So this is the New Year

Sparkler
Sparklers!

Welcome to 2015!

While my first week of the New Year hasn’t started quite as planned, in the last four days I’ve still tried something new, learned something new and set myself some new goals for the year ahead.

For New Year’s Eve we had our traditional family party. This is where my brother-in-law and cousin bake a game pie for the meat-eaters and vegan pie for the veggies and where we all play games, let off fireworks and drink fizzy wine until moments after midnight when we all fall asleep in front of Jools Holland* (none of us are night owls!).

This year a group of us had signed up to a New Year’s Day morning ParkRun in Hanley Park, which kept me on the straight and narrow drinks-wise, as I wasn’t too keen on the idea of a run following a late night, too much food and a hangover.

Team ParkRun
Team ParkRun

I ran with my brother-in-law, my cousin and my friend and fellow blogger Ruth and it was so much fun! It was my first ever ParkRun but the atmosphere was great and everyone was so supportive.

It was also useful as a means of being in an event-like environment but without the pressure of wanting to get a particular time and I’m hoping that doing more in future will help to fight my event day jitters.

Over the holidays I’ve also been trying to run more in the morning to try and get my body used to it.

In his book, Which comes first, cardio or weights?, Alex Hutchinson** suggests that while researchers believe that the increase in body temperature over the course of the day could lead to better performance in the late afternoon (with an increased core temperature leading to looser muscles, faster metabolic reactions and faster transmission of nerve signals), several studies also suggested that time-specific training can have time-specific benefits, so if you want to be at your best first thing in the morning you are best to train at that time.

Running
ParkRun finish line

He also quotes a study in which Spanish researchers were able to shift peak performance times forward or backwards by up to two hours just by adjusting sleep-wake and meal times by the same time period. While it’s not clear whether performance was related to total time awake or whether the changes in meal and sleep times changed the body clock itself, this is something worth trying if you have an event coming up with an early start time.

The afternoon of New Year’s day was spent on a walk with my family, followed by snuggling up to watch Miranda with a soya hot chocolate and a long leisurely bath; bliss!

Now you might have imagined that following such a lovely day I would wake up on Friday feeling rested and ready for a quick morning run before heading back to London (as had been my plan), but no! Instead I awoke with crippling stomach pains, a raging headache and nausea so bad that I was sick just getting out of bed. It seemed to have come from nowhere and nothing helped.

Lazing with one of my favourite boys
Lazing with one of my favourite boys

As it was I spent the day in bed with my kitty listening to Radio 4 dozing in and out of a restless sleep with my mum very generously on hand to look after me.

On Saturday I felt marginally better, with only some sickness and pains, but still not up to getting home and definitely not up to a run.

Frustratingly this means I’m now two runs behind schedule and I don’t imagine running today will be a good idea either.

Still I’ve decided to forgive myself for a few days of rest and to start again properly on Monday. As I’ve been running throughout the Christmas period I’ve decided three days won’t hurt too much and resting will mean a faster recovery (more from Alex Hutchinson on this in a future post).

For it’s time to pack up ready for the journey back to London when I hope my New Year’s training can restart in earnest.

Happy New Year all!

*In front of Jools Holland on the TV, not in real life, that would be rude and slightly odd

**You will be hearing a lot more quotes from Alex Hutchinson as his book is really informative and useful. You can follow him on twitter @sweatscience

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