Try on my Trainers: A Day in my Life

Happy Friday, the weekend is nearly here. I’ve got something a little different for you all today. As I can’t run, I’ve decided to write and share a ‘Day in my Life’ type post. I personally really enjoy reading these sort of posts, I love reading about how other people spend 24 hours. I hope that a typical Tuesday in my life isn’t too boring.

For obvious reasons, I haven’t gone into too much detail about what I got up to at work!

7:00am – My alarm wakes me

The alarm on my phone is set to go off at 7:00 every day of the week. I used to treat myself to a lie in on a Sunday morning, but don’t now because I realised that the extra sleep was making me feel more tired. This time of the year it’s so light, I’m usually already awake when my alarm goes off, this morning it was so dark outside my alarm woke me up.

7:05am – Have a wash, brush my teeth and get dressed

My weekday routine is very predictable. I’ll get up, pop to the loo, brush my teeth and wash my face etc, get dressed, grab my breakfast and then head out the door. I’m very much a get up and go type of person. As I’m rapidly approaching 40, I think I need to start making a bit more effort with my skincare regime.

7:20am-7:50am – Walk to work

The walk into the office takes me between 30 and 40 minutes. Once I’ve walked through Bull Croft Park, the centre of Wallingford and have crossed Wallingford Bridge, I have a range of different routes to choose from. Some are slightly weather dependent, the cleaners get a little grumpy when I walk mud into the office.
The Bull Croft 1The Bull Croft 2Wallingford 1Wallingford BridgeThe Boat House

This morning, when it started to rain, I decided to risk walking across the recreation ground. The ground was a little on the soggy side, but I managed to avoid getting wet feet and muddy trainers. I reached the office, dug out my security and access passes – I can guarantee that these are usually buried in my bag – let myself in, had a quick conversation with the security man, and then headed up to my desk.

7:50am-8:00am – Breakfast

I switched on my computer, headed to the kitchen and made myself a cup of tea, filled up my water bottle and prepared my breakfast. Some mornings I’ll have porridge, other mornings just a croissant. This morning I wasn’t feeling very hungry, so I opted for a croissant.

8:00am-12:00pm – Work

The highlight of my morning had to be eating my first ever hot cross bun. A colleague had made a batch of hot cross buns, they were amazing. I just worry that if I buy some in a supermarket at the weekend, they won’t taste the same.

12:00pm-12:30pm – Lunch

One of the unwritten ‘rules’ of my team is that whenever possible, we all walk down to the Manor House for lunch as a team. When I worked in Lichfield, my office was located on an industrial estate. We tended to eat lunch at our desks. My Wallingford office is located in the grounds of an old Manor House, it couldn’t be more different.
Howbery Park 1Howbery Park 2Howbery Park 3A massive perk is the staff canteen which sells the most amazing hot and cold food. Everything is subsidised, so I always tend to treat myself to a hot meal at lunchtime. Today, I treated myself to lasagne, garlic bread and potato wedges. And I wonder why I’m putting on weight!

When the weather is warm we eat outside, today it was unfortunately a tad chilly and wet so we had to eat inside. Once lunch was done and dusted, we walked the ‘long way’ back to the office.

12:30pm-4:30pm – Work

Highlights of the afternoon included a TED talk on the subject of the Happy secrets to better work, getting a job application submitted and completing some slightly tedious river flow assessments.

4:30pm – Leave Work

I usually pack up all my belongings and then double check I’ve got everything. Today, in my rush to leave the office, I almost left my phone charger on my desk. Now that would have been a disaster. As I was feeling slightly on edge and needed time to think, I decided to walk the long way back into Wallingford.

4:30pm-5:00pm – Walk back to Wallingford

The walk back into the centre of Wallingford is usually a time of reflection for me. I like to think about what went well at work and what I could have done differently. Occasionally I’ll spend a couple of minutes watching the Thames flow past me. I’ve always found being near water incredibly relaxing, one of the reasons I became a hydrologist.

5:00pm-5:45pm – Quick drink in the Old Post Office

I decided to pop into one of my favourite pubs in Wallingford – the Old Post Office – for a quiet pint. My plans for a peaceful pint didn’t go completely to plan as a rather noisy family decided to sit at the table next to me.
The OPOOPO 2The rest of the bar area was completely empty, I’ll never understand what I call the herding instinct. I was sensible and left after one pint.

5:45pm-6:00pm – Walk back to my Lodgings

The walk back from the centre of Wallingford to my lodgings usually takes me between 15 and 20 minutes, it all depends on how much I’ve had to drink. The walk takes me past what I called the ‘House of Doom’, I always feel a huge sense of relief that I escaped my previous accommodation. I got back to my lodgings, let myself in, headed up to my room, kicked off my trainers and collapsed on my bed.

6:00pm-7:00pm – Catch up on emails and some blogmin

I was in a fairly productive what I call ‘get shit done’ mode, so I decided to allocate an hour to responding to emails and also some slightly overdue blogmin. I was a little surprised this blog had so many broken links, clearly monthly broken link checks aren’t adequate.

7:00pm-8:00pm – Eat and Have a Nap

By 7:00pm my stomach was letting me know it was time to eat so I made myself a quick and easy meal. So quick and easy I forgot to take a photo #bloggerfail!

And I guess you know what happened next, I ended up having a sneaky nap. At least I woke up in time for the highlight of my Tuesday evenings; Holby City.

8:00pm-9:00pm – Watch Holby City

I’m a little ashamed to admit this, but I’ve watched Holby City since it started in 1999. My friends and family know not to contact me between 8:00pm and 9:00pm on Tuesday evenings.
HolbyI’ve no idea what happened the previous week, but it took me a couple of minutes to realise that I’d somehow managed to miss an episode. I had some urgent catching up to do. Fortunately, BBC iPlayer came to the rescue.

9:00pm-10:00pm – Make a start on Outrunning the Demons

Some evenings I’ll spend an hour blogging, it really depends if I’m in the mood. As I wanted to give my eyes a bit of a break, I decided to make a start on Outrunning the Demons.
Outrunning DemonsHere’s a bit more information about the book:

“Running can take us to fantastic places. Just as importantly, it can also bring us back from terrible ones. For people in times of crisis, trauma and physical or mental illness – when normality collapses – running can put things back together again.

Told through 34 deeply affecting real-life stories and covering such diverse themes as trauma, bereavement, addiction, depression and anxiety, this compelling book is an exposition of just why running can so often be the answer to everything when we find ourselves in extremis.”

10:00pm-10:15pm – Shower etc

I never shower in the mornings. I’m lazy and I like going to bed with wet hair and waking up with dry hair. I like heading to bed feeling clean. I’ve never owned hair straighteners or any sort of fancy hair products. When I had my hair cut last Saturday, Alicia the lady who had the dubious honour of cutting my hair said that my hair was in very good condition. It’s just a shame it’s so grey. Apologies, I got side-tracked again. I brushed my teeth and had a great shower; I don’t think I need to say any more.

10:15pm-10:30pm – General faffing

Once I’ve got dressed in my PJs, I like to spend a few minutes getting ready for the next morning. I pick an outfit for work, pack my work bag and make sure that my phone is on charge.

10:30pm – Climb into Bed

I aim to be in bed by 10:30pm at the latest. This probably won’t make sense, but it takes me a long time to relax and feel ready to go to sleep. I decided to read a few more pages of Outrunning the Demons. I was clearly quite tired because I only managed a few pages.

Please, if you haven’t read Outrunning the Demons consider treating yourself to a copy of the book.

11:00pm – Lights Out

I usually try to switch my bedside lamp off before 11:00pm. I check my phone is charging – the battery life is terrible and I can’t wait to get a replacement – grab my teddy and hopefully fall asleep.

I hope you enjoyed reading about what was a more mundane week day, the following day was far more interesting as I had a few glasses of red wine after work and didn’t fall into bed until 12:30am.

Some evenings I’ll head straight to the pub after work. When I’m feeling brave, I’ll head along to the fortnightly ‘Beer and Bants’ evenings. These are a brilliant way of meeting people from my office outside of work. When my right knee recovers, I’ll aim to run a couple of evenings a week after work. I like to let the traffic calm down so don’t head out until after 7:00pm. At the moment my weekdays are slightly predictable, I think this suits my personality.

I’d like to say that my weekends are a little more exciting, but that would be a lie. Circumstances mean that my weekends are a tad mundane. Four Oaks has a lot to offer, I need to be brave and to meet up with people. My schoolmates keep asking when I’m free, I need to organise some sort of get-together.

Finally, if you made it to the end of this waffle than a huge thank-you, I think you deserve a medal.

Advertisements

Rants and raves #34

**Disclaimer: I’m writing this post after spending the morning at the dentist, again. My debit card has taken a bit of a battering.  I’m also still not completely recovered from the lurgy and Wolves have just lost. As a result, this blog may be even more moany than usual if that’s possible. As always, all moans groans and rants and raves represent my own views. Other, far less negative running blogs are available**

Rave: The weather

I’m loving the weather at the moment; sunny but quite chilly mornings and gorgeous afternoons. On Thursday, it was mild enough for me to enjoy my first outdoors pint of the year after work. Although the weather isn’t meant to be great this week – I guess it’s time for some good old April showers – the forecast for next weekend looks reasonable.Spring 2019I just need to start running again sooner rather than later because at the moment I’m feeling incredibly unfit. I don’t want a repeat of a few years ago when I started running after a longish injury break and struggled because it was so warm.

Rant: EE network coverage

A rather random rant, but I’ve reached the stage I’ve had enough of EE. Someone told me that EE was formerly known as ‘Everything Everywhere’. I personally think EE should be called NA ‘Nothing Anywhere’. I do wonder how bad other networks are if EE keep winning this.EE best network

[Source]

My EE phone doesn’t tend to work in my office. This is incredibly frustrating when I need to check my personal email account (we aren’t allowed to access hotmail at work) and when someone tries to contact me. My phone lies and tells me it has 4G signal, the second I try to send a text the signal mysteriously disappears and the dreaded ‘No Signal’ appears on the screen.

My phone also doesn’t work for most of the journey between Oxford and Leamington Spa, in large areas of Four Oaks and in my house. Network coverage used to be a million times better, I’ve no idea why it is now so bad. And to think there are plans to install a 4G network on the Moon. I can’t wait to escape from EE when my contract ends in June.

Rave: Feedback from people who read this blog

Like most bloggers, I do sometimes wonder if people actually read my waffle. My blogging stats haven’t been that great recently, possibly because I haven’t had much to say. I was thrilled when Paul contacted me completely out of the blue to say they had found this running blog, and that my blog injected some welcome reality into things.

Thanks for taking the time to contact me Paul, your lovely feedback made my day. I’m hopeful that normal service will resume once I am up and running again!

Rant: My right knee

My fragile right knee has been incredibly painful – 9/10 on my niggleometer – for a couple of weeks now. Frustrating when the lurgy means that I haven’t been able to run recently. The ‘did not starts’ are starting to frustrate me, there’s no way I’m even going to attempt the Cathedral to Castle 10 mile run on Sunday, last year I ended the race with a knee injury.

I had hoped that a break from running would help my right knee settle down and get better, if anything it seems to be more painful the longer I don’t run. I can’t avoid using it as I have to walk to and from the office Monday to Friday. I’ve been following the strengthening routine a sports physio gave me a couple of years ago and have been wearing a knee support. I’m rapidly running out of ideas…

Rave: The Old Post Office

I have a new favourite drinking establishment in Wallingford. After a couple of not so positive experiences, the Boat House has been relegated into second place and The Old Post Office promoted to first place.

As an added bonus, the food in The Old Post Office is amazing. It’s just a shame it’s a tad on the expensive side, definitely more of an occasional treat. I’m still not completely sure how two of us managed to spend £70 in there a couple of weeks ago. I wasn’t even feeling tipsy when I left.

Rant: The Oxford Half Marathon ballot

With the exception of the London Marathon et al, I struggle with the concept of races having ballots. Races should be first come first served. I was more than a little surprised when a colleague told me that the Oxford Half was now ballot entry. I mean the Oxford Half didn’t even sell out in 2018. They also had an issue with medals; the complaints on social media were pretty impressive. I can only assume they held a ballot to encourage people to enter and to hype the event up.Oxford Half ballot

[Source]

I don’t know of anyone who entered who didn’t get a place through the ballot. I know some people didn’t get in via the first round of invites, but predictably they got a place via the second round of invites. I won’t complain about the price. Let’s just hope the medals arrive in time for the race this year.

Rave: Wolverhampton Wanderers

I know I’ve said it before, but after a few not very enjoyable seasons, I’m really enjoying being a Wolves supporter. I would love to be able to say that I’m heading down to the FA Cup Semi-Final on Sunday but I’m not. I’ve donated my ticket to a good friend who has never experienced the new(ish) Wembley.WolvesI just hope that he manages to get on the right train to London Euston, manages to find Wembley, and that Wolves put on a decent performance. If they get hammered by Watford it will be a disappointing day out for Wolves.

Rant: CrossCountry Trains

And while on the subject of trains, I want to rant about CrossCountry trains. I won’t complain about the fact most of their trains are overcrowded and quite clearly not designed for passengers with longer than average legs. I won’t complain about the fact that 90 per cent of the trains I catch on a Friday arrive into Birmingham New Street late. I do want to complain about the fact CrossCountry trains now charge £1 for the privilege(?) of having paper rather than e-tickets. When I contacted CrossCountry to ask why, this was part of their response: 

CrossCounty always offer a free method of fulfilment, and the £1 collection fee for collecting your tickets at a station is only chargeable where an m-Ticket or e-Ticket is available.

E-Tickets are easier to collect due to how flexible they are, you get four options for showing your ticket so you can save time queuing at the train station or waiting for your tickets to arrive in the post. You can show the PDF on your smartphone, print at home/work, send to Apple Wallet or use our Train Tickets app where your ticket will be visible in your wallet.”

I’m quite happy queuing at the train station for a couple of minutes to collect my tickets. I’d rather have paper tickets as I know they (1) will open the barriers at Oxford station, (2) will open the barriers at Birmingham New Street station, (3) don’t rely on having phone signal to actually work, (4) don’t rely on me having phone battery, (5) mean that I don’t have to risk dropping my phone when I’m already struggling to carry a couple of large bags and (6) are far more convenient.

And finally, I’m afraid I’m going to finish with a bonus rant…

Rant: Me!

I’ve been feeling incredibly gloomy and completely lacking in motivation for a couple of weeks now. Although not knowing where I’ll be living and working when my temporary contract ends probably isn’t helping, I’m blaming my gloominess on not being able to run. I’m definitely more positive when I can run. I’ve been struggling at work and have stopped enjoying my job. Getting out of bed each morning and heading into the office has been a chore. I haven’t felt like blogging and have struggled to find the motivation to write. Most evenings, I get back to my room; have a lengthy nap and then waste time watching TV.

I’ve got a job interview later this week and to be honest I don’t feel very well prepared. I don’t even know if I want the job, I just felt like I needed to apply for it as it’s a permanent position nearer to Four Oaks. Hopefully I’ll start to feel a bit more positive when I know what I’ll be doing when my temporary contract ends. Running will also help.

If you’ve reached the end of this selection of random rants and raves, then a huge ‘thank-you’. I’m not sure I would have made it to the end. I hope that you think that my rants were reasonable. As always, I do feel better now that I’ve shared my moans and groans on here.

Do you have any recommendations for mobile phone providers? After 15+ years, I’ve had enough of Orange/EE. I’m just worried they are all equally as bad.

Do you agree with races holding ballots or do you think it should be first come first served? I can understand why races like the London, Chicago and Berlin Marathons hold ballots. I struggle with the concept of smaller races holding ballots.

London Landmarks Half Marathon training week 12

Good morning and happy Thursday. I hope that everyone who reads my weekly updates had a great weekend. Mine didn’t exactly go to plan. At least we’ve got most of the week out of the way, it will soon be the weekend again.
Collage 29The final week of my half marathon – taper week and race – recommended I completed an easy 20 minute run on Monday, a comfortable 40 minute run on Wednesday, a steady half hour run on Friday, and finally, a half marathon on Sunday. Spoiler, after spending several days in bed feeling terrible, it took me until Tuesday to accept I wouldn’t be well enough to complete a half marathon. A difficult decision to make but most definitely the right decision.

Monday – 20 mins easy Rest

The final week of my half marathon didn’t get off to the most positive of starts when I felt far too unwell to make the most of a day of annual leave. Like the vast majority of people – I can think of a couple of exceptions – I hate feeling so unwell I can’t function properly. Walking the mile to the local shops left me feeling exhausted and food didn’t taste right. Mum treated me to a small cooked breakfast at the local farm shop, I struggled to clear my plate. To add insult to injury, during one epic coughing fit I smashed my fragile left foot into the wooden storage box at the bottom of my bed. A week later it still feels painful. Only I could injure my foot coughing.

Tuesday – Rest

I had originally aimed to travel down to Wallingford so that I’d reach the office at lunchtime. I phoned my line manager who recommended I didn’t attempt to come into the office. I got off the phone and had a terrible coughing fit. I think it was at this point I accepted I wouldn’t be well enough to attempt a half marathon on Sunday. The thought of attending a two-day drought conference in Oxford was stressful enough.

After another what felt like another complete waste of a day, I walked the short distance to the local train station and started the long journey back down to Wallingford. I didn’t feel great but I was determined to attend the conference the following morning. A colleague very kindly picked me up from Oxford train station – apparently I looked shattered – and we drove back to Wallingford via McDonald’s. I clearly was far from well as I didn’t even manage to finish my chips.

Wednesday – 40 mins comfortable Rest

The short walk into the centre of Wallingford left me feeling shattered. I usually love a good hydrology related conference, however, the thought of spending the day listening to presentations while trying not to irritate people with my cough meant that I couldn’t relax. The venue of the conference was stunning – Pembroke College, Oxford – definitely a case of how the other half live go to university. Completely different to both Birmingham and Leeds University. And to think I turned down a place at Cambridge. It’s just a shame it was so cloudy and gloomy both days we were there.

The first day finished just before 17:00 then there was a drinks reception. By this stage I felt far too tired to network, so I positioned myself in a corner away from the crowds of conference delegates. I spotted one of my PhD external examiners, said a quick hello, made my excuses and headed back to Wallingford with a colleague. Most people would have headed straight to bed. I’m not sensible so I convinced my colleague to grab a bite to eat in the Old Post Office. I’m not sure drinking Malibu and Coke was sensible, but I slept well that night.

Thursday – Rest

I woke up well before my alarm feeling much better; my throat had progressed from what I call the irritating ‘tickly’ stage. I had a shower, got dressed into some reasonably smart (for me!) clothes and walked the short distance into the centre of Wallingford. I grabbed myself some breakfast in Greggs and met up with my colleague at the bus stop. We arrived at Oxford about an hour before the conference started so decided to pop into M&S. I checked out the length of some so-called ‘longer length’ trousers, and not for the first time wondered who actually buys clothes in M&S.
Collage 30Although I’d slept well, I found the second day of the conference tiring. Following the most amazing lunch – the Pembroke College dining hall made me think of Harry Potter – I found myself almost falling asleep a couple of times during the afternoon session. The presentations were informative, I just seemed to run out of energy. There wasn’t a lot of conversation during the bus journey back to Wallingford.

Friday – 30 mins steady Rest

After spending the week either at home or at the conference in Oxford, it felt slightly strange being back in the office. By the time I’d read almost 250 emails and had written up my end of year review, it was time for ‘fish and chips’ Friday. I was clearly not completely recovered as I struggled to finish my tiny portion of chips. Most people know my Friday afternoon routine, I left the office at 15:00 and arrived back in Four Oaks three hours later. I briefly considered attempting a steady 30 minute run but decided I needed give myself more time to recover from the office lurgy. Definitely the right decision as I felt so tired I headed to bed straight after eating my traditional Friday evening Chinese. Not the most of productive of starts to the weekend.

Saturday – Rest

With the exception of buying two tickets for the FA Cup Semi Final at Wembley, Saturday was more or less a complete write-off. Completing a few simple adulting tasks in the morning left me feeling so tired, I clearly needed more sleep as I spent five hours in bed asleep. Another waste of a day. Not heading down to London was definitely the right decision. Although I felt much better when I woke up, I had no appetite and zero energy. More worryingly my head felt so fuzzy, I wasn’t able to make any progress on the academic paper I need to complete by the end of March. As for the job application I had planned on completing, not a chance!

Sunday – London Landmarks Half Marathon Rest

And so to Sunday, the day of the London Landmarks Half Marathon. Some runners seem to have the ability to complete half marathons and even marathons when they aren’t feeling 100 per cent. I’m definitely not one of those runners; I must be getting sensible now that I’m approaching 40. A slightly scary prospect! The nearest I got to running was putting my warmer winter running gear into storage, washing and retiring a pair of trainers, and putting my customised insoles into a pair of trainers I’d forgotten I’d bought in the sales. Please don’t let me buy any more trainers!

After what felt like the shortest and least productive weekend ever, I started the lengthy journey back down to Wallingford. The long journey gave me time to reflect on my unsuccessful half marathon training cycle and future running and race goals. At one stage last week I seriously thought about quitting running, I’d had enough of niggles and illnesses preventing me from making it to the start of my target races. It’s getting a little predictable and embarrassing. Now that I’m starting to feel better, I’m feeling slightly more positive and can’t wait to pull on my new trainers.

So a massive ‘thank you’ to everyone who has read my half marathon training updates. I’m sorry didn’t make it the start and that there won’t be a detailed review of the London Landmarks Half Marathon. I’d love to take part next year but doubt that I’d be lucky in the ballot two years in a row.

Training totals

  • Runs: 24
  • Time: 19 hours 2 mins
  • Distance: 105.12 miles

Niggleometer

  • Left knee: 5/10
  • Left foot: 9/10

London Landmarks Half Marathon training Week 11

Good afternoon, I hope that everyone who reads this – ‘thank-you!’ – had an amazing weekend and start to the new week. This blog is over 24 hours later than usual because I’ve been stuck down by the office lurgy; again. As it stands, I think it’s extremely unlikely I’ll be well enough to head to London, at the moment; I can’t even run a bath.Collage 27The eleventh week of my London Landmarks Half Marathon training – the ‘start of the taper’ – suggested that I completed a 20 minute jog on Monday, a steady 40 minute run on Wednesday, a steady 40-45 minute run on Friday, and an hour long run at a comfortable pace on Sunday. After cutting short a couple of longer runs, I decided to run for 90 minutes on Sunday.

So how did I cope during the penultimate week of half marathon training? Did Storm Gareth – does anyone else think the name ‘Gareth’ sounds far too friendly to be a storm? – derail my training? Most importantly, did I manage to avoid picking up my usual last minute injury or illness?

Monday – 20 min jog Rest

Thanks to a couple of glasses of red wine on Sunday evening and a late night, I started the week feeling tired with a slightly fuzzy head. Fortunately, the combination of a somewhat windy 30 minute walk into the office and a Gregg’s sausage roll cleared my head. A good job, because the first challenge of the day was getting my computer fixed. Apparently a colleague had saved 4GB worth of ‘stuff’ on my computer, the computer technician said he was amazed it was functioning at all. I wonder if I’ve got too much ‘junk’ stored away inside my head, maybe a good clear out would help me too. Anyway, fingers crossed that’s the end of my work computer woes.

I escaped the office at a sensible time, walked back to my lodgings and lay down on my bed. Not the most productive use of my time but I felt completely shattered. I’m sure people who read my weekly updates on a regular basis can predict what happened next, I nodded off and woke up a couple of hours later feeling a tad disorientated. I decided to delay my 20 minute run by 24 hours.

Tuesday – Rest 20 min jog

Tuesday got off to a positive start when I managed to avoid getting soaked on the way into the office. I also remembered to distribute the report I’d produced last week, I have been known to forget.IMG_2778The rest of the day was reasonably productive as the office was virtually empty. I discovered that I’d got an interview for the job I’d applied for a couple of weeks ago. After completely messing up my last interview, I’ll make sure that I’m more prepared.

I almost stopped off at the Boat House pub with a colleague after work, but knew that one pint would turn into ‘several’ pints and I wouldn’t run. Such will power! I got back to my room, got changed into some running gear and spent an hour catching up on emails and blogmin. I was a little frustrated when I discovered Holby City had been postponed due to the idiots who are failing to lead our country.

When I eventually set out on what should have been a jog, I discovered it was mild and quite windy. I found the short ‘jog’ quite challenging, it most definitely wasn’t a confidence boosting training session. My post-run beetroot-face took a long time to fade.

Wednesday – 40 mins steady Rest

I think the highlight of the working day were avoiding getting drenched during the walk into work – others weren’t as lucky – and the amazing cakes a colleague brought in for our team meeting. I spent lunchtime reminiscing about clubbing and trance music in the late 1990s with a colleague. We both agreed the lack of digital cameras and social media when we were at university was definitely a massive positive.

I’m not sure what went wrong but I didn’t leave the office until 17:30. This meant that I had to postpone my training run by a day as my landlady had arranged for her neighbour – a lady who works in my office – to come round for some wine and nibbles. The evening was incredibly civilised, I think the equation three bottles of red wine between three people over three hours worked well. I even remembered to pack my bags before heading to bed.

Thursday – Rest 40 mins steady

I woke up feeling incredibly perky, perhaps I should drink red wine instead of beer next time I find myself in a pub. My day got off to a positive start when i avoid the rain by a matter of minutes for the second day in a row. The theme of the day seemed to be ‘ask Dr Emma’ this was great as it meant the day flew by really quickly.

I did my usual trick of getting an earlier bus back to Oxford than I needed to. This left me with enough time to have a quick look around the castle and prison located in the centre of Oxford. I must admit I found both slightly underwhelming.   Collage 28I got back to Four Oaks at 20:00ish, dumped my bags, pulled on some running gear and headed straight back out the door. I found the 40 minute steady run difficult as I felt like I had no energy. I hadn’t eaten for eight hours so I guess I was running on empty. I got home, had quick shower and went into ‘adulting’ mode. It’s just a shame I didn’t feel hungry and completely forgot to eat.

Friday – 40-45 mins steady Rest

I didn’t feel great when I woke up, but put it down to the fact I hadn’t eaten enough after running the previous evening. I made myself eat a decent breakfast and then made a start on the manuscript I need to finish reviewing by the end of the month. After a couple of hours I needed a break, so when my friend said he was popped into Sutton Coldfield, I asked if I could join him. I wanted to buy two things; an electric toothbrush and some running socks. I went into Boots; they didn’t have the toothbrush I wanted. I also failed to find any running socks and was reminded for the millionth time that online shopping is the way forward. The rest of the day was so mundane I won’t bore you all to tears with the details. It’s just a shame my head felt so fuzzy – not alcohol induced – I was unable to make much progress with the manuscript. I was also unable to run.

Saturday – Rest

I spent all day in bed feeling terrible. One minute I was boiling hot, the next I was freezing cold. After one epic coughing fit, my heart was beating so quickly it started to scare me. I unfortunately felt too unwell to travel to Wolverhampton to the Wolves v Man United match. I didn’t even feel well enough to watch it on the TV; hopefully I’ll be able to get tickets for Wembley.

Sunday – 60 mins comfortable pace Rest

Just looking at my trainers made me feel tired, there was no way I could have completed a training run. Rather worryingly, I somehow managed to injure my foot while lying in bed coughing. It feels like I’ve managed to bruise a bone. Only I could injure myself lying down! Sunday was another waste of a day, just thinking about running a half marathon stressed me out.1 week to goSo that’s the penultimate week of my half marathon training not successfully completed. Once again, I’ve been struck down by the office lurgy in the lead up to a race, I wish people would stay at home when they are ill. I also wish I had a better immune system. Unless I recover quickly during the week (it’s now Tuesday, and I still feel terrible) I don’t think I’ll be heading down to London. I’m in danger of earning myself the nickname the ‘DNS’ runner.

The final week of my half marathon training is described as the taper and race week. After missing far too many training runs, I don’t need to taper, I just need to get better ASAP! At the moment, I think there’s zero chance of me making it to the start line of the London Landmarks Half Marathon. Even attempting to walk around the course would end in tears.

Training totals

  • Runs: 24
  • Time: 19 hours 2 mins
  • Distance: 105.12 miles

 Niggleometer

  • Right knee: 4/10
  • Left foot: 5/10

London Landmarks Half Marathon training Week 10

Happy Monday! I hope that everyone who reads my waffle had an amazing weekend. I had an enjoyable but perhaps slightly chaotic weekend. I’m feeling tired this morning, getting out of bed this morning was difficult.Collage 24Week 10 of my half marathon training plan – the ‘peak’ week – recommended that I completed a 30 minute easy run on Monday, a 60 minute easy run on Thursday, a 5k run or parkrun on Saturday, and a longer 120-130 minute run on Sunday. After missing far too many longer runs, I was determined to run for a couple of hours on Sunday.

So how did I cope during the tenth week of my London Landmarks Half training? Did my niggly right knee behave itself? Did I remain injury free? Did I allow the pub to get in the way of running?

Monday – 30 mins easy Rest

After a celebratory wine and beer on Sunday evening, I started the week with a slightly fuzzy head. Fortunately for everyone, I felt a lot better after the walk into the office. Thanks to some computer related issues – I’m pretty certain computers shouldn’t take 30 minutes to load – I didn’t have the most productive morning ever. The afternoon didn’t improve and I wasn’t in the best of moods when I left work.

The walk back to my room and a sneaky powernap helped me to shift my slightly grumpy mood. I decided to postpone my 30 minute run by a day as my right knee felt quite niggly after my long run on Sunday and I felt too tired to run. Not the most positive start to the week, perhaps I need to avoid working on Mondays.

Tuesday – Rest 30 mins easy

Thanks to some decent sleep, I woke up feeling reasonably refreshed, even my archaic work computer failed to wind me up. I spent the day preparing flow and groundwater data for a hydrology report and felt like I’d had a productive day when I left the office with a colleague. I’m not sure what happened, but we ended up back in The Old Post Office enjoying a beer and some healthy snacks crisps. Fortunately, my colleague could only stay for a couple; otherwise there is no way I would have headed out for a run.Collage 25I escaped from The Old Post Office, picked up some bits and pieces in Waitrose, got back to my room and then spent an hour writing a product review and watching Casualty. Once I felt confident the beer had settled, I got changed into some running gear and headed out of the door before I could change my mind. The half hour run felt reasonably easy, the beer just about stayed put and I avoided having an unfortunate incident in the centre of Wallingford. It felt good to make a start on ‘peak’ week.

Wednesday – Rest

My computer finally ‘died’ and I spent quite a lot of time on the ‘phone talking to someone on the computer helpdesk. I’m not sure why I was told changing my password would solve my computer related woes; it didn’t. In the end, I abandoned my computer, tracked down a spare desktop and managed to finish collating a technical report that had to be completed by Friday. My colleague very kindly saved me from a wet walk, gave me a lift back to her house in Wallingford and cooked us an awesome meal.

The rest of the evening was incredibly chilled out, just what this doctor ordered. I set my alarm for 05:30 as I wanted to run before work. Sensible people would have gone to bed at a reasonable time, I somehow ended up watching violin master classes on YouTube and completely lost track of the time. Who needs sleep..?

Thursday – 60 mins easy

Getting out of bed at 05:30 was a bit of a struggle. Once I got outside, it took me quite a long time to wake up and to get into my stride, to be honest, the run felt anything but easy. I was reminded that Wallingford is quite a small town and that the bridge over the River Thames is just like Mount Everest when your legs are feeling tired. Although the run was challenging, it felt incredibly satisfying to complete a midweek training run before 07:00. It’s just a shame my lack of fitness meant that the post-run walk into the office seemed to take forever.

Computer issues meant that work was a little frustrating at times. Anyone who has ever used ArcGIS will know you need a decent computer to actually use it; my temporary computer didn’t seem to cope with the map I was trying to produce. My early start meant that by lunchtime I was feeling pretty tired, I’ve got so much respect for people who run before work, I couldn’t do it on a regular basis.

The rest of Thursday was a little predictable. One minute I was in the office, the next I was enjoying a couple of pints in The Old Post Office. I think it’s safe to say that I slept well on Thursday night.

Friday – Rest

I had a productive Friday as I was quite literally the only person in the office from my team. Walking to lunch on my own felt a little strange, but I found myself a different team to sit with. After a short but productive afternoon, I escaped from the office at 15:00 and arrived back home in Four Oaks after a reasonably stress free journey, three hours later. The evening was dull but incredibly productive as I made a great start on my weekend ‘things to do’ list. I’ve no idea how I used to go out every Friday evening, these days I’m in bed well before midnight.

Saturday – parkrun Rest

I looked at the weather forecast, saw it was going to be a tad soggy, and decided not to head to my local parkrun. I spent the morning replying to emails, reading Tokyo Marathon race recaps – one day, I’d love to go to Tokyo, and generally faffing around. At lunchtime I met up with a friend in Bistrot Pierre in Mere Green for an early lunch. I decided to be brave and opted for a new to me starter; the Goats’ cheese bruschetta. I’m not a huge fan of beetroot but quite enjoyed the bruschetta. The steak with my steak-frites was a little chewy, and the Crème brûlée quite small compared to last time. I guess you can’t win them all.Collage 26After lunch, I had the enjoyable experience of Sutton Coldfield on a Saturday afternoon. I had to collect an order from TK Maxx and needed to buy a couple of birthday cards. TK Maxx was incredibly busy but people didn’t seem to be actually buying anything. I was in and out of the store in less than five minutes, definitely a personal best. I grabbed a couple of birthday cards and escaped from the crowds. The rest of my Saturday was so mundane – think sleep and lots of carbs – I won’t bore you all to tears with the details.

Sunday – 120-130 mins easy 80 mins easy

I felt shattered when my alarm woke me at 05:00, not the best way to feel before a long training run. I lay in bed and mentally debated the pros and cons of getting my run done first thing in the morning, the pros just about outweighed the cons so I reluctantly got out of bed. The weather wasn’t ideal; cold, wet and quite windy, and it took me a long time to find my rhythm. My stomach unfortunately didn’t feel ‘right’ from the start, and after an hour of running, I reluctantly headed back home. I’m hoping that running for 80 minutes is better than running for zero minutes.LLHM MapI just about made it back home and headed straight to the loo. Loo stop completed, I headed to the kitchen made myself drink a pint of strawberry milkshake, stretched and then headed back to bed for a couple of hours. I treated myself to a bit of a lie-in and watched the Big Half in bed – watching all the runners made me feel a tad lazy – next year I will hopefully at least start the race.

So that’s the tenth week of my half marathon training not really completed. I can’t believe there are now only a couple of weeks to go. I most definitely don’t feel at all prepared at the moment.

The penultimate week of the training plan I’ve been following is described as the ‘start of the taper’. To be honest, I haven’t done enough training to justify or to need a taper. I’ve got to complete a 20 minute jog later today, a steady 40 minute run on Wednesday, a steady 40-45 minute run on Friday and a 60 minute run at a comfortable pace on Sunday. If my knee feels okay, I may try to run for 90 minutes on Sunday.

Training totals

  • Runs: 22
  • Time: 18 hours 2 mins
  • Distance: 99.59 miles

 Niggleometer

  • Right knee: 4/10
  • Left foot: 2/10

London Landmarks Half Marathon training Week 9

I hope that everyone who reads this had an amazing weekend. I think the highlights of my weekend were submitting a couple of job applications and completing a long run yesterday morning.Collage 23Week nine of my London Landmarks Half training plan recommended that I completed a steady 40 minute run on Monday, a steady 45-50 minute run on Wednesday, a 20 minute easy jog on Saturday, and a two hour long run at an easy pace on Sunday. After missing a few too many training runs, I was determined to complete my longer training run on Sunday.

So how did I get on during the ninth week of half marathon training? Did I manage to avoid the pubs in Wallingford? Did I manage to run after work? Did I rediscover my running mojo? Most importantly, did my slightly niggly right knee cope with four training runs?

Monday – 40 mins steady Rest

Sometimes I wonder what’s wrong with me, why I lack motivation. I booked Monday off so I could finish working through the comments some reviewers made on an academic manuscript I submitted ages ago. I think I did everything but spend time on my manuscript, it’s like I enjoy putting pressure on myself and causing myself more stress. I’ve always been the same. At university, I completed my dissertation three hours before it was due to be submitted. I didn’t even leave myself enough time to read through my masterpiece.

The weather was perfect, I could have run in the middle of the day and soaked up some Vitamin D, but I barely left the house. My procrastination levels were epic; I listed and sold more unwanted running gear on Farcebook, made a start on a job application and cleaned my fridge. What a waste of a day of leave.

Tuesday – Rest 40 mins steady

Once again, the weather was amazing, it definitely felt more like early summer than the end of winter. Such a contrast to the snow at the beginning of the month. After failing to leave the house the previous day, I played dodge the pushchairs, and got to the Post Office for when it opened. Following a couple of productive hours of hydrology work, mum collected me and we headed to the local farm shop for a late breakfast. I managed to polish off my Farmer’s breakfast in world record time, I’m not sure if my mum was shocked or impressed.Collage 22Eating a large breakfast left me with a bit of a running dilemma. I had to decide whether to run before heading back to Wallingford or when I got back to Wallingford. I decided to risk running less than two hours after eating a cooked breakfast.

Thanks to the cooked breakfast and the warm weather, the run felt far, far more difficult than it should have done nine weeks into half marathon training. I headed towards my usual ‘Figure of 8’ route in one of the flattest areas of Four Oaks. I thought it would be reasonably quiet, I was a little frustrated when I discovered I was sharing the pavements with dozens of school children completing some sort of cycle safety training. After nearly getting run over by children on bikes three times, I decided to run somewhere a little safer. I don’t think I’ve ever been so relieved to reach the end of a training run; my beetroot impression lasted until I travelled back down to Wallingford.

Wednesday – 45-50 mins steady Rest

The day got off to a positive start when I remembered I had a meeting in Reading, I have been known to head to the wrong office. The highlight of the day was seeing a colleague for the first time in 15 years; some people never seem to age. The meeting itself was incredibly productive and the six hours flew by. I escaped from Reading with a colleague and got back to Wallingford after a slightly stressful bus journey. We decided to pop into The Old Post Office pub for a quick drink. Several hours, not enough food and a fascinating conversation with a retired international athlete later, I virtually fell into bed.

Thursday – Rest 45-50 mins steady

I’m definitely giving up alcohol for Lent! I may also attempt to put an end to my slightly excessive Diet Coke consumption. I’ll be 40 in May; I need to make more effort to look after myself. Although the office was busy, I had a reasonably productive day. I escaped the office a little later than originally planned, picked up some food in Waitrose, got back to my room and had a much-needed power nap.

Thankfully, my 50 minute steady run felt a million times easier than Tuesdays run. I have a feeling I’ve turned myself into some sort of early morning/evening runner who doesn’t run very well when it’s light or above 5°c, not ideal! I got back to my lodgings, packed my bags, managed not to break the slightly scary power shower and headed to bed at a sensible time.

Friday – Rest

Most people who read my waffle know that thanks to the wonders of flexitime, I escape from the office at 15:00 on Fridays. For once the bus and trains behaved themselves, and I had a stress-free journey back to Four Oaks. I briefly considered completing a 20 minute jog but decided to give my slightly niggly right knee a rest. My Friday evening was dull but productive. As soon as I got home I went into get shit done mode, and managed to cross off most of my weekend ‘things to do’ list. I also made sure that I remembered to watch some of the European Indoor Athletics. I just love watching KJT and Laura Muir compete.

Saturday – 20 mins easy jog

I wasn’t exactly thrilled when I woke up at 05:30 and couldn’t get back to sleep. I decided to get my 20 minute run done and dusted so that I didn’t have time to change my mind, I was also aware that running first thing in the morning would give me more time to recover before my long run. The run was definitely too fast for a jog but still felt relatively easy. I wore my new Brooks for the first time and didn’t think they felt as comfortable as I’d hoped.Sutton ParkFollowing a quick trip to Sutton Coldfield – Sutton Park looked beautiful – the rest of the day was so mundane; I won’t bore you to tears with the details. I made sure that I didn’t waste too much time obsessing over the weather, ate a high-carb meal, watched more athletics, set my alarm for 05:00 and headed to bed at a sensible (for me) time.

Sunday – 120 mins easy

I found it really hard to get to sleep, and ended up getting the not so impressive total of four hours sleep. I almost felt jet-lagged when my alarm woke me at 05:00. Thanks to a combination of the weather and my lack of fitness, my long run yesterday felt challenging. My calf muscles felt quite tight to start with and seemed to take a long time to warm up. I felt tired and rather surprisingly given what I’d eaten the evening before, under-fuelled. I allowed myself a walking break after 60 minutes and then struggled to get going again. I’d overestimated how far I’d run in two hours, and found myself ‘waddling’ down a main road in the rain at 07:15.3 weeks to goSo that’s the ninth week of my London Landmarks Half training more or less completed. I can’t believe there are only three more weeks to go, I don’t feel at all prepared.

The tenth week of my half marathon training plan is described as the ‘peak week’ and appears to be the most important week of training. I’m aiming to complete a 30 minute run later today, an hour long easy run after work on Thursday, parkrun or an equivalent run on Saturday, and a longer 120-130 minute long easy run on Sunday. I was originally going to complete the Big Half in London on Sunday but have decided not to travel down to London.

Training totals

  • Runs: 19
  • Time: 15 hours 12 mins
  • Distance: 84.13 miles

 Niggleometer

  • Right knee: 4/10
  • Left foot: 3/10

Did you manage to make the most of the sunshine last week? I definitely picked the right time to take leave, it’s just a shame I didn’t make the most of the good weather.

Do you tell people when and where you are going running? Something happened during my long run yesterday that got me thinking. I don’t tell people I’m heading out running; perhaps I should start taking my mobile ‘phone with me!

Pretty Athletic skincare review

Good morning and happy Thursday. I can’t believe that it’s almost the weekend again. This year really does seem to be flying by. I’ve got something a little different for you today; my thoughts on some skincare products I’ve been reviewing.

Now you all know that I love running. I love running in the rain, in the snow, when it’s cold and when it’s warm. I won’t lie and say that I love running when it’s hot as my face ends up the same colour as a beetroot. Running is awesome; it boosts my mood and helps me sleep, I’m definitely happier when I’m able to run consistently.Running photo collageUnfortunately, my skin doesn’t appear to be such a fan of my slight running obsession. The last couple of years, my skin has felt dry and at times quite sore, especially when I’ve been running outside. I don’t think the recent cold weather has helped as walking to and from the office five days a week means that my skin has been getting a bit of a battering.

I’ll be 40 in May *gulp* so I think it’s about time I started to take more care of my skin. At the moment, my skincare routine is very much ‘wash and go’ and I don’t have a clue when it comes to skincare products. I was therefore excited but also a little apprehensive when I was given the opportunity to select an item from the Pretty Athletic skincare range to test out and review. I didn’t have a clue which item to choose and selected an item based on its name. I was delighted when the following products arrived in the post:

  • Hydration Kick Gel Body Moisturiser
  • Workout Glow Hyaluronic Vitamin Tonic
  • Recovery Boost Cell Repair Serum

Now that I’ve been using the Pretty Athletic skincare products for a month or so, I feel that I’m able to produce a hopefully useful product review.

Before I look at each product in turn, I’d like to provide a bit of information about the Pretty Athletic skincare brand.

An Introduction to Pretty Athletic skincare

Pretty Athletic skincare was founded by Leyla Cooper.  Leyla explains that Pretty Athletic came about when, rushing back to work after a lunchtime workout, she realised that there was a lack of products and advice relating to what to use on her skin before and after exercise. Leyla also noticed that while skincare brands love to put ‘sport’ on products like shower gel to market them at men, there weren’t any skincare brands that addressed the needs of active women.

Let’s face it, women sweat too!

Pretty Athletic skincare is free from gimmicks. From product conception, to formulation and testing, every product has to meet the specific skincare needs of active women. The Pretty Athletic skincare range is 95% natural, vegan and packed with scientifically-proven actives. With six products currently available and more being developed, Pretty Athletic aim to be the go-to brand for active women.

As a keen runner with sensitive, dry and I suspect rapidly aging skin, I couldn’t wait to try out the three products I’d been sent. So how did I get on?

The review process

I’m aware that I’m repeating myself but I’m a complete novice when it comes to skincare products. I don’t have a clue when to actually use different types of skincare products; luckily Pretty Athletic provide guidance on when each of their products should be used. Thanks Pretty Athletic, this stopped me getting my moisturiser mixed up with my tonic.

Hydration Kick Gel Body Moisturiser

“Lightweight and easily absorbed, this cooling gel body moisturiser is a beautifully refreshing way to hydrate. Formulated with Sasha Inchi Oil, Hyaluronic Acid and Black Oats to deeply hydrate the skin. Rich in soothing Aloe Vera, and infused with nourishing vitamins and antioxidants. A patented multi-mineral complex revitalises and energizes the skin” Hydration KickThe Hydration Kick Gel Body Moisturiser was the first product I tried out. I massaged a load into my face and then panicked when I read the bottle and spotted that it clearly says ‘body’ moisturiser. Sometimes I’m such an idiot! Fortunately, although my face felt cool, my skin didn’t react and I was able to go to work the following morning.

After that initial hiccup, I’ve been using the body moisturiser after my nightly shower and I love it. The moisturiser is lightweight and easily absorbed. It smells amazing and a little goes a long way; I have a feeling that the bottle will last me a long time. Finally, although I have sensitive skin, the moisturiser didn’t cause any skin irritation, even when I accidentally applied it to my face. I’ll definitely be treating myself to more when this bottle runs out.

Workout Glow Hyaluronic Vitamin Tonic

“This beautiful rose water tonic enriched with gentle coconut-derived cleansers and vital skin nutrients is a super quick way of achieving clean, nourished and hydrated skin in one simple step. Lightweight Hyaluronic Acid and botanical extracts of Rose and Calendula help to leave the skin feeling perfectly balanced. Vitamin E and Niacinamide nourish and provide antioxidant benefits. Use pre & post workout”Workout GlowOnce I’d recovered from applying body moisturiser to my face, I felt brave enough to test out the Workout Glow Hyaluronic Vitamin Tonic. I made sure that I read and re-read the packaging, Pretty Athletic recommend cleansing your skin before and after exercise, spraying the Vitamin Tonic onto your face, and then wiping off any excess with a cotton pad.

I first applied the Vitamin Tonic after a long run, it was definitely quite cooling, almost a little too cooling. I think I’ll save the Vitamin Tonic for Summer 2019, hopefully its cooling properties will reduce the amount of time I spend looking like a beetroot. A runner can always hope.

Recovery Boost Cell Repair Serum

“A lightweight serum-oil, rich in phytosterols and high levels of antioxidants that helps to restore the skin barrier and fight the signs of environmental damage. Contains 0.5% Vitamin A Palmitate, 0.5% Vitamin E and 1% Vitamin C as well as the active Phytoserene which has a proven capacity to improve the skin’s barrier effect after stress, improve skin moisturisation, and help diminish skin redness after stress”Recovery BoostThe final product I tried was the Recovery Boost Cell Repair Serum. This product is designed to repair and to soothe so I thought it would be perfect after a long run. Pretty Athletic recommend that it is applied to dry skin, at night.

The first time I used the Repair Serum I suspect I applied too much as my skin felt slightly greasy. A little definitely goes a long way. Now that I’ve sussed out how much Repair Serum to apply, I’ve incorporated it into my nightly post-shower routine. After less than a month’s use, my skin feels a lot smoother and is not as dry as it was.

The Verdict

Once I’d worked out when to use each product, I felt confident enough to try out the Hydration Kick Gel Body Moisturiser, Workout Glow Hyaluronic Vitamin Tonic and Recovery Boost Cell Repair Serum. I also appreciated getting the opportunity to find out how to look after my skin more both before and after I’ve been running. I did, however, find myself questioning if we really need special skincare products for sport. Are the standard moisturisers and other skincare products in my bathroom cabinet capable of looking after my skin? I’ve genuinely got no idea. What I do know is that the Pretty Athletic products didn’t irritate my sensitive skin. My skin is in better condition than it has done in years, the products are now part of my skincare routine.

So thanks again to Pretty Athletic for sending me three products from your skincare range to test out and review. For more information on Pretty Athletic please visit their website. Pretty Athletic skincare is available from a range of retailers and items in the skincare collection start from £15.50. You can also purchase items direct from Pretty Athletic.

**Full disclosure: Pretty Athletic sent me a bottle of Hydration Kick Gel Body Moisturiser, Workout Glow Hyaluronic Vitamin Tonic and Recovery Boost Cell Repair Serum for free in return for an honest review. I did not receive any payment for this review. As always, all dodgy photographs and opinions are my own**