Pancakes and more multi-purpose runs

Where has the week gone? I had forgotten how busy the start of term can be!

On Wednesday it was drizzling when I headed up to the Sweatshop run, and I didn’t think that many people would come. I was quite impressed with the turn out in the end. We opted for a lap of the fields as pretty soon it will be dark so we won’t be able to go there. This meant that we were a bit more exposed to the wind and rain, but it was pretty enjoyable. I ran with my brother and another girl and we chatted most of the way around- I felt that it was sort of comfortably hard if that makes sense?

Before my run I tried the Maple Peanut Protein bar from my sports nutribox. It was OK- it was a weird light green colour (due to the pea protein) and although it didn’t taste particularly sweet, it did leave me with my teeth feeling a bit funny. But it didn’t give me tummy issues or anything during the run, and helped bridge the gap between lunch at 12.30 and dinner at 7.30.

On Thursday we had a late meeting at work (not starting until 7pm). Some people were going to go home but I thought that I would not want to go back out again! Plus the traffic can be a bit of a nightmare. So I was planning on going to Starbucks for a bit of a break, but then someone told me it is closed for a refurb! Oh no! In the end I drove to the one half way home and had a chai latte and a caramel shortcake (I was hoping for a cinnamon roll but they had none- boo) and did a bit of paperwork. It was good to have a bit of a break I think- gave me a second wind to last the evening.

On Friday I had the Peanut Bounce ball for a post-work snack. The flavour was good but it was so chewy! I have liked having a variety of snacks this week- often I order a big box of nakd bars and have them as snacks but they can get a bit boring. Then I went on a short run (3.5 miles) in the rain. I think the thought of running in the rain is much worse than when you get out there. I have been wearing my tennis visor which slightly helps keep some rain off my glasses, and psychologically it makes me feel a little drier, as does wearing a t-shirt instead of a vest. Not sure why! I really enjoyed it though, in fact I have loved all my runs this week. I am back to feeling strong again and sort of where I left off before my holiday.

The weather is so much colder now, but one good thing means I can wear my new PJ’s! (The ones with the bears on them)

Although they are a little long for me!

I had a couple of dates to eat this morning- I was going out for runs before breakfast but have recently started having dates with some water before I go out to give me a little boost- then I downloaded the new Marathon Talk podcast, got ready and headed out into yet more drizzle. My plan was 8 miles, but last weekend I did 7.9 so I really wanted to do a bit more. I did the slightly longer loop that goes through the town centre, and took my debit card with me to get some money out- love these multitasking runs (although I prefer the blackberry picking). The weather was fine and I felt good as I neared home so added a little loop on the end to total 8.8 miles.

Of course pancakes were on my breakfast menu! More Orgran buckwheat pancakes (I love these so much!) – I cooked an apple and some blackberries in a little coconut oil, coconut sugar and cinnamon- this was such a delicious combination. Plus a ginger peach tea (so delicious but I have to order on i-herb as I have not found a UK company that makes it).

Ahem. I was indeed tempted yet again by the Thoosa sale. My excuse? Well, when we went skiing the zip broke on one pair of my running tights (I was trying to zip them over my thick socks…), and you can’t have too many running tops can you? I also caved in and ordered the pretty dress from Fat Face- back to school treats!

Do you ever multi-task on your runs? It’s quite satisfying to tick off a job at the same time!

What autumnal foods are you looking forward to? I had ordered some bramley apples today to have baked apples, but they didn’t come so I shall have to wait another week.

PS: The folks at Nutribox have set up a discount code: RUNNINGCUPCAKES which will give you 35% off your first box (and they do a vegan option).

 I was sent a nutribox in exchange for a review but I won’t get any discounts if you use the code. 

Stinging nettles attack!

So after work today I headed out for a run- I watched the weather last night and saw it was meant to be dry here until the evening, so was planning in leaving work sooner than usual, but I forgot! By the time I was driving home it was drizzling heavily, so I had to dig out my tennis visor and a t-shirt (too cold for a vest now).

Photo: Not a bad amount of blackberries :)

Recently I have seen lots of blackberry bushes covered in berries so I took a bag with me and decided to scope out the bushes on the first lap of the route, and then stop to pick them on the second lap. Great idea, but it turns out that blackberries grow by stinging nettles, and I noticed this too late! Capris and a t-shirt meant that my ankles, hands and arms were all attacked by nettles! Plus as it was raining once I stopped I got quite cold- I think I stopped after about 4 miles, so I was nice and warm (and the bushes sheltered me from the worst of the rain) but I stopped for about 15 minutes (well, with some running between bushes), and even though I then had a half mile run back home I was super cold! I was going to bake the berries  (or cook them in a pan to make a sort of sauce to have with porridge) this evening but I didn’t get home until 7, so I am going to save that for another day.

After a shower and some dinner I had a cup of tea and some cherry and marzipan cake to accompany my marking- loads of cherries in that slice!

I was also lucky enough to receive a Sports Nutrition box from the folks at Nutribox for me to review. It is meant to have a good balance of snacks containing protein, carbohydrate and fats, and they all look right up my street. I have had the Bounce ball before (those coconut and macadamia ones are amazing) but I don’t think I have tried any of the other items so I am looking forward to trying them all over the next few weeks.

Right, I am off to watch the Bake Off now.

Are you digging out your autumnal workout clothes now? I find it so hard to know what to wear as when I get home I am often cold, but I know that I will probably warm up once I start.

Weekend baking

When I got back from my holiday I found waiting for me a parcel from Orgran, containing two boxes of their Buckwheat pancake mix for me to try.

Buckwheat flour, despite the name, is wheat and gluten free, is actually a seed, and a member of the rhubarb family, so good for anyone with coeliacs or people who avoid wheat or gluten (or if you want to stop being so reliant on wheat). The mix contains rice flour as well as buckwheat flour, plus raising agents, so all you have to do is add liquid and egg. You can make these pancakes with eggs, milk and water, or make them vegan by using egg replacer and dairy free milk, and instructions for both ways are on the packet.

Last weekend I tried them with eggs and almond milk and they cooked so well. I kept the batter thick for smaller american style pancakes, and had them with some watermelon, peanut butter and cherry jam (and I think a little maple syrup – looks like it in the picture!). They were delicious and so easy to make- I was so impressed.

This morning after my run I tried the vegan version- I have their egg replacer in my cupboard anyway (for if I have not been given eggs from my Mum for a while) so I used that, and Alpro light soya milk. I made the batter more runny, and so ended up making bigger almost crepe style pancakes. I served them with a nectarine that I cooked in a little coconut oil and with some coconut sugar. Amazing. I am still working through the first box, but I can see these becoming a weekend staple for me. I can’t decide which way I prefer, although they are the easiest big pancakes I have ever made- they flipped so easily.

I was also sent some liquid Better Stevia. They also sent me a recipe for peanut butter cookies, but unfortunately it needed powdered stevia and not liquid, and although I looked on the internet I was not 100% sure how to sub them (many sites warned at how sweet it was- 300x sweeter than sugar!) so I found this recipe for chocolate pb cookies instead. Now, I have had a few things containing stevia before, although not on purpose. When I was in America a few years ago I bought some iced tea which turned out to have stevia in there, and I found it had a really weird after taste, sort of metallic or something. But then last year I was given some chocolate sweetened with Stevia for my birthday (from the lovely Lucy) and it was really good- I wonder if the US products I tried had just too much in there?

The recipe I had chosen looked simple enough (peanut butter, eggs, cocoa powder, coconut, coconut sugar, a few tbs flour and a few other add ins), and only needed 12 drops of the stevia so I was hoping they would not be too sweet.

I shared one with Andy (I am taking the rest to work, but wanted to check they tasted OK first)- they were good, although I could not taste the coconut very much so if I make them again I could add more, or maybe sprinkle some on the top.

Finally I have sliced up the cake ready for Sunday tea- this is the Cherry, Almond and Marzipan cake, with slivered almonds sprinkled on the top for some crunch, plus a dusting of icing sugar to add to the prettiness.

I am also pretty excited as the Sainsbury’s blogger community sent me some tickets to the Cake and Bake show, so next Sunday I am heading there with some friends to marvel at all the cake and baking accessories.

Have you tried buckwheat or Stevia before? What did you think? Also, what else can I do with the liquid Stevia?

Gorgeous day for a Parkrun

I hope you have all had a lovely week- the time has flown by!

At the moment this cherry, marzipan and almond tray bake is cooking in the oven- smells wonderful.

So after a busy day at work (takes a while to adjust!) I was off to the Sweatshop run on Wednesday. It ended up being really tough- I was right at the back but our first mile was 8.44 which was a bit fast bearing in mind it was hot, I was tired and had to save some energy to run home after. I eased off a bit but I found it hard, especially the final mile and a bit. I had such jelly legs jogging home.

After a quick shower and dinner we were off to the cinema to see The Lone Ranger (I enjoyed it more than I thought I would)- I was so concious of keeping my legs moving as I didn’t want to stiffen up so ended up being a right old fidget bottom.

I went to pump on Thursday and it was better than last week, although now it is not on for the next 2 weeks as the instructor is away. No chance of getting into a routine just yet! Before I went I had seen on Laura’s blog frozen dates with nut butter so I made some up to have after- they were so delicious. But not very photogenic!

Yesterday I had a rest day, and then this morning I was off to Parkrun. What a beautiful morning it was. The sun had come out, but it was still quite cool and breezy. I picked up my Dad and brother as usual. My Dad was going to take it easy, but after half a mile he headed off on front of me and I was left with my own thoughts (and breathing noises) for company. The lake looked so pretty, and quite a few leaves have started falling off the trees. At one point the breeze was quite strong to run into, but for the final stretch it was behind me. I pushed pretty hard (felt a bit sick near the end) – don’t have my time yet though (although I know it wasn’t my fastest).

The breeze was cooling, so I did think I should have packed a jumper to wear in the car on the way home, especially as I stopped to see my Mum and ended up chatting for ages. I think it was 10.30 when I got home, so I had an apple right away before my shower as I was starting to feel hungry.

I made us some acai bowls to share (blended frozen banana, cherries and blueberries with a little soya milk, some acai powder- optional but it reminds us of Hawaii- and a little BlueberryActive to amp up the antioxidant count).

Sprinkled with plenty of muesli- what a delicious breakfast (brunch?).

After some work I made a lovely easy lunch- toasted sourdough with mashed avocado, cherry tomatoes, a little lime squeezed on there and a drizzle of basil olive oil.

Tomorrow is my next long run (and I have pancakes for breakfast planned), so hopefully this lovely weather will continue.

What have you been up to this week?

Magic Mile 2013

Hey everyone!

So on Sunday I remembered that I needed to do my Magic Mile this week. Thankfully, participation counts for more than the age graded time, as I know I am not a speedy runner. The last time I did the Magic Mile was back in 2011, when I somehow managed to run 7.53! Back then there was a perfect loop opposite my house- pavement (and a cycle path, so nice and wide) with no roads or entrances on it. I had to measure it on the internet, as back then I didn’t have a Garmin either, and so it was a bit less scientific- I had to run the loop one and a third I think (the mile was as accurate as I could get it). Anyway, since then the land in the middle of the loop has been turned into a distribution centre, so there are now two big entrances busy with lorries- not ideal for “sprinting” past.

In the end I settled on a route about half a mile away- it was an out and back route, which is not perfect, but better than having to cross roads and driveways etc. After work on Monday I jogged/ walked up there, to warm up, and then went for it. I decided to aim for 8 minute miles, and see if I could manage to hang on. Surprisingly, I nearly managed it. I was gasping at the end (and I found it a bit strange as I was sprinting until my Garmin beeped, instead of heading towards a finish line- hard to know exactly when to push)- my final time was 8.12. I was very glad I had chosen a shady route, and then walked over to the allotment to do some watering (yes with a watering can and not just with my sweat).

I also picked a handful of raspberries which I had on my breakfast this morning- delicious!

Alongside breakfast I had some blueberry iced tea. I was sent some BlueberryActive from the lovely folks and CherryActive, and I had tried it as you are meant to have it (diluted with water)- it was good but I fancied a fruity iced tea, so I made up some black tea with cherry (yes, it would probably taste better with CherryActive!) and then left it to cool, and in the morning poured it into the glass along with the blueberry juice and some ice cubes. I am looking forward to trying it in a smoothie too, before I do a “proper” review.

So, my magic mile time this year was slower than my time two years ago. I thought I might be disappointed, but I am not really. Partly I think last time I did it the mile I measured might not have been accurate, but also because last time I had been training regularly. I could take it that I have slowed down, but I know that is not true either. Since then my half marathon time has come down a lot, my 10K time has improved, and Parkruns are showing me that I can be at least consistent with a faster 5K time. I think the proper idea of the magic mile is to do some proper speed training, but as it fell right after a holiday that was never going to happen. My best 5K time at Parkrun is 27.12 (a time I have managed twice to the second!), and for that I have to run 8.45 minute miles, so I knew I could go quicker than that as it is a shorter distance. I managed it 30 seconds quicker, which I have decided is not too bad.

Today I was going to have a run after work, but I was shattered! I would normally have a rest day after a long run, and although my run on Sunday was not that long, it was further than I had been for a few weeks. As I have had stiff legs getting back into it I didn’t want to make it worse, and I want to be able to manage the Sweatshop run tomorrow.

I feel like I have not got into a proper routine yet- I like to know I am doing Pump on this day, long run on that day, and at the moment I keep changing things up, which can be good but it also means I get confused about how many runs I have been on (I was planning on running Mon, Tues, Wed, Sat and Sun, and when I worked that out I realised I would probably get too tired as I normally do 3 or 4 runs per week). I like things to be neat!

Do you like a routine or do you change things up each week?