Rants and Raves #28

More raves than rants lately which is all good in my book. Marathon training is going well (*TOUCHES WOOD IMMEDIATELY*) and I’m in a happy place. For no specific real reason really (I’m still single…which I don’t particularly mind right now), just loving that the days are longer, the sun is brighter (or actually present) and I’m enjoying life!

Rave: I’m not a huge shopper (unless it’s to do with running/gym clothes, then I’m the worst) but occasionally I might splurge on non-fitness related items. I recently fell in love with a pair of Timberland boots. My mum has the same size feet as me and has a pair but annoyingly she has them in a deep raspberry colour, of which I wasn’t too keen on (otherwise I could borrow them). I went and perused a light brown pair on Saturday and tried a few different styles. They were quite expensive though so I left without buying them. But then ended up going back the next day as I couldn’t resist. That’s always the sign of a good purchase I think!

Timberland

They’re really good quality, water-proof and hardy. Though the worst of the weather seems to be behind us, I always need a good pair of ‘proper’ shoes that aren’t just trainers or slip-ons.  I also got myself two new pairs of jeans from H&M that were a bargain (£15!). They fit perfectly so I bought one in black and one in denim (in above pic). When you’ve found a pair of good fitting jeans, BUY THEM ALL.

Rave: OK I have a leeeeeeeetle thing for leggings. Most of my leggings though are more gym appropriate than running appropriate. They tend to be a bit more flashy or the material isn’t as good. I normally stick with either my trusty Nike capris or my slightly longer Helly Hansen ones.  I do have Puma full-length ones but I rarely wear them unless it’s super cold. Anyway, my Nike’s are looking a bit tired (they’ve been around for a few years now…) and I’d seen some cool compression-style ones at the Marathon Talk Run Camp. In the end I went for 2UX 3/4 tights.2XU Compression

I got them from Zalando (I had a £10 off voucher. It made sense. [Not an affiliated link]). They are expensive at £70 (without my voucher) but I know how long my Nike’s have lasted and I wanted a quality product. And let me tell you, they are fantastic. They’re compression so they’re obviously a bit tighter than my Nike’s but they feel great on. They don’t slip down, they’re water-resistant, they have a little pocket for a key and they’re lovely and smooth. And they have the compression technology in them. Fully recommend!

Rant: When you’re one of the few people in an office who regular runs you become known somewhat of a ‘guru’ for all things running related. It doesn’t sound too bad I guess but it’s become more and more regular that people expect me to solve their fitness-problems. One fellow colleague started running with his dog and found after a few runs his knee started hurting. He told me this and then looked at me questioningly as if I could a) explain his knee issue or b) give him some solid medical advice. I’ve had my fair few injuries, don’t get me wrong, but I can barely solve my own let alone other people’s! I suggested getting trainers fitted and laying off the running until it felt OK…and possibly seeing someone about it if it wouldn’t go away.

Another guy told me how he was going to run the Reading Half Marathon which is in a few weeks time. I asked how his training was going and he said he wasn’t really training for it. OK… Yeah so plucked a random time goal out of the air, he then plugged that pace into a treadmill and evaluated how he got on. Apparently he lasted 10 minutes. Riiiiight. I told him normal half marathon training plans were at very least eight weeks long for fairly new runners, though ideally 12 weeks realistically (and that’s probably with at least some running experience behind them). He laughed and said, “Weeks?!”. Good luck, my friend. Good luck.

Rave: But on that similar note, it’s always nice people from other companies (we share an office block) coming up to you and saying they saw you running after work and asking what I was training for. They did London, they’re planning on doing this or that and the conversation just flows nicely. Running brings people together Smile

Rant: When I was in Bristol the other weekend Alfie joined me. This is a tad gross but Kate said when they took Alfie and Doug, her pug, for a walk in the morning when I was at parkrun she noticed Alfie’s poo wasn’t, er, optimal. She suggested feeding him pasta to help his tummy as that’s what the vet has always told her (Doug’s had a few sick times). She kindly cooked him a little bowl of plain pasta (fusilli if you’re interested) for him to eat. He absolutely wolfed it down. Now Alfie is far more a grazer than a wolfer-downer (I just leave kibble in his bowl and he has it as and when he fancies it). I was really shocked.IMG_8979

My little Alfie is a carb-lover it seems! However, when I tried to recreate this at home but with rice instead of pasta (as I never have pasta) he played around with it and then left it. I’ve now been finding rice grains all over my floor since. *Sighs* Thanks Alfie. Clearly he’s picky with his carbs. But his poo has become more normal so it’s all good (TMI?).

Rave: I’ve been doing so well in reducing the number of artificial sweeteners I eat in my diet. I’m really quite bad at this… Sugar-free squash, sugar-free jelly, Options Hot Chocolate. It isn’t pretty.

But I’ve managed to cut back on my squash successfully; only two glasses a day. The rest have been swapped for herbal teas (peppermint and raspberry & Echinacea are my two current favourites). I haven’t been able to stop the jellies (choose your battles). But I have been able to stop the Options Hot Chocolate. This is a big move for me as I literally have one every single night. Not now though!

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I now have real cocoa powder with Stevia to sweeten. Stevia, though yes is still technically a sugar, is far better for you than other more chemical ones. At first it wasn’t the same… Not as sweet, a little bit too bitter, but now I’ve adjusted. Cocoa actually has some great benefits for reducing inflammation and contains antioxidants. Win win!

Rave: Still loving the gym. I thought I wouldn’t be able to balance the two: strength training and marathon training but I listen to my body and go with it. When I’m tired or ache from a run, if I still fancy going to the gym I’ll lower the weights or do less reps. Or avoid some exercises completely. IMG_8726But I’m really pleased that I’ve managed to reach 75kg for my squats (six reps!). My depth probably needs to improve a bit but I focus on that on a different day when I do higher reps (12) with a lighter weight. My deadlift as well is coming on better. I had a break from it for a while as my lower back was bugging me (trampolining…). When I went back to it I needed to lower the weight again and work on my form but it’s all nice progress Smile

Rant: Easter eggs. They’re everywhere. How am I going to resist?!

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It’s just a nightmare. I love Easter Eggs – especially the ones with bits in the actual egg (Thornton’s do a great peppermint speckled egg and ones with fudge pieces in) .I can give or take the plain chocolate ones but anything that’s remotely a bit more exciting I struggle to resist. I do want one this year but I know that it’ll only goad me from it’s see-through prison and then when I break into it it’ll be game over. I just have no self-control.

Do you buy Easter eggs? What do you go for?

Do you eat a lot of artificial sweeteners?

What kind of ‘proper’ shoes do you usually go for?

Rants and Raves #27

And I’m back on the Rants and Raves again! I actually have quite a full-house today, so let’s get going.

Rave: As I mentioned in the previous post, I treated myself to a new pair of trainers. Why is it that it always requires an injury or niggle to trigger me to do something sensible? The logic of a runner I suppose… or maybe just me!IMG_8516

They’re Mizuno Wave Paradoxes and I believe this could be my fourth pair. I did consider buying another pair of ASICs (the Luminus ones I reviewed a while ago) but they’re very expensive and my Luminuses haven’t actually worn out yet. So why don’t I just wear them? Well, Mizunos have always been my fail safe. I’ve worn them for several marathons now – possibly all of them and I always go back to them. They are quite ‘stiff’ but I find this works for my feet. For £57 as well you can’t go wrong (I got them from www.sportsshoes.com).

Rant: The colour of said trainers. It looks like they’ve gone through the wash with a pair of jeans. My last pair were pink which was a whole lot better than this light blue colour. But after a few parkrun visits I’m sure the colour will be unrecognisable.

Rave: Crisp cold mornings are far nicer than soggy mild ones in my opinion.IMG_8477Yes it’s cold but it’s just so beautiful. And Alfie doesn’t get anywhere near as muddy.

Rave: And on that note of coldness, I’ve been wanting a hat for ages to wear when I walk Alfie as putting my hood up feels a bit silly and antisocial (and isn’t actually that much warmer). I found this hat in Tesco for £2!IMG_8517

It’s so snug and lovely. I can’t believe their winter stuff is in the sale already.

Rant: Don’t put tissues in your FlipBelt and then wash it. IMG_8596

Big mistake. Little pieces of white tissue everywhere! Arggh. I rarely take tissue with me on a run but I did for my failed 18 miler just in case. Then I forgot and merrily went on my way to washing it *sighs*.

Rave: One of my close friends is getting married in July and I’m really excited. It should be a fantastic day as they’re such a lovely couple. I did have a little bit of fun on the RSVP though…IMG_8518

She found it amusing thankfully Winking smile

Rant: I’m an idiot (probably a good portion of my rants in general are down to my own stupidity I’m sure). I booked a holiday completely on a whim, paying for it and everything before realising it was the day after said wedding. I evenly smugly booked Southampton airport because “how easy would that be”. Not so easy considering the day before I’m in Gloucester and was intending on staying over in a hotel. It means no drinking for me now and a very late drive home after the wedding. Oh well.

Rave: And to segue nicely into my booked holiday (stupid timing aside)… I signed up to go on the Body Type Nutrition Retreat. It’s run by Ben Coomber, the nutritionist who’s podcast I’m obsessed with. Basically it’s six days of 3-4 hours of training and 1-2 hours of nutrition coaching (per day). There are workshops and training sessions focused on strength and conditioning so you can learn and progress in your fitness goals. It’s not running-focused, but rather overall health. As I’ve got so into the gym and lifting weights I wanted to gain better knowledge in the area, as well as nutrition in general. There’s also a lot of fun and games involved. I thought “hey you only live once!”. I’m in a stage in my life where I can do what the hell I want and this interested me. It’s also nice to know I’m going on holiday with a bunch of like-minded people.

Rave: Good food! I never used to eat much steak at all but I’ve suddenly had such a craving for it. Obviously I’ve always been a keen meat-eater so I guess this is hardly surprising.IMG_8642

This was a grass-fed Irish rump steak (from MuscleFood – use this code AS284829 for freebies!) with a steak seasoning, a load of veg with Saint-Félicien cheese. Very tasty and filling! Mid-week steak, can’t go wrong (unless your a veggie…).

Rant: Idiots on the road. This guy in the photo below wearing SHORTS. Not only is it FEBRUARY but shorts on a moped at any time during the year is a stupid move. If he fell off his bike he could lose half the skin on his leg at best. Rush hour on a Tuesday morning is not a good time to play dice with the traffic.IMG_8669

Speaking of idiots, there was another guy the other week on a motorbike zooming along the motorway with his hands OFF THE HANDLEBARS. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. He was just sat that with this ridiculous grin on his face with no hands, clearly showing off. After ranting on Facebook about it my policewoman friend questioned me about it and then later said they think they have him on camera so he’ll get done. Good! Because it isn’t just his life he’s risking.

And on that happy note…

What’s the worst thing you’ve seen someone do on the road?

Favourite type of steak and how do you like it? I really enjoy rib eye medium rare. I prefer the more fatty cuts just because they’re a bit more flavoursome.

Have you got any holidays planned this year?

Mostly raving #26

Things are fairly positive in my life right now so I actually don’t have much ranting to do, long may it last!

Rave: I’m really proud of myself. I’ve been reducing my excessive intake of squash. I’ve mentioned before on the blog how I tend to drink a lot of squash. Mainly out of boredom at work if I’m honest. It’s not great as I get the sugar-free variety which though is, well, free of sugar it is not preservative-sweetener-colour-crap-free. It’s not that I don’t like the taste of water, it’s just when I’m at work and I fancy something but not necessarily an actual snack I go for squash. Anyway, I’ve switched a few of these times for something a bit better for me: herbal and fruit teas.IMG_8070

I’ve always drank peppermint tea (my absolute favourite) but I’ve added in a few more to keep things interesting. I’ve yet to crack into the salted caramel green tea though as I’m terrified it’ll make me feel sick (green tea always does this to me). I’m thinking though that because it’s mixed with other things it might be less potent to me? Anyway there was a Twinings offer in Tesco so I risked for a biscuit…or a fruit tea in fact.

Rave: I just love him so much.

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It’s OK Alfie, I don’t need much space on the sofa…

Rave: trainers! I have so many pairs it’s ridiculous. I love Strava for keeping me solidly tracked on their mileage as well. I’m a bit of a trainer whore as I don’t really favour any brand in particular. In general I love a good stability shoe as I’m fairly flat footed (though less so than when I first started running due to weekly exercises).

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Mizuno are usually my go-to shoes but my current love are the ASICS Luminus. I tend to cycle through the trainers depending on what I’m doing (i.e. my Boosts tend to be for speed workouts or shorter distance races), how wet/muddy a pair currently are and where in the Cupboard of Doom they sit:

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It’s a balancing act in there…

Rave: if I fancy a kind of naughty snack but not really a full-on face in cake moment I’ve been having these Protein Works Mug Cakes (I wasn’t sent it to review and have no affiliation with them, just bought it as I heard it was nice).Protein Works Mug Cake

Granted it looks pretty terrible in that photo but it’s actually very tasty. Nice and chocolaty with a good texture. It has 148 cals per serving and 20g of protein so it’s nice to top up the protein as well. It just h its the spot when I fancy something quick and tasty in the evening. It takes like 30 seconds in the microwave and you just add water – my kind of baking Winking smile

Rave: I’m listening to a really interesting audio book called The Diet Myth. It goes over all those silly diet trends and looks over scientific data and research surrounding them. It’s really very interesting and has a lot to do with the microbes in our body, which to be honest I’d never even thought about. It’s one of the reasons I’ve switched artificial cheese (like Laughing Cow and Babybells) to real cheese like stilton, Camembert and Brie. I haven’t finished the book yet but from what I’ve heard so far (it’s an audiobook) is variety is key, whole foods are best and avoid artificial crap. No great surprises there, but the rational and science behind it is very interesting.

Rave: my flat is pretty much sorted now. I just need a rug for my living room and I’m there. I’ve tried really hard to make it into a lovely home that I enjoy being in (which I truly do) and a reflection of who I am.Flat decorMy new armchair is a perfect addition. Actually it’s not really an armchair as there are no arms… I also have lots of photos and wall art to give it a nice individual touch. My favourite wall piece is something that was handmade by a family friend, Sue. From an old book she took all the pages and made this:IMG_8108

I love it. I’m a big reader so for me it’s absolutely perfect. There’s nothing I find more relaxing than getting lost in a book.

A single rant: my neighbour had a party in his flat last week. On a Thursday night. A Thursday. I mean seriously, what the hell? I suppose I’m fairly lucky that I’ve had very few problems with my flat so far but this really ticked me off (as, I’m sure, it would most people who work Monday to Friday).

It really agitated Alfie who hadn’t a clue why there was suddenly a lot of door banging, loud music and loud voices coming through our walls. Our flats aren’t even directly next to each other – there’s a corridor we share and that’s it, but I could still hear the music. Alfie would bark every time he heard a loud noise and eventually cuddled right up to my face in confusion (he’s normally down the bottom of the bed). *Sighs*. I only had one ear plug as well as I lost the other one so had to be choosy in which ear got the preferentially treatment.

The next morning I put my radio as close to my door and the wall closest to his flat and whacked up the volume. Now when I get up at 5am in the morning I don’t try my hardest to tiptoe about the place, oh hell no I’m like an elephant. Do not mess with the early riser.

What have been your rants and raves recently?

Do you have considerate neighbours?

Do you read a lot of books?

Rants and Raves #26

Every time I write a Rants and Raves post I have to go to my blog and see what number I’m on. Kind of shot myself in the foot with this putting numbers on them… Oh well, nice to see how many I’ve done though.

Rant: Sometimes I’ll have a little look at my blog stats and how people have found their way to my blog. Sometimes it’s from Twitter, Bloglovin‘ or other blogs. But it’s always interesting when people have Googled something and come to my blog that way. Some of the search terms make sense (like a product review) but others are bizarre.

“Jamie Oliver and his sister Anna” came up a lot in different variations. Yes I love Jamie and yes he has a sister called Anna-Marie (I had to Google that, I’m not that obsessed I assure you) but how this is relevant to my blog I don’t know. Probably because I go to his restaurants every other week I suppose.

And some search terms are just plain WEIRD.

What

There’s an Anna naughty pudding? It must be really naughty if it’s especially for me – I’m the cake monster after all and am rarely defeated.

This one really concerned me though:

Weird search term for my blog

No, that is not OK. And the fact it was used FOUR times to get to my blog is really worrying.

Rave: A recently opened trampoline centre in Southampton. This is so much fun. I used to do trampolining back in the day at school and loved it, so when some girls at the running club suggested going last Monday evening I was totally up for it.Oxygen Free Jumping Southampton

The place is basically full of trampolines and there’s also an area where you can do monkey bars, swinging ropes, tight-rope walking and flips into a pit of foamy cubes. We spent an hour bouncing around, larking about and just generally acting like kids. It was brilliant.Oxygen Free Jumping Southampton (6)

We were hot sweaty messes afterwards. I was really proud of myself for doing the monkey (ladder?) bars several times without falling. My upper body strength has improved so much! Some of the girls said they ached a bit the next day but I was fine, which really shows how far I’ve come and my gym sessions aren’t a waste of time. Because hello how important is it to be successful at monkey bars?? 😉Oxygen Free Jumping SouthamptonShame my flips were far less than stellar…I think I managed two (into the foamy cubes) and that was it. Graceful I am not.

Rave: I still love colouring. My mum got me a really cool colouring book (it even says it on the book, haha!). It’s a cake colouring book!!IMG_7497

Clearly my kinda thing!

Rant: Oh hi winter, decided to turn up did you? Though saying that I’m far happier it to be freezing than wet and windy. Let’s not have a combination of all three though please! I’ve been getting so fed up of cleaning Alfie’s paws and giving him baths after walks, it’s ridiculous. I cringe when I hear him shoot off across the local field and all I hear is the squidge of the grass and see the mud flick up. To try and combat this cyclical pattern, I got him a lovely little coat.

IMG_7378A bargain £12 from Pets At Home

It partially covers his undercarriage as well which is very helpful. I think the word used to describe Alfie’s opinion of his new garment is “indifference” so that’s good I suppose…

Rant: And to continue that theme of ranting, this is becoming a regular occurrence…Wet trainersDisgusting soggy trainers after wet runs. I’m not tempted to put them on radiators as Martin Yelling suggested in MarathonTalk because my flat is tiny and the smell of wet trainers would just overcome the place. So sat outside my flat with newspaper in is the next best thing. It works nicely but makes me look a little mad to my neighbours. I have no fear that they’ll be nicked either – who on earth would want them??

Rave: Nike Pro Shorts. I think I have four pairs now. I love them. The colours are so funky!IMG_7049This week it’s been far too cold to wear them though of course which is a shame. But when the weather gets warmer they’ll be back again. The good thing about the gym is you’re shielded from the elements. The only thing is I walk Alfie before and after the gym so it’s very nippy in just shorts!

Rave: I’m still loving MuscleFood.com (<– referral link – you get freebies, I get money off). I can really bulk buy on meat like turkey steaks, chicken sausages, steaks, bacon and burgers. I had one box delivered to my parent’s house as it was easier than my flat and my dad kindly agreed to store some of it in their giant freezer. Unfortunately I forgot to ask him to separate the chicken breasts…IMG_7595Twelve chicken breasts all frozen together! There was no way to separate them individually. So over the weekend I defrosted them then cooked all 12 breasts. I re-froze a fair number of them and then kept the others in the fridge for meals in the week and random chicken snacks at work (is it weird I snack on chicken at work??).

I’m also currently obsessed with cheese. Instead of buying my usual Laughing Cow processed cheese and Babybels I’m now buying the proper stuff as I got a bit addicted over Christmas. I’ve been getting through Stilton, goat’s cheese, Brie, Camebert and Taleggio (Italian Brie basically). I just throw it onto my salads or grate it onto meals. So tasty and so much better for me than the processed junk.

Have you ever been trampolining?

What’s your favourite way to relax?

What’s your favourite cheese?

Rants and Raves #25

I’m so tired this week. The weekend really took it out of me. Fortunately I have a day off tomorrow, wheeee! So I can do more sorting and organising (*cough* and spending). Alfie’s back from my parent’s now as well. He does not like the balcony at all bless him! On to some rants and raves…

Rave: It’s so close to Christmas. I’m such a big fan of Christmas. I love the music, the food (ALL ABOUT THE FOOD), the festivities, the sparkle… Everything. I was wearing my ‘gateway’ Christmas jumper at the start of December.Christmas jumper

Old house selfie

See, it’s not quite a Christmas jumper but it’s fairly festive. I think I can get away with wearing it in January as well. I do have a proper one that I’ll be rocking out soon.

Rant: I hate myself (real hatred) for saying this but… Justin Bieber’s music is growing on me. WHAT’S GOING ON. I still detest the singer as I think he’s very arrogant and just not my type of person (as if we’d be friends otherwise;)) but his latest music is so bloody catchy.

Rave: I don’t tend to spend lots of money… But when it comes to workout gear, I can’t seem to stop. I found these gorgeous pair of Lululemon capris on eBay the other week.

Lululemon capris

Lululemon gear is just gorgeous but ridiculously priced. RIDICULOUSLY priced. Even worse than Sweaty Betty. I often have a little look on eBay to see if I can find anything and I was chuffed to score these for a discounted price. They are so soft, fit like a glove and just make me wish I was millionaire so I could buy everything from that shop.

I also bought some (more) leggings from Fabletics in their Black Friday deal. Two pairs of leggings for the price of one, I couldn’t resist.Fabletics leggings

I’d had these mesh capris in my ‘Wish’ bag already so I was happy to get them and another pair (more funky coloured) for the same price. I was concerned the mesh would be annoying but I barely notice it.

Rants: Buying loads of new gym and running gear wasn’t a great idea just before I moved as it only meant packing more stuff. In the end clothes that were in drawers ended up in bin bags… which then ended up like this when I needed to find certain items.

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Yes that is a random tool kit

My running and gym gear has lovingly been put away now in my newly created chest of drawers. Though I still have a bin bag left of normal clothes I’ve yet to get to. Priorities.

Rave: I’m really into snacking on biltong and dried meat at the moment. Such a good snack to tide you over until your next proper meal.

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Like meat crisps in a way 😉 Sorry veggies, I know that must sound awful to you.

These high protein crisp snack things though didn’t blow me away… bit bland. I’ll stick to my Snack a Jacks I think.IMG_6308

Rant: Websites that don’t accept hyphens in names. CaptureSo many don’t accept ‘Anna Smith-James’. IT’S MY NAME. My name isn’t Anna SmithJames. Or Anna Smith. Or Anna James. It’s Anna SMITH-JAMES. And on that subject, it’s JAMES not JONES. EVERY FRIGGING PHONE CALL. *Sighs*

On the subject of my name. Before I got married I was Anna James, but then I took Ben’s second name (Smith) and made two boring names into an interesting one. Now my intention is to find my next husband and just keep adding to my name, like Anna Smith-James-Taylor, and so on.

Obviously I’m joking. But I’m not changing my name. Who knows what the future holds but for now my name is remaining the same. The process of changing it is far too stressful… so many people, companies, websites to inform.

Rave: I found out what noise was keeping me awake. It was a scent thing that had been left in the flat. It clicks and ejects a puff of scent out every so often. I thought the noise was due to the wind on the window or something like that but then I was right next to it and heard the bastard. It has since left my flat. Though I do also now have ear plugs 😉

What are you rants and raves this week?

Are you a light or heavy sleeper?

Did you get anything on Black Friday?