I am looking forward to my Graze box coming this week. I signed up to this a while ago and now have a box every fortnight. I love the range of nuts and dried fruit that they have (check out the website- they do so many yummy mixes- a personal fave of mine is “dark rocky road” which is a mix of pecans, dried cranberries and dark chocolate buttons- heaven!). If I bought the same ingredients on my own I think I would get bored before I ate the whole pack (plus to get the variety I would end up with an overflowing cupboard looking like a shelf from Julian Graves or something!). I often have a pack (or share one) after a run as they make a good snack (in my opinion); the mix of nuts (protein to repair muscles) and dried fruit (sugary carbs to replace the lost energy) make me feel better especially after a long run. The other week I had a punnet called “tropical praline” with dried mango, mini chocolate coated hazelnuts and green raisins (which tasted fairly similar to normal raisins but still very tasty!).
Their customer service is also great; I have emailed them several times and they reply very quickly and always sort any issues out really well. If you want to try it for yourself you can go to www.graze.co.uk and enter code KKJX34J at the checkout and get yourself a free box and your next box half price (and then you can cancel if you don’t want any more).
Beginners starting out
So while on my run yesterday I got to thinking about when I first started out running. Just under 2 years ago I signed up to do the Race for Life, and decided that for myself I wanted to run it. I had done it before and walked the course, raised money and so on. But for myself I wanted to see if I could run it, having never been a runner before. I am sure I am similar to many other runners in that I didn’t like PE at school (although I was active, doing cycling, tennis, walking and swimming with my family and friends); I even walked the cross country when I was 11 as I found running so hard. At secondary school I was the person who “filled in” at sports day and did the ones that no-one wanted to do (shot put anyone?). I am not including this for sympathy or anything like that, just to show you where I started really. I followed a training plan which I cut out from a magazine (not even sure which magazine, Zest maybe) and followed it to the day. It involved 3 runs every week, and I stuck to the plan to the letter, getting up at 6am some days to have a run before going to work if I knew I could not fit it in the evening. Each week the first run would be hard (the first plan was to run for one minute and walk for 1.5, and by the end of the first minute of running I was gasping for breath- I have since learnt to pace myself!), the second one would be ok as I knew what to expect, and the third run would be great as I would know for sure that I would be able to complete it. Then the following week I would worry about not achieving the new distance, and be so proud of myself when each week I would manage it. I had given myself a few extra weeks so that if I needed to repeat a week then I would have the time, but in fact the training plan was great and to my amazement I made it. I was so proud of myself for completing the 5K (3.1 mile course) in around 35 minutes without walking once!
I did think that I would train for the race, do the race and then stop. But I had found that I really enjoyed running! I loved to load songs onto my mp3 player and head off with music to listen to, and my thoughts all to myself. I kept up running all through the winter, and now cannot imagine not getting outside and enjoying the fresh air.
For anyone that is tempted to start running I would say go for it (with Doctors permission etc)!
Below is a simplified version of the training plan that I followed:
Each week do 3 runs.
Week 1 Run for 1 min, walk for 90 seconds 8 times = 20 minutes
Week 2 Run for 2 minutes, walk for 90 seconds 7 times = 24.5 minutes
Week 3 Run for 3 minutes, walk for 90 seconds 6 times = 27 minutes
Week 4 Run for 5 minutes, walk for 90 seconds 4 times = 26 minutes
Week 5 Run for 5 minutes, walk for 1 minute 4 times = 24 minutes
Week 6 Run for 8 minutes, walk for 90 seconds 3 times = 28.5 minutes
Week 7 Run for 10 minutes, walk for 1 minute 3 times = 33 minutes
Week 8 Run for 15 minutes, walk for 1 minute 2 times = 23 minutes
Now you are ready to run a 5k race!!!
I have been getting into baking bread recently (without the use of a bread making machine). I love Dove’s Farm Malthouse Flour, and often make bread by adding rosemary, sundried tomatoes or other flavours. I have some cream cheese that needs using up, so decided to make cinnamon and raisin bread (I love anything to do with cinnamon!). So here goes:
Cinnamon and Raisin Bread
In a bowl I put 200g Malthouse flour, 1 level tsp yeast, pinch of salt, pinch of sugar, and some cinnamon. I mixed it all together then slowly added around 150ml warm water (I add a bit, mix it in, add more if it needs it and so on).
While the dough was still “craggy” I put it on the board and kneaded it for ages. Then I left it to rise covered with a tea towel. Meanwhile I put about 30g raisins in a bowl and poured on warm water (to plump them up) and also sprinkled some cinnamon in there for good luck. You can never have too much cinnamon.
Once the dough had risen (about an hour or so) I kneaded in the drained raisins. I added a little more flour as the raisins made it go a bit soft. Then I left it to rise once more while the oven warmed up.
It baked in an oven (around 200C) for 25 minutes, making the whole house smell amazing.
Once cooled I sliced it and spread with cream cheese. It tastes similar to a bagel- yum.
Since Christmas I have been working my way through the recipes in the The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook. There has been a banana lurking on the side of the fruit bowl getting browner and browner (and I only like bananas that are still green) so today decided to try the banana and chocolate cupcakes. When I read the recipe I noticed that the only chocolate element was the chocolate frosting, so I have adapted it a bit and made even more delicious:
Peanut butter, white chocolate and banana cupcakes.
In a bowl I mixed 120g plain flour, 140g caster sugar, 1 tbs baking powder, cinnamon (lots) and ginger with a pinch of salt. Then added 40g sunflower spread and 40g peanut butter and mixed up until it looked like sand. Then I poured in 120ml semi skimmed milk, 2 whisked eggs, vanilla extract and that banana (mashed up). Finally I added in 50g white chocolate chips. I spooned the mix into silicone baking cases (all pretty colours) and into the oven (170C) for 22 minutes.
They are cooling on the wire rack now and smell amazing!
Monday 5th April
After my long run yesterday I didn’t know if I would manage a run at all. I had jobs to do in the morning, plus some work this afternoon. But the weather has stayed fine (well, if cloudy skies and lots of wind is fine) and I won’t be able to run again until Sunday, so decided on a short one this afternoon. It was hard work! I managed 4 miles but why is it that 4 miles when I am tired is harder than 8 miles when I am rested?
Anyway have had a shower now, and am looking forward to dinner and maybe a peanut banana cupcake later on.
Sunday 4th April
After breakfast I got ready for my long run (as I am training for my second half marathon in the summer). I had planned 8 miles and took a nak’d cocoa orange bar with me in case I needed a snack. It looked like it was about to pour, so I was not sure if I would make the whole route or cut it short. I have a loop which is around 6 miles; I was planning on running to the 4 mile mark and then re-tracing my steps, but having the option of only 6 miles if the weather turned awful. As it was the weather was fine; sunny at times, cloudy at times but it didn’t rain. I managed the run in 89 minutes which I was pleased with as 11 minute miles is a good pace for me to maintain for that time. Once I got home I had a trek mixed berry bar (as I didn’t eat my nak’d bar en route) and spent the day pottering about at home (in the kitchen making cupcakes) and in the garden. Even managed a walk after dinner, although I am feeling very stiff now!
Saturday 3rd April
The weather had forecast rain, including thundery showers (and before I have been caught in a hail storm and didn’t want that repeated), so when I woke up and saw that it was dry I decided to go for a quick run around the block. I managed 3.5 miles in 35 minutes, then home for muesli and a shower. Of course it didn’t actually rain all day! I could have taken my time and had a long run on Saturday! Oh well. Instead I did some gardening and went for a walk- making the most of the good weather.