Rants and raves #38

**Disclaimer: I’m writing this post after spending two hours without any internet connection, not ideal when I’m meant to be working from home. Huge thanks for the heads-up Virgin Media.  As always, all rants and raves and moans and groans represent my own views. Hundreds of far less negative running blogs are available**

Happy Friday, I hope that everyone is managing to survive the warmer than average weather. I’m on annual leave from 15:00 today so I’m feeling incredibly chirpy.

Rave: Flexible working

My organisation gets criticised quite a lot, however, depending on your job role, flexible working is actively encouraged. For example, a few of my colleagues have term-time only contracts. This is clearly an amazing option if you have children, unfortunately, I’m not sure I’d be able to blag myself a term-time only contract.tc10

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My new line manager supports flexible working, it’s a case of whatever works best for people. Last week, I let my line manager know that I was struggling to adapt to the not-quite-so-hot-desk policy in my new office. I’m now allowed to work from home a couple of times a week. I actually get more done when I’m not in the office as I can’t really distract myself.

 Rant: The behaviour of some people on trains

Apologies for another repeat rant but now I’m spending what feels like a large proportion of my working week on trains, I have more to rant about. I catch the 0620 train every morning because it is reasonably empty. Most of my fellow passengers are like me, half-asleep and quiet. My main issue with the 0620 train is the heating, 99.9 per cent of the time the heaters under the seats are blowing out hot air. This isn’t ideal in the summer. The trains are too old to have aircon, so it’s a matter of opening the windows and sweating it out.Train etiquette

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While the morning trains are generally empty, the train back home can be a bit of a nightmare. I’ll ignore the people who sit with their feet on the opposite seat, people who leave their litter behind and people who play their music at such a volume the rest of the carriage get to ‘enjoy’ it. This is now unfortunately the norm, even the train staff don’t react to what was once classed as antisocial behaviour.

I find it harder to tolerate passengers who sit in a rush-hour train carriage smoking weed. This has happened a few times, luckily the British Transport Police tend to act when you report it. I mean, if you travel on trains it’s impossible to avoid the ‘See it. Say It. Sorted’ announcements. I’m also finding it increasingly difficult to tolerate manspreaders.Subway-Sun-NYC-1953

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Earlier this month, I asked one persistent manspreader to stop invading my personal space. I’d said that I’d had enough of feeling claustrophobic, and that I was starting to feel nauseous. Mr Manspreader took offence at what I said and proceeded to move seats. I felt sorry for the Business Man he then proceeded to squeeze into a corner for two hours.

Rave: Mack Horton and Duncan Scott

I wish more athletes had the balls to stand up to drug cheats. In my opinion, once a cheat, always a cheat. I’ve no idea why convicted drugs cheats are allowed to return, they should be banned for life. The actions of Mack Horton and Duncan Scott may have landed them both in hot water with FINA but I suspect they have the support of the majority of sports fans.

Thank-you Mack Horton

Thank-you Duncan Scott

It’s good to see athletes standing up to drugs cheats 🙂

Rant: What I’m calling ‘blog plagiarism’

I can’t remember the exact expression, but I think it’s something along the lines of “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”.

I’m not sure what to make of someone publishing a couple of my recent posts on this site. I mean some amazing bloggers have been targeted so I guess I should feel quite flattered but I don’t. At the end of the day it’s blatant what I’m calling blog plagiarism.

The only thing that we all have in common is that we all feature in Vuelio’s most recent top 10 UK running blogs.

Rave: Volunteering at parkrun

Another repeat rave but I’ve now volunteered at my local parkrun 10 times. I want to earn my purple parkrun t-shirt by the end of the year. A couple of weeks ago I decided to pull on my big girl pants and had a go at timekeeping. I think it must have gone reasonably well as people didn’t end up with times of 59:59.Time keeping

Dont mess this upI’ve handed out finish tokens, encouraged runners at the bottom of the ‘Hill of Doom’, have written an event report and have generally loved supporting people. I’m now enjoying volunteering more than running. Tomorrow, I’m having a go at barcode scanning. If the scanner doesn’t work – I’ve heard they aren’t great when it’s sunny – I’ll use the new parkrun App.

Rant: Twitter

I’m sure I’ll get used to it, but I’m not a fan of the ‘new’ Twitter. The expression if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it springs to mind.

Rave: TK Maxx yellow sticker sale

Running tops for £4? Yes please. Running shorts for £5? Yes please. It’s that time of the year again, TK Maxx are currently running their yellow sticker sale. I didn’t know this was a thing until earlier this year when I found loads of running bargains.

Apparently, a couple of times a year, items with red clearance sale stickers on them are given yellow stickers. Anything with a yellow sticker will be marked down until it is 20p, the lowest mark down amount. A lady in my local TK Maxx said the yellow sticker sale ends next weekend. I may pop in after parkrun.

Rave: Trying new things

Since leaving Wallingford, I’ve been trying to step outside of my huge comfort zone on a more regular basis. On Monday, I met up with my running buddy Ellen and we attended a running club organised by a local Pilates studio. The idea was to complete a 30 minute run followed by a 30 minute Pilates session described as benefiting runners.PilatesThe reality was a hilly 30 minute run in Sutton Park at a far faster pace than I’m used to. I swear that my eyeballs were sweating after the run. The 30 minute Pilates session turned out to be a 30 minute torture session with foam rollers. I discovered that I’m possibly the least flexible person in Sutton Coldfield, that I’m unfit, that I have no core strength and that I need to find myself a beginners’ Pilates class. The research is ongoing.

Rave: St Ives Harbour webcam

And finally, as I’m feeling generous a sort of bonus rave. Finances and circumstances – I’m skint, single and all my friends are having family holidays this year – mean that the nearest I’ll be getting to a holiday this summer is a couple of days in Wallingford-on-Thames next week. I’ve shared this website before, but I love this webcam which lets me sort of pretend I’m in St Ives.St Ives Harbour webcamAspects Holidays now have webcams at a range of seaside locations including Bude, St Michael’s Mount and Mevagissey.

If you’ve reached the end of this selection of rants and raves, then a massive “thank-you”. I hope that you think my rants were reasonable. As always, I do feel much better now that I’ve shared my grumbles with you.

Does your organisation allow you to work from home? I would like to hope that a lot of organisations allow their staff to occasionally work from home. I get that this only really works if you have an office-based role!

Have you ever attended a class that wasn’t quite what you were expecting? The content of the Pilates class most definitely wasn’t what I was expecting.

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Book Review: Pilates for Runners by Harri Angell

I hope that everyone is having a great week. As I don’t want to complain about my lack of fitness and injury woes again, I’ve got a far more positive post today; a book review.

When Harri contacted me to see if I’d like to review her new book – Pilates for Runners – I agreed pretty much immediately. I knew that I would find reading and reviewing the book incredibly beneficial as it is dedicated to a subject I knew very little about.

Front Cover

I’ll start this book review with a huge spoiler. Pilates for Runners is one of the most informative and useful running books I’ve read. I found the book engaging and easy to follow and read. Let’s just say I got so engrossed in the book during a train journey, I missed my stop and ended up in Lichfield. Not ideal when I live several miles away in Four Oaks. Luckily, the train conductor didn’t issue me with a fine.

Pilates for Runners is written by Harri Angell an experienced Mat Pilates instructor, marathon runner, personal trainer, England Athletics Leader in Running Fitness and member of the Register of Exercise Professionals (follow Harri on twitter @Harriangell). The book is described as containing everything you need to start using Pilates to improve your running – get stronger, more flexible, avoid injury and improve your performance. Pretty much perfect for a weak, inflexible, tall, slouchy, injury-prone runner like me!

The book is broken down into 13 chapters; (1) Why Pilates is good for runners, (2) Joseph Pilates: a brief history, (3) The principles of Pilates, (4) Postural alignment, (5) Breathing, (6) Equipment, (7) Mat Pilates exercises for runners, (8) Post-run stretches, (9) Five 10-15 minute daily routines to improve your running, (10)The healing power of Pilates, (11) Injuries, (12) Pilates for the running mind and (13) Finding a Pilates class and what to look for.

Pilates for Runners

Once again, rather than attempting to review the entire book, I decided to highlight the sections I found particularly interesting and relevant to me. Although the quality of my photographs is quite poor, I decided to include them to illustrate how well laid out the book is. If you want to read the text you’ll have to purchase the book.

Chapter 3: Principles of Pilates

As I had a very limited zero understanding of Pilates before I read the book, I found Chapter 3 particularly interesting. Joseph Pilates – the inventor of the Pilates method – devised specific principles that he believed were necessary to accompany each of his exercises

Chapter 3

Although these principles have been adapted over time, Harri believes that the principles of; Concentration, Breathing, Centring, Alignment, Relaxation, Flow and Endurance are worth acknowledging and applying when performing the exercises in Pilates for Runners. At the moment, I’m definitely struggling with my alignment and flow.

Chapter 7: Mat Pilates exercises for runners

Chapter 7 contains over 100 pages of mat Pilates exercises for runners. Please note that Harri recommends that you should resist the temptation to jump straight into the exercises without reading the preceding Chapters.

Chapter 7

Each exercise comes with easy-to-follow instructions and photographs to provide guidance. In addition, each exercise is graded as beginner, intermediate or advanced and nearly all have options to modify or progress, so that you can opt to work at whichever level suits you. The exercises I’ve attempted have confirmed that I’m not very flexible, that I quite enjoy lying down and that I’m very much a beginner. Hopefully, I’ll be able to progress from the beginner to the slightly more challenging intermediate and advanced exercises.

Chapter 8: Post-run stretches

So far, I’ve found the selection of post-run stretches I’ve incorporated into my running routine really beneficial.

Chapter 8

The stretches in this Chapter should only be performed once the body is warmed up, for example after a run, or at the end of a session of Pilates. As, from time to time, I struggle with tight calf muscles; I’ve incorporated the calf and Achilles stretch into my post-run stretching routine. These stretches are simple but effective and appear to be helping my calf muscles.

Chapter 11: Injuries

I’ve got a confession to make. As an injury-prone runner, this was the first Chapter I read. So much for starting at the beginning. Although Pilates for Runners isn’t a book about running injuries, many runners encounter Pilates for the first time because of a running injury. Harri stresses that although regular Pilates can help runners avoid injury, it can be just as beneficial to runners nursing an injury.

Chapter 11

Regular readers of this blog will be aware that I’ve been struggling with Plantar Fasciitis (PF) since the start of the year. I’m clearly not alone as PF is the first injury listed in Chapter 11. I thought I was an ‘expert’ at managing and treating my dodgy heel, however, the section on PF reminded me of potential benefits of incorporating foot mobility and strengthening exercises into my daily exercise routine.

The Verdict

I would highly recommend Pilates for Runners to runners of all ages and standards. I particularly enjoyed reading the motivating testimonials written by runners who incorporate Pilates into their training.  I loved the inclusion of a series of inspirational quotes from the master himself, Joseph Pilates. If you are an injury-prone runner, I suspect that you will find the entire book both eye-opening and informative. I definitely did!

Pilates for Runners is published by Bloomsbury has a RRP of £16.99 and is available from all major book retailers.

**Full disclosure: I was sent a copy of Pilates for Runners for free in return for an honest review. I did not receive any payment for this review and as always all opinions and photographs are my own**