Thursday, 31 December 2015

10 things in 2015

Phil and I were reflecting on the year earlier in the week and Phil said "at least it was better than last year."
Which is true. While I don't look back on 2014 as a "bad" year, it involved me getting made redundant from my dream job, Phil being in a car crash (and writing off his car), one of Phil's closest friends being diagnosed with leukaemia... and all of these happened within a few weeks of each other.
But 2015 has been good. Of course, we all have our ups and downs, but I feel like I'll reflect on 2015 as being a good year. Obviously there are lots of little things to talk about that happened in 2015, but I liked the idea of a "top 10 of 2015", so here are some of my best bits...

1. Phil and I moved in together!
This is obviously a big one! Phil and I moved in together into our little flat in February and it's been absolutely amazing! I absolutely adore seeing him every day, I love living in the city centre and I just love our little flat! A lot of people told us that living together was a big step, and it was, but it's one of the best decisions I've ever made.

2. Celebrated two years with Phil
We also celebrated two years together in November. He's a keeper.

3. I ran my first 5K under 30 minutes and my first 10K under 60 minutes
If you remember my goals for 2015 I made at the start of the year, these were two big milestones that I wanted to hit. I hit my first 5K in under 30 minutes in April and my first 10K in under 60 minutes in May. My 5K personal best now stands at 27:13 and my 10K personal best is 58:08. I'm incredibly proud of how far my running has progressed this year after plateauing a bit last year. I've taken over three minutes off my 5K time in this year alone. 

4. I ran four races, including my second half marathon!
My goal for 2015 was to run at least three races, but I didn't think at the start of the year I'd be training for my second half marathon! My second half marathon was hands down the best day of 2015, and I smiled through the entire race from start to finish. I have never been as proud as I was crossing that line at 2 hours 8 minutes.

5. I signed up for my first marathon!
Now I just have to run it - eek!

6. Went to London, Blackpool, the Lake District, Whitby and Spain
We've had some lovely little breaks this year and I'm looking forward to going back to the Lakes and Spain in 2016. I especially loved our trip to London in February where we saw Les Miserables on the West End. Oh we also went to Anfield to see Liverpool in January!

7. Went to the cinema 25 times
When Phil and I first started dating I said I wasn't really a film person and Phil was devastated. How things have changed! After over a year of Phil trying to persuade me, I got my Cineworld Unlimited card in November last year and now we go to the cinema at least twice a month. Some of my highlights from 2015? Whiplash, Amy, Birdman, Sicario, The Martian and Star Wars.

8. Read 40 books - and joined the library
When I commuted to work I used to read a lot, so I worried about making time to read once we moved into the city centre. But in February, we moved offices at work and were suddenly across the road from the library, so I started to go almost every lunchtime, and had to keep upping my reading goal (which had been 25 books!). The best books I read this year were A Little Life, Behind the scenes at the museum, A God in Ruins, Americanah, I am Pilgrim and Lean In. I add everything I read to my Goodreads, so go follow me over there!

9. Ran 651 miles
Here's to many, many, many more in 2016!

10. Stopped having sugar in my tea
I've been trying to give up sugar in my tea for years. I've always been able to drink it without but just preferred it with sugar so much. In February something clicked, finally, and I've not had sugar in my tea or coffee since. I don't miss it at all, and still drink just as much tea!

I hope you've all had a wonderful 2015, and I wish you all the best in 2016! I'll be back later in the week (next year!) with my goals for 2016.

Happy New Year!

Charlotte x

Wednesday, 30 December 2015


This is the second time in less than a week that I've still been in pyjamas by lunchtime. On Boxing Day, apart from going out to parkrun, I spent the whole day in my pyjamas.
It's been absolute bliss.
You know when you're a kid and you fall asleep for 14 hours and your parents say "you must have needed that?". That's what this break has been like for me.
For days I've had nothing, or almost nothing to do. I've read books, I've spent time with my family, I've watched films at 9am, I've played two very competitive games of Scrabble.
I've had days without planning, without organising, without worrying. 
I went back to my parents on Christmas Eve and didn't get back til yesterday. Which meant six wonderful days of no cleaning, no washing, no cooking (okay, just once. Wait, twice) and no adulting. Finally recharging those batteries.
I knew I needed this break, but I didn't know I needed it this much. I didn't know that I would, for once, enjoy relaxing and not be climbing the walls after a couple of days. In fairness, it's not like I've been sat in my pyjamas the whole break. I've been to football games and visited family and ran and entertained guests and cooked dinner. But it's all been wonderful.
This has hands down been my favourite Christmas in years. Phil and I have finely tuned our day of two Christmas dinners, I got to spend the day with all my favourite people, everyone loved the gifts I bought them and I've been completely spoiled. Christmas Day didn't feel rushed or manic; instead we managed to split our time between both our families without feeling like we'd let anyone down. We celebrated old traditions and made new ones.
We headed back to the flat yesterday and it's been so good to be home. I'm really looking forward to a few more days off to recharge my batteries and I'm not even thinking about work for another few days (or at least trying not to!). 
dress - Dorothy perkins
leather jacket - Boohoo
leopard flats - c/o Sinderella
black heels - Primark

This is the outfit I'm maybe wearing for New Year's Eve. As you can probably tell from the presents under the tree, I took these before Christmas but in my zen-like relaxation state I haven't sat down to post them til today. We're just going to the power ballads night we like for New Year's Eve but I'm actually really excited. I've never been out for New Year before because I hate it, but Ultimate Power is always such a good night I know it will be really fun.
You might notice the change of shoes in these photos. In recent years I have to admit I've abandoned my heel collection a bit in favour of being comfy. Living in the city centre means we walk a lot of more if we're going out and I'm so impatient I really hate how wearing heels slows me down. I first heard about fold up ballet flats a few years ago and have wanted some for years, so I was super excited when Sinderella shoes asked me to try some.
If you don't know how they work, they're little ballet flats that fold up into a bag so you can pop them in your handbag for a night out and when your feet start to hurt you can pop off your heels and slip on some comfy flats! I chose the leopard ones because I quite often wear black or one-coloured dresses and I thought leopard would be a really nice accent. You can see how they fold up and the bag they come in below:

Well I really should be getting ready now. I've had the most lovely morning watching Ratatouille in my pyjamas with Phil and making eggs in purgatory for brunch, but I am way overdue for my six mile run! Maybe this relaxation thing is growing on me!
I'm going to do a best of 2015 post tomorrow so I'll see you then!

Charlotte x

Monday, 21 December 2015

Six years

I started this blog when I was 19.

I was home from uni for Christmas, and after months of reading fashion blogs, and then finding out someone I knew had a fashion blog, I decided to bite the bullet.
I remember my first outfit photos like it was yesterday.

There was snow on the ground and I put together a mismatch of what seemed like every print I owed and ran around the garden asking my Dad to take pictures of me.
And this was what I thought blogging was. Mixing prints and snow and photos where I ran around pretended I was a 5 foot 4 model.

I remember how disappointed I was with the resulting photos. I didn't look effortless. I didn't look cool. But reading that blog post back now I was so optimistic. I was determined to give this blogging thing a go.

When I wrote my first-ever post, on the 22nd of December 2009, I wonder if I knew what I'd be getting myself in to. I wonder if I knew the skills I would learn in photography, coding, social media, PR and Photoshop. I wonder if I knew that my blogging skills would help me to get every job I've had since university. I wonder if I knew I'd still be doing this six years later (I'm tempted to say yes because I am the most committed person in the world when I want to be, but six years? I'm not sure).

This blog has been with me for almost a quarter of my life. I've taken photos in the freezing cold Minnesota snow, with hands red and raw from the cold. I've blogged in the scorching heat of the New Jersey sunshine. I've blogged in my little side alley at uni in Birmingham where I made friends with builders who were curious about what this strange girl was doing in her high heels and tripod.

I've blogged in the little flat I share in Manchester with my boyfriend.

I've blogged through homesickness and breakups and car crashes and losing my grandparents. I've blogged from signing up for my first race to my first, and then second, half marathons. I've blogged relationships from start to end. I've blogged my first date with Phil to a year together to moving in together to two years. 

In six years I've blogged everything. I have my entire life here on this pages.

A lot of things have changed since 2009. For one, I'm not blonde any more. My style has definitely changed. And I've changed. From teenager student to a woman with a career and a boyfriend and a flat. And this blog has changed too. Now it's less about my outfits and more about my life and running and podcasts and cooking and well, a bit of everything really.

I'm so proud of this blog. These days it seems like everyone has a blog and sure, I don't update it quite as much as I used to and maybe I don't spend as much time on it, and sure, some days it is a chore rather than a joy to write an update. But I know that I was there back in 2009 when there weren't that many blogs around. I was there when blogging was new and exciting and when bloggers weren't just doing it for free clothes or for money. I was there when outfits were creative, not comped. I was there in the golden era of blogging.

And I don't know where this blog will take me next. As I've grown up the time I've had to dedicate to it has decreased but I can't imagine not having this blog in my life, whether it's updated one a week or once a month. I love having my pictures and memories here for the duration, especially from when I was living abroad. I've loved having the confidence to diversify this year with posts on more than just what I'm wearing. I'm excited to bring more of that in 2016.

So here's to six years. Six wonderful years of this blog. And here's to you. Whether you've been reading this blog for 6 weeks or 6 years. Thank you to everyone who has read my self-absorbed rubbish over the last few years.

All my love,

Charlotte x

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Outfits in Instagrams

For about a month I was stuck in a rut.

Cold mornings. Jumpers. Jeans. Boots.

It was cold. I was bored. I didn’t care about getting dressed. I just wanted to get out of my cold flat and get to work.

I was conscious not only of the fact that I hadn’t blogged, but that I had nothing to blog about.

I hate the idea that you have to buy new things to get inspired but sometimes a couple of new things can completely change how you look at your wardrobe.

This was certainly the case for me. All it took was two roll neck jumpers, two new skirts and pulling out a dress I've owned for three years and never worn.

Suddenly I was creating outfits that I loved again. Feeling good about clothes again. Feeling good about what I was wearing.

However, when it came to dark nights and early morning marathon training and rushing out of the door for work, taking outfit photos hasn’t been an option.

Add to that, evenings spending up putting up not one, but two Christmas trees and being asked to be a bridesmaid and eating pizza with tortilla chips on, and weekends spent running and watching football and spending time with my family, time to blog just hasn’t happened.

But what has happened is Instagram. Whenever I’ve worn an outfit I’ve liked I’ve taken a quick snap for Instagram in my badly lit hall with my grubby mirror. And lately, that’s been enough. Not perfect, not ideal, but still a record of what I’ve worn and enough incentive for me to not slop around in jumpers and jeans every day.

So instead of nice photos in my living room with a good camera and a clean, white background, I have Instagram snaps of my outfits. And in the interest of not “wasting” them on Instagram, I thought I’d post them here too.

So here's what I've been wearing lately (you'll notice quite quickly there is a bit of a theme. Oh and I have like, 2 poses).
skirt - Joy, jumper - Primark, boots - Oasis, necklace - Debenhams
jumper - Zara, skirt - Warehouse, boots - Ugg
jumper - Oasis, skirt - Warehouse, boots as before

Everything as before (told you there was a theme...)

dress - Next, jumper as before
Fun fact - I've had this dress for three years and this was the first time I'd ever worn it!

jumper - Marks and Spencers, skirt - New Look, boots as before

skirt and jumper as before, coat- Miss Selfridge (bought in 2009!), hat - ASOS

jumper as before, boots as before, skirt - Warehouse via ASOS

Everything as before

I've felt for years like my style "peak" was in the autumn/winter of 2011, but recently I've finally been feeling good about my style and how it has developed. I'm definitely sticking to a rotation of the same items (A line skirts, tucked in jumpers, pinafore dresses) and a simple colour palette (brown, black, beige, maroon) but this feeling like a maturing of my style and I really like it. I'm inspired again and writing lists of potential outfits instead of just grabbing the first thing I see before rushing to work.

I've also started to really like wearing my hair up, which is really strange for me. My hair being up in the past has always just meant it's a not-washing-my-hair day and I'd shove it in a sock bun, but I've started putting it into a ponytail, backcombing it into oblivion and folding it into a messy bun. I really like to have my hair up when wearing a high-necked jumper.

I'd really like to capture some of these outfits properly for my blog, but between now and Christmas I'm super busy (as I know everyone is!). For example, Friday was my work's Christmas do (I won best baker! Yessss!), then I got up early for 9 miles on Saturday morning, spend Saturday at my parents' putting up their tree, then spent the evening at our family friends'. Sunday was a blur of errands and food shopping and listening to football and cooking and trying to relax. Then Monday I took a break from choir because I was so exhausted, last night I was out with my friend Shaunagh (when she officially asked me to be her bridesmaid!), tonight I had to bake for our Chirstmas bake at work on Friday because it was my only night in (I've made slightly undercooked Baileys brownies. They are insanely rich!), then tomorrow it's my Grandad's anniversary so I'm out with my family, Friday I'm getting my hair done and then going out with my Mum and then I should finally get a rest at the weekend!

I am so excited for Christmas though, but I don't quite feel that it's only a week away! I'm off after the 23rd so I'll be heading home and looking forward to spending some time at home at Christmas.

It's my blog's 6 year anniversary (!!) next week so I'll definitely have to write about that!

Hope you're having a wonderful week!

Charlotte x

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Weekend Warrior

Weekends are really nice.
Weekends that start with £1.50 slices of pizza and buy one get one free cocktails which mean you get dinner and cocktails for two for £15.
Weekends when your Mum comes to visit and buys you a new jumper and you spend the day trying to find (and finding!) her the perfect New Year's Eve dress.
And when she takes you and your boyfriend out of dinner and you have Indian street food so you get to try eight different things on the menu and they are all amazing.
Weekends are nice when you rush to the pub after dropping your Mum off at the station and get there and your team are already 3-0 up. And go on to win 4-1 and your throat hurts afterwards from screaming so much every time the ball goes remotely near the goal.

Weekends are nice when you get up later than usual for your Sunday run and run your longest run since injury in your new trainers (even if you did get them a bit muddy).
Weekends are nice when you wear your new jumper the next day so you can show your Mum. Because she got a new jumper too and you said the day before you would both wear your new jumpers when you saw each other on Sunday.
Weekends are nice when you spend the day visiting family. An hour and a half with my Nan, who made cakes and sandwiches and endless cups of tea. Then to Phil's Gran's. Then to my Auntie Bre's where all my family pop in on a Sunday afternoon and you arrive at 4pm and there are already 13 members of your family squeezed into the living room with cups of tea and slices of banoffee pie, which my uncle made especially because he knew Phil was coming.

Weekends are nice when your Dad gets you a heater so you can warm up your freezing flat and it's nice and toasty while you're making a roast dinner and you think "I want to blog about this just because I want to remember this weekend."

Weekends are nice when it's 7pm and there's still three blissful hours of weekend left before bedtime and you're not quite ready to let go just yet.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

My favourite podcasts

I am obsessed with podcasts. I honestly don't think I would have gotten through my half marathon training without them. Some days, the only thing that gets me out the door for a run is the promise of a really good podcast.

When I was injured, one of the things I missed the most about running was my time alone with just the road and a podcast. My favourite podcasts are a "treat" for my long runs, and I save them til Sunday so I have something to look forward to.

But I don't just listen to them when I'm running - I listen to them while I'm cooking, when I'm putting the washing away, when I'm cleaning the flat, or really any time that I'm doing a task and just fancy some background noise.

Like most people, my love of podcasts started with Serial last year, but now I listen to at least a dozen on a regular basis. In fact, my iPhone is currently moaning about having no storage because I have 5GB of podcasts on there!

Some of these playlists are pretty popular, some not so much. You might notice that I have a bit of a "type" - stories, knowledge, interviews. When I'm looking for new podcasts I only really peruse the culture and society category, and I tend to get my recommendations from other people.

I am currently subscribed to 25 podcasts, but I would say I only really listen regularly to 5-10. I like long podcasts - I don't like to be flicking from one to the next during a run, and I am currently really mourning the loss of the Playlist feature in the iPhone podcast app which was lost with iOs 9.

If you are a beginner to podcasts, I would definitely recommend whetting your appetite with the first five on my list. If you are a seasoned podcast listener, I hope my honourable mentions has a couple of new podcasts for you!

I know, I know, everyone listens to This American Life. You know why? Because it's the best. I have never once been disappointed by This American Life, and every week I look forward to listening to it on my Sunday long run. I ration it, I savour it. It's just wonderful.
Why do I love it so much? It's storytelling in it's most sincere form. It covers a huge variety of topics which I would normally have no connection to. Sometimes it's dark, sometimes it's funny, but it's engrossing purely because it's real. It's real people, real stories and they do an excellent job of covering a wide range of topics that always feel relevant.
I talked about This American Life and my love of podcasts in the webinar I did a few months ago for work - I even quoted Ira Glass!

I was surprisingly late coming to the Bret Easton Ellis podcast, considering I would list "podcasts" and "Bret Easton Ellis novels" in some of my all-time favourite things. Bret Easton Ellis, as a person, is not everyone's cup of tea, I appreciate that, and this podcast is very much focused around his interests, his experiences and I want to say his favourite time period (it's very much grounded in 80s and 90s culture). Each week he interviews a different person on a range of topics, but in a relatively informal way - it just feels like two people who know each other well having a chat. One thing I love about this podcast is it takes me back to university. Literary theory and film theory are rife in this podcast, and I love being able to use that knowledge that I gained at university and feel like I'm involved in an intelligent conversation. That's not to say a lot of it doesn't go straight over my head!

Since discovering this I've been thrilled to have hours and hours of back catalogue to go through, so I'd probably say it's up there with This American Life at the moment for the title of my favourite podcast.

I didn't like Stuff You Should Know the first time I listened to it. I expected it to be straight-up facts and I didn't like all the chatting and tangents between Chuck and Larry. Now, however, I think that's what I love most about it. Each week, Chuck and Larry discuss a different topic, from "how Pez works" to "how circus families work " (I've listened to both of these). It's fun, it's playful, it's not all facts. I admit sometimes I come out of one of these podcasts not actually knowing much more about the topic, but I definitely enjoy listening to it.
This is quite a recent addition to my podcast app after reading about it on fellow-podcast-lover Rosie's blog. How to Be Amazing is hosted by Michael Ian Black and each week he just chats to a different person about their life and their achievements. Very easy, very relaxed, but very interesting and inspiring. 
The TED radio hour was the first podcast I ever really listened to. I love TED talks so I thought this might be a good way to learn on the go - and it is! Each podcast is themed around a particular topic, say Space or Learning or Hacking, and the podcast will then cover a few different subjects within this topic, using exerts from different TED talks. Very interesting and informative.

Honourable mentions

While those are my five absolute favourite podcasts, there are a few more that I listen to on a regular basis:

6. Love and Radio
I don't even know how to describe Love and Radio because it covers such a variety of topics. These are effectively short stories. Little snippets of lives and experiences. Some of them I like, some I don't, but it's definitely worth a download if you like stories.

7. Death, Sex and Money
Exactly what it says on the tin - Death, Sex and Money covers stories every week involving death, sex and/or money.

8. Criminal
If you like Serial, Criminal is much shorter, but covers a different story every week. Short but gripping.

What are your favourite podcasts? Do you have any recommendations?

Charlotte x

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Two more years

Today is mine and Phil's two year anniversary. Two years, whattt. It definitely feels like we've been together forever, but it also feels like, wow being in a relationship for two years is pretty good going! I won't get super soppy (because I already did on Instagram) but I've had the best two years of my life with him and I love him more every day.

We went out last night to Hotel Gotham which we've wanted to go to for a while. The restaurant was very cool, the view was awesome and we were well looked after. It was nice to get dressed up and go somewhere nice. We went for cocktails afterwards and on our way managed to catch some of the gorgeous fireworks at the town hall. It was such a lovely evening!

Today I managed to go on a 2 mile run (!!). After about a week of being relatively pain-free, my foot decided to bring me a new dose of pain on Tuesday which really really got me down. I dithered and then decided to finally book to see a physio. So yesterday I marshalled a very soggy parkrun again and went to see a physio. He was very, very good and asked me a lot of questions, but he couldn't really pinpoint what was causing the pain, and I also wasn't getting any pain so it was hard for me to explain where it was and what it felt like! The conclusion of the appointment was that I don't stretch enough, my left side is my weakest and I have weak glutes, so he sent me off with some exercises and told me to give running a go.

So this morning I dragged Phil out on a 2 mile run with me to see how I got on. Being with Phil distracted me from thinking about my foot and it was so nice to be running again! I'm not going to rush into running 30 miles a week, but I'm hoping to be better for parkrun next week.

We've also popped into town today to do some shopping, and for the first time ever, Phil came home empty-handed and I came home with a few treats! In the two years we've been together I don't think we've ever had a shopping trip where Phil hasn't come home with something.

My first stop was Bravissimo where I went for a fitting. I'd known for a while I was wearing the wrong size bra (I could pull the band about 5 inches away from my back!) and I knew it was time to get it looked at. So today I went from a 34B to a 30E, which was a bit of a shock! I had a lovely experience and would definitely recommend it. Bravissimo are a bit unusual as they do everything without a tape and just go on fit. Don't be put off if like me you thought you were too small for their sizes - you might be surprised!

We also got me some new pyjamas, as Phil had bought me a Liverpool FC nightie for our anniversary that turned out to be for ages 7-8 so that was a bit too small! (He did also get me some flowers and seasons 6 and 7 of The Office as I was basically inconsolable when it was taken off Netflix). I got two pairs from Boux Avenue where it was buy one get one free!
tshirt - Clothing at Tesco
skirt - c/o Joy
boots - c/o Jakes
jacket - Boohoo
necklace - Debenhams
I wore this outfit last weekend when we went to see Spectre with my parents. I chose this skirt from Joy and had to resist all temptation to just pair it with a jumper and boots. Come on, we know by now that I love to rock a jumper, skirt and boots! But I decided to try something a bit different and I really love this outfit! I also wore the black Ugg boots I showed you in my last outfit post because they are amazing!
Hope you're having a lovely Sunday! I'm looking forward to listening to the football, making mac and cheese for dinner and maybe relaxing with a film and some hot chocolate!

Charlotte x

Saturday, 7 November 2015

What's in my bag?

I'm a big bag person. Not as in, I really like bags. I just like big bags (and I cannot lie). I'm actually not a bag person at all. I tend to have one big bag which I take everywhere. Something neutral but the size of weekend luggage which will house everything from my lunchboxes for work to my straighteners in a hair curling emergency.
A few weeks ago, however, disaster struck. The zip on my biggest and best day time bag broke unexpectedly and when I took it to Timpsons, they said it would cost £35 to replace. for a £30 bag. So over the last few months I've been what I will call " between bags". In that I haven't found one quite big enough for all the rubbish I lug around daily. In fact the majority of the time now you'll see me with a handbag and also one of those big 9p Aldi bags carrying my lunch and work day snacks.
In the meantime, however, I've been trailing slightly smaller bags. Okay, I can't get my lunchbox in them, but I can get all of my daily essentials inside, and it means I'm not coming home from work with aching shoulders. At the moment I've been using this leather bag from Yoshi, which is the perfect size for the weekend, and much lighter than my usual big bags. It feels much more grown-up too, and much less carrying-around-my-life-looking-a-bit-like-a-bag-lady.
I decided rather than show you the bag with an outfit (which feels a bit artificial when I'm quite clearly taking photos in my house where I don't need to be carrying my bag around with me...) I thought I'd do a "what's in my bag?". As I said, I carry an awful lot of stuff around with me on a daily basis (I carry even more when I'm going to work!) so I thought it would be fun to show you what my "essentials" are...

Come on, it's 2015. I don't go anywhere without my iPhone. You can't tell in this picture but my phone case looks like a gameboy.
I live in Manchester so...
Book or Kindle
I basically don't go anywhere without a book or my kindle in my bag. I'm currently reading Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie* which was only available in hardback at the library so that's taking up the majority of my bag space...
iPhone charger
Because, you know.
Ted Baker Purse
My mum bought me this red Ted Baker purse for my birthday a couple of years ago. I adore it but it's getting a bit worn now!
Glass nail file
I always, always need a nail file, so I splashed out on a nice glass one which never leaves my bag. 
I don't need to explain that I need keys, right?
Water bottle
I drink a stupid amount of water, and I prefer to drink it from a bottle, so I fill this up about a dozen times a day. I carry it everywhere and get stressed out if I can't refill it. I recently got a Camelbak because I was always using cheap plastic bottles and ending up with a bag full of water...
Glasses case/contacts box
This is my new favourite bag addition! I read an article a few months ago that said contact lens wearers should carry their glasses around with them like any other prescription in case of any kind of emergency, and when I was in Spain we came across this awesome glasses/contacts box! It hold my glasses in one side and in the other, a contact lens box and two small bottles to be filled with solution. We don't really want to know what the tweezers are for...
I also usually have a box of paracetamol, hand sanitiser and my headphones, plus at least 3 cinema ticket stubs, a handful of tissues and half a dozen receipts.

What's in your bag?

Charlotte x

*I wrote this blog post last week (guilty as charged!) so I actually finished this book last night! If you're interested I'm now reading Columbine by Dave Cullen

Sunday, 1 November 2015

How to not go insane when you're injured or, Advice I give myself but can't take

Runners, as a group, tend to be ambitious, dedicated, obsessive, passionate, competitive types.
We get up at 5am to ensure we stick to our training plan, our weekends are dedicated to getting in those long run miles. We lose sleep, friends, our evenings, weekends, toenails... but none of that matters when you're out on the road, just you and your trainers.
So when we're injured, it's not too surprising that we are absolute monsters.

When you take the running out of the runner, is the runner a runner at all?
This has been my thought process over the last two weeks.
To go from being about to run a half marathon (and in a decent time, I would like to add!) to struggling to walk for five minutes, that gets your ego bad.
But worst of all, it gets your sense of self.

When you plan your weekends around your runs, what do you do with yourself when you can't run? When you are used to 5.30am wakeups, do you just stay in bed? When you are used to eating all.of.the.carbs, what do you eat when you don't need the energy for 20 miles per week?

The emotional side of being injured, or at least, when you're a little bit injured, can be a hundred times worse than the physical pain. The ache in my foot doesn't bother me nearly as much as the knowledge that I can't just go for a run on Tuesday morning. Or the fact that I should have started my marathon training by now. Or the fact that I can't do parkrun. Or the fear that I'm losing fitness by the minute.

Being injured has really, really, really got me down. I don't really have any "runner friends" who can really appreciate how much this is affecting me mentally, and all my other friends are sick of me moaning about it! After a week of hoping it was just "post-race tightness", I accepted last week that I was injured and it was time to come up with a post-injury plan.

So here's what I've come up with. It's not perfect, it's incredibly hard, it hasn't made it all go away, and I don't even know if it's working yet because I'm far from there yet. But he's what I'm trying. Or at least, trying to try!

1) Find a cross-training plan (and stick to it)
I am awful at cross-training, mainly because when it comes to fitness I have only extremes. I am either ALL ABOUT RUNNING AND ONLY RUNNING or I am ONLY INSANITY/T25/CHALEAN EXTREME/INSANITY MAX30 and nothing else. Combing these two states has always been a problem for me.
Throughout all of my half marathon training, I had Wednesdays scheduled in for cross-training, and I lost count of the number of times I snoozed, or made an excuse, or went to bed knowing I wouldn't get up to cross train. But when you're injured, you kind of have no choice.
I think for me, it's because I like to have a plan, something to stick to. So to get through this I made myself  a cross-training plan of sorts. I've decided to use Piyo, because it's low-impact and it can help me to work those muscles that get neglected when I run. So I've planned a workout for all the days that I usually run, with plenty of variety, and by having a plan and a purpose for each workout, I know I'll get through it.

2) Stick to your old routines
My usually running schedule is:
Monday - rest
Tuesday - easy mid-length run
Wednesday - cross-train (see above...)
Thursday - tempo/speedwork
Friday - rest
Saturday - parkrun
Sunday - long run
So I've scheduled out a workout plan for the same days of the week that I normally run. This keeps me in the habit of working out on those days, gets me back into the routine of which days to go to bed early and which days to get up early, and means it will be easier to slip back into my routine when I'm recovered.

3) Use the time to do things you wouldn't normally be able to do (including trying new exercise!)
Running takes up a lot of my time. So not running means I have a lot of empty space in my life, so I'm trying to make the most of it. As a person who struggles to relax, this is hard, but I'm trying to use that time productively. I'm trying to have earlier nights, trying to relax and sleep in a little more and using more of my free time to read and spend time with Phil.
I'm also using it to try new things - yesterday I volunteered at parkrun so Phil could still go, and it was really good fun! I was worried that going and not being able to run would just make me sad, but instead I loved cheering people on, and it came me a sense of purpose back into my day.
Then today, Phil and I went to play badminton! We'd been talking about renting a court to play, but at the weekends my focus is always on running and I'd never want to play badminton after a long run or an intense parkrun! So today we took advantage of the fact that I wasn't going to be running and rented a court! It was really good fun, made me feel good that I'd got a good workout in, and it was something new we wouldn't have been able to do if I had been running!

4) Give yourself a break
Obviously, this one I am struggling with. I know I put my body through a lot training for, and running, a half marathon. I know I ran really hard, and I ran really well, and it's natural for my body to be like, "no mate, we need a break." I know this could not have come at a better time - I have 23 weeks til my marathon and I've just ran the best half I could possibly have imagined. But it's still really hard. I'm still really annoyed at myself that I can't run. But I know I should be thanking my body for its hard work and giving it a chance to properly rest and recover, and know that I'll be back in my trainers in a few weeks. I'm just not quite there yet.

5) Cut down the running talk 
I'm finding it really hard to hear other people talk about running right now. Yes, I know that is really, really selfish. But it's the truth. Right now I just need to not hearing about other people running. And I hope people can respect that. For example, my best friend Eve, who inspired me to run in the first place, had two foot operations around the time I started running and couldn't run, and even though I was really excited about my running progress, I knew it would be hard for her to hear about it, so I didn't talk about it with her much. So for now, just let me recover. I'll be desperate to talk about running again soon, I promise. It's just too hard for me right now.

6) Don't compare yourself to others
Some people will recover more quickly than you, some more slowly. Some will be back up to 30 miles a week days after their first tentative run. You might not. I know this is really hard advice, believe me, but you look after you.

7) Take it slow
Okay I definitely can't take this. I am dying to get out on the road again. But I know I'm not there yet. This morning I jogged for five minutes on the way to badminton. After a minute or so I was aware of the ache in my foot, but after about four minutes it was starting to hurt, so I knew I had to stop. And now I know I need a longer break from running. Do not push through the pain. It's so hard, so so hard. I know. But you have to be patient. The one thing stopping me from getting out there is knowing I could make this so much worse by trying to run again too soon. Or pushing too much once I feel a bit better. Be patient and think long term. Those extra little runs will not be worth it if you end up sidelined for months.

So that's my advice. I don't know yet if it will work for me, let alone anyone else, but it's how I'm going to get through the next few weeks. I'm still praying to the running gods to get me better soon, but for now I'm going to focus on cross-training and not going insane.

Charlotte x

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Chillin' out, maxin', relaxin' all cool

Today I am relaxing. Sort of. It's weird and I'm not very good at it. I went out with friends last night and didn't get out of bed til 8.30am today. Then I threw some ingredients into the slow cooker to make soup, made a coffee and curled up with my book. I didn't have a shower til 11.30am.
This is weird. So weird. But if you've been following me on any form of social media this week you'll know that last week's half marathon took its toll, and I've had a bit of a poorly foot all week, so parkrun was out the window this morning. Phil is away so I can't do the food shop (we use his car, and not only am I not insured on it, I wouldn't trust myself to drive it even if I was) and I don't have to leave for my choir concert til 6.30pm. So as a result, I don't really know what to do with myself.
This week has been intense. I've had three nights of choir rehearsals, which have started at 7 - just giving me enough time to get home, throw together some dinner and rush out. They also mean I get home about 10, which gives me about 20 minutes with Phil before I need to go to bed. We had one night in together this week, but my foot was hurting so much that I hobbled to bed at 9pm. This has been my first official week running my department at work, and my foot has really been getting me down.
To go from being able to run a half marathon to not being able to walk for 2 minutes without needing to stop has been a struggle. Everyone has told me not to worry and to ignore any niggles for at least a week post-race. A friend in my choir has given me two massages this week and assured me that it's just tightness down my leg from the race and not to worry about it. But it's getting me down. I was looking forward to a week of resting, but I was excited to run again this weekend. It is getting better and I'm desperate to run, but I know it would be stupid to go out tomorrow and try to do a few miles, and I know that losing a few days of running now is better than losing months out if I injure myself probably by trying to run too soon. But it's hard and debilitating. And I know I don't have a race til my marathon in April. I know it doesn't really matter if I don't get my 50 Parkruns tshirt before Christmas. I know all that. But I still just want to be able to run.
floral jumper - Oasis
leather skater skirt - Oasis
necklace - c/o Onecklace
Anyway, let's talk about clothes. So I don't know if it's a blessing or a curse, but last week two of the jumpers I'd been eyeing up in Oasis went into the sale. The first was this one and the second is the one I'm wearing here. I've mentioned a lot lately how much I love Oasis (I swear they're not paying me!) but sometimes they can be just a little bit too expensive for me. But their sale is always excellent, and I love their Seek and Send service, which will send you items from stores if they're out of stock online. I wore this jumper last week just with jeans, but I loved the idea of it with my leather skater skirt (which I only remembered as I typed this, is also from Oasis...).
I also have new boots, which you won't believe are UGGs! Now, don't get me wrong, I used to wear UGGs at 21 when I lived in Minnesota and it snowed 6 months of the year, but they've been buried at the back of my wardrobe for a long time. I picked these from Jake Shoes because I wanted some black boots with just a little bit of a heel, like my Oasis ones. I hate wearing heels these days because I'm just.too.impatient, but I like a little bit of a heel for a boost for my shortie legs. OH and they have a fleecy sole too for toasty feet!

Right well my slow cooker soup should be done now, so I'm going to go eat a bowl of that and then hope my foot holds out on a walk into town. My favourite jeans have developed a hole so I'm off to do some dreaded jean shopping.

Wish me luck!

Charlotte x