How Running Changed the Way I Feel About My Body, For the Better!

I was never an athletic child, I hated doing PE, never went in for sports and in fact the idea of going outside even filled me with dread.

Then we hosted the 2012 Olympics and all of a sudden I became interested – to the point in which I started running. Let’s be honest, I wanted the shiny medals, but I also wanted to see how far I could push my body and what I could get it to achieve.

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My affair with running ended abruptly after a series of running injuries that I managed to stretch and yoga out and ultimately ignore until I couldn’t ignore them any more. But this isn’t about that (and if you’ve been reading this blog for a while you’ll already know the back story). This is about how I now realise how much impact running and fitness had on the way I perceive my body and how I still feel about it.

I’ll start with how it affected my relationship with food. Before I started running I had never really considered food as fuel. Of course I knew it was, but I didn’t ever look at it in a clinical way. I feel like I began to see how different foods would benefit me in different ways, partially in how it would enable me to endure whichever activity I was participating in that day, but also how it could help me recover from those activities too. Once I started thinking this way, I was able to adapt this into creating healthy and useful meals so that it wasn’t all boring ‘healthy’ foods, but also things I looked forward to eating.

I posted in a recent article about how wearing sports bras affected how I felt about my small chest size, but wearing sports clothing also affected how I felt about my body all over. I had never liked the way my stomach looked when I sat down – blobby and rolly and much better if I was standing – and sure, eating well and working out makes a difference to that, but in turn because I knew I was working hard to be healthy and fit my opinion of how my body looked changed. All of a sudden I was proud of each part of my body for enduring what I was putting it through. Because my muscles, for the most part, were keeping up with the demand I was asking of it, I didn’t see my body in a negative light any more – my bum wasn’t shaped any better, my legs weren’t more shapely, my stomach wasn’t more toned – BUT I knew everything was doing its job. I was happy.

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Even though I have stopped being active in the same ways I was back then, due to injury, I still have most of that mentality. Yes I get a bit fed up if I start to feel bloated, but I know weight is relative, I know my body is strong and relatively healthy – and I know it’s working for me.

 

I’d never felt this way about my body until I started being regularly active, and I really enjoyed the way it made me feel about myself. This isn’t something I’ve forgotten since I’ve become more sedentary, either. I remember how I felt and I don’t lament over it. I’m so pleased I went through this phase, and who knows, it might rear its head again – but until then I’m delighted with the mindset it brought with it.

Here’s to feeling fit, healthy and happy with myself.

This Week I Have Been Mostly….

this week i have been mostly

This last week the sun has tried to shine and it’s begun to feel a little Spring-like. I say that and two days of the past week I had to scrape ice off the car. But by around 10am the spring sun was in the sky. It’s amazing how much the sunshine can make you feel brighter and more positive.

Despite the cold weather I’ve been mentally preparing for Spring. The arrival of my Glossybox was welcome, with its beautiful Valentine’s themed box and amazing goodies inside.

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Inside was a pair of vintage printed tweezer, MUA lip glaze in a pretty pink, a Wilkinson Sword razor, brown eyeliner (so handy!) and an amazing hair mask. Some of these will no doubt make it into my February Favourites, so keep an eye out for that!

I was also surprised for Valentine’s Day, with an amazing gift of Laura Mercier bubble bath. I’ve been eyeing this up for a while, with its gorgeous jar and honey dipper. I’ve used it already and it’s amazing how you can really feel the difference in the quality of the bubbles. So luxurious!

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Last weekend I was sad to learn that one of my favourite clothing shops, Ark, was closing down. So I decided to take advantage of their closing down sale and discounts and bought myself 3 dresses and a skirt for under £30! They arrived on Friday and I was so excited by the skirt that I had to wear it out on Saturday. And I’m so glad I did. It’s so easy to wear and comfy. It’s going to see me through winter, spring and autumn – I’m sure I’ll be able to get it in during summer too!

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And so now it’s Sunday. And I managed to get done a lot of the chores I couldn’t do during my week off when I was so ill. I also managed to get a quick gym session in this morning, and the spring weather has gotten me in a motivated mood!

Here’s to improved weather and improved motivation – I’m excited!

2 Years In – My Running Tips

I will shortly be celebrating my 2 years runniversary! Amazing that I’ve stuck at it this long, and it wasn’t a fad. Who knew?

When I started out running I really wanted to get advice from people like me – not just running magazines and sports therapists. I did get some great tips from bloggers and friends which really helped. So I thought I might do the same, and share some of the do’s and dont’s I’ve learned along the way, in the hope that it might help some of you. Since the weather is improving and spring is here, running season is kicking off – so here goes!

  • Running is free – this is true, but you really must invest in good shoes if you’re serious about running regularly. My first pair of shoes, Nike Pegasus, were wonderful for a while, but too wide for my feet it turns out. Get a gait analysis and go to a shop that has more than one brand, so you don’t just get lumbered with the best shoe that ONE brand can offer. You need the best shoe for you!

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  • Everyone learns at different speeds. Everyone starts from a different fitness level. Everyone is different. Some people will run a mile on their first outing, and others will take a month before they can manage a mile. The important thing is you laced up and went out.
  • If you run, you’re a runner. (p.s You’ll hate it if anyone calls you a jogger!)
  • Speed isn’t everything. When I started running I was impressed with the speed I could run a mile. But I was shattered after it and wanted to throw up. I soon realised speed isn’t the be all end all – it’s finishing that matters.
  • Leading on from this, don’t compare yourself with others. This is much harder than it sounds. Two years in I still berate myself for not running as fast, as far or as often as another person. But they might be lighter than me, or younger than me, or just simply more athletic. They also might be pushing too hard and end up with injury.
  • Listen to your body. I’ve had two bouts of injury, ITB and runner’s knee. I ran too far too quickly and didn’t listen to the niggles when they happened. At the time I was working in a two storey shop on my feet all day, and would spent days between runs in pain, taking painkillers to make it through the day. It’s not worth it. But if you train smart you can avoid it.
  • Running is bad for your joints – When I started telling people I was taking up running, I heard it all. Mostly that running wrecks your joints. It’s true to an extent, but it’s also true for all high impact sports if you don’t take care of your form and your body between run days…..
  • …which leads to…. Complement your running with core work and weight training. You’re putting your body under lots of stress every time you pound the street. I do a yoga session which is designed to help strengthen and stretch my body twice a week. I do arm and leg weight sessions once a week, focussing on my weaker areas when I need to (leg press to strengthen quads and glutes really help prevent further ITB injury). I work on arms, because when you get near to the end of a long run that can be all you have to help propel you on!) and core work which really helps with my form (especially posture).
  • You’ll have really good runs, and you’ll also have crap ones. Lots of crap ones. But at least you’re running!
  • Run with friends. It’s amazing how much more enjoyable running alongside someone else is. You don’t need to chat, just run!

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  • Enter races! If you don’t decide to join a club or have a running buddy then you might not know the joys of running in a group. And if you are familiar with how fun that is, then you must experience the anticipation and camaraderie of running an organised race. Plus goodie bags and medals…. it’s a win win!

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  • You will become obsessed. I know I told you running is free, which is technically true, but you’ll want ALL the clothes and ALL the accessories and to enter ALL the races. You have been warned. You will also, all of a sudden, be absolutely fine wearing garish neon colours and loud prints you would never have dreamed of wearing before!

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  • Never use nutrition on race day that you haven’t trained with. You don’t want to be caught short in the middle of a race because you’ve tried a new gel that day and it’s given you the two bob bits.
  • Hydrate in the days leading up to a race. If you’re chugging on water the morning of your event all you’ll do is need to pee every ten minutes. Portaloos are not your friend. 
  • One of the best bits of advice I read when I started out: “Never trust a fart after a mile” Crude but true.
  • You will all of a sudden be fine with discussing your bowel movements (and girls, your monthlies) with other runners, and you know, everyone else.
  • Don’t put too much pressure on yourself – I’ve been there. I still go there. If I have a race coming up, I want to be the best I can be. But because of this I put so much pressure on myself that it stops being fun to train. Don’t fall into that trap.
  • Just because you ran for ten minutes doesn’t mean you can go and eat a McDonalds. But I actually found that I went right off most fast food and fatty snacks when I started running and I really just wanted a banana….. I still do get the occasional burger though…. beef’s good protein, right?
  • Most of all enjoy it! You’ve chosen a great, social sport, that will get you healthy and outside into the fresh air…. and lots and lots of shiny medals!

Bikini body – 3 months in

For those who read my blog regularly you’ll know I’m off to Ibiza in September to celebrate the engagement and wedding of one of our good friends, Sarah. It’s my first girly holiday, my first beach holiday and my first Hen weekend.

It’s also going to be the occasion I wear my first bikini. I’ve owned them in the past but never had the nerve or occasion to wear one. I’m not body confident. I have a wobbly stomach, sticky out ribs, small boobs, tiny waste and massive child-bearing hips. My weight yo yos and usually just sticks to my hips and stomach. So since the end of December last year, I’ve been working hard to put this right.

Since then I’ve been running twice a week (now three times), with at least one run to be for an hour and the other run(s) no less than 5k. Yoga twice a week, abs twice a week and weights once a week. The Nike Training app has been a godsend – I use it for yoga and abs and the occasional cardio workout if I can’t get to the gym. Since they’re timed 15 min sessions I know I have to complete the whole 15 mins – that’s not too long to fit into a busy day but long enough to feel a difference. And now you can link your app to the iPhone 6 Health app and it adds that Nike Fuel to your daily activity. Not a huge deal, but I like seeing all my activity on there. Makes me feel a bigger sense of achievement.

Since I started, I’ve slimmed down to the point where none of my trousers fit any more so I’ve had to buy a new pair of jeans, and my perfect fit jeans are slightly too loose….. argh! I’m starting to feel ab definition and my arms are more toned and getting back to how they were a year ago before I stopped weight training to focus on running training.

The running I’m doing now isn’t all just for cardio’s sake – I’m training for the London Bupa 10,000 at the end of May! I’m really looking forward to this race for a few reasons – it’s my first race of the year and you get to run some of the landmarks the lucky London Marathon runners will have just run, even finishing up by running down the Mall. I’ve also decided to run this race for Dementia UK, a wonderful charity to assist those and the families effected by dementia.

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I’ve set up a Just Giving page, which you’re welcome to visit and donate on if you wish.

I also have the Race for Life and Women’s Running 10k Series race planned for later in the year. By then I’ll be so svelte I’ll be one of those women who just runs in her sports bra….. not likely…. But who knows, I might eventually share some of my progress photos if I’m brave enough…..

I’ll update you again in about 3 months!

Listening, Learning and Looking Forward

This week has been tiring, but rewarding. When I’m busy I tend to go all in or nothing, and this week was an all in week. I have a problem pacing myself in all aspects, not just running…. I’m aware.

Anyway, last weekend I trained Saturday (weights and core), Sunday (my first 5k run in 6 months), Monday (Yoga) and then I was busy Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Thursday was more yoga and friday I sat on the sofa and dribbled…..

So it was busy but rewarding. I really enjoyed my Sunday treadmill run and even though my legs ached for the next few days, it was a familiar ache – like welcoming back an old friend! Today I was back at it with another weights session, but this time I was able to train with my friend Tash who wanted to try out a little more in the weight section. It’s really rewarding to start finding certain areas of my workout getting easier and also gain some of the fitness back that I’d lost over the last few months, whilst not training.

My yoga sessions were completed using the improved Nike Training Club app which I’m really liking this time around. When it first launched I looked at it, but ended up deleting it from my phone as it was taking up too much space. Since my phone upgrade I hadn’t remembered the app, but they’ve been pushing it fairly heavily on social media and I thought I’d give it another go. What I like about it is your workouts add to your existing Nike Fuel however you earn it. I’ve linked my Nike Running app to it, so I already have a fair bit of fuel.

The app can be used to strengthen, lean down, tone and what they call ‘focus’ which incorporates yoga. You choose the workouts you like to look of and download them for later use. What I like about these it you’re talked through the moves, with the option to watch a video on how to perform each section.

I might even try some of the cardio workouts in the spring when I can use the space in the back garden.

Other than knackering myself out, I’ve been getting rather excited about a couple of trips I’m going on this year. In 5 weeks I fly out to Las Vegas for a week. It’s been 8 years since I was last there and so much has been built since then. We’re trying to decide on a show to see, though I think Gary and I are most looking forward to eating and shopping! The other trip isn’t until September but I’m going on a holiday of firsts – my first hen party, my first all girl holiday and my first beach holiday – I’m off to Ibiza! I really can’t wait! I’m determined to have worked out enough to be happy to put on a bikini by then too!

This week I’ve also been doing a lot of online reading and a couple of articles caught my attention. I’ve mentioned periods in the past, and in the past felt I’ve had to apologise for it. Well it was a breath of fresh air to read what this journalist wrote. Have a look here if you’re so inclined. I also read this article about positive morning rituals. I was interested in how the author rejected most social media in the morning and replaced it with simple things to start his day on the best possible foot. Another interesting point was his choice to continue to include instagram as a positive stimulus in his morning, making the point that you just don’t see anything negative posted (as long as you haven’t chosen to follow spam or troll instagram users, but who would really want to do that?). And finally this article and accompanying video from a very intelligent and articulate victim of revenge porn. Technology and social media has changed the world and changed how people interact with each other. It’s a new kind of warfare and even though some of the blows people hit others with are horrific, it’s wonderful to see women this eloquent and head strong come out of it fighting.

How was your week?
 

This Week I Have Been Mostly…

this week i have been mostly

It’s amazing how you can feel as if you aren’t doing an awful lot just because it’s less than you normally do, but on reflection you realise you’ve done a great deal of stuff.

The week after Disneyland was tough, mainly because I wanted to be back at Disney but mainly because I was feeling so exhausted. But I still managed to get some stuff done. Here’s what I’ve been up to:

  • On Tuesday I went to Rock Choir with my Mum as a full member for the first time. I really enjoyed singing and learning the parts to the song we’re singing. There’s a lot of concerts coming up too and I’m looking forward to getting back on the stage. It’s been quite some time since I performed with a choir and I’m interested to see if it feels the same as it used to.
  • We’ve been to the gym a few times. I ran for the first time in a while on Wednesday and enjoyed it, but my fitness levels have dropped. I need to get back to it with the old running.
  • Thursday was Body Attack at the gym, and it kicked my butt. I realise now it’s because I’m very run down and have come down with a sinus cold which is spreading to my chest. Fun! I’m shattered. This morning I woke up with one completely bloodshot eye that was glazed and I couldn’t open it all the way, and yesterday I took a two-hour nap in the middle of the day. Very unlike me!
  • Friday my friend Tash came over and we had a good catch up and natter. It’s been a while since I’ve seen the girls but we have a special occasion coming up and a gathering planned, which we’re all looking forward to.
  • The weekend was a mix of being very busy and very lazy (well I mean that nap I was talking about). On Saturday Gary and I met his Sister and our Niece for lunch and a catch up. It had been a long time since I’d seen them so it was nice to catch up. We did the normal chores and watched some tv too.
  • I finished re reading Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn which I think is my favourite of her three novels, with Gone Girl a close second. I can’t wait to see the Gone Girl movie, and I believe they’ve made a movie of her other novel Dark Places which will be out soon too. She’s done rather well hasn’t she?
  • I’m very much looking forward to receiving my gold iPhone 6 soon. I’m getting tired of having to charge my phone 4 times a day and not being able to lock it.

I’m really looking forward next weekend because the NFL Street Party is back on the streets of London and we had to miss it last year, so this year we’re rocking up. I’m looking forward to seeing some cheerleaders cheering and enjoying the atmosphere. I’m not an American Football fan but I’m a party fan!

I also know it’s getting closer to Halloween since the hits on my blog for Grave Encounters have been through the roof, so hello to anyone who has found me that way! I re watched the film a couple of weeks ago and it’s still great. I recommend it if you like scary found footage films.

 

This Week I Have Been Mostly….

this week i have been mostly

  • Listening to Ben Howard and Ed Sheeran. It’s a mixture of immersive, emotion and happiness that I’m loving.
  • Getting excited because I got tickets for me and a friend to attend Lena Dunham’s book event at the end of October. Exciting!!

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  • Getting excited because G and I are also going to see Ben Howard in December.
  • Getting even more excited because this time next week I’ll be in Disneyland, Paris soaking in the happy.
  • Feeling emotionally rubbish but I’ve had support from a wonderful friend and a wonderful husband (as well as a couple of you online type guys)
  • Getting back into the gym, and enjoying it. I had a rest, which was nice, but now I’ve given myself just under a year to get the bikini body I want. This means 3x cardio a week and weight training twice with two rest days in there.

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  • Loving my hair colour – last weekend I completed round two of dying and the different shades are starting to come through already.
  • Anticipating the new iPhone which will no doubt be announced next week. I really need a phone that I can turn on and off and that holds battery for more than two hours…… but I’m a sucker and will always replace my iPhone with another iPhone. Apple, you got me!

 

Shutterbug Wears Lexie

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I’ve spoken about Lexie in the past when I told you all about the time I visited their pop up shop at Boxpark. Well, during that visit I spotted a lovely long sleeve sweat top in one of the promo photos. I was told by Lexie’s founder Lily, that it would be available soon and to keep an eye out.

At that time I bought one of their t-shirts and I have to say it’s absolutely one of my favourite work out tops. Not only is it comfortable and soft, it looks great on. It accentuates all the curves you’d want it to, and I love the sexy black mesh panel at the back. I love to wear my neon orange sports bra with it because the contrast works really well.

Lily contacted me a while back and let me know production hadn’t begun on the long sleeved top I wanted but she offered to let me get my eager little hands on the sample I’d seen in the promo shot on my original visit.

I jumped at the chance and soon it had arrived. The top is mostly a similar black mesh to the tee I bought but a little thicker, so a little more robust. There is a waffle t-shirt panel across the front with Lexie’s great triangle logo embroidered and then another panel of the same fabric down the inside of the arm.

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Now that the weather is getting a little autumnal this is going to be my perfect work out top. It’s ideal with just a sports bra underneath when I’m doing a weights session, and it’s great layered on top of a sports vest when going between classes at the gym. I’m in love!

A huge thank you has to go to Lily at Lexie for giving this huge Lexie fan the opportunity to get her mitts on something she’d been lusting over for a while! I feel special when I wear it knowing that, for the time being at least, I’m the only one that owns this amazing bit of workout kit.

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If you hadn’t heard of Lexie before, I recommend you head over to their website and check out their current collection. They’ve been featured in loads of articles over the last few months, and Kimberley Wyatt even wore their wonderful leggings in a recent shoot.

Aren’t they amazing? I can’t wait to see their next collection!

Party On!

And so begins my two months of having no free time, but spending all of my time doing wonderful and exciting things!

Last weekend I spent a lot of time with some of my most wonderful friends. Sarah, my newly engaged friend, was turning 30 on Tuesday and she held a fabulous party on the Saturday. We gathered on the edge of a cricket ground and picnic’d for a few hours to start the celebrations. Good food, chats and company were experienced as we kept out of the heat of the sun in the shade. I’m very lucky to have such a great bunch of friends and the time flew by, before we headed into the pavilion and made ourselves comfortable on the lawn outside it.

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The barbecue fired up, we watched Sarah open her presents and then dug into another feast. We talked late into the evening and it was quite dark before we left! But not before we got to have a slice of the wonderful cake made by the birthday girl herself!

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An amazing cake, and it tasted amazing too! It was a really great day and we so enjoyed celebrating Sarah’s birthday all together.

In other news I finally got around to highlighting my hair. It was a bit of a mission….. I used L’Oreal Glam Highlights

 

It comes with an ‘easy’ application brush. It is fairly easy and quick but not on your own. I couldn’t get an even pressure applying it myself and after letting it develop, washing it out, conditioning and drying it was really patchy and I wasn’t happy. So I called on Gary and he fixed it for me! I’m really pleased with the result. It’s quite subtle at the moment, but I intend to build up the intensity over the next few months with further applications and in the end will have an array of shades running through my hair! Here’s the result:

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I’ve also been to the gym a few times this week, and yesterday tried out my first Body Attack class, aware that it was cardio interval workouts and HIIT. The instructor talked to us before the class and told us what to expect. She was very clear about what to do and what not to do if you started to flag a bit, and was very reactive to any struggles all the way through. I really enjoyed it, but it was truly knackering. We intend to go again next week, but it’ll be a different instructor since this week’s was covering for the normal one, so I hope next week’s is as good! It’s really hard but something I’d like to get good at. I’m obviously a glutton for pain….. eek!

And lastly, I received something very exciting in the post yesterday. It’s something I’ve been waiting for for a while and is extra specially wonderful. Here’s a sneak peak, but there’ll be more about it soon….

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Women’s Running 10k Series – Milton Keynes Race Recap

On Saturday 5th I ran my second 10k race in the Women’s Running 10k Series, my 4th 10k race to date. Last year’s was in London and they only had three locations, but this year they’ve opened it up to loads more places and I was very pleased to see that Milton Keynes was one of them. I had enjoyed last year’s so much that it was a no brainer to run this one. You can read last year’s recap here.

This year I roped in my friend Tash to run with me, since she was after a new challenge and hadn’t run 10k before. Our lead up to the day was a little muddled in training since we were both so busy. We only managed one training run together and our independent training runs sometimes turned into treadmill runs since the weather was being a tad temperamental. And in the days leading up to the event we could see that this wasn’t going to change. Heavy rain was forecast, but with very high humidity. It was going to be an odd one. I’d never run in the rain before so I was intrigued to see what it would be like, and since I suffer in heat a lot I hoped the rain would help me along.

The big day arrived and so did the rain. But we donned our head gear – I’d heard that a cap in the rain was the best choice of accessory as it kept the rain from your face. They weren’t wrong!

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We arrived at the race village and it wasn’t too busy but women gradually started to appear over the next 45 minutes until there was just over 300 of us. The rain had held off until we decided to duck into the portaloos and by the time I re-emerged it was peeing it down. Gary was prepared with a large golf umbrella which was sheltered underneath until we had to move forward for the warm up. We did manage to get some pictures before the rain though:

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The warm up was really excellent. Firstly it kept our whole body warm despite the rain coming down on us quite heavily by this point. It got my heart beat up just enough to prepare me for the race and all the parts of my body that needed a stretch and warm up got exactly that. The best pre-race warm up I’ve ever done.

And then we were moving towards our pacers. Since my fitness level had dropped dramatically since the half marathon I knew I would need to take this easy. I wanted to hit no slower than 70 minutes so lined up next to the sub 70min pacer. I love that this race had pacers and I knew I wanted to run sensibly this time around since last time I thought I’d chosen too slow, went faster than my pacer and then burned out too soon. I didn’t catch the name of the 70 min pacer but she was amazing. She was motivational and chatty (but not too chatty) and so friendly. I managed to run directly alongside her for about 4.5miles when I slowed down as I was starting to struggle.

The rain held off for most of the race but there were 2 large downpours – they were welcomed and seemed to happen just when I was overheating. The humidity was unbearable at points so the rain was amazing!

I didn’t walk at all until the 5k water station, where I realised I’d been going a little fast and took the opportunity to walk until the 70 min pacer met with me again at which point I carried on running. I’m really familiar with the route, since that’s where I train most of the time so I knew what to expect, but I was very impressed with my pace and how strong I felt. After a short walk later on and seeing I had 1k left, I began to run and felt so great I was able to start pulling back, dug my heals in and gave a really strong finish.

I crossed the finish line with a time of 1:10:35 – 36 seconds over what I’d wanted to achieve, but I’m still happy!

certReunited with Gary and Tash, along with her parents who were braving the weather to meet her, we got our medals, t-shirts and goody bags (the best goody bags in the business, and the medals even have the date and location printed on the ribbon which I love!) I headed over to the Everything But The Cow stand who were there to grab a bottle of their yummy drinks for me and Tash. They’d been lovely enough to send me some samples to review a few months back which you can read here. I mentioned that I’d tried their product frozen and they immediately knew who I was – ‘Erin – Groggits from Twitter ‘ they said. I was amazed they’d recognised me from my blog photo, and felt a little bit like a celeb 😀 It was amazing to meet and chat to the Everything But The Cow girls, and hear how much they’d loved my review.

I have to admit I was starting to wonder whether I was falling out of love with running since my half marathon, but after this race I know it was just a bump. I enjoyed it so so much, and I will definitely be back to run with Women’s Running again next year, whether it’s in MK or London.

Now I just have to find my next race…….

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