January Round Up

Where has January gone?! Christmas seems a distant memory! Not that it’s a bad thing, it’s nice to be putting the wet, cold, dark days behind us, and edging closer to Spring- although to be fair, it has been such a mild winter.

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Rather than post weekly training recaps, I thought I’d just do a monthly wrap up of all things running, food and health.

Running
January has been a strong month for me running wise. I have built on my training foundation from the December runstreak, and upped the mileage and sessions this month, covering 171 miles in total. I stopped the runstreak on the 2nd Jan, and took some much needed rest days!

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I’ve done 4 parkruns this month, a great start at pushing myself closer to 50 this year. I did 1 at Cardiff and 3 at Southwark, where I got a 1 second parkrun PB, and was just seconds away from my sub-24 goal- think I would have got it if my legs hadn’t had to thaw out for the first mile!

I’ve had some great sessions including a Swain’s Lane hill session (5 x up with Wmnrun crew), and I’ve been trying to add hills into my longer runs when I can. I’ve also been doing an interval or threshold session each week, and I can really feel the difference, as the sessions seem easier week on week-time to mix things up I think!

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I’ve been increasing my long slow runs, currently up to 19 miles, which I did this morning and has really taking it out of me. I have been adding a gentle parkrun in the middle of some longer runs to break them up. I’ve also been incorporating back to back sessions, doing consecutive days of long running as I found this really helped during ultra training last year.

Gym
I stopped the Livefit program after phase 2 as it was too intense now my training is ramping up. I’ve gone back to using the NROLFW stage A workouts, which are short and sharp, I’m in and out of the gym in 30 mins, and I’m doing 2-3 a week. They focus on a lot of compound moves- think lunges, squats, deadlifts and step ups- and I’m really focusing on good form and upping my weights each session. I’m not feeling as strong as I was a few months back but this is more supplementary training to my running now, and ensuring I’m strong enough to run and stay injury free. I have done very little yoga, or foam rolling/stretching so to be honest I think I’ve been lucky to stay injury free and weights is a big part of that.

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Food
This month has mostly been spent eating a lot of comfort food- soups, curries, chillies. I’ve really not been into smoothies/salads for a while now, so I am aiming to bring those back in Feb. I’m also going to aim to reduce my reliance on snack bars and dried fruit, as it’s my go-to, and I could do with some more variety in there, although these 100% natural bars are so good- they get me through long lecture/clinic days on Mondays.

With training ramping up, I find some days I have little-no appetite and others I’m just absolutely ravenous, but I suppose it all balances out. I had a 24hr stomach bug last week which pretty much put me off food for a few days, so I’m just getting back to normal, and reincorporating veggies, beans, and other bits into my diet which I didn’t fancy at all post illness. I’ve been using my dehydrator a little bit, and have successfully dried fruit, veggies, chickpeas, and made kale chips which were amazing. I’m hoping to get a bit more experimental with it and make some raw crackers and other bits over the next few months.

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Health
Other than the sickness bug, I’ve felt generally well this month, I did have some digestive issues the week before the bug and I’m not sure if that was due to the bug, or running or something else. I really tend to forget how much of an influence long distance running tends to have on my immune system, GI system and endocrine system so I’m really looking to support my body over the next few months of training, with lots of nutrient rich whole foods and some specific supplements. I’ve been taking a few things to support balancing my hormones, and I will update on this in another post, but hopefully things are improving. I would like to get a little more sleep in Feb, as too often this month it’s been under 6 or 7 hours which when you are running 40+ miles a week isn’t enough, so on that note I’ve made some goals for February.

Feb Goals

Prioritize sleep- get back into routine of bedtime at 10pm (difficult when you work til 9pm some days).
Yoga twice a week.
Meditate Daily (any amount).
Green Smoothie Every Day.
Incorporate more savoury snacks (all.of.the.hummus)

2016 Goals

It’s taken until the 11th January for me to sit down and actually set some targets for this year. I actually wasn’t going to set any, sort of disillusioned with the whole idea of it, but then I looked back at my goals for this year and realised I had managed to achieve quite a lot of them so maybe setting some targets for this year wouldn’t be such a bad idea. So here are a few things I want to achieve this year:

Half Marathon PB: I’m hoping this will come as part of my ultra training. I have two Spring half’s North London, and Cardiff, I will probably target Cardiff but it’s very close to the SDW50, so I will need to judge this closer to the time.

Complete SDW50: My goal race for this year is the SDW50, it’s a bit of a hilly beast and there is a time cut off- so finishing it will be the priority.

50 parkruns: I’m currently on 24 parkruns which considering I work most Saturdays and can’t go very often is not a bad effort. I’ve started working an hour later on Sat now so I can just about squeeze in a parkrun, and can make them part of a longer run by running there and back. I will alternate between Southwark and Hilly fields, and also make the most of any times I’m visiting Cardiff.

Business: I finish my three year nutritional therapy diploma this year. I’m still undecided about how I am going to approach things going forward, so over the next 6 months while I’m still studying, I really need to take some time to get planning on the business side of things.

Mindfulness: I’ve not been meditating as much as I used to, I would really like to get back into a consistent daily practice of 10 minutes a day, and I think this would really help me with my final goal too.

Sort out my hormones: I’ve been getting increasingly bad PMS over the last year, and I just cannot deal with the excruciating cramps any more, even though it’s only 1/2 days a month they totally rule me out of action, and I’m concious of how something that isn’t normal has become my ‘norm’. I’m at a bit of a loss on this, as my diet is good, I avoid a lot of the main hormone disrupter’s too, so the only thing I can thing of that is causing it is stress, or some sort of dysfunction with the HPA axis, and potentially my thyroid/adrenal glands playing a role in this. I need to do some more investigating, and I will post on this shortly, but I want 2016 to be the year I sort this out as I’m getting to the end of my patience with it.

So that’s my goals this year, how about you?

GymVit Supplements: Review

Nutritional supplements tend to divide us, those that swear by them and those who think they are totally unnecessary. I believe there is a time and a place for supplements, but don’t see them as a magic fix or the answer to a bad diet. I think supplements can support us alongside a healthy balanced diet when used appropriately, and I regularly use a combination of supplements to support my general health and well-being.
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At the end of last year, I was sent the Heroic Hemp Protein by a new-to-me brand GymVit. They make a range of veggie-friendly supplements packed with essential vitamins, minerals, amino acids and essential fats to effectively fuel our bodies. All products are free from additives, fillers, flavouring and colours and are non-GMO.

I’ve not been using protein powders that often any more, preferring to get my protein from whole foods, like beans, nuts, tempeh and seeds like hemp and chia. However, when I saw the heroic hemp protein I was very keen to try it out, as it’s not just hemp protein but it’s blended with a range of superfoods to boost recovery: including acai, beetroot, chlorella, dandelion, montmorency cherries and lots of others. It’s a really nice blend, and I love the addition of the superfoods, many of which I would be adding to my smoothies anyway.

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Hemp protein is my preferred protein of choice, due to it’s superior amino acid profile- it contains all the essential amino acids (you should blend some of it with pea/rice if you use these as your protein powder), it’s also rich is essential fats with a good balance of omega 3:6. It’s easy to digest as oppose to other types of protein and well utilised in the body.

I blended my heroic hemp in my post workout smoothie, I found it blended nicely, was earthy as hemp usually is, but had quite a palatable taste thanks to the superfood blend, so it mixed well with other ingredients in my blender. I also mixed it with almond milk, and found it very easy to drink too. I can’t say I noticed a difference with using it as of yet, as it’s not something I’ve got into using on a regular basis- I’ve not really fancied smoothies this winter for some reason. I will report back once I use it more regularly.

GymVit make a range of interesting looking products, including lots of nice blends, and they all contain really high quality ingredients and none of the rubbish that is in a lot of supplements/shakes on the market.

The guys at GymVit have kindly shared an exclusive discount, so if you would like to try the Heroic Hemp protein, you can enter the code ‘PBPB25’ at checkout to receive 25% off which will give you a great saving on an already reasonably priced product. If you are a Vegan looking to get more protein in your life, looking to boost sports recovery, or just looking for a bit of a natural boost to add into your day then I would recommend checking it out.
 

 

Disclaimer: This product was sent for review purposes, all opinions are my own.

2015: My Running Year in Review

I’m a bit late to the recap of 2015 party, but I had an essay due in on the 4th Jan- cruel timing-so have been working hard to get that done. Anyway, onto a look back at my running in 2015. I’m actually glad I did this recap, as due to not running much during the second half of the year I kind of forgot about all the good places running took me in the first half.

I started 2015 with a spanking new parkrun PB and finally got my sub-25 parkrun time. Advent running/Marcothon had left my legs in good shape to achieve this. I ended my runstreak in January after 61 days of consecutive running, it left me with a great fitness base and confident for the challenges ahead.

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I ran the Brighton half in Feb, and was surprised to get a PB after suffering with a calf injury in the lead up to the race and having done a very long run two days before. I would like to take a few mins off this time this year, hopefully at the Cardiff Worlds in March.

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I ran the beautiful Thames Meander Marathon in March and got another PB despite losing quite a few training weeks yet again to injury. I decided after this race to take some time away from long distance running…that decision obviously lasted a long time.

I had a great time watching the London marathon-mile 5 is right by my house- I enjoyed cheering on friends and of course saying thanks to Paula. I keep trying and failing to get into the ballot- one year I hope I will be successful!

Credit to Emma

Credit to Emma

I ran the Red Bull Wings for Life in May with a big group of friends, it was a unique event, but I was going through a bit of a racing slump, maybe a little bit over-trained and found it tough going.

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I also had a pretty bad experience at the Hackney Half. I was using it as part of a long training run, but left far too big a gap between running to the event and running the race, so I had to haul myself around, it was fairly miserable. I started to feel a bit fatigued with road racing in general, it just didn’t satisfy me in the way the trails can and do.

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Credit to Ash

May was a busy month as I also completed the Richmond Park marathon, this was a last minute decision to run after previously stating my intention to take time off long distance running, but one that I am glad I made, despite having a fairly disastrous run dealing with GI problems. I loved the race, even though it was a 3 lap course, and up until half way was having a great time. I still have good memories of this event though, and would be tempted to do it again.

I signed up for Race to the Stones– my first 100k. After hearing about it through the WMNRun group, I could not stop thinking about this race, it felt like something deep inside me knew I had to enter it as I couldn’t get it out of my mind. In preparation I ran my highest ever mileage weeks, long back to backs, and even a couple of ultras as training runs, I met new friends and shared running adventures along the way. Running 30 miles alone along the Thames path with no entertainment, was perfect mental training for race day! I started to suffer with I.T.B.S again shortly before the race, so took it easy during the last few weeks of training.

My running highlight of 2015, and something I think I will struggle to top was completing Race to the Stones. Race day could not have gone better-other than my tumble- everything went to plan, and I honestly enjoyed every second of it. It was the culmination of many years of hard work, and if I’m honest it still all feels a bit surreal- it took a long time to come down from it! I didn’t realise at the time but this was to be my last race of the year, a little fatigued and burnt out, I needed some time off.

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I took a long break from running post race, and to be honest struggled to get back into it at all for most of the year. We got a puppy a few weeks after the race, and my time and energy was devoted to him, I’m absolutely besotted with him, and couldn’t imagine our lives without him.

Running really felt like hard work and a slog for quite a few months, so I didn’t really do very much of it at all. I got back into strength training and rejoined the gym, this was my focus for a few months with running firmly on the back-burner.

I used a trip to Tenerife in November, to really focus on getting back into running and getting stronger, and I felt like I returned in really good shape and ready for the winter training ahead, although multiple colds across winter months curtailed this slightly.

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I found my running mojo in December, and completed my second year of Advent Running and third time of the Marcothon, running at least a 5k everyday in December. I had a bit of a knee niggle midway through, but it  thankfully disappeared, I feel like this streak really got me back into being focused and committed to running, and has given me a great base for challenges that lie ahead in 2016.

So overall, a good year. I got 5k, half, and marathon PB’s, completed my first 100km race, completed another advent running/marcothon and found my love of running again. Hit my mileage total of 1200 for the year (nearly 1300), and met many new friends along the way. Onwards and upwards.

Happy New Year!

 

 

Festive Energy Balls: Two Ways.

I love to do lots of baking/un-baking over Christmas time, I have lists of things on Pinterest to make over the festive period, and some have already been made, including some gingerbread granola, and some festive themed energy balls to power me through the rest of my run streak in December.

The Protein Works kindly sent me some insane nut butters, in chocolate fudge brownie and pumpkin spice flavour. Usually when you get these kind of flavoured nut butters they tend to be full of crap, but these are super high quality and have an ingredients list that I am a big fan of. Pumpkin Spice is simply: Peanuts, extra virgin coconut oil, coconut sugar, cinnamon, coriander, all spice, clove, ginger, nutmeg, and himalyan salt, it has all those lovely warming festive flavours to it, and works perfectly in Christmas themed recipes, or just some festive porridge too! Chocolate Fudge Brownie Flavour is equally nutritious featuring: Peanuts, organic cocoa powder, extra virgin coconut oil, coconut sugar, molasses, vanilla extract and himalayan salt- this stuff is insane, it might be the best nut butter I’ve ever had, and there has been a lot of consumption.

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Once I received these, I knew I had to use them to make a batch of energy balls, they will also be going into some nut butter cups later this week. I made smaller batches of each recipe so we are in good supply for the rest of the festive season.

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Choc Fudge Brownie Energy Balls

3/4 cup Ground Almonds
1/2 cup oats
3 Tbsp Flaxseed
3/4 cup Chocolate Fudge Brownie Peanut Butter
2 Tbsp Coconut Oil
1/2 tsp Salt
2 Tbsp Maple Syrup
Drizzle of Almond Milk/Water

Add all ingredients to food processor and blend, drizzle in almond milk/water as you pulse to bind mixture together. Roll into balls and store in fridge.

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Warming Winter Energy Balls

6 Medjool Dates
10 Dried Apricots
1 Cup Oats
1/4 Cup Flaxseed
1/2 Cup Pumpkin Spice Peanut Butter
1 Tbsp Coconut Oil
Grated Nutmeg
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Ginger powder
2 tsp Cinnamon Powder

Soak dates and apricots in warm water for 5 mins, drain and leave soak water aside. Add to food processor and blend into a paste. Add rest of ingredients and drizzle in some of the soak water to bind the mixture. Roll into balls, sprinkle with cinnamon and put in the fridge to harden.

Enjoy over the festive season, or in January for a healthy sweet treat!

 

Disclaimer: I was sent these items from The Protein Works for review, all opinions are my own.