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Archive for July, 2012

Sick Day.

Last week I did some serious running, clocking up 50 miles on my Garmin by the end of my Saturday morning run. By mid-afternoon on Saturday I was feeling pretty awful, and spent most of yesterday in bed.

Apparently the rule is that anything above the neck (i.e. cold, headache) and you’re ok to run, but below the neck (chest infection, tummy bug) and running should be off the cards. That’s all very well, but there was no way I was able to get out there yesterday, and despite feeling much better today I’m not inclined to do anything that might involve sweating or wearing trainers. As far as I’m concerned, even above-the-neck illnesses are a signal to slow it down, drink hot blackcurrant juice and read 50 Shades of Grey all day long (ahem).

During marathon training I had to take a whole week off due to illness. I’m convinced that a week’s rest was far better than any sort of training could have been at that stage. Rest is good, and important, and even sort of fun. I’m not exactly intuitive when it comes to deciding whether I’m tired or not, and sometimes it takes a physical illness for me to realize what ‘too much’ actually means. It’s easy to get caught up in mileage or regularity, and run away with it recklessly. Ruined Sunday plans have been a rather harsh (and very painful!) reminder of the importance of taking rest every now and then; instead of an evening run as was originally planned, I’m going to sit down and plan out a schedule for next week that takes into account my lack of Superwoman capabilities!!

 

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Trying, at least.

Life is a balancing act at the best of times, but sometimes it’s a challenge just to keep upright. It sounds ridiculous, but at present I am juggling five different jobs: language tuition, piano tuition, freelance editing and two part-time, turn-up-on-time jobs. For a while I was powering through on adrenaline, life scheduled itself between self-imposed deadlines; the only time I’ve really had for myself was while out running, and even then the pressure I’ve put on myself to reach mileage has been pretty unfair.

Over the past year or so I’ve been working on being more mindful, taking the time to do the things that make me feel better and more in control, and taking time just for myself, too. There are certain ways that I measure my levels of mindfulness at any given point. Sometimes it’s how often I practise yoga, other times it’s how much tea I drink in a day (more tea means more time to make tea), and often even the regularity of my night-time flossing routine is enough to reflect the soundness of my state of being.

Yoga has taken a distinct sideline in my life at the moment, and I’m quite happy with that right now. I was practising every day for a while, and I felt better for it – I have no doubt that I’d feel better if I were doing the same now. But truth be told, I’m bored of the yoga I’ve been doing; I need something to stimulate and control my practise, and even with DVDs or podcasts, it’s not easy to get that from independent practise. One of these days (when I have both time and money in more abundance) I will get myself a new yoga teacher, but until then I remain inflexible and content.

As the various aspects of my life start to move together a little more elegantly, I’ve started to implement a few changes with a view to getting back to a state of contentmentand calm. At the same time. Life is one huge work in progress, but a few small changes here and there can really make a huge difference:

– Flossing my teeth every night without fail. It’s amazing how much better I sleep after spending 10 extra minutes in the bathroom. Is there a more important time to wind down than just before bed? More than anything, I can measure my stress levels by the regularity at which I floss my teeth. Flossed teeth equals calm me.

– Not eating the biscuit tin dry before bed. Because I don’t really need four chocolate digestives half an hour before bed time. By eliminating this guilt-inducing habit I force myself to remember that, actually, I’m not hungry. Go drink a camomile tea instead.

– Warming up and warming down. I stick my hand up and confess that even my running routine is suffering, and my legs are burning out as a result. For the first time in too long today I took a full 10 minutes either side of my run to warm up and down, and I felt much better for it.

– Writing more. I have pretty much left my diary untouched since we moved house. Since writing is my all-time favourite thing to do, I need to get on it and write! I actually have two chapters of a novel saved on this computer, which I haven’t got back to in ages; characters and stories are developing in my head, but as soon as it comes to writing them down, I loose all inclination.

– Sign up for some races. I need some direction before I explode from training for an ultra-marathon that I haven’t signed up for. I’m running too far and too often; I need a half marathon planned to hone it down and direct my energies!

So, that’s me. Simple things that shouldn’t take too much effort to implement. Still, they make all the difference.

 

How do you measure your levels of mindfulness?

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I can’t think of anything that I love more than a hot, freshly-poached egg, oozing out onto a buttery bagel, and seasoned with Maldon salt flakes.

I have poached eggs for lunch at least once a week – one of the best benefits of working freelance and being able to cook lunch at home a couple of times during the week! It’s wierd to think that only a couple of years ago I used to get completely freaked out by the idea of eating an egg, nevermind a runny one! Now I like my eggs as close to undercooked as I dare – getting it right is not as easy as I’d like it to be.

I don’t know what changed, or even when it changed. I just remember sitting at the table eating a runny egg one lunchtime after a run. Suddenly I felt complete; something inside me was singing! Thus my obsession with the perfect poached egg began!

 

How do you like your eggs? Scrambled? Runny? Solid? Dippy? French toast?

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Wahooo! This morning I got up to 13 miles again! It feels like forever since I ran that far, and I could feel it! I was tired out from 10 miles, despite a very careful pace and nice flat route.

The sun wasn’t shining, but it was very muggy and by the time I got home I was desperate for a drink and sweating like mad. I’m still in the process of trying out different types of specific recovery drink, but I think I have a new favourite, which was really put to the test today!

During marathon training I used a full-on recovery powder, which combined carbs, protein and lots of other nice nutrients in a strawberry-flavoured shake. I always looked forward to it as I appoached the end of a run, as it really does help with the horrible drained sensation that inevitably follows a long running session. However, the mix that I used contains artificial sweeteners, and really is too sweet, while it also boasts areally high calorie content. Now, I’m not usually fussed about calorie counting, especially not when I’ve burned 2000+ calories in a training session, but personally I find that the recovery shake doesn’t stop the insatiable hunger that always hits me: by the end of the day I’ve probably consumed way more than I really should! It’s great for 15+ miles of running, or a few hours on my bike, but is maybe a bit too full-on for anything less than that!

So I did my research and chatted to some of my running friends, and decided to try High5 Zero tablets. I buy the neutral flavour and add it to a sugary squash drink, which helps top up my sugar levels after a run. These tablets contain a simple mix of electrolytes and minerals to replenish tired bodies after a run – no sweetener, nothing dodgy! It’s incredibly refreshing and easy on the tummy, and leaves plenty of space to eat everything in sight, too!

Since the weather has been so hot and muggy lately, I’ve been using these every day, even after short runs. I haven’t taken them around on a run/cycle yet, but next time I take a water bottle I’m going to try that out, too. I definitely recommend these as a lighter alternative to recovery shakes, though after a 50-mile ride on my bike there’s nothing I love more than a frothy strawberry shake with water and coconut milk!!

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Hanging.

Well, I certainly let my hair down last night! Somehow I managed to remain in control; all food was ready and prepared, and I was dressed and ready to go by the time the first guests arrived – I was pleasantly surprised! I managed to get myself some garlic bread before the party began, and nibbled on chilli and cakes throughout the evening, but even so, I didn’t get the food : alcohol ratio quite right, and I have to admit that my memory of the last part of the evening is rather hazy!

Inevitably, I woke this morning after not enough sleep with a splitting headache, made much worse by the stench of alcohol that awaited downstairs! Toast with marmalade and weak sugary coffee helped matters along, but that is no cure for the low that comes with the aches and nausea after a night of indulgence. So, naturally, we went out on a 8.5 mile cross-country run!

I discovered hangover running a year or so ago, when, similar to today, I needed something to get rid of the alcohol-induced blues. It seems pretty paradoxical, I know: splitting head + nausea + dehydration + exhaustion isn’t a combination that should be conducive to running, and I have no idea whether any doctor would suggest running with a hangover, but, for me at least, it works, and it puts an aim back into the day.

The first miles are tough. I find that the headache turns into a hammering, beating in time with my heartbeat as it increases. My stomach was burning with acid this morning, which turned into a stitch that I couldn’t shake off. But after a few miles the sweating starts, and from here I find it much easier, as if the alcohol is ridding itself from my body as sweat. I had two days off running over the past few days, so today my legs felt much stronger than that have been, and that helped to spur me along. It wasn’t long before we were leaping over puddles, bounding over grassy pathways, getting covered in mud and stung with nettles as we went. After only a few miles I forgot how my head was feeling, and began to have lots of fun, grateful for the fresh air and breathlessness in my lungs.

8.5 miles later and I could have gone on for longer, but we decided to come home and eat something substantial instead. After a pint of electrolyte drink and a good shower, bagels, poached eggs and beans were gobbled up with mugs of tea. Hangover food tastes much better when it is also serving as a post-run meal, and a lazy afternoon on the couch is always more enjoyable when the hangover blues have been beaten.

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’d be best off watching tennis and eating chips!

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