Knowing My Limits

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Pat has entered the D33 Ultra marathon for March. It is a 33 mile out-and-back race from Aberdeen to Banchory and back. He has just started training for it, and being the supportive wife I am (read: I actually just need to push distance beyond my comfort zone of 8 miles lately), I elected to join him on his long runs. They started last week with a very hilly 11 miles of landrover track through the woods of Drumtochty. This past week, Pat decided to increase to 15 miles, and reluctantly I went along.

I say ‘relucantly’ because realistically, I shouldn’t be increasing distance so much, so soon. At this time last year, I was half marathon fit and mentally, I would’ve been comfortable with a 15 mile run. This year, my current long run fitness is at the 8 mile mark – I can bang out an easy 8 mile run with no adverse effects. My hips wouldn’t ache, I wouldn’t feel tired after the run, I’d be fine to get on with writing, meal prep, cleaning, whatever for the rest of the day. And I wouldn’t feel the after-effects of stiff muscles and tiredness the following day.

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Reach Further in 2016

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It has taken me quite some time to figure out how I wanted to write this post. I want a lot for myself in 2016, but my wants aren’t simply self-improvement, or goals, or intentions – they’re all of the above. While a new year usually signifies a new you, my aspirations for this year are also about expanding my capabilities, pushing my previously set boundaries and just trying new things. 2016 will be where I continue to reach forward and make space between I Can and I Can’t.

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My Significant 9 of 2015

You’ll have seen it floating about Instagram: Best 9 of 2015 – your nine top-liked photos, put in a nice picture grid to post on Instagram. While it’s a great way to see which posts your followers really liked (food in my case!), I thought my Best 9 photos for me were lacking in any kind of substance: while delicious, the photos didn’t capture any meaningful moments for me this past year. 2015 was a significant year in both good and bad ways, so to mark the past 365 (+5) days, I’ve put together the photos that I think captured my nine most significant moments of 2015.

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Have Yourself a Completely Paleo Christmas

Christmas + Paleo can seem like an impossible task when dinners of Christmas’ past were laden with sugar, bread and other wheat flour foods. Furthermore, scouring the internet to find good paleo recipes for you conventional Christmas favourites can seem like a tiresome and time-consuming task. That’s why, one week from Christmas, I’ve compiled one mother of a round-up of paleo recipes for all aspects of this year’s Christmas feast. Peruse the links below, and decide if you want a traditional turkey dinner with all the gluten-free, dairy-free and sugar-free trimmings; or, try an unconventional Christmas dinner of roast beef or lamb, and a chocolate dessert. Good luck and enjoy!

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Last year’s completely Paleo Christmas dinner

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{EAT} Paleo Sticky Toffee Pudding

Sticky Toffee Pudding is my favourite British dessert. Although it’s quite commonly served up and down the country, one taste of it’s soft, subtly sweet sponge, paired with a warm toffee sauce and some kind of dairy-based sweet accompaniment explains its popularity. When I went paleo, I initially thought my days of eating this dessert were numbered, but rather than say goodbye to a new favourite, I just paleofied it instead, making it gluten-free, dairy-free and sugar-free, but not free from taste.

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How to Stay Paleo this Holiday Season

Christmas 2015 is heavily upon us! You’re probably already in the thick of work Christmas parties, one last meal with friends before the big day, and starting to plan your Christmas dinner. You may have read this post and thought “I actually could’ve done with this post two weeks ago;” but don’t worry. While I acknowledge that this post could’ve been published two weeks ago, let it be a used as a guide on how to possibly continue your festive celebrations, and also reassure you that the extra alcohol and non-paleo foods you may have had these past few weeks are actually okay; being Paleo Perfect shouldn’t be a huge priority right now, (or ever really because that’s too much unnecessary pressure and standards by which to live). This is when, of all times, you should truly exercise the 80-20 rule Mark Sisson advises. Below, I’ve highlighted what I think are the five main concerns us paleo peeps might have around this time of year, as per the series I posted this past week on my Instagram account (follow me?).

 1. Alcohol: 

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{EAT} Slow-Cooker Beef Brisket Bourgignon

Believe it or not, I first heard of Beef Boeuf Bourgignon from one of my favourite films, Julie and Julia. And, despite being a devout lover of stewed beef, my first encounter with this delicious French stew was when I moved to Scotland. Needless to say, I missed out big time.

I learned to make this well-known French paleo dish from The Domestic Man’s recipe. It was absolutely incredible, to the point that Pat, a former beef hater, requested it often. The only problem was that if you cook the dish traditionally, it takes about three hours, making it a weekend-only meal.

When my mom came for a visit in October, I wanted to make Boeuf Bourgignon for her, but, with so much sight-seeing and visiting, I didn’t have time to spend three concentrated hours cooking. So I improvised. I attempted a slow cooked version with my favourite slow-cooking beef cut: brisket. And wow, did it work! The meat was pull-apart tender, the flavour was outstanding, I felt satisfied and thoroughly warmed, and best of all, Mom loved it. Pat too.

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Tips for Post-Race Recovery

This past week on my Instagram account, I posted a series of running tips describing strategies I use to help with race recovery. Last week, I ran the Glen Clova Half Marathon, and my recovery started immediately after the race. If you’re looking for ways to help promote recovery, stave off illness and prevent injury, but you missed my Instagram series (or you’re not even on Instagram) don’t worry: here they are.

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Glen Clova Half Marathon Recap

This race was a tale of two halves, with me relying on information from others to guide my expectations of the route. Leading up to the race, I had been told two facts about it: #1 it’s easier than the Stonehaven Half; you’ll have no problem with Clova; and #2 this race is so hard!!!! I wasn’t sure what to believe, but neither influenced my ultimate decision to just run this race. There wasn’t going to be any pursuit of a new 13.1 personal best – I think two in one year is enough – but I had hoped that I would still, based on these ‘facts,’ be able to run a sub-2 hour race in the least.

In the days before the race, I had been experiencing a dry cough in the morning, accompanied with mouthfuls of phlegm. While I had left my previous job because of how the stress was getting my entire wellbeing down, it appears my immune system still wanted to do me over. That, coupled with working with little germ ball children again, and the fact that I’ve still been more so 80/20 than 95/5 with my diet, led to a chest thing less than a month after my throat thing. Side note: I really need to get my act in gear because I don’t like all this being ill business!

Upon hearing me still coughing the night before the race, Pat queried my intentions for the next day. I clarified that I wasn’t going out to race the race, but rather just run around the route and hope for a time under two hours. I hadn’t even bought my usual Honey Stinger Energy Chews, and instead opted for the very paleo but sweet Nakd bars made of nuts and dates.

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Aviemore Half Marathon recap

In the week before this race, I wasn’t even sure it would happen. After yet another term of stress and feeling run down from it, I got a cold and throat thing the week before the half marathon that just wouldn’t go away. I assumed I’d get better as the week progressed and the race neared, but I didn’t. In fact, with just days to go, I thought there was a possibility I wouldn’t even start the race, never mind try for a good result.

But I wanted to run the race, partly because my mom was visiting from Canada and she had never seen me at a finish line before. Also, partly because, with its downhill course, the Aviemore Half is a PB shoe-in.

With two days before, I finally started to feel better. Even on the not-so-good days, during a long hill walk with my mom, I was able to breathe normally. My head didn’t feel heavy. I wasn’t coughing so much. I felt normal and slightly energized. I decided to chance racing and just see what happened, see how I felt. Had it been someone in my position, however, I probably would’ve advised to take it easy, don’t race the race, and possibly not even run it. But I’m stubborn like that.

Another running error I committed with this race was to wear brand new, never worn running shoes. I bought another pair literally the week before the race, thinking I’d get a run or two in beforehand, but with my illness I decided not to run at all, not wanting to add any more stress to my current state. I was going to chance illness, and also blisters. I was a running rebel.

Race morning hit a bit hard: I had been up throughout the night coughing, and as a result, didn’t get much sleep. In the week leading up to the race, I had spent so much thinking about ‘What if?’ rather than a race plan, that I spent my race morning quietly mapping out a last-minute strategy in my head. I tried to eat my usual breakfast of bulletproof coffee, fruit + coconut cream + Nutter Bomb, and veggie omelette, but was struggling with the lack of preparation race nerves, making it quite difficult to get through breakfast, never mind finish it.

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