Collecting things

When I grew up I loved collecting things.

I would be the girl with 10 Tamagotchis. I had more pogs than I knew what to do with. I loved those rubber wrist bands (especially the ones filled with sparkly liquid). I had the Pokemon cards. Spice Girl photos. Gel pens. You name it, I collected it.

As I grew up (have I grown up? I don’t think so…), I stopped collecting things as much in that kind of childhood sense, but I still did things that allowed me to get my kick as a teenager. I played on game consoles and the computer, leveling up and collecting special items. Oh man I was a cool kid.

But then since going to university and then starting a Big Person Job though you just don’t do that sort of thing anymore really. No time, no space, no money. Oh hey adult life.

Then I started running. And my passion for collecting began once again. Races…medals…experiences. I’m not a race fanatic but I do enjoy doing different races about the place – enjoying new areas, seeing different places, meeting new people, getting a nice medal. It’s all good fun. I tend to dislike doing the same races over and over (though some are clearly worth it, hello Romsey Beer and Cake Race) because I like doing different ones. Collecting new ones, if you like.And marathons. Ahh marathons. Doing the Marathon Majors is collecting game for me. It’s a long game, don’t get me wrong, but ticking each one of the list is just something that I love to do. I don’t necessarily care about the times I get or if I break my PB. Nope. I just want to collect each medal and earn my bigger Six Star Medal at the end.And alongside that I’ve been trying to complete different parkrun challenges… get to 50, get to 100, get to 150, now get 20 different ones, now get all the letters of the alphabet, get to 200…250… tick off all the local ones, the Brighton ones, the Bristol ones, the Birmingham ones. Ahh call me a loser, call me a weirdo, but I so enjoy this kind of thing.

Most importantly, it keeps me motivated to run – and with that to be healthy and uninjured, work hard at the gym, take rest seriously, eat a balanced diet. It keeps me mentally healthy as well to not focus on smashing myself at every parkrun or race. It’s been a long while since I’ve felt disappointed about a parkun time. I remember when I first started running and every race I had to beat my last time, every parkrun had to be faster  – and if not, why not? Could I justify why I’d run so slowly? It really ground me down.

But now I’m happy to plod along, get my barcode scanned and add another one to my list. I see progress in a different way. Yes of course I want PB’s and fast times (damnit I want that sub-20 parkrun!) but it’s not everything for me. It’s not why I put my trainers on. Yes maybe this has been somewhat to my detriment when I’m not making “omg amazing” gains in my speed and I’m still no faster than I was when I started but I’m 100% happier with where I am, both body and mind.

I’ll make my progress in the ways that I enjoy. Alongside that I’ll pepper it with the occasional “hard goal” of a certain time but it won’t break my spirit if it doesn’t happen right away (or at all!), because along the way I’ll have other fun goals to tick off as I go that really only mean something to me.

And I’ve found as an adult you can still collect things. Don’t even get me started on my new found love of geocaching… ;-PDo you collect anything?

Why do you run?

Have you ever done geocaching? I’ve just gotten into it and I quite enjoy hunting around and trying to find different ones – the app is great!

Things I’m loving lately – February/March

I’m sure I write the same thing every year but it’s so nice to be getting into spring. The lighter evenings and mornings… ahh bliss (well, when it isn’t snowing of course).

Bodum Coffee flask: I get up ridiculously early for the gym as you may be aware. It’s actually not that bad anymore. I genuinly enjoy my super early mornings and going to the gym. It’s part of my routine. I’m verrrry routine based and it just fits nicely. I’m an early bird and get decent sleep so it’s only the initial alarm going off that is tough and then I’m awake and raring to go.One of the things I look forward to is my coffee in the car on the way to the gym. While I take Alfie for a walk (in ALL the layers) I’ve put my coffee on and it’s ready by the time I get back. I take it with me on the drive (I use a straw so it’s easier/safer to drink whilst driving) and it’s just bliss. Especially when it’s super cold. The coffee flask I use is a Bodum Vacuum Travel Mug. It is perfect. It’s never leaked or spilt (even when I fill it to the top) and it doesn’t burn my hand to hold while keeping my coffee super hot.

R8 Roller: This isn’t mine. I’ve stolen borrowed it off a friend after Marathon Talk Run Camp.I would buy one myself but it’s from the States so there’s a high shipping cost added on to the actual cost of the product, making it well over £100. I’ve been wanting to try one of these for ages and it doesn’t disappoint. It’s fantastic for your quads and hamstring. Though it’s a bit more awkward on the calf because it also rolls the shin which is a little painful and the glutes are super awkward to do (I’ll stick to my tennis ball). But it’s SO good in terms of pressure and hitting trigger points. Love this.

Lava-Activ Hydration BeltI was sent this hydration belt to test out and review. It’s similar to a hydration belt I’ve used before and got on well. The only annoyance about my previous belt is that the bottles are TINY. During the summer I’d have to top them up mid-way through my long run at my “dodgy tap”. These (BPA-free!) bottles however are a bit bigger (2x 300ml), which is so much better.The belt sat nicely on my hips, didn’t chafe and didn’t bounce. The pocket  is big enough for a few gels, coins and keys or your phone (apparently iPhoner 8’s are fine). It’s not a massive pocket but it’s big enough for what you need!  There’s handily also a pocket divider to prevent items from rubbing against each other. There are also clips to attach a bib, but I’m not a huge fan of doing this.You can wear it either way I think, but I prefer the bottles at the back than the front. It’s predominately black, but the stripe on the pocket comes in three colours (orange, blue or green). You can buy the belt on Amazon.

Cake: OK two things about cake. Firstly, I had the most amazing cake a couple of weekends ago and it ROCKED my world.It was salted caramel flavour and it was divine. The icing was deliciously sticky. Ahhh to have that cake again…

And in other cake news… I’ve won one on Instagram!! I follow the very lovely Nicki Chan-Lam (@Nickichanlam on Instagram) who has a ridiculously huge appetite! And coming from me, that’s big. She posted a competition about a cake giveaway from the amazing bakery Whisk and Drizzle in London and my comment won! I mentioned that it was my mum’s 60th birthday in May. So I win a a Whisk and Drizzle cake which I can pick up when I’m in London (for my mum’s birthday). AMAZING AMAZING. Could I be any more excited?? (said in Chandler’s voice).

Cinema trips: I went to the cinema twice last week. I took my mum to see Finding Your Feet for a Mother’s Day (but not on Mother’s Day as I wasn’t there) treat and she loved it. I mean, it ticked all her boxes of what she loves in a film so I was super pleased she enjoyed it. I enjoyed the night, but the film wasn’t really my kind of thing. I feel for my dad really as that film will probably now be on repeat for the rest of his life. That along with Bridget Jones’ Diary and Mama Mia!

The second cinema trip was with my running friend Joe. Bless him, he cooked me a hearty sausage casserole and then we headed to the very fancy Showcase cinema in Southampton. WITH RECLINING LEATHER CHAIRS. It was epically comfortable. We saw Shape of Water which was so good. It was very dream-like and gentle…you had to let yourself get swept along with it. It was very romantic and I just loved it.

Alfie: And because Alfie hasn’t been featured on the blog in a while, here he is in all his cutness.My heart just melts.

Running: I completely forgot to mention this in my last post, but when I was at the Walsall Arboretum parkrun on Saturday I noticed a woman signing the run director’s instructions. How good is that! I’ve never seen that before but I thought it was such a fantastic idea. Typical parkrun eh being so inclusive and thoughtful 😉

And this weekend is the Reading Half Marathon! I’m quite excited (despite hearing horrible rumours about how cold it’s going to be…please no more snow).I won’t be going for a PB as I’m not in that shape but I will give it a good go I think. I’m in a good place with my running, no niggles (EVERYONE TOUCH WOOD PLEASE) and I feel strong. It’ll be nice to see where I’m at in terms of putting some faster paces on for a long run. We shall see…

What are you loving lately?

Have you been to the cinema recently?

Do you foam roll?

**Full Disclosure: I was sent the belt for free in exchange for a post on Instagram. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

I’m a rubbish runner

“I’m a rubbish runner”. Not matter how many marathons I run, how many miles I clock and how fast I can do a parkrun, I always have this thought swirling around in my brain periodically.

I seem to live life perpetually disappointed in myself with running. I love running. It’s part of who I am. I believe I will always run, as long as I’m able. Whether I will always run marathons I don’t know – but for the moment, I love them and will continue signing up to them (notice I say “signing up” and not running, because signing up to a marathon does mean I will in fact run it).

So why am I disappointed? Ehhh. Despite loving running, running doesn’t love me. It plays a cruel game with me where I run well for a period of time, lulled into a sense of false security, then BOOM, injury will strike and I’m out of the game. I’m so fed up of this cycle.

I do a lot of strength training to keep myself strong. I go to the gym throughout the week and work on my glute strength, my legs and core. And don’t get me wrong, it has HUGELY helped me. I rarely seem to have niggly issues or full-blown injuries with my knees, hips or IT band. These have always plagued me in the past before doing any gym work. I was just limping from one niggle to the next. Always trying to foam roll away the niggly pains I’d get on a weekly basis.

But I still get hit with injuries that I don’t know how to deal with and strength training hasn’t seemed to helped. For example, my left calf has always caused me issues when I get into higher mileage. It’s also very sensitive to changes in footwear it seems. People have advised calf raises, but actually my calf strength is good (as tested by different physios) and doing calf raises only tightens my muscles further. It’s possibly something due to having fairly flat feet, or something else bio-mechanically “wrong” with me.

And then my hamstring. Since before the Boston Marathon it’s been bugging me on and off. It doesn’t hugely affect my running thankfully (though I’ll occasionally feel it crop up towards the end of long runs)… until I do something stupid like attempt deadlifting at the gym and ignore the signals of my body telling me “erm, maybe don’t do that?”.

Thankfully it seems my injury woes have subsided for the moment (*touch wood*) and I’m gradually making my way back into  running again. I’ve been sensible and taken things slowly and not jumped back into running too often. I worry a little how Marathon Talk Run Camp will go this weekend… but I’m confident I can take things easy and not be too tempted to do too much. Who knows though.

So back to being a rubbish runner. These feelings are both down to the frustration and disappointment I feel with myself for just not achieving what I’d like to achieve. And also down to that horrible, horrible thing called comparison. Seeing what other runners are doing… seeing them hit crazy high mileage… seeing them run every day, twice a day… I don’t care about times thankfully, but the sheer ability of being able to push my body to run as often as I want without issue. Entering races and not wondering if I’ll even make the start-line. Talking about upcoming marathons with the constant inclusion of “if I get there”. Because for me, I can never guarantee injury won’t strike.

I don’t think I’m a stupid runner. I don’t think I take risks. Yes I’ve done stupid things and yes some injuries have indeed been down to mistakes I’ve done. But I’ve since become a paranoid runner. A super careful runner. A runner who second-guesses every run I do, every pace I hit and every race I enter. Can I? Should I? Will I?

I’m sorry to vent so much and be such a bore. I know my injury woes can’t exactly be that enthralling and I can only apologise for not being as exciting as other runners out there smashing out all the miles. I only hope that a take-away from my blog can at least be that if you find yourself feeling rubbish, I’m here too feeling the same.

How often do you run?

Do you compare yourself to others?

Do you ever feel not good enough?

Random bits and bobs about me

Last post before I go to Dubai, I thought I’d do a random one!

The lovely Allison from Running Princess nominated me for the Liebster Award. It’s basically a fun way to connect with other bloggers and gives you a chance to answer some random questions and get to know the blogger a bit better. Allison gave me some questions to answer so let’s get started. Prepare for some randomness!

What inspired you to start your blog?

I read a lot of blogs back in the day, but not as many anymore. I’ve certainly honed down the list and realised what I actually like to read about as well as other bloggers stopping writing or moving into territories I’m not as interested in. Anyway, I started writing one because I love running and I love writing and I was inspired by these other amazing bloggers. I actually didn’t care if anyone read it or not. I just enjoyed the process and love having a way to track progress, events and basically memories. I can flick back to older posts and, after cringing a bit, relive moments of my life.

Like when I used to upload a photo of my Garmin watch on my wrist to show my run as Strava wasn’t around then… Or when I used to make more exciting breakfasts because I thought people would get bored hearing about how I eat porridge Ever. Singly. Day.When I used to post photos of my outfit of the day (I still do this now, just on Instagram, for my shame #OOTD).And when I used to post actual recipes and upload photos of my meals more regularly. But what has always been consistent is my love for running and my love for cake 😉

An elevator pitch for your blog?

Oh blimey… “Do you like running?? Do you like eating?? Come and get them both in my blog! Terms and conditions apply, mainly: running isn’t always sensible, consistent, injury-free or decent. And yes I really do eat everything I say I do, and yes I am that much of a greedy pig.”

If you could have a conversation with anyone (real or fictional) from any time, who would you choose and why?

I found this question really hard. I posed the question to Twitter and it gave me a lot of inspiration: Morgan Freeman, David Attenborough, relatives no longer with us, Tony Stark, Eluid Kipchoge, Hugh Laurie, Bill Murray and of course… God.

I feel like I need to answer this in a poignant way but actually I really don’t know. My geeky side thinks having a cup of tea with Dumbledore would be amazing. My foodie side and the fact that I have a weird attraction says Jamie Oliver (he’s bring snacks). Maybe Graham Norton as he’s funny and would have loads of celebrity anecdotes I’m sure.

If you had a theme tune, what song would you pick and why?

Jurassic Park theme music. Not sure why. It’s good theme music. Dramatic and exciting, exactly like my life isn’t 😉

Where is your happy place?

Two places. First place: in bed with my super snuggly dog, Alfie, when he’s just woken up and is all cuddly and warm. Second place: the finish straight of a marathon and the walk to get the medal. No better feeling. Cheesy but literally the best.

Who would you most like to go for a run/cycle/workout with?

Weirdly, Jennifer Lawrence. I don’t think she’d be too fast for me to keep up with (she’s not a regular runner I believe, I’m not being mean) and I reckon she’d be hilarious. In this scenario I’m not a weird stalker running after her, but we’re friends 😉 I feel like we have a similar love for food and a similar sense of humour.

Flying or invisibility?

Now this will sound creepy… As good as it would be to fly, I’m pretty sure it would be really cold… and I’d get lost or fly into a plane or something stupid. I would however quite like to be invisible. I will unashamedly admit I do love a bit of celebrity gossip and would just love to see what someone like Victoria Beckham or the Queen (granted, not really a celeb) get up to when they’re away from the public. It’s a very creepy thing to admit, but admit it I have.

If you could learn one new skill, what would you choose and why?

To speak more than one language. I’d love to be able to go to different countries and just speak their languages. It would be so useful. The world would literally be your oyster. I feel like it’s such a good skill to have. As a country, the UK are pretty rubbish at this – probably because we start far too late learning languages that it’s just very difficult.

What do you want to achieve in 2018?

Just general continued happiness would be nice. I’m a happy person and I’d like that to continue. Running-wise…another Marathon Major (New York), more letters for my Alphabet parkrun challenge and solid running consistently with few injuries.

What made you smile today?

People being nice. The world needs more niceness. Nice might be boring but I think we need more of it in our lives. Just a smile from someone at the gym. A nice comment from someone. Simple things like that.

Go on, answer a few of the questions too!

Done being sensible

I don’t really believe in New Year’s resolutions or “new year, new me” mantras. But I do think it can be useful for people for motivation and some self-reflection.

I’ve definitely done a bit of self-reflection the past few weeks. There’s nothing like being single during Christmas that can make you think a bit more about yourself, I assure you.

In general, I’m quite a positive person. I don’t allow myself to wallow or sink into dark thoughts. I find other things to focus on and I have a solid family and friends unit who pick me up (or tell me to stop being so self-indulgent). I say this a lot and I truly believe it, I’m very lucky and have a fantastic life. I have a family who I can always fall back on emotionally and financially. My mum makes me feel beautiful, loved and boosts my self-esteem. My dad gives me sound advice, supports my crazy running adventures and will always be honest with me (he’s never afraid to tell me when I look rubbish, am being a pilock or need bringing back to earth). My sister is always there when I need those ‘girlie chats’ – boys, beauty and life, you know what I mean.

But I’m only human. Being single is pants. Granted, I haven’t made a huge amount of effort to “get out there”. I’m not a clubber, I don’t go to bars, I don’t use online the free dating apps and I’m not quite at the point to pay for the more “quality” ones. And in this day and age, you won’t bump into your soulmate at the supermarket. Sometimes in my lowest and most self-indulgent moments I wonder, “what’s wrong with me?”. I know, I know, it’s pathetic and I’m not asking for pity or people to say “oh but Anna you’re lovely!” like my mum would. I’m just genuinely reflecting on the fact that I’m not a complete mess of a person and have a solid life, yet I’m sat watching everyone around me jump on a train I don’t have a ticket for. I don’t even know how to buy the damn ticket.

So this year I’m going to become a bit more of a “yes person” and stop following the straight and narrow road.

Basically, I’m a sensible person. [I say “sensible” here but I know a lot of past events have shown I’m actually not that sensible because I’m quite the idiot. What I mean is I’m not a spontaneous person]. I don’t really do crazy things (New Year’s Day aside…). I work hard and I save, something I’m very lucky to be able to continue to do now I live at my parent’s and have rented my flat out despite being on a smaller salary. I have goals and plans for this year but mostly surrounding running (Dubai… New York… Jersey ;-)). But I think a lot before I plan on going anywhere and over-analyse everything to the nth degree. I cost everything up, I work it into my budget, put it in my spreadsheet, ponder and hesitate.

Above all, I make sure my savings remain solid. Other than my unruly leggings habit, I really hate spending money. My father would call me “tight” but being single means you are your own means. If I lost my job I lose my income (well, not strictly true now that I’m renting my flat out but you know what I mean). I know my parents are there for me, but having a large savings is my safety net and cotton wool.

But I’m fed up of doing everything by the book and being sensible. I need to go and do something a bit “non-Anna” and throw caution to the wind. I don’t mean spend all my money and live life without a thought for the future of course…but I also shouldn’t sit on a pile of money that is essentially doing nothing. I don’t have any plans to upgrade my flat or move out, buy a fancy car, have a baby.  Without getting too morbid here, I could die tomorrow. What am I waiting for? Clearly I have no ties, no children and am armed full of independence. The time is NOW.

Basically what I’m saying is, I want to stop waiting for something that might not happen and just go and live life to the full. On that note (and trying, but probably failing, not to be have a stereotypical “omg need to find myself” moment), I’m off to Bali in April. A non-running, chill my mind out kind of holiday. Go alone but with a group of strangers. Find a bit of peace in my buzzing brain without using running as a distraction. But in general, for this year, I intend to take each day as a precious gift that I’m alive and I’m a strong, independent woman. My life is now and I’m not waiting for anyone or anything.

*Cue Beyonce*

Have you ever felt a bit… lost?

Have you ever been to Bali?

Are you a saver or a spender?