Weekend working out

I love being busy at the weekends, and one of my favourite things to do at the weekend is go on a run, or maybe even two.

For the autumn I have a few races booked (in fact, I have one of each: 5k, 5 mile, 10k, 10 mile and 15k. It is annoying me by the way why they are not in order of length. 10k is further than 5 miles, but 15k is less than 10 miles. Why is that????) and what I want to do is work on speeding up a bit. Last year I had a bit of success when going to parkrun, Sweatshop, and also running with Andy a bit. I managed to finally run a sub 60 minute 10k (something I had been working on for years) and got my fastest half marathon time of 2.06. Running shorter distances faster seemed to be helping me run longer distances faster too. Over the summer I really slowed down- I don’t run well in the heat, but also I was training for a trail half and wasn’t bothered by the finish time, then I had a break on holiday and just enjoyed running. Nothing wrong with that. But now I want to spend the autumn working on getting that speed back, and parkrun is a big part of that.

For the last 3 weeks I have had my idea of a perfect weekend- parkrun on Saturday and a longer run on Sunday. I love it for so many reasons. I tend to wake up pretty early anyway, so I can potter about at home, head off to parkrun, pick up my brother if he is going, and then be home by 10am with the rest of the day ahead. I like running after work, as I find it can help with stress relief, but also it can make the evenings feel rushed, especially if I bring home work, so doing 2 runs at the weekend means I am more relaxed in the week too.

Recently on Sunday mornings I have been running through town, and it is weird but strangely satisfying to be out there before the shops have opened- it feels like I am using bonus hours or something.

2014-08-29 16.29.51Sainsbury’s kindly sent me some of their workout gear, and I have been trying it all out. Now I know it is summer, but at the moment it has been a bit breezy, so I tend to take a jacket with me to parkrun to wear on the way home- this weekend I took the new jacket with me.

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It has thumb holes! An instant win in my book! (Forgot to take a picture when I was actually at parkrun….). It also has handy zipped pockets on each side- great for when I run in the cooler weather as you can never have too many pockets (key, tissues, mp3 player, gloves…).

I may have mentioned the 30 day Kinetic Revolution challenge? Well, their working legging are perfect for this. They are super super soft, seamless and stretchy, and I loved the pink along the edge too. I would not wear them for running as they don’t have a pocket for a key or anything, but they are great for being at home (or for pump too).

2014-08-29 16.32.48Everything I was sent was a size medium, and I would say that is probably good for a 10-12, if you like things fairly fitted. The vest and t-shirts were fitted, and I find that sort of thing good for stretching/ yoga as they stay in the right place when doing the plank/ laying down, but for running I prefer a looser fit. The leggings were ankle length on me, so if I wanted to run with them in the winter I could pull my socks up for no gaps. Or, hunt out my leg warmers. Yes, I do have some!

I loved all the bright colours too- the items I was sent were a mixture of black (good to hide the sweat patches), pink (for fun) and grey (to match all my other workout coloured bits). Now all I need are for them to start making sports briefs, as they are so expensive!

Back to the weekend working out! On Saturday after parkrun (the subtract-sixty-seconds-streak) and French toast I did hours of decorating with Andy, and then finished making a cake for Sunday.

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I was making the Elderflower cake from the Clandestine cake club book (which I really love- it really is my favourite cake book ever). The cake was a bit of a faff, as you had to beat the egg whites and yolks seperately, but I had made that on Friday afternoon listening to the film podcast. It needed a buttercream filling, flavoured with elderflower cordial, and then a white chocolate ganache- again I had made the ganache on Friday so it just needed to be mixed up a bit before putting it on the cake.

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The ganache kept slipping down the sides, so I had to keep putting it in the fridge to set, and then adding a bit more. The white colour has not photographed that well, but it did look quite pretty I think.

On Sunday morning I decided to do a 7 mile out and back route, and I wanted to manage it under 10 minute miles. I know I am capable of this, but so easily I slip back into 11+ min miles for these medium length runs. I think I sometimes worry that if I set out too fast I will suddenly collapse mid-run and struggle to get home. This has never happened to me, but I am of a very cautious nature. This week I made sure I actually looked at my Garmin each mile to check I was keeping pace- my speed dipped a bit going up hill, naturally, but overall I did just over 7 miles in 70 minutes. Check!

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Whoops- I forgot to get some brioche out of the freezer, so pancakes it was. These were made with that lovely Orgran Buckwheat pancake mix, egg + almond milk. I love them. With some fruit and chocolate pb. Then we had to head to the opticians, walked around town for a few bits, and popped to B&Q for more decorating supplies, before heading to Andy’s parents for dinner and cake.

Do you like working out at the weekends? I really get a bit antsy if I don’t get any fresh air, so I like to make the most of having time at the weekends to get outside for a bit.

What do you look for in sports gear? For me, pockets are king, especially zipped pockets. Thumb holes in long tops are great, and nothing too tight around the neck.

*Sainsbury’s sent me these items as I am part of their blogger program.

 

Enjoying the final days of summer

So, the last week of the summer holidays has been and gone. I spent three of the days at work (plus time at home catching up on bits too), but of course have managed to do some non-work related things too.

Of course there has been some running. On Tuesday I had a rather late lunch, and went on a run too soon after, so the 4 miles were not the most enjoyable. Lesson learnt.

On Wednesday I was off to Sweatshop- we did 3 laps of the uni, which could be boring, but luckily someone who runs at a similar speed to me was there (she is a bit faster, but is happy to run at my pace) so we had a nice chat and catch up.

On Thursday I went to pump- the instructor is off for the next three weeks so I decided to go heavier on some of the weights- triceps, squats, chest- regretting that in the morning!

I am still doing the Kinetic Revolution- here is my page if you fancy a nose.

Some food pictures :

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I bought an avocado saver (only a few pounds from amazon) and finally got around to using it. Enjoyed half an avocado on rice cakes with some black bean dip (which was super tasty- Black bean and caramelized onions, with roasted red peppers and other tasty stuff in there too).

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Bought some coconut collaborative yoghurt from Ocado (saw them in a Waitrose in Kings Cross randomly, but not my local one yet). When I first tried coyo, I liked it. But after that first time each time I tried it I have felt a bit sick. Even bought some again the other week to try it, and I still felt rubbish after. Not sure why. Then decided I would try this stuff- the seed one comes with a little pack to sprinkle on, which I nearly didn’t find. I like it more than coyo, and I also like the smaller pot size. Not sure I will be buying it regularly though.

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Tried to take a pic- this one had no use by date, but they all have a date when they were made, so I think I was safe to eat it. 

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Andy made a sweet potato chilli- I love this! He has it with brown rice, I have mine with avocado. So tasty (and even better after being frozen and re-heated- we have 4 weeks worth in the freezer now).

2014-08-28 13.20.56Hummus Chips. Another Ocado purchase. These are sundried tomato and basil flavour. Nice, but I don’t get what the fuss is about.

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Ordered a trial pack of the “adult” mylks as I loved the chai one so much and fancied trying the green tea flavour. They are taking up space in the fridge at the moment!

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Attempted to make a London Fog latte. Earl Grey teabag, vanilla syrup + heated milk.

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Almond milk does not froth up like soya milk does. Funny grey colour but a cosy drink for a grey evening.

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Why don’t more companies make sour cherry dark chocolate?

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My parents keep giving us cheese, so had yet another salad (although I love it, I am not complaning) to use it up- rocket and other leaves, tomatoes, sundried tomatos, avocado, balsamic and fig glaze, wenslydale+cranberries cheese, hummus on a spare rice cake.

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French toast is still my new love.

 This morning I went to parkrun with my brother. Last week I ran 28.34, and the week before 29.34, so we were chatting about what a coincidence it was. I tried to run harder, but the start is pretty narrow and now over 300 people are coming regularly, which means it is a bit of a bottleneck. As it is a lapped course, it also doesn’t really empty out until my final lap (as a lot of people have finished by then)- I felt I spent the whole time trying to get past people, and didn’t really get into a stride. I glanced at my watch once, and then decided that it makes me too stressed so I flipped it around so I could not see it. Anyway, crossing the line I knew it was 27 something, but later on got my text to see that my time was 27.34! Exactly one minute faster than last week, and 2 than the week before! What are the chances of that happening? My “subtract sixty seconds streak” will be coming to an end next week I suspect!

Anyway, after popping home to see my parents, I came home for breakfast and then helped Andy with decorating the spare room- I volunteered to do by the skirting boards (as I hate the step ladder) but all that crouching down wore me out (and took a lot longer than I first imagined too- so fiddly)!

Are you a fan of decorating? I don’t mind the actual painting, but I really hate all the moving of furniture that goes before and after. We don’t have a lot of space, and now our living room is full of the shelving units and other stuff that we had to move.

Battenburg Baking

So, last weekend I was flicking through my favourite cake recipe book (The Clandestine Cake Club book) and noticed the recipe for Battenberg or Battenburg, depending on what book/ website you go for. I love almond cake, and marzipan, but have never made one before. Well, no time like the present!

You can get special tins, but the book had instructions for how to divide a normal tin in half using folded baking paper.

2014-08-23 16.01.29Also, I don’t have pink food colouring, but I had red. The plan was to use only a little, but as you will see, it is rather more shocking pink than pastel! Anyway, what I would do next time is weigh the bowl so I could work out the weight of the final mixture, as I did it by eye and ended up with more pink mixture.

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After the cake cooled, I cut it into the four slices and trimmed the ends. Again, I might trim the ends after assembling next time, as the marzipan needed neatening too. Although the offcuts were a good bonus! I did this while the Grand Prix was on- I quite like having a project like this that I can get on with in the living room.

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Stuck together with warmed apricot jam, and then rolled in marzipan.

I bought some new plates this week, and they were the perfect size and shape- amazing!

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We took it to Andy’s parents for tea, but we didn’t eat it all so we left them a few slices and we had some to take home too.

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We enjoyed a slice each on Wednesday (good post run pudding).

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I am really glad I had a go- it was a bit time consuming to assemble, but it looked really pretty and tasted good too.

Battenburg- yay or nay?

 

Salad Sprinkles

On a side note, Andy’s old phone used to show the weather each day, and light rain was classed as “sprinkles”, which I think sounds so much nicer.

But this post is about a different type of sprinkle.

2014-08-12 18.53.05Sainsbury’s kindly sent me some salad sprinkles and I have been enjoying them on so many meals.

Salad 1:

Pea shoots, cherry tomatoes, avocado, tomato salsa, hummus and Italian sprinkles.

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Salad 2: Sliced cos lettuce, cherry tomatoes, avocado, salsa (yes, bought salsa so had to use it on most salads!), hummus and oat cakes, pine nut sprinkles.

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Salad 3: Roasted vegetable cous cous, mixed leaves, cherry tomatoes, salsa again, halloumi cheese (grilled for a few minutes), pine nut sprinkles.

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Salad 4: Pea shoots, cherry tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, avocado, wenslydale+cranberries, sour dough with sundried tomato+basil hummus (which is my favourite hummus- I am always very happy when I manage to buy some), Italian sprinkles.

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Salad 5: Caramelised onion and black bean dip + avocado on ryvita, spinach, tomatoes, pine nut sprinkles, balsamic dressing.

The toasted seed and pine nut one was my favourite- containing sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and pine nuts) as it was simple and added such a good crunch.

The Italian style sprinkle was lovely too, with mixed seeds as well as dried red onion and sundried tomatoes for more flavour. Each packet was listed as one serving, but I found them to be pretty generous (25g is a lot of seeds!) so I would say you could easily have them over 3 or 4 meals.

They also sent me a dried fruit & honey seed sprinkle but I keep forgetting to buy yoghurt to put it on, so I shall look forward to that another day.

Do you love a bit of crunch on your salad? If I go to a place with a salad bar I will always add something for crunch, but at home I don’t tend to. We have pine nuts which we have on pesto pasta, so I don’t like adding them to salads as then they get used up too quickly! I also like it when you can add a few dried cranberries or raisins, but again when I make salads at home I forget about add-ons like that.

* I was sent the salad sprinkles in exchange for a blog post, and was sent a voucher to purchase additional salad items with. 

Epic afternoon tea

Last week I was off to London to see some friends. We try to meet up in the holidays, and recently have been going for afternoon tea as it means we are left to it and can spend hours catching up.

Andy dropped me off at the station on his way to work, so I had a bit of time in London to myself.

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It was a lovely sunny day, so I headed to Trafalgar Square.

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We live pretty close to London but don’t go in that often. According to my friend this giant chicken has been there for ages, but I had not seen it before.

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I also popped to the Wholefoods in Piccadilly, for a cold drink but also a little browse.

2014-08-21 11.38.59Ocado now stock the kids ranges of these, so I had tried the chocolate and chocolate orange versions (they are coconut milk based drinks, and are delicious)- of course seeing the word “chai” I was sold straight away. I did buy a few bits in there too. Although I wish I had bought a few more of these chai drinks as they are so tasty.

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Restrained purchases: Carrot, apple and cinnamon granola, cacao powder and some raw chocolates.

Then I walked to meet my friends. We went to the BB Bakery in Covent Garden (well really it is off The Strand and really near Trafalgar Square)-and it was amazing.

2014-08-21 12.47.40There was a tea menu, which I love, and the teapots were so pretty (and each one different) with little infuser balls hanging in them. We were also given some orange juice- this seems to be at a lot of afternoon tea menus now. All the crockery was pretty but mis-matched-I loved that to.

2014-08-21 12.52.40This was for 3 of us to share, and they had put all the vegetarian sandwiches together. It was a mountain of food! A little blini thing, cream cheese + cucumber sandwiches, ciabatta bread with tomato and mozzarella, a little quiche (I don’t really like them so didn’t have mine, but it is nice to have some variety). Also there were 3 of each cake- sometimes you have to bargain or cut them in half, but we all had the same. A lemon meringue tart, a ginger cake topped with custard and fresh berries, a strawberry cupcake with strawberry icing (this was really good- we all thought it would be a plain cupcake with pink icing, but it had fruit in the cake, and the icing tasted really fruity too), a macaroon, and the most amazing squidgy pecan brownie. The bakery also sell cupcakes and brownies, and I would say if you are nearby have a look and treat yourself because they were so good. (Also, we booked in advance so it was a little cheaper I think, although their website seems to have 2 different prices so I am not sure).

All the while they kept offering to top up our teapots with fresh water, and hours later when we had finished most of the tier, they brought out warm scones with home-made jam and cream. No photos of those though!

We ended up being there for about 4 hours I think! A good catch up! Then it was time to brave the rush hour tube and get the train home. I was planning on walking back from the station, but it was much later than I thought we would be, so Andy picked me up which meant I could get to body pump on time. It turns out that afternoon tea is pretty good fuel for pump!

I would not like to live in London, but I do like being close by and it is great to be able to pop in for the day. Do you enjoy being a tourist to places close to you?