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!

 

Training for a 5K Race: An Introduction and My First Run.

You’ve read the title and you’re probably thinking, “Why are you trying to train to run just over three miles?” We all have to start somewhere don’t we? As you’ll read in my new monthly intentions post going live on Friday, I have signed up to a 5K with my boyfriend in August so I have just over a month to build up my stamina when it comes to running.

20170717_211842-01(I’ll take this view over jumping on a treadmill any day. So gorgeous!)

If you read my tweets or watch my Instagram stories, you’ll know that I love the gym. Of course, there’s some days I don’t have the greatest workouts and other days, I’m already looking forward to the next one. For me personally, I believe the gym and running are on two different levels; I’ve ran two different 5K’s before in fact. One was a ParkRun and the other was a charity race for Mo-Running (I wrote a blog post on the build up to it but I forgot to write about my experience during it. If you want to read the blog post, it’s right here!) but I went into those very blind. I probably ran faster than I should have, and ended up having to walk part of the way, so that slowed me down and then I dreaded starting to run again.

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(I live in these shoes. I walk to work in them, I run in them and I do any cardio in the gym in them. They’re a great all rounder, except for weight training.)

You might be asking “what’s different this time” and I have someone by my side training me. My boyfriend has ran many marathons and even ultra marathons; he absolutely loves running and coming from a weight loss background too, he’s had to build his fitness up so that includes starting from a pace where I’m at right now up until the level he’s currently at, so I’m in very good hands. (He has a blog too which centres around fitness, food and weight loss so you’ll find it right here!) We’ve been on a few runs together over the last few months and as silly as it sounds, he’s taught me how to run. Running isn’t just running, there are so many other elements to it, which I’ll talk about in a later post. This is just an introduction to how I’ll be training and I wanted to talk a little about how my first run went.

As I mentioned above, I’ve taken part in 5K’s before but Scott said to start this fresh because the time I hit on Monday night can be my new personal best. The last few months for me have been particularly challenging when it comes to the word “goals” so this new personal best isn’t a goal to beat, it’s something to aim towards but not beat myself up if I don’t achieve it the first time around.

Scott taught me to build my running up by using the analogy of “If you can’t hold a conversation, slow down” so over the past few months, I’ve been taking this on board and it’s really helped. I think my problem before was I was just going too fast, I didn’t know what my pace was and I just wanted to finish but exhausting myself wasn’t going to help that. So we stuck as a pace that was comfortable for me, there were a few hills to go up and down, I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t get out of breath especially going uphill but they weren’t very steep.

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(Excuse the quality of this particular photograph: It was late at night when I was trying to take the picture and Instagram tends to lower the quality of your image now too.)

So here’s my stats. from my first run: I use the Blaze in the FitBit series, I’ve had it for almost a year and I love it. Not only do I track my runs but it’s in constant use in the gym and I’m accountable for my steps every day thanks to it too. For just over 5K or 3.1 miles, it took just under 45 minutes altogether. When I first seen my result, I was really disappointed; Scott had set a “estimate” aim of 36 minutes and in my head I thought “That seems achievable” so imagine my disappointment when I see almost 45 minutes pop up. I didn’t even try to hide the fact that I was annoyed and I really couldn’t hide it. I was so certain that I would hit the aim, and having had a rough memory of my last 5K, this was a slower speed, so the self critical thoughts creeped in, despite having a “body high” after running the distance.

20170717_210540(One of the gorgeous perks of running in the evening.)

Having had the time to reflect back on the experience I’m not as disappointed: I ran continuously without breaking for a walk, it was my first 5K in just over a year and my body needs to get used to running so going at a slower pace is what it needs right now. Taking all of that into consideration, I didn’t do too badly. I’m still a little let down with myself but that’s more of a mental thing for me that I’m working on.

Thank you so much for reading today’s blog post. I’ve been wanting to write about fitness for the longest time on the blog and I’m so happy that I’m finally doing it. I think it’s always great to read about other people’s experiences, so if you have a running blog or if you’re a runner and you’re wrote a blog post on it, please send me it! I’d love to give it a read ❤ 

SS: Sunday Saves (#61)

sunday-saves

Good morning, good afternoon or good evening, whenever you’re reading this, I hope you’re having a lovely day so far! I’m back with another edition of my Sunday Saves where I pick out three blog posts that I’ve read during the week that I want to comment on, and I want others to see too. So there’s no theme this week but I’ll be talking about body image, travel guides and fitness documentaries.

1) Katy Belle (A Note About Body Image)

Katy’s post really hit home with me, not only had I already planned a similar post myself for the very next day but she spoke my language. Body positivity is something that is a very scary roller coaster for me; I know what helps me when it comes to looking at my body and I know what doesn’t help but I tend to fall into the “not so positive” attitude more than I would like to. I’m not a fashion blogger like Katy is so I don’t have to edit photographs of myself as often as she would, so I can’t relate that way, but this is an emotional and raw post that I feel is an absolute must read from such a truly lovely girl.

2) Steph’s World (Travel In The UK // Introduction)

So I’m very excited to talk about this post because I’m one of the contributors! Steph put a call out for bloggers from the UK to write a blog post about their home city or one of their favourite cities within in the UK. I’ll be writing about Belfast! The series begins at the beginning of August so make sure you tune in and I can’t wait to read the other posts in the series.

3) Life of Kitty (4 Must-See Fitness Documentaries on Netflix)

One of my favourite films of all time is surprisingly, Super Size Me. It’s classed more as a documentary film, but a film none the less. It has always fascinated me and I’ve lost the amount of times I’ve watched it so unsurprisingly, I love watching food and fitness documentaries. I haven’t found a lot of fitness documentaries on Netflix or online but that’s where Katie has stepped in and listed four of her must see fitness documentaries that can be found on Netflix (The UK one at least). I can’t wait to watch these particular ones because they all sound like they’re all up my street.

That’s all from today’s Sunday Saves. If you’re interested in looking at my previous Sunday Saves, you’ll find them here or if you want to keep up with me on my Instagram, it will be linked here.

SS: Sunday Saves (#55)

sunday-saves

Happy Sunday everyone and welcome back to my Sunday Saves. As I’m sure you know by now, if you haven’t read last week’s post, you’ll find it right here or if you want to read my previous Sunday Saves over the past year, you’ll find them right here! This week’s theme is focusing on fitness: more specifically, preparing for a workout, tips on being a beginner runner and finding the motivation to work out in the morning.

1) Lifestyled by Jennie (Motivational Reasons For Exercising In The Morning)

I am such an advocate for exercising in the morning so I am, of course, going to celebrate Jennie’s post about it. She gives us four genuine reasons why working out in the morning is better than the evening, straight after work for example. I can’t wait to write about my own experiences on this!

2) Fit Cake (Preparing for a Workout)

So now that you’ve read Jennie’s post about getting the motivation to get up in the morning, why not read Emma’s post on how to prepare for a workout. This includes making sure you drink your water (especially when working out, I can’t stress how IMPORTANT this is!) and the art of stretching.

3) Harmony Blaze (Me, Myself and Running)

Emma’s post (Yes, this is a different Emma!) has come at a great time for me as I begin my own running journey just before the Summer. Originally, I had begun last year; it was around this time last year I signed up for my first Park Run but unfortunately life happened and I never kept up with the running. Thankfully, that’s changed this year and I’m finally ready to give it a go again. Emma talks about why she took up running, what she loves about it and even a few tips to newbie runners like me.

That’s all from this week’s Sunday  Saves; if you have any other fitness posts you think I should read, please tweet me over at @RetroSnowflake on Twitter or leave a comment below. I crave more fitness posts! Thanks for reading, and have a lovely weekend, whatever you get up to!