Bringing the Aussie Lifestyle to Surrey

Most of my December and January were spent in the wonderful land of Australia and I can honestly say, I have never felt happier. If you haven’t been to Australia, it’s hard to appreciate just how relaxed and care free the vibe is, and that’s not just at Byron Bay. Everyone wakes up early, goes and swims down at the beach, most people go out running in the mornings and cafes open at 6am. I hate waking up early, but when it’s so beautiful outside, I have no problem naturally waking up at 5 or 6 am.

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Most Easterly Point in Australia
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Coggee Bay Yoga

 

Of course, when you are on holiday, you are naturally happier, as you’re away from the stresses of working life and the grotty English weather. However,  I was there for a month and for me this was not a holiday as such, but it became more of a ‘mini lifestyle change’- I know that sounds cliché but both Vicky (my travel buddy) and I felt this way.

 

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Fraser Island with Vicky

After I returned from Australia, I was desperate to change some of my habits to try to and be Aussie Amy. This was always going to be hard, as in Australia it was 30 degrees, I lived by the beach and our flat was above the most amazing yoga studio. In addition, I wasn’t working or studying.

So what did I do?

  • I have kept up yoga between 1-2 times a week. I’ve been doing an Ashtanga Yoga Course at Yogamoo in Reigate every Monday evening. I am learning so much and although it’s one of the faster, tougher yoga practices, I come out feeling revitalised. No, Reigate Priory Park is not the beautiful Byron Bay, but you have to make do with what you have!
  • In Australia, I would run in the mornings, but quite frankly I cannot motivate myself to get up at 6am and run in this country. It’s cold, dark and I usually feel very stiff in the mornings. So I don’t and I’m not going to beat myself up about it either. I run at lunch or after work and don’t feel guilty about it. This is my new care-free Aussie vibe!
  • Drinking more water. The heat in Australia meant that I was guzzling down water in record quantities, and although this is not necessary in England, I realised how much more energy I had because of it. So, three times a day I now have a pint of hot water with lemon- it’s refreshing and warming! I make sure to have this before any caffeine too and I have noticed my skin is a lot more ‘radiant’ since doing this.
  •  Being a better vegetarian. I was a veggie for ten years when I was younger, but I was so fussy that I barely ate anything. As a result, I was unhealthy, chubby and undernourished. In October, I decided to go back to my veggie roots, but the issue with this is that I am also a very lazy cook. I could eat beans on toast for every meal and feel happy but that’s not good enough for a person who runs 40 miles a week. In Australia, there are so many healthy vegan and vegetarian places, but in Surrey there just isn’t. I have been cooking a lot more, but I’m still working on this challenge. I have recently ordered from HelloFresh, and although I’ve only made 2 weeks worth of meals, I think this will have a positive impact on my wellbeing.
  • Having more ‘me time’, just like you do on holiday. I’m working part-time at the moment and studying full time, so I can be a lot more flexible with my time than someone who works full time. My version of me-time consists of having more indulgent baths followed my pampering, reading for pleasure and exercising. I’m sure that’s not what everyone would find relaxing, but it is me!

I honestly can’t count the number of people who have said how happy I have been this year and I’ve been living in a bubble being a part-timer, but I’ve realised that life is for living. You do have to make the best of what you have though, as until Australia isn’t on the other side of the world from my friends and family, I can’t see myself moving out there.

Next week, I return to teaching and being a teacher, and like many other stressful jobs, it can have a very negative impact on your wellbeing. So I am going to make a real conscious effort to look after myself and promote this to all my new colleagues and students too. Work to live, don’t live to work!

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed the non-running post!

Amy xx

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This ain’t my first rodeo!

CoutryGirl1In aid of International Women’s Day, I wanted to write down some of my experiences as a female runner in what I would describe as a male dominated sport.

You may be wondering why I have titled this blog: ‘This ain’t my first rodeo’. Funnily enough, it’s actually a phrase I have said in my head and out loud many times whilst I’ve been out running or racing. This is because despite being a decent runner, whenever I am running there are always men who like to offer me advice, even though its not my first run, race or rodeo!

Last year, during a Parkrun, as I was running up a slight hill, two men had a conversation about me, within my earshot, where they called me foolish for trying to sprint up the hill. I didn’t hear them say this to any of the male runners also sprinting up the hill. It was unnecessary and disheartening for someone giving this 5k there all.

Last month, during Worthing Half, I was shoved and cut up many times by a man (pictured below!) who I can only assume wasn’t happy that a woman was in front of him. I didn’t rise to it as I wanted to keep my pace consistent, but pushed off and left him as we approached 10 miles. It didn’t need to be this way, we could have motivated each other as we ran together for at least 5 miles. 27574155_570766676626797_1088152723473301504_n

Last Sunday, I was running around Bushy park and a man clapped me and called me a “good girl”. Now perhaps some readers may find this motivating, but I am not a little girl receiving praise from an adult. I am a 27 year old woman, with two degrees and soon a Masters degree. I own my own flat and have been a teacher for five years. I am not a girl. I do not need to be patronised.

These are not isolated incidents and I could name so many more. I could tell you about how whenever I wear shorts men shout lewd comments at me, honk their horns at me, take photos of me, or even chase me down the street to ask me on a date. However, I can guarantee that I am not the only woman to experience this and I don’t want sympathy, I want change.

This needs to stop.

On the flip side, I feel it’s important to highlight how lucky I am to be surrounded by supportive men. My dad inspired me to take up running in the first place, and he cycled with me on my horrible 20+ mile runs during my marathon training; he is my hero!

When I first joined a running club, I met a man called Neil who showed me the ropes and is now one of my best friends! We support and encourage each other 100%.

My running coach Kevin is incredible and believes in me more than I will ever believe in myself.

This is what all men should be like. Men should not be threatened by women being ‘better’ than them.

In life, there is always going to be someone better than you at something, and yes competition is healthy, but competition should not be fuelled by a desire to assert dominance over the opposite sex. Competition should be fuelled by your desire to be better than you were yesterday.

After all, an equal society benefits everyone. Many inequalities in sports are changing, but we still have so far to go.

Happy International Women’s Day 2018!

IWD

Love Amy xx

My Advice for First Time Marathoners

Marathon

Congratulations!

You have signed up to do one of the hardest challenges you will ever do… I still have nightmares thinking about those 22 mile training runs, but there is no satisfaction greater than knowing you’re a marathon runner.

I wanted to share my advice for anyone training for their first marathon and I know there are a plethora of different running plans out there and it may be confusing to know where to begin. I am no professional, but I’ve certainly experienced the high and lows of marathon training and many to reduce them into five tips!

These are my 5 top tips:

  1. Be comfortable running at least 10k beforehand. In my opinion, anyone who is attempting a marathon needs to have a good solid base first. This means if you enter the #VLM ballot in April, do not wait until you find out you’re in to begin training. This does not need mean you already need to have a rigid training programme in place, but running around 2/3 times a week,  or regularly heading down to your local #Parkrun or even socially jogging with friends will benefit you hugely later down the line. Most importantly, it will also lessen your chances of getting injured and it provide you with confidence before you begin your official training programme.
  2.  Choose a plan and stick to it. There are lots of different plans out there, and there are lots of people who will give you their advice (even when you don’t ask!) but these are often conflicting. Once you’ve chosen a plan that works for you then try to stick to it as best you can. It’s likely you will get ill or injured at some point and please do not panic, this happens to everyone. I had to take 5 weeks off during my training last year! It’s also important to choose a plan that works for you. If you know you can’t commit to running 5/6 times a week, don’t choose a plan that suggests it. It is perfectly possible to train for a marathon running 3/4 times a week, but you may need to be realistic about your time.
  3. Make sure you have the right shoes! This is something I’ve learned the hard way. Before January last year, I ordered a random pair of trainers off a sports website and these were fine for casual running. However, once I upped my mileage, these shoes caused me a very painful problem: shin splints. After two weeks of literally being unable to walk as I couldn’t bend my foot properly to walk down the stairs, I realised I needed to sort my running shoes out ASAP! I then went to Runners Need in Clapham and they sorted me out with a brilliant pair of Nike Vomeros which I swear by for neutral runners doing long distances. Runners Need, or any other decent running shop, will film you running on the treadmill, confirm what type of runner you are and then give you a selection of trainers to choose from. Please save yourself time and injury and do this before you start training… unlike me!
  4. Nutrition is key. Honestly, this is still something I struggle with but I’m definitely getting better. After my long runs I used to feel so awful, worse than a hangover, and the last thing I’d want to do is eat but it’s really important to refuel. The refuelling needs to start on the run too. You need to find a gel that works for you, although this is easier said than done, I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve been sick on my run thanks to a gel! When you finish your long run, you need to have some sort of recovery drink, again this is personal but anything with electrolytes and protein in will work perfectly. After this, you need to drink water throughout the day as you will be very dehydrated after running from 2-3 hours. When you can stomach it, eat as healthily as possible, it’s so tempting to eat junk food because, let’s face it, you’ve earned it! However, it won’t make you feel better in the long run. I normally have some sort of fish with potato or rice and vegetables. This takes practice though!
  5. Recovery is as important as training. Recovery doesn’t just mean rest days. Recovery means really looking after yourself both physically and mentally. There are two things you must invest in: Epsom Salts and a foam roller. It’s so important to properly stretch after your runs, I would often find a stretching for runners video on YouTube to mix things up a bit and to ensure I was stretching for long enough. Foam roll as often as you can, I foam roll before I run now as it’s something that really helped me sort out my shin splints. A long bath in Epsom Salts can really help relieve the muscle pain too, you need to use around 500grams for it to be effective though. Finally, training for a marathon is so mentally demanding, take time to be proud of yourself, remind yourself why you’re doing this, boast about your achievements to your friends and family. How many people can say they’ve done the same? For me, I also I find relaxation in yoga and meditation but I know that isn’t for everyone.Happy running guys and good luck for the big day!Amy ❤

From Parkrun Jogger to Podium Finisher: My Year in Running.

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In January last year I made the decision to end the unhealthy relationship I had with exercise. I decided I would no longer obsess over every calorie I ate, every 1lb I lost or gained. I would no longer surround myself with personal trainers whose main goal is to break you in every session, and I don’t just mean physically.

Instead, I decided to focus on running and I casually signed up to the Edinburgh Marathon with the aim of completing it in 4 hours. It was hit and miss as to whether I would make it to the start line with almost 5 weeks off, thanks to a relentless stream of injuries. You name it, I had it! However, I made it to the start line and completed it in 4:04 and knocked 54 minutes off my London Marathon time 5 years previously. Since recovering from Edinburgh, my running has continued to improve and I wanted to write this post to share some of my tips with you. I do think it’s only fair to admit though that I do have a running coach, and a world-class one at that.

 

18646230_205734153281056_2048736646148390912_nBefore January 2017, these were my current PBs:

5k: 23:34

10k: 51:26

Half Marathon: 1:58

Marathon: 4:58
You will notice that my 5k probably seems out of place with my other times, but that’s because alongside HIIT training, I used to do a social Parkrun at least once a month. My first ever Parkrun was around 31 minutes at Reigate Priory Parkrun which is a bit of a mud bath/hill fest, but you can get an idea of my fitness level at that time.

As of January 2018, these are my current PBs:

5k: 20.19

10k: 43:06 (3rd Lady!)

Half Marathon: 1:36.01

Marathon: 4:04

Now to the less self indulgent part…. how did I improve?

Firstly: Consistency. I went from running once a week to consistently running 4 times a week and now I currently run 6/7 times a week. I upped my mileage from 3/4 miles a week gradually and now I consistently run 35-40 miles per week.

Secondly: Speed sessions. Each week I do at least 2 but ideally 3 speed sessions. These will always involve a 1 mile or 10 minute warm up, 3-4 miles of intervals and then a 1 mile or 10 minute cool down. At weekends, I will often do a Parkrun or race which I find a great way to keep myself motivated.

Thirdly: Joining a running club. This has been instrumental in my progress. Not only because I have made some great friends, but because I now have an amazing support network at any time of day just by opening WhatsApp! Running clubs also run training sessions throughout the week and social runs or races at weekends. What more could you ask for?

XC

I’m going to end this post here, but I could discuss running forever and I will be posting again very soon. I hope you enjoyed my first post and found some of my tips useful. Watch this space!

I’m on Strava (Amy Rollason) or Instagram (amygrollason) if you want to follow my journey.