flavouring and I can’t stand sweet porridge. For me the only sweetness I like is from the milk, so it’s very subtle.

But this was different. It’s a pack of oats containing soya protein isolate and (other than a stabiliser) that’s it. No sugar, no fruit, no seeds…just oats and protein. One packet though wouldn’t be enough for me for breakfast as it was around 130 calories. So I used two with almond milk and it tasted almost identical to my normal porridge.

Basically the same texture and it was really filling. I’m still regularly having scrambled eggs (with cheese, kale and olives – love it) for breakfast but I miss my porridge. The reason I swapped was because the porridge was quite low in protein but this is a great compromise. Though it is more expensive, so I’m looking into getting some unflavoured protein powder and playing around with that.

Woofins: These are adorable…even if I was disappointed when I first saw them as I thought “oooh cake” and then realised they’re actually for dogs.

Alfie isn’t a huge treat lover or chewer. For example, if I give him a dentist stick to chew on he puts it in his mouth then wanders around whimpering until I take it off him and cut it into four pieces for him (what a princess…). Although he will easily eat them normally when he’s around my parent’s dogs – but I think this is due to the fear that if he doesn’t they’ll eat it for him. Anyway, I digress, he wolfed down this mini cake – he loved it!

New car: OK it’s pretty much identical to my old car, just new.

I love the Fiat 500 and wanted to stay with them. Unfortunately I did want a different colour (I quite like the mint) but they didn’t have it in stock for when I wanted it so I had red again. As someone who is rubbish with adulting, having a brand new car with no MOT or service to worry about for a while is a huge weight off my mind (especially as I was late with my last service by about 10,000 miles as I got confused <– story of my life).

But things making me nervous: A 10k obstacle course race (Chepstow Stampede) with my friends, Kate and Jamie, that’s happening Saturday. I did that obstacle course in Spain but I don’t think it can quite compare to a muddy obstacle course race in Britain during a rather wet autumn. I’m stressing a bit with what to wear as I don’t really have anything I’d happy to never see again if it got ruined… and I’m scared about being really cold and wet. But other than that, it should be a laugh. We’ll see…

Have you ever done an obstacle course race?

What kind of car do you have?

What non-workout shoes do you normally wear?

What I’m loving lately

Over the past few weeks there have been a few new things that I’ve discovered and have been loving. Some of them I have been sent to review, and others are items that I’ve bought myself.

Ab Roller

I’ve seen these all over the place at the gym and online. Though at the gym people just use barbells to roll out with (my gym’s not that fancy). I’ve tried the barbell method and it’s alright but a bit awkward, especially as the bar tends not to be very smooth and quite hard so can hurt the hands a bit (yes, I’m a pansy).

I’ve been tempted to buy one online but never got round to it. Then I was in Whiteley the other day in a quirky Scandinavian shop, Tiger, and found one of £5 – bargain! It’s a great core workout – from the shoulders to the abdominals, helping increase stability and strength. So far I’m doing it from my knees and it is tough.

Grip Strengthener

I also found, in the Tiger shop, a grip strengthener, which you basically just squeeze open and close with your hand.

There were different strengths and I chose the 25kg one (not entirely sure what that means – but the bigger the weight the harder it was to close the grip). I’m not sure how effectively this is going to be but I can use it when I’m watching TV or in traffic. It was only £2 so it’s not breaking the bank.

Anything to make lifting weights, pull ups and bouldering easier!

Resistance Band

I’m a big fan of resistance bands. I currently have one that I use to go around my ankles to do monster walks to help increase my glute strength and activation. It’s more of a ribbon-style band though. When I was at the fitness retreat they showed us a lot of mobility work that you should do before you lift weights. They used a thin, longer and very strong resistance bands. So I picked one up from Amazon very cheaply so I could continue on my own at my gym.

It’s great for shoulder mobility work as it loosens up your muscles and yours joints before you start lifting.

It’s very simple and really only takes 5 minutes but it works wonders. My lifting afterwards felt a lot more smooth and in control – less clunky. As I work out in the morning this is super helpful as I haven’t had chance to fully get my body into gear. Normally I would just get on a machine for 3-4 minutes as my warm-up but now I’m trying to do more mobility work like this and some dynamic warm-ups, like eagles, some yoga moves and glute activation – it just depends what I’m going to be doing for my workout. This way I get a more focused warm-up.

 Benefit Eyebrow Pencil

OK I don’t really wear make-up. If I go on a night out or somewhere fancy I might put on some eye liner and mascara. Anything else seems like suffocating my skin or too much effort. However, my friend did do my make up for me before the wedding the other week and it looked really good. I still looked like my, just an enhanced version. It was a Bare Minerals powder set. I was very tempted to buy it but in the end didn’t as I wasn’t sure when I’d wear it. I wouldn’t wear it for work or just a regular day so it seemed a bit expensive. But my interests have been raised for make up in general. I’d love to be able to know how to use it. And let’s be honest, I ain’t getting any younger nor any less single!!

I went out shopping with my mum the other day and we went to Boots to have a mosey at the make up. The pair of us are ridiculous as we have no idea what different make ups do (concealer? Foundation? BB cream? Tinted moisturiser? Powder? Clueless!). Anyway we found a few products and asked the lady (not caked in make up – she looked like an normal human being for once! A rarity for the Boots make up people…) to help.

I saw the eyebrow pencil and was intrigued. I have very dark eyebrows and I pluck them regularly. But there are a few gaps…The lady applied the eyebrow brush and my eyebrows suddenly looked super neat and tidy. Sold!

It doesn’t make me look like my eyebrows are drawn on or vastly different, just a bit more consistent. It didn’t look like I was wearing anything but it did make my eyebrows look better. As I have such dark features, it worked well to enhance the features I already have. So I treated myself

One baby step at a time!

Protein Cheese

I’m still persevering with eggs for breakfast. I like the protein in the morning and have found I can last a lot longer past midday without needing to EAT LUNCH IMMEDIATELY. My jam so far has been three eggs, kale and some sort of fish but I recently found a new cheese in Tesco called EatLean Protein Cheese. Yes, sounds weird I give you that. Basically it’s low in fat but higher in protein and it seems to be like regular cheddar. So I had some of that with some black olives and it was delicious!

I do love my protein and having something so filling in the morning is important to me, especially after doing a workout at the gym (muscle repair and all that jazz). Don’t get me wrong though, porridge will always be my first love and when my running gets back on track and into marathon training I will most likely be back on it.

Red Kooga – review

I was recently sent a herbal product called Red Kooga. It’s apparently supposed to enhance energy and sports performance because of the herbs it contains. These include Panax ginseng (a herb that has been used for thousands of years to promote vitality and maintain mental alertness) and Guarana (which helps provide a natural source of caffeine). It also contains a daily allowance of B Complex Vitamins, which helps maintain a healthy nervous system and helps release energy from food. And furthermore it has no artificial flavours or preservatives and is suitable for vegetarians or vegans.

I was obviously a bit dubious and sceptical about this. I’m not a natural remedy type person. I started taking two a day with breakfast and, hand on heart, I genuinely think it made me feel a bit more awake. Perhaps this was entirely a placebo effect – who knows, but I honestly did feel like it helped. Not in a huge “WOW I have so much energy, let’s run a marathon immediately” type ways, but in a subtle “I’m yawning a bit less and not feeling so sleepy in my morning meetings”.

It’s available in Boots for £7.99 and I would actually purchase some to help me through days I know I need to concentrate a bit more. I’d definitely have used these during my revision and exams at university! I didn’t feel any difference in the gym or running though but then for me I don’t think that’s a problem area.

Enerton Full Insoles – review

I’ve also been sent some Enerton Performance Full Insoles. They’re to put into your trainers in place of your regular insoles in order to help reduce injury and support your feet when running. They apparently give a good “energy rebound”, which over long distances can be invaluable. They are made up of “D3O technology”, which is basically a special substance that’s putty soft when you’re not moving, but hardens as you put more pressure on it and produces a higher energy return.

I have recently started using them when running so will do a full review shortly, but so far they’re very comfortable. For someone who is super injury prone and often uses insoles, these are definitely right up my street!

So keep your eyes open for a full review on these bad boys soon!

Do you use any energy boosting supplements?

Do you like a carb-based breakfast or a protein-based breakfast?

How do you warm-up at the gym or for running?

**Full Disclosure: I was sent the Red Kooga and Enerton Insoles for free to review. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

The Nitty Gritties–Food

As I’m plodding my way through my training for my sixth marathon I thought I’d do a mini series on some bits and bobs (“the nitty gritty”) to do with my training that might either be interesting (who knows!) or helpful to other people. Obviously I’m no expert and this is only my experience, which isn’t huge, and everyone is an individual. What works for me might not work for you, but you might find something that helps! I have a few other topics in mind but if people find this a) boring or b) have a request, please let me know Smile

First topic surrounds one of my favourite things (other than running): FOOD. When it comes to food and marathon training I think it can get over-complicated and confused. To be quite honest, if you’re a regular runner or do regular exercise then really not a huge amount needs to change straight off the bat. You don’t suddenly need to be eating pizza every night and gulping down a protein shake to get through the day.

Ideally as you gradually increase the miles each week then you should also gradually increase your calories/fuel as well. This is especially true if you’re trying to lose weight (I’m not, don’t worry!). Just because you added an extra few miles onto your usual run at the weekend doesn’t mean it’s time for a second lunch. That being said, as the miles do get substantially bigger and you suddenly find the day after a long run you are rungry ALL THE TIME then sensible snacking can help immensely.

Protein

As you probably know I’m a huge fan of protein. Personally I think a snack that’s high in protein is fantastic because not only is it quite satiating but it’s also great to help towards muscle repair. Running takes a lot out of the body and protein can really help build back up the muscles.

  • Cottage cheese – this might sound a bit odd but cottage cheese is a fantastic, tasty snack. It’s high in protein and low in fat and sugar. It’s a good source of calcium and selenium (a good antioxidant). Have it plain or add in some berries and some seeds and suddenly you have quite a well-rounded snack with protein, carbs and fat. I take a little Tupperware box with me to work and eat it like a yogurt in the afternoon.
  • Nuts – pistachio nuts are a regular snack for me at work. I prefer them to other nuts as they’re a bit harder to eat as you have to de-shell them. This means I’m less likely to mindlessly power through a bag of them. Nuts are high in calories but they’re a fantastic source of protein and ‘healthy’ fats. If you have more self-control than I do, other nuts are also just as good.   IMG_8275
  • Meat jerky/biltong – OK not exactly a ‘normal’ runner’s snack but I love these. Just make sure you get good quality that’s not full of sugar and strange chemicals. It’s super high in protein, while low in carbs and fats.IMG_8276
  • Icelandic-style yogurts – they taste just like normal yogurt though they’re a lot thicker. They’re low in fat and sugars but really high in protein (something like 11g per 100g) and contain all the good probiotic magic too. There are flavoured ones too but they’re usually full of sugar so I’d recommend just throwing in whole fruit instead.

Fat

Fat, like protein, is very satiating and shouldn’t be feared. It’s an important source of nutrition for our body, helping contribute to healthy hair, skin and nails and also hormonal function and reducing inflammation. Just avoid trans fats as they’re the nasties that can mess around with your system.

  • Hummus – pair with some vegetable crudités or some wholemeal crackers and you’re good to go. A great source of fat from the chickpeas and olive oil.
  • Avocados – the star of Instagram posts all over the world, mash onto a rice cracker (preferably a wholegrain one to bump up the fibre and satiety factor). It’s a great source of potassium (more than bananas!) and monounsaturated fat.
  • Nut butters – again, spread on rice crackers, toast or eat by the spoonful. Fairly calorific so a good choice if you’re in a rush and need to get in some nutrients fast. Personally I’m not a fan of nut butters. It’s alright but I don’t get the craze for it…
  • Cheese – avoid processed rubbish (though I’m always partial to Babybells as they’re in such handy little packages). Try and get some good quality cheese that will be more tasty, more nutrient rich and just generally better for you. Cube up some feta and throw in some cherry tomatoes or olives and that’s quite a nutritious and filling snack.

Carbs

Carbs are a necessary requirement for running. When training for a marathon, a low carb diet is probably not the best approach unless your body is really used to this way of exercising. Your body needs fuel and carbs are the easiest and simplest fuel for your body to use. You do want your body to tap into your fat reserves as well but within reason.

I’d avoid crisps purely because they’re not that filling and they’re likely to spike your sugar levels and leave you wanting more. Aim for low GI (more complex) carbs that will digest slowly and leave you feeling full and satisfied.

  • Fruit (banana is obviously a great choice here but obviously I’m going to say apples are the best).  
  • Vegetables, such as carrots. I don’t need to convince you veg is good for you.
  • Pretzels – a nice salty snack that’s more filling than crisps and really moreish.
  • Popcorn – a great snack as long as you avoid the sugary ones. A great source of fibre as well which is key for a good working gut and digestive system.
  • Toast – a slice of wholemeal toast can be exactly what the body needs. Add some jam and have before a run and you’ve got a great source of fast and slow releasing energy. Or peanut butter for a more sustaining snack.

Little bits of what you fancy…

Life is too short to not enjoy food! Have that slice of cake or bar of chocolate, just don’t have it every day “because I’m training”. I will always have a naughty snack/cheat meal/whatever the hell you want to call it at the weekend because though my body might not need it, my mind and soul does.IMG_6459

My ethos is that I generally try and save a big treat until the weekend so I can fully enjoy it rather than some shop-bought cakes or biscuits someone from work has that I eat because I’m bored. I want to go out to a nice restaurant and eat a nice meal with people I enjoy being around. I make it into something that can be fully immersed into and enjoyed. Like afternoon tea or enjoying some home-baked cake from my friend.

If you’re feeling tired and worn out, generally it can be one of two things: you’re not getting enough quality sleep or you’re not eating enough. Your body needs fuel and recovery. Sleep and food are two very simple easy ways to make running easier (IN THEORY – busy mums all over the world don’t shoot me!). If you’re not looking to gain weight, eat as much as you possibly can to maintain your weight with your training. Don’t skimp on calories, dive into those bad boys. And if you start gaining weight? Drop it your calories down a bit. Better to gain a little weight in the process of good running than burn out because you’re not eating enough. I’m not saying to suddenly count your calories and become obsessed over it, but just be mindful of what you’re putting in to get the best out.

Just my personal thoughts!

What are your favourite snacks?

Do you lose weight or gain weight when training for a marathon?

Do you graze through the day or stick to bigger meals?