Running Is….

This week, my attitude towards running has been as unpredictable as the weather (seriously. WHAT is going on with this weather?). I desperately want to do it, and then I can’t be bothered. Let’s face it, my experience is the opposite of most people’s at the moment: instead of getting easier, each run gets a little bit harder, and I get a little bit bigger. My teenage self is delighted with this irony, and wants a top that reads ‘This run is ironic‘ to show how cynical and aware she is.

 

I played the word-association game with the word ‘running’ to try and untangle the complex web of emotions. That, and the word association game is always fun.  I admit -some of this was during a rainy evening when I didn’t go running, but some of it was during a really nice 6k along the River Trent.

 

So for me, running is……… (drum roll)……

 

    • Hypnotic 

There are so many times my mind has wandered during a really long run, and I come back with my life sorted out without feeling like I’ve even tried! Worked out a new pole routine, worked through some work stuff, worked through my latest emotional drama by playing the word association game… #winning.  It gives you space to think and get your life in order. Then the only thing is putting your realisations into practice when the run stops!

    • Hunger-inducing

Yep. This one needs no introduction. Running definitely equals cake. I’m sorry if that’s not 100% fitfam or fitspo or fitspiration or whatever. But if you work, you can reward yourself, and you shouldn’t feel bad about it.

    • Romantic

Nothing says romance like when your husband runs at the same pace as you, even when you’re 90 seconds slower than usual. As well as being quality time, there is less sweat too. Who needs a candlelit dinner for two when you can run together WITHOUT sweat???

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    • Imaginative

Try running on a new trail path the day after you see Jurassic World and convincing yourself that there aren’t any dinosaurs hunting you down. And then imagine yourself having to say ‘clever girl’ like Robert Muldoon when the raptors finally reveal themselves. It will make you run faster.

 

There be monsters. And dinosaurs.

There be monsters. And dinosaurs.

    • Satisfying

Nothing beats finishing a run – especially a run you didn’t want to go on. You feel revitalised. Also, nothing beats smashing the goals on your training plan, or finding out that you can run that extra 0.5km after all. There is something unique about the running-induced endorphin high: you have done something all by yourself. No gym equipment, no team mate, no assistance other than the support provided by your shoes and the modesty provided by your clothes. Dude, you own the world when you finish a run.

    • Exciting

Linked to the point above: who KNOWS what you are capable of? Why not put it to the test? Anyone who’s signed up to a race knows the sick but also exciting but mostly sick feeling of committing to something you’re not sure you can do… and speaking of which, look what happened yesterday:

Eeeeeeek!! What a whopper of a race for my first post-baby entry! Fingers crossed…..

Eeeeeeek!! What a whopper of a race for my first post-baby entry! Fingers crossed…..

    • Refreshing

As  a teen, I remember one of my friends saying she loved going for a run on a hot day, and then begging her mum to take her to the pool. At the time I thought ‘are you for real? Do you know you can close the curtains and watch X Files too?’ because I was such a cool teenager, if you couldn’t guess from my ironic comment earlier. But now I get it: it’s linked to the satisfaction. Once you’re done, and you have that shower, you feel the cleanest and healthiest you’ve ever felt (since the last run). If you can time it with the endorphin hit, then you’re pretty much ready to change into your SuperHero costume and go kick some Velociraptor butt. And you can still watch the X Files with the curtains closed.

    • Magic

Running can change your mood, your outlook, your lifestyle, and dare I say it, your life. Rather than sapping your energy, it gives energy. I can leave the house with a face like a thundercloud and come home floating on rainbows. Honestly – I’m not a believer in magic, witchcraft or the dark arts of Harry Potter. But there is something magic to running and I think you can spot it in each of the points above. If you need any further evidence, I present exhibit A:

 

Would you believe that only a few hours earlier, this face picked a fight with her husband about a cheese grater?! A cheese grater.

Would you believe that only a few hours earlier, this face picked a fight with her husband about a cheese grater?! A cheese grater for crying out loud.

 

When you don’t feel like going – when sitting with the curtains closed watching X Files seems the more attractive option – it’s worth getting out there. Even for 10 minutes. To experience the magic of running, and give yourself time to sort your life out, and to imagine running away from dinosaurs.

 

And what does running mean to you? What does it give you, do for you, how does it change you??

 

Ellie B

Friday Fun

I don’t know about you, but this is the end of a loooooong week for me. I am glad it’s Friday. I had one of those weeks where you blink and it’s Friday, but your to-do list hasn’t gotten any smaller. Tell me I’m not alone in feeling like this from time to time!

 

Anyway, it’s not been all bad. As it’s Friday, let’s focus on the fun things, and with that in mind, here are some things that have made me smile this past week:

Trail Runners

 

I think this is fairly accurate. Although, I’m not sure that I qualify on the beard front. I hope I don’t have a beard. Even if it is an awesome beard.

 

The temperature has dropped – not enough for snow, but enough so that SB and I have to rock our running hats when we run in the evenings now. I don’t think there’s ever been a more on-point look:

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I am happy that cold weather running is back: call me crazy, but it’s so refreshing to be out in the sharp air after being indoors all day. It clears your head in the same way that plunging into the pool after being in a jacuzzi does. Except that you’re not in a spa, or on holiday or wherever you might be jumping between pool and jacuzzi, so you’re saving money at the same time 😉

Allow me to be sentimental for a minute. One of my friends said online that they needed some inspiration for living a ‘cleaner life’. I found this pic which completely encapsulates running for me:

Running-Lessons

 

I have always surprised myself by running. I was not naturally a sporty person, but I started with a small goal (to get fit and keep an eye on my body), and gradually my goals became bigger and bigger until I find myself where I am now. Believe me, I’m as surprised – and proud – as anyone that I’ve transformed into one half of those annoying couples who go running in matching sports gear. Just kidding. Our sports gear doesn’t match, but that’s only because SB is against it. Otherwise I’d Kath & Kel it right up.

 

Kath & Kel

I know this isn’t sports gear. But look how good they look.

I read about a challenge for December known as AdventRunning. I thought perhaps it would be a nice challenge to run on each Advent Sunday, but nope: the challenge is to run for at least 30 minutes each day from 1st to 25th December. I mean…. that’s a pretty tall order during a regular month, but December? With all it’s minced pie and mulled wine goodness?

 

Anyway, competitive fool that I am, I have decided to try for it. I don’t think I’ll be so hardcore as to try for 30 minutes every day, but an average per week would be good. It would help balance out the Christmas Joy that I fully intend to partake in. Plus, the article says that runs should be documented on social media, and if you’ve learned one thing about me by now, it’s that I’m a social media addict. I’m all over it. So bring it on December! Let’s get our Advent on!

 

Finally – my brother turned 30 this week (I know, so old, right?), and we went to a cafe where we found THIS:

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I just want to share this because it had everything you could want in a cake: ganache, cream, jam, sponge. Plus it was the size of a door stop.

 

Hope you all have a great weekend!

 

Ellie B

 

 

The Saviour that is the Green Smoothie

 

After Wednesday’s post about how I approach food (answer: know when I’m eating rubbish, and eat good things at other times!), I wanted to introduce you to a very good friend of mine, and a staple in my diet for the last 18 months.

 

The Green Smoothie.

 

Green smoothies seemed to be all the rage last year, and this year they have been usurped by the Paleo diet, the gluten-free diet and the sugar-free diet. But I am a creature of habit, and don’t have the will power for any of this year’s crazes, so I’m still revelling in the beauty of the Green Smoothie.

 

This smoothie helps me balance all the curry, wine and chocolate I mentioned on Wednesday. It serves as lunch, breakfast or a mid-morning snack (this very much depends on what’s in the cupboards, which in turn is depends on what day of the week it is!).

 

The core ingredients to my smoothie are:

  • 2-3 handfuls of spinach
  • 1 apple
  • 1 banana
  • Handful of berries
  • Yoghurt – preferably natural Greek
  • Milk
  • Honey
  • Juice (if available)
  • Super dooper ingredient

 

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The Super dooper ingredient changes depending on what I feel I need in my diet – and also what I can afford, because  any visit to the health food shop shows that healthy supplements aren’t cheap! In the past I’ve used protein (when marathon training), chia seeds (loaded with fibre, antioxidants, protein and omega-3) and currently I’m enjoying flax seeds (also containing omega-3 and protein) with added iron and vitamin-D.

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If I’m using the smoothie as a meal substitute, then I’ll also add some porridge oats too. And then you add all the ingredients together and blend – I like a thick smoothie, so I keep the milk/juice light.

 

And that’s it!! It’s such a good way of getting 4 of my 5 fruit and veg each day, and you also get the added smugness of having enjoyed a green smoothie. If I’m doing a long run that evening, I would also eat a snack about an hour before hand.

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Next week I’m in Oslo and London for work, so not sure how my running will go! I have the best intentions, but it’s also my birthday. And birthday celebrations aren’t always conducive to pre-work running.

 

AND LOOK WHAT ARRIVED TODAY:

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Yes. I am seeing Kylie in November. Look, I won’t pretend it’s the first time I’ve seen her, but honest-to-god, I’m just as excited. Feel sorry for the poor friends who have to come with me, and put up with me singing all the words (at least I’ll know the words, unlike that Elton concert I went to!).

 

Have a totes amaze weekend, and catch you all soon!

 

Ellie B

It’s time to talk about Food.

 

There seems to come a time when all running blogs address the F-word: food. And now it is my time.

 

Recently it feels that I’ve talked a lot about food. My instagram abounds with pictures of chocolate, it feels like half our holiday pictures are photos of what we ate (yeah…. I am that person. Don’t come to a restaurant with me unless you’re happy for my camera to be an additional dining companion). I love food: I love the experience of eating out, the comfort of eating in, and the treat of a takeaway. My favourite foods are curry and chocolate, and I love a good wine to go with both.

Here is a plate of poppadoms. They weren't even the main meal. But I took a pic.

Here is a plate of poppadoms. They weren’t even the main meal. But I took a pic.

 

Food is a very sensitive topic for many people. Eating is something that literally everyone needs to do if we want to lead any kind of existence, and yet it often brings with it all kinds of associations and opinions. There’s nothing like someone drawing attention to what’s on your plate to make you feel suddenly very self-conscious, and these comments can often be weighed down with additional meaning, both positive and negative.

 

Like a lot of people, I had a complicated attitude towards food when I was growing up. Sadly, I think most people have a complex relationship with food at some point, and some people experience this more keenly than others (just as a side note, don’t you think there’s something cute about using the word ‘relationship’ with regards to food?). Right now food and I are in a good relationship. We get on well. It massages my feet at the end of a long day, and I take the rubbish out cos that’s its least favourite chore.

Full plate for this Bride please.

Here are food and I on the happiest of days.

All joking aside (and I do amuse myself with these stupid jokes!), the key for me has been to recognise what my preferred eating habits are, and then make sure it’s healthy and balanced. My favourite meal is dinner, and we like to eat out. Plus, there’s always some evening chocolate going on in our house. So, therefore, generally I try to make sure that breakfast and lunch are relatively healthy.

 

Running is also an influencing factor regarding food. Training means that you physically require more food, and consequently, eating patterns change. When marathon training, there was no way I could have achieved my goals if I was too worried to have toast every day, or a big plate of pasta. I don’t eat quite so much toast now, but I’m also not running 40 miles a week.

food is fuel

Initially, running helped me mentally: it was easier to eat without guilt (which is a whole separate thing – maybe not for today!).  Then as I got faster and entered more races, I could also physically feel how the body needs fuel to do what I wanted to do.  About 60 minutes after I finish a race or a challenging training session, I can feel my stomach empty and my limbs start to feel like jelly. In these moment I understand just what food actually is for us, and it’s much easier to separate it from any additional baggage.

 

In case you are interested, chocolate milk is my favourite post-anything-difficult drink. It is good for replacing fluids, carbs and protein, and keeps that awful jelly-feeling at bay. Beyonce wasn’t wrong when she said ‘I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly’ (I think I’ve used that quote here before. You can’t quote B too many times, you know).

 

Gatorade in my wine

 

And that’s how I manage my food. There’s really no secret to it.  Figure out when you’re likely to get your treats (and everyone should have at least one a day if they can!) and what your biggest meal is, and work around that. Honestly, people aren’t lying when they say ‘everything in moderation’. If only you can get your head to believe it too!

 

Ellie B

Post Great North Run: Half Marathon Recovery

So, here we are two days on from the Great North Run. By all accounts it was a fantastic day, and they were even able to identify the millionth finisher. If you did finish the run, then you’re probably in a world of pain right now! Following on from last post, here are some hints to help you get those legs back to normal so you can climb the stairs at a normal speed again:

 

  1. Stay hydrated. Don’t forget to keep drinking now that the race is over – it’s important to replenish your fluid intake, and focus on drinks that will replace your electrolytes too. And by all means have a post-run beer because, well, why the heck not? You’ve just run 13.1 miles. But don’t forget the water too.
  2. Over the next few days, make sure you rest to give your muscles a chance to recover. Don’t immediately jump back into your exercise routine, but enjoy being able to catch up on your TV. If you’re looking for something, I can recommend Orange is the New Black as the perfect companion for your post-run muscle rest.
  3. Eat Smart. Before the race, you probably stressed about getting the right amount of carbs: post-race, you should still focus on carbs, but also consider getting the right amount of protein.  Ideally, a protein shake just after you finish will help your muscle repair, but you can continue this for the days following the race too.
  4. Foam roll. I am not so good practicing what I preach with this one, but rolling your legs will give you a DIY sports massage. You can use the roller all over your body, but I personally focus on my calves, IT band and quads. Roll slowly over the area you’re focusing on, and when you feel a twinge, hold the roller there for a little bit. Beware that it is NOT fun, but it IS valuable. I promise.
  5. Start introducing light exercise into your routine. If you can manage it, going for a short walk will keep your legs loose and stop them from stiffening up.

Marathon recovery meal

On the day itself, I find that chocolate milk is the best recovery drink: it’s hydrating, and has a good combo of carbs and protein. I also try to sit in a cold bath for 10 mins. I’m not tough enough for an ice bath, but a cold bath seems to do the trick!

 

I’ve collected these over the years from different sources, and they seem to work for me. However, you may need to vary them slightly to make sure they work for you – and if you’re in a lot of pain, then go see a doctor.

 

And now here are some tangents for this Tuesday post:

 

I learned this week that if you annoy the universe, it will come to get you. Karma, man, it exists. Something happened at the end of last week, and then when SB and I went to Lisbon for the weekend, we lost our luggage.

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In case you didn’t know, Lisbon is gorgeous, but our city break was punctuated with a desperate trip to H&M followed by the Chemist (because losing your luggage and sprinting to make tight plane connections is sweaty work it turns out).

 

Here is our best 'lost suitcase' look.

Here we are spotting the latest trends in ‘I lost my suitcase and I all have are the clothes on my back’.

 

SB got his bag earlier than I did, and went for a run. I didn’t go for a run, but I did get to a rooftop bar, plus we both ate lots of great seafood, so everyone’s a winner. My bag arrived just in time for me to pick it up on the way back to the airport on Sunday.

 

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And on Facebook I was nominated to share 10 books that have stayed with me over the years, so I thought I’d share here too:

 

1) 1984, George Orwell
2) The Baby Sitters Club, Ann M Martin – saw me from ages 7-12!!
3) The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini
4) Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
5) A Doll’s House, Ibsen
6) Ariel, Sylvia Plath
7) Jamie’s Ministry of Food, Jamie Oliver – this book has literally kept us alive
8) Jude the Obscure, Thomas Hardy
9) Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
10) Empire Falls, Richard Russo

 

Ellie B