What Running Over 50 Taught Me About Life

Nothing lasts forever

Everything ends eventually – as if at my age, I didn’t know that!

Even the biggest hills will have a downhill at some point. Life will forever have its ups and downs so always be ready for the next climb.

Achievement is actually quite simple

It all comes down to putting one foot in front of the other and not stopping until you get to where you want to be. Tiny steps.

Stick with it and you’ll see results. Don’t chop and change. Good things take time to show up.

Take time to appreciate the small things

Now more than ever. Soak it all in. Just stop awhile and enjoy your surroundings.

The best days running are the days when I make a point of focusing on the beauty around me.

Don’t put happiness on hold until you cross the finish line. Enjoy as much as you can along the way, even when the going gets tough.

Age is NOT just a number

I completely understand that much of the ageing process is about how you feel, and most of the time I still think like I’m in my twenties. But physically, you can’t and shouldn’t ignore the other stuff going on.

I see little point in pretending aging doesn’t exist, but we can work with it – the key now is to train smarter, listening very carefully to your body’s signals (it will soon let you know if it’s struggling!)

 Get up. Dress up. Show up.

Beginnings are hard. Starting anything new in life is be hard and it’s often especially difficult later in life if your experiences so far have not bolstered your confidence much.  You will need to invest lots of time and energy, and so many times you will want to give up.

Showing up is the most important part. As long as you keep showing up and taking action, you will get better.

It’s okay to be different

It doesn’t matter if everyone around you is sleek, young and fit – if you’re the oldest and perhaps likely to be the slowest on the field – you can still join in.

You don’t have to be Picasso to enjoy painting.

Work on your mind, as much as your body

You are not too old, too slow or too ‘rubbish at this’ as your little internal voice will insist on telling you. Your mind can be so cruel and will certainly quit on you before your body does.

Awhile back I was doing some hill work; running up the short hill as fast as I could and then slowly jogging back down. I was aiming to repeat this eight times but as I raced up on the sixth go, I honestly felt incapable of running another step. My legs and lungs were screaming and so was my mind: ‘I have to stop – no more, just no!’

I was about to quit when a couple of other (older!) runners came jogging down the hill towards me. And guess what? I found I did have a little extra to give after all!

My mind had convinced me that I absolutely had to stop, when there was obviously still fuel in the tank.

Be the master of your mindset.

There is no perfect time

There is no perfect time to do anything in life.

There is no perfect day to run. Every day you’ll encounter obstacles; rain, heat, tiredness, internal resistance.

Do it anyway.

At any age, your body is capable of much more than you imagine

Giving birth! I rest my case.

Seriously though, once you put your body to the test mentally or physically, it will astound you by pulling off more than you ever thought possible.

Who was it that said: ‘I thought it was impossible for me to run a mile, until I ran a mile’ ?

You have to run your own race

If you’ve been a runner for some time, you may feel that now you’re older, you’re falling behind and not performing as well as you used to, and perhaps that’s true. Never worry that folk seem to be overtaking you and hitting the finish line way ahead of you. Accept that things have changed. Learn to race against yourself, better what you’ve done before or if things aren’t working, aim to do something different.

Rain is AWESOME

After all those years of wrangling with blown out umbrellas and sweaty rain hoods, I’ve had an epiphany. Don’t fight the rain. Relax and embrace the storm. It’s liberating.

Breakfast is overrated

Just because everyone says you must, it doesn’t mean you should. Question things in life.

Remember to have fun

Running has brought so much laughter into my life. The Gorilla Run over London Bridge (google it, hilarious), a baby in a nappy, the legion run which is mud, mud and more mud. Have fun and laugh hard.

It’s never too late to start.

And when you do, you’ll find your tribe – a huge community to support you.

Homemade Energy Bars

Since I got into running I’ve become much more aware of how I fuel my body. I like to make my own energy bars to give me a boost pre or post running as I know exactly the kinds of super nutritious things that I’ve packed into them! I always put 3-4 in the fridge and freeze the rest. These bars were made by blitzing dates with 5 different types of nuts (use any you like) and a big handful of mixed seeds plus cocoa powder. Doesn’t everyone love a hint of chocolatey taste?!

These are UK measurements… into the food processor I put 250g pitted dates, 250g nuts (I used a mix of cashews, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts and a few brazil nuts I had). Then in went around 60g mixed seeds (I used a pack labelled ‘mixed seeds’) and 2 big spoons of cocoa powder. Then I blitzed it for a few minutes until it all came together and I could lift it into my hands to form a ball. I used a rolling pin to flatten it into a square then put it in the fridge for around 40 mins before cutting it into slices. I think it made 20 slices but I ate a couple as I was making it.

For a nut-free version try adding some oats or dessicated coconut (if you can eat that) – just something to bind well with the dates. Adding ginger could be great too. I’m always experimenting! Dates make such a good chewy base you could easily leave out the nuts and add something you prefer.

Have You Done a Virtual Race?

One of my daughters introduced me to the idea of virtual running and this medal is the result of my first 5K!

It’s only recently that I’ve stumbled on these type of ‘races’ but what a great idea, especially as a way for me and my 2 daughters to ‘run’ together even though we all live in different countries! The way it works is we choose a distance and medal to aim for then all agree a day and time to run it ‘together’. Once we’ve submitted evidence to show we’ve completed the challenge (which I did by sending a pic of my garmin) we receive the medals.

Your virtual race can be run (or walked)  from any location you choose.  You can run, jog, or walk on the road, on the trail, on the treadmill, at the gym or on the track (or even at another race). You get to run your own race, at your own pace, and time it yourself.  And your medal will be shipped directly to you. With many virtual racing sites, some of the proceeds go to charity. With my mojito run 20% of the proceeds from my medal purchase of £12 went to the nominated charity Home Start, which offers practical and emotional support to families with young children.

All you have to do is enter a race and provide evidence that you have done it. That’s it! So you could get a group of friends or family together, choose your challenge and then get on with completing it, either all at an agreed date and time if that works or everyone can complete it independently.

I did my mojito 5K with Virtual Running UK and submitted proof that I’d done it via a photo of my garmin watch face detailing my workout which I uploaded to their website. So you can send proof in the form of a screen shot from your phone of Strava, Garmin or any other tracking app route. Or send a photo from your phone from a fitbit, running watch or even google maps.

How do the company know you’ve actually done it? They don’t of course but why would you blag it? The only one you’d be deceiving would be yourself.

I’ve just completed my second one:

(20% of my entry fee went to Ellie’s Friends, a charity dedicated to improving the lives of adults (16+) living with cancer, all around the UK).

At the moment my daughter and I are doing the Beauty and the Beast Virtual Race together with Yes.Fit. (I say ‘together’ but she’s finished hers :-D).

This is how my dashboard looks:

The setting for Disney’s Beauty and the Beast was inspired by the beautiful villages in the Alsace region of France so I get a progress map of how far I’ve run 🙂

And here’s where I record my running:

And this shows you how far I’ve got!

I love the emails I receive when I’ve passed a mile marker; points I’ve just ‘run by’. This mile marker was near mile 24.0.

This was my progress pic for today…

and my mile marker – I’m ‘virtually’ near the village of Colmar!

Looking forward to this arriving…

Virtual running sites seem to be springing up all the time now. I guess the only downside I can see is that the prices can get a bit punchy sometimes. But it might be fun to get together with friends and do 1-2 a year?

Take a look at these sites and see how gorgeous the medals are! You can often buy T shirts too.

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Virtual Pace Series

The medals

Based in US, will ship internationally

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Virtual strides

The medals

Based in US, will ship internationally

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Virtual Racing UK

The medals

Based in UK, will ship internationally

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Yes.Fit

The medals

Based in US, will ship internationally.

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Quick and Quiet! Quick and Quiet! How’s Your Running Cadence?

I’m s-l-o-w-l-y training to be 10K ready by the end of October when I’ll be running a few races with one of my daughters. Every single time I’ve trained to run with her before I’ve overdone it and ended up with a gruesome virus and chest infection. Once you hit 50, it’s so easy to overtrain. But I know if I bother to take notice, the signs of overdoing it will be there way before I succumb. So now I peer into the mirror each morning whilst pressing a finger on the pulse point of my wrist – how tired do I look? Is my heart rate raised?

So far, so good. Instead of running an easy session followed by a tougher one and then starting over, I’ve added an extra easy session in; easy, easy, hard, easy, easy, hard.

And yesterday I tried something new. I checked my cadence. This is the number of steps you take per minute and if you get it right it’s one way of avoiding injury; running with a quicker cadence reduces the impact of each foot strike and therefore the load on the joints is less. Increasing cadence can also make us into faster runners but, right now, that’s not my goal.

The number 180 is hailed as the magic number so I thought I’d shoot for that. I’m sure it’s not as simple as this and the ideal cadence must differ between individuals but no harm in me giving it a go. I was intrigued to see how it would feel.

180 steps per minute.

I read a few articles online warning me that if I’d never paid attention to it before then my cadence was likely to be too low and it would take time to push it up to that lauded 180.

I downloaded a metronome app (stroke of pure genius) – the idea being that I could set it to pulse at 180 beats per minute and try to match my foot strikes with it. The metronome emitted a loud ‘tock, tock, tock’ which was fine with me but did alarm the farmers and grape pickers as I trundled past.

At first, the increased foot movement felt a bit frantic and the ‘tick tocking’ and my steps were all out of sync but it honestly didn’t take long before my feet were in time with the app. A matter of minutes.

And, you know? Keeping up with the metronome wasn’t that hard. I definitely had to concentrate so I didn’t deviate from the rhythm but it was strangely satisfying running along to the beat and a little bit meditative. I ran for 30 minutes at an easy pace.

The cadence of 180 was definitely quicker than I’d normally run but I’m wondering if I found it relatively easy to step it up as I’d maybe already increased my cadence without realising. Last year, Julian Goater, the British long distance runner and author of ‘The Art of Running Faster’ had paid a visit to my running club and taken us out for a coaching session.

‘Quick and quiet!’ he’d urged. ‘Quick and quiet!’

He coached us to take lots of small steps (quick) and to take care to run lightly on our feet instead of pounding (quiet). I’d remembered that ever since and have tried to stick to it.

So, what next? Well, I’m going to take the metronome with me on my next few runs and see how it feels over the longer term. I’m also not quite sure how I’ll find trying to run faster and maintaining the same 180 cadence. But for starters, running at a higher cadence definitely feels as though I’m pounding less on my joints and that’s got to be a good thing.

Five Things Friday: What Caught My Eye This Week

This book:

I’ve been eating a lot more plant-based meals recently and these two chaps from BOSH! first caught my eye with their food videos on Facebook. I had to have the book. I’m just starting to work through the recipes and so far they’re fab. I loved their Rogan Bosh! Curry and their Pesto Lasagne. Next up-Gooey Peanut Butter Jelly Brownies!

Buy it on Amazon here 🙂

 

These trainer tags:

I wore these on my last run and made a point of glancing down regularly to peek at these tags. I couldn’t see the wording of course but I already knew full well what it said and just the sight of them flashing in the sunshine was a real motivation boost. I knew they’d have a positive effect on me: I just adore quotes!

Buy them on Etsy here 🙂

 

This post: How it Feels to be 50 in 2018

Midlife Chic blogger Nikki Garnett has written a comprehensive post here covering many things that touch or affect us as we enter our 50s. “We need to show people that midlife is something to aspire to.”

Read the post here

 

This post: Deena Kastor: Letting Her Mind Run

Although this post has a running focus I particularly love it for Deena’s advice scattered through the article which we can apply to our whole life.

How about these?..

“How can I twist and manipulate my mind to get the best out of myself?”

“You can have a good cry, you can say, ‘This sucks,’ but how can you grow from it or make sure you can be stronger or wiser next time around? How will you climb out and build a better day tomorrow?”

“When I made taking care of myself and cultivating a positive mindset my priorities, I found that I could get a lot more out of myself.”

“Quality is the backbone of everything I’m doing—I’m putting in quality runs, I’m spending quality time with friends and family, I’m only taking on quality projects and things that feel enriching, I’m eating quality food and getting quality sleep.”

As the post says (quote): Deena wants other women to know that they too can crack open their physical and mental potential by choosing their perspective. And that running (especially when it’s hard) can be a powerful vehicle for realizing a life-changing mental shift.

You just have to let your mind run.

Read the post here

 

This post: The Declutter Your Space Challenge

It’s time to clear some space to breathe.

Spotting this post gave me the push I needed to do some long overdue deep decluttering in my home. Although I didn’t commit to the challenge fully (from the four steps below I did numbers 2 and 4 and that worked for me!)

  1. Commit to the challenge (#declutteredspace on Twitter), or wherever you’d like to publicly commit).
  2. Pick a space each week (your bedroom closet, the kitchen counter), and focus on clearing it out.
  3. Report to your peeps every Monday on how it went.
  4. Enjoy the hell out of your newly decluttered space. Breathe. Smile. Love.

I found the post to be spot on; I did feel lighter and less stressed as the declutter progressed, I did focus on reading the small numberof books I’d decided to hang on to after taking the rest to the charity shop and I did experience little rushes of joy…

And now I know where everything is.

Read the post here

Vroom Vroom Veggie Burst with Black Beans and Almonds

As a runner, I constantly struggle to stay adequately hydrated, especially in the hot, humid Mediterranean climate. My doc explained that our total body water content declines as we age and urged me to up my fluid intake. And menopause just makes it worse; crazy hot flushes are another hydration stripper!

After experiencing another crushing headache after a particularly busy day last week I’d had enough. You see, I don’t always notice my thirst building (I know – odd!) and often forget to drink enough water (is there no hope for me?! ) so I’ve decided to try and up my hydration levels in other ways. One of my goals for this summer is to pack as much fruit and veg (especially veg, as I prefer them) into my day as possible. We often focus on the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables but it’s easy to overlook the fact that we can also boost our water intake from the foods we eat. There’s also that added nutritional bonus I mentioned – that these foods are also rich in antioxidants, vitamins, electrolytes, and fibre that are great for our health.

Top of my must-eat list are watermelons, which are 92 per cent water and just everywhere here in Cyprus in July – being sold from the back of trucks at the side of the road.

It’s pretty easy to gauge which are the super watery fruits and veg – celery, cucumber, courgette (zucchini) etc but here’s a list of the hydration stars:

Over 90% WaterOver 70% Water
Watermelon

Apples
Cantaloupe
Apricots
GrapefruitBanana
StrawberriesBlueberries
BroccoliCherries
CabbageCranberries
CauliflowerGrapes
CeleryOranges
Iceberg lettucePeaches
Sweet peppersPears
RadishesPineapples
SpinachPlums
Courgettes (zucchini)Raspberries
TomatoesCarrots
Green peas
White potatoes

Who knew that vegetables were so water-rich over fruits?! I always imagined fruit to have the higher water content.

I’ll often start my day by adding berries to my breakfast porridge and include a salad at lunch time (I have a few of my faves to share with you in a future post).

Today, I have this dish to share with you which is just brimming with so much goodness; broccoli, cauliflower, courgettes, peas, carrots, green beans, onion, sweet potato, tomatoes, spinach, coriander and black-eyed beans.

Vroom Vroom Veggie Burst with Black Beans and Almonds

Serves 4

I’ve indicated the rough quantities I used but honestly, add whatever you fancy and substitute veggies you’re not keen on. I didn’t use garlic either as I’m not super fond of the after taste but I think most people would want to add a couple of crushed cloves.

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 2 courgettes (zucchini) sliced
  • Handful cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 250g broccoli florets
  • 250g cauliflower florets
  • Large handful green beans
  • 100 g frozen peas
  • 1½ – 2 teaspoons of: cumin, coriander and turmeric
  • Sprinkling chilli flakes (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 400 g tinned chopped tomatoes
  • 400g tinned black eye beans, rinsed and drained
  • 8 tbsp almond milk
  • 8 tablespoons koko dairy-free yoghurt
  • Handful slivered  almonds
  • Handful fresh coriander leaves, chopped
  • Handful spinach leaves
  • Water or vegetable stock
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large pan and add the onion. Cook to soften slightly then stir in the spices, ginger and chilli flakes. Gently cook for a minute then tip in all the veg plus the tin of tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.

Add enough water or vegetable stock to just cover. Bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer for around 20 minutes until all the vegetables are cooked. Add the beans and chopped coriander and heat through.

(Sometimes the cauliflower can take a bit longer and if you have time you could pre-cook it for 5-10 minutes before adding it to the pan. I don’t as I’m quite happy with it a little bit crunchy).

Mix together the almond milk, yoghurt and almonds and stir into the veggie mix.

Serve with couscous, quinoa, brown rice – whatever you fancy! As with most of these types of dishes – even better the next day 🙂

Probably The Best Anti Wrinkle Cream I’ve Ever Tried

A combination of age, hot climate and lots of running and I’d inevitably noticed my skin was losing its lustre and…eek… getting a bit leathery if I’m honest. I’ve tried both expensive and budget creams over the years and they’ve all pretty much done the job. Nothing show stopping – just an ‘okay’ result.  Then, for a several months every time I scrolled through Amazon I’d see this super affordable (under £15) product getting rave reviews so eventually I caved and bought some.

It. Is. The. Best.

I now know why it has over 2000 4.5 star reviews on Amazon.

Viola Anti Wrinkle Face Cream*

My default setting is not to believe extravagant claims for face creams. I take little notice of the ‘wonder’ ingredients and know for sure that no cream is going to truly eliminate my lines, wrinkles, dark circles and the rest. But if you’re interested, here are the main ingredients:

– Matrixyl 3000

– Hyaluronic Acid

– Argureline

– Vitamin C

– Jojoba Oil

– Green Tea Extract

and the full list…

All I care about is how my skin feels after using a product – immediately and for several hours afterwards. My main goal is hydration.

This is a lovely, lightweight cream and a little goes a long way. It smells slightly medicinal (a bit like tea tree oil but I’m happy with that as I connect that scent with the beauty salon…). It’s not oily and absorbs quickly and is non greasy.

My ‘crying out for moisture’ skin always looks instantly moisturised whenever I apply it and feels really soft and dewy for hours. I got really interested in this cream when I’d been using it for around 4 weeks and was heading out one day – I was driving and happened to touch my face. It felt different; wonderfully smooth and much less dry than it used to. Then when I got to the mall I could really see how much better my skin was looking. Yes, I was that person peering into store mirrors! The only thing that I’d changed in my routine was the addition of this cream so – although I can’t be totally sure I’m right – I put it down to that.

Any downside?

Well it would be great if it contained sunscreen too but it’s no bother really to apply that as well. I also wish it came in a huge tub so I could slosh it all over me.

The very good news is that the company also produce an anti ageing vitamin c serum and an anti ageing eye serum. I’m trying them out now and will share my thoughts in a few weeks. If you do decide to try (or have already tried) the cream in this blogpost please do let me know what you think! Here’s the link: Viola Anti Wrinkle Face Cream

this is an affiliate link. At no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. However, I only ever give a completely honest review of products that I have tried.

A Runner’s Sunscreen Routine

Recently an article in the Daily Mail about our sunscreen habits caught my eye. The guidelines used coins to illustrate the sizes of the blobs we ought to be applying on different areas of our body and the implication was that many of us are just not using enough. The recommendation was certainly more than I’d been applying. It got me thinking that although I live in a hot, sunny climate and I’m vigilant about slapping sunscreen on every day, I didn’t know a great deal about it aside from always choosing a high SPF factor.

I wanted to know more.

UVA and UVB rays

UVA rays are associated with skin ageing leading to wrinkles, leathery skin and those ugly brown sun spots I’d noticed appearing on my legs.

UVB rays = sunburn. The sun protection factor (SPF) on a bottle of sunscreen measures the amount of protection we’ll receive from the sun’s UVB rays.

The SPF number correlates to how long you can stay in the sun without burning. So in theory, when wearing an SPF 30, you can stay outside for 30 times longer than if you were unprotected.

Both UVA and UVB rays can cause skin cancer.

One thing I hadn’t realised was the importance of checking a product for its level of UVA protection too. I use Nivea sun products and on the back of the bottle there’s a UVA star rating.

Four or five stars will give good protection from UVA rays. The little open lid container next to the UVA stars tells me I can use my sunscreen for 12 months from the date of opening.

It’s important to choose a high SPF as well as a high UVA protection with most experts suggesting that a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 and a UVA rating of 4 or 5 stars offers a good standard of sun protection.

As already mentioned, Nivea is my sunscreen of choice as I have never suffered sunburn whilst using it and nether did any of my children when they were growing up (and my son had fair skin and white blonde hair). Also, I find it doesn’t cause intense stinging if it drips into my eyes (which it definitely can do when I’m out on a run).

Here’s my sunscreen routine:

Pre-running, I apply sunscreen the same way each time. I tie my hair off my face and neck and then first I apply the product all over my face (not forgetting my ears), continuing over my entire neck and right down over my chest area. I use a high factor sunstick to cover my lips.

I then squeeze some cream on my right hand and apply it to my left shoulder, reaching as far across the area at the back of my neck and upper back as I can. I repeat on the other side, making sure I meet in the middle. I apply the cream to my arms, making sure I cover the backs of my hands (a friend urged me to do this a few years ago – our hands are one of the first areas to show those tell tale signs of ageing!)

Then it’s on to the legs. I then pull on my running gear and head back to my mirror. As my skin is now gleaming with cream, it’s quite obvious if there are any exposed areas that I’ve missed.

I live in a very sunny Mediterranean climate, so quite soon after I set off running I’m sweating buckets and I know that this will reduce the protective factor of my sunscreen so I’ll need to reapply. I used to squeeze a little sunscreen into a tiny plastic container and take it with me so I was thrilled to find that Nivea was now making its own mini versions.

It slots perfectly into my Flipbelt with my keys, money and phone.

Happy Days!

Daily Mail: How much sun cream do you REALLY need? It’s almost certainly more than you thought…as this clever ‘coin formula’ reveals.

Sunshine Struggles

I didn’t run as many times as I’d hoped on my recent trip to the US. Mainly down to my poor organisation but there was a wonderful reason not to run – spending every precious minute with my toddler grandson Harrison and his new baby brother Alfie who was born while I was there.

Descending the aeroplane steps back in Cyprus I was met with a wall of heat so I suspected that I might struggle on my first run…and I did.

All morning a thunderstorm had been crashing around the island so I laid out my running gear on the bed (ever hopeful) and when the blue skies began to peek through again I got changed and set off down to the coast. You’d think the cliffside paths would be slippery and muddy but here in Cyprus everything dries up incredibly quickly. By the time I emerged from my car only 10 minutes later the sun was already beating down. I ran at just above walking speed, my pace in double figures. Ten minutes in and my bra was digging in everywhere, my top was stuck to my back and, being out of the habit of hot weather running, I’d smeared sunscreen over my forehead that morning. (Normally I rely on my the peak of my cap to shade my forehead). The cream was now racing down to attack my eyes. My chest was heaving; I just couldn’t seem to get enough air in.

BUT.

Every cloud has a silver lining they say and as I gave up and sought shade under a lemon tree I spied a perfect, ripe peach on a nearby tree. Is there anything nicer than a sun-warmed peach?

I guzzled half on the spot and saved the rest to make this salad.

It’s packed with any fruit I could find in the fridge-strawberries, cherries, oranges, kiwi all mixed up with rocket and coriander and dressed in fresh lemon juice and olive oil. Topped with mixed nuts and my fave squeaky Cypriot Halloumi cheese.  And taking pride of place on the top=juicy slices of that fresh peach. Sigh.