Thursday, 30 March 2017

Into New Territory

I've had a pretty good week, running-wise. After parkrun on Saturday my calves felt a bit tight so I made a mental note to stretch more and went for a short recovery run on Sunday. It felt like death, but the route passed through a lovely park with a lake (complete with ducks!) so we stopped to get some photos.

I also made an Instagram account if anyone wants to check that out! 

Tuesday's run was basically a test run for a slightly harder route I wanted to try later. Instead of running on the paths inside the park, I decided to leave the park gates halfway round and run down a road. On the map it looked like it would work out, but once I got onto the road I quickly discovered it was winding and had no pavements. Back home this isn't a problem as there is little to no traffic on the lanes, but it's a very different story in the city and I had to constantly keep on my toes to make sure I didn't get ran over. It's a shame that the road's a bit dangerous, because it would have been the 3rd side of an almost perfectly square hilly 5k.

Today we planned to run to a nearby ornamental gardens that we hadn't been to before that was about 1.5 miles down the coast path. Me and the BF calculated that if we ran there, up the drive, walked around and then back again it would be a good 5k overall.

 When the Garmin said we'd run 1.8 miles and the gardens were still nowhere in sight, we concluded that we had missed the turning into the drive on the other side of the road and decided that instead of the 5k we had planned, we'd just run home now and make it a 3.5 miler, which sounds like nothing but was our furthest run yet. 
On the run back, I remembered how before my burnout I used to be terrified of increasing the distance into new territory. If I planned a run that was further than I'd been before, I'd feel anxious or skip the run altogether. Now I'm excited to reach 4 miles or further, which goes to show how much healthier my approach to running is now I've gotten over my fears and data addiction!

Sunday: 1.3 miles, 14:17
Tuesday: 2.0 miles, 22:39
Thursday: 3.5 miles, 38:25

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Tunes Tuesday Link Up: Current Favourites

For the last Tuesday of Run Steff Run's Tunes Tuesday, I'd like to share some of my current favourite music. These two songs are both from the Eurovision song contest, which for my mostly American readers is exactly what it sounds like: a competition between all the European countries to find the best song. These are my two favourites this year!

In running related news, my mum messaged me to say my MNDA race shirt has arrived! I'll take it for a spin and take some photos when I'm back home for the holidays in a few weeks :)

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Swansea Bay Parkrun Review

Today me and the BF woke up at the horrendously early time of 7:30am to try out Swansea Bay Parkrun for the first time. The start is only a kilometer or so away from campus, so we left at 8:30 and walked along the seafront to get there.
Blue skies and sun for once!
My first thought upon arriving was "wow, there are a lot more people here than at my home parkrun", which was swiftly followed by "they all look fast, I'm going to come in last", and then "no you're not, and even if it did, it wouldn't matter". Even though it was only 5 kilometers, it was my longest run since coming back after six months of nothing, and BF's first 5k ever, so I set my target to around the 35 - 36 minutes mark.

The route is basically an out and back from the 360 cafe to Blackpill on the cycle path, and is almost entirely flat (garmin recorded an elevation of 54ft over the 3.1 miles). Because the path is open to the public and pretty popular we had to dodge some cyclists and non-parkrunners, but as the mass of runners thinned out we managed to stay on the 'pedestrian' side of the path and not over spill into the 'cyclist' side. 

The route, right by the beach :)

About a kilometer in I lost sight of the BF and carried on at my own merry pace. Usually I have to walk after only 0.5 miles of running, but this time I managed to reach the half way mark before taking a break. I was so proud of myself! On the way back I employed my run 0.5 miles/walk 1 minute strategy that had served me well for the past week, and found the energy to sprint to the finish when the cafe came back into view. I quickly found BF on the grass by the finish tunnel where he said he'd recorded a time of around 29 minutes according to the Strava app, and had only finished a few minutes before me. We went and got our bar codes scanned by the lovely volunteers, and decided to walk back to campus as a cool down.
Taken approximately 30 seconds after finishing!

Thanks to the wonderful volunteers I received my results email only an hour after we left, and I was pretty pleased with my time of 33:40, well under my prediction! The BF came in in 29:31, which is great especially as this was his first 5k ever. See the Strava activity here!

I found the event to be incredibly well organised and the marshals were very encouraging and supportive. I'm definitely going to try and get in the habit of waking up early on the weekends to get a parkrun in before most of my flatmates have even woken up!

Hope the weather where you are is as nice as it is here,

Friday, 24 March 2017

Tunes Tuesday: Pump Up Music

I'm aware that I'm a little late to the party, but Run Steff Run's Link Up gave me the excuse to share some of my favourite running songs, which I've been wanting to do since I started this blog :) The theme this week is Pump Up music, and below I've listed two of the songs that get me excited for running:

The first song on my list is Yorktown (explicit, just to warn you) from the musical Hamilton. I'm a massive fan of the musical and I can't wait for it to come across the pond to the UK! 

Iron Sky by Paolo Nutini is one of my favourite pre-race/parkrun/workout songs. While it isn't a particularly fast paced song, the speech halfway through always inspires me.

Signing Up For My First 10k!

Exciting news: I've entered my first race of my running renaissance, the Swansea Bay 10k. This is by far the most popular race I've ever entered with 3000 runners, and 10k is a distance that I've never run before. I have exactly 6 months from today to train, and I'm confident that I can meet my current goal of completing it in an hour or under.

What I'm even more excited about it fundraising for the Motor Neurone Disease Association! This charity is close to my heart as my granddad suffered from the disease when I was little. If any kind strangers wish to donate, my fundraising page is here and any donations are appreciated no matter how small :)

Hope everyone's having a good day so far, the weather in Wales today is lovely for once!

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Temporary Social Media Caveman

Usually I record my runs using the Strava app on my phone, which is convenient for photos and music, but less so for keeping track of how far I've gone and for how long. I also use my laptop to plot routes.
Both, inconveniently, died within a week of each other, and until their replacements arrive, I am in the virtual dark. Luckily I can borrow the BF's laptop and I have no university deadlines looming, but it's still irritating to not be able to mindlessly flick through social media for hours on end.

Luckily I could still record our run today, as my mum had recently sent up my good old garmin 😃
casually standing around in running gear, waiting for the satellites, getting weird looks from dog walkers

The weather was almost perfect conditions after last night's thunderstorms, and finally having statistics on my wrist improved my running too- instead of just walking when I was tired, I slowed my pace and took a one minute walk break every 0.5 miles (I'm unfit okay), which overall increased my average pace by almost a whole minute per mile. Definitely the best run I've had since starting again!
Sneaky photo the BF took while he was ahead of me, the showoff 

Leave in the comments what you use to record your runs!


Monday, 20 March 2017

How To Trick Yourself Into Being Active

I somehow managed to go outside and actually do exercise 4 times this week. This is such a rare occurrence that upon entering the flat kitchen in running gear, several flatmates voiced their surprise that I went outside two days in a row. 

pictures or it didn't happen
Even I was surprised that I dragged myself out of the warm confines of the building and into the typical welsh weather wind and mild drizzle, but I'm putting my sudden motivation down to these factors:

  1. If I don't move, I may become an integral part of the sheets and become a human-fabric chimera
  2. I rediscovered Strava and remembered how much I like looking at the statistics
  3. I can't let the BF be better than me at something I used to be almost okay at
The initial motivation for going into the cold and going for a run only lasts a few weeks if your reasons for running only consist of "it'll be good for me". It's very easy to look out of the window and put it off for later/tomorrow/next week/never. A reliable exercise buddy or group can help to keep the habit up until you show a visible improvement, which will motivate you further. 

Being a university student has given me the great opportunity to join sports societies, such as the Mountaineering society. The fun and social atmosphere outweighs the effort to actually get out there, and this week, after four weeks of attending, I met my goal to get to the top of the green route. Although this is the second easiest route on the university wall, I felt a massive sense of achievement considering my arms greatly resemble spaghetti and have no strength in them at all. I also noticed that I was a lot less nervous about the height, and my goal for next week is to get past a particularly nasty part of the blue route, which involves gripping a small hold with both hands and trying to pull yourself up.  

Leave tips for staying motivated in the comments!


Friday, 17 March 2017

An Introduction

I'm a procrastinator. I find it hard to get motivated. I lose interest in things I enjoy.
Two months into university I quit the rugby team after previously enjoying the game for three years, and quickly noticed a rapid decline in fitness; so I've created this blog to keep myself motivated and track my progress as I attempt to become stronger and improve myself. 

After I quit rugby, me and my boyfriend joined the mountaineering society. I'd never been rock climbing before, and I didn't know if I would enjoy it, but I wanted to challenge myself with something new. We've also started going for runs together, which has shown me just how unfit I've become: I've gone from completing 5 mile runs before university to barely surviving a lap of the park.

I'm determined to regain and exceed the level of fitness I had before university and share my tips along the way, and I hope you stick around with my journey!

See you there,