Rants and Raves #22 and an injury update

Morning, morning. A few rants and raves this morning and another injury update.

Rave: I’m really enjoying the gym. When I have a focus this always happens.


It makes me feel bad ass 😉 I love making my workout plans the day before and deciding what I’m going to do when I get there. There’s no way I could get a proper workout in if I turned up to the gym clueless.

I’m trying to figure out what the best split is in order to do strength training…upper body/lower body, body parts, mixed… so far I’m kind of combining a few bits and bobs. For example, this morning I worked on shoulders, chest and triceps. I’ll do one or two big compound moves (such as deadlifts, squats, bench press and military press) and then follow with accessory moves or different variations to target different muscles.

I used to hate how my arms looked because they seemed a bit too muscle-y but now I love them! But my main goal is to just feel strong, any additional aesthetic gains is just a bonus 🙂

Rant and rave: Did I mention I bought some goat meat (specifically goat shoulder)? Well, I did. Goat meat isn’t that widely available in the UK. I think people assume it’s a tough meat, but it really depends how you cook it – as with all meat. Anyway, I asked the butcher how best to cook it and he suggested slow cooking it without adding anything crazy as it was my first time having it so I shouldn’t swamp its flavour.

Well, now that I have my teeny tiny slow cooker I couldn’t put the entire thing in it so had to halve it. I seared the entire thing by frying it in coconut oil quickly before slicing it in half and freezing the other half. By searing before slow cooking it helps retain the flavour and moisture.

Slow cookers are marvellous inventions and I love mine. It does help to turn the bloody thing on before you leave for work in the morning though. I only remembered as I was half-way to work. GARGH.

Anyway I slow cooked it over the evening instead (such a lovely smell to wake up to!) and had it for lunch on Saturday. I shredded the meat and then fried it with lots of veggies and roasted pumpkin in onion marmalade (a weird choice, granted, but I have limited condiments at the moment due to the move and packing etc.).

Slow cooked goat

Verdict? Very tasty instead. It’s kind of a cross between chicken and beef flavour-wise? And incidentally it has less fat than chicken.

Rant: As I can’t run at parkrun I’m still volunteering and helping set up and clear down. I take Alfie with me as well as it’s a great way for him to get a good walk in and he’s (fairly) well behaved. However with the autumnal weather and rain he gets so muddy. This means having to give Alfie a bath when I get back.


Oh just look at his face! He hates having baths but won’t kick up a fuss. He’ll just stand there looking miserable. He smelt gorgeous afterwards though.


He raced around afterwards and rubbed himself all over the carpet…lovely.

Injury update: So I’m almost 95% certain it’s not my IT band that’s causing me grief. I’m 4.5 weeks out from the marathon and my knee is still very painful. The odd thing is it’s not consistently painful. Sometimes I can walk around and walk up and downstairs absolutely fine. I get a glimmer of hope which is then promptly dashed later in the day when I suddenly get a sharp pain which then doesn’t go away until I stop walking.

The pain is intense, it’s a shooting and sharp pain inside my knee. There’s still a bit of puffiness around the kneecap. I’m icing, compressing, stretching, foam rolling…and no real improvement has happened. My muscles don’t feel tight at all. There’s no discomfort, just a sharp pain.

At the start of the week, I saw a sports massage therapist for another opinion (and he costs less than my physio and can see me in the evening at my home) and he’s pretty sure it’s an impingement of my fat pad in my knee. Massage won’t help it.

Bizarrely yesterday I was in agony walking a short distance to Tesco. I almost couldn’t make it. The pain was identical to the marathon pain (where I had to walk the last two miles). When I say agony, I truly mean agony. I was almost in tears and wasn’t sure I could make it back.

I’m hoping to see my physio again this weekend (he’s kindly seeing me out of hours on Sunday – I think he can smell my desperation) and I’m hoping he can confirm things and provide me with some light at the end of the tunnel.

At this point, I’m not going to lie, I’m panicking. I’m worried about Boston which I know is so far away but the weeks are quickly flying by. I thought I’d be running at some point in November but it seems highly unlikely. At the moment I can only dream of running at some point in December. As long as I’m running in January I can do the marathon. I’ve paid for the flights already and not mention the non-deferrable ridiculous costing race entry.

The only thing keeping me from falling into a dark, dark pit right now is how much I’m enjoying the gym. I’m just trying not to think about the next few months at all. Because it makes me feel sick.

What are your rants and raves?

Have you ever had a seriously painful injury before?

What’s the most exotic meat/food you’ve ever had?

Rant and Raves #10 and a review of Osmo Nutrition

Happy Wednesday! I love Wednesdays because it’s the day I get a whole extra hour and fifteen minutes in bed and go running in the evening. Especially as we went out for dinner last night and I ate an obscene amount of pork ribs. Happy days.

Today I have some rants and raves and also a little review.

Rant: Ben is now an avid gym goer and so when he said he’d bought a big container of protein powder I was like “cool, whatever makes you happy”. Until I opened our bedroom wardrobe to find the monstrosity.

5kg protein powder

I guess it hadn’t twigged in my brain how big he was talking. There’s literally no way this bad boy would fit in our tiny kitchen so I’m pretty sure this is where it will live forever more. Oh joy.

Rave: I love using the slow cooker for meals. I’ll make soup, chicken meals, ribs…anything really. I love the idea that you can literally just throw a load of stuff in there and when you get home the house smells SO good and dinner is served pretty much (check THIS post out for some of my adventures). However our slow cooker was given to us by my parents who no longer wanted it. And it’s HUGE. So it meant when I did meals for two sometimes the sauce would dry up a bit. Or chicken breasts would be overcooked. So I decided to get a smaller  one and put the other one in the loft for the future.

Slow cooker comparison

I didn’t quite expect it to be so small but I’m actually pretty pleased with it. Two chicken breasts will fit nicely in there with some veggies and sauce and will hopefully stay succulent. It means I can’t slow cook an entire chicken anymore but that’s usually a weekend meal anyway and can be done in the oven.

Mini slow cooker

It also means we have a lot more kitchen surface space as it just sits so nicely in the corner.

Rant: Llike most runners, hills are not my favourite thing at all. But they’re really good for building strength in your legs. I try and do a hill session every week after work (I work in Basingstoke where hills are ten a penny!). I found a BEAST of a hill that works perfectly.

Hilly run Basingstoke

Mid-run photo so quite blurry sorry!

I try and do the hill twice at the beginning (it loops back to the beginning of the route) and then carry on with my run and then do it one more time at the end.


Follow me on Strava if you want

They look like mountains and I’m sure my legs would agree. It’s quite a long climb (probably .4 mile?) and my pace drops dramatically but I focus on my form; pumping my arms, running tall and taking small steps (great articles HERE and HERE about hill running). As you can see, the other part of the run is also quite hilly so it’s a really good strength-building run (well I hope anyway!). But I am absolutely done for after the run! I suppose this isn’t a true rant as I’m hoping these tough runs are a good thing.

Rave: Delicious herbal teas. After seeing these on Tamzin’s blog I just knew I needed to try them.


I love peppermint tea so I was pretty sure I’d like them. They taste delicious. There’s a very small hint of vanilla with the lovely minty taste – perfect for a cold afternoon! But I’m still sad that green tea out of a tea bag makes me feel very sick – what is wrong with me?? I’m missing out on so many lovely green tea flavours!

Rant: Having a moany husband when I ask him to take photos of me in my Helly Hansen running gear that I’ve been sent to champion for for Running Bug’s Running Fashion Week campaign. And then having him get bored between outfit changes and take random photos on my phone.

Ben outtake

I know it’s dull and I know I can get a bit vain if a photo makes me look like an idiot (more of an idiot?) and request him to re-take it, but come on, you’re married to me so that means fulfilling these silly blogging requests 😉

Helly Hansen outtake *sighs*

Though I do know Alfie is far more interesting to take photos of! He enjoyed the dress-up party about as much as Ben I think.

Rave: Obviously it’s clear I love nuun hydration products as I mention them a lot on my blog it seems… The nuun guys asked if I’d include one of thir videos on my blog and because they rock I agreed happily. The video shows some pretty hardcore races and sporting activities with an absolutely belting soundtrack!


[FYI: I did not get any compensation for featuring this on my blog – I just love nuun]

And lastly I have a review:

Osmo Nutrition – Active Hydration for Women (which you can find HERE)

I was sent a tub of the Osmo Active Hydration for Women powder to review by the guys from Pro Bike Kit (great website for cycling/running nutrition items and also kit and clothing).Osmo Nutrition

As a bit of a background, Dr. Stacy Sims developed the product specifically for women as she noted that the female physiological makeup is different to a male’s. For example, the menstrual cycle has big effects on the female body in terms of sodium loss, plasma drops and temperature change so this product aims to address those issues. It apparently increases power output and improves endurance by helping combat the premenstrual-related performance decline. There’s actually quite an interesting interview with Dr. Sims HERE.

image Source

The flavour of the powder is mango and the ratio of mixing is one scoop to about 250ml of water. The idea is to drink it before and during your exercise.

Osmo Nutrition (2) 

My thoughts? I’m not going to lie, when I first tried the drink I didn’t like it one bit. It didn’t taste of mango to me at all. More like weak squash. However I drank more and it grew on me. Let’s be clear, it’s no fresh mango juice but the flavour is quite subtle and once I got used to it it was fine.

Aside from the taste, I really like the concept. It makes sense to have something a bit more specific to the female physiology. I like the extra nutritional elements you get with this drink and the fact that it’s upgrading plain water in terms of hydration. Did I notice a difference taking a water bottle with a scoop of the powder in to the gym for my hour long session? Not hugely but I did find I wasn’t guzzling my water like normal, rather just sipping it occasionally which probably means I was getting more bang for my buck. I also didn’t feel at anytime I was flagging in my workouts.

I think on my longer runs it’ll really help as I want to avoid gels this time around but I will need something in terms of fuelling and hydration so this could tick those boxes together. nuun is always good but it has zero carbs which is good for a shorter run or post-run but not so good for the longer ones if I’m not planning to take any food with me. And I’m sure it would have been handy to have had a bottle of this on my long run on Sunday when I was so thirsty!

Have you ever tried any gender-specific nutritional products before?

Does you husband/partner/parents do anything that push your buttons?

What tasty teas have you had recently? Do you drink green tea?

[Full Disclosure: I was sent the Osmo nutrition product for free in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own honest ones.]

Rants and Raves #7

I feel like I have absolutely no time right now. What with planning meals to make sure we use up all our food, planning what to wear and what needs washing and ironing last minute so not to mess up the packing situation, last minute housework (who wants to come back from holiday to a messy house??) and my normal day job…I feel a bit time-limited. Though I will hastily qualify that statement with anyone who has children makes me look very pathetic. Kudos to all you parents.

So when better to have a good old rant and raves?

Rave: Generally I’m a very tidy person. Though Ben likes to push my boundaries on this one (apparently trousers can be allowed to drape on the banister if he’s going to wear them in the next ten years…that would be no, Benjamin). However I’ve let things slip in the fitness clothing drawer department. I do have a lot of fitness apparel (as I’m sure a lot of you do too) and it was getting to be a struggle to comfortable fit everything in…so, I’m embarrassed to admit, in the end it’s been a bit of a “shove it in” affair.

But enough was enough. I sorted through the drawer and made a big pile of clothes to donate to charity that I just don’t wear anymore since upgrading a few item which left me with enough space to make nice neat and organised folded piles within the drawer.


Ahhh, so much better. And so much easier to access. My soul sleeps happily at night now.

Rant: I’m a dog person as you might have guessed, but I don’t hate cats or wish them ill. I just find certain ones around where I live annoying and very cunning. They leave little paw prints on my sunroof so I know they’re walking over my car at night. And this may be my imagination but I swear they goad and taunt Alfie.

Alfie, bless him, is not a particularly smart dog or very ferocious. He will give chase to a cat (and promptly yanks himself on his lead) but if the cat just sits there he sort of freaks out and doesn’t know what to do. I imagine in his head he’s giving the indifferent cat a menacing stare. Basically I think these cats are taking liberties. They sit close to our front door, they slink slowly past our living room windows…

IMG_9017 And they sit on our bins! I feel like they are being passive aggressive and are waging psychological warfare on us. OK maybe not, but seriously, cats please hang out elsewhere as dragging a frenzied Alfie around on his lead is fun for no one (except the cats perhaps).

Rave: This is hilarious and probably very true:

Female runnersI definitely imagine that I look better running than reality. Race photos are always quite a horrifying shock.

Rant: This is rather gross story so apologies in advance. I was walking Alfie at the weekend and I often wear my iGloves as then I can use my phone without getting cold hands (I normally listen to some music or a podcast). Anyway, Alfie did his business and I picked it up with a poo bag and as I tied it I noticed Alfie poo on my glove. Yuck. And then found the poo bag had a hole in it and was leaking – wonderful! Luckily there was a poo bin close so it wasn’t too bad in the end. Obviously my glove needed to be washed so I took it off and turned it inside out and when I got home it went in the wash with some other bits and bobs and then in the dryer later.


And it shrunk!! It looks like a very small child’s glove now (I actually think it looks quite cute). How annoying though! It does kind of fit but it’s a lot more stretched. Hmph.

Rave: I know I keep saying this (sorry) but I’m loving going to the gym. I know that might sound incredibly sad but I’m really enjoying it. It might be because I do so many different things when I’m there that it’s never boring. I do a certain number of reps of something before moving on to something else. And I know this sounds weird but being in the gym at 5.30am makes me feel hardcore. There are a few other people there (probably less than 20? It’s quite a big gym) and I feel like we’re hardcore gym goers to be there so early. I also get the choice of any space, equipments and weights that I like. IMG_8992And getting there for 5.30am means I’m done by 6.30ish and as I walk out I can just see the Spin class starting and, I won’t lie, I do feel very relieved to not be doing it! Spin is a brilliant cardio workout and I do enjoy it (sort of) but I much prefer doing my own thing at the moment and I feel like my entire body is getting a good workout so it’s a better use of my time and effort to get stronger overall.

Rant: Those first few minutes at the start of your commute when the car is FREEZING and you’re desperately turning the heating up as far as it will go. At 5.20am in the morning it is possibly the worst 5 minutes of my life. Even my steering wheel is freezing! I tend to wear a hoodie and a coat and then leave the coat in the car and make a mad dash to the gym as I hate carrying excess of stuff to the gym but lately it’s just not possible.

IMG_9028 This was from this morning, not nearly as cold as yesterday but still not that warm!

Rave: Trying to make sure we don’t have to waste any food means a lot of careful planning. Happily this has meant more soup eating! I had half a butternut squash I wanted to use up quickly so chopped it up and popped it in my slow cooker with some chopped onion and vegetable stock. I left it to cook away for about six hours on low and then just whizzed it up with a hand blender. I added in a tablespoon or so of cream cheese as well to make it extra creamy and a tin of chickpeas to increase the protein.

Butternut squash creamy soup I got two large portions of soup out of this.

This is a similar story for sweet potato too, which I enjoyed a bit more as it had a deeper flavour.

Creamy sweet potato soup (Apologies for appalling photos)

And that’s my lot. I won’t be blogging in America (though I will be Tweeting – follow me HERE if you’re interested) so won’t be back blogging now until February. I’ll still try and keep reading blogs when I’m chilling by the pool after a hard day of roller coasters 😉

What are your rants and raves this week?

Are you a cat or a dog person?

Are you tidy and organised…and do you have a secret ‘Monica cupboard’ like my fitness drawer was to me?

Being part of a team

I’m looking out the window and it looks like winter again. What is happening? Well at least it’s a lot lighter in the evening and morning.

I had a bit of a scare this morning when I woke up a minute just after my alarm was supposed to go off. But it hadn’t. Luckily I’m one of those weird people who tends to wake up naturally around their alarm time anyway. I remember at the weekend I was so worried I wasn’t going to wake up for my very early start (5.45am) for my long run that I woke up at 5.15am and then 5.40am thinking I’d messed up and over slept.

Anyway! Ben and me went to our running club’s annual general meeting (AGM) on Tuesday night.


I love my running club. If anything it’s just nice to be around people who are so like-minded. If you’re a runner and you’re not part of a club then I can’t recommend it enough to you. Having people to run and train with is just a small part of it. The support is just brilliant when you’re doing well in races, smashing PBs and feeling great. But, probably more important, is the support when things aren’t great; being injured, having a rubbish race or just feeling de-motivated.

I love having a network of people that you can talk to about running and they GET IT. And the club is full of so many different people from different walks of life and ability. People who are running sub-7 minute miles to people who are running 12+ minute miles. Old, young…everyone is welcome and celebrated.

I’m sure it’s the same with any sporting club really. Though maybe the love of cake is most strong with runners 😉 I wish I had taken a photo of just how many cakes there were after the AGM! All restraint went out of the window I can tell you!

Speaking of food. I’ll just leave you guys with a random meal I made the other day in the slow cooker that I loved.


Slow Cooker Chickpea and Sweet Potato Salsa (Serves 2)

    • Onion, diced
    • Courgette, chopped into chunks
    • Medium sweet potatoes, chopped into chunks
    • Tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
    • Jar of salsa (I used Discovery)
    • Generous tbsp. cream cheese

– Very simply, vegetables and chickpeas go into the slow cooker.

– Mix the salsa with cream cheese and then add to the vegetables, mixing it all up.

– Switch the slow cooker to LOW and cook for 6-8 hours.

The sauce makes it lovely and creamy with a bit of sweetness. Though I have to say that Discovery salsa can be quite sweet so I’m going to switch to another brand I think.

I’m going to the running club tonight – fingers crossed all will be well! It’s my last club night before the marathon. Next week is all about solo sessions I think to make sure I don’t do anything stupid.

What’s your favourite brand of salsa? I used to use the supermarket brand and that was brilliant.

Are you part of a running club or any other club? Do you like to get involved?

Do you wake up at the same time every morning quite easily?

The worst marathon training plan

I ran three miles last night. With no pain. Before I get the trumpets playing to celebrate my return to running…I am being very reluctant to celebrate yet.

My plans last night had been to just do an hour’s worth of strength. But my foot felt good. No pain or discomfort while walking. I looked longingly at the treadmill (now you know things are bad when that happens) and thought “ahh I’ll just try it”. So I hopped on, set it very slowly…no pain. Sped it up, no pain. Full on running, no pain.

I decide to go outside. I was dressed for the gym, not running. I had no running jacket, an easy t-shirt on, no Garmin, no music…

IMG_6106But I just went for it. I promised myself I’d stop if there was any pain.

No pain. In fact, it felt good. Maybe a hint of a slight discomfort from the spot on my ankle – but nothing to slow me down or really niggle me. I decided to stick with three miles. All I know is that I did it in under 25 minutes as I knew roughly what time I started. It felt pretty good to go on a ‘naked’ run. And I was so happy!

This morning I saw my physio and told him I’d ran (he told me not to run until the weekend) but he said that was great. He was glad I’d gone for it as I know my body best. He went to town on the spot of my ankle that’s causing me pain to ‘break it down’ to help build it back up. My god it is UNREAL how painful that is. But he did the same last week and it honestly felt so much better a few days later. And I’m OK to run 6-10 miles at the weekend.

HAPPY DAYS! But again, no celebration just yet. I’m quietly optimistic though.

To be honest, at this point, I’m trying hard not to think about the marathon, or marathons in general. This is quite hard considering everyone in the world is training for a spring marathon (OK I exaggerate, but a fair amount of people). And for some of them the biggest thing they’re concerned about is their running mantra. Are you serious? I wish that was my issue. I’m feeling a bit bitter and miserable (has that come across…?) So, just for fun, here’s my marathon training plan for the hopeless:

  1. Start your training injured.
  2. Bash out an 11 miler after doing your first one miler post-injury tester.
  3. Ramp up your mileage stupidly high – 10%? Don’t be daft: go big or go home.
  4. Do every session hardcore. Intervals, tempos, sprints. Easy runs? What are you, a pansy??
  5. Run through pain. Always. If you’re not crying, you’re not working hard enough.
  6. Don’t practice your nutrition for race day. Wing it, you’re a pro.
  7. Avoid your foam roller like it’s the devil. Tight muscles mean strong muscles.
  8. Have no clear pace strategy. You need to size your competition up first.
  9. RACE DAY: Try something new and exciting for dinner the night before and breakfast on the day. Perhaps something really rich and spicy that really sits on your stomach in a nice and heavy, bubbly way.
  10. Wear those brand new trainers you bought especially and haven’t worn yet. And that new cotton t-shirt that has those crazy designs around the shoulders that sort of itched when you tried it on.
  11. Drink lots of water all morning. So much so that your tummy feels really full and bloated. And don’t bother with the loos. Why waste your time when you could be right at the front of your corral, elbowing people out of the way.
  12. Make yourself known on the first mile by absolutely sprinting off into the distance. 26.2 miles isn’t that far and you really want to scare your competition.

Obviously this is a joke. Though sadly I have to say that I few of those I can tick (1, 6 & 8). Ben amazes me every day because honestly he went from broken and ruined to bashing out the long runs like a trooper. He pretty much did 2 and 3. The body works in weird and mysterious ways. I’m not bitter or resentful…promise 😉

But let’s move on, shall we? We all know how sad and panicky I am so let’s not dwell in that fun place right now.


I managed to sneak some sweet potato into a meal without Ben knowing. Can I get an applause here? This is the boy that was vehemently against that type of potato. After the meal, while he was still in a blissful sate of ignorance I told him what the secret ingredient was. Well played, Anna, well played. He even said he’d have it again.

IMG_6097 Basically I used the same recipe as my Mexican chicken slow cooker meal (recipe HERE) but changed the beans for sweet potato chunks. I much prefer it with the potato.

Last night another hit meal, not from the slow cooker though, was gammon with a fried egg and cauliflower/broccoli mash.

Gammon with egg OK I’d be lying if I said Ben had the mash. He had onion rings instead. I made the mash with steamed broccoli and cauliflower then added a big dollop of cream cheese and pepper. Blitzed it up using a hand blender then microwaved for about a minute.

I love gammon with egg. And it’s such an easy meal. You just grill the gammon and fry the egg. Boom.

And my lovely Indian friend at work made me ‘halwa’ to cheer me up (gosh I must be a joy to work with at the moment…).

IMG_6102 They are made from cashew nuts and ghee. There’s sweet but not overly so – more like a nutritional bar like Nakd or Trek. She suggested Ben and me eat them slightly warmed with custard.

IMG_6105So that’s what we did. Heavenly!

What would be your top worst tips for marathon training?

Have you tried any non-native desserts or food lately?

Does your other half like the food you eat?