This weekend, after several months away, I finally got round to heading back home to South Devon to visit my family. It’s always a relief to get back to the countryside after a long period away. As much as I love London, it can be pretty exhausting, and sometimes a couple of days in the country is just what you need in order to clear your head.
Although I didn’t get round to doing any running this weekend (too busy catching up with the family/ taking advantage of a cupboard filled with delicious food!), I did manage to get out for a couple of walks.
On Saturday morning we headed out to Bantham Beach which has to be one of my favourite beaches in Devon. I’ve grown up with the beach nearby and often in the past have been guilty of taking it for granted however, despite having visited it countless times in the past, a trip to Bantham on a sunny day still has the power to make me feel like I’m on holiday. Our walk took us up along the coastline round towards Thurlestone, finishing at The Village Inn where we all indulged in a pint – possibly not great for the body but definitely good for the mind!!
On Sunday we again ventured out to one of my favourite parts of Devon, Dartmoor National Park. The views in Dartmoor are incredible and again have the power to make me feel that I’ve left the UK behind in favour of somewhere much more exotic. Our walk took us around Burrator Reservoir and saw us clambering up a tor (well half way up!)… I might not have been running this weekend but the walking and climbing definitely made up for this!
I’d recommend South Devon to anyone planning a countryside holiday in the UK. Although I can’t promise fantastic weather (we did get drenched several times throughout the weekend!), there are plenty of amazing beaches and beautiful views that more than make up for this. Just make sure you pack a raincoat!
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So this morning I finally ran 8k. I had already made an attempt to run this distance earlier in the week however, despite meticulously planning my route beforehand, I still managed to take a wrong turning which turns out to have significantly reduced the distance of the run. Despite this I didn’t actually realise that I hadn’t in fact run 8k until later in the day when I logged in to Map My Run and was disappointed to discover that my earlier joy at how quickly and easily I’d managed to run 8k had been slightly misguided (I can be such a numpty sometimes)!
Today however, armed with the directions written on my hand, I finally ran 8k (for real this time – I checked!) and it actually wasn’t too bad. Considering I haven’t run more than around 5k in several years, I was slightly concerned that my body would just give up half way round… Luckily this didn’t happen and I managed to complete the distance in just under 45 minutes which I was pretty pleased with.
I’ve discovered that one of the benefits of running in the city as opposed to the countryside is that it is much harder to give up and start walking mid-run when you have an audience. I say audience, I realise that the majority of people probably don’t even notice me jogging past but it’s easy to feel like all eyes are on you when you’re puffing and panting your way along the pavement. However, rather than seeing this as a negative thing, I am now beginning to use the slightly self conscious feeling I get when jogging past a busy bus stop or the cluster of smokers who gather outside the tube station to my advantage.
In the past I have been a notorious giver-upper, often giving in to the temptation to allow myself a quick (/long) walking break when running starts to feel a bit too much like hard work. However, since starting training for this half marathon my tendency to give up seems to be behind me and I definitely think that I have the busy London streets to thank for this. The transition from countryside to city running has been interesting at times however I’m definitely starting to come around to it!
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This is a question that I often ask myself. In the past I have been a firm believer in morning running, the main reasons being that it gets it out the way and there’s less people around to witness the sweaty, tomato faced mess I become mid run. However, as the length of my runs begin to increase the nearer it gets to half marathon day, the harder it becomes to cram in a run before work without having to get up 5 minutes after I’ve gone to bed (slight exaggeration but you get the gist)!
I’m reluctant to stop my early morning runs, mainly because I don’t trust myself to go if I leave it until after work. There are a whole variety of obstacles that prevent an after work run from taking place. The temptation to head straight for the sofa after a long day in the office followed by an intensive 40 minutes spent on the Central Line battling with my fellow commuters (which regularly feels like a workout in itself) is often too great to resist. A few of my colleagues have taken to heading out for lunchtime runs however again, this doesn’t really appeal. I’m pretty sure I’d struggle to maintain a professional demeanour whilst sporting my tomato face!
According to Runners World, the best time of day for your body to run is late afternoon as ‘this is when body temperature peaks, meaning the muscles are at their most supple and running at speeds that feel tough in the early morning will feel much easier’. On top of this there are also negatives to running first thing. For one, I often find that I’m starving hungry when I wake up in the morning which is not all that surprising given that it’s generally been around 12 hours since dinner time. This always makes mustering enough energy to run for more than 10 minutes a bit of a challenge. Getting up an hour or so earlier than I would on a non-running day can also take its toll on my energy levels throughout the rest of the day as pathetic as that sounds!
Running first thing is supposed to be the worst time of day to run in terms of how well your body will perform however, despite this I definitely think that it has a whole variety of mental benefits that balance this out. I’ve spoken before about the positives of running before work, such as the way it can improve your mood and encourage you to make healthier diet choices throughout the rest of the day (most of the time…). For this reason I’m going to continue on with my morning runs for as long as I can. However, the likelihood of me embarking on an 18k training run at 5am seems pretty minimal so I may have to give after work running a go. The sofa will just have to wait!
2) Porridge, Banana, Walnuts, Blueberries & Honey
Breakfast number two – as you have probably guessed, I love blueberries! They are the ultimate yummy breakfast topping and are also ridiculously good for you – double whammy! I’ll definitely be needing this to fuel me this week as according to my training plan I will be running my first 8k…. So far I have only managed just over 5k so this is going to be a bit of a leap. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes!
Every single morning that my 6.15am alarm goes off in order to alert me that it’s time to get up and go running, a mental battle begins. I spend a good five minutes weighing up the pros and cons of running, attempting to convince myself that I’ll actually go if I put off my run until after work (I wouldn’t) and trying to remember why on earth I thought signing up to run a half marathon was a good idea in the first place. I had been hoping that after a few weeks of morning runs, the process would get easier and that this internal debate would become a thing of the past, however I’m now beginning to accept that this is not going to be the case…
This morning was no different and I’m pretty sure that for the first 15 minutes or so I was running with my eyes shut… Not ideal when you’re running along a street filled with commuters, rushing to catch the tube and paying little attention to wayward runners! Despite the slightly rocky start, I went on to run 5.5k which is the furthest I have run since starting my training so was pretty pleased with myself when I got home. The feeling of getting in after a successful run is brilliant and the pain of dragging your body out of bed when you’re just so cosy quickly becomes a distant memory. I also find myself in a much better mood after I’ve been running, safe in the knowledge that even if the rest of the day isn’t the greatest, at least I’ve already achieved something (albeit small) before I’ve even had breakfast!
So far, the pro-running argument has always triumphed over anti-running (although it’s been a close call at times) but the battle isn’t showing any signs of coming to an end. For now, articles such as this one are helping strengthen my argument for parting from my beloved bed in favour of pounding pavements. Fingers crossed, the pro-running internal voice will one day defeat the anti-running one for good.
Anyone that knows me will know that I adore breakfast (how can you not love a meal which in my eyes is basically desert that you don’t have to feel guilty about!?… Ok… just me then!!) and have a habit of eating ‘breakfast foods’ for every meal of the day. As well as being delicious, breakfast is also essential for kick starting your metabolism, boosting energy and ensuring that you don’t end up snacking later on in the day.
I am also big on trying to convert my non-breakfast eating friends to my way of thinking, which they obviously don’t find annoying at all… It always surprises me how many people don’t eat breakfast as I genuinely don’t think I would function without it!
Anyway, this blog seems like the perfect platform for me to share with the world (slash anyone who inadvertently stumbles upon this page) a few of my favourite healthy and nutritious breakfast meals. And if I manage to convince even one person to give up their breakfast skipping ways, I’ll have achieved my goal!
1) Muesli, Natural Yogurt & Blueberries
One of my personal favourite healthy breakfast treats; blueberries, muesli and natural yogurt provide the perfect combination to keep me energised all morning after an early running session. This was definitely required this morning after my first 5k run since my weekend away reuniting with my university gang. As you can probably imagine, the weekend was spent largely drinking, being merry and consuming a whole lot of food… I’ll have to make sure this week’s training makes up for it!
After doing a quick Google of 3 month half marathon training plans, I’ve found a beginners plan to follow which doesn’t seem too frightening. So far this week I’ve managed two runs, each approximately 5k and am feeling reasonably optimistic as they’ve been relatively painless. According to my plan, my weekday runs this week should be 30 minute ‘easy runs’ with a 5k ‘long run’ this weekend, however as I’m away this weekend for a reunion with my university friends, I’ve got the long run out the way early on as I won’t have time to run this weekend (not sure how well it bodes for my training that I’m only in week 1 and already straying from the plan… oops!)
I never thought I’d say this and will probably regret it during my next cold, rainy run but sometimes I wish the sun would just go away (well at least until 7am when I’ve finished running – after that, amazing!!) The whole process feels a whole lot harder in the heat and I have been getting ridiculously dehydrated. I’m definitely going to have to invest in one of those little running water bottles if this weather continues (which despite my earlier statement, I genuinely hope it does!) Oh well, as a British person, it’s not often that you get the opportunity to whinge about it being too hot so I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts!
I’ve decided to start this blog as I’ve just made the drastic decision to sign up for the Bristol half marathon in September. Although this won’t be my first half marathon (I ran the New Forest half marathon in 2010), the prospect does slightly terrify me. It’s not so much the actual event that scares me, I actually found my last half marathon quite enjoyable (well, until the last couple of miles but I’m trying to block that memory from my mind for now!) What really makes me nervous is training for the event.
One of the most vivid memories I have of training for the New Forest half marathon is my Dad, who I recruited as my unofficial trainer, shouting at me to “keep running!” following my teary announcement that I couldn’t keep going after having only run a mile or so… As I don’t have my Dad on hand to motivate me this time round (my previous training took place in the Devonshire countryside where I grew up… this time I will be training in my new home of East London – slightly less picturesque!), I have decided to start this blog in the hope that it will give me some focus and prevent me from giving up after my first ‘long run’.
I have recently got back in to running after around a year of doing zero exercise. I had been put off since moving to London last year, mainly if I’m honest, because the thought of running in the city terrified me a little. However, after having lived here a year, I have finally decided that enough is enough and I can’t keep using the excuse of ‘it’s too scary’ (I’m from the country ok!’) to avoid running anymore.
Three weeks in and I’ve managed a few 20-30 minute runs, each of which has incorporated the route to and from Tesco as despite me having lived in my current house for around 9 months, I still have minimal knowledge of the surrounding area! I think I’m going to have to make my first challenge planning a route which doesn’t revolve around my local supermarket… Wish me luck!