SS: Sunday Saves (#68)

sunday-saves

Happy Sunday evening everyone (or whenever you read this!) I’ve had such a busy weekend that the evening of my Sunday Saves was the only free time I had to write my post. I’ve just taken part in the #UKRunChat over on Twitter (it takes place every Wednesday and Sunday at 8pm) and I’ve came across a number of running blog posts during that so I thought it would be quite nice to talk about those.

1) Two Legs One Beard (My First Parkrun)

Reading Richard’s blog post about his first parkrun reminds me of my first parkrun last year (even though I started getting into them properly just a few weeks ago). He’ll give you some advice on what to expect from the Saturday morning run and he also talks about his experience.

2) Honest Fitness (I’m back. Running, blogging and moaning!)

Kev has just started up his blog again and he talks through some of the life changes he has gone through over the last few years. He talks about mental health and taking part in a 10K along with his little boy, so lots covered in just one post.

3) The Run Blog (Winning The Mental Battle)

The mental battle when running is something that I still struggle with and if you haven’t read my blog post on it, I’ll link it here. I love Paula’s honesty around running and how it used to make her feel versus where she currently is now. It’s definitely a relatable post for anyone who feels “off” when they run.

And we’re done for the evening! I hope you all enjoyed my chosen posts and remember to give them a little read and maybe a comment, it always means so much. Have a great weekend everyone!

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SS: Sunday Saves (#66)

sunday-saves

Happy Sunday everyone! I hope you’re all enjoying the Bank Holiday weekend so far (for those of you that are in the UK of course). I’m having quite a relaxing Sunday morning; I have a few tealights lit, I’m about to move onto my second cup of tea and 30 Seconds to Mars is the choice of music this morning. In today’s Sunday Saves, I’ll be talking about the difference between men’s and women’s fitness magazines, the best websites for stock photographs and knowing when a job isn’t right for you.

1) Cake Vs. Scales (Why Women Should Read Men’s Fitness Magazines)

Katie makes a good point and I think anyone who is in the fitness world, someone who is starting out or simply someone who reads magazines, should read this post. She talks briefly about the comparisons behind men’s and women’s fitness magazines and especially the “attention grabbers” on the front cover. Women’s fitness magazines tend to focus on the bikini body and articles on how to have a better sex life while men’s magazines tend to focus on becoming stronger (it’s important to note they still talk about sex but it seems to be a smaller amount than women’s). Katie’s post explains it much better than me but next time at the shop, why not have a look at both and see what she means.

2) Laura Conteur (12 Best Stock Photo Sites in 2017)

It’s no surprise that I use stock photographs and there seems to be some judgement towards this for some bloggers which I’ll never understand. I don’t have time to take pictures every week for certain posts (although I try to use as many as my own photographs as possible) and when I do use stock photographs, I almost always credit them (unless I forget). Laura gives her recommendations for the best websites; I use some of these websites and she’s even given me some new ones to try!

3) Hello Sara Lou (How To Know You Have Found The Right Job: Joy Over Job)

Sara is one of my lovely Twitter and blogger friends who I have met in real life (and she’s just as lovely in real life as she is on Twitter) and we were talking about meeting up for some lunch last week and she mentioned about her two job moves. She told me she had written a blog post all about it (and silly me hadn’t seen it). In her post she talks about starting a new job that she was so excited for but she thought she had stepped down the career ladder when she actually got there so she talks about how she felt about going back to her old job, and how she’s much happier now. It’s hard to start fresh in a job but to feel like you’ve just undone all progress must been horrible so I have the up-most respect for Sara for realising this and going back to her old job.

Thank you so much for reading today’s post; remember to go over to the posts and give them some love. If you want to check out last week’s edition, you can find it right here!

Training for a 5K Race: Race Day!

Race Day had arrived; it was the day I had been training for for the last number of weeks. I can’t believe I’ve only been training for just over a month! I’ve went from just under 45 minutes to under 35 minutes in just a month, which I’m so happy with.

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Having done the Park Run the day before (and set a new personal best), I knew from the get-go that I wasn’t going to match that time but if I got under 35 minutes, I would be happy. I was quite nervous, I’m not really sure why; I think it was because this was my target that I was aiming for and it was finally here.

Scott was running the 5K with me but there was the option of the 10K and the kids fun run too. We stood in the wrong line but we must have looked out of place so thankfully someone pointed out the right starting line about thirty seconds before we were due to start.

The race began slowly but surely; where the start line had started, it was leading to a bridge so it wasn’t very wide and we both knew we were going to lose some time here. The first minute or two was definitely not at the speed I’m used to, it was slower but with the way the course was laid out, there was really nothing we could do.

20170820_095633(I have no photographs from the race itself because it wasn’t the type of run to stop and take photographs but this was just before the race started.)

For the first three quarters of the race, I would say I was doing well. I had developed a sore tummy and my head started to pound but I was getting through it. If you read my post about running with negative mental health, then how I felt in that run was very similar on how I felt this day. My self-critical thoughts came thick and fast and unlike the day before, I wasn’t able to tell myself “I could do it”, it was like I was talking to a brick wall. I started to hate the running, I hated everyone around me, I wanted to quit, I started to panic and eventually I ended up having a panic attack weasing away not being able to breath. I was so embarrassed! I didn’t stop though so I was overwhelmed, running with a negative mindset, finding it hard to breath and struggling to find the energy to run at all. I cried and I must have looked like I really hated running but there was so much more going on in my head than I could have explained.

Scott every time has been really supportive when I have periods like this, running or not, he’s there just willing to listen. He did offer me some more positive re-enforcement than usual even though he knows I’m not a huge fan of it, but we were so close to finishing that I think he felt like I needed to hear it.

IMG-20170820-WA0004(This is me fresh faced just before starting the race!)

One of the big cons of the race was something that I didn’t notice until after but Scott noticed at just the right point. I seen him looking at his phone quite a lot towards the end and I thought he was constantly checking our time, but I didn’t ask about it because quite frankly, I was mentally drained and I didn’t care about my time. I just wanted the race to be over at this point. We get past a certain point and he said “I think this route is longer than 5K” so we do a sprint to the big “finish” sign and I stop my watch immediately. That’s when I noticed a difference. We all know (if you’ve read previous posts) that my FitBit plays up when it comes to the GPS aspect. So for the 5K in the Park Run, it comes up for me as 3.05 miles but my watch this time came up as 3.16miles so it was more than 5K. Because of this, my time was different and it came up as 35:28 meaning I didn’t hit my under 35 minutes aim. However, because Scott had been watching his distance and time, he stopped it at the exact 5K mark and our time according to his more trusting app was 34:25 meaning I came under my target!

20170824_211024(My timing and wrong distance according to my watch alongside my new medal!)

This sounds like there were more cons than pros in this race and I would say it was pretty evenly matched. I was disappointed in the distance especially for those going for personal bests and timings specifically but the atmosphere was really lovely with so many people there to cheer us on at the start and the end. The starting at the bridge slowed us down like I said but the views going through Victoria Park were gorgeous especially since I haven’t been there before.

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(Scott and I with our medals!)

My next and final post in this “Training for a 5K Race” series will conclude with my overall thoughts on my performance, my results over the last few weeks and what’s next as well as a few more thoughts on the race day too.

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

Training for a 5K Race: Last Minute Training!

Saturday morning arrived, the day before the race so as some last minute training, I knew I was going to do the Park Run again. Scott was competing in his own race that morning so I went on my own instead.  I signed up to the correct Park Run this time (As I mentioned before,  I had done a previous Park Run so I convinced myself I was going to go to that one again, even though it’s about an hour and a half walk away) so I was able to get a time on the website this time. When you’re standing around on your own, you do wish you had someone with you but that doesn’t last too long before you head over to the start line.

(It was a sunnier day than last week but I put my hoody in my bag just in case.)

The first lap I really surprised myself at how I felt my pacing was; I was a comfortable tired but not too tired that I didn’t feel like I could go on. The only killer in both laps was the last hill of each, I struggled mentally with those and took a five second walk before starting back again but it wasn’t as hard as the previous week had been.

One change I made in this run was inward thinking. I have spoke to myself (inside my head) many times using positive mantras and encouragement but the times it didn’t work, I don’t think my head was in the right mindset. This run however, was very different for some reason. I lost count how many times I told myself “You can do this” and it worked. I can’t explain the feeling I had when I told myself that but normally “the other side” would say “No you can’t” but I didn’t have that on this occasion. The only thing were it was tough, like I explained in the last paragraph, was the last hill on each lap. I’m really happy I’m starting to break down that negative running barrier.

When it came to the finish, I was at the point where I couldn’t push myself to go faster for the last few metres, so it’s safe to say, I was very tired but I knew it was a good tired. I had only looked at my watch one time during the run and it was coming up close to the start of the second lap so I had an indication of a rough time.

I had not expected another personal best! Of course, instantly I knew I wasn’t going to pull this off in the race the next day but I didn’t care. I was so happy that I had a personal best under 34 minutes! My aim overall was under 35 minutes so this was like the little cherry on top! (If you’re wondering why my distance is wrong, read my last post about my first unofficial Park Run and it’s explained there!)

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

My Week Day Morning Routine

Morning routines are a tricky thing aren’t they? Some people swear by them, some people can’t remember the last time they had one and feel like they don’t need one. Each to their own but for me, having a morning routine is vital to keep my mind and my body set up for the day. I briefly talked about my morning routine in my Monday Syndrome blog post last week and I know I post quite early on Twitter so I thought I would talk about it in more details in a blog post of its own.

☀️  Wake Up ☀️

alarm-clock-2115489_1280(Original Stock Image)

I wake up at 4am. No really, I do but I can understand why that sounds quite odd to many people but it’s what now works for me. It didn’t take too long for me to get used to surprisingly. When I was living at home, I was getting up at 6am for both college and work (I had to get the bus at 8am) so there’s isn’t too big of a difference.

🌸 My Meditation 🌸

tea-lights-2223898_1280(Original Stock Image)

I haven’t become particularly religious (in the spiritual sense) participating  in mediation every morning and every night; for example, at the weekend if my boyfriend stays over, I wouldn’t normally stick on a mediation every single time but I know that if I want it to become a priority, I would need to start doing it at the weekend too just as much as the work week.

In the morning I would choose a short meditation, no longer than ten minutes because my mind is just waking up so I don’t want to choose a thirty minute practice if my mind isn’t focused. That’s why six to ten minutes is perfect! However, this is one downside and I’ve fell for this many times; I have a tendency to lie down during the practice and I think to myself “Oh, I’ll be able to stay awake until the end.” Fast forward to waking up again at 5am, and being almost an hour behind schedule. Now and for the foreseeable future (until I don’t fall asleep at the drop of a hat), I sit up in bed for these morning meditations.

☀️ Get set, get ready and go! ☀️

So after the meditation is complete, I get out of bed and get ready to go to the gym. For my morning workouts, I don’t eat anything beforehand. If it was after work, I would defintely need food but first thing in the morning, I don’t feel unwell if I don’t eat. I normally just fill up my water and drink it on the way to the gym.

🌸 Workout 🌸

By the time I wake up, meditate, get ready, grab my bag, fill up my water and say hello the little kitty, it’s about 4:25am giving me perfect time to get to the gym just before 5am. My gym is a half an hour walk away so if I power walk the majority of the route, I get there just before the top of the hour. The walk there is like my warm-up so I never feel the need to stretch before a workout or do a warm-up on a machine because I’ve technically already done that.

IMG_20170806_101629_565(One of the rare times I had a short yoga practice after my workout.)

Talking about my workout routine is difficult, mainly because I don’t do the same thing every day. Some days I choose the “Fat Burn” setting on the cardio machines and blast at those for at least ten minutes; other times I build my own levels by choosing a higher level every thirty seconds to a minute on a machine. (This depends on the type of machine and how long I am giving myself for the machine). Other times I will only choose one cardio machine and do a quick level up blast for ten minutes and move over to the weight machines section for up to thirty minutes. Mixing is up is absolutely key for me because if I get bored, it won’t motivation me to go (Remember we talked about motivation in Monday Syndrome?)

20170815_213730(An example of one of many Instagram stories that are posted on my profile. I find this is a way to keep myself accountable and to show people what I’m doing in the gym that day.)

My time in the gym has slightly increased for the last few weeks, normally I would stay for half an hour but because I’ve started to get up earlier and want to fit in as much as I can, I can spend up to an hour there. I know there are people who can spend three hours there and fair play to them but I find for me if I can get an effective workout done that tires me out and makes me feel like I’m making progress, then I don’t need to spend an excessive amount of time there each morning.

☀️  Breakfast Time ☀️

20170414_134107-02(Please note that I don’t look like this in the morning after the gym. This photograph is after a shower, dried and straightened hair as well as my make-up all finished. However, it shows the exact emotion I feel every morning when I make my amazing smoothie!)

After the half an hour walk home, it’s time for breakfast! If you follow me on Instagram, there will be many days out of the week where I will post an Instagram story of my morning smoothie. I also make two slices of toast with some butter, but that’s not as exciting as a smoothie is it? One thing I would love to start incorporating into my routine is mindful eating; I want to savour and enjoy my food but right now, I just stand in the kitchen eating and drinking while watching a YouTube video.

The rest of my morning routine is quite boring from this point. I go up for my shower so I wash my hair every day (Unfortunately my hair is very greasy and I can’t NOT wash it daily, as much as I hate doing it), I spend about half an hour doing my make-up while watching a YouTube video or listening to a podcast then I fed the kitten while getting my bag ready for work. I thought my activities post 4am up until I make breakfast would be the most interesting to read, but I might consider doing a morning make-up routine in the future if it sparks any interest.

💛 💛 💛

I’m hoping to do a more in-depth blog post on meditation, the benefits for me, what apps I use and the techniques I use, because there’s so much more I want to speak about in terms of meditation, so look out for that at some stage! I hope you enjoyed today’s post and if you have any morning routine posts that you’ve either written or would recommend, send them my way in the comments, my Twitter or over on Instagram.

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. 

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!