#RunningYogi T-minus 10 weeks

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I have ten weeks until the Great North Run on Sept 13th… I swore to myself weeks ago that I would start a blog tracking my running journey, yet like many things this has not materialised until now. My training hasn’t been going as well as I wanted, or expected it to if I’m to be entirely honest. It’s been tough – or rather I have been tough on myself I guess – part of me thinks I’m too old to be doing this, I’m not the 26-year-old long distance runner I used to be, it’s never going to be like it used to be so why bother? The other part of me says – stop making excuses, it’s not just about the race it’s about the motivation behind it – to raise money and awareness for Prostate Cancer UK – stop finding excuses as to why you can’t train – cancer certainly doesn’t procrastinate and find excuses…

I wanted to start running to train for this race and raise money and awareness for Prostate Cancer – that was one of the motivations for me. The other was that I woke up one day and wondered why on earth I stopped running when I loved it so much? The answer was that my Bikram teacher told me to… and I just did what I was told. This was also the same person who let me to do a standing straddle forward bend with my feet mat distance (the narrow width) apart, my head on the floor and all with raging sciatica….I realised it was definitely time to give running a try again for sure. (And, if you have sciatica and are reading this – no the pose I just described it certainly not a helpful pose for you to be doing if you have shooting pain in your butt and leg!)

The other element to this journey is what I call “dirty love” – I used to run 5 times a week, I could run a 10km in 44 mins and a half in 1hr 46 – I was a bit of a running bad ass if I say so myself. The dirty love bit is how I got that far – I trained like a fiend – everyone was in awe of how often I went to the gym and how long I could run on a treadmill for – I was the fit and healthy one. Which all sounds very nice, but the truth was this – I actually consistently over trained and looking back I would say I had a problem with over exercising and obsessive calorie watching. I was super skinny – but only because I would run on a treadmill until the calories counter threw itself back to zero again. I would eat more salad than a rabbit and although I wasn’t starving myself I knew damn well that I had burned off the majority of my food intake. Yoga helped to rectify this for sure – so maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing that I stopped running to do more yoga.

Putting my running shoes on also puts me in this place of instant comparison with the way it “used to be” – and it’s certainly a great “not good enough” trigger that’s for sure. I cottoned onto this pretty soon in though – I figured I had 2 choices – chuck the running shoes back in the cupboard and pretend I had never even bothered, or get the running shoes on, get out there and figure out how to do it differently this time. How might it be to run and take the pressure off so it was actually fun? Not as easy as it sounds but I’m not one to admit defeat!

It’s funny – about the eating thing – I’m not sure if my running app lies to me (it has no idea my height or weight so I guess it probably is!) , but I’m pretty astounded at how much you  burn off running. The difference this time is I find myself thinking – “I really need to make sure I’m eating enough for this!” rather than the pretty much opposite as before. It makes me realise that you can avoid a problem and ignore it, pretend it doesn’t exist, but actually you need to grab it by the horns and face it head on if you are going to beat it. The nice thing about this race is, I really don’t care about doing some amazingly impressive time – I just want to finish it and not be completely destroyed, and raise awareness of Prostate cancer along the way.

Back to the training – it’s been an injury-fest – first runners knee – although it was never diagnosed as that. I was shocked to discover that despite all the yoga I have ridiculously tight IT bands and my glut medius thinks it’s on vacation and is doing absolutely nada! The foam roller has revolutionised my post run tension (despite nearly making me cry the first time I used it, we are now firm friends I’m pleased to report!)

I tripped running in San Francisco in February – over a massive tree root in the park, and yes, it would have made a great cartoon character sketch! No blood but I pulled a muscle in my left butt which was painful to say the least – I think I may actually have torn something in there actually and now have scar tissue as this just keeps on playing up. The upside of this is I have realised that I need to warm up properly – that this is absolutely essential before running and it needs to not be a half-assed effort! It’s also led to me getting really interested in how I can use my yoga as an effective warm down. I’m finding at the moment that practising yoga before running doesn’t help so much – not least because handstands and arm balances are way more tantalising than the idea of running and so it can become another procrastination or excuse to not go out! I have a warm up that my physio (who thankfully is also a runner) gave me, which mobilises my legs and gives me time to drink my coffee before going out first thing. When I come back, I have a great Forrest Yoga standing pose series I’ve developed that helps sort me out and stretch out what needs to be stretched. Or I may do a full practice but making sure that I work with the hips, hammies and shoulders (how much tension do runners acquire in their shoulders – seriously?! It’s going to be mega sets of shoulder shrugs after the race I tell you!)

The training plans – I was following a plan I found online, but I didn’t quite like its focus on training and running for an amount of time – I feel like the mileage is also important. I’m not saying one way is better than the other, but I have decided to switch back to the plan I have from my old faithful “Running from Start to Finish book by John Stanton – it’s not a flashy, trendy looking book but the training plans always served me well. I’m adapting the 2 hour plan so I will run slightly less sessions per week and see how I go from there. The key is to listen to my body and do what feels right for me, without finding excuses to not train because my mind thinks so!

I’ve been enjoying running outside (except, as my family will testify, on our recent holiday in Florida, where running at 8am meant running in 30 degrees celsius and was a KILLER! Sweaty doesn’t even come close to describing my post run appearance!!) I think I am going to sign up to the gym though so I have a treadmill to do hill training on – Peterborough is pretty flat and I think that on a running machine I can’t pretend I am running up hills when I’m not! In short – on a treadmill you get to control your hills but it makes you do them at the same time! It will be good to have an indoor option if the weather gets miserable too – once again – no excuses!

Yesterday was a 5k easy run – I was at a Yoga festival all weekend and had massively tight quads but running felt great and after my yoga session after it I felt invigorated and strong rather than knackered and a quivering mess – always a good sign! Here’s a post run lunge – felt great in the hip flexors! Lunges used to be my nemesis pose but lunges up the wall are fast becoming a runner’s fave at camp Ros! I will endeavour to update the #runningyogi blog on a weekly basis from now on – I figure it will be a great motivator and it’s good to share tips and experiences to help others too.

Running in Beauty!

Ros

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Venturing into Veganism

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Date and nut bars

 

So, I’ve taken the leap and decided to participate in the Camyoga 14 day Vegan Challenge – 2 weeks of harm free eating and living awaits me!

I’m sure some people reading this might be wondering how come I wasn’t vegan already? And if not why on earth the decision to give it a whirl now?

I’ve been a pescatarian for maybe 4 years now although things have kind of taken a ‘flexitarian’ turn over the past year. I never was a massive red meat eater anyway, and then when I moved to Kuala Lumpur I really went off meat – I always felt that the quality wasn’t that great, even in restaurants and you really had no way of knowing where your meat had come from when buying it in the supermarket. A newsletter from a Malaysian Yoga society with a picture of battery hens and an article on why vegetarianism was a good idea was the final straw and I said goodbye to being a full on carnivore. It was pretty easy to give up meat living in Asia – the vegetarian food there is so good and there are often many choices available. Tempe and tofu of every variety imaginable were readily available to buy and very rarely did it feel like a hassle. I kept eating fish because it was the one thing I missed and when I ate it I felt like I needed the nutrition it was giving me. So I maintained my fish consumption, but would only eat it maybe once a week. And I guess I gave up meat more for my lack of interest/enjoyment in eating it rather than moral principles.

And so I happily continued for a number of years. Until I took my Advanced Forrest Yoga Teacher Training in Denver in April 2013. I don’t know if it was the intensity of the training, the altitude or what, but by the 8th day I was overcome with a craving for bacon! (I didn’t even eat that much bacon even when I was a meat eater! Especially not in Malaysia where pork products are not so readily available as other places I’ve lived) I didn’t now what to make of it, but figured I better follow my nose (or taste buds) and give it a try. My friend was like “are you really going to eat that?” and proceeded to watch me with curiosity as I tucked into my  non-vegetarian breakfast wrap; I can’t lie I really did enjoy that bacon whilst at the same time a part of mind was telling me it was all wrong. From this point on I have been known to indulge in a few pork products every now and again – my Mum had to laugh when I responded to her question about what I was going to eat at Christmas lunch – I told her I would make a nut roast, so no turkey for me please, but to make sure there were enough pigs in blankets and sausage meat stuffing as I would be having that!

So whilst I have been eating meat on occasion over the past year (mainly Serrano ham, prosciutto and bacon!) I have to be honest and admit that it hasn’t always made my stomach or digestive system feel that great.

So – why the challenge now? Do I have a case of FOMO? Fear of missing out? I do sometimes feel like everyone else is following some special diet – detox, juicing, raw, paleo and so the list goes on. But there are a number of reasons I decided to do the Vegan challenge. I had the privilege of staying with two lovely vegan friends a while back, and I have to say I never ate a boring meal once in their house – they always cook up a delicious storm in their kitchen and there is not a sniff of animal products involved. The Camyoga vegan challenge seems a good way to shake up my feeling of being stuck in a rut in my kitchen of late. I also have been having issues with my stomach since coming back from my trip to Asia a month or so ago, and am interested to see if this makes me feel any better. I like the idea of the fact that lots of other non-vegans are trying this at the same time – the sense of support helps, along with the delicious recipes which keep appearing on the Camyoga website! 🙂

It’s funny though – this past week I have to admit to consciously indulging in all the foods I know are going to be off limits for the next fortnight. I found myself making a mental list of all the things I won’t be allowed to eat, and that little dissuading voice telling me that maybe I just shouldn’t bother. Which is pretty ridiculous really because the number of items on that list was hardly extensive and I’m sure not having a cow’s milk cappuccino for 2 weeks is hardly going to kill me. I’m interested in investigating the influence of this little voice further – how many other things does it try to surreptitiously persuade me are not possible? Am I always alert to it’s sneaky restrictive perspective…? I shall keep you posted!

As for how day 1 has gone so far – delicious fruit smoothie for breakfast, a perfectly ripe avocado smooshed on toast made me with fresh bread with kalamata olives at lunch and a batch of date and nut bars made and ready for consumption. (See photo above) I have to confess to having done a fair bit of quality control testing on them already…The verdict?Yes they are good, no I’m not sure I want to share them! I overcame cappuccino issues by having a soya milk latte – and I remembered why I don’t like soya milk…. so back to the drawing board on that one. Maybe I will just stick to black americanos? Maybe I will give up coffee? Maybe that might be too much with the vegan thing too? And there goes that little voice again – gotcha!

I’m now off to the supermarket to buy a trolley full of veggies to get cooking something yummy and harmfree for dinner! 🙂

For more information on the Vegan Challenge check the Camyoga website and their blog for some amazing recipes!