Rough Runner and rough running

Last weekend was quite the busy one.

Through work, I was signed up to do Rough Runner 10k as Team Wiggle. Rough Runner is an obstacle course run where there are about 10 obstacles for the 10k and you basically just run to each one. You don’t have to do them if you don’t want to (one of our team members had a bad shoulder so avoided a few of them) and there are no penalties (like in Spartan for example where you have to do burpees).The one we were doing was located somewhere near Bristol (I’m hazy with where exactly). Kyle, a fellow Wiggler Steph and I drove up together in the delightful downpour and got there for 9.30am. We met up with the other team members (also found out one of the girls had only just woken up and would therefore not be joining…lol) and then cowered under one of the sponsor tents as much out of the rain and cold as we could.I was not really feeling it if I’m honest. I hate being cold. Probably more than I hate being hungry – and this is saying something. I think it goes cold, hunger, tiredness in order of what I detest the most. I could feel myself being quite grumpy and just wanted to either go home or get started. I was wearing leggings (I tend to for obstacle course runs just as a bit of protection as you always end up clambering around on the floor) but just a vest top. It was supposed to be about 18 degrees and while it didn’t feel that cold, the wind and rain made that temperature really hard to believe.Eventually we went into a tent and watched a safety video. As we came out again into the open and headed to do the warm-up we were pleasantly surprised that the rain had stopped and it actually felt quite nice. The warm-up itself was quite amusing as Kyle got randomly picked and had to run round and high-five everyone in our wave (a good-70 people) and then our wave was named Team Kyle (throughout the actual run quite a few people remembered this and shouted “go team Kyle!” which was quite funny).The obstacles weren’t ridiculously difficult (like Tough Mudder which you’d probably need a good amount of strength and training and your team’s help) but it did require a good balance and generally being a bit lighter helped… I managed to fare quite well on the obstacles (I’ve done it before so I had that advantage too) but for some of the taller chaps on the team (*cough* Kyle) it was a bit tough. I did find it immensely amusing that I managed to do the ring swings (like monkey bars but basically dangling rings – think Gladiators) and two very muscly heavy-set guys failed miserably. It was a moment of female pride I must say ūüėČIt was good fun in the end, especially as the sun soon came out.Kyle and I then headed to meet up with my Bristolian friends, Kate and Jay, for an epic refuel. A giant Lebanese meat platter in a lovely place called Lona Grill House.So much food and yet we managed to make quite the dent! Then we headed home quite tired and quite full. It was lovely to see them both, as always, and to catch up.Sunday morning I reluctantly (really reluctantly) got up and headed out for a long run. There’s nothing like hearing the rain and wind battering against the window to make you really not want to run. But I was determined not to be a wuss. It wasn’t that cold (14 degrees?) and I’d run in rain before. Come on now, Anna.

I put on a t-shirt, shorts and compression socks and headed out to do 16 miles. Straight away I was soaked and the wind was quite strong. I was immediately cold. My hands were freezing. After the first mile I still wasn’t warm. I seriously contemplated heading back home to put on a long sleeve top and getting my gloves. But I couldn’t be bothered. The thought of getting home, taking off my wet trainers, going upstairs etc etc. Urgh just get on with the run. The quicker I plough on the sooner I finish.

I was truly miserable running. The first part of the run (1-3 miles) is along the main road and I got tired of dodging out of the way of puddles and cars splashing me. I was soaked through so really this was pointless effort. My legs felt heavy, I felt drained and I was fully grumpy. I really debated just going home. My mum had said to me just before I left that I was mad going out and that she’d pick me up if I needed to at any time. That was a strong temptation in my mind.

I decided I had a six mile route I could easily do as a loop to get home. But as I got to the point I would turn back home I decided to just push on a bit further. I was now running along the coast and happily the wind was behind me, pushing me along. OK this was a bit better.

“How about 10 miles?” I bargained with myself. OK 10 miles is a good run. But as I got to that point where I’d turn home I decided to just woman up and do the damn run. I was out there and might as well. But I would do 15 miles instead of adding the little extra bit on to get my 16. That was a decent compromise that weirdly lightened my mind to the run. Now I was at the point of no return. Just get home. Just get home.I felt like I crawled towards the end of the run. Literally like my feet wouldn’t move faster. Bless my mum, she made me a lovely cup of tea straight away. I felt a bit emotionally spent weirdly as the whole run had felt like one big negotiation with myself. I had an amazing hot shower and felt miles better, but fairly exhausted. Just drained. It was not a good run at all! Nothing like the amazing long run from the weekend before. I’ve got to remember how much these things add up. I’m not a machine and almost 20 miles will take it out of me for the week!

But the rest of the day was lovely. I chilled watching Beauty and the Beast (the live action version, which I’ve never seen) and enjoyed a huge roast dinner and a slice of an amazing homemade chocolate cake.It was delicious! Chocolate buttercream, chocolate sponge, Matchsticks and Cadbury’s Chocolate Fingers round the edge.I felt nicely topped up. The memory of the terrible long run was washed from my mind. Nothing like cake and good company to help ūüėČ

What’;s your favourite roast dinner?

If you had to be cold, tired or hungry which would you choose?

Do you run when it’s raining?

Good runs and bad runs

So Friday was another one of my work’s “Run and Ride Outs” at Wiggle.¬†I love these days because it just means everyone in the office is buzzing about what activity they’re going to do.

There are usually a couple of cycles planned (a long one and a short one) and a few runs (beginner, short run and longer run). There’s also a scavenger hunt and a swim. So it’s very inclusive. Of course you don’t have to do it, but realistically most people get involved because the alternative is carrying on working… Originally I was going to do the longer run, which was 9k. But I wanted an easier run and I knew some of the people in the 9k group were quite speedy. I didn’t want my ego to take over and for me to try and keep up at the front.

The shorter run was 5k and the group was a good mix of abilities and loads of people I get on with well. A fun group of people up for a laugh, which is exactly what I wanted from the run. Nothing serious, nice and chilled. Happily we also had Garmin and High 5 in to show off some of their new products and for us to try out. I didn’t get involved with the Garmin products because I’m more than happy with my Fenix 3 and don’t want to be tempted by anything else. I actually don’t think I could be tempted though because I really love my Fenix. I did get a cheeky photo with the Garmin car though…I did pick up some cool High 5 freebies though. I love their electrolyte tablets and gels so I made sure to grab some of those to keep stocked up. They’ve rebranded so the designs are all different which is cool. They had a tent set up with all their products set up and water dispenser thing with cups so we could try the electrolyte flavours. Also very handy for after the run and ride!

Photo stolen from friend, Kyle

So the run got started and it was very relaxed and chilled, heading towards the nearby Hillsea Lines which is a pretty trail next to a river and off the road. It was lovely. We stopped a few times to wait for people – the leading girl, Chloe, and I would run back to collect people as well, which was nice because you’d hate people to feel forgotten or left behind.Kyle did a good job of taking lots of photos. A fellow fan of the on run selfie. He’s gotten quite good at it. So basically all the photos are from Kyle.

It’s so nice on these runs as you get to chat to people you wouldn’t ordinarily get to chat to on a daily basis. And let’s be honest, anything that includes running is always going to be a winner for me. It was very warm though!¬†As we got into our stride a few of us stretched out ahead a bit which was nice and meant I got more of a negative split on my run. I got a bit further than 5k as I would run back for the last guys as well, so I was happy!Actually towards the end it was Kyle, Gavin and me seeming to run off quite fast. I think it was a case that none of us wanted to be the slow one and that just caused us to get faster and faster. It was a nice leg stretcher at the end but it did poop me out considering I was just after an easy run! I ran back to run with the others and Kyle caught some cool end photos.Ah such good fun with a nice group of people ūüôāIt was a great Friday because I was also off to Nando’s and the cinema with my friend Mike that evening as well. So I got to leave work early and meet up with him without rushing. I did have a quick shower at work though! Mike is a running friend so he’s seen me sweaty and a mess before but still ūüėČWe had a nice catch up and chicken (obviously) and then headed to watch Han Solo. Asides from Mike accidentally (though hilariously) throwing popcorn all over me, it was a brilliant movie. Quite funny and good characters. I like a film where a female character’s strengths aren’t her boobs. I think that’s why I love the new Star Wars films so much (and the old ones I guess), strong female characters. We need more of them!The next morning I headed to Lee-On-Solent parkrun. I did my usual 1.5 mile warm-up jog and decided the legs weren’t up for a speedy run. I felt sluggish and tired. I got to parkrun just in time for a quick chat with the lovely Rebecca. She was having a rather stressful morning as run director with lots of different things going wrong. But from the outside, it all seemed like a normal and well-run parkrun!¬†I had originally geared myself up to try going for it again as Lee is such a flat course, but in reality it wasn’t meant to be. Obviously though my brain forgot this realisation as we set off… I started running, getting carried away. It felt tough though. I hit the first mile in 6.36 and as we turned around and felt the wind against me (not massively, but enough) I knew I was on a downward decline to a rather miserable parkrun.

Photo Credit: Peter Stoddard (for the next two too)

I mean, I should have just given up and gone straight to a nice 8 mini/mile and enjoyed the other two miles but I didn’t do that. I just attempted to hold on to any semblance of speed that I could while the whole time just not enjoying it and feeling like it was the hardest thing in the world.As I clawed back to the finish, all the time wondering how I managed to get 19:40 the last time I was there. Mental.I finished with a time of 21:15 which really felt like such hard work. I sat on the wall after finishing and chatted to some other parkrunners. I mean, it does make sense that my body is feeling tired. Getting used to speedwork, running five times a week rather than my previously usual four. It all adds up. I’m happy where I’m at though. Uninjured and running consistently. I can’t argue with that! I don’t want to focus on times and try and beat my parkrun time every parkrun as that would suck the fun out for me. I think I lost sight of that a bit on Saturday. It’s easy to get a bit carried away with getting fast times and wanting to see them more. But that won’t happen every week. That would probably get me injured! It’s just such a contrast to how good my Wiggle run felt compared to this run. Like the Wiggle run was so chilled and relaxed, whereas this parkrun wasn’t. I should have just chilled and Lee and enjoyed the run at a gentler pace. The brain is funny thing though, eh!

I ran back to my car and was happy with almost 7 miles for the day. And a cheeky bit of cake later on. I mean, who doesn’t love a hot sticky sunny day than a fat slice of chocolate cake, eh? ūüėČYummy Crunchie chocolate cake from the ever lovely Penguin Cafe. Delicious.

Do you ever do any non-work activities with colleagues?

Do you use any High 5 products?

What did you get up to over the weekend?

Things I’m Loving Lately – April

Hope everyone had a great Bank Holiday weekend (if you had it off!)… So here’s some stuff I’m loving lately!

Jaybird Headphones: So I think I mentioned in a previous post that I had STUPIDLY thrown away my Aftershokz headphones in a peak of post-marathon PB euphoria… When I was taking a photo I put the headphones on top of the foil blanket that I’d taken off and then when I was done grabbed the blanket and threw it away with the heaphones (or I left the headphones on the beach). Either way, the headphones are no longer around. A moment of silence, please, to mourn the loss.

However, Jaybird kindly reached out to me after hearing what had happened and asked if I’d like to try out their wireless earphones. So nice of them and of course I was up for it! I was having to use my Apple wired headphones and honestly there really is nothing worse when at the gym or running and having a cable getting in the way. So annoying.I was sent a pair of Freedom 2 Wireless Sport Headphones. They’re wireless, connect to your phone or device via Bluetooth and fit into your ears. They’re also sweat and water-proof (handy for a runner!). They run for 4 hours but also have a 4 hour charge clip too.What do I think? I really like them. They fit SO well in my ears (they also come with different size ear bits if you struggle). They slot in and stay put, when I run and when I’m at the gym. The sound quality is great – I can hear my music so well (even over the music at the gym). And the adjustable cable at the back is perfect and doesn’t bug me.What I will say though is since I’ve been using Aftershokz it is a bit of a shock to suddenly go into an immersive sound experience while running. What I mean by that is that I can only hear my music and nothing else. This is fantastic in the gym scenario when I literally want to shut out the sounds around me. It’s also great if you’re on the train. Absolutely ideal. However when I run I do want to be able to hear the outdoors a bit more. This is for safety reasons mainly (because remember, I’m essentially an idiot) but also in a race scenario I’d like to be able to hear marshals, the crowd and feel the atmosphere.
That said, I do love these earphones. They’re my solid choice for train use and for the gym. I love them. I will use them for running as well, but probably just when I’m running on my own in familiar areas that aren’t too much near the road.

Running friends: When I first started running I ran alone. I loved to be a lone wolf running whenever I wanted and however I wanted. As the years have passed I’ve found that I actually prefer running with others. Don’t get me wrong, I still love a mentally refreshing solo run of course. But there’s something so lovely about having a friend to go running with too. On those runs I don’t really care too much about pace. In fact, most of the time I prefer to go easier so we can talk and catch up.

The other day, via the magic of Instagram, an old school friend who I hadn’t properly spoken to in ‘real life’ in about 15 years (oh my god I’m so old…) contacted me and asked if I wanted to go for a run with her. She lived locally and we’d kept tabs on each other through social media but hadn’t really progressed further than swapping odd comments and asking each other’s advice on stuff.So on Tuesday evening I jogged over (literally 5 minutes from my house) and we went for a lovely 7 mile run together. We were roughly the same pace so could chat easily while neither of us felt like we were dying or running too slowly. It was such a lovely run. But it is funny, how do you start a conversation with someone you haven’t seen since school? We covered a lot of topics I can tell you! Hopefully we’ll continue to run the odd run together when our schedules allow (I say “our”, she has a baby so she’s far more busy than me!).

Also she’s an AMAZING individual because she suffers from a heart issue (Supraventricular tachycardia – I’m not entirely sure what this is but it’s definitely a worry for her and she has to take medication). But she’s still training for a marathon AND an ultra. I mean, whaaaat. Puts injuries into perspective, right?

Working for Wiggle: I know I say this so often but I really do love my job. I mean I love what I do; I find it so interesting and I’m always so motivated to work hard and do a good job. But I also love the perks (like the monthly Friday runs). This time it was a sample sale! Basically they were selling the stuff that couldn’t be sold commercially. So tops were ¬£3, shorts and leggings ¬£4 etc. Well it was madness I tell you. Everyone went mental over it. A huge queue formed to get into the meeting room and then when we got int there it was like Primark on Boxing Day. Absolutely mental.

I managed to come away with two dhb leggings (very nice, one high-waisted one normal) and a pair of purple dhb shorts. All for the bargain total of £12! I am very pleased! One happy customer! In the end around £2,300 was raised and will all be going to charity. How good is that?

One thing I’m not loving… Forgetting to take my socks with me to work for my lunchtime run (runch).¬†There’s always the danger to forget something really… but socks! Ehhh, such a pain. I decided to risk it because I was pretty much ready to go (well, sans socks and trainers) and I couldn’t be bothered to go running after work. Thankfully I didn’t get any blisters, despite it being very warm outside, but it was a close call. What an idiot, eh.

What are you loving lately?

Do you use earphones when you workout?

Do you prefer to run alone or with others?

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent the Jaybird earphones for free in exchange for a review on my blog. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

What Fridays were meant for

One thing I love about my job is that usually every last Friday of the month we have a selection of organised cycles or runs (and swims, badminton sessions and walks!). You can get involved if you want, or not. This time we had three runs (a beginners, a 5k and a 9k), two rides (one fast and one more beginner orientated) and a walk.

I’d decided to do the 5k because I knew it would be a bit slower and ‘easier’ and as I was adding this as an extra run to my usual four, this would be perfect. I knew a lot of the people who would be doing it and it was a nice friendly crew (well, generally everyone at Wiggle are friendly but I knew these guys well from working with them regularly every day). I helped plan the route as the original route was going to be too muddy. It came out as about 6k but it would be better as it was going round the lake and we could stop when necessary to regroup or if people wanted to finish earlier they could.

We also had Gore in the office showing off their new nifty jackets and kit. They too were going to join us for the activities. Several people got to try their new jackets as well which was fairly well planned considering how rainy the afternoon was (Gore do great waterproof kit). It’s great with this aspect of my job, seeing new kit and meeting people behind the designs and the brand. It’s a bunch of people walk past and someone goes “Oh looks it’s the guys from adidas” and you get to see the new coming shoes. It’s often a “pinch me” moment at work with stuff like this…obviously amongst the scary presentations and boring parts of everyday work! I don’t intend on working in the sports industry forever as I know I’ll need to expand my horizons and learn more about the digital marketing industry in general in other sectors, but for now it’s pretty damn cool.So after a morning of rushing to get everything done that I needed to, at 2.30pm we congregated in the canteen before the run/cycle. Gore had also brought along Fabian Cancellara, their ambassador athlete. I won’t lie, I didn’t really know who he was (after a quick Google…he’s a four time world time trial champion and won countless of other cool races, like the Tour de France – I’m no cyclist so this is not really my area of knowledge!)But I still got involved in the shameless selfie situation obviously ūüėČIt did make me laugh though as he took the phone off the girl who was going to take it and said “I can do this, I know the best angle”. No rookie selfie-taker clearly! Ha. He was super friendly though. He did seem confused by what I was wearing though asking if I was going to be cycling. Clearly I did not look like a cyclist! I explained there was also a run that was going on.

Then we got ready to head out for our run. We had a nice friendly crew of mixed abilities. My friend Kyle (who I sometimes go runching with) was leading the run but I helped out to take the front and he took the back for anyone who might get left behind. It worked well.¬†Kyle had some serious amounts of enthusiasm and everyone joked that whatever he’d been taking we wanted in on it too. It was a fun run. Nice and relaxed, with everyone having a laugh and chatting.Annoyingly my adidas Boosts have run over 460 miles and really need to be changed but I won’t be picking up my new ones for a week and the Mizunos I thought I’d be able to wear feel dreadful. It’s so weird because I’ve worn those models before but they gave my foot cramp when I put them on and just felt SO structured and unwieldy. I’m thinking it’s better to go with an old pair of comfortable trainers than a new pair of uncomfortable ones.We didn’t manage to avoid the rain but luckily it didn’t tip down on us… Seriously lucky because I was off for dinner straight from work with my sister and didn’t particularly want to look like a drowned rat.The run felt so gentle and relaxed. I literally felt like I was jogging. I guess my marathon training is still helping. We had a couple of stop breaks to gather the group together when we separated out a bit and in the end did 3.8 miles.Then I quickly showered, did a bit more work and headed to pick my sister, Rachel, up so we could head for dinner at Cabana in Southampton in the new West Quay restaurant bit (the cinema there, Showcase, is amazing. Reclining seats and everything).

It was lovely seeing my sis and we caught up on life and the universe and ate some tasty Mexican/Brazilian food (I’m not really certain of the cuisine if I’m honest but it seemed a mix of that). I had chicken with a side of crispy cassava (a Brasilian root veg that were a bit like big chunky chips) and chicken wings. Delicious.Originally I’d planned on getting some pudding but decided to be sensible with my money… instead I enjoyed some Halo Top (Cookie Dough, best flavour) in bed watching Captain America: Civil War. I need to get up to date with the Marvel movies as I’d quite like to see the new Infinity War in the cinema. It looks crazy epic. Ice cream in bed with a good movie? Pretty good.

Do your work ever organise team events like this?

Are you into the Marvel movies?

How many miles do you use your trainers for until you replace them?

Trying to keep up

On Friday my work, Wiggle, had another ‘sports day’.¬†They happen on the last Friday of every month at 2.30pm, with several options you can get involved in.

There were two different bike rides, tennis, swimming and two different runs. There was a “slower” 5k and a 15k. The 15k didn’t mention speed but I didn’t think it would be that fast. I saw who was signed up for it and there was a girl doing it who was a little bit slower than me so I felt comfortable.IMG_0151I decided to wear a suitably sporty outfit to work to embrace the day (plus, leggings are just SO comfortable and honestly I’d wear them every day if I could… well, I probably could at Wiggle but I need to maintain some level of smartness in life I think! Plus I really don’t need to give myself an excuse to buy any more leggings).

Before 2.30pm I swapped my leggings for shorts and got myself ready for the run. I met the others downstairs in the lobby and realised the group was actually made up of entirely speedy people. The girl who I’d spotted on the list had decided not to run at the last minute. I mean, I didn’t know for a fact that these guys were speedy but you know when you can just tell? There was also the 2.39 marathoner girl as well. I MEAN SERIOUSLY.I nervously said, “I think I might be in the wrong group here…” but they all politely assured my I’d be fine and they wouldn’t go too fast. Hmmm.

Well, as soon as we started running it was clear their concept¬†of fast were quite different to my concept of fast. As we about to do around nine miles I decided to just keep at the pace I was comfortable with and not feel pressured to run faster. I was running 8min/miles and they were already stretching ahead of me. I resolutely stuck to my guns. If they wanted to leave me behind then fine, but I wasn’t going to risk injury or exhaustion trying to keep up with them.

It did make me a little sad though. I had so much enjoyed the last Wiggle run… it was fun and social and there were no egos or speed dictatorship involved. It was the first time since joining Wiggle where I felt left out and not good enough (entirely in my head I know but still a feeling I felt).

After a mile they waited for me to catch up. I said to them did they think it was better if I just went back and did the 5k instead? But again they assured me it was fine. They slowed down a little and I managed to keep in the group. Though they were chatting away and I was just focusing on keeping up. Again, not an overwhelmingly fun experience.

The route was nice. We went along Farlington Marshes (which is where I got the idea to go walking there on Sunday). It was flat, not too windy and soft underfoot so at least there was that.

There were only five of us and as we settled into the second mile one of the guys started slowing down and drifting behind us. In the end for most of the run he was far behind and we’d wait until he caught up at sporadic moments. I felt mean leaving him and a little angry that as a group we weren’t adjusting our speed to keep as a group.

Right at the end the two faster runners dashed off for a final sprinty mile and I ran to the end with one of the other guys who, despite being naturally fast, was starting to feel the miles. We’d completely left behind two other guys and they ended up going the long way round, unsure of the route. To be honest, it didn’t scream of comradeship or team building but there we go. I’ll know for next time when I see who’s signed up to what!9 milesIn the end it was a solid run in terms of the speed and distance – a good tempo run. But enjoyment factor? Minimal. Constantly feeling like I’m not fast enough or worried about people behind me being left behind isn’t my idea of fun.

Wiggle had also arranged for a pop-up bar with a tent serving sausages as well (with a guy dressed in lederhosen…). The 5k’ers were back so I chatted to them for a bit while enjoying many glasses of Diet Coke. It was so warm and sunny. Ahh here was the fun part – no more egos or feeling left out. Instantly I felt miles better.I know this sounds so corny, but I’ve made friends with a nice group of people at work and I don’t feel like the newbie or outsider anymore (like you do at the beginning). Everyone is around my age or a bit younger so it feels very natural and easy (unlike the run perhaps…).Anyway, onto a review! A few weeks ago I was sent a Sonic Chic Deluxe toothbrush. Now, I used to own an electric toothbrush but…eh… I kind of gave up on it. To be honest, it annoyed me having to charge it with a great stonking cable and unit in my bathroom and it seemed a faff. Yes, yes I¬†know¬†electric toothbrushes are better for you tooth and blah blah…

Anyway, this toothbrush is charged using a USB – which is quite dinky and cute. No long cables or annoyingness. It’s actually a very slimline and attractive toothbrush (is that weird? It’s very travel-easy is what I mean). It’s slimline and has a nice case to it to fit easily into a wash bag.

Despite it’s size, it’s really quite powerful. The vibrations of the bristles are quite intense (32,000 strokes a minute)! And I really like how after 30 seconds it pulses so you know to change the quadrant of your mouth. And the brush head is quite small so it can get to the nooks and crannies of your mouth – like behind your bottom teeth (always a problem area for me my dentist tells me).¬†It also contains a replacement brush. Remember to change those brush heads fairly regularly!You do have to physically move the brush though yourself – if that makes sense?¬†A regular electric toothbrush you might just need to guide it along your teeth as it’s head spins and¬†circles, but for this one you gently do the circular actions as the head only does the sonic vibrations rather than any actual movements.¬†It also doesn’t come with a plug, just the USB connector.¬†I really like it. It’s marketed as a travel¬†toothbrush¬†but¬†it’s now my regular one. The battery is also really good. You get a substantial number of uses before needing to charge it (maybe once per week?). My mouth definitely felt SO much cleaner after using this, fully recommend! You can buy from Boots for ¬£19.99.

Do you use an electric toothbrush?

Do you have friends at work?

**Dull Disclaimer: I was sent the toothbrush for free in exchange for a review on my blog. All opinions are my own honest ones.**