Regaining my running confidence and CocoPro review

I hope everyone had a great weekend. I don’t want to tempt fate, but after more than two months of complete rest, I think that I might finally be able to call myself a runner again.
October runTaken after I’d completed my last long run back in October. It’s good to be running up this hill again.

For once I’ve been sensible with my return to running. Gone are the days I’d happily ignore niggles and run when I was in pain. It has taken a long time and a lot of frustrating running injuries, but I think I’ve finally accepted that I need to listen to my body.Injury ebib

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Like most injury-prone runners I probably delayed heading out for a run for longer than I needed to. I was afraid that the second I started to run, my foot would implode and I’d be back on the injury bench.

Fortunately, my close friend gave me a bit of a talking to and told me to get out the f**king door. I also rediscovered the cheesy but motivational song my coach used to make us listen to before competitions.

“Never surrender to the doubts that cloud your mind
Never retreat from who you are…“

Perhaps I should listen to it before my next job interview…

Since the start of the month I’ve been running without my Garmin. This may sound slightly stupid but I didn’t want the added pressure. Although the majority of my runs have lasted less than 30 minutes, yesterday I decided it was time to find out if my right foot could cope with a slightly longer run.

I’m writing this several hours after I ran for the not so impressive total of 20 minutes before lunch. Although I clearly didn’t drink enough after my run as I’ve got a headache, my heel is 99.9 per cent pain free.

Fingers crossed I’ll be able to walk in the morning!

CocoPro review

Earlier this year CocoPro were recruiting for brand ambassadors.  Although I knew I wasn’t social media savvy enough to be an ambassador, I rather cheekily asked if I could review their products. CocoPro kindly agreed and added me to their mailing list.
CocoPro

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Fast forward a couple of weeks and a random bloke called Paul appeared at my front door holding a small parcel; the postman had delivered my bottles of CocoPro to the wrong address. So thanks Paul for being so honest and for delivering my parcel.

What is CocoPro?

CocoPro is the world’s first pure coconut water with added protein drink and is currently available in two flavours; plain coconut and coconut with pineapple. I was sent one 330ml bottle of each flavour to try.

Coconut flavour

I think coconut water is a bit like Marmite; you either love it or hate it. After a slightly rocky start, I’ve grown to quite like the taste of coconut water.

Although the drink is meant to be consumed after exercise or prolonged activity, I decided to drink my bottle of coconut flavoured CocoPro after I’d been for a short run in humid conditions. I was concerned the added protein would give the drink an artificial taste. Although I was pleased to discover the drink tasted quite natural, it was quite bland and didn’t seem to taste very much of anything.

On the plus side the coconut flavoured CocoPro was easy to drink, and left me feeling hydrated and refreshed. It definitely quenched my post-run thirst and as an added bonus, I didn’t develop my usual post running in humid conditions headache.

May runNot the best photo but I’m in love with these Lululemon shorts.

Coconut with pineapple flavour

I saved my bottle of coconut with pineapple CocoPro as a reward for running up one of my nemesis hills without walking, twice. Quite frankly, I’ll take any running positives I can at the moment.

After personally finding the coconut flavoured CocoPro a little disappointing, I was a tad concerned the coconut with pineapple flavoured CocoPro would also be quite bland. Happily I discovered that this wasn’t the case and I could really taste the pineapple. I wonder if I could use the CocoPro to make a refreshing post workout mocktail.

Would I recommend CocoPro?

Yes, I would definitely recommend the coconut with pineapple flavoured CocoPro, thanks to my local Waitrose I’ve already filled my fridge ready for the warmer weather. Although some might think £2.50 for a bottle of coconut and pineapple water is expensive, I don’t mind paying a little bit extra for a refreshing drink that contains protein electrolytes and coconut.

Do you have a favourite post-workout drink?

Have you ever been too scared to run after being injured?

**Full disclosure: I was sent a couple of bottles of CocoPro for free, I wasn’t asked to write a review. As always all opinions and dodgy photographs are my own**

A quiet but productive weekend

I hope that everyone had a relaxing weekend. Although the weather was rubbish in Four Oaks on Saturday, the sun finally made a welcome appearance yesterday.

I had a really, really quiet weekend. I think that sometimes it’s important to chill out and do very little. I allowed myself two days off from job hunting, and now feel mentally refreshed and ready to tackle my next load of job applications.

I’m looking after my friend’s house this week so spent most of Saturday morning cleaning two houses. I was left with strict instructions to “eat whatever I want…” so I ate far too much. As an added ‘bonus’ my friend has Sky TV. This meant that I spent several hours on Saturday watching cricket and athletics.

Slightly unrelated, but I love how Nike have kitted out gold medallists from Rio in different gear to the rest of their sponsored athletes. Even the famous Nike swoosh is gold.Diamond League 1

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On Saturday evening I switched on BBC1 ready for my weekly Casualty fix.  I know that I’m sad but I’m easily pleased and love both Casualty and Holby City. As you can imagine I was horrified to discover that Eurovision had replaced Casualty. Devastating! Hopefully Holby City won’t be cancelled on Tuesday evening…

Yesterday morning mum called round for a quick coffee and chat. She is meant to be having her fifth and hopefully final operation on a dodgy vein in her thigh this morning. I just hope that the recent cyber-attack doesn’t result in her operation being cancelled for a third time.

Before lunch I caught up on some slightly overdue blogmin (blog related admin) and worked my way through the ‘birthday cake for one’ my brother had given me earlier in the week.Birthday cake for 1Although it tasted amazing, I’m not sure eating the whole thing in one sitting was sensible. My lack of common sense continued when I decided that the best time to work through my strength and conditioning routine was straight after eating too much cake.

I also included a few of my ‘favourite’ Plantar Fasciitis stretches just to ensure that I made myself feel nauseous.  PF stretches

[Source]

After a quick two hour nap I spent an hour gardening and then headed out for a quick walk around the top end of Sutton Park. I had originally planned on going for a run yesterday but my left calf was still feeling sore and I didn’t want to risk yet another injury.

I spent the evening cooking, drafting out a couple of blog posts, packaging up my eBay sales, writing my ‘things to do list’ for the week ahead and relaxing. I definitely feel ready for the week ahead now.

So apologies for sharing this rather dull post. Not all weekends are exciting but then that’s life. I only wrote this post as I think it’s important to highlight the fact it is okay to be boring and to chill out from time to time. It’s all about balance.

Did you have an enjoyable weekend?

Do you like to have the occasional quiet and relaxed weekend?         

Rants and raves #13

**Disclaimer: Now that I’m able to run again, I’m feeling quite chirpy so the raves should outnumber the rants. As always, all rants, raves and opinions represent my own views. Other (far superior) less opinionated and negative running blogs are available**

Happy Thursday! I hope that everyone has had a great week so far. It’s nearly the weekend.

Rave: Lululemon Sole training shorts

A slightly indulgent rave to start with but I have fallen in love with my Lululemon Sole training shorts. Yes they were expensive and yes I could have bought several cheaper pairs of shorts for the same price. They were a birthday present and I do think it’s important to occasionally treat yourself…

The shorts feel really, really comfortable (hopefully I don’t lose too much weight too soon…), have loads of pockets to stash stuff and most importantly don’t ride up or cause the dreaded ‘chub rub’.

Rant: Sudden calf cramps

Picture the scene. You’re lying on the top of your bed, chilling out reading a book and relaxing when suddenly your calf goes into spasm. You know that the second you move the pain will intensify a bazillion times so you are kind of stuck in a painful predicament. It’s definitely a no-win situation.

This was me on Tuesday evening. One minute I was chilling reading the last chapter of Keep on Running the next I was rolling around clutching my left calf. I guess it was some sort of karma for me being lazy and lying on my bed reading rather than doing the washing-up.

My calf still feels a bit bruised now.

Rave: Chocolate éclairs

Now that I’m able to run again I’m trying to eat less rubbish and more ‘real’ food, I’m also trying to lose weight. Unfortunately, I’ve developed a bit of a soft spot for chocolate éclairs.EclairI’ve tried a few different éclairs, but my favourites are the £1.00 éclairs from the fresh cake/bakery section in Sainsbury’s. Luckily for my waist and wallet they have usually sold out by the time I get to Sainsbury’s, but the other day I managed to snaffle the last one.

Rant: Noisy birds

I like the lighter mornings and the warmer weather. I dislike the birds – I think they are starlings but I’m not sure – currently living directly above my bedroom window. The baby starlings are seriously noisy and start demanding food the second it gets light.  I actually feel sorry for the parents, talk about constant pressure.

To add insult to injury, the starlings somehow managed to activate my house alarm at 05:30 on Sunday. I rarely get to sleep before midnight, so these early morning mini feathered alarm clocks are making me even crankier than usual.

Maybe I should borrow one of my mother’s cats…

Rave: Hydrologists cartoon thingy

When people discover that I’m a hydrologist, they usually know that my research has something to do with water, but don’t understand what I actually do. Neither do I 😉

One of my hydrologist friends sent me this hydrologists cartoon thingy. The hammock picture needs swapping to a picture of a riverside pub, the rest is pretty accurate.HydrologistMy research is actually quite tedious and involves a lot of reading, a lot of number crunching and some drought modelling. I very rarely get to go near an actual river.

Rant: DNS’ing races

I know that I’ve had this one before but the DNS’ing of races continues. I missed the Market Drayton 10k on Sunday and suspect that the Vitality London 10,000 will be another DNS.DNSingHopefully *fingers crossed* Great Run will allow me to ‘downgrade’ from the Birmingham International Marathon to the Great Birmingham Run.

[Update]: this seems a slightly long-winded way of doing things…

“Yes you can change to another distance if you wish, all you need to do is register and pay to secure your place in that new preferred event and let us know when you have done so. We can then withdraw/refund your original entry…”

Once again, if you’ve reached the end of my latest random selection of moans and groans and rants and raves, then thank-you.

How much sleep do you get during the week? I’m thinking that my 5-6 hours a night isn’t enough.

If you were given £100 would you spend it on a couple of items from Lululemon, or on loads of bits and pieces from somewhere like TK Maxx? I think I’d spend my £100 on a couple of more expensive pairs of shorts.

A trip to Hythe, a closed beach and Lululemon

Following a quiet Bank Holiday Monday, I travelled down to London on Tuesday to meet up with my best friend. The train journey to Euston didn’t get off to the most positive start when the lady sitting opposite me started to work her way through a huge bag of peanuts. I have a peanut allergy and tend to avoid any contact with them. Even the smell of peanuts makes me feel nauseous, so I was really relieved when peanut lady got off at Coventry.

The rest of the journey was uneventful. I reached Euston, found a seat in the waiting room and sat reading a book while I waited for my friend. An hour later I realised I was waiting in the wrong train station – yes I am a muppet – so I followed the slightly dubious ‘green’ walking route to St Pancras International. I met up with my friend who was fortunately running late, and discovered that we were heading to Hythe in Kent.

Unfortunately, my friend hadn’t realised that the ‘beach’ in Hythe would be closed for some sort of beach management works. I found the whole closed beach situation quite amusing, my friend was less than impressed.Wet HytheOh! I do like to be beside the seaside…

We checked into our hotel rooms and then met up in the bar for a bite to eat. Although the bar food menu was quite limited, I was happy because chicken Caesar salad was on the menu. As the beer in the bar was apparently “terrible” – I can’t say that I’d noticed and my friend was shattered, we headed back to our rooms.

The following morning I was woken by the rain and some noisy seagulls. I watched the weather forecast and discovered that while most of the UK would be sunny, London and the South East coast would be cloudy and soggy.  I guess the South East does need more rain… After a full English breakfast I was rather reluctantly dragged outside for a walk in the rain so that I could “fill my Brummie lungs with some sea air”. If nothing else it was bracing and I enjoyed watching the trucks driving up and down the beach.

At midday we made the most of a break in the rain, checked out of the hotel and walked the short distance to the Hythe Bay Seafood Restaurant where I knew I’d be able to order some Moules-frites. We shared some mackerel pate which tasted delicious, and a shellfish platter as a starter. After a short break I was presented with a huge portion of Moules-frites.Hythe BayJust looking at this photo makes me feel hungry.

I managed to eat most of the mussels but couldn’t quite eat all of them, next time I’ll make sure that I leave enough room for all of them as I hate wasting food. Needless to say I still felt pretty stuffed when we arrived back at St Pancras International a couple of hours later.

My belated birthday treat got even better when I finally got to check out the new(ish) Lululemon store on Regent Street. I walked through the entrance, stood feeling slightly overwhelmed for a couple of seconds, looked to my left and spotted the shorts I wanted. I was in and out of the store in less than 10 minutes, definitely a Lululemon personal best.Lululemon shortsI’ve no idea why this photo is skew-whiff

I met up with my friend again and got to experience the delights(?) of Moss Bros for the first time. I got to witness some hardcore ‘bridezilla’ behaviour while my friend was being fitted for a hire suit, and was relieved when I finally got to escape the aroma of sweaty feet. After a couple of few too many pints, we were feeling quite peckish so headed to one of our favourite Italian restaurants; Casa Becci.

All in all I had a great couple of days celebrating my birthday. Sometimes it’s good to get away and to forget about job hunting and other stresses. The only negative was discovering that I hadn’t got the job in Newcastle. Next time I’ll ignore my ‘phone!

A rather random one but have you ever been to Hythe? Although the closed ‘beach’ was slightly disappointing, the Hythe Bay Seafood Restaurant was amazing.

Do you tend to stick to restaurants you know and love or do you like to try new places? In the seven years I’ve been in London, I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been to Casa Becci. I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad meal there.

An interview, my birthday and a run

Last Friday I travelled up to Newcastle for a job interview. The 3+ hour train journey was entertaining as I was sharing the train carriage with a hen party. I had planned on doing some last minute interview preparation, but spent the majority of the train journey staring out of the window trying to work out where I was. Not very productive.

I arrived at Newcastle and quickly realised that I was virtually the only person in the station not in full on party mode.  I worked out the best route to the interview, bought some lunch and spent an hour people watching.  The interview itself didn’t go very well. The job I’d applied for was advertised as a technical role, after a couple of questions it became evident the role was anything but technical. I knew that I wasn’t the right person for the role. Irritating after I’d spent more than £100 on train tickets and couldn’t claim back any travel expenses.

I later discovered that I didn’t get the job. Hopefully my next interview will be slightly more positive.

I escaped, swapped my smart shoes for my trainers and walked along the River Tyne back towards the centre of Newcastle.  I was slightly underwhelmed when I spotted the Tyne Bridge. For some reason it looks massive whenever it’s shown during the Great North Run.IMG_3313

IMG_3315At least it didn’t rain…

As I’d bought the cheapest train tickets I could find, I had a long wait for my train back to Birmingham. I walked around the main shopping area and then headed back to wait in the relative safety of the train station.

The train back was busy but for some reason no one wanted to sit next to me. Perhaps I smelt really bad? I’ve no idea. By the time I got home I was shattered.

I had planned on going to Walsall parkrun the following morning, but I managed to sleep through my alarm clock.

It was my birthday on Monday and as an added bonus it was a Bank Holiday. It was also raining when I dragged myself out of bed at 7am.

I then did something I hadn’t been able to do since February. I pulled on some running gear and headed out for a run. Although my run was definitely more of a jog than a run, my troublesome heel behaved itself and I managed to plod along for a couple of miles without having to walk. I felt so good I could have probably run for 30 minutes but I was sensible and didn’t try to do too much.IMG_2609As I forgot to take a sweaty selfie after my birthday run, here’s one I took earlier.

A really positive start to my birthday.

Mum picked me up at midday treated me to a lovely lunch at Bistrot Pierre. After discovering that mussels didn’t feature on the menu, I opted for Steak-Frites and Crème brûlée. Although my steak was slightly overcooked and a little dry the Crème brûlée was amazing.

Unfortunately, I was a crap blogger and forgot to take any photos. Next time!

I spent the rest of my birthday feeling a little disappointed that I hadn’t seen the majority of my family or any of my close friends. My parents divorced when I was very young, and I very rarely see my father. My sister lives in Cheshire and my brother is busy renovating his house and also lives miles away. My friends are all married and have children and were sensibly making the most of the Bank Holiday weekend.

Apologies for the self-pitying, my birthday celebrations did improve the next day. I’ll share my experiences of Hythe in another post.

If you could go anywhere you wanted for your birthday, where would you go and what would you do? I’m rather demanding and would love to spend the day shopping in New York.

What’s your favourite meal? Mine is Moules-frites.

Rants and raves #12

**Disclaimer: Sadly, I no longer feel like a runner. Now that the weather has improved and the evenings have started to get lighter, I’ve realised just how much I miss running. As always, all rants, raves and opinions represent my own views. Other (far superior) less opinionated and negative running blogs are available**

I hope that everyone had a great Easter weekend. Although the weather was slightly rubbish in Sutton Coldfield, I still managed to fit in a couple of decent walks.

Unfortunately, I was informed that I’m too old for Easter eggs 😦

Rave: My right heel

Now I don’t want to curse myself *touches wood* but I think that my right heel is finally starting to get better. Hopefully all of the icing, stretching and resting is making a difference. I can’t wait to put on my running gear again, it’s been a while.

Ready to run

Walking is still quite challenging first thing in the morning, but there has been a definite improvement since I last blogged. I’m definitely at the ‘testing it out on a short run’ stage.

Rant: Job hunting

A couple of months ago I spotted an amazing job opportunity. I had all of the qualifications and experience required so decided to apply. I completed the most complicated online application form I’ve ever seen, and spent ages writing and re-writing answers to five technical competency questions. I submitted my application and started the waiting game.

A month after submitting my application I received the dreaded ‘I regret to inform you…’ email. I was gutted as while I knew there would be a lot of internal competition for the job, I honestly thought that my experience would have at least got me an interview. I asked for feedback on my application but was told they couldn’t provide feedback.

At least this organisation sent me a ‘thanks but no thanks’ email. The majority don’t seem to take the time to contact unsuccessful applicants.

Rave: Sweaty Betty zero gravity crop run leggings

Now although I’m definitely more High Street than posh boutique when it comes to buying running gear, when I spotted these Sweaty Betty leggings online it was love at first sight. Yes I am easily pleased and quite fickle. I also have a bum that needs sculpting.

Sweaty Betty

Fortunately, it’s my birthday soon, so I’ve dropped a few unsubtle hints – i.e. I’ve emailed my size and the link to the leggings – to my friend who just so happens to live a 5-minute walk from the Sweaty Betty on Marylebone High Street.

If you don’t ask, you don’t get…

Rant: Failing to complete Swimathon

Last year an elbow injury prevented me from swimming 1500m for Swimathon. This year a severe lack of self-confidence and an attack of the jitters prevented me from swimming 1500m. On the day of my Swimathon challenge, I arrived at the swimming pool, saw how busy the pool looked and how fast everyone else was swimming and completely bottled it. Not cool and definitely another failure.

Once the Easter holidays have finished, I’m determined to return to the pool to complete the 1500m distance. I won’t get a Swimathon medal but I will hopefully feel a sense of achievement.

Rave: Quirky running gifts

A totally unexpected parcel arrived address to me last week. When I opened the parcel a piece of athletics track on a key ring and a certificate of authenticity dropped out.

london-2012.jpg

Apologies for the slightly blurry photo! I’m now the proud owner of a piece of the London 2012 athletics track. In 2013 I got to run on the track, now I get to keep a piece of the track. As a running geek and athletics fan this makes me really happy.

I’ve no idea who bought me this rather quirky gift but thanks, I love it!

Once again, if you’ve reached the end of my latest random selection of rants, raves, moans and groans then I’m impressed.

Apologies for the bits and pieces blog, my next post will be slightly more interesting.

What is the most unusual running-related gift you’ve ever received? I think the London 2012 track keyring is pretty quirky.

Should I follow the C25K training plan when I start running again, or should I start with short distances and build from there? I suspect that I’ll find having zero fitness really frustrating, but I’m not sure I want to get stuck in a run-walk-run routine again.  

Rants and raves #11

**Disclaimer: this post was written while the author was experiencing heel pain and race envy. As always, all rants, raves and opinions represent my own views. Other (far superior) less opinionated and negative running blogs are available**

It’s been a while since I wrote my last Rants and raves post. Now that it’s April and I’m still injured, I feel the need to have a rant. As always I’ll start with rave.

Rave: Diet Coke

I think I’ve mentioned my slight Diet Coke addiction several times in my blog before. I recently realised my addiction was getting out of control when I looked inside my recycling bin and estimated that most of my recycling was Diet Coke cans. I would buy a multipack of Diet Coke – for some reason it had to be cans – and during an average day would easily drink 5-6 cans.

A few years ago I managed to stop drinking Diet Coke for six months; I can’t remember what made me break my Diet Coke ban, but I was soon drinking 5-6 cans a day. I decided to give up drinking Diet Coke and eating chocolate for Lent. The chocolate ‘ban’ lasted two days; when I see a bar of Dairy Milk I have zero willpower. I’m pleased to report I haven’t been near a can of Diet Coke since March 1st. I found breaking my Diet Coke drinking addiction so easy I suspect that it was more an obsession than a ‘proper’ addiction. It’s just a shame I’m now drinking a lot more tea.

Rant: My lack of self-control

I’m now going to contradict myself. While I found breaking my Diet Coke addiction quite straightforward, I wish the same could be said for my eating habits. Since I’ve been injured my eating habits have been poor. I’ve been treating myself to takeaways several times a week and eating far too much junk food. As a result I’ve gained a fair amount of weight since the start of the year. I’ve always had a slightly iffy relationship with food. I‘m an emotional eater and when I feel rubbish I seem to eat rubbish.BMIMost runners seem to lose weight, I’m the opposite. 

I know there are some limitations in using the body mass index (BMI) but I find it a useful guide. Although my BMI currently sits within the ‘healthy weight’ range, I’d like it to sit slightly nearer the middle of the range.

Rave: Tall ranges

There’s another slightly fickle reason I’d like to lose weight; summer.

I’ve never been a particularly girly girl; I blame my height and the lack of clothes for ‘tall’ women when I was growing up. As a teenager, I’d spend far too much time mooching about with my friends in Miss Selfridge, Topshop, C&A and New Look. While my friends had a great time trying on loads of clothes, I would spend my time wishing I was shorter as nothing ever fitted. My options were limited to Long Tall Sally and other expensive brands, so when I wasn’t wearing my school uniform or riding gear, I lived in jeans and checked shirts. The mid 90s were awesome…DP Tall dressesA selection of three of the summery dresses available in the Dorothy Perkins tall range.

Fast forward 20 or so years and more and more high street stores now have dedicated tall ranges. Although I’d rather have been looking at running gear, last night I spent ages looking at ‘tall’ summery dresses on Dorothy Perkins, Long Tall Sally, New Look, GAP and Next. I’ve finally accepted that I’m too old for Topshop. It was great as for the first time ever I actually felt slightly overwhelmed as there were so many dresses to choose from.

Rant: Plantar Fasciitis and DNS’ing races

I’m still injured and haven’t been for a run since Tuesday February 6th. The Cambridge Half Marathon, the Seven Pools Run and the City of Birmingham 10k have all been marked down in my running diary as ‘DNS’. While I’m sure I’ll be writing ‘DNS’ next to a few more races, my heel is gradually getting better and I’m confident I’ll be running again fairly soon.

Rant: Unworn running kit

Apologies for having two consecutive rants, but as this one is directly linked to my rant about my injury woes I thought I’d get away with it! Like virtually every runner I know I love shopping for new running kit. My injury means that the running kit I was bought for Christmas is as yet unworn, and in some cases is still waiting to be unwrapped.Christmas clothesThis is possibly the most upsetting photo I’ll ever share on my blog.

I’m just thankful something made me opt for a pre-Christmas shopping spree in Long Tall Sally rather than in Niketown. Perhaps subconsciously I knew I was about to pick up an injury.

Rave: The National Running Show

And finally, some positive news. The organisers of the National Running Show are currently recruiting Ambassadors. I applied and was accepted. I’m just waiting to receive a few more details, but it would be great to see some of you in Birmingham next January.

If you’ve reached the end of my latest random selection of rants, raves, moans and groans then I’m seriously impressed.

Huge apologies for another rather random blog, hopefully my next post will be slightly more positive.