Monday 29 June 2020

Couch to 5K | Week 3

I can’t quite believe I’ve now got to the end of my third week of running and third of the way through the Couch to 5K! Do I still hate running? No. Do I now love running? Well, I’m not sure I would go quite that far yet, but I am enjoying the fact that I am making progress.


Something I have noticed a big difference in is the way I feel after I’ve been out on a run. My lungs feel clearer and fresher, I feel good in myself, and according to my Fitbit I’m sleeping loads better too. It’s no surprise I guess, given that around 20 minutes exercise will release serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine into the body, all of which make you feel good. I said a moment ago that I wouldn’t go so far as to say I like running, but I certainly do like the way it makes me feel.


This week was another step up in terms of difficulty, with both the running and recovery sections alternating between 90 seconds and three minutes, the latter being the longest so far. So, let’s see how each run went! 


Run one

I don’t know if I screwed myself over a bit by going on a run the day before rather than taking the rest day like I was supposed to, but the arches of both my feet really hurt on this run. Clearly limping along had an impact on my speed, because my average minutes per mile were a rather abysmal 13:21, which I’m pretty sure is barely faster than my walking pace.


I mentioned in my last post that I’m wearing rubbish trainers and I think the lack of arch support is a large portion of the problem. That said, I do need to be mindful that I’m using muscles that I haven’t used in this way for a while, and that could well be part of it as well. Strangely enough, they only really hurt on the walking segments and weren’t really as issue while I was running, which further leads me to believe it’s the footwear.


Other than one running segment I managed to run and walk at all the points that I was supposed to. On the three minute segment I’d slowed early by a handful of seconds, and I checked the time so that I could add it back at the end, and did end up running a little further.


Run two

Twenty six degrees. TWENTY. SIX. DEGREES. That was the temperature outside when I finished work and needed to go out. This heat makes me wish I was a morning person, because getting out before the sun is up would be a much better idea. I’d had a very stressful work day, and had ended up working just over an hour and a half or so past my finishing time, so I really didn’t feel motivated to do anything at all, let along exercise in 26C heat.


Despite my lack of motivation I forced myself into my gym gear and out on my run. The field I do laps round was pretty much still in full sun, so given the heat I made sure to set a slow and steady pace. Despite the temperature I managed to keep up and run for all of the sections I was supposed to, and even added a little to the end ‘just because’. Even though it felt like a very slow run, I was an average of 12:43 minutes per mile which is much faster than the previous run, although my foot pain was certainly still present for the latter half of the run.


Run three

Another scorcher, this time 27C. As I had plans on the Friday that meant I wouldn’t be out for my run I moved this up a day to Thursday, meaning I hadn’t had a rest day the day before, which the app recommends. Due to this I expected this to be a little harder, and was also curious to know how my feet would hold up as the pain in my arches seems to be most prominent when I skip rest days. Exactly as I had thought, about half way round my arches started to hurt, although admittedly not as much as before.


I set a slow pace once again due to the heat, and ran for all of the sections I was supposed to. Very frustratingly, about 8 seconds before the end of my very last run I misplaced my footing, rolled my ankle and ended up falling in the crops of the field I was doing laps around. Luckily, I think my slow speed saved me a little, as the pain was fairly minimal and I was able to continue my final few seconds, the cool down and the walk home. I had a minor swelling the following day and a small amount of stiffness, but I’m glad to have not done myself any real injury, especially as I feel that I’m doing quite well at the moment.




Given that footwear has been a growing issue through this week I decided to get myself some new running trainers to switch to. As I mentioned in my last post, I intend to get my gait analysed at some point in the future, but not until running becomes a more regular thing for me. There’s no point in splurging on a great pair of running shoes only to not use them when the 9 weeks are over.


So for now I’ve grabbed myself some running shoes from Under Armour. Under Armour always served brilliantly for much of my kit, especially my footwear when I played American Football, and I had a few pairs to switch between depending on if we were playing contact or non-contact, as the two versions demand slightly different footwear. So I’m hoping that their running range will serve me well too. They arrived over the weekend, so I’m excited to start using them for this week.


Just like last week I decided to do an additional run on the weekend, without the C25K app running and using only Strava. Like before I just ran for as long as I could, and switched to walking for my recovery. I beat my personal bests once again, which was really pleasing and just goes to show quite how much progress I’m making with the help of Couch to 5K!


Do you use any running or sport apps?


Monday 22 June 2020

Couch to 5k | Week Two

Last week you may have seen my post about starting my first week of couch to 5k via the free app. I’ve now just completed the second week, and as I enjoyed writing the last post I thought I would make it a weekly thing to share my progress until the 9 weeks are up. As someone with a lifelong distain for running any kind of distance, I think it’ll be quite interesting to see how I progress through the weeks, but also, by sharing here it also holds me to account. If I skip a run I’ll have to own up to it, and I find that in itself to be fairly strong motivation.


This week was meant to be slightly harder, with the running sections being 90 seconds rather than 60. Although the recovery time in which you switch to a brisk walk was also longer, so it probably weighed up to a similar amount of running time compared to the previous week.


Much like in my previous post I’ll be breaking up the three runs for week two, as each one is slightly different. Right, let’s see how I got on;


Run one

I feel like everything was kind of against me for this run. I took longer to get ready because I had misplaced my trainers (well, one of them), and then when I did get out I found that the ground was quite slippery. I had pulled a muscle in my bum a day or so before which wasn’t too much of a problem until about a third of the way round when it was quite painful. Oh, and I trod in a dead bird by accident. Eww.


I’ve been quite an accident prone person in the past, and some of those previous injuries really made themselves known during this run, in particular my ankle, on which I’ve had reconstructive surgery to put 3 ligaments back together (one being my ATL). It was quite strange because I had none of these issues at all in the first week. On top of that I forgot to set my Strava going until I had already started running. Oops.


That all being said, despite this being a progression from the previous week with longer running sections I still feel that I managed fairly well. In fact when I finished and moved onto the cool down I would have been tempted to run a bit more had I not had pain in my ankle. despite everything I still felt pretty positive about this one.


Run two

I was far more organised for this run and went out as soon as I finished work, which meant I had plenty of evening left afterwards. It was still quite sunny so this was a warmer run which made me thankful that I had put on an SPF moisturiser to give my skin a little more protection before going out in the sunshine.


For this run I used my asthma inhaler once at the start and then didn’t use it again, although I of course still carried it with me just in case. There were quite a few walkers with dogs around for this one (probably due to the nice weather) so I had to dive off the narrow path and into the field a few times to avoid them. To be fair when I was on a running section most of them moved over before I had a chance to, which was nice of them. Whenever I was walking I made a point to get out of their way, so that they didn’t have to be the ones moving every time we passed each other.


One thing I did struggle with was pain in the arch of my right foot, even for the walking segments. I think it’s partly down to the fact that I’m still new to running, but it doesn’t help that I’m using pretty rubbish trainers with little to no arch support. I asked the people of Twitter for advise on some decent shoes, and Christie from Christie’s Lifestyle told me that I could get my gain analysed locally to find the perfect running shoes!  If I can keep this up, it’s certainly something I want to look into!


Run three

This was another straight after work run, but this time it was a little more overcast with a nice cool breeze. My pulled muscle had recovered by then and I only had minimal pain in my foot and ankle this time. There weren’t as many people out and about this time, in fact there was just the one walker taking his little Labrador puppy out on her second ever walk – naturally when she bounded up to me I stopped to say hello.


I felt a lot more comfortable on this run, and even added another running section at the point the app wanted me to switch to my cool down walk.



I’m quite pleased that I found the transition from week one to week two relatively easy, but it’s important to remember that everyone is different. Given I have seven more weeks to go until I reach the end of couch to 5k, there’s no doubt in my mind that there will be weeks ahead that are a real struggle to get through, but I’m optimistic that I have the motivation to do it!


After my three couch to 5k runs during the week, I even plucked up the motivation to go for a run on Sunday, without C25K and just had my Strava running to see how well I could do. I ran for far longer than I have on my controlled runs and managed to hit 5 personal bests, and knock 2 and a bit minutes off my minutes per mile time. Going out for a run is something I have never done when I don’t have to, so the fact that I felt motivated to is a massive step in the right direction.


Today is my first run of week 3, and I’m feeling cautiously optimistic!


Friday 19 June 2020

The Vincent Ehindero Blogger Award Tag

I love blogger tags, but it would seem that I’m awful at taking part whenever I am tagged in them. I’m not even sure why that’s the case, in fact the last time I was tagged I actually wrote out my post, forgot to post it and then had that fear that I’d left it too late and had missed the boat. Anyway, I’m determined to change that!


I was tagged by the lovely Jordanne over at The Life of a Glasgow Girl to take part in the Vincent Ehindero Blogger Award Tag. You can find her post here. Thank you so much for tagging me Jordanne, as much as I’ve been rubbish at taking part in these I really do love and appreciate them, and your tag really made my day.

So, onto the rules of the award;


1. Thank the person who nominated you with a link to their blog.

2. Make a post of the award (with a photo of the logo). 

3. Post the rules

4. Answer the questions asked by the person who tagged you.

5. Ask 5-10 questions of your choice.

6. Nominate 10-30 other bloggers (or more) and notify them.


Jordanne's Questions;


1: If you could tell your 10 year old self one thing, what would it be?


This is actually going to sound rather sad, but I grew up in a home with an alcoholic parent. My ten year old self hadn’t quite made the connection yet between the multiple bottles of wine in the fridge and the way I was sometimes treated, and at the time I thought I was just un-liked or had done something wrong. I would tell my ten year old self that it wasn’t her, she hadn’t done anything wrong and that things would be better in the future, so to just hang on in there.


 2: What is your dream career?


If money was no object and I didn’t have to worry about income at all I would probably do something with animals, in particular unwanted or surrendered dogs. There is something so pure about the love of a dog, and whenever I see photos or videos of dogs people no longer want or can’t care for in shelters waiting for their forever home it’s heart-breaking.


 3: You have just been given £500,000 to spend in a week - What do you spend it on?


I would probably go with a sensible option first and pay off the rest of my mortgage, because that outgoing disappearing would make a huge difference to my monthly costs. We have been thinking about a second car for ages, so I would probably buy a brand new Ranger with all of the extras we want. I’d replace our current car with a Mustang, as we had one in America and loved it. From there I think I’d use the rest of it doing all the bits in the house and garden we’ve been wanting to do, and then the rest would go on a massive spending splurge and get a few holidays booked and paid for. Oh, and as we would love to rescue a dog someday I’d get everything we could possibly need to make a wonderful home for our future addition.


 4: When was the last time you tried a new food? What was it?


It was the peanut butter cookies I posted about earlier! I’ve not been able to get hold of flour, and it was a recipe I found online and adapted a bit.


 5: What's one piece of advice you have been given that has always stayed with you?


That you can’t please everyone all the time, and that’s ok. As long as you do your best to always be kind, that’s the main thing.


 6: What does your ideal pamper night look like?


I like to start off a pamper night with a bath bomb in a hot bath with a facemask. Then its comfy PJs, fresh bed and a film with loads of snacks.


 7: If you were a teacher in high school/secondary school, which subject would you teach?


I’m not really sure… I think I’d want to teach more generic life things, things that everyone needs but (certainly for me) weren’t covered in school. Like, I had no idea how to do my car insurance, write a good CV, budget, or do any of that standard stuff that we have to do as adults. It’s all stuff that I’ve learned along the way but I really feel like at least some of it should have been covered in school.


 8: Would you break the law to save a loved one?


Absolutely. If it’s to save someone I love I’ll gladly accept any consequences that follow.


 9: If you knew today was your last day on earth (and the pandemic + money wasn't an issue) what would you do?


Ooo that’s a difficult one! I think I’d want to spend my last day with Mike, and my close friends. My close friends and I refer to our little group as ‘the family’ because that’s what we are to each other. We are all very close and I love them all dearly, so if I only had one day I’d want to spend it with them.


 10: When was the last time you payed yourself a compliment?


Probably Monday, I managed to do my first run of week two of couch to 5k and only used my inhaler once before I left the house, and didn’t use it while out. As much as I would always carry it with me, it was nice not to be reliant on it, and part of that was down to the work I’ve been doing to improve my fitness. I know it doesn’t sound like a great compliment, but paying myself complements isn’t something I’m very good at.


My questions;

 1. If you could travel anywhere (without Covid, money or anything like that being an issue) where would you go?

2. Do you have a lucky or significant number? If so, what is it and why?

3. If qualifications / wages and such were no issue, what would your dream job be?

4. If you won big on the lottery would you tell anyone and how would you spend it?

5. Are you a morning bird, night owl, or something else?

6. What do you wish you knew before you started blogging?

7. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? Is it different to the answer to question 3?

8. What is the biggest life lesson you ever learned, and when did you learn it?

9. Do you have a hobby outside of blogging? What is it?

10. What made you start blogging?


I now tag;









Monday 15 June 2020

Couch to 5K | Week One

As much as it’s always been something I’ve wanted to get into, I’ve always hated running. I thinks it’s largely down to a bit of a hangover from my school days where we were expected to do cross country during the winter months. Not only is it kind of rubbish to be out in the cold with no real way to warm up afterwards, but my asthma is badly effected by cooler temperatures which just made it all the more unpleasant.

That being said, I’ve always quite enjoyed sport, and played both contact and non-contact American Football for a few years which involved a lot of running but in short sharp bursts. That’s where I seem to do best it seems; a short sprint as fast as I can go, followed by a few seconds break and then a sprint again. One summer our football team took part in various 5k park runs around our area in full kit, as a way to try and get the team and sport a little more known about, and I found that my biggest problem was pacing. That, and the full kit weighs on average just over 20 pounds of which a large portion of that is on your head so it does start to weigh you down after a while!

During lockdown I’ve really got into walking and exploring all the lovely places near my home, but having not been to the gym since March I have inevitably gained a little bit of weight and started to feel a little bit rubbish in myself. I tried to follow home exercise videos on YouTube in my living room, which were good fun but not quite what I wanted. Given I have more time at the moment I decided that I would give running another go, and during my week off last week decided to download the free Couch to 5K app.

Whilst this app is certainly not new, and has in fact it’s been around for quite a while now, it felt like the best way to build myself up to (hopefully) be able to get into running on a regular basis. For those who perhaps haven’t come across it, Couch to 5k is a safe and manageable way to gradually increase your fitness with 3 runs a week over a 9 week period and eventually reach a point where you can run for 30 minutes without stopping. The way it achieves this is my intervals of running and walking, gradually increasing the running intervals and decreasing the walking intervals until you no longer need them.

So how did I get on with the first week? Well for a start the app was really easy to set up. It’ll ask you a couple of generic questions around why you want to do couch to 5k, let you pick your trainer who will motivate you while you are running and then you are ready to go. I started from week one, because I wasn’t all that sure of where my fitness level would be. However, you can start from any point you like so if you feel like you are more advanced. You also have the option to repeat runs if you want, so if you happen to find one week a particular struggle and aren’t quite ready to move on to the next difficulty level, you don’t have to.

My first run didn’t actually happen on the day I intended it to, as mother nature decided that the first day of my week off was the time for aunt flow to visit, and I tend to feel very sick on the first day or so of my period. I did manage to start my first run the next day on the Tuesday instead when I was feeling a little better, so my week wasn’t impacted too much. You start off with a 5 minute walk to warm up, before any actual running starts. The first week is intervals of running 60 seconds at a time, with a 90 second walk in between with a 5 minute walking cool down right at the end. Each run in my first week felt a little different, so let’s talk about each individual run;

Run 1
Against my better judgement I left the house for my first run not long after noon, when the sun was at its highest and it was pretty warm outside. Luckily is was fairly overcast so this didn’t cause me too much problem, but it’s something to be mindful of. My first two jogging sections were quite hard, but that was because I wasn’t jogging; I was pretty much sprinting. From the third section I started to actually pace myself at a regular jogging speed and found it to be much easier, manging to jog for the full 60 second bursts, at the end of which I felt like I could have run a little longer. A mistake I made on this run was that I brought a heavy water bottle with me, which I didn’t use and was a pain to carry, plus I also left my inhaler at home.

Run 2
For this run I traded the bulky water bottle for my inhaler, and although it rained the whole way it was much easier than the previous day. In fact it was actually quite nice running in the cool rain. I found that I didn’t really use my inhaler but it was nice to have it with me just in case. As couch to 5k doesn’t really track your route or speed (or if it does I don’t know how to find it) I decided to run my Strava app at the same time so that I can track that progress as well. My average pace was 13:44 minutes a mile, which is pretty slow, but when you consider that I am only running for less than a third of the total distance I’m covering it’s not as bad as it sounds.

Run 3
My third and final run for my first week was early in the morning and was quite chilly, which was nice and refreshing and really set me up for the day ahead. This run was on a Friday which meant I’d had a rest day the day before like the app suggests but my muscles were a little stiff when I first started, the warm up walk pretty much took care of that though and it didn’t cause me any problems. I had Strava running again and this time my average pace was 13:26 minutes a mile with the same run / walk alterations as my previous run, so I was pleased that I had been a little quicker.

Whilst I haven’t yet launched into my second week, I do feel as though I could have perhaps started slightly later than week one had I wanted to, but it was nice to ease in gently. Given that the last time I ran was a long time ago, and prior to my shin fracture I’d much rather be safe than sorry rather than overreaching too early and injuring myself. Overall I really enjoyed all three of my runs (something I never thought I’d say) and I’m somewhat looking forward to kicking it up a notch for the second week!

Do you have any helpful running apps? 


Saturday 13 June 2020

No Flour Peanut Butter Cookies

If there’s one things I’ve been doing a lot more of since lock down, it’s baking. It passes the time, it’s kind of therapeutic, and of course I get to eat my creations at the end. Unfortunately it feels like the rest of the country has got on board with the exact same pastime, which means it’s incredibly difficult to actually get hold of any baking supplies at the moment. 

Be it flour, sugar or even butter I always seem to be unable to get hold of something. Vanilla extract for example has seemingly disappeared off the face of the planet, and seems to have taken a lot of it’s other baking friends with it. After days and days of trying to hunt down flour, any kind of flour and not finding any, I decided to start looking up some other options. That’s when I came across this cookie recipe that not only doesn’t require any flour at all, but it doesn’t need butter either. Both ingredients have been replaced with something that hasn’t been ransacked from my local shops; peanut butter. 

On top of being able to source supplies, the recipe itself is incredibly easy and takes next to no time to do. Perfect when you want a quick fix for those sweet cravings! Despite being predominantly peanut butter these aren’t dry at all.

So to make these delicious peanut butter cookies, you need the following;

200g of peanut butter - smooth or crunchy
175g sugar
1 teaspoon of baking powder
 1 medium to large egg

Splash of milk

200g Chocolate chips - or whatever filling you'd like to add

Now, a little tip before you start is to pour hot water into the mixing bowl you intend to use, rinse it and dry it before you add all of the peanut butter. The bowl will still be warm which makes the thick peanut butter much easier to work with. 

Add about a third of the sugar and mix it into the peanut butter. I found the best way was to alternate between a typical mixing motion, and a bit of a stabbing motion with my wooden spoon. When it’s reasonably combined add the next third, mix and repeat until all of the sugar and peanut butter is combined together.

Add your baking power and mix again, and at this point you’ll have a pretty thick mix. Add your egg and stir it into the mix, topping off with your splash of milk and keep mixing until you are happy every thing is combined together. You’ll have a bit of a wet gloopy mess in your bowl at this point. 

This is the point when you can now add any extra fillings to your cookies. I’m using dark chocolate chips because it was what I had to hand, but you could add anything you wanted, or even skip this step completely if you wanted to. Using two table spoons, dollop just over a cherry tomato size potions of your mixture to a tray lined with baking paper. You should get around 12-14 cookies from this mix. Make sure you give some space between them for when they expand outward.

Pop into the oven, which has been pre-heated to around 170C and set your timer for 6 minutes. After your 6 minutes has passed, swap the trays in the oven and add another 6 minutes to the timer. This is the perfect time to pop the kettle on and get yourself a cup of team of coffee to enjoy with your baking creations.

When the final timer goes, check in your cookies. The should be golden around the edges and still be fairly soft in the middle. If they need more time, I would recommend putting back for no more than 2 minutes at a time so you don’t over do them.

If you are happy that they are done, remove from the oven and set aside to cool. I don’t actually own a rack to cool things on, so when the baking trays aren’t as hot I tend to just lift the paper out of the tray and pop it on the side to cool down.  

These cool pretty quickly, so after 5 minutes or so feel free to lift them off the baking paper using a spatula and onto a plate to enjoy with that well deserved cuppa you made. 

Do you have any recipes that don’t need flour?  


Wednesday 10 June 2020

May Lookback

We’re yet another month into lockdown, and I have to say… I don’t hate it. As much as May wasn’t hugely different to April as we couldn’t really go anywhere or do anything, I do feel like I’ve settled more into a ‘normal’ routine in the past month. If you follow me on Instagram and watch my stories you’ll have seen that I’ve been out and about walking fairly frequently in the month of May and have started to explore the wider area around me which has lead me to discovering some new scenic and varied walks.


There is something very therapeutic about setting off on a walk with no real route or destination in mind and just going wherever your feet take you. I’ve found all kinds of places that I never knew were practically on my doorstep and I’ve covered some pretty good distance, racking up just over 80 miles for May. Since it became allowed to see one person outside at distance, a friend of mine who I would usually walk with has been joining me which has lifted my mood hugely. Although it does feel a little strange to walk together while still staying away from each other it’s been lovely all the same.


I’ve also re-discovered a love of plants, and have been slowly filling our home with new little plant babies. I’ve even tried my hand at propagating a few which so far is going well. Looking after my new little plants and watching them grow has been quite therapeutic, and since finding some of them pretty new pots in our local garden centre they look quite attractive and really help decorate the various rooms in our home. With the lovely weather we had I’ve taken the opportunity to pull everything out of our garden and start re-filling the planters with fresh soil and brand new plants. Not only does the garden look considerably better, but it’s been great to get outside doing a physical job that we’ve also been meaning to get round to for ages.


It’s just as well I could get out and about and do things to elevate my mood really, because the end of May was quite sad. Given that we were supposed to fly out to America on the 29th May to get married in Nashville, it made for a funny few days of constantly thinking about what we should be doing and where we should be while being stuck at home instead. A further downer was added on the morning of the 1st June when the registry office called to tell us that our legal wedding on the 10th June couldn’t go ahead either as weddings in Norfolk (even tiny ones only intended for the legal element like ours) still haven’t been given the all clear.


As much as we’ve been assured that communications are pending, and once they are updated they’ll do everything they can to get us booked in as soon as possible, I’m also very mindful of the fact that we are part of a long list of couples in the exact same situation. I would imagine it’s quite likely that we’ll be waiting for quite a long time while they try their best to work through everyone.


There’s no two ways around it, it’s a difficult and shitty situation but I’m trying to see the positives as much as possible. Even if it does really feel like there is much positive to see. I just keep reminding myself that our wedding isn’t cancelled, it just isn’t happening quite when or how we wanted it to. We still live in a beautiful home together, and both very much love each other and want to get married; none of that has changed. As much as I’m sad that we aren’t in America right now, and not getting married next week that feeling of sadness doesn’t change anything, so I’m trying to take a positive spin and not dwell to much on the negative. Although as you can imagine that is far easier said than done.


It can be hard somethings to talk about these kinds of things on here because I like my blog to be a positive place, and not all doom, gloom and sadness. At the same time however, it’s life, and a massive part of my life. No matter what we do, life will not always be sunshine and rainbows, and there will be challenges to face. The important thing is how we tackle them, which is why I’m all the more determined to be as positive as possible, in spite of the negative. 


That just about rounds up all that’s gone on in May, but with more lovely weather ahead of us I’m feeling strangely quite positive at the moment, and I’m looking forward to what is ahead in June.


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