Update #22

Here’s my first update for 2018!

January is usually considered as a ‘downish’ sort of month, since people are back into a routine after celebrating Christmas and the New Year, there’s Blue Monday which is half way through January, and of course people are trying to keep up their New Year’s Resolutions.

January for me has been quite the opposite and has flown by. I haven’t really set myself resolutions as I mentioned in my blog looking back at 2017, but this year I just want to be happy. 2018 has been a good start, which is mostly due to my sister giving birth to her first son, so I became an auntie recently! I’ve been enjoying and making the most of cuddles with my newly born nephew and I’m looking forward to the upcoming years of spoiling him with love.

This year has also been a good start as I’ve been going to the gym on a regular basis. I’ve managed to go twice a week recently and walking to work and back also helps to keep up my fitness. I’ve been contemplating going out for a long distance run which I’d like to do this month, in the hope that the weather is starting to improve. I’m sure a lot of people can relate to how hard it can be to go to the gym sometimes, but there’s the amazing feel good factor when you’ve had an intense workout, which I aim for when working out at the gym.

I recently went to a national poetry competition called UniSlam which was a fantastic experience. You can read about it on my poetry blog.

My next update should include a lot more content as there are a few things coming up. Firstly lent starts on 14th February, which feels really early this year! So from Valentine’s Day I will be on a meat free diet as I have done for the past two years. Secondly there’s a parade happening in Leicester this Sunday, which I can’t make but will definitely write a blog about. The parade is in honour of Alice Hawkins who was part of the suffragette movement in the early 20th century. A statue is being placed in Leicester so I will have a look at it some point next week and take a photo. And finally, I’ll hopefully embark on a long distance run, which I’ve not done since the half marathon.

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂

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Keeping up fitnesses

I’ve been pretty good at getting myself down to the gym recently. My current shifts at work enable me to have a workout in the late morning or early afternoon, and the gym is conveniently only a 15 minute walk away from work.

I wrote a blog nearly two years ago about adapting to different circumstances, which was when I had recently started a new full-time job. I fitted in the gym around my 9-5 shifts by going early in the morning, but now I’m lucky to be in situation where I can easily access the gym from work without having to get up really early in the morning.

I had a really intense session last Wednesday on the cross trainer and I’ve managed to go to the gym twice so far this week! Even though the intense cardio session on the cross trainer is a favourite of mine (as it burns a lot of calories!), I try to vary my workouts. I sometimes do a little bit of cardio on different machines. For example on Monday, I started out by doing an intense 1km on the cross trainer, and then varied the gradient during a 2.5km session on the treadmill.

1km on the cross trainer

 

2.5km on the treadmill

For the first time in a while, I had a go on the machine weights today. I focused on my arms and leg, trying out a few machines which I wasn’t familiar with. I spent about 20 minutes on different machine weights, after warming up on the cross trainer for 10 minutes. I then decided to cool down after the weights by taking a gentle stroll at different gradients on the treadmill for 10 minutes.

In an ideal world, I should be going to the gym at least three times a week, but that doesn’t happen for various reasons. I’m very happy if I go to the gym twice a week. When the weather starts to improve I would like to start long distance running again, as I’ll be running my second half marathon in October.

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂

A happy 2018

Happy New Year everyone!

It’s already proving to be an interesting start of the year for me so far. My sister is due to give birth to her first child any time soon, so I’ll be becoming an auntie! My family is on high alert waiting for a phone call from my sister or brother-in-law. I wish them both a prosperous year ahead with plenty of joy and sweet times ahead.

So looking back at 2017 on my blog, my main focus was definitely fitness. I was more determined than ever to run my first half marathon, which I’m glad to have completed on Sunday 15th October 2017 in 2 hours and 47 minutes. With 9 months to train, I gradually built up the distance I was running, starting with 12.5km, then 15km for the Resolution Run, followed by 18km and then the target of 21km. The training was certainly challenging, especially as I experienced a brief period of pain in my shins. I was worried about this, but luckily the pain started to subside and I had no pain in my shins on the day itself. The Leicester half marathon was an incredible experience and one I’d like to take part in again!

After completing my first half marathon

Due to the nature of my training for the half marathon, I didn’t run in many parkruns last year since they are 5km. The last parkrun I ran was in May, which was my sixteenth parkrun. I was even contemplating reaching the 25 or 50 parkrun target last year, but waking up early every Saturday morning can prove challenging for me. I only need to run nine more parkruns to complete 25, so that could be possible to do this year.

On the foodie side, I gave up meat for lent as I have done for the past few years. I love experimenting with vegetarian options during this period of time. I made a vegetable pasta bake, had a go at making Spanish omelettes and a few vegetarian quiches. I also satisfied my sweet tooth a few times throughout the year, making a variety of cakes from lemon drizzle to a chocolate banana loaf. I will more than likely give up meat again for lent this year.

Lemon drizzle cake

Looking back at feminism last year, one of the biggest topics was definitely Donald Trump. I would love to have gone to one of the many worldwide marches protesting against Trump, which was known as ‘Women of the world unite‘. Another topic that became popular on social media was the taboo surrounding periods when Bodyform released a ‘controversial’ advert. The advert showed a young man buying menstrual products and a woman in the shower with blood running down her leg. I believe that this was a breakthrough as it was the first advert to show blood, which was aimed to help break the terrible taboo around period shaming. My most recent blog on feminism was briefly about sexist statements that I’ve heard throughout my life. I also wrote about a poem this called ‘Things I(we’ve) heard‘.

Bodyform’s new advert

As with last year, I’ve decided not to set myself any New Year’s resolutions for 2018. The simple truth is, I just want to be happy. Unfortunately I experienced a few things which really made me unhappy, and quite frankly a bit down too. My experiences from last year have made me realise that a weakness of mine is letting people walk over me. I don’t like disappointing people to the point where I end up putting myself at a disadvantage and often uncomfortable position. It’s a weakness that I need to work on, as I’ve put up with enough (sorry to use the word) s***.

Therefore this year I would like to be happy, not put up with nonsense and work towards becoming more willing to speak out when I need to, rather than letting things go aside. As well as this, I will take part in the Leicester half marathon again and work to beat my first time of 2 hours and 47 minutes. I will also give up meat for lent and continue being a feminist working towards gender equality!

Here’s to a prosperous 2018!

 

As always, happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear

Oh what fun it is to run

This morning I ran in my first Santa Fun Run in a village called Broughton Astley. I signed up for the run as soon as I found out about it via social media last month. I’ve heard about them and wanted to give it a go, and I’m so glad that I found out about this one which wasn’t too far for me to get to.

All geared up as Santa!

I picked up my Santa outfit when I arrived this morning, which I wore over my running gear. The bottoms were baggier than I expected for a ‘one size’ outfit, so I had to tighten them with a drawstring and my bumbag helped to keep them in place during the run. I wore the beard around my neck while running as it would’ve been hard to breathe with it covering my mouth.

Rocking Santa’s beard!

Overall I was very pleased with the Santa suit, as it was light and allowed plenty of room for movement. Plus it really put me in the festive mood! There was the option to complete 3km or 5km, which you could walk or run. I opted to run 5km, which was fun to do with lots of other Santas! Even though it felt cool outside, I got warm very quickly with the suit on, so I rolled up my sleeves and took my Santa hat off about half way round the route.

All of the Santas raring to go!

I managed to complete the 5km route around Broughton Astley in about 38 minutes. The last time I went out for a run was for my first half marathon, so I think 38 minutes was a good time today, since it was a new 5km route which I hadn’t ran before and I was wearing a suit which made me feel rather warm and sweaty.

I’d love to do a Santa Fun Run again next year- it was really fun and lovely to see so many people happy with festive cheer! There were even dogs dressed up in mini Santa outfits, and lots of children took part as well.

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂

Final goodbye

I had to say goodbye for the final time to a very much loved family member recently. Last Thursday evening I had to say goodbye to my oldest dog Oscar, who was a blue roan cocker spaniel and had reached a mighty age of 15 years last month.

I thought that I’d mention about the loss of Oscar on my blog as I have referred to him a few times before, as well as my other dog Barney who seems to be coping ok at the moment. I picked up Oscar with my father on my 10th birthday, so it was heartbreaking when I had him on my lap to take him to the vets last week. Oscar had lost all of his strength in his legs and couldn’t stand up, and the vet said that it’s probable that he had kidney failure as well.

I grew up with Oscar who was my first dog, and it certainly helped to make me more active. I would take Oscar out for walks with my father after school and work, and also at the weekends. There are so many lovely walks near where I live, as well as some places further afield including the British coast where Oscar loved to run around on the beach and swim in the sea. Oscar was even a traveler and went on holiday with my father and I when we used to go camping around France, Spain and Portugal during the summer holidays.

Oscar didn’t just help to make my family and I more active; he made us realise just how much a dog becomes a part of your family. Dogs have their own unique characteristics and personalities, just like we humans do. Oscar brought a lot of laughter for my family and friends, as well as plenty of love and fond memories.

I made the collage of Oscar below to remember him by, which I might even print off and frame in the house somewhere. Thank you for the good times Oscar, you will be greatly missed. RIP ❤

Oscar ❤

Clare Bear

Finally figured it out…

This is a little embarrassing to admit but after being a member of my local gym for just over two years, I’ve only just figured out what one of the readings on a cardio machine stands for. Each time I’ve been on the cross trainer for an intense cardio workout I’ve tried to figure out the reading which shows the intensity level you are at. I’ll explain with the photo bel0w of my result at the gym this morning:

So I completed a 3km workout on the cross trainer, which is shown on the goal setting, in 48 minutes and 59 seconds.  I understand that the graph like reading below the goal indicates the effort/intensity level, so the bar moves up or down accordingly when I increase or lower the intensity.

What’s been puzzling me for a long time now is when the bar moves onto the next column in the graph like reading. I wasn’t sure when the bar would move onto the next column and thought it was to do with the time, but that didn’t seem to correlate with the workout. It seems glaringly obvious now, but the bar moves onto the next column once I have completed 0.25km. There are 12 columns in total on the reading, so 0.25km x 12= 3km.

Now that I know how the reading works, I focused on an intensity level for each 1/4km, aiming to complete each 1/4km in 4 minutes. This works out at 1km in 16 minutes, which is hard to do when I varied the intensity levels and tried to keep up the same speed as well. Of course this made an excellent intense workout as I was trying to aim for 48 minutes.

As you can see I didn’t quite make it to 48 minutes, but I very nearly completed 3km in 49 minutes. This was due to the fact that I attempted my highest intensity level so far, which is level 16. I tried to keep up the speed to between 126-134 spins per minute, but it took some getting used to at first. There are 25 intensity levels on the cross trainer I like to use at the gym, so maybe I could work my way up. I have more muscles in my thighs than ever due to training for my first half marathon, so this cardio intense exercise is great for working out my legs and higher intensity levels will push me to see how far I can go on the cross trainer.

Now that I’ve figured out how the reading works for 3km, I can work it out for other distances. For example, if I was to complete 2km on the cross trainer, the bar would move to the next column after 0.16 recurring, so probably rounded up to 0.17km. And if I was to go even further and complete 4km, it would be 0.33 recurring, so the bar would probably move onto the next column on the graph after each 0.33km. With these sorts of awkward figures that aren’t as clean cut as 0.25km, I don’t know how it would work on the cross trainer, so I could give it a try to see what happens.

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂

Update #21

As with my previous update, I mostly focused on fitness on my blog since I was preparing myself for my first half marathon, which I successfully ran on Sunday 15th October at the Leicester Marathon.

After finishing my first half marathon

It has almost been three weeks since I completed my toughest physical challenge so far, and I’m still buzzing about it now! The atmosphere was electric and it was amazing to see so many people running for different causes and charities. I enjoyed the experience so much that I am tempted to sign up for another half marathon on Sunday 11th February 2018. Starting at Prestwold Hall in Loughborough, this will be the first ever Leicestershire Half Marathon, so it would be exciting to run at a new event.

After reflecting on my first half marathon, I have decided not to opt for the full 26 miles. I consider myself to be fit enough to run a half marathon but I would need to be much fitter to run the distance of a full marathon. I found 13 miles hard enough to do and the Leicester Marathon was certainly my hardest challenge yet. For the meantime I would like to focus on improving my time of 2 hours and 47 minutes, which is what it took me to run 13 miles almost three weeks ago.

I am also considering participating in shorter runs, such as the Charity Santa Fun Run in a village called Broughton Astley. Taking place on Sunday 3rd December, there is the option to run 3km or 5km dressed up as Santa Claus! I am very tempted to have a go at this for fun, as well as getting in the Christmas spirit (even though it’s before my birthday, which is on the 7th December!). I would opt for the 5km option, and it would be nice to have a run somewhere new.

It had been a while since I wrote a feminist blog, but I managed to post one last month about the negative stigmas associated with women, including periods and body hair. The blog explores how the negative impact of these issues affect women, and how we are also starting to gradually talk more about it.

I’d like to get back into parkruns, as it has been almost five months since I last ran a parkrun! Training for the half marathon means that I have been focusing on running longer distances, but 5km is a nice distance to run. Plus there are people I haven’t seen for a long time who make up the friendly community of the Braunstone parkrun.

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂