Thursday, 26 July 2012

I'm Just Going To Stick A Needle In You...

Er... What?

When I went to visit my lovely physiotherapist, Vicky last night, I have to say I wasn't expecting her to say she was going to stick a needle in my leg. However, acupuncture has been used for years as a way of encouraging blood circulation to the affected area, promoting repair - magic!

Anyway, it has worked an absolute treat - my hip is feeling much better and I think I'm going to attempt a very slow jog with the Run Harrogate crew this evening. I have a massage booked tomorrow and a further physio session on Saturday morning, so fingers crossed I won't be too far behind schedule.

Vicky also noticed that my hamstrings are incredibly tight and suggested that may be partly to blame for my injury - my hips could be overcompensating. So more than ever, I am learning that stretching properly is as important as the run itself. I have some new stretches to incorporate now, so fingers crossed it will help. I am also going to start taking ibuprofen half an hour before my runs and when I get back - this will prevent a build up of muscle inflammation, which is obviously a huge problem for me at the moment.

Anyway, I'll keep this one short, I know I've already posted about food today!

Sam x

Olympic Food Challenge: Palau

Over the next few days, you’ll be seeing daily blog posts from me under a completely different theme. Those of you who even vaguely know me understand my obsession with food, so this will probably come as no surprise; I signed up to do the #OlympicFoodChallenge with a group of fabulous food bloggers – the aim is to cook a traditional meal from each of the 204 countries over the 19 days of the Olympics between us – 19 recipes each.

My list is hilarious. There are countries I have (unsurprisingly, given my basic knowledge of geography) never heard of, and it’s one of these that I decided to kick off the challenge with; Palau.

Palau is part of the archipelago known as ‘The Black Islands’ and has a population of just 21,000. In spite of this, a healthy amount of tourists head to the island each year and as a result, Palauan cuisine has sadly diminished over the years. Young people on the island are increasingly choosing Western food and culture – although why they would poo-poo chomping down on a fruit bat or two is beyond me.

Japanese and Korean traditions heavily influence Palauan culture, and as such, I dipped in and out of three different recipes to create my Palauan fish dish; Palauan Fish with Coconut Rice and Plantain.

I was meant to use mackerel for this, but I hate all the fiddly little bones – I’m such a fish heathen – so I used sea bass instead. Baking a whole mackerel in the oven instead of using fillets on the hob would work fantastically, I would imagine – if you like that sort of thing.

For the Palauan Fish

2 good-sized sea bass fillets
1Tbsp hot chilli paste
1tsp minced garlic (I used smoked garlic – it was immense)
1Tbsp sesame oil
1tsp finely grated ginger
1tsp oyster sauce
1Tbsp soy sauce
1Tbsp brown sugar
1Tbsp lemon juice
1Tbsp sesame seeds
1 bunch of spring onions, chopped (just the green bits)

For the Plantain

1 plantain
1Tbsp sesame oil

For the Coconut Rice

Rice, cooked according to the instructions
Coconut milk
1 stick lemongrass, well bruised


Start with the rice. Make it up according to the instructions on the packet. In the meantime, warm the coconut milk in a pan and add the bashed lemongrass. Just before the rice is fully cooked (a few minutes or so) add the coconut/lemongrass mixture and allow the rice to fully soak up the liquid. You only need a few tablespoons of the liquid.

Now for the plantain – warm a good slosh of sesame oil in a frying pan and slice the plantain into diagonal chunks around 1cm thick. Pop them in the pan and turn occasionally until you’ve plated everything else up.

Don’t forget them.

Meanwhile, heat the sesame oil for your fish in a separate frying pan.

While you’re waiting for it to become smoking hot, mix all the other ingredients together in a bowl. Don’t be shy, just whack it all in and give it a good mix.

Add your fish to your hot oil, skin side down and leave for a few minutes until the skin becomes crispy.

Baste the fish generously with the sauce, flipping over to baste the skin side as well.

Tip the rest of the sauce into the pan along with the spring onions.

Stir the chopped coriander through the rice, and lay out on your serving plates. Lay your fish out on top and spoon the sauce over the top. Arrange your plantain in a fancy way on the side.

Eat and enjoy*.

*So, there are a couple of things to mention here. Firstly, I know a lot of people like their fish skin crispy – it won’t work with the way I’ve done it, but it does mean that the fish takes on the maximum amount of delicious flavor. Secondly, the plantain brings absolutely nothing to this dish at all, but I like the way it looks.

Tonight: Poland.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

What Goes Up...

So, last night I ran 16km. And I was gutted. I know it sounds silly, but I had my heart (and mind) set on 21km – my first half marathon.

I think a few things were against me – I can appreciate now that any change in routine can have a huge effect on your performance, and there were certainly a few changes.

Firstly, I missed my regular Thursday run last week as I was preparing for my friend Sarah’s beautiful wedding. I drank at the wedding (not loads, but a little all the same). I got a tummy bug. The day of my run was incredibly hot and sunny.

All of these factors mingled together in one catastrophic bang – and my hip went. Seriously, I hate this hip.

My old nemesis is back – the piriformis injury I managed to beat earlier in my training programme. I felt a twang at 14km but ignored it, hoping it was all in my mind, and carried on for another 2km – it was so painful but I was determined to reach 16km – my first ever 10 miles. As soon as I hit it I almost fell over; I was so angry with myself for pushing it and even more angry with my rubbish body for not holding out for that final 5km.

Today, I still feel gutted, although I know that 10 miles is nothing to be sniffed at on a stifling Monday evening.

I have booked in for a full body massage on Friday and have a physio appointment on Saturday morning. I’ll rest it until then and hope beyond hope that Vicky tells me it will be okay.

Berlin is now just over nine weeks away – I need to be upping my distances by 3-4 km each week for the next six weeks, if Vicky tells me I have to rest then it will be a huge setback.

Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Sam x

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Record Breaker

Okay, so it's been two weeks since I last posted. I've been meaning to - honest, it's just that I've been busy running (most of the time).

Excuses out of the way, I can get on with it. I'm feeling so positive about Berlin now - last night I broke three of my PB's in one, mad, running swoop. I took four minutes off my 10km time, ran further and ran for longer than I ever have before. This pleases me greatly. I am so competitive it's sometimes scary - and although I mostly just battle with myself, I love it when I am better at something than I ever thought I could be.

Last night I ran 12km. I was aiming for 16km (10 miles) and although I am kicking myself this morning for not cracking it, last night I was beyond pleased. I was running 40seconds/km faster than my last 10km and it felt good. My legs are sore today - but no pain, no gain. I could've run for longer - it's just that I got... Well, bored of running. 

So this is it - I know I can manage the physical side of this running lark - I'm in better shape than I ever have been (apart from my dastardly post-baby tummy wobble, which I'm not sure I'll ever get rid of), but mentally - well, that needs work.

The book I have chosen to help my training (The non-runner's guide to marathon running) has a whole section in it dedicated to the psychology of running for such long distances - more than ever this is something I need to focus on.

It also occurred to me last night that I never get thirsty while running. When I first started out, taking on fluids used to give me the dreaded stitch, so I stopped. Even after my run last night I wasn't particularly parched. So this is something I need help with. When are the best times to drink? What about energy gels? I know nothing about these things. So, if anyone out there knows anything about this kind of stuff, I'll be eternally grateful for a little advice.

If I can keep upping my distances by 3km each week, I'll be at my target come race day. Finally, it's manageable. I'm excited.

Sam x

You can sponsor me, if you're feeling generous. I'll be eternally grateful, and so will the lovely people at Children with Cancer, who I am honoured to be running for:

Sunday, 1 July 2012

13 Weeks to Berlin

I can't believe how quickly this year is passing by and how much I need to step up my game if I'm even going to finish in Berlin. 

Today, I had a terrible run - one of those runs where you question why you're even attempting such a ridiculous challenge. 26 miles is a bloody long way - I was gone at two miles today - totally lethargic all the way and completely empty by the end.

I need to work on my mental strength - even my head was telling me to stop today, when usually I want to just keep going. I felt great when I was on Lean Body Challenge - obviously because I was putting the right fuel into my body, so it was working as it should. Too much wine this weekend has really taken its toll - so I'll be booze free for the coming weeks - just until I can sort my head out.

I seem to have passed 50 miles on my counter without blogging about it - next milestone is 100 but I have a way to go yet... I'll pass 100km this week; even though I'm beating myself up about my performance today, never in my life did I think I'd be able to run 100km - or even have the inclination to. So I guess that's something I can be proud of.

Anyway, I hate blogging when I'm feeling negative - I just wanted to start out July as I mean to go on - regular posts, unlike June! Fingers crossed Tuesday's run will be a turning point...

Sam x