Life Update

So I thought I’d do a little post updating you on a few changes in my life. Being almost 30 (OK, I’ve only just 29) and divorced isn’t exactly where I saw my life going but it is what it is.

Being divorced is not really a fun thing to admit when you start to get to know people, like on the Austrian Run Camp. “Is there a Mr Anna?”… “well there was” and you feel a bit rubbish. That said, I do try to maintain a positive outlook in life because I’m a glass half full kind of girl and I live by the notion of learning from experience and regretting nothing (including when I eat stupid amounts of cake).

But I digress. I’m still single and pretty chilled about it. I’ve been dabbling with Plenty of Fish a bit (I don’t and won’t use Tinder) but it’s pretty rubbish. As you can imagine, as a free way to online date it’s not great. I haven’t had experience with paying for online dating so I can’t comment there but I’m not at the point where I feel I want to pay yet…

I’ve been on a few dates but the effort level to get to those dates is just so laborious. I don’t want to know someone’s family history before going on a date, but because arranging a date with a virtual stranger is actually quite daunting the temptation to keep messaging and messaging is strong. And though the dates themselves have been alright and the guys seem nice enough, so far it’s been a no beuno for me.

Unfortunately for me it seems all the guys I fancy are either taken or live a distance away and probably have no idea I’m interested (because I don’t really “make moves”). But as I’ve said previously, I’m OK with my singleness at the moment. Sure it’d be nice to share some fun with someone else but I’m fairly happy with my current existence.

I have to say though a few months ago I wasn’t so happy. I mean, I was happy in myself, in my running, my friends and things like that, but I haven’t been happy with work. And actually work is a fairly significant chunk of your life. At least eight hours a day, five days a week, not including commuting (at least two hours a day for me). I’ve been finding myself more and more unsatisfied and frustrated. I’ve been a software test analyst for over five years at my current job in Basingstoke and over the past year realised it wasn’t actually what I wanted to do for the foreseeable future.

And once you realise that, it can really get you down. I want to be one of those people who enjoys what they do. I know everyday at work shouldn’t be a song and a dance, full of rainbows and butterflies, but at the same time I want to feel some level of fulfilment, pride and ambition in what I do. I’ve lost that with my current job sadly.

So I started looking for a new job a few months ago in an entirely different career. As it’s an entirely different area where I have limited, if any, experience it’s somewhat of a big change. And a pay cut. I have thought long and hard about this. I’m paid quite well in my current job and have limited outgoings and dependencies, meaning my life is quite easy and comfortable. I can go on holidays, book marathons, buy trainers (*cough* leggings) and eat out when I fancy. But these luxuries are no longer distracting me from the fact that I’m not enjoying the eight plus hours during the week.

Money is not giving me happiness right now. So I’m heading to a new challenge…

Yes they did send Haribo with my job offer

After the rather depressing and soul destroying process of applying to millions of different places, rarely hearing back, getting rejected, going for a few interviews, I finally landed myself a job with none other than Wiggle! This is obviously right up my street in terms of my interests and passions and so much closer to where I actually live as well. Happy days all round!

I haven’t started there yet. I still have a few weeks left of my notice to work at my current job, but needless to say I am both excited and TERRIFIED. Starting a new job is always scary. Will people like me? Will I fit in? Will I pick things up quickly? A million concerns are flowing through my head right now. And the pay cut weighing heavily on my mind.

But the time is now. I need to make that change. Someone told me a great quote from the Lean In book from Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO. She said that a career is more like a jungle gym than a ladder. You don’t necessarily keep moving up, but you keep striving to move forward. Sometimes you need to make side-steps or step-backs in order to progress. I’d like to think that’s exactly what I’m doing. Fingers crossed, eh?

And now for a quick review for an Organic Pillow Spray.This organic lavender spray is made in Grasse in Southern France (the “perfume capital of the world” apparently) and aims to help with insomnia and sleep issues. Lavender is well known for it’s calming properties and is often used in sleep aids. The forumla contains Litsea Cubeba and Bergamot which are also associated with relaxation and Lemon and Rosemary to promote blood circulation.

All you do is spray it onto your sheets and pillows before bed. Crucially it’s non-staining! You can buy a 100ml bottle from healthy2u.co.uk for £9.95. I personally love the smell of lavender and have enjoyed spraying this around. I don’t tend to struggle with getting to sleep but the smell is a lovely one to drift off to. Though they could have made the bottle a bit more appealing to be honest! It looks a bit like something from a chemistry lab…

When was the last time you changed jobs?

Have you ever made a big career change?

Do you use any sleeping aids?

**Full Disclaimer: I was send the pillow spray for free in return for a blog review. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

Why we should sleep well after exercise

Hi guys, I have a post in collaboration with Noah Sparrow for you today about the importance of sleep for recovery. Hope you enjoy!

We all know that getting a decent amount of sleep is essential for a healthy lifestyle. And anyone who’s taken part in the Stubbington 10k race will know how a lovely bed is a particularly welcome prospect after the race.

Source

But what is it about sleep that is so good for helping us feel so refreshed after a particularly brutal bout of exercise? I’m sure I’m not the only one who has suffered from the occasional troubled night’s sleep, so I’ve been doing some research to see how sleep functions and how I can maximise my time in bed!

It’s interesting to find that even today we still don’t know why we sleep. But anyone who’s experienced bouts of sleeplessness will understand how sleep plays a huge part in helping our brains and our bodies recover from their daily rigours.

By having a dedicated period when we are allowed to rest, it enables our bodies to clear out toxins and rebuild any damaged cells. And seeing how exhausted we feel after a proper workout session, it’s clear that a decent dose of sleep is essential to stop our bodies falling apart!

There have also been studies that have shown that sleep deprivation can increase the risks of heart disease and strokes, so I’ve been thinking about ways that I can boost my chance of catching up on sleep.

Thankfully, some studies have shown that consistent exercise eventually helps our sleeping habits, but just in case I lapse in my exercise, I’ve been checking some alternative sleeping options.

So as well as trying to avoid the melatonin-draining artificial lights emitted by television and computer screens late at night, I’ve been inspecting some of the stylish beds at Bedstar to see which one is best suited to my sleeping style. Some of the calming grey styles will be pretty well-suited to my interior scheme, and they prove that maybe grey is the new black!

I’m something of a light sleeper, so whether it’s investing in a decent memory foam mattress, or even getting one of those fancy white noise generators to mask the noise of the street, I’m going to make sure that 2017 is all about getting some decent rest.

So although the scientists still might not know exactly why we sleep, it looks like with a nice new bed from Bedstar, plenty of exercise and a little digital assistance, I should be able to catch some zzz’s this year!

How much sleep do you get a night?

Do you prefer a soft or hard mattress?

Are you light sleeper?

Windy running and feeling content

I can’t begin to tell you how much I love my little home. I’ve gone from being all blasé about weekends and evenings to being really excited. There is so much to be done, organised, bought, arranged… I can’t wait!

To roll back to the weekend gone, I was shattered after moving in on Friday but I really struggled to sleep. I’m a very light sleeper (to the point I have to wear an eye mask at night) and any unusual noises will keep me awake or wake me up. It was just a whole different environment than I was used to and it took me so long to sleep, and then I woke up for AN HOUR in the middle of the night.

It didn’t help that I was ridiculously hungry either (as I missed lunch the day before and my body was only too happy to remind me. Apparently cake doesn’t quite work as a compensation for me in terms of satiety). The next morning the first thing I did was have breakfast. This is really abnormal for me as I can go a fair few hours without anything in the morning before I’m ready for food.IMG_6466

I would say I treated myself to breakfast in bed but seen as how I have no table or chairs this is how I’m eating all my meals right now

I would have given parkrun a miss on Saturday if I hadn’t have had the cones and the keys for the storage cupboard and gates… This meant I had to go in order for parkrun to go ahead. It was ridiculously windy and I was tired. I wasn’t looking forward to it. But it was the 200th Netley Abbey parkrun and it was a onesie and pyjama themed event so I’m glad I went in the end.IMG_6468

It was actually easier to find PJs to run in than actual running gear in my box-filled flat

I found the run easier than last week. I was slower but the effort was less and with that RIDICULOUS wind I was happy to get 24:58.

Capture

 

 

 

 

I don’t think I can expect a huge amount of improvement on this winter course as it’s fairly gruelling with two hills you do three times. I hope to get close to 23-22 minutes as the weeks (or months!) go by.

PJ parkrunAfter a lovely little hot drink and a moving-in celebratory bit of a freshly baked cheese scone bought by one of my parkrun friends, I headed home to test out my shower for the first time. Shower quality is SO important to me because if they’re just a dribble then I’m looking at a future of bad hair washing experiences as my hair is so long. Thank God it’s really strong (stronger than my previous one!!) and SUPER hot. This is like the perfect combo for me with my asbestos skin.

My parents came over soon after and we headed to the Mecca of furniture that is IKEA.IMG_6472My mum had never been before (my mum, by the way, is the biggest snob known to man so I was interested to see what she thought). She LOVED it. It’s funny because they really only came to assist me but left with their own trolley stacked high. I defy anyone to leave IKEA without buying anything.

I had already done a bit of research beforehand to know what I wanted so I was quite focused, but I too found so many extras that ended up coming home with me.

IKEA salad bowl This giant bowl will fit my salads perfectly… I’m not joking

By the time we got home and got my chest of drawers up the stairs, unpacked and then semi-built it was almost 8pm (this was one of four items to build). I had missed lunch once again and was about to eat the cardboard it came in. My dad said they’d return the next day, bless him, to help build the other items.IMG_6480

I slept a bit better that evening (after a good dinner and another slice of cake from the freezer – this time a chunk of rocky road) but still struggled with noises. It’s not that my flat is noisy, I’m just very sensitive. Previously my bedroom had been looking out onto a school field, whereas now there are noises from surrounding buildings and occasionally bumps from the other flats around me.

Sunday morning I got up and did my first run from my new home. I’d planned to do six miles but as I got outside it was ridiculously windy and I was finding it really tough. So changed to five miles. Only to get my route wrong and do seven.

7 miles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jesus, it was tough. I almost gave up at six miles to walk back but realised it would take ages and my parents were coming over mid-morning. I stopped at seven miles and had a short walk back to my flat. How lovely to have this scenery so close to my home! This will be where I’ll be walking Alfie 🙂IMG_6484

I just hope he doesn’t jump in the pond!

The rest of the day was flat-pack hell. My dad and me got a great routine going. He’d show me how to do something (like build a drawer) and I’d just get on until he showed me something else.IMG_6488

I’m not a picture person when it comes to instructions so I was lost with working it out myself. I need demonstrations! This was apparent when my dad left me to build a bedside table while he sorted electronic stuff out and I buggered it up. Seriously. ONE THING.

My flat is still a work in progress, as you can imagine, but it’s getting there. I have so many ideas for it and I’m looking forward to buying all the little things to decorate it and make it into a proper home. I might take some photos and share them on my blog when it’s a bit more organised if you’re interested. My flat is tiny, but it’s all mine and it’s becoming home 🙂

Do you like IKEA?

For instructions do you prefer words, pictures or demonstrations?

How soon do you need breakfast after you wake up? At the weekend breakfast can be anything from 9am to 11am depending on what I’m doing.

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.

MarathonTalk

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?

parkrun, Jamie’s and lots of sleep

I do love weekends. Extra sleep, nice food, bit of running and hanging out with good friends and family. What more could you want?

On Friday night Ben, Alfie and me headed to my parent’s for an Indian takeaway. I had had such a rubbish commute home and was feeling so stressed out and tired so this was a perfect evening. I ate lots of chicken and was a happy Anna.

Saturday I was up early to go set-up for parkrun. I tried to be quiet but did manage to wake up Ben accidentally who was feeling slightly hung over after having a few beers and wine with my dad. He managed to get cajoled into going by a few friendly Tweets from the parkrun guys as they needed some more volunteers. Ben’s just too nice to say no, bless him.

Parkrun Nov 14 (2) I took it fairly easy as I’m still just base building at the moment – no speed work or heavy-going sessions for now, which I’m quite happy about to be honest! So I chatted to one of my friends from the running club. Always nice to have an easy social parkrun 🙂 I’m also highly conscious that I’m out of shape and nowhere near hitting PBs any time soon. But that’s actually OK because I need to look at the bigger picture of what I’m training for, i.e. London.

Parkrun Nov 14 (5) Ben marshalled like a rock star and saved the day when a lady fainted mid-run (she’s OK, she just had a moment of dizziness and Ben looked after her in the cafe with a hot mug of sugary coffee).

After parkrun we did the boring household chores, got ready and headed out with our friend Nathan to enjoy a bit of Jamie’s Italian and do some shopping.

Jamie's Italian selfie

As you’re probably already aware, when I like a restaurant we tend to do it to death (Nando’s & Zippers for example). And Jamie’s is no different. I’ve been sooo many times, whether for lunch or breakfast before going on holiday. When we go for lunch I always have the same meal. It’s probably my favourite meal at any restaurant. It’s consistently good.

Jamie's Italian meal For starters I had the vegetable plank which was really good. Loads of random bits and pieces, like roasted veg, mozzarella, bruschetta with salsa. Very nice. And then my standard Turkey Milanese (turkey and mozzarella with a breadcrumb coating) and a fried egg. Oh my life it was still just as good as always.

For pudding the boys went for lemon meringue whereas I went for a a chocolate brownie, caramelised popcorn and vanilla ice cream.

Jamie's Italian meal (1)Seriously one of the best brownies I’ve ever had. Crispy on the outside, soft and squidgy in the middle. I could have left the popcorn if I’m honest. It didn’t add much. But the sauce and ice cream complimented it perfectly. I’m already working out when we can next go back…

Suitably brimming with food, we did a bit of shopping.Silly hats

We had a little fun with some furry hats in Mountain Warehouse and I picked up a couple of items from O’Neil and Nike. but we were put off by the rubbish weather and how busy it was so we left. The boys went to the pub and I went home. I watched the brilliant film The Blind Side (so so good) and fell asleep at 9pm. I’m not even joking. I had every ambition to stay up late (like 10pm…) but it didn’t happen. I woke up just before 8am the next morning – 11 hours sleep! Bliss.

I was raring to go for my 10 mile run. It went really well. The weather was beautiful: cold, crispy and sunny. Perfect for running! Unfortunately it rained later on and I got soaked walking Alfie… Anyway I think I’ve pretty much decided to not run the half marathon next weekend. There’s really no point. I wouldn’t be aiming for a time, there’s no medal (yes I’m that materialistic) and it’s all a bit of a faff. My coach said it’s better I remain consistent and run 10 miles instead rather than trying to push things too soon. Sensible words – especially as no doubt though I’ll aim for an easy pace it’ll be faster than what I’d run on my own. Plus it means I get another lovely lie-in…maybe aim for a PB of 12 hours? 😉

Is there a meal at a particular restaurant that you will always order? I once ordered something different at Jamie’s and though it was nice I just missed the turkey the whole time!

What shops do you usually go to? I have such a range: New Look, Dorothy Perkins, Fat Face and more sporty ones.

How many hours sleep do you work best on? I think 7-8 hours are good for me, though I can do 6 without much issue. But I do like a good stretch at the weekend just because I can!