Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Fitness | How I got 10k race ready in 8 weeks.

One of 2018's New Year's Resolutions was to run 10k without stopping. I'd started to challenge myself on the treadmill last year, aiming to do one 5k run a week and gradually I went from having to stop for a quick water break and some air every other kilometre, to being able to run it confidently and pacing myself against time. I really wanted to get back into running this year, as I was so into it about two/three years ago and I got fitter and felt far more body confident in the process. So, in a bid to get (read: force) myself back into it, I signed up for the Cardiff Half Marathon and training was underway. 
As my 5k runs started getting quicker and, honestly I'm shocked myself saying this, easier, I decided it was time for my first challenge and at the end of January I signed up to run the Cardiff Bay 10k. It would be the first ever running race I'd properly done, apart from the local fun run every kid in the school participated in when I was younger, and it's safe to say I was pretty terrified. I'd given myself 8 weeks to get ready, and the goal was to get around the course without stopping or walking. 

And I did it! I'm pleased to say I completed the 10k rather comfortably, and even ended up crossing the finish line in 58 minutes, even though I anticipated I'd be well over an hour. I ran around, even speeding up in the second half in order to try and beat the hour mark, and overall I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I ran with some of my favourite people, the atmosphere was electric, and everyone was there to have a good time. People were shouting and cheering you on as you ran past, giving you high fives and encouraging you to keep going. If anything it's made me ever so slightly less scared for the Half Marathon, and I'm even excited at the thought of doing it!
So how did I do it? I think it's safe to say I am in no way an expert, but I am a beginner and I enjoyed reading about other people's experiences in the lead up to my race. So here are my tips and tricks for getting ready to smash your first 10km.

1. Start running

Sounds completely obvious, but you have to start somewhere! I'll be honest, I used to loathe running. Just the thought of my feet thudding against the treadmill would have me running to the weights section of the gym, but now I've found that I actually crave a little run now and again, and the feeling on completing a run is amazing. It doesn't matter how far you can run to begin with. Start small, with water breaks and walks in between, and build up your distance gradually over time.

2. Get comfortable with 5k

This was the bit that I was most worried about. I guess I can run pretty fast if I want to. Hey, if it's last orders at the bar I'm there quicker than you can say Usain Bolt, but when it comes to stamina and distance I definitely struggle. The biggest bit of advice I read was to get comfortable with a 5k distance. Make sure you can complete it comfortably without stopping and from there you should be good to go. Every week leading up to the 10k race I made sure to run 5k on the treadmill. I basically scheduled it in that every Thursday evening after work, I would run a 5k and aimed to beat my PB each time. Sometimes I did, sometimes I didn't, but it was all aiding in helping me to get further faster.

3. Get some outdoor, long distance runs in

The weather in the lead up to the 10k was abysmal. Snow, rain, more snow, more rain, freezing temperatures, hailstone, even more snow. We had it all, and I actually only managed to get two longer distance outdoor runs into my training regime, which worried me a little. I ran with my mum who is an absolute trooper when it comes to outdoor running (would definitely get a running partner too, btw!) and I actually surprised myself as I ran around 8km both times, at a decent pace and without stopping. The longer runs were more difficult, but I felt really proud of myself knowing that I could do it if I put my mind to it. It also definitely showed the bonus of getting outdoors and running on different terrains and up hills etc. I'm looking forward to doing more running when the sun finally makes an appearance in preparation for the half marathon.

4. Mind over matter

As I said, stamina is not my strong point, and there would be times when running that I actually felt like just packing it in altogether. It's true what they say, there definitely is a "wall" that you have to get through, and for me it always comes up in the second third of a run, if that makes sense. At first, I'm doing pretty well, then I hit this wall where my body is almost screaming at me, questioning what on earth I am doing. Shortly after, you break through, your body gets comfortable and you feel as though you can keep going for far longer. As well as training your body, you have to train your mind and get into that mindset that you can do this, and that you will. That was probably one of the most difficult aspects of training for me, but on race day there are so many people around you, cheering you on and encouraging you to keep going. If only there was a little group of people cheering me on during my training runs...

5. Mix it up with different work outs

As well as working on my running training I enjoyed taking part in different classes at my gym to improve my overall fitness. I found spin classes really helpful as it loosened my legs up a little the day before my scheduled runs, and I also took part in weight training to help tone my legs and gain a little muscle strength. It also meant I was never bored at the gym and I learned to love my body again, something I've wanted to do for quite some time.

6. Look after your body

It's true when they say that training for any sort of race almost becomes a lifestyle, and I also ensured I was eating well, getting plenty of sleep and making sure not to burn the candles at both ends too. It really is amazing what a little self-care can do, and I loved that feeling of waking up on a Sunday morning ready to skip to the gym, rather than sprint to the toilet bowl. I've completely overhauled my life, and I feel so much better for it. Of course, I've enjoyed parties and nights out here and there. I've eaten plenty of pizza and have had a glass of prosecco or two, but my training regime reminded me that this was something I only wanted to enjoy now and again. I had more important things to focus on.

Now, my next focus is the Half Marathon in October, and I know that I really need to up my distance and get outside more in order to complete it comfortably. I plan to join a social running club, which would really push me outside of my comfort zone, and I also want to try and enjoy running by myself more. I do find it difficult to run long distance when I'm on my own, but it's something I really need to get into.

Do you enjoy running?
Lots of love. xoxo

Sunday, 1 April 2018

5 things I'm excited to do this spring.

Happy Easter everybody! This truly is my favourite time of year, and I am so happy that the clocks have finally sprung forward. I mean, at last! Anyone else feel like this winter has lasted f o r e v e r? I'm so ready to kiss goodbye to snow, ice and freezing temperatures, and to embrace light nights, blossom trees and Easter with open arms. It's without a doubt my favourite time of year. Back in October I listed a little wishlist I had for the autumn months, so to celebrate the start of spring I decided I would list exactly what I want to get up to this season...

1. Plan some cute day trips

It's been ages since I spontaneously got in my car, or hopped on a train, and went out for a day of exploring, good food, lots of photos and new experiences. Maybe it's because the weather has been so cold/drizzly/wet/snowy, but now that the days are getting longer and the temperature will (hopefully!) be getting warmer, I'm really looking forward to getting a few day trips in the diary. Days out in Bristol and London are definitely on the cards, and I'm also looking forward to a few days back home next weekend so I can visit some of my favourite places in West Wales. I'd love to go further afield too, but I'm in the process of saving for a house so that may need to wait until a summer holiday!

2. Get outside more

I am also so fed up of spending so much time indoors. I've forced myself to brave the cold and get out and about over the winter, but I can't help but rush around as quickly as possible to get back into the warmth of my flat. I love the countryside, the fresh air and I'm so looking forward to these longer, lighter nights.

3. Go road running at least once a week

Last week I completed my first ever 10k race (keep your eyes peeled for a post coming up soon!) and in a bid to continue my training and get half marathon ready for October I want to get outside and run at least once a week. I've actually started to really love running, but it's time to get off the treadmill and out into the open air.

4. Be that basic bitch taking blossom tree photos

Yep, I'm not even afraid to admit I am one of these gals who gets so excited when the trees fill with blossom. It's just too pretty not to photograph, am I right? I want to start working on some more outfit photos too, and they create the perfect background.

5. Springclean and declutter

I'm always cleaning anyway, but now that I'm hoping to move flats at some point this year it's definitely time to declutter and get rid of bits and bobs I no longer need. I'm going to start this morning by blitzing the flat from top to toe, opening the windows to get in some fresh air, and getting the washing done so the flat smells of fresh laundry. Then, it's onto my makeup bag to get rid of products that are old and no longer in use, before working through the letters and notes I keep stashed in a box.

What are you looking forward to doing this spring?
Lots of love. xoxo

Sunday, 18 March 2018

5 years of All Things Beautiful | What I love about it and why I keep on blogging...

I cannot believe that it's been five whole years. This week marks five freaking years since I spontaneously created this little space after discovering the Blogosphere, one lonely night while sat in bed in uni halls, feeling incredibly homesick and absolutely desperate for an escape from reality. Back then I was a somewhat timid 19-year-old girl, who was scared of the future and the changes that would come with it. Today I feel empowered, determined, and at 24 years old I'm more confident and headstrong than ever before. 
It's true that, like me, the Blogosphere has completely evolved over the years. It's gone from something that only those who were really involved in it knew about, to an incredibly fierce industry that has taken the media by storm. I'm the first to admit that when I first started I was worried about telling my "non-blogger" friends about it. Was it weird that I spent my spare time writing about makeup products and showing off the clothes I wore, whilst speaking to random people I'd never met over the internet and obsessing over flatlays, hashtags and all things marble? Fast-forward five years and now some of my friends blog, others are obsessed with certain YouTubers and too many to count follow some of my fave bloggers on Instagram. 

It's also true that, like many others who started out in the "early days", I feel that blogging has lost its personality a little. Long gone are the Sunday evening Twitter chats and the mirror-posed-selfies showing off your latest Topshop haul finds. Today it's all about that minimalist aesthetic, professional photoshoots and a feeling that unless you have 10k followers and beyond that there's no point in bothering at all. I've definitely felt like I can't keep up with the beast that the Blogosphere has become, and last year I questioned whether to pack it in completely; but this blog has been with me through the highs and lows of my first steps into adulthood, and I want to continue documenting my journey and following the journeys of others for years to come. 

That's the reason why I still blog. I blog because, to me, this little creative space is an outlet for me to express, reflect and record everything that's going on in this whirlwind that I call life. In five years I've written about my struggle to settle in university, my homesickness, my dissertation stress, the happiness I felt when graduating and being accepted onto an MA course. I've taken my first steps in my chosen field. I've written about my internships, how this small-town Welsh gal took on London life. I've expressed my joy at how I finally kickstarted my career within the media, how I moved into my own place in Cardiff, how I strived to succeed in my job, and how, now, I'm ready to take the next step and buy a home of my own. It's been there through every high and low, every milestone, and I don't quite feel ready to say goodbye to all of that yet. 

Blogging for me is no longer about the opportunities, the need to grow my platforms, or the chance to make money. I've never wanted to become a full-time blogger, and I doubt whether I'd even enjoy it anyway. For me, blogging is all about sharing my thoughts and feelings about a particular topic, or during a particular time in my life, and the aim is to share in the hope that I will help someone else one day who is struggling or is in need of a boost in some way. 

This time last year I was questioning whether I should even continue blogging at all. Honestly, I feel like 2017 was an incredible year of growth and change, but I did lose myself a little along the way, and in 2018 I vowed to keep on blogging and to channel my creativity in any way I could. I'm so glad I did. Writing has always been such a release for me, and to be back writing, photographing and reading regularly has fuelled my creative passions and has allowed me to find that tiny piece of me that went missing again. 

So there you have it. Five years, nearly 600 posts, countless events, one television interview, a shift from beauty to lifestyle, and host of amazing new gal pals who I've met along the way. It's been a blast and long may it continue... 

Lots of love. xoxo

Sunday, 11 March 2018

8 lifestyle changes I made to feel body confident again.

About three years ago I overhauled my diet and lifestyle. I went from living off the typical student diet of microwave meals and vodka, to fuelling myself with veggies and learning to love exercise again, and I managed to shift the pounds I'd piled on at university and felt the most confident I ever had in the process. I no longer felt self-conscious. I pushed myself by attending different gym classes and I actually fell in love with running. I got interested in nutrition and worked hard to nourish my body. I felt so much better, physically and mentally, and enjoyed challenging myself.

It was a wonderful feeling, but as my studies took over my life in 2016 and I started a new job where I was constantly away from home in 2017, my healthy lifestyle fell by the wayside a little. I still continued to work out near enough to five times a week and tried to make healthy choices where I could, but it wasn't as much of a priority and honestly I was left feeling a little deflated. 2018 was the year I vowed to get back to feeling my most confident, and by making the following simple lifestyle changes over the past few months I can happily say I'm there again.

1. Move more

Have you realised just how much time we actually spend just sat down? Sitting in the office, sitting in the car while driving or commuting to the office, sitting down when we go out to grab a coffee at lunch time, sitting down in the evening after a busy day of being sat down. I pretty much spend the majority of my day sitting on my arse, without even wanting to! Since the new year I've vowed to move more.

In the week I'm making a conscious effort to walk to work when I can, and at lunch time I've been dragging my colleagues out for a stroll in a bid to get my steps up and to get some fresh air in the process. Even a half hour walk leaves me going back to my desk feeling rejuvenated and ready to take on the day. On the weekends I'm also making an effort to get out and get walking. Living in Wales means I'm surrounded by beautiful places to visit, but I've really been enjoying walking through Cardiff and all the city parks over the past few weeks too. I seriously underestimated just how much of an impact simply walking can have on your life. It's so good for your body and mind.

2. Don't deprive yourself

This is another thing that I've noticed has had a huge impact on how I feel and my visible results too. I try to stick to a pretty similar meal plan each day - a decent breakfast, lots of fruit, a light lunch and a snack before I go to the gym, before my evening meal - and most days I avoid sugary snacks (especially now as I've given them up for Lent!). But I do allow myself to indulge every now and again. I used to try and deprive myself of eating anything that is considered "unhealthy", and it made me very "food conscious" and would often leave me feeling incredibly guilty if I did give in and eat it anyway. Food should not make you feel this way. Now, if I fancy a slice of garlic bread when I'm out for dinner I'll have it. Likewise, if I want a handful of mini eggs to keep me going when I hit a wall in the office then I do. I find myself making healthier choices because of it. Heck, I actually find I work out better the day after I've eaten a giant pizza the night before; carb loading and all that!

3. Get enough sleep

One of the main things I wanted to stop in 2018 was the feeling that I had to go out until the early hours and get drunk in order to spend time with friends. I think moving to a new part of the city, starting a new job and meeting new people meant there was a lot of socialising going on, and it actually left me feeling pretty crap, both physically and mentally. Since practising the art of saying no, and kicking my FOMO to the ground, I've been resting more on weekends, have been getting early nights and I honestly feel so much better for it. I am one of these people that needs at least 9 hours of sleep to function well the next day, and honestly I love waking up on a weekend feeling fresh after a decent night's kip and ready to take on the day. My general heath is a lot better, and I've been able to train harder too. 

4. Keep your workouts fresh 

My favourite way to work out is to attend fitness classes at my local gym, and over the past few months I've really enjoyed trying out the different classes that Pure Gym Cardiff has to offer. I've been lifting heavier weights, which is the best stress reliever IMO, and I've also been getting my butt back into running. I fell in love with running a few years ago, but pretty much stopped going out over the last year as I was so busy with work. Now though I try and do a longish run (5k or more) at least once a week, and mix them in with my workouts. It means I never get bored, and I'm really excited for spring so I can finally get out in the evenings again.

5. Eat out less 

I'm a sucker for dining out. I love going out for meals, but in a bid to save money and to look after myself a little better I've reduced how often I go out for dinner and am eating home cooked meals instead, and I feel a lot better for it. I probably do dine out at least once a week most weeks, but I don't mind so much now that I'm not going out as often on the weekends. I've also enjoyed getting more into cooking meals that I'd usually eat out at home. I feel far less bloated as I know exactly what's going into the meal, and it's a great way to boost my (mediocre) cooking skills too.

6. Drink more water/less alcohol

This also came as part of my bid to look after my mind a lot more, and the benefits have also been great for my body confidence. I've only been out for drinks about three times this year and generally I feel a lot less tired and groggy. I'm not itching to eat badly after a night out, I'm getting far more sleep, I'm able to train a lot harder int he gym, and my skin is so much better. My mood has also improved ten-fold and it just feels nice to be me again.

7. Give yourself something to aim for

2018 was also the year I decided I would run a half marathon, having said for about two years that I wanted to do one and never actually getting round to doing it. So, in January I signed my mum, myself and my uncle up to run the Cardiff Half Marathon in October and it's really given me the boost I needed to get to the gym, especially on those early mornings. I love setting goals, and I'm quite determined when it comes to achieving them. Admittedly, I'm rather terrified, but October is a fair bit away so I have plenty of time to get my distance up. I'm not worried about timing, I just want to complete the race without stopping or walking. I'm also doing my first ever 10k race in two weeks time, so I'm excited to get out there and see how I get on!

8. Remind yourself of how well you're doing

I think it's always easier to put yourself down than boost yourself up but I'm making a real effort to think positively and to applaud myself for the changes I've made and the results I've gained. Looking back at where I was and realising how far I've come is a great motivator, and I also love seeing and supporting other gals who are doing the same thing. You go huns!

Lots of love. xoxo