How I try to be injury-free

2017 has been my best year running. No I haven’t PB’ed in every distance (in fact, I’ve only achieved one PB this year, at the Great South Run). But I’ve had a great year of CONSISTENTLY running and side-stepping injuries.

This year I’ve only had two injuries, both lasting a short period of time (for me this is VERY good). One of those was ankle related and probably down to throwing myself back into running too soon after a marathon and going on a ridiculous seven mile off-road trail run. The second was upping my mileage from 25 miles a week to over 50 miles a week on an Austria run camp – lots of downhill running causing my knee to say ENOUGH. So in terms of those pesky over-use injuries I used to get ALL the time, I’ve done very well.

I thought I’d do a post on some of the things I’m doing that I believe might have helped me. I will obviously preface with this with: 1) I’m not a physiotherapist, coach or anyone of any notable qualifications or intelligence, 2) this might all be fluke. That said, let’s get to it.

Gaining weight

I used to be about five-six pounds lighter. Yes, yes lighter usually means faster when it comes to running but as I don’t particularly care about speed in the great scheme of things I don’t mind (that said, I’ve managed to almost reach my 5k PB from my lighter days).

I’ve put in some solid effort at the gym and gained muscle and, yes, fat. Ladies, FAT IS NEEDED. We need fat to be healthy. Boobs, bums, hips, thighs… fat is a good thing to have. Obviously there is a limit, but being ridiculously skinny is not that healthy. Embrace those love handles, jiggle those thighs and be proud of your lumps, bumps and curves. I realise I’m still a relatively slim jim, but I am definitely not as slim as I used to be and I’m very happy. I love my body and I love food. I have an insane appetite and the thought of giving up anything to be slimmer genuinely brings sadness to my heart. Happily, I truly believe that carrying a bit more jiggle has given my body more strength and the ability to endure higher mileage.

Strength training

I bang on about this all the time I know. It took me a while to get this. I’d get injured, I’d end up at the physio, he’d assess and treat me and send me away with a list of exercises I needed to do. I’d do them for a period of time and eventually be back running, forget the exercises… and then get injured again. This was quite the cycle for me. Until I finally realised I needed to keep doing the exercises. Sadly I’m not as hardy as other people and I require that added extra work in order to keep me running healthy and strong.IMG_0965So I go to the gym four times a week. Two of those sessions are focused on my legs and glutes. For legs I do squats (lots of variations from heavy low reps, to high reps with resistance bands, etc.), lunges, single leg work, leg presses, deadlifts… And for glutes I do hip thrusts, kickbacks, bridges, step ups, etc. And every day at the gym I always do at least five minutes of focused glute resistance band work, such as monster walks.

I’ve also found when I start to feel something “not right” (like my hip the other week) I focus on that area and the areas around it. I make sure I don’t cause pain or discomfort, but I aim to strengthen that area. I’ve found it also helps to get the blood flowing in that area to help keep it healthy.

Bit of stretching

I don’t really stretch after running and I don’t tend to do much warming up (unless it’s super cold or I’m waiting for someone – then I’ll do some token squats and leg swings). What I do do is stretching first thing in the morning. This is usually at the gym. I go through a sort of mini-yoga routine opening up my back and my hips. I try and make sure the movements are dynamic and not just static holds. I don’t know if this has helped me much with running but in general I feel better for it.

And nutritional things…

Now take these with a punch of salt. I thought I’d mention them because they’re something I personally like to do and in my head I think they make a difference but really I have no idea and no direct proof.

  • Turmeric: I eat a lot of turmeric. It’s gotten to the point now that most of my dinners have a slight orange tinge to them because of the turmeric. I really like the spice (I wouldn’t eat it if I didn’t, believe me!) and I’ve heard some good things about it helping reduce inflammation. So I chuck it on my meals. In my most paranoid moments (the day before a long run or a marathon for example) I might even go as far as having a turmeric latte. Yep.
  • Omega 3 supplements: I take these every single day without fail. I do try and eat fish regularly through the week but I like to fully ensure I’m getting my omega 3 anyway.
  • More protein: And in general I eat a solid amount of protein. I much prefer protein to carbs (#allthemeat) so I don’t find this too difficult. With every meal I’ll have a solid source of protein. Easy protein sources: tinned tuna (I eat this every day for lunch in a salad), protein powder (I add this to my porridge), Greek yogurt (or Skyr yogurts are really good), chicken, turkey and meat/fish in general, eggs, cottage cheese, beans, chia seeds…

Like I said, I have no idea if the above has significantly contributed to me staying uninjured but it’s a lifestyle I’m going to continue. Hopefully this has been somewhat useful to you! Now excuse me while I sip my orange-tinged coffee… 😉

How do you stay injury-free?

Do you take any supplements?

Do you go to the gym?

Secret London #SecretFitness Session

I’m not usually that keen on going to London because it’s such a faff; I hate trains and I’m a country bum. Buuut when I got invited to the Secret London event that involved getting my hair done, Alpro products and yoga on a stand up paddle board, well I was convinced!

The location of the event was a mystery until 24 hours beforehand (hence the “secret” part), though I was told it would be around Oxford Street so I could at least plan my parkrun into the equation!

It was actually really easy to get to and was set in the lovely location of Merchant Square.IMG_4278

I was greeted straight away by the very friendly people from Secret London and Collective Two (the organisers of the event) and shown the cool set-up they had.

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I got to choose a pair of SuperDry flip flops and sipped on a delicious Alpro Berry and Coconut Smoothie while I waited to get my hair done by the guys from Headmasters.

IMG_4261From Secret London’s Facebook

Charlie (from TheRunnerBeans blog) and Bex (from TwinsInTrainers blog) were already getting their hair done so I went and said hi. IMG_4180

It was a bit like meeting the cool kids from school to be honest as their blogs are a lot more popular and known about than my iddy biddy one. They were lovely, of course.

Headmasters UK[Source]

I can’t tell you how nice it was to have someone do my hair for me. I am the girl who has my hair cut once a year and the most exciting thing I do with it is put it in plaits (braids) or a pony tail because my capability to do anything else is beyond me. We were all having braids done and in cool styles. I literally said to the hair stylist, do as you wish!

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In the end it looked fantastic (if I do say so myself!). It’s definitely not a style I’d be able to recreate at home or that I’d normally choose. While we were all chatting and enjoying ourselves there was a camera crew hovering around and a photographer snapping away. It felt very glam but made me a little insecure…There I was, fresh from parkrun with no make up on. Bex and Charlie looked so effortlessly glamorous in comparison, clearly more used to this sort of thing than me!

And then we headed to the water area to begin our stand up paddle board yoga. We were all fairly nervous because there was a genuine risk of falling in. I’d brought spare clothes and a towel but still! The instructor, Jen, from Pure Yoga Zone was lovely though. And she had the most adorable little dog, Clyde, with her too (yes, he went on the SUP with her too!).

Secret London Session(2)[Source]

We got on board and headed out onto the main bit of the water. It was fairly windy so our SUPs clustered together but this meant we could chatter and giggle together while trying to master the yoga moves.

Stand up paddle board yoga[Source]

The yoga moves weren’t tricky at all in themselves. It was fairly ‘entry level’. But on a paddle board it was a different story. Even moving from your knees to your bum was a dodgy episode that required balance and strategic navigation.

Secret London Session (11)[Source]

And yet as the time went on we all became more and more confident. It required us to think carefully when doing the moves and to use our core to keep us balanced on the board.

Secret London Session (16)[Source]

It was actually quite a tough session! I’ve done yoga before but sometimes you can ‘sleepwalk’ through it. Despite the tranquil surroundings there was no sleeping through this session!

Secret London Session[Source]

At the end we got our boards together in a line (no easy feat in the wind I assure you) and posed together like the yoga buffs we’d become.

Secret London Session(9)[Source]

Then after safely getting back onto dry land we headed for some vital refuelling (I hadn’t eaten breakfast or eaten post parkrun so I was definitely ready for food!).

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We were treated to a smoothie bar that was stocked with the toppings you could imagine (OK, relatively healthy toppings you could imagine) and smoothie flavours.

Secret London Session(3)I love this photo – it’s just so “me” around food [Source]

I went for a berry smoothie with just about everything in it from chia seeds, to fruit, to nuts and almond butter. Delicious. Now I’m not usually a smoothie lover but I was very happy to chomp this down.

Secret London Session(5)[Source]

The three of us then had a little interview to talk about our session and were chuffed to hear that we sounded almost like we’d had media training with the answers we gave and our ease in front of the camera. Dahhhhhling we’re bloggers, don’t you know? This is what we do. (<—Ummm, yeah I’m about the most awkward person in life ever).

It was a fantastic experience and I fully recommend SUP yoga (and now want to go SUP’ing again asap). If you get the chance to go to a Secret London session I’d definitely give it a go. It was a fun experience Smile And we got lots of cool goodies to take away with us too.

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You can buy tickets to these events, it wasn’t purely invite only, so keep your eyes open if this is your thing!

Have you ever been SUP’ing before?

Do you do yoga?

What’s your perfect smoothie creation?

OM Yoga Magazine September – Yoga while pregnant and a giveaway

I’m not pregnant. Have to quickly put that one in before any rumours start (or hopes are raised – I’m looking at you, mother). However, the latest issue of the Om Yoga Magazine has a lot of focus on yoga through pregnancy, which I just find fascinating.

OM Yoga August 14 (2)

To be honest, I find the whole pregnancy thing in general fascinating and can’t wait to be pregnant. My dream would be that I could still comfortably (to some extent?) work out, run and also do yoga through my pregnancy. Obviously I know that’s quite a tricky thing and I’ll have no idea if possible until that day arrives – maybe I’m being very naive!

Anyway the latest issue of the OM Yoga magazine focuses on practicing yoga while pregnant and has lots of great articles and tips. I think this is brilliant and I’m so glad the days of pregnant ladies being told to remain as sedentary as possible are long past us. Healthy exercising mums usually means healthy babies!

OM Yoga August 14 I think it’s always safer to have practiced yoga before trying it out when you get pregnant (I could be wrong though!) – which is why I’m quite glad I’ve gotten into it now. Hopefully I can continue when pregnant.

There are some great yoga moves within the magazine for pregnant women which don’t look that daunting but also don’t look too easy. I guess you still need to challenge yourself even when you’re pregnant 😉

OM Yoga August 14 (4)And on a random note, I also love this issue as it has a lot of beetroot recipes (I love beetroot). I always have beetroot in my salad – I just adore it. But I do not love having pink fingers long after I’ve chopped up beetroot. Not a good look.

I also have an exciting giveaway to launch! OM Yoga and Lifestyle magazine are running the annual OM Yoga Show in London at the end of October. They have kindly given me weekend tickets to give away to two lucky lovely readers! The pairs of tickets are worth £54 each, and the winners can come along for all three days of the show, and bring a friend. 

image“The Yoga Show offers the perfect introduction to this ancient Indian practice with workshops and classes on all kinds of yoga, including BoxingYoga, Hot Pod Yoga, and even Hip Hop Yo’ga! For those who are experienced yogis, there is the opportunity to learn new skills, or improve on existing ones. When it’s time to take a break from practicing yoga, visitors can take some time to explore over 250 exhibitors who will be attending the show. They are committed to ensuring that the yogic lifestyle is as fulfilled as possible, with yoga clothing, accessories, complementary therapies, super foods and so much more on offer.”

As well as the classes, workshops and exhibitors at the OM Yoga Show, there’s also the opportunity to enter the Mind Body Soul Experience for free. The two shows are being held at the same time in adjoining Olympia Halls – two shows for the price of one!

The dates are 24th, 25th and 26th October 2014 (Opening Times: Friday 11am – 6pm, Saturday 10am – 6pm, Sunday 10am– 5pm) at the Olympia National in London.

TWO lucky readers the chance to win two tickets for all three days of the show!

To enter (each of the below counts as one separate entry, so please leave a separate comment below for each one that you do):

  • Leave a comment below telling me why you’d like to go to the Om Yoga Show
  • Follow me on Twitter
  • Follow @OMYogaMagazine on Twitter
  • Tweet: “Want to win two tickets for the Om Yoga Show @yogashow? Take a look at @annatheapple88 blog and giveaway: https://www.annatheapple.com/?p=5460”

Please note: This giveaway is open to everyone and is international, however you’ll need to get to London obviously. The giveaway ends Sunday 12th October 2014.

OM Yoga Magazine

**This post contains affiliated links**

OM Yoga Magazine July/August – my first steps into yoga

I’ve heard so many people talk about the benefits of yoga, both mentally and physically, but never thought to try it myself… Until I was offered the opportunity to review the OmYoga magazine and at the same time coincidentally found out about a local and fairly affordable yoga class with someone I knew.

Considering my past history with just focusing too much on running and getting injured all the time it was probably best I gave it a shot. I actually don’t know much about yoga at all. I’ve done Pilates but never yoga. I know you can follow videos online but for me doing something like that will never work. I’d get distracted and wander off somewhere to fold washing or eat an apple. So reading this magazine and then attending my first ever yoga classes really helped.

The latest OmYoga magazine is a double addition packed full of articles, information, yoga fashion and poses.

imageI’m a big an of running magazines (are you surprised?) so was fairly intrigued about what a yoga magazine would be all about. It’s got lots of interesting articles in which help me understand why yoga is such a craze. The mental (and of course physical) strength people seem to acquire to help them with their lives is incredible.

What really took my eye though was the article “Yoga Meets Physiotherapy”.

OmYoga July August addition

Hello, hello, hello. My kinda thing completely. This is exactly what I’m looking for. Apparently this practice of blending yoga and physiotherapy together is called “physioyoga”. It’s all about using the teachings behind yoga – the poses, the stretches, the breathing – to help overcome pains or issues you might have within your body. Purportedly yoga can help blood flow, digestion, and even hormonal imbalances as well as reducing stress. These can all help towards creating a healthy and injury-free body.

It’s interesting because a lot of the stretches I’ve come to learn through physio or from other people’s advice to help loosen muscles and up my flexibility I’m coming to realise are actually from yoga. Like the pigeon pose to open up your hips, downward dog to lengthen those calves and hamstrings, and loads more. Fascinating stuff!

Another article that caught my eye which is highly interesting to me at the moment is the “Yoga for Cyclists” article.

OmYoga July August addition 2

OK I’d say I’m more a runner than a cyclist but I do enjoy a good cycle and recently have been doing lots of cycling to help refresh my running and get my head into a good space. So these stretches are perfect for me at the moment. And actually perfect for runners too as there is a lot of crossover with muscles used between the sports.

As for me actually doing yoga? Well I’ve been to two classes so far and I’m really enjoying it.

Yoga time

I’m glad I have the class because I get to be told what to do and how to do it, and I’m motivated to do it in a class full of yogis. With the magazine as well it’s really opening my eyes to the fact that not everything I need to do needs to be fast fast fast or that I need to be ‘the best in the class’ (believe me I am quite firmly at the bottom of the class!). Yoga isn’t like that and I love that about it.

Do you do yoga?

Do you have the drive and need to be good at everything you do? 

What’s your favourite yoga pose?

OM Yoga Magazine

**This post includes affiliate links**

It’s My Birthday!

It’s my birthday! I’ve turned the ripe old age of 25 today. I can now be rounded up to 30. I’m half-way to 50. I’m a quarter of a century old. In my head I’m still 19 though Winking smile I don’t feel like I should be an adult yet. Do you remember when you were younger and your twenties seemed like the age when you became an Adult. Responsible. Old. Confident. You knew what you were doing.

Hmmm. I’m not quite sure I’m there yet!

T Rex

Well anyway I’m one year older and I’d like to think one year wiser (ha!). Though I do feel more confident in myself and where my life is going. I’m head of heels in love with my husband, we’re enjoying our life in our little home and I feel happy with where my career is going. So not bad!

And in a nice coincidence it’s What I Ate Wednesday (thanks, Jenn).

Here’s a mix of today’s breakfast and lunch from yesterday and dinner and snacks from the weekend (random I know, but more interesting this way…believe me).

Birthday breakfast: oatmeal…seriously what else would I be eating on my birthday!

Birthday

This morning Ben had set up a treasure hunt for my presents so I was running all over the house to get my gifts. We decided to do a surprise this year so I had no idea what I was getting. The boy did good though!

For Lunch I went crazy and had something different. Mainly because I was running late and had forgotten to make my lunch the night before but hey ho.

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Chicken salad with beetroot that I had from home. With this I also had popcorn and fruit with Greek yogurt (I had just enough time to get those in order – and seriously, I’ll be late for popcorn Open-mouthed smile). My office is used to the smell of popcorn now…but unfortunately I’m moving into another room as I’m changing teams and so I’ll have to explain my popcorn obsession again to a whole different set of people…

Dinner: on Sunday after the 10k race we had roast chicken.

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So, so good. I love the smell of the house as it’s cooking away. So homey.

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With this I had roasted butternut squash, Brussels sprouts and watercress (but of course) that we got from the race. And I went back for seconds of the chicken (in fact I’m pretty sure I had a breast, a thigh & a drumstick). It was so good. I obviously had a big dollop of BBQ sauce by the side as well…

Snacks: on Sunday I carved up the beast of a watermelon we had. I can eat a never-ending amount of watermelon. I’ll get full and then 5 minutes later I’m ready for more. It must be the water content. Great for after the race to rehydrate!

Watermelon

Happily I found Ben hates watermelon, which meant more for me!

Running: my running is almost back on form. I ran 4.5miles on Tuesday morning and my leg still didn’t feel completely better. Not painful, just discomfort and it felt like it was holding me back. But I’m continuing to stretch and ice it.

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Today’s run (because I have to run on my birthday!) was better but towards the end it became tough. And stretching afterwards felt amazing.

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I’m also loving the below yoga moves for helping get back into good shape (read: avoid injuries):

One-legged pigeon pose

Pigeon Pose

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This is great for stretching out tight hips and the muscles right near the bum!

Ardha-Matsyendrasana

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Source

Good for hips (again), spine, abs and bum, while also stretching outer thigh, back, chest and shoulder. Nice.

Janushirasana

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Source

Good circulation stimulator.

Dandayamana Bibhaktapada Janushirasana

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Stretches the hamstrings.

So I’m giving those stretches a go when I can and though I’m definitely not looking as good as the pictures in terms of form and position, it does feel good and I swear each time I do them it feels a teeny bit easier (probably psychological…) Seriously though, what kind of names are they!!

Unfortunately this weekend I can’t celebrate my birthday as I’m off tomorrow on a team building event with work. A crazy orienteering/mountain biking/puzzle solving/running around getting lost in Dartmoor thing. Wish me luck. I’m the only girl going!!

My parents should be coming over tonight…potentially with a cake. Hopefully by the end of tonight I won’t look like this:

Mm cake

But let’s be honest, knowing me it’ll be something like that haha

How do you like to celebrate your birthday? We’ve postponed the celebration for a few weeks (as we have friends coming over the next weekend). Our plan is to go for a lovely meal and get a taxi home.

What do you think of yoga? If you’re a runner, does it complement your running?

Do you always have a cake on your birthday? I always try and drop not-so-subtle hints to my parents to get me one…