That boring gym person…

First and foremost, my thoughts are with all those affected by the devastating events on Friday in Paris. I woke up Saturday morning and couldn’t believe what had happened. It’s very sad and terrifying time.

Prayers for Paris


Saturday morning was very sombre. I headed to parkrun with Alfie where it was cold and overcast. No one was really in that jolly a mood considering what had happened the night before. Alfie though was carefree as anything and raced around the place and dove into as many puddles as he could.

Again I wasn’t running this week. I had seen my physio on Thursday and both he and I could tell there was a marked improvement from Sunday when I saw him for an hour and a half. On Sunday he assessed me completely and rather than finding anything wrong specifically with my knee, he said it was a combination of a tight calf, a tight hamstring and a tight back that was causing my left leg to internally rotate and aggravate my knee. On both Sunday and Thursday he worked into those areas and released so much tension. Now it feels like a bit of a niggle rather than the sharp and eye-watering pain I felt just last week.

I was tempted to run at parkrun but he advised against it, saying just take one more week. He showed this very cool Tensegrity model to demonstrate what was happening.


All the wooden sticks are held together by elastic bands and when he pulled slightly on one elastic band on one side you could see how the entire shape changed due to that small amount of tension. He said this is what was happening in my left side. As I was still tight my body would have to change its biometrics to compensate and I wouldn’t be doing myself any favours. Great visual representation!

Anyway, back to parkrun where it had now started to rain. My friend Mark was supposed to be time keeper but he hadn’t shown up so I was asked to take over as I was otherwise just a marshal. Cue immediate panic as time keeping is not a job I’ve ever done before and a lot rides on it!!

parkrun time keeper

Mark did turn up in the end (and took the above photo of me, thank you!) but I kind of wanted to give time keeping a go so he kindly let me do it. At the start of parkrun, just before they sounded the whistle, we held a minute silence in respect for Paris. It was very moving as everyone stood there in silence. And then they were off.

Annoyingly I’d lost Alfie’s lead (I’d put it in the wrong parkrun bag that had got taken away to someone’s car) so I had to time-keep while also making sure Alfie didn’t trip anyone up when they finished. Mark took over at the end so I could help start clearing away the flags etc. with the other guys. I didn’t mess up, hurrah!

After clearing everything away I was cold and wet and though people were heading to the cafe I thought it best to just go home as I couldn’t take Alfie inside and it would be mean to either leave him outside or make people sit outside in the wet. I was sad to miss the hot drink but I got home and had some lovely hot porridge instead.

Alfie once again got a bath as he was covered in mud and then I got myself together and headed to the gym for my ‘legs day’.


Lift, selfie, repeat 😉

Legs day is my favourite day. I just feel really strong and can feel myself getting stronger. It’s my escapism at the moment while I can’t run. Though I have to say midday Saturday is peak time! The weights area was packed but I was lucky to have a squat rack to do my thing.

I did:

  • Squats: warming up with 12 reps of 45kg a few times then one rep of 65kg, then seven reps between 4-10 from 55kg to 65kg.
  • Box squats: Five 6-10 reps 65kg-70kg
  • Deadlifts: warming up with a few 12 reps of 30kg and one at 62.5kg, then six reps between 4-6 from 62.5kg to 67.5kg.
  • Leg press: warmup of 20 reps of 46.7kg, then 8-12 reps from 67.7kg to 112kg
  • Sumo squat: warmup of 20 with 10kg, then four reps of 20 with 20kg
  • Ab work: hanging knee raises and then parallel bar leg raises

This took two hours in the gym! As I a) wasn’t moving and b) wasn’t going to Cardiff anymore I had some time on my hands and I really enjoyed just going through these exercises, listening to music and zoning out. The next day (and still today) my legs are feeling some serious DOMs.

Foam rolling

On Sunday I spent a good amount of time rolling my aches and tightnesses, which was both painful and strangely enjoyable. While rolling and stretching I watched the film Margin Call, a tense drama about the financial crash. I know that sounds quite dull but the acting was really good (Kevin Spacey, Demi Moore, Paul Bettany, etc.) and I was fully engaged the entire time (no iPad/phone distraction at all – just the foam roller).

So my weekend was fairly low-key. I’ve become that boring gym person I’m afraid, but it makes a change from that boring injured runner…or that boring runner 😉 Hopefully next week I’ll be running. I have another session with my physio and finger’s crossed…

What’s your favourite muscle group to work on at the gym?

What fims have you watched recently? (New or old)

How do you recover from a hard workout?

Rants and Raves #23

Hello! It’s the middle of the week, hurrah! I’m working from home tomorrow so it kind of feels like Friday, but only in that I get a bit of a lie-in tomorrow rather than 5am for the gym. Woop! I’m seeing my Physio again tomorrow so I hope to have another post about my injury (oh the long-standing saga that it is, I’m sorry) another day. But for now, I’m ranting but mostly raving.

Rave: Workout clothes. I can’t stop buying them. It’s becoming an issue. To be fair though, other than food, I really don’t spend my money on much else. Forever21 is my go-to place for good quality and inexpensive gym clothes. Though I do like treating myself to Fabletics some months.

I bought the below ‘muscle tee’ from Forever21 which fits amazingly. It’s perfect for my strength workouts as my arms are nice and free and the side slits help keep me cool. It says ‘No Days Off’. Not true, but still cool.


I bought another muscle tee, a crop-top, a crop-top sports bra and two pairs of Nike Pro shorts (not from Forever21 but Zalando). ENOUGH NOW, ANNA.

Rant: Planning my weekends is so tricky at the moment. I still haven’t moved. My solicitors said it could be this week but then who knows. It depends on some enquiries… This is annoying as I’m meant to be seeing my uni friends in Cardiff this Saturday but now I don’t know if I can or not. In fact, we’ve had to rearrange the whole thing because I was going to give one of my friends a lift back and can’t guarantee it anymore. *Sighs*

I’m also just living out of boxes and reluctant to buy any sort of extra condiments or bulk purchases (which I like to do to with items I use regularly to save a bit of money).


I’m not using my downstairs toilet anymore because it’s a great place to put boxes (especially food items and crockery) so Alfie can’t get to them. As you can see, my Hello Fresh boxes are very handy!

And I have nowhere to work when I work from home as I sold pretty much all my furniture (I live life on a bean bag with a £5 Ikea side table). I’ve had to use my kitchen to work in. For my standing desk obsession it works quite nicely.Standing desk

Rave: Speaking of Hello Fresh (yes, I know, I’m obsessed)… I finally received the hallowed Recipe Journal. My parents, who also still get Hello Fresh, have two! I introduced them to it first! Anyway, I have one now and it’s already almost full up.Hello Fresh recipe folder

It makes me really proud how may recipes I’ve done (I’ve had 23 boxes – each box contains three recipes). I love it! I eat so many different foods each week and it makes life so much easier cooking a meal and then having another portion of it for the next night.

A few weeks ago I had a lovely warming Mexican broth…Hello Fresh Mecican Broth

With a good dollop of soured cream. Yum.

If you fancy £25 off your first box I have a referral code ZVUM4A (which would also give me £12 off my next box). I’m not affiliated with Hello Fresh, I just love them.

Rave: I’ve recently bought some BCAA formula, AminoX, to help with me at the gym. It isn’t a stimulant but rather it’s designed to support my strength workouts and recovery. It contains essential amino acids, L-Alanine, Taurine and L-Citrulline.AminoX

You just mix one scoop with water and give it a mix. Don’t do what I do and shake it in a bottle vigorously as when you then go to open the lid, it explodes like a foamy volcano. Gentle stirring is required! I got the green apple flavour and it’s really yummy, though luminous green. I can’t say I feel a huge difference but I am lifting heavier weights than ever before – though considering how often I go to the gym and focus on this, that’s not surprising really.

Rant: Alfie’s Halloween costume came last week. Obviously too late for Halloween…and actually too small. For a fiver though I’m not upset.

Dog halloween costume

I’m wondering if I can cut the sides a bit and see if he could fit. He may never forgive me though.

Rave: This ice cream.

Oppo ice cream

It’s called Oppo and has the fabulous tagline of “Eat like a whale, look like a mermaid”. I got the salted caramel flavour. The ingredients are far better looking than Ben and Jerry’s and so are the nutritional stats for 100ml:

  • Energy (Kcal): 77.3
  • Fat: 3.8g (saturates: 2.8g)
  • Carbohydrate: 7.6g (sugars: 6.7g)
  • Protein: 3.2g
  • Sodium: 0.1

I’m a volume person when it comes to eating (more food = better) and will happily admit I ate the entire tub in one sitting, which was around 400 calories in total. That’s comparable to a slice of cake. Though cake always wins in my eyes, this was such a nice treat for a Friday night.

Rave: I saw this picture on Jamie Oliver’s Instagram…him with Orlando Bloom.Jamie and Orlando

Be still my beating heart. I have such a crush on Jamie Oliver it’s ridiculous. I just think he’s so lovely. And I used to be obsessed with Orlando Bloom during his LOTR days. It’s like a dream come true to have them side by side in a photo… *sighs*.

Who’s your celebrity crush? Who did you fancy when you were younger?

What’s your favourite ice cream and ice cream flavour?

Do you cook from scratch every evening?

Current injury status

Yep so I’m still injured. I really only have myself to blame for this as I consciously made the decision to finish the Bournemouth marathon, despite being in pain.

At around 16 miles I chose to carry on despite my race now becoming a run, stop, stretch, walk repeat affair. I was in pain – not a niggle, not a discomfort – genuine pain, to the point that I had to stop running and walk the entire last two miles as the pain was far too much.

Having suffered with the dreaded IT band injury before I’m well aware of the timelines of these sort of things. Last year I took off a total of six weeks – though not all of those weeks were because of the injury. I decided to not start running again until I was mentally ready, not just physically ready, because I was fed up of the continuous injury cycle. I’m pretty sure it was four weeks though before I was entirely pain-free and discomfort-free.

My current injury is pretty much following the same pattern. I remember feeling the same pain, even two weeks later. What’s frustrating is that towards the beginning and middle of last week it was really improving, but then a sharp trapped-nerve like pain began sporadically when I walked (I remember this pain as similar to last year around the same time as well). I haven’t tried running and I’ve kept away from cardio apart from a few bursts on the bike… I wonder if that might have niggled it further but it genuinely felt fine during and after. So I’m just holding my nerve and not panicking as I know I could be in for two more weeks of not running.

I had some swelling after the marathon which has gone down a lot, but there’s still a slight puffiness to the area where the IT band joins in the knee.  Basically I just need to get rid of the last inflammation and keep stretching it.

Gym-wise I can carry on with what I was doing which I’m glad about. Squats and deadlifts feel absolutely fine, though I’ve gone down a few Kgs in weight for the squats to be cautious. And I’m avoiding anything like the elliptical machine or stepper to avoid unnecessarily aggregating things.

I know I’m going to lose running fitness but I’m not bothered. Yep that’s 100% truthful. This year I achieved more than I thought I would and I had no real goals for after Bournemouth anyway (until next year anyway). Perhaps my only annoyance is that there’s a 10 mile in a few weeks time that I would have liked to have raced as I’ve never had a good 10 miler but I’ve conceded defeat. Taking that out of the equation also takes off any pressure to try and start running too soon.

Really though it’s the mental side of things I’m struggling with. The need to get outside and just run. To feel the freedom of outside, the fresh air and the mental freshness I get when I run. And I miss the social side of training runs with my club and running at parkrun. Of course I can still volunteer at parkrun but it’s not the same. You’re on the sidelines watching everyone do what you’d love to be doing. But the weeks will pass and my leg will heal.

What went wrong? Well, I don’t think you can ever know for sure but it was probably down to not following simple injury-prevention strategies. I’m so angry at myself. I was so smug about going to the gym and strength training that I forgot the other side of things as well. I’m an injury-prone runner and can’t neglect the basics of stretching and foam rolling.

I can’t remember the last time I foam rolled before the injury. I used to be really good at it. Sure for some people they don’t need to do it, but for me I know I do. I need to do everything I can to lessen the impact of running on my body. And going to the gym and lifting heavy weights and then running on tight and sore muscles is stupid for me. Other people can get away with these things, but I certainly can’t.

It’s funny because though I’ve been running properly (I don’t count my treadmill years) for over three years now and I’m still learning lessons. I just hope that I can stop making such simple mistakes in the future. For now though I’ll continue to go to the gym and enjoying my strength training, trying not to focus on how much I’d just love to run right now.

Do you foam roll regularly?

What exercise mistakes have you made in the past?

What injuries have you suffered?

Mio Skincare review

I am a low maintenance female when it comes to beauty regimes. I’ll do the basics but when it comes to make-up, cleansing, toning, deep conditioning, face masks, facials…nope.

I got in to a really good routine a few weeks ago of painting my nails, but then that sort of stopped. It’s just so hard to sit still for the time it takes for the nails to dry. No snacking, no fidgeting, nothing! I pluck my eyebrows and straighten my hair – I’d say that they’re my ‘superfluous’ beauty things above and beyond the basics society requires of me. And straightening my hair takes one minute as really is more an OCD thing of neatening things up as my hair is dead straight anyway…it sadly never curls (don’t get me started on blow drying though – takes forever!).

So when Mio Skincare contacted me to review a few items of their range I thought, “Me? Really?”. I had a look on their website and surprisingly wasn’t confused by the different products, which for me is a great start (BB cream anyone? What even is that??), but quite intrigued. This looks like my kinda stuff!

I was sent the Boob Tube+ Multi-Action Bust Firmer, the Workout Wonder Invigorating Muscle Motivating Gel and the Natural Dry Body Brush.

Boob Tube+ Multi-Action Bust Firmer

OK so when I first saw this product I was a bit like “well, this isn’t going to be that useful to me”. I’m not exactly the most blessed of women in that area. Cleavage – what’s that like?? But actually it’s not aimed at big breasted ladies looking for a cheap lift. It’s more to do with the skin quality around your boob-area – as in your chest and neck (décolleté if you will).

That area of the skin is very delicate and usually sees quite a bit of the sun, so wrinkles and lines (especially on the neck) are quite common. This product (from their website), aims to:

  • Keeps lines and crinkles at bay so thin skin stays smooth
  • Visibly healthier, fitter, glowing skin within days
  • Skin brightening actives take years off sun damaged skin

It has a whole bunch of rather impressive ingredients…

Thoughts? It smelt amazing and it absorbed into my skin like a dream. It left my skin feeling lovely and soft. I can’t confirm or deny my boobs are any more perky (I’m 27, small-boobed and have no kids, I can’t say I’ve had any issues in this area) but I do love this. It made me feel like I was doing something good for my skin.

Workout Wonder Invigorating Muscle Motivating Gel

This definitely got me excited. A moisturiser that helped relieve sore muscles?? Sign me up!

The idea is that it cools and ‘revs’ up your muscles, either pre or post workout. It has ingredients such as V-Tonic TM, extracts of Arnica, Horse Chestnut, Murumuru Butter, Spearmint and natural Magnesium to to help increase circulation, reduce inflammation and speed up recovery.

Thoughts? It smells lovely and minty and it definitely feels very cooling when you put it on. My legs were tingling, but in a very pleasant way. Again it absorbs easily without being greasy. I am a big fan of this. I used it after the marathon and it was a dream.

Natural Dry Body Brush

I’m sure all us females have tried using a body brush before in the desperate hopes of reducing/eliminating cellulite. Anyone succeeded? Yeah didn’t think so. Cellulite is the curse of 99% of women, whether it’s a smattering of tiny dimples or the full-blow orange peel, cottage cheese effect. It sucks but it’s life. This body brush is aimed reduce cellulite by helping with lymphatic drainage and removing toxins. It’s also aimed to exfoliate the skin making it softer and smoother.

It’s made of natural boar bristles and has rubber massage nodules so gives a nice feel to the massaging. You can brush dry or wet though I preferred dry, just before I got into the shower.

Thoughts? I liked using it on my legs mainly to get rid of dead skin cells. It left them nice and soft. I had to make sure I moisturised afterwards though as I found it can dry out your skin. As for smoothing…the jury’s out. It did liven up my legs a bit and increase blood flow but as for giving me Victoria Secret-esque worthy legs, doubtful. But it was a nice treat that I’ll probably do it once every week at the weekend to keep myself nice and exfoliated.

Overall, very high-quality feeling products that made me feel like I was treating myself.

What are you absolute musts for your beauty regime?

Would you say your high or low maintenance?

What is your least part of your beauty regime? Mine is blow-drying my hair. I’d happily pay someone to do it for me while I did something else.

**Full Disclosure: I was sent these products for free in exchange for a review. All thoughts are my own honest ones.**

A few reflections – and I’m strangely OK!

So my marathon didn’t go how I wanted it to, obviously. And still a few days later I’m paying the price.

It’s very similar to what I had last year with my IT band – except the other leg. It’s funny because I re-read an old post of the fateful last run before I took time off around Christmas and it was almost identical to what happened in the marathon (so handy having these blog posts to refer to!). That took me around 4-6 weeks to come back to running. My expectations are firmly set. I’d rather think worst case then I can be pleasantly surprised if it’s not that bad.

Am I about to fall into a well of despair and go all dark and shady on you? No. I’m surprisingly OK about the whole thing. Oh yeah it fully sucks, don’t get me wrong. I’d love to be moaning about a few post-marathon aches and debating when my first run will be, instead of limping along pathetically feeling pain walking up and down stairs. But getting upset about it won’t solve anything and I’ve achieved so much this year that it would be almost greedy to want more and more. I’m an injury-prone runner, this is something that is bound to keep happening to me not matter how many squats and deadlifts I do.

I knew I was needing a break from running anyway as I was drawing close to the marathon. Running was feeling harder and I was feeling tired. I think I’ve done a lot recently and this injury has come at the best time (if ever there is a good time to have an injury!). I’d have liked to have voluntarily taken a break, obviously, but hey ho!

That said, I have wondered what exactly what went wrong at the marathon. I have literally had no knee pain at all this year. My IT band hasn’t felt uncomfortable or twingey. My runs before the marathon felt fine. I was more concerned about my shin than anything (which by the way, is absolutely fine!). I’d stopped foam rolling and stretching as religiously as I used to and I know my quads (and probably my IT bands I suppose) were tightish so that might not have helped.

I think the main reason could be the trainers I wore. With the house moving chaos my trainers have gotten all mixed up. The day before the marathon I was debating which to wear. My new ASICS have been great during training but I wondered how they’d fair in a full marathon. I knew (from Strava – very handy) that I wore my Mizunos for the Cheddar Gorge marathon and they felt fine so I thought I’d go for them. Unfortunately I have two pairs of identical Mizunos (whhhhhy don’t I just get rid of old trainers?!) and mistakenly picked up the old ones that I’d retired. It’s funny because I remember looking at them in Bournemouth and realising they were a lot cleaner than the ones that had run Cheddar Gorge…bugger. This is the only thing I can think of. I’m a runner who needs support in their trainers and my old Mizunos are definitely past their best.

I’m seeing my physio Friday (ahh, haven’t seen him in a while!) and I’m expecting him to say no running for at least two weeks, and then reassess. Icing has been my friend (I wish I was talking about the cake variety…).

Icing knee in car

Monday morning I used my commute well – and my Hello Fresh ice packs! (An idea I got from Mary).

Speaking of icing, I forgot to mention in my recap about how after the marathon a few of us trundled into the see in just our socks. It was freeeeeezing, but it was good fun and fantastic after such a long run (plus walk!). Though a wave did splash against me, causing me to get a wet bum. Nice. I wish I’d gotten a photo but, like I said, my phone was dead.

Anyway, for the moment I’m feeling like a rest is a good idea. This week I’m doing nothing, even the gym (not that I could do anything other than upper body and core right now). Getting good nutrition and a good night sleep each night are my priority.


The latest Marathon Talk podcast with the interview with Dr. Kirk Parsley about the importance of sleep has only further highlighted that the best thing I can do right now is make sure I get a good night sleep to help with the recovery process. Getting up at 5am to hobble round the gym is not going to help!

My only one annoyance is parkrun. I was doing so well to go so consistently and I’m second on the female points table. *Sighs* but I’m not going to risk anything. I’ll volunteer this week and be a bit grumpy 😉

What are your priorities when you’re injured? Nutrition? Sleep? Cross-training?

How much sleep do you get each night?

How much sleep do think is best for you?