Running, Part 1

Monday, 14 April 2014

One of my resolutions for 2014 was to get outside more and lace up my trainers more often. Before this year I used to run once or twice a year, then decide it was a bit too hard for me and let my running shoes gather dust for a few more months. So I'll share with you the 10 things I've learnt since I've started getting outdoors a bit more often.

1. Set yourself an unavoidable goal

I signed up for a 10K run in Sheffield this year which takes place in late September. Having started a little bit of running/walking over the past few months, this goal gives me enough time but not too much time to get more serious as time goes on.

2. Take it slowly

Rather than getting up off the sofa and deciding to run a marathon, I've downloaded a C210K (the C25K programme but with a few weeks added on the end to get you up to the longer distance. This programme starts with small bursts of running and ups it each week, gradually gearing up to a 10K run with no walking breaks. 

3. Use the spring weather

Being outside in the sunshine makes a world of difference. That way by the time winter rolls around you have had a chance to get into running enough to want to be outside when it's lashing with rain and you feel like your fingers are going to fall off.

This weekend has been the first time I've not worn a windbreaker to run in and it felt great. Just remember that running is hard on your face as well as your feet - wear suncream.

4. Steal inspiration from others

I love running and I like to run on my own. But I also like to read about other people's running experiences to make sure I'm not going entirely crazy. My favourite so far is Running Like a Girl by Alexandra Heminsley - she's run marathons so if there's anything to know about going out and getting going, it's her. The book was, practical, honest, and clever.

5. Buy the right trainers

My original running tactic was to buy trainers I wanted to run in. I went for bright blue Nike Free Runs, which made me feel a bit of an expert and made me want to be outside.

Unfortunately I think I may well have made the wrong decision. If you're actually serious about starting to run regularly, I think it's a better plan to go to a running shop and get them to check your gait. My hips and knees are complaining a bit after a month or so of being out regularly and now I face some appointments with a podatrist who might well give me insoles. All avoidable! 

6. The hardest bit is opening the front door

This pre-run picture is making it all look a bit painful, but I usually find that once the running clothes are on and I've bothered to get outside it doesn't seem so difficult any more.

7. Plan a route you like

It doesn't have to be very long. Do loops if you want or need to. I tend to enjoy running on grass first to get going, and then finish up on roads or paths where I feel quicker. 

8. Take pride in progress

Seeing yourself run a tiny bit further, or a tiny bit quicker, will make you realise you're not as hopeless as you may have feared. I use Runkeeper on my iPhone to track all my runs. That way I can see how many workouts I do a week, how fast I run each kilometre, and you can also add your friends if that's something that floats your boat.

9. Take breaks

It's not worth it if it's hurting, or you simply feel the prospect of a run is horrific. It's not meant to be punishment, even if you want to get fit. 

10. Stretch!

The absolute key to making sure tomorrow you can walk, let alone run again. Make sure to stretch the more neglected leg muscles too, especially those along the outer thigh and around the hips. It'll make a world of difference.

I'm not an expert at all, and I'm learning all the time, but I'm definitely looking forward to feeling like I can run a proper distance! Hopefully it won't be too long before I break the 5K-with-no-walking barrier. 

The Smart Casual Top

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Before I start with all the other stuff, salutations to my mother on this Mothering Sunday! Clearly even in the early 1990s we were both ahead of the style curve. Particularly feeling my pink culottes - I have always been a fan of culottes.

It has been a long time since I have written anything here, but I'm planning to just breeze past that and post as if I've never been away. OK? Let's move on, then!

I had some good exam results this week, and as per usual that called for a small (read: oversized) shopping trip. My bank account (and my poor frazzled brain) cannot wait for my final ever set of exam results this July. The mid-season sales drew me into their warm embrace and spat me out hours later, much the poorer but also with pretty new things to wear.

There may be a theme that runs through this set of impulse buys, and that is my upcoming change into a super-serious and very clever career woman. I have a pile of suits that could suffocate a small bear - strange image - so the real need (ahem) was for some tops that would make me look a little less boring and a little more Rachel Zane. (If you don't already watch Suits, DROP EVERYTHING and immediately correct your error.)

This short-t-shirt-or-maybe-a-crop-top is made of a lovely thick scuba material and has long sleeves. The ultimate arm-flatterer, from Warehouse for £28. Also long enough to complement a pencil skirt perfectly, making the transition from weary student c.2014 to proper lawyer c.2015 that bit easier on my wardrobe.

I am perpetually searching for tops that are essentially t-shirts but are made of silk. These are my secret weapon: officially smart enough for the office, nice enough to fling on over jeans and boots for drinks, easy enough to always feel comfortable. This one comes care of Mango (although Warehouse are the masters of this particular type of garment).

Another Mango offering (priced at £17.99 online), and this one requires little explanation. White, rolled-up sleeves, dots to add some interest.

I didn't realise on purchasing it how much this top would make my eyes go blurry. 'Scuse me whilst I go take some aspirin because this is giving me a headache in picture form. The black panels in the sleeves are mesh and again add interest. It's from Dorothy Perkins, another favourite for the casual-translates-to-office genre.

The last purchase is a dress from Mango. Draped, silky, and monochrome. Definitely made for me. There's even a school of thought that says this dress with a blazer just might be smart enough on summer days. (There's always Casual Friday if not.)

Friday nights were made for elderflower martinis and taking your new clothes for a night on the town. Not "out out" though - we just had cocktails, pizza, and lots of wine. Still made me a little fragile yesterday morning though - welcome to old age.

Red's True Barbecue, Leeds

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Some pretty exciting things have been happening in my life lately. I finished my law conversion course (a small victory in itself), got a part-time job, found out that I had got a distinction in aforementioned law conversion, and then got offered a training contract. Now, non-lawyers may not get the significance of this last part, but I shall merely say that I have been applying for 'TCs' for two years, and I was beginning to give up all hope of ever becoming a solicitor. 

So, naturally, after learning that I will (from 2014 at least) be living in the beautiful city of Leeds, I had to look at some property! I celebrate by looking at property. I don't know why. It gets me excited. 

Yesterday we went to see a 2-bedroomed flat with a walk-in wardrobe, balcony, and huge kitchen diner. Oh, I swooned as I imagined my perfect life there. Sadly in reality-land (I hate this place) Will and I can't really afford to live there, but my was it nice.

After all of that, we went for the good bit. The shopping, the drinking (at The Alchemist, which was incredible, and which I forgot to take any pictures of), and the eating.

On to the good part!

We casually stumbled upon Red's True Barbecue near the Corn Exchange, and Oh. My. Goodness. This place!

We both thought we'd stumbled into an American grill from Man v. Food.

I had the Vegemac - i.e. mac'n'cheese with crispy onions - with fries and coleslaw. (You get two sides as standard. Did I mention I love this place?)

Will had Texas Beef Brisket with fries and onion rings.

Next time we go I'm going to starve myself for a few days so I can actually finish my meal, and possibly even try a wonderful-sounding dessert. This place is definitely recommended!