Workout playlist

I tend to either run with nothing, or listen to podcasts. But when I first started running I loved to have music playing (mainly to drown out the sound of my alarming heavy breathing). I even ran my first couple of races with a headphone in one ear. Pure Gym are running a competition to find out about dream playlists.

I do love going to Body Pump, and one of the reasons is the music. There are usually lots of tracks that I don’t like (I’m talking to you, All About the Base abs track) but there are also plenty that I like- these often end up being the biceps track. So, the songs I like are usually more like rock music- a faster paced song with lyrics I can sing along to (the weird bottle-filling-up track of the current release is so annoying). And yes, I do sing along- the volume is up high during the class!

So, here are a few that I would be having if Les Mills ever phones me (unlikely, but best to be prepared):

Ash were a band that got me through many runs- I had their Supersonic 7’s on my little mp3 player- it got me through my first 10K and first half marathon, and there are so many great songs to choose from, but I think I will go for Burn Baby Burn to get me in the mood for working out (because my muscles are gonna Burn baby).

The Killers- Somebody Told Me – I can sing along to the high bits before I get too out of breath!

Muse- Uprising or Knights of Cydonia (it builds like the pain of lactic acid!)

Hard Fi- Hard to Beat (Just like this playlist eh?)

Kasabian- Club Foot (to remind me not to drop a weight on my foot?)

Bryan Adams (I always think this is Bon Jovi for some reason)- Summer of 69. This was a Body Pump track, and our instructor used to sing “ain’t no use in complaining, when you’ve got some squats to do”- it was the squats track. That amused me. Plus, I like a bit of cheese every now and then.

I am having another Ash track in there- the genius of Kung Fu. This was near the end of the album, and gave me a big boost to keep on running (and pick up the pace a bit).

You have to have a bit of The Foo Fighters in there somewhere, so All My Life gets in.

For the cool down, one of my favourite tracks from Body Pump was another version of Careless Whisper, apparently by Badlands. So often the cool down tracks are some sort of annoying ballad that gets stuck in my head. So this one was great

When writing this post, I have been most amused by the crazy You-Tube comments- anyone who has seen Bug by Adam Buxton would be familiar with them already, but seriously this could amuse me for hours on end.

This is an entry to the Pure Gym Playlist competition- Terms and Conditions are here.

Ginger orange tights

I love running gear, that is no secret. So when I was offered the chance to sample a pair of running tights from Ginger Orange, of course I agreed.

They are a start up company, based in London, that specialise in women’s active wear. Taken from their website:

At Ginger Orange we provide immaculate activewear which is manufactured to the highest quality standards, using premium performance fabrics which flatter your figure. We design sportswear for all women who enjoy the active life and engage in various workouts ranging from yoga, pilates to spinning, running and everything in between. Our carefully selected fabrics provide excellent moisture management, shape retention and anti-pilling qualities that increase the durability and comfort of the clothing.

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Their leggings include plain ones, and some very funky patterns (that look like tattoos- Laura and Tamzin the sailor ones reminded me of you girls!). Check out here for the designs.

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I chose some plain purple ones, as I thought I would wear them more often. They have a lovely thick waistband which is really comfy (and the orange pattern is a lovely change to most plain ones). I have not worn them running yet, as it is too warm for long tights, but I have worn them for squats, calf raises and other bits like that at home and they have been lovely and comfortable. The fabric is nice and soft. I chose the medium size, and I think the guide is pretty accurate (the size guide says 10-12). It is a shame that at the moment they only go up to a large, which is size 14 according to their chart. But perhaps once they have been going for a bit longer they might expand the size range. They were nice and long- way too long for me, but the fabric was easy to pull up so that they didn’t cover my feet.

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I tried to show in the photo that I could have them at their full length, or shorter to suit me when I run.

As with all workout leggings, I would always favour a zipped pocket that could fit my front door key in, but I do carry a little waist pack for my phone, so I would still wear them outside.

They have created a discount code: runningcupcake10off if you fancy ordering a pair for yourself.

* I was sent the tights in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.

More tail running and some TV

This weekend I was again off to do parkrun. Because of the summer, they were short on volunteers, as a lot of the regulars were away, so I had offered to do the tail running. My brother had decided to run it, so I did let him know he might be waiting for me for a while at the end, but luckily he didn’t mind.

Before we started, I had a quick chat with some of the club ladies- some of them were doing their very first 5k which was fantastic. One of them mentioned that I could give them encouragement from the back, but I don’t think they realised how far behind I would be!

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This field is full of sheep and lambs – later on we run down through it, towards the lake.

It was again, such a beautiful day. There was a couple walking (their children were running, and they had decided to come along and see what it was all about) so I had time to stop and take photos, as well as collect up the signs.

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It was quite blustery, so in some places the signs had blown out of their metal clips. I was glad I knew the route so knew where to look out for the km markers and arrows.

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One of the marshals near the end ran back with me- she had been stood by this lake, which might be the prettiest spot. It’s a hard call!

In the end we reached the end in 53 minutes (53.01 was the official time)- we both went through the finish chute with the lady walker and showed her how it all worked. I think she was converted to visiting the park another time, and perhaps coming to parkrun again.

That was parkrun number 45 for me- getting closer to the 50!

I ended up walking loads on Saturday, because we had to walk a couple of miles to collect a parcel, and then later went into town and had another walk around. I went out for dinner with some friends (and then went to The Pudding Stop for dessert). Sadly, none of us could finish ours! Mine was a brownie with salted caramel sauce and peanut butter- so good, and brilliant running fuel (maybe).

This morning I had agreed to go on a club run- they meet at 8am on Sundays, and I have only been a couple of times. I generally don’t set an alarm on Sundays, and just head out when I wake up, but I was promised a lovely route, plus there was rain forecast so I thought I could get out before it started, and at least have company if it did rain.

The route was very pretty- tracks, field, stiles to climb and country roads, a few very tough hills but because there was a group of us we would wait at the top to catch our breath and enjoy the views. The rain started gently at first, after about 6 miles, and then for the final mile it got harder and harder, but at least we had the end in sight by then. I was so cold by the time I got home (and I had packed a jumper in my car to wear for the drive home).

After a hot shower, pancakes, hot tea (that sounds so American!) and 30 Rock I was feeling a bit warmer.

Oh, and some exciting TV news- first of all, if you subscribe to Amazon Prime, The Amazing Race (actually a good reality TV show- teams race around the world and complete challenges along the way) is going to be on there. And, I saw an advert for Parks and Rec on Dave starting this Monday I think- (you can see Chris Pratt before he was big…)- Amy Poehler is in it, which is basically like saying Tina Fey is in it, which means it is brilliant. I think I have linked to the “Treat Yo-self” day before. So, if you want some fun TV, give either of those a go.

Any TV shows that you love? We have been watching old 30 Rock episodes again, and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (look here for some crazy quotes for some idea of how bizarre it is…)- they are always guaranteed to lift my mood and have me laughing out loud.

Lamp post intervals and summer time!

Hooray! It’s summer time!

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On Monday I was surprised by this beautiful bunch of flowers from the parents of my class- how kind.

The last few days of term were pretty stressful- there is always so much to do and time starts running out! But we are finished now, hooray! I usually have a meeting on Tuesday, but not this week, so I was home in plenty of time before heading out to the running club.

We had been warned last week that we would be doing intervals as for the last few weeks we have had lovely longer runs (5-6 miles). This was going to be shorter, but tougher.

We did a gentle run as a warm up, and then along a long straight stretch of uphill, we had to walk (high knees, long arms) to one lamppost, jog (arms at 90 degrees) to the next and sprint to the final one, repeated until we got to the top. It was tough, and you realise that you actually do need the walking breaks to get your breath back. Although I was very worried about tripping and falling. At one point I got up to 5.41 mm ( of course, only for a short distance). Checking on Strava after, I could see that I am getting faster on this route overall.

I was getting told off for hunching my shoulders up- I know I do it, but I can’t help it!

After getting to the top, we had to run back in the same way, but instead of the sprint being for one section, we had to go for as long as we could. The first time we did that, my sprint apparently turned into a run. So for the second one as I ran past our leader I shouted out “am I sprinting?”- apparently if you can say that, you are not. Need to work on that I think!

Afterwards my legs were really sore- we did loads of stretching but I was feeling the effects on Wednesday.

I would usually run on Wednesday, but my legs were sore in the morning, and I felt headachey (I think sometimes after evening runs I find it hard to re-hydrate enough) so I mooched around at home and had a couple of walks during the day. I had a sports massage booked for the evening which I badly needed (my shoulders just crunch when I roll them)- he told me after “it’s like working on a table” because they were so stiff!

2015-07-23 07.20.59On Thursday morning I headed out for a run before going to work- I wore a pair of my new capris and was very excited to see that they matched my trainers (nearly). I did some squats and calf raises (homework from my run leader) before the run. It was lovely- nice and cool, and loads of stretches after helped my poor interval-sore legs.

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I spent the day in work, clearing out rubbish from my classroom (it is amazing what accumulates over the year)- I took a little graze dipper with me (the red pepper salsa one- yum) and a cereal bar, but didn’t think to take a proper lunch. On my way home I had to stop and walk to collect a parcel from the amazon locker.

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I was hot, and thirsty, and tired (I had not sat down all day) so I went to Costa (as I had to walk past it after collecting the parcel). I have tried one of their iced chai lattes before, when we saw Jurassic World at the cinema, but it wasn’t good- they made it with powder so it was all lumpy, and took them ages to make. Anyway, the mint choc soya cooler ended up tempting me. Now, it was good, sort of like drinking melted mint choc ice cream, but it was not the best choice- I had to take most of it home and share it with Andy. Also, that is a small! It’s huge!

Thursday evening was Body Pump- I was worried that I would find it harder because my shoulders were sore from the massage, but actually it was better. I think I had left it too long this time. Although the lunges track is so tough- you have to bounce, and I have no idea why, but it makes it so much harder.

When checking Strava for the matched runs, I noticed that I have run over 600 miles already this year! Although marathon training at the start of the year upped my mileage, and I have not been running as much since then. I was impressed with that though.

What are your summer plans?


Keeping active at work

I think we all know by now that being active during the day is better for us than being sedentary for most, and then doing an hour of exercise at some point. But that is easier said than done.

I was contacted by Simplyhealth to see if I could come up with some tips for staying active at work- they have written their own piece about it here. As a teacher I tend to be fairly active anyway- I use my Garmin vivofit to see and my activity peaks between 8-9am (setting up the classroom), 12-1pm (tidying away from the morning/ getting ready for the afternoon) and 4-5pm (putting things away, getting things ready for the next day), and of course once the children are in I might sit for a bit, but am generally standing or walking around. When I am out of class I tend to be sat at a computer planning and catching up on paperwork, and that is what I need to be aware of. My tips are pretty specific to teachers / teaching assistants I am afraid!

Don’t sit when you can stand

This has been mentioned a lot recently, but it is so important to stand when you can. I have tried to make sure I do this more now. Sometimes I do have to sit (if I am working with a group at a table, reading a story or working at a computer in the workroom), but other times I can easily stand, so I try to make sure that I do. I am lucky that the teacher computer in my classroom is on a cupboard, so when I am checking emails or setting up things for lessons, I have to stand at it.

Don’t stand when you can walk

Teachers all have to take their turn on the playground, and it is easy to end up standing in the same place for the whole of play/lunch time. But walking laps of the playground means you can see more of the playground, will probably interact with more children, and you will get your body moving more.

Join in!

If you are doing a PE lesson, don’t just direct from the side- join in with the activities (obviously, you need to make sure you can see the class/ keep them safe/ not get so out of breath that you can’t give instructions etc.)- even if you are joining in with the warm up it is better than nothing. If you are singing “Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”, then do the actions along with the children.

Take the stairs

My school is all on one floor, but I sometimes go on courses at a training centre that has an upper floor. There is a lift, but there are also stairs, and honesty every time I go there I am shocked by the number of people waiting for the lift! Fair enough if you have a lot to carry, but it’s one flight of stairs!

Wear comfy shoes

If you are going to be walking or standing a lot, then wear shoes that support your feet properly. If your feet ache after an hour, you are not going to want to stand for the rest of the day.

Get some fresh air

Although teachers typically don’t like playground duty, in fact it is great to get some fresh air in the middle of the day- especially in the winter when you go to and from work in the dark. So volunteer if you are needed! Sometimes we even manage a short walk at lunch time, but usually we are too busy rushing about to have time for one, but on the odd occasion we manage it, I always feel much better afterwards.

So, there are a few of my tips. Hopefully you might be able to apply one or two to your job!

Do you stand or walk a lot in your job? If you have a desk job, how do you fit activity into your day? Does your place of work encourage you to be active?

Simplyhealth asked me to write this post, but all opinions are my own. I will receive a gift in exchange for writing this post.