Training for a 5K Race: My First (Unofficial) Park Run.

So Saturday marked my first unofficial Park Run of 2017, and I say unofficial because I forgot to print out my little scanner code so I won’t get a time on the website but I don’t mind because both Scott and I recorded it individually; I recorded it on my FitBit Blaze and he recorded his on the Nike Running App.

IMG-20170812-WA0001-01(The starting line for the Park Run and of course, full photo credit goes to Scott because he’s taller and he’s better at getting overhead shots of the crowd.)

We arrived just on time, just after the little talk the volunteers give to the runners so we made our way around to the starting line and the laps themselves weren’t too different to how I had been running. The only difference was that we were starting at the western point of the pond and running down the hill to the pond towards the end which meant we had to run up the steep hill twice. The run was very similar to my one apart from those few points though, which I felt at ease with.

At the very beginning I had some of the self-critical thoughts and doubts creep into my head thinking that there was no way I could do it and they seem to creep back at the exact same place for the second (and final) lap. I’m glad I pushed through the thoughts but it’s not the nicest mindset to be in, it might just take a while for that to pass, right?

20170812_102727(It was quite a cloudy day and it wasn’t very warm but that worked in my favour during the run, because it seemed like the perfect temperature.)

One thing that I’ve found is my FitBit seems to be slightly off and I had noticed this a few times but the run on Saturday seemed to confirm this. The run altogether is 5K exactly yet my watch is knocking 0.1miles off my time which is quite frustrating so if you see me posting my watch times and it only says 3.02 miles, it’s really 3.12 which is just over 5K.

So what was my time? Well I’m so happy that I hit another Personal Best because Scott said to me just before the end, “You’ll be so surprised at the end.” and I said that I was preparing myself to be disappointed. When you’re running in a big group of people, because there are so many people in front of you, you feel like you’re running too slow and I always look back to that very first slow run that I spoke about so I always feel like I’m running at that speed.

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My time was 35:42 according to Scott’s app, and it’s almost ten seconds more on my watch because I was so happy to finish that I forgot to hit the pause button, so that’s why there’s a few extra seconds on. According to Scott, from the first run we done together, I was doing a 14 minute mile and on this particular run, my average was 11:26 a mile, so quite the drop in times! As you can see from the watch statistics, it says 3.02 miles when really it was 3.10 miles so I’ll have to see if I can fix that somehow. It syncs with my GPS on my phone so I’m not sure what’s going on with it.

Thank you so much for reading today’s post and if you want to catch up on the previous posts of the series, they are all be linked below:
Training for a 5K Race: An Introduction and My First Run.
Training for a 5K Race: Running and Negative Mental Health.
Training for a 5K Race: The Lone Run. 

SS: Sunday Saves (#64)

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Good morning everyone and Happy Sunday! I hope you’re having a wonderful day so far; I’ve had a lovely weekend so far and I’m hoping for the same positive vibes today. On this week’s Sunday Saves, I’ll be talking about gratitude, yoga and dreams this morning so I hope you enjoy.

1) From Lucy With Love (Weekly Gratitude)

As you know from reading the blog, I have been incorporating gratitude more into my daily life (If you want to read my blog post on it, it’s right here) and Lucy does this in blog form and I love it! If you’re just looking for gratitude inspiration or want to find out what she’s been grateful for, check out her post. And Lucy, the Tony Robbins documentary is amazing! I need to re-watch it again.

2) Brianne Etc. (10 Ways That Yoga Changed My Life)

Reading Brianne’s post made me get even more excited for heading back to my yoga practice tomorrow night after a four month break. Yoga can be revolutionary and it’s not an exaggeration that it can be life changing; it can change your mindset on so many elements of your life. I can’t say there isn’t one point where I don’t agree with Brianne, she really has hit the nail on the head, so if you want to find out how she thrives because of yoga, go check out her post!

3) Dolly Dowsie (National Dream Day | 9 Mind Blowing Facts About Your Dreams)

This post by Fiona is over two years ago but I seen it pop on my latest feed and thought it looked quite interesting. I’ve never really analysed my dreams before except if they have babies (because I’ve heard that’s meant to mean a death is coming) or if someone dies (because that’s meant to mean someone will have a baby, right?) Fiona’s post is all about dreams and more specifically, facts about dreams so it’s quite a nice read if you want to learn something new! (Because you should learn something new every day, right?)

I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s picks and remember to give them a visit to see what they have to say. If you’re interested in reading any of my other Sunday Saves, click here and you’ll see my previous sixty-three posts. Have a great day and thank you for reading!

Training for a 5K Run: The Lone Run.

So with less than two weeks to go until race day, I need to up my running game and this is my third run since signing up to the race less than a month ago. This was my first lone run because Scott had to work so I thought it would be good experience to see where not only my head would be but how far my own motivation would take me, even though on the day of the race, I know he’ll be there.

20170717_210915(How pretty are the swans?!)

If you remember back to my second race, I wasn’t in the greatest place mentally but I’m very happy to report that my head was in a much better place for this run. I described it as “losing motivation” to Scott but he said it’s more self-doubt that anything. I got round about half way of the course (I say “around”, I only checked my distance twice because I didn’t want to get too obsessed with checking it) and I felt like I couldn’t do the full distance. I added a few more hills into this run than previous two so I felt the extra challenge of those and I think those were fuelling the self doubt.

Running on my own definitely wasn’t as lonely as I thought it might be. I’m quite used to my own company anyway but I thought since I was in a public place, I might feel it more but surprisingly I didn’t. I had my music playing throughout so I didn’t feel like I needed conversation because of that. Something that I’m still struggling with is my breathing; it might sound silly but controlling your breathing while running is quite challenging. Thankfully because I have my headphones on, I don’t hear the very heavy breathing noises but if I didn’t, I don’t think I would be able to hear myself think.

IMG_20170811_064507_229(The evening’s statistics on my FitBit!)

As you can see with my FitBit above, my numbers were thirty seven minutes and forty eight seconds. As with the second run I ran a little further than the 3.1 miles so if you scale my numbers back to exactly the miles to match 5K, I would have completed it in the thirty six minute mark which matches my last run. I was really happy with my results; I didn’t expect the same timings because I didn’t feel like I had went at the same pace.

20170717_210217(The waterfalls in the park are so peaceful especially in the evening.)

Overall, I’m really happy with how the run went. I’m very happy that my time stayed the same and I’m glad that I was able to push past the self doubt because that’s probably something that will always play on my mind (and it’s not something that happens when I’m just running either). It’s less than a week and a half to go now until the race, exciting!

If you want to read about my introduction to this series, you’ll find it here and if you want to hear about my raw, emotional experience when running, you’ll find that post here. Thank you for reading the series so far, I can’t wait to share the rest of the journey with you!

 

I’m done with Monday Syndrome.

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Over the past few months I’ve talked openly about trying to change not only my perspective on my life, but in my attitude too. It’s a very hard road at times, no-one can ever be positive one hundred percent of the time and I would never claim to live up to that impossible standard, but the harder days is when gratitude plays a significant part.

The one thing about trying to have a more optimistic perspective is that you look at every aspect of your life to see where the negative energy tends to stem from and I’m very lucky that my period of therapy so far has had a massive impact of me figuring out the positive and the negative.

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“Remember, Mondays are fine. It’s your life that sucks.” A quote said very simply on Twitter by Ricky Gervais that always seems to have stuck with me. There’s nothing more time consuming that complaining about a Monday, just think about it; the amount of time you complain about it, you could be doing something a lot more productive. You could be looking up a new class to go to, you could be planning a run, you could be writing a blog post or you could be reading a new book for example. The amount of time and quite frankly, energy we put into moaning about it on Twitter, thinking about it in our head or actively talking about it, don’t you think we could use our time more wisely?
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I think the majority of us can admit that we’ve either felt like this or still feel like this on a Monday and it is understandable. Many of us start back to work on a Monday so that means coming back from a chilled work-free weekend so it can be overwhelming to start back for another week. Let’s face it, most of us are in a career for the next forty to fifty years, so I’m sorry to break it to you but Monday’s will keep coming round every week for the next while and there is no way I’m spending the rest of my life complaining about something that I can’t change.
So what can we do about it? Well we can’t avoid Mondays so here’s what I personally do to make the start of my work week on a better note.
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1) Have a morning routine.
For me, having a morning routine is absolutely key to keeping my mind in check and my morning starts at 4am, yes, I did just say 4am! For those wondering why, I’ll be writing a blog post on my routine soon (which will be linked here) but ever since having a morning routine, my day has started off on a better foot. I’m not always running late for work (It does still happen sometimes, I’m not perfect!), I’ve given myself enough time to meditate, head to the gym, have a tasty breakfast and have some cuddles with my kitten before I leave for the day. It’s all about what is important to you and how you want your morning to look, which leads me onto my second tip…
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2) Find your motivation.
This is one of the most important points I’ll make in today’s post. Why? Let’s face it, if you don’t have anything to get up for in the morning apart from work, how will you convince yourself to do it otherwise? For me, I wake up early and go to the gym. What’s my motivation? Well, I like to live a healthy and active lifestyle, I prefer going to the gym in the morning rather than the evening and I see myself constantly progressing when in a gym or workout environment. So whether that’s feeling like my fitness levels have been raised when I’m pushing myself on a cardio machine, hitting another personal best on a weight machine or getting a faster time during a run; that progress is what makes me strive to go to the gym more. Your motivation could be that you want to sit and eat your breakfast in peace instead of only having five minutes to eat it while rushing out the door. Your plan could be to get up twenty minutes earlier and either get ready for work and have that extra time before taking some time for yourself to sit down and eat your breakfast, or why not do it the other way around? Your motivation can be that simple, but if you can’t find a reason to change your morning even by the slightest detail to boost your mood, then you have to ask yourself, do you really want to change?
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3) Plan your week.
I love knowing what I’m going to do for the next week and if you’re like me, you’ll know how satisfying it is choosing what days to go to the gym, when you’re going to meet up with a friend or even have a night to yourself. Whatever plans you like to make, write them down somewhere you’re going to be looking on a regular basis and make sure they’re realistic. Being busy every single night of the week might seem like your productivity is at its highest but if you don’t pencil yourself in for some down time, are you going to have time to enjoy yourself in amongst the busyness of the week?
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4) Having time for myself.
Reflecting on my last point, taking some time for yourself is incredibly important. For the last five months, I’ll admit, this hasn’t been on the top of my list, but I’m going to make it a priority again soon. Every Monday evening after work, I would attend my favourite yoga class about thirty seconds away from my office. Now you might think it’s strange to go to yoga on a Monday night, it sounds more like a weekend or even a Thursday or Friday activity. Surprisingly (when I didn’t have a morning routine), this is what made me just a little more excited for Monday’s. I got to focus on myself and be present for an entire hour without my phone and without worrying about anything. You don’t have to have your “me time” be a yoga class; It can be having a date night once a week with your partner, you can have your best friend round for a tea or coffee, you can go to bed a little earlier with a candle lit and read a good book. You don’t have to be extravagant and book yourself in for a manicure every week (but if you want to do that, and can afford to, then you do you!), it really can be very simple things that will give you a better perspective on the week.
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In no way am I saying that I never complain about going to work or the fact that it’s Monday again, I do sometimes but I don’t want to do that forever. I don’t want to “live for the weekend”, why live for two days out of the week when you can make the most of the seven we already get? Monday’s are always seen as a new week, a new perspective and a fresh start so use that positivity in your favour. You never know what you might achieve by slowly changing your mindset around!

SS: Sunday Saves (#63)

sunday-saves

Good morning everyone and welcome back to another edition of my Sunday Saves! If you’ve never read a Sunday Saves before, I choose three posts each Sunday that I’ve found throughout the week to talk about. This week I’ve decided to have a #NIBloggers special, and if you’re not sure what that is, it’s a hashtag used mainly on Instagram and Twitter for Northern Ireland bloggers. Being from Northern Ireland myself, I always think it’s great to highlight local bloggers as well as national and international bloggers. So this morning I’ll be talking about Instagram worthy feeds, becoming more ethical and tattoo stories.

1) Retro Rose (Is It Insta Worthy?)

Miriam Rose’s post about Instagram is something that I think we can all relate to. She speaks about some of her thoughts on Instagram including if you have nothing to post, that’s perfectly okay. I went through a period of panicking when I didn’t have something to post at least twice a day and I see on Twitter other bloggers who worry when they haven’t posted in a day. I soon came to the realisation that just because I don’t post in a day, it doesn’t make me any less of a blogger (or a person). She also talks briefly about themes and keeping to the same editing style which in all honesty, that wouldn’t be my cup of tea but whenever I see someone who has kept to a certain filter or style, I praise them because they have almost the perfect feed.

2) Lauren The Day Dreamer (Why I’m Trying To Be More Ethical)

I love that Lauren has decided to try and become more ethical! It’s something I’m trying to do myself; I haven’t ventured into any charity shops to buy clothes yet but I’m in the same boat as her. I tend to wear the same clothes over and over again and I’m definitely nowhere near as fashionable as Lauren so my sense of style could be labelled as boring but comfy clothing but I think I need to have another look at my wardrobe to see what I actually need and what I actually wear. Shopping elsewhere other than my regular H&M might even open my style habits up further too!

3) Sarah Louise Writes (My Tattoo Story #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek)

We all know that I love scrolling back on people’s blogs, not just looking at their latest posts and this is exactly how I came across Sarah Louise’s post about her tattoo. I don’t have any tattoos and I don’t know if I’ll never have one because I’m too indecisive, I’m more of a piercing woman myself but I loved her story behind the tattoo. I’ll let you go to her post to read her story in full but I think it’s so special to hear about the stories behind people’s tattoos because not many people open up as much as Sarah Louise has, especially when it comes to mental health.

Thank you so much for reading my post and remember to go to the featured blog posts to give them a read too. To catch up on my other Sunday Saves, click here and you’ll have another sixty two to keep you busy. If you want to keep up with what I’m up to during the week, I’m over on Twitter and Instagram. Have a wonderful day! 

Ice Lolly Delight at the Linwoods Hemp Protein+ Launch Evening.

Towards the end of July, I had the pleasure of being invited to one of my favourite cafes in Belfast to go to a launch event for a brand new hemp protein powder made by a local Northern Ireland company. The product was launched in Tony and Jen’s and if you know me or follow me on Instagram, you’ll know I’m quite fond of their pancakes.

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(The lemon meringue ones were replaced with cacao ice-cream one day and they were amazing!)

20170804_150347(The mint and cacao pancakes have been my absolute favourite so far, and yes, this is a double stack!)

While you scroll back to the pancakes again, I’ll tell you about the new product they’ve been making. With it being the Summer, who doesn’t love an ice lolly during the Summer months? That’s exactly what’s been going on in the special kitchen on the Lisburn Road; they have been making healthly popsicles that have been packed full of gorgeous ingredients. One of the ingredients being one of the Linwoods Organic Hemp Protein powders.

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(My favourite is the blue bag pictured on the right!)

Linwoods Health Foods are a local company based and founded here in Northern Ireland, which I think is what makes this just a little more special. We’re always saying we should celebrate more local businesses, so isn’t this the perfect way?

On the night, you got the option to pick between four different flavours. I ended up having two lollies (I had no dinner before I got there, so my decision was justified!); the first being cacao and mint (My favourite by far!) and the second being peanut butter and banana (My favourite smoothie combo!). This is where you got to be really creative with your lolly.

20170804_133807(Easier than ‘Snap Crackle and Pop’ right?)

Whether you’re a Notella person (like myself) or maybe cashew sauce is more your drizzle, you had the chance to add a sauce or two, add some ground nuts or sprinkle some raspberry sparkle over your lolly to really make it shine. Being a blogger event, you have to make sure your creation is Instagrammable so they had four mini perfectly laid out booths for them, but I am a fan of a marble background so I went there each time.

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(This was my first one: cacao and mint. From what I can remember, I drizzled it first in Notella, sprinkled hazelnuts and almonds over it and added an extra drizzle of cashew sauce over it.)

Jenny (one half of the lovely Tony and Jen) gave us an brief overview of their restaurant towards the end of the evening explaining why they choose to eat the healthy way, how the collaboration with Linwoods came about and then she showed us the process of how you make the lollies.

The goody bag we received at the end of the night were great! We even got our own little ice lolly moulds so we could make the recipes at home with the little recipe cards we received for the different versions of the lollies (See below!) We then got treated to a big bag of our own Hemp Protein+ and a few of Linwoods snack foods; all of which I have tried and I couldn’t wait until I got a good photograph of, sorry!

20170804_133709(When you turned it over, it gave you all the ingredients you needed, which wasn’t many to be fair, and how to make them.)

As I’ve mentioned before on the blog, I haven’t been to too many blogger events before and I’m slowly getting over my nerves of being shy and slightly to myself (I wrote a blog post on how my shyness could be perceived) so I feel like I pushed myself out of my own comfort zone by just walking up to someone new and introducing myself.

One thing I loved about this event in particular (apart from it being all about healthy food that I could eat) was that it was interactive. It wasn’t just someone handing out samples and telling you about the product so everyone had the same photographs or same experience; you got to choose what flavour you wanted to eat, you got to choose how to decorate it, you got to choose your own experience.

20170726_195024-01(This was my second lolly of the night; I chose Peanut Butter and Banana with the same toppings as my first creation except this time I added a little raspberry sprinkling too!)

If you want to find out anything more about the Hemp Protein+ Powders, you can click right here. If you want to find out more about the company itself, you’ll find it right here and finally if you want to find out more about Tony and Jen’s, you can find them on Facebook and Instagram.

Thank you so much for reading! All the recipes for the lollies will be on the Linwoods website and I can’t wait to make my own, I’ll probably be doing it in December, but hey, you can eat ice lollies anytime of the year, right?

 

Training for a 5K Run: Running and Negative Mental Health?

Have you ever had a negative run or ran when your mental health was very low? There’s a saying that goes “The only workout you regret is the one that you skipped” and when you hear people telling you that exercise is one of the the best anti-depressants, one would assume that the majority of your problems go away if you just “run it off”. 

Mental health is something that I talk about on the blog sometimes but in general, I try to keep my “online presence” very positive, or as positive as I can be. I made the decision over the last year to not be so open about my negative mental health because it’ s very personal to me and because it can be very hard to deal with, I struggle to share that with the people around me, never mind the Internet. 

Today I’m going to open the lid of that box and share my experience of what it was like running when I was at a very low point. 

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Scott had planned out a run for us but I didn’t know where it was or how long it was going to be. It was a Friday night so while I should have been happy that I had finished work for the week, I could relax and enjoy my second run of my 5K training; that reality couldn’t have been further from the truth. 

He was my only motivation getting ready because I knew he was looking forward to it, and I had been all day up until that night but all I wanted to do was lie in bed and cry until I fell asleep. He brought me down to where we were going to run and it’s actually a really nice towpath that we’ve walked before so I was familiar with the scenery. 

I’m a tracker. I like to track my progress in almost everything I do and running is no exception so when my fitness tracker wouldn’t work, that made me feel slightly worse that in the end, I gave up with it. It came round eventually but I really didn’t care at that point, I just wanted to run. 

20170610_094301(This part of the path is further on down but I took a few photographs from our last visit.)

People say running is good for your mental health, it clears your head and helps you gain perspective on what’s going on negatively. Mentally, running made everything worse. I can’t describe when you’re in such a negative place how many little moments, big moments, negative thoughts, self-critical thoughts and imagined scenarios pop up in your mind.  I lost count; it’s a very scary place to be in because you feel out of control and that night I was. I tried to control my breathing but then my breathing started to get so short and quick that it was almost turning into a panic attack. I cried quite a few times on that run, and I really tried to hide it but I don’t think that worked on Scott. 

I knew I was running faster than the first time and because I was embarrassed of my time last time, running faster gave me that motivation to not get that time again. I felt like I was running away from everything; I was running away from my responsibilities’, my past, my scenarios that I made up in my head that had become so real, my thoughts, my emotions and I thought the faster I run, the faster my head won’t be spinning with these thoughts.  It’s like being in a trapped room that you can’t get out of.  

He stayed quiet for most of the run which is what I needed. I know there are the type of people who want the comfort, the cuddles and the supportive words and I admit, I can be one of those people sometimes. More often than not, I just need to be on my own, in silence while I try and let the very negative emotions pass, and if I need to cry, then I cry.  

I started to crack almost half way through thinking I couldn’t do it anymore, I almost just sat on the ground and cried but I felt like I would have disappointed myself if I didn’t finish the run. I continued with Scott until less than a mile away and I was so close to saying “can we just stop now?” when his phone lit up and said “only 0.85 miles to go until your destination”,  and I just knew I couldn’t quit then. 

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We finished the run and Scott asked me did I know what pace I was doing or did I even know what time we had hit. I didn’t know because I wasn’t paying too much attention to my watch or even the time. We had knocked off six minutes from our overall time, so almost two minutes from each mile which was incredible considering how disappointed I was with our Monday night run. It was actually around the 36 minute mark from his phone but I didn’t hit my watch off at the 5K mark, so I did in fact do the run in faster than this. He kept saying how proud he was of me and how well I done, and it was genuinely so lovely, I’m glad I made him proud despite how I felt.

So did I feel better once I finished my run? Physically, yes. When you finish something like a run or a really stressful workout, you do get this wave effect that passes through your body and physically, it feels like it’s breathing a sigh of relief. How did I feel mentally? Nothing; zero, zilch. I still felt sad, I was disappointed in myself for not being able to control the way I reacted to my feelings. I was tired but it wasn’t from the running. 

I understand that this training series is meant to be about my running progress and how excited I am about my first trained 5K but I would feel like an absolute fraud if I either didn’t tell you about the run at all like it didn’t happen or I decided just to leave out how I really felt. My mental health is something I’ve struggled with for over a year now and this was one of the many days where it bared everything, so while it might not be the nicest thing for me to type out and relive, it’s an experience I got through, and at the end of the day, isn’t that the most important thing?

If you want to catch up on the first post, that was based around my first run and it was a general introduction into what I’m training for, so you’ll find that right here.  Thank you so much for reading, I know it wasn’t my usual content, but I appreciate you listening to what I had to say.