Sunday, 30 January 2011

Weekly Running Round Up - Introducing interval training & highs and lows

Hmm, well this isn't the weekly running report I was hoping to write. It's been a mixed week running wise and as I write this I am feeling a little bit disappointed and annoyed with myself. More on why a little later in this post.

First of all, this week I decided to introduce Interval training/running. I was going to wait until February, but was too curious and decided to give it a go.

So my first run on Weds was my first attempt at interval training.

What is interval training? AKA High Intensity Training

Interval running is where you alternate fast running and then slower running (or walking as in my case). And you repeat a set distance (or time) a few times like this.

I'd been reading up a little about it and there seems to be a lot of benefits to it:

  • It helps you to run faster for longer amounts of time, so on longer runs you will find your pace quickening (though I don't think it happens overnight!)
  • It's a time saver! You can get more out of 15 minutes interval running that you can out of 30 minutes slow running as you will be working much harder in a shorter amount of time
  • It burns more fat/calories than longer slower runs. It shakes your body up so it doesn't get used to the same old routine.
  • It will help speed up your metabolism so you burn up calories for longer periods compared to long slow runs.
  • It improves overall fitness by making your heart and lungs work harder.
  • It helps strengthen your muscles.

It all sounds good to me! Also, it's good to add a bit of variety to running.

I made my first attempt on Weds. I did about a 5 mile slow run warm up, chose a piece of flat road (which was about 100ft long), and started my intervals. I really enjoyed doing them!

On my long slow runs I tend to keep the same pace (as it's the only pace I can go on these runs!), and although of course I am moving my body, it's limited in movement compared to the movement on interval runs.

It was a great feeling to go flat out and put everything into a run, albeit over a short distance. My legs were lifted up high, I was using their full range of motions, my feet were lifted higher too, my arms were powering. Wow! I like it!

After a short burst of this running at effort level of about 8/10, I returned to my starting position with a brisk walk. Then repeated it again. Looking at the chart below I did this about 17 times, which I am honestly not sure if too little or too much, but it felt right.

Looking back on the data, there were times when I was hitting between 4-5 minute mile pace! Of course, I could never sustain that pace for any more than a very short time, but it's good to know, and was quite amazed.

This is my running route, just a few laps of a slow running pace, then the repeated intervals in the one area.

The next day I could really feel that my muscles in my leg had be used. It wasn't painful, but I was aware. And I couldn't wait to do it all again!

So the next day (Thurs) that's what I did. And I shouldn't have. I should have listened to my own advice about having a break between runs and waiting to recover, but I didn't. This second interval run didn't go so well. My legs were achy from the day before, but thought they would be ok after a warm up run. And when I started on the fast pace part of the intervals it was HARD WORK. The day before I was able to put in an effort of 8/10, but on this run it was more like a 5/10. My fast pace was a lot slower too.

It was too much too soon. I knew better and but ignored my better judgement. I didn't give myself enough time to recover from the first run and my body was telling me that too. You can have too much of a good thing and I got carried away.

Today (Sunday) I must admit to not being in the mood for a run. I had a fab night out last night at a party and although didn't have a lot to drink, and got home before 1am, I was just feeling a bit tired out. I managed to talk myself into getting my running gear on and eventually got in the mood to run. And THEN, no sooner had I put my trainers on, my left foot started to hurt. It's a bit hard to explain but it felt a bit like cramp. I adjusted my trainer, and tried to walk it off, but it was having none of it, so I have returned home defeated.

So, a good start to my running week, then a dodgy middle bit, then a very disappointing end. Trying to look on the bright side, I have learnt a lot from this week.

  • I really should listen to my body and my instincts and remember my knowledge
  • One interval run a week is enough!
  • I'm still a beginner at running really and must remember that

On a more positive note I went to Hula Hooping class again! It's only my third week and I noticed a big improvement already, which is always a bit of a boost. I can keep the hoop going for long around my waist without it falling to the floor. It still does drop to the floor, but not as often. And whilst it's going around my waist I can now dips my hands in and out without knocking the hoop. I couldn't not do this at all on my first attempt.

So a mixed week. I think the important thing to take from it is remember what I've learnt, and realise that not every run is going to be the best one. There will be highs and lows to come no doubt and I've got to learn how to deal with them in a positive way :)

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Weekly Weight Loss Report - Week 4 - 1lb gain

So, weigh in day today show a 1lb gain. I'm not surprised and was kind of expecting that.

As you can see from the chart below, over the last 6 months, there have been weight gains along the way. The important thing to remember is that overall, my weight loss is going in the right direction.

This weeks weight loss - 1lb GAIN
Total Weight loss - 36.4lbs (2 stone 8.4lbs)

Compared to week 3, when I had somewhat lost my my appetite, it returned in full this week! I was ravenous. Hello appetite - you are back!

Here are some thoughts about this weeks weight gain. And it's only a lb so I'm doing going to make a big song and dance about it.

  • I noticed a huge increase in my appetite after my longest run of 5 miles last Sunday. I spent a load of energy and my body wanted it back and I know I have eaten a bit more, not a lot, but a bit more than usual.

  • Since my last weigh in, last Saturday, I have run 7.5 miles and took a hula hooping class (will blog about that tomorrow), so I'm still being active and enjoying that.

  • I've had gains before, and overcome them. It'll happen again no doubt, and that's OK. I'm looking at the bigger (excuse the pun) picture and how well I have done so far.

  • It's a novelty listening to my body and what it's asking for. Noticing when I am really hungry or not. There are times when I know I have eaten enough, so sometimes I am just craving something and luckily most of the time, I crave healthier food. My taste buds are changing.

  • I am getting more nutrient aware, and aiming for balance in my diet, whereas for a couple of years, pre weight loss, I didn't think very much about that.
  • My goal is to lose 5lbs per month and I have lost 6lbs this month

So, it's not just the changes I see on the scales, there are other changes in play now. I am (a lot!) more active, I'm making healthier choices (but I'm not an angel!), I'm listening to my body more, and a little weight gain is not a set back!

Onto more girlie things! I treated myself to some new make up. My make up draw is groaning at the moment, and if I were to look at this sensibly, I don't need any more make up. BUT! I love it! And I particularly like Urban Decay's range, especially their eye shadows.

When I got to the Urban Decay counter in Debenhams, I asked the make up girl to 'do my eyes'. I told her to go for it, and make it glam. It was about 11am and not really a day time look, but hey, why not?

I bought Urban Decay's Black Palette. I've played about with it a bit, and I can't say it's my favourite shadow palette. I know it's called the Black Palette, but the colours aren't that vibrant! A little disappointing, but I will use it when the occasion arises.

And I found this gorgeous earring and necklace set with 70% off! Making it £6 instead of £21.

I'm going to a party tonight and I can't wait to wear it for the first time! Sometimes it's the small pretty things that make me happy :D

In preparation for the party tonight, I've changed a habit of a life time and painted my nails silver instead of red! And......I'll be wearing a GREEN dress, which is a big change from my usual red/black combo!

Tomorrow I'll blog about some new running experiences and the introduction of interval training :)

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

A chat with my mum - part 1 - home and family life in rural Donegal

When I was little I used to ask my Mum, "Tell me about the olden days."

And my Mum would tell me tales of childhood, her school, the farm she lived on, the frightening scare crow, the haunted house across the field. That one still scares me even now.

Last Christmas, after lunch, Mum started telling me stories from the olden days. As she was talking I had the idea of sitting her down one day and recording her stories.

My mum when she was little.

So last weekend, we took some time out and sat down and Mum told her tales and I recorded them.

My mum grew up in rural Donegal in a place called Carrickbrack. I wouldn't be surprised if Carrickbrack only consisted of about 5 houses in the area. Mum had 4 brothers and two sisters and they lived in a 3 bedroom cottage. I remember the cottage well as we used to visit my Gran and Grand Dad when I was little.

My Granddad was a farmer and also worked for other farmers. He grew all his own veg, corn, fruit and kept cows, chickens and pigs. They also had their own honey. Granny didn't work, but she worked hard enough at keeping the house running and looking after the children. She baked everyday, made jam to sell out of fruits of the season and recycled everything.

Anyway, I'll let Mum tell her story. She does it much better than me! I hope you enjoy the video.... :)

Monday, 24 January 2011

When should you work for free? Some thoughts on speculative work

I could be kept busy every day of the week working for free. Unfortunately I can’t do it.

This post is prompted by a recent request for some ‘spec’ (speculative) work.

A mid sized company got in touch asking about my photography services. They detailed what they were looking for and asked how I would approach it. I then spent about 2 hours writing a plan on how I would do the work, suggesting various styles of photography, the equipment I would use, highlighting potential problems and permissions that may be required, gave an estimate of the time and a very reasonable quote. I put together an online portfolio for them to look at which show cased my photographs that were similar to the type they were asking for. Soon after sending the email, I received a phone call. They were impressed with my plan and wanted a chat.

In the middle of the conversation the caller asked if I would do some spec work before they signed the job over to me. Basically what this would entail is me providing them with the images they wanted of the subject they wanted. A free sample. They would then decide whether to pass the contract onto me or not.

I was a little surprised at this request. Although I am often asked to take photographs for free, I’ve never been asked to provide a free sample of the exact images required before a photography job is offered.

My compromise to this suggestion was to employ me for a one-off photo shoot, that way there wasn't a big commitment of an on-going contract from their part, and I would be acknowledged for my work in a fair manner. There would be no harm done either way then. They weren't so interested in this suggestion.

The work itself would take a good 4+ hours to complete. Time well invested if I nabbed the contract on offer? I'm not so sure about that, and here's why in this instance....

They have seen samples of my work online, presumably before contacting me, and definitely after I sent them through an online portfolio for them to look at. It shows what I am capable of and my style of photography, but despite that they still wanted to make sure I was good enough before they booked me. I advised the caller that I can provide references and that I have never had any of my work rejected by a client.

What they would get out of this exchange is 4+ hours of my labour, equipment use, and images for their client, for their literature and for use online. A fair exchange for the chance of a contract that was acting as a carrot being dangled?

Where would doing this work for free get me exactly? There would be no guarantee that I would get the contract. I wouldn’t get an amazing experience out of it, or indeed photographs, that although would be of a good standard, wouldn’t be of a very exciting subject. It wouldn't be a great 'show caser', and not something I would be particularly inclined to talk/write about.

I don't think it would be the best start to a business relationship. The business would have already got something useful from me for nothing. Whilst I am doing their freebie, I am not getting paid. Whilst I am doing their freebie, I could be doing paid work. Whilst I am doing their freebie I could be working on securing paying clients.

I had to think on my feet and trust my instincts on this. Also, how would I feel after doing the work should I not get the job?

Have I heard back from this company? No. Would I have heard back from them if I had snapped up their offer to do a job for them for free. I highly suspect I would. Am I glad I stated my terms and thoughts on the matter? Yes. I've never regretted not doing any of the free work that I have been requested to do thus far.

Now, I have done a LOT of work for free over the years, particularly when I was starting out in photography. I spent 6 months (one day a week) on work experience at the Birmingham Post & Birmingham Mail newspapers. This was a great start. It threw me in at the deep end, every photography job was different, I learnt very quickly and got my work published.

And not forgetting the two years I studied at photography classes part time and gained photography qualifications.

I was willing to work for free for other photographers. I would get experience and they would get my help. However, no one took me up on this offer.

I’ve done free jobs that have REALLY interested me and that I would get a great experience out of.

I have also provided free photography services to companies that have provided their services to me for free. A fair exchange.

I work for free on the 4am Project. A personal project that is a global hit with photographers and although it takes a lot of work and effort, it is rewarding for me.

All of the above has given me a wealth of experience. The photographs I take now are partly the result of doing work for free.

Doing free work is a time consumer, no doubt, and I don’t have very much free time. I have a lot of other interests too and they mainly revolve around self development in one way or another. There is only one of me. I haven’t got support staff, unfortunately. I wish I did! I have to manage my time as efficiently as possible. I’m in business, I want that business to be a success and I have to do the right thing for it and make the right decisions.

What would paying for my services get?

Years of experiences built upon working hard, learning from my failures, investment of my time and financial investment in my equipment, top notch images you will be proud of, a fast, efficient service.

When would I be more likely to considering working for free, time allowing of course?

When I would get a great experience out it. Something I would really enjoy AND have fun.

In a skills/service swap situation, providing it works for both of us and we can both offer something the other wants or needs.

If doing a particular job for free would garner a whole heap of exposure.

If I got the chance to work with some amazing people and learn something along the way.

If the contract on offer was so tempting it would be madness not to go for it.

Times when you might wish to consider working for free....

Gain experience and learn your craft.

To build on your portfolio.

To obtain references.

To make contacts.

When laying the foundations of your business.

When you are in a position where you are not 100% relying on money from your new business. Perhaps you already have a steady job and your business start up is done in your free time.

Or if you just have a huge amount of free time and would rather be productive than sit back and do nothing. And if you are starting a new business I hope you would never want to sit back and do nothing for very long!

Reasons why you shouldn't work for free….

Doing free work in general won't help towards you earning a living.

People put more of a value on things they have to pay for. Do you want your work undervalued?

Is it a really big job? Will you regret not doing work for free? Will you regret doing it for free? What is your competition? Who else will the company be approaching?

You are not reliant on companies to show case your work - you can do it yourself! Get started online.

It potentially puts you in a demoralising position and under those circumstances you may not produce your greatest work

As you can see, there are so many things to consider; how you will feel, how you will spend your time, the rewards or lack of from doing free work.

If you are contacted about doing free work, there is no need to make a decision straight away. Don’t be pushed into it. Take control and tell the person/company that you will get back to them. Formulate some questions you may want to ask them if you need any more information. Don’t be afraid to ask for something in return, whether that be their services or indeed, payment.

Jessica Hische has made this handy, and funny diagram, which might just help you say yes or no to doing free work and put a smile on your face at the same time.

click to enlarge

I'd love to know your experiences! Has directly doing spec/free work paved the way to great things for you and your business? Have you done free work and regretted it? Do you give it consideration or simply say no?

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Weekly weight loss report - week 3

I'll keep this neat and brief as I have a roast duck dinner in the oven. It's nearly ready and I can't wait for it!

Another week, another loss

Week 3 weight loss - 1.2lbs

Total weight loss - 37.4lb (2 stone 9.4lbs)

That's good enough!

I wasn't really sure what to expect weight loss wise this week. My appetite has been unusually subdued, which is a new experience. There have been times when I've just not felt hungry and even faced with some of my favourites foods, I've just thought - meh. Also, a few times, I've felt full up sooner than normal and have even left dinner on my plate! I reckon I ate approx 20% less last week than I normally would. Perhaps now I weigh less, my appetite is catching up and adjusting? Just something I wanted to note. Oh, and I've discovered the joy of roasted butternut squash - where has that been all my life?!

I've done 2 x 2.5 mile runs this week and I'm aiming for my longest run tomorrow which will be 5 miles - this will be made up out of .5m warm up walk and 4.5m run. I'm looking forward to it, but a little nervous too! Let's see how it goes.

I also went back to hula hooping again! Great fun. I think I laughed all the way through it. And I even stayed for the zumba class afterwards, which was another first. I'll do a quick blog about that shortly.

It was time I cleared out my wardrobe. I tried everything on and it took hours! I've taken out 30+ items that are too big. I couldn't see the point in hanging onto them any longer, so they are going to a charity shop. I've reserved about 6 of my best/favourite items that are too big to eventually be taken in. And I must admit to holding onto a size 10 (US size I think) Anna Sui Python Print dress that has always been too small. I've never worn it, but it's so beautiful I can't bare to part with it yet!

Here's my before and after wardrobe make over! I think the rail is relieved to be a bit lighter. I feel much better knowing that everything in there now fits me (for the time being at least) so it will be easier and quicker to make clothing choices for the day.

I treated myself to a cute black lacy dress. A £15 bargain for Primark! The pictures are a bit rubbish, but it is very pretty. I'm not going to go too mad buying new clothes at the moment. I'm planning on waiting a while before investing in too many new items as I still have a way to go weight loss wise.

So! That's this week's weight loss update. Wish me luck for my run tomorrow! And if you are thinking of putting your trainers on too - have a great time! :)

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Weekly Runing Round up - Running tips, hula hooping and zumba!

Another great running week and another 10 miles in the bag! As I mentioned last week, I wanted to fit my mileage into 3 runs, rather than 4 as I did that week. It's just more efficient and time saving all round. So I manage that this week, and I'd like to stick to 3 runs a week. Not only does it save time, but it also gives me more 'recovery' days in between runs.

Tuesday Run - 2.5miles

I managed this in my lunch break and thought I would try out Sparkhill Park for a change. It's close by and although not as big as Cannon Hill, it's still a good enough size to run in, though I think I will prefer it for short runs and keep longer runs to Cannon Hill.

It went well, though I did find myself getting a bit out of breath and wondered why, but then I realised I had just run up an incline! It's kinda good to notice these things and then figure out why/what's happening.

Thursday - 2.5miles

I got a bit annoyed with my GPS watch as it took about 10minutes to pick up the satellite and I didn't want to start my run without being able to track it. So a 10 minute walk later and off I went.

Pretty much as usual the first .5 mile or so was hard going. I think this is called the 'toxic 10' where the first 10 minutes of running feels a bit rubbish! I think it's when your body gets a bit of surprise that it's moving and tries to adjust. Lots of runners get this and you just have to remember that it will pass soon!

Sunday - 5 miles! My longest run yet! (well, at least for 3-4 years)

I must admit to be a teeny bit apprehensive about this one and found myself wondering how it would go.

I made sure I ate enough before the run, and also gave my tummy enough time to digest the food - rice cakes with peanut butter and banana. Does that sound odd? It isn't - it's delicious!

This run was made up of .5m warm up walk and 4.5miles continuous running. Well, actually, I slowed down at one point to have a snack! Last week I found myself getting a bit hungry half way round my long run, so this week I brought a square of dark chocolate to nibble on. I'm glad I did. I think it helped. When I used to run years ago, and did longer runs, I used to pop a few jelly babies in my pocket and devour one after every mile lol.

I'm pleased to say the run went really well. I'd say it took until 2 miles into it until I started to feeling totally at ease with the task of such a long run. After the first 2 miles, I just broke the rest of the run down in my mind, "Do another mile, you know you can do that, it will only take 12 minutes or so". And then "A mile and a half to go! That's the easy part. That's a short run. You can do it".

Cannon Hill Park was quite busy and every kid had a set of wheels of some sort. I wish they would indicate when they were pulling out lol. Thinking about it, I now think I'd rather do my long run on a Friday or other week day when the park is quieter. It's just easier to run in a straight line and I don't have to worry about tripping over anyone and causing an accident.

Despite my best efforts with my blister prone areas, I didn't come out of this run blister free. Prior to my run I put blister plasters on the areas (prevention is better than cure right?), plus I taped up the areas too, PLUS I not only had my double lined socks on, but another thin pair too. However, I still ended up with a blister on a new area! Hurumph. Someone has suggested Vaseline, so I might try that. I'm still dithering over buying new trainers (the current ones have hardly any miles on them). Hmm, I'll give it some more thought.

On my warm up walk I got arty with my gps watch again. What is it?! It's a flower! :D

10 miles for this week mapped.

If you know me, you'll know how much I love twitter and I rely on it a fair bit for a lot of things; keeping in touch with friends, making social arrangements, asking for help or information...

And I also love the support and encouragement that is there from my twitter friends.

For instance, before I went for today's long run, I updated my twitter account and shared my news. Minutes later twitter friends had responded. And again when I updated that I had managed to complete the run.

Living on my own, I often want to share good news, or sometimes not so good news, and I haven't even got a cat to do that with lol. So I just want to give a shout out to my twitter friends and say thanks. Your short timely tweets really help and they are an encouragement too :)

It's especially lovely to see tweets like this too! Thanks Libby and well done!

I've got a couple of running friends that I follow on twitter. They have a lot more experience in running than I have, and they have both been great at giving tips along the way.

Dave Harte is training for the London Marathon this year! Thanks for the mention on your blog Dave!

And Paul Bradley writes a regular running blog on the Birmingham Mail's website. There's lots of tips about running there and he shares some great stories too.

Running goals:

I think I'll stick to 10miles again this week, broken up into 3 runs with another 5 miler as my long run. I *might* aim for 5.5miles. We'll see.

In February I'll start making one of my short runs interval training. Interval training, or intervals, are a way of building up speed. So you run a short distance really quickly, then take time to recover, and repeat. I'm not too bothered about speed to be honest, but I see this as a way to keep my running outings varied.

Running tips for beginners:

If you are just beginning to run, or even if you are more experienced, don't be afraid of walk breaks. Remember, it's still time on your feet!

Again, if you are just starting out - go slow! Too fast too soon and you might make yourself prone to injury, or feel deflated and not try another run. You have build up to longer runs, allow your body to adjust and get stronger. When you see faster runners, remember they had to start somewhere too! There are lots of run/walk programmes to help get you started.

Don't dress too warmly! Even on the coldest winter days your body WILL warm up considerably as soon as you start to move, so don't wrap up like you are going to a polar expedition. If you think you are going to stick with running, you may wish to buy some clothes that are designed for it. The benefit to this is that the clothing is made from a wicking material, which means that the clothes will draw sweat away from your body. It's clever stuff and really makes a difference. It needn't cost of a fortune and if you aren't bothered by a designer name then keep an eye out for occasional special offers from Aldi and Lidl who sometimes have great running kit at a really affordable price.

In other fitness news....
I went back to hula hooping class on Wednesday. I really enjoyed it again! There were a few more people in the class, all of vary degrees of experience. Julia, the tutor, announced that we were going to play 'tag'. The idea being that we got the hoop started around our waists and then try to avoid being tagged by moving around the room. It was hilarious and really silly, but a lot of fun!

My friend Fiona came along this week. Check her out! A natural!

Julia hold a Zumba class straight after hula hooping and my friend Nicky asked me if I would go to that too, so in for a penny, in for a pound!
This was my first Zumba class and that was fun as well. It kinda worked out like this: a 5 minute song was played and Julia showed us the moves/routine. And then with the next some, another mini routine. I was laughing at myself all the way through trying to keep up!
I got a wee bit tired during Zumba. I think after hula hooping effort it was a wee bit too much for me. Or at least it was on that night. I'll give it a go again, but if I have to choose, then I think hula hooping has captured my attentions the most.
Whew! That's was a whole lot longer than I was planning!
Hope you enjoyed reading it, please feel free to leave a comment and say hello on twitter too! :)

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Weekly running round up - 10 miles reviewed

Well, I met this weeks goal of matching the 10 miles I ran last week!

I've had to break up the 10 miles into 4 runs. Ideally I'd like to keep to 3 runs per week. There's a couple of reasons for this.

I get more satisfaction out of 3 mile runs than 2 milers or 1.5 as I did today. With the shorter runs it feels like I've just got going and it's time to stop. It seems to take me .5 miles to get into the run. It's like I've shocked my body into moving and it has to catch up with the change!

Secondly, time. It's simply more time efficient to fit in 3 runs as opposed to four when you take into account the getting ready for a run bit and recovering afterwards.

So this week, I'm going to do my best to complete 10 miles in 3 runs instead of 4. And I also have a big preference to running earlier in the day rather than the evening when I'm usually getting a bit tired. More on that later.

I think you may need to click on image to see it bigger

Monday - 2 miles

A wee bit of a struggle. Body & legs felt heavy and like I had never run before! If you want to interpret the chart, the higher spikes are where I have slowed down and/or taken a walk break.

Although I try to avoid hills or rather inclines, it's a bit impossible around some streets where I live. However I am pleased that I talked myself into powering up an incline that moments before I was going to walk. There's a lot of self talk and encouragement that goes on at times!

Weds - 2 miles

In the rain! I actually love running in the rain. It didn't bother me one bit when rush hour evening traffic ran into puddles and splash me! This was a better run and body and mind were with me on this one. "Bring it on!" I was thinking as I deliberately splashed into puddles in the street.

It was a little bit of a rush though as I had to get home, shower, change and shoot off to hula hoop class.

Friday 4.5 miles!

.5 mile warm up walk THEN 4 miles WITHOUT STOPPING!!

I only slowed down for a minute to change the battery in my mp3.

I LOVED this run. It felt really good. Nice and easy. It was quite windy, but the rain stayed away and the sun even came out for a little while.

The only downer about this run was that at the last .5 mile I developed a blister. This was despite taping up my blister prone areas - the tape has slipped out of place. Ouch.

And it was only when I got home that I discovered I need to get a new sports bra! The ones I have were when I was 30+ lbs heavier, and although they felt fine and seemed to do their job, they were obviously not the right fit. So I am now a proud owner of a Shock Absorber!

I decided to get arty again with my warm up walk. It kinda worked. Sort of. It's a running man!

To keep things varied and not just run around in circles I though I would try and run on all the paths in Cannon Hill park. I actually went over the sames paths more than once due to the mileage I wanted to do. A loop around Cannon Hill on the outside paths is almost a mile.

Sunday 1.5miles

This was just a quick run to bring my total up to 10 miles. I wish it had been a bit longer, but I really don't want to over do it. I had also put a special blister plaster on my blister before my run, but like the tape, it has shifted out of place by the time I had finished.

And this is a map that combines all the runs I have completed this week.

So! Another week, another 10 miles. I'm happy with that! In fact, it's quite hard to believe at times.

Another lovely benefit I'm discovering after a run is a runners high! All those endorphines I didn't know I had are springing into life lol. Also, and it comes as no surprise, I find myself going to bed a bit earlier. It's strange to actually listen to my body these days. Resting is just as important as exercise and I need to allow myself the time to recover from these runs.

My goals for this week are:

Complete 10 miles (maybe 11) in 3 runs.

Make my weekly long run 5 miles *gulp!*

Address my blister issue - more plasters or new trainers?

Run earlier in the day, and not the evenings.

I've had some great responses from my twitter friends. Lots of encouragement and advice. And even had a few tweets from twitter friends, like this one from David Webb saying I've inspired them to get their trainers on and go out for a run!

Good luck with the running guys and girls - we can do it! :)

A bit of relfection on the anniversary of my Dad's death.

A year ago today my Dad passed away. I wrote about that time over on a blog I started during that period.

I still feel his loss and expect I always will. It's still feels like it's hard to accept as well. Did that really happen?

After returning from my Dad's funeral in Ireland I immediately threw myself back into work. I am very glad I had the distraction of that. Surprisingly I didn't take time out to grieve, but had a motivation in me to get going and keep going.

Of course I think and remember my Dad. He pops up in my thoughts every day. Sometimes those thoughts are happy ones. Sometimes they are more angry. I have the vivid image of watching him take his last breath and I want to hit out at something. I try and dismiss that image straight away and think about something else, as it serves no purpose to re-live it. And there's no point in getting angry. I can't blame my Dad, it wasn't his fault. I can't blame the nurses, who did everything they could. I could blame God I suppose, but I have very little faith in him.

I wish I had spoken to my Dad more when he was in hospital, though he was sedated a lot and also at times didn't want me to see him with all the tubes and wires. I guess did my best at the time in difficult circumstances.

I have some regrets, but some of those are regrets for my Dad. I wish he could have done everything that he had wanted to in life.

Experiencing a death can change us, hopefully for the better. I have now got more empathy with people who have lost a loved one as I understand how it can feel.

It's also made me even more determined to fit in as much as I possibly can and at least attempt to do all the things I would like to. I want to try and make things happen and not be passive and just wait. I'd sooner try and fail 100 times, than know I didn't try at all.

I hope my Dad is happy wherever he is now, is proud of me and is listening when I have a little chat with him now and then...

Friday, 14 January 2011

Weekly weight loss report - week 2 - Hello 10 stone!

Wow! Okay, this is a one of those weigh-in moments that I would give myself a certificate for!

13 outstayed your welcome

12 stone... forgotten you already

11 stone... au revoir

10 stone....Heellloooooooo there!

I should clarify, I'm in the 10 stone range now! I haven't seen the 10 stone range for about 3.5 years.

Week 2 weight - loss - 2.6 lbs

Total weight loss - 36.2 lbs (2 stone 8.2lbs)

This also means I am getting closer to my original 40lbs goal!

And I've also realised, that whilst I was hovering around the 30lbs weight loss for weeks, and the scales didn't do much either way, I didn't use that as excuse to go off track completely. I knew I had eaten a bit more over Christmas, but I still monitored what I ate to a degree, so I knew the reason for stalling in losing weight.

I must admit that I think taking up exercise this year (mainly running & a hula hooping class) has helped to move the scales in the right direction too. From August to December the 30lbs I lost was without doing any exercise. My original motivation for losing some weight was for my trip to New York as I knew I'd be doing so much walking (which I did!) and thought it might be better to be a bit lighter. I lost 5lbs during my month long stay in NYC.

And it was never the lack of motivation that stopped me from doing any exercise, it was that there was always other things to do and I prioritized work, worrying that if I neglected it for any length of time that it would do damage to everything I have built up. I guess work is like a child, I nurture it and attend to it and watch it develop!

Naturally, I know it's madness to sacrifice health for work, and this week it's finally dawned on me that it's not a wise decision. I've got a LOT I want to pack into this life I have and I need a lot of time to do it! If I make myself ill through neglecting myself, that isn't going to happen. Which would be a shame!

I've run 8.5miles so far this week and did my longest run with out stopping of 4 miles which I'm over the moon about. I want to do a short 1.5 miles tomorrow to make it to 10 miles in total for the week (like last week) , then I'll blog about that.


Of course my diet has changed! Pre weight loss it was all about a quick fix. Literally anything I could eat that would be convenient AND satisfy my taste buds. I was very taste bud driven. I envied people who would eat whatever was put in front of them. I had to have exactly what I fancied. Which was basically made up of a lot of rubbish. Oh I did eat fruit and veg, but the other things I ate kinda negated their goodness in a way.

I'd guess my diet is now made up of 90% of unprocessed foods and 10% processed. I'm cooking a lot more. During the warmer months and in NYC it was a lot of salad type foods and now it's colder, more hearty meals such as roast dinners, spaghetti bolognese, chilli con carne, and soup and stews (I LOVE my slow cooker!). I'm cooking enough for 3-4 meals at a time which saves time cooking every day.

I make choices now. Instead of having this AND that. I decide if I will have this OR that.

And I'm viewing food as 'fuel' more, and being more aware that I need to fuel up before my running for example, and also the importance of replacing depleted energy, but just not too much! It's a different feeling knowing that I've 'earned' my food and yet I don't feel I am depriving myself of anything.

I'm off to cross some boxes off my weight loss chart now! :)

Well, that was different! My first hula hooping class

I've tried 'getting into' hula hooping for a few years now. Kinda half hearted attempts.

I read that you could make your own once, so off I went to the DIY store and bought some tubing and tape. Needless to say, that didn't work!

Last year I bought an Argos weighted hula hoop. That didn't work either - it kept falling on the floor! I was convinced it was the hoops fault and not mine.

Then, via twitter, I heard about the Birmingham Hula Hoopers! AND the classes were held in Moseley just down the road from me. I had to try it out and satisfy my hula hooping curiosity.

I asked my friend Nicky (whose birthday party I went to last weekend) to come along and so we both ventured into unknown exercise territory together. We met Julia who takes the class and she was very welcoming. There were 5 hula students altogether, and a huge array of hula hoops to chose from in every colour and different sizes.

I love this iPhone photo of Nicky!

Julia put some music on and we all started off with the basic hula hooping move with it around our waists. Well, I say basic, it's not that basic for a beginner, but much to my delight I was able to keep the hoop going for longer than I thought - although it still feel to the ground a lot!

It was quite funny at times as we lost control of our hoops and they went flying across the room. No one was injured, but I did managed to whack my nose in an over ambitious over the head move!

We learnt how to twirl the hoop in front of us, and over the head to, which used our arms muscles more. Also we learnt the 'step through' (video) and I accidentally didn't the booty bump (video) in an effort to keep the hula hoop from dropping on the ground!

I found that hooping does require effort, and it's said it is great for toning which I can well imagine. The class was a lot of fun, and at only £3 for an hour it's really good value. Julia also runs a Zumba class afterwards too. Hula hooping starts at 6pm and Zumba 7pm on Weds. Both are held at St Columba's Hall in Moseley.

With a 2 mile run that day (which I'll blog about soon) plus the hula hooping, I managed 90 minutes of exercise that day, which is unheard of for me. I'll definitely give hula hooping another try!

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Weekly weight report - Week 1

In an effort to stay on track with this weight loss thing, I'm going to publish a weekly weight report here. It'll also be good for me to have something to look back on and be able to track my progress and chat about any obstacles, and if I have any loss of motivation I can read back and see what I've achieved so far and get back on track again.

Although I have been been losing weight since August 2010, I'm going to call this week 1 because of the new year. Hope that makes sense!


Week 1 weight - loss - 2.2lbs
Total weight loss - 33.6lbs (2 stone 5.6lbs)

I'm happy with that! I've been hovering around the 30lb mark for quite a few weeks now, so it's nice to break that barrier. I wasn't too indulgent over Christmas but I did relax and got very passionate about After Eight chocolates, so I'm surprised I didn't do too much damage.

I'm tracking my weight over on Calorie Count which has a handy tool which produces a nice simple chart. Pleased to see it's heading in the right direction!

ALSO, because I like to tick boxes, I made this very messy chart, and I crossed off the pounds as I lost them. This hangs on my kitchen door. As you can see I created 40 boxes to be ticked off, but with the new year came a re-design.

So I've now printed off this form and put that on top of the old one. The 30 little boxes are for the 30lbs lost and below that I've added month. I'm aiming to lose 5lbs per month (ish!). I think that's a reasonable and attainable aim. It feels good to put a nice cross in a box! :)

Yeah, so week 1, so far so good. I've enjoyed running last week (10 miles in total!) and have a run planned for the morning. I've enjoyed some lovely food this week, including a couple of roast dinners, spaghetti bolognese, slice of cake, drinks, and crisps! I went to a fab house party last night (which I'll blog about) and treated myself to a couple of new dresses too.

And I dithered over this dress, which I regret not buying, especially as it was only £10 in the sales! Doh.

I'm going to go through my wardrobe soon and have a good sort out and clear out. There were lots of lovely clothes that I couldn't wear because they were too small, and now they are too big! I missed the optimum wearing window lol. I'm going to keep the best of those items and set them to one side and when I've reached a weight I'm happy with they can all go to a dress makers for re-adjustment.

So, there we go. Week one down. Let's see what this week holds in store! :)

Social Saturday - Party night with birthday girls @getgood & @karmadillo

I've been mulling over the idea of introducing Social Saturdays this year in an attempt to get my work/social life balance evened out a bit as part of my 2011 goals. The idea is I set aside a Saturday a month or so, and then try and see as many friends a possible! That way I get to pack a whole load of fun with friends into one day, but I'm not sure how effectively that will work out, as the idea relies on the friends I want to see being free on that particular day. I'll give it a bit more thought.

I definitely had a social Saturday last weekend with my friends Nicky & Sas's birthdays at their joint party. This was my first proper night out this year and I was really looking forward to it (and the excuse to get glammed up)!

I was over the moon that my new Maybelline lipsticks arrived from Ebay that, especially after the trouble I had when I went shopping for them at Birmingham's Rag Market a few weeks ago. (BTW, the owner of the stall has recieved my complaint letter and I am waiting for a response. Soon!)

I had popped into the city centre in the morning and picked up an uber sparkly Urban Decay glitter eye gel. It's meant to be eyeliner, but why stop there. More is MORE! ;)

And why not follow the bling through in my earrings, belt and sequinned shoes too!

The theme of the party was CHEESE! There was a MOUNTAIN of the stuff, and I think I even spotted a white chocolate chip cheese.

I hadn't seen Sas or hubby Marty since the hazy days of summer, so it was great to catch up with them. We had gifts to exchange too!

I brought Marty back a very special tie from New York. Looks great Marty!

And my Mum had a present for Marty too! A very special painting ineed, I think you will agree.

And then it was time for my pressies! I was assured that out of my two presents, the first one was the best one.


Do you know what THAT IS?! Yes, it's what you think it is! Marty took this for his submission to the 4am Project. It's left me speechless as you can imagine ;D

Then there was this beautifully wrapped gift. In red paper too.

Unwrapped, it revealed this Vivienne Westwood box. My heart was racing with excitement.

And behold a GORGEOUS purse/clutch bag in red. I LOVE it. Thank you so much guys!

But the fun didn't stop there. It was great to see so many friends at the party and have a good catch up, some of who I hadn't seen for months. It was a fab first night out of 2011. Thank you Nicky and Sas!

Of course you can't have a birthday without cake, and I wanted to capture the birthday girls blowing out the candles.

Here's to a more social 2011 :)
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