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.

Summer in the City

Last weekend the UK appeared to skip straight from Winter, right into Summer. The weather was so glorious that we couldn’t believe just a week before we’d been wrapped up tight and watching snow flurries through the window.

So what better way to enjoy the glorious sunshine, than to head to London for a mooch and some food. I love London in the Summer. Everything’s so pretty and shiny.

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We headed straight to lunch when we arrived and to Shoreditch, where I wanted to visit a place called Pump. Built on an old petrol station forecourt, Pump is a little al fresco world food court. We’d arrived at about half 12 and most of the places hadn’t started serving food yet, which was a little surprising. We’d seen some photos of what the place had to offer on instagram so we both headed to Nosteagia.

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I grabbed some teriyaki chicken with rice and a strawberry green bubble tea. The tea was so refreshing and the food was yummy! Gary wasn’t in the mood for a big meal at the time, so just went for desert!

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This bubble waffle was filled with strawberries and chocolate sauce. The waffle was so light and crisp and the filling was fresh and sweet.

We then headed over to Boxpark, and Gary came across Voodoo Rays, and amazing pizzeria selling pizza by the slice. He went for a slice of cheese and tomato. I wished I hadn’t already eaten because the bite of Gary’s pizza I tasted was amazing. He said it was the best pizza he’d eaten in this country! They even had a vegan pizza.

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It was a really funky little place and we HAVE to go back so I can have some of my very own!

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The rest of our day was wonderful, just wandering around London. I was just telling Gary about how I might wake up the following morning and go for a run, early, before I started my day. I am only just getting back into running since my injury last year and so it’s still a hard job to get me to actually go out. I was telling him how I actually probably wouldn’t go out, and that I was feeling too lazy…. and that second I spotted this graffiti on the wall…

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It was, quite literally, a sign. Incidentally, we took this photo opposite a homeless man who was singing into a large traffic cone, the same mermaid-like phrase of song over and over again. And after about 10 minutes just got up and walked away, leaving the cone behind. I love London!

It was such a good day – it felt like we were on holiday! And guess what? The next morning:

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At half 8 (and 18c already) I went for a run! It was tough, and it was hot, but I’m so glad I did it! Sometimes listening to graffiti pays off!

 

This Week I Have Been Mostly….

this week i have been mostly

I’ve had a lovely and relaxed time, this past week. On Monday evening I went for dinner with 3 of the Book Club 6. We talked house moving, work, life and the upcoming wedding of one of the bunch. Sarah’s hen was the reason we went to Ibiza last year. We hadn’t seen each other since before Christmas. Life keeps on getting in the way!

My down time has been mostly spent watching Pretty Little Liars, and I have no shame in admitting I’ve managed to watch 5 and a half seasons in just one month. Granted I got a lot seen during my week off when I caught the plague and spent most of it in bed.

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So I’m all caught up but that means I have to wait until Wednesdays to see the next episodes like the rest of the poor population. I’m loving what they’ve done with the story, and can’t wait to see what’s next!

I’ve been playing around with some of those beauty bits I picked up last weekend, and I’ll do a proper review at some point, but so far I’m loving the mini ‘It’s Potent’ from Benefit. It’s only been a week, and I might be totally wrong, but I’m sure the dark circles under my eyes have reduced. Could this be a miracle cream? I’ve also played around a bit with the colour corrector palette I picked up from Collection at Boots, and so far I’m impressed. The formulas aren’t amazing, but for a £5.99 palette what can you expect? The concept behind them, and how they work on my skin are a big thumbs up so far.

I posted up a review midweek of It Follows, which is a current favourite movie of mine. If you missed the post, check it out. I’d love to hear what you thought of the film if you’ve seen it.

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We started watching the new Judd Apatow min-series Love, which one episode in, is very intriquing. If you love watching Girls I think you’ll love this, since Judd Apatow is involved with both, they have a similar feel to them. I love his movies so I guessed I’d probably like this too. So far so good!

Gary and I, in our aim to eat healthily, took a visit to Five Guys for dinner on Friday…. We love the burgers there, but came away stinking of grease from sitting in the restaurant. We’d never noticed this problem before, but two days later we’ve noticed the smell is still lingering on our coats when we’ve been bundling up to leave the house. Really nasty – it might help to prevent us going back any time soon, which can only be a help towards our healthy eating plan. Tonight I’m trying out Nigella’s Mexican lasagne, and can’t wait to have it in my belly!

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Yesterday morning I had the pleasure of a Skype chat with my friend Tash who has been in Vietnam and Thailand since mid September last year. I really miss her so it’s been great to catch up with her, and see her face! She’s hoping to be back in about 3 months, so she can join us as bridesmaid for Sarah’s wedding. In the meantime I’m thankful for Whatsapp and Skype so I can chat with her at the click of a button.

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We’ve had a couple of snow flurries this week, and a hail storm this afternoon. The weather is so turbulent at the moment, but towards the end of next week we’re hoping to get back to double figures. I’m longing for light jackets and pretty clothes again!

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Today we saw some half marathon runners, running for the MK Festival of Running. I haven’t run properly since my injury last year, and have been happy to take some time off. I usually gauge how much my subconscious wants to run by how I react when I see other people running. Seeing these guys plodding along completing a half marathon race today made me wish I was there with them. So I’m hoping this is a sign for things to come. When the mornings and evenings are lighter I’d like to begin with short runs around the block again. I hate it when I’m doing it, but love the feeling afterwards. And I need to work off these visits to Five Guys somehow!

An Impromptu Trip

A couple of weekends ago, not wanting our holiday to end on the Friday and go back to normality quite yet, we decided to take the train to London. We do this semi-regularly but decided we wanted to go somewhere we hadn’t been before, and somewhere outside since the weather was so glorious.

London is wonderful in the Summer. Hanging baskets are full of flowers, people are everywhere enjoying the sun (and street fashion moves up another level). We headed for Borough Market, located underneath London Bridge. Its history goes back to the 11th century and it’s exactly what you’d want from a market like this. Split between two sides of the bridge, one side is mainly produce – breads, fruit, vegetable, meat, cheese, fruit. There’s smoothies and juices, cakes, sandwiches, teas and spices.

IMG_3238Had our journey home not have been so long on a hot train, I would have started shopping. Instead we were good and bought some fresh juices and flavoured breads for brunch.

IMG_3239I also did a little Periscoping!

The other side of the bridge was more produce but also fish, cakes and pastries and food carts. One particular cart stuck in my mind – a German food stand selling raclette. Huge wheels of cheese had been cut in half and then turned on their sides, braced in a special vice and the cut ends melted until bubbling. It was then scooped onto new potatoes and topped with cornichon. Unable to eat that much cheese I was devestated I couldn’t try this – the line was huge and you know that means it’s going to be good. But there was all sorts of other foods and it smelled amazing!

I plan to go back, with a large wodge of cash and a tote bag!

I also want to mention another amazing event I attended the next day. I’ve run the Race for Life for the last 2 years and had signed up this year, only to royally injur myself a few months ago. I still can’t run, but my friend Tash, who I’ve run the last two with offered to take my number and run with another friend Sarah. Sarah was determined to PB this race, and as a non runner had been training hard to achieve this year.

On that freezing cold, wet and windy Sunday morning we huddled under our brolly. Gary and I then stood by and watched as Tash and Sarah smashed their race and both finished with PBs – Sarah finished over 9 minutes faster than the previous year!

IMG_3241This was taken at the end of their race – see how good they look?! I’m so proud of these two, and so grateful to Tash for taking my place.

Here’s to next year!

London Bupa 10,000 Race Recap (aka Never Run with an Injury)

On Bank Holiday Monday I woke early, shoveled down a bagel and hopped in the car, headed for London. Gary and I were heading off for the Bupa 10,000, a race which promised to guide you around some of the sights of London whilst pounding the streets with 12,000 other runners.

Confession time: I wasn’t 100% race fit. The previous 2 weeks I’d been having hip pain and after a visit to a sports physio it turned out to be a TFL injury. I had two massages in the space of 8 days and was able to walk without any pain by the time race day arrived. Great! But I knew I would probably still have some pain, having not run for two weeks.

We arrived at the starting area, nipped to the portaloo and took in some of the atmosphere. Gary and I were starting in different pens so we split up and went to wait for our starting times.

IMG_3101That’s Buckingham Palace at the veeeery far end of the Mall in the photo.

And then we were off! I was aware of my hip, but within about 1k I couldn’t feel any problems. I quickly spotted the Dementia UK (the charity I was running for) cheering squad on the other side of the road and gave them a wave.

IMG_3114I felt great starting off, and I can see from photos of early on in the race that my posture has greatly improved since last year’s races.

Then the sun came out, and I got really rather warm. I don’t run well in the heat but still felt good, only taking a little water from both water stations, which was all I felt I needed. There was a great atmosphere, people cheering me on by name and a lot to see. I can’t say I really noticed much of London around me though. By about 7k I could feel my hip again and I was in quite a lot of pain by 8k. I powered on, but photos of me from this point show the pain in my face. I still managed to smile for Dementia UK as I passed them on my way towards the finish. (And my posture still remained good despite the heat and pain! Awesome!)

IMG_3117Coming into the finishing area I went as fast as I could, but didn’t manage a PB. I ended on 1:06:42 – though my Nike app stated 1:04 and the route was longer than 10k. I’m still happy with either of those times considering I slowed right down towards the end. Not the sub 60 mins I was after, but I know if I hadn’t had the hip issue I would have made it! I’m surprised I finished at all to be honest.

The organisers had laid on free massages, but because they were free the line was huge and I knew if I stood and waited in it my hip would seize up. So I walked. I walked back to the car and then hydrated and fueled on the journey back. By the time I’d got home my leg had seized up completely. At time of writing I’m still pretty crippled and unable to put weight on my right leg at all. Foam rolling and yoga seems to be helping, but I have a race in 5 weeks so I hope to be back to myself then. However, no medal is worth this kind of injury and pain, so we’ll see.

IMG_3103It is a darn pretty medal though!

I’ve raised £200.00 for Dementia UK so far – thanks to all who donated!

Singing In St Albans

I had a pretty busy (and extra long) bank holiday weekend. On Friday I performed with Rock Choir at a special event in St Albans Abbey. Rock Choir were performing alongside Rockabellas, Peter Howarth, Simon Wallfisch, Benjamin Holden and Pam Rhodes for an evening of music, singing and entertainment to raise money for Rennie Grove Hospice Care.

I woke on Friday morning and had an awesome breakfast:11324245_764731740291502_653132046_nBlimey that was a gorgeous breakfast. And then I had some Italian song lyrics and sign language to brush up on before I had to leave for soundcheck.

11287447_1610724112516776_2137104010_nBut not before a quick Rock Choir selfie!

Mum and I went for a yummy early dinner at Wagamamas and then headed to the Abbey for soundcheck. It was an intense few hours getting seated and having a little run through. Then we had to wait backstage in the Lady Chapel whilst the guests came in. Gary had bought some last minute tickets for him and his parents to come and watch so it was even more exciting.

11168081_640094909423359_4850439590504263411_nI’m in there somewhere! It was a really fun experience and as much as it’s hard work it’s really rewarding when you hear the sound you’re making as a choir.

I was shattered by the time I got home, and slept really well that night! Saturday was a day of getting stuff done. I had a physio appointment and I managed to sneak in a little nap so that I wasn’t too tired as I knew it would be another late night.

My Mum had a ticket to see Paul McCartney at the London 02 so Gary and I accompanied her and went out for a meal whilst she was in the gig. We went to the Big Easy which we normally love, but unfortunately the food wasn’t t,hat great this time around.

Another very late night, and we had a really chilled out day in preparation for the next day. Monday was the London Bupa 10,000, so stay tuned for my race recap!

This Week I Have Been Mostly

this week i have been mostly

Wow, where did that weekend go? I’ve been super busy and before I knew it it was Monday.

Last week I:

  • Went to visit Amy. She’s just moved into a lovely little house with her boyfriend and even though they’d only been in for almost a week, it already looked cosy and homely.
  • I had dinner with an old friend and caught up with what’s been going on since it’s been years since we last hung out.
  • I went out with my sister-in-law, mother-in-law and niece for a meal whilst the boys went out in London.
  • I visited a sports therapist to look at my TFL joint as I’ve been in pain for a whole week since my last run. Some deep tissue massage later, I’ve been told not to run again until my Bupa 10,000 next Monday. That will have been two weeks off running so hopefully I’ll be okay for the event. Either way I’m still hoping for a PB!
  • Me and my Mum have been practising for a big concert on Friday, with Rock Choir, at St Albans Abbey.
  • I’ve been getting excited because two of the Book Club girls who have been out of the country for months are back in a few weeks and we’ll all be back together again!
  • I’ve been trying to understand lactose intolerance a bit more, and missing the food I used to eat with no problems. I had a big flare up this weekend and after speaking to some people who have dealt with LI for a long time, it seems the condition is really temperamental. You can be fine for weeks and then the smallest thing will set it off. So I’m going to try adding some dairy back into my diet to see what’s bad and what’s not so bad, and hopefully build up some kind of tolerance again.
  • Last week I drove to work and back on my own. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you may know how absolutely massive this is, since my fear of driving has prevented me from being able to drive on my own since I passed my test years and years ago. One day, whilst practicing, it just clicked. No anxiety… in fact no feelings towards it either way. Which is totally fine with me – the enjoyment will come with time, I’m sure 🙂
  • I’ve been getting fed up with the weather, since it’s still cold and rainy and windy. I want spring and summer now! I swear this time last year I had a tan already.
  • We’ve just finished re watching Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes again. They’re amazing shows, if you haven’t seen them before, you must!

And that’s what I’ve been up to. I have another busy week and weekend this week! I’ll slow down and relax one day 😀

This Week I Have Been Mostly

this week i have been mostlyThis week has been book ended with great running and has had food and fun mixed in between

  • Sunday, last week, I ran my fastest 5k (29 mins) and my fastest 10k (61 mins). The weather was perfect for it, and despite swallowing a few flies, it was a pretty amazing run.
  • I really enjoyed watching the final week of Masterchef this week. I love seeing the contestants improve so fast – and it always makes me hungry!
  • I finally sold my bike, for a pretty penny, and used some of the funds to buy some holiday shoes!
  • After months of planning, we booked our 10 year wedding anniversary celebrations for 2016 – we’re going to Disney World!

11192662_1426375217668410_87374560_nThere a LOT of planning to do now that it’s booked, but I can’t wait. We’re off next September and got an amazing deal for our stay. We should be there for the Epcot Food & Wine festival and also have a chance to go to the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party!!

  • Over the last month we’ve been re-watching the Paranormal Activity movies in order. Last night was 4, which means there’s only one left. Sad!
  • I’ve cooked two new meals this weekend, both Pinterest recipes (and can be found in my Tried and Tested board). The first was Cherry Tomato One Pot Pasta

11189439_351608161715296_1651573003_n The second was Balsamic Chicken and Veggies

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  • To bookend a fabulous running week, today was the London Marathon. A chilly and overcast day for spectators but great conditions for the runners. We braved the cold to cheer on friends and fellow bloggers. I managed to spot and cheer on Leah who writes Naturally, Leah, Janice aka Queen Bee (she had her photo taken with Barack Obama a while back, when he was rambling the UK moors…) and I was able to cheer on my Rock Choir leader Pippa who ran to raise money for NSPCC. This was her first marathon and she did an amazing job. Everyone did an amazing job. There was a great atmosphere, as always!

Next weekend we have a bank holiday and the MK Marathon. This was the event that I ran the half marathon last year, but this year I’ll just be spectating. I’m hoping to spot Mary, who writes A Healthier Moo, as she completes the marathon distance. After all this marathon-ing it’s making me think a marathon isn’t totally off the cards for me…. one day maybe!

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.

4a63c769-f6d6-4a9e-a3bd-d8e366fe00daLook, there I am!

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!