My Top Tips for RunDisney Challenges

This week was the bib-only registration for this year’s RunDisney at Disneyland Paris, and after taking last year off, I’m super pleased to be back and participating in the 36K challenge!

This will be my 5th RunDisney challenge, having previous run Disneyland’s Rebel Challenge (2016) and Pixie Dust Challenge (2017), Walt Disney World’s Glass Slipper Challenge (2017) and Disneyland Paris’s 31K challenge (2017), so this is not an unusual thing for me, but having only ever done challenges that involve a 10K and half marathon, throwing in the extra 5K will be a little different!

All of these previous events have given me a lot of experience in how I face these weekend challenges, and while I must REALLY reinforce the fact that everyone is different when it comes to their training, approach, recovery etc, I just thought I’d share some wisdom that might be of use to anyone who might be facing their first challenge, or just want a little nosey at how I do things.

Training is SO key

I consider myself notoriously bad at training, and you’ll probably frequently see me tweeting about how little training I’ve done for various races, but my body is so used to doing these races and these distances that I can get away with winging it a little. If you are not a regular runner, or these will be your first events, I cannot stress enough how important it is that you do some training, including running back to back days and take training advice from professionals and experienced runners only.

Do NOT expect to do it all

Running every day is DRAINING. The Paris races aren’t too bad as they start at 7am, but if you’re participating in a WDW event, you’ll have to be awake at 3am at the latest to get to your events, and this has a huge impact on your day. The most important thing I have learned is to take it completely easy in the day before the bigger races, eg after the 10K and before the half marathon (or before the marathon if you’re literally and running Dopey). Have a super chilled day in the parks, or spend some time relaxing at the pool, let your body recover and rest up and you’ll be much happier, trust me.

Take the shorter races easier

You might think that the shorter races are your time to shine and want to run them full pelt, but in reality you probably want to take the opposite approach. Going all-out on a 5/10K could put you in a much worse shape going into your longer races, and believe me you want to be feeling fresh and ready for them!

Walking breaks are your friend

Jeff Galloway, the official RunDisney training expert, absolutely SWEARS by run-walk-run, and whenever I’m doing a challenge weekend I always have this in mind. Taking walking breaks reduces the risk of injury, give you a chance to enjoy your time in the parks and help you breakdown the long distances if you’re finding things hard.

Don’t put pressure on yourself, and remember to have fun!

The races will put enough pressure on your body, don’t go piling on anymore! RunDisney events are incredible things and I have never done a race I didn’t enjoy, so just go out there to have a good time, and whatever you do will be amazing.

Who else joined me in registration this week?

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‘Where Have You Been?’ Uh, France.. and other places

If anyone out there is still with me after all this time, then hey. Also, I hope there are a couple of Hamilton fans out there that appreciate the title of this post.

Six weeks. This has been the longest semi-accidental blogging break I’ve ever had, and I call it accidental because I didn’t really intend to take all of this time away, but the fact is there has just been a whole lot going on and in all this time I haven’t had the time, motivation or inspiration really to be writing 4/5 posts a week. I’m not going to apologise for this – I doubt anyone cares that much anyway. I call it semi-accidental because I did realise this a few weeks back, but I decided I’d wait for a new month, clean slate, fresh start etc, and for me there’s nothing more satisfying than a month that starts on a Monday.

So I’m back. Is this an April Fool? Who knows, we’ll see if I can actually keep it up this time, y’know, after I’ve been saying for the best part of the last year that I would get back on top of blogging and failed every single time I tried, but I think I’ve got a good feeling about this one. Blogging certainly doesn’t hold the same place in my life that it used to, but I still think its a pretty big part of who I am and I’m not ready to let go of that just yet.

All jokes in the title of this post aside, since the last time I touched base on the blog, I have actually been to France, and by that I mean Disneyland Paris. I’ve also had my best friends come to stay at my house for a weekend for the first time since we moved in, I’ve been on a little staycation in Kent with my family and Matthew and I went on a weekend trip to Berlin a week ago, so I have been all over the place really, and even when I haven’t been moving around, I haven’t exactly had time to stop. My business has truly taken over my life, but its been super exciting and I’ve spent the last two weeks working on my very own shop website, which launched on Friday.

Time to relax now? Well, I’m pretty excited to say that next week I’m headed for Disneyland! I don’t yet know if I’ll be live-blogging or will post trip reports once I’m home – I’m trying pretty hard to live in the moment right now – but I’ll definitely be sharing everything that will be happening on this trip, including my first ever Dapper Day! It does mean that this week I might do a little ‘pack with me’ type post showing you some of the outfits and park essentials I’ll be taking with me, but honestly I’m just becoming super overwhelmed with excitement as its been almost 2 years since I was last in Disneyland, which seems insane to me.

What else? To be honest, I’m not too sure if I’ve missed anything out – I know this post has been kinda super rambly – but the long and short of it is that I’m still here, and hopefully I’m back for good this time *crosses fingers*

TTFN

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The RunDisney Castaway Cay Challenge

Yes hi, I am still talking about all the running that I did in January – I think its because I haven’t done any running since so I’m looking back on better times!

So many people thought that I was mad enough to run a FRICKIN’ MARATHON midway through my holiday in January, and most of these people were even more baffled to find out that only a few days after running the longest distance of my life AND while still on holiday, I ran a further 5K race, but here me out on the logic behind it.

You see, I wanted another medal.. Yep, that’s basically it.

Every January, following the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, the Disney Dream cruise ship sets sail from Port Canaveral for a 4 night cruise. Its the same route and same cruise that the Dream does from Port Canaveral all the time, but this one particular sailing is jam packed full of runners recovering from their weekend races, who have mostly all booked it for the RunDisney Castaway Cay Challenge.

The challenge is this: if you participate in any race during the WDW Marathon Weekend – so this could be as little as the 5K – you can sign up for the challenge, which means that on the morning that the Dream docks at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, you take part in a special RunDisney organised 5K on the island, and as well as receiving the standard Castaway Cay 5K, which any guest can earn on any cruise that stops at the island, challenge participants also receive this challenge medal to round off their collection.

As with all other WDW Marathon Weekend events, bib and t-shirt pickup was done at the RunDisney expo at ESPN Wide World of Sports, but t-shirt exchange and merchandise were only available on the ship itself. Merch itself seemed a little lacking to me, there was a pin, a hanging ornament and a tech t-shirt available in two different colours, and that was all – although you could also buy a normal Castaway Cay 5K t-shirt in the gift shop on the island itself.

The challenge 5K starts earlier than the usual race, and takes a slightly different course around the island, meaning that if anyone is mad enough to want to take place in both 5Ks that will happen that morning, there’s a bit of variety. We had to meet in the ship’s theatre at crazy o’clock in the morning, and there were some drinks and bananas available there. There was a brief introduction and then each corral was led off the ship and to the start line, which was quite a walk away from the boat and it was still pretty dark at the time, but the sun had started to rise before the race kicked off.

Mickey and Goofy led us through a pre-race warm-up, and each corral were set loose on the island. There was only A, B and C, about 700 people participating, so it felt tiny compared to the other races I had done the weekend before, but it felt a lot less pressured with fewer people about. We started and ended on the island’s disused runway, and along the way there a handful of characters including Stitch, Vacation Genie, Captain Hook and Max, which was a nice surprise as I wasn’t expecting any characters on the course.

Despite recovering from the marathon relatively well, I found the first 3k HARD work, but we took it nice and easy and many people were walking – it all felt very relaxed. By the last mile my legs had found their strength again and we ran most of the leg, nicknamed by the cast members as the Ring of Fire, probably because it felt like it went on FOREVER, and then all of a sudden we were at the finish line! The finish line was complete with the usual bottles of water, bananas and snacks – I swear I still can’t face bananas – but there was also a bar set up where guests could purchase champagne and cocktails etc.

Doing the 5K was a really great way to see the island a bit before the rest of the guests descended on it, and you can stay on the island from then onwards, but we were starving and in need of a Cabanas breakfast, so we went back to the ship to eat and shower before the day of fun ahead of us!

Another one off the RunDisney bucket list!

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Hi, yes, I do care about my Instagram followers thanks

I know I’ve written a similar post to this in the past, but in light of the recent Instagram ‘glitch’, and that my opinion on this now comes from a slightly different standpoint, I thought I would come out and say this again.

Yes, I know that social media is just that – a website or an app – and followers ‘shouldn’t matter’, but I’m gonna be straight with y’all here: they do to me.

You see, in the last 9 months or so, my social media pages have become less about me personally, and more about my small business. I took my Etsy shop full time back in July after leaving my accounting job to relocate, and it’s been absolutely wonderful. It’s always been my dream to be self-employed, and being able to do something creative and to my own rules to boot, I’ve loved every second*

*Except, ironically, the accounting.

It’s also no secret that the way that people are swayed by trends and products now is mainly through social media. Brands now focus a lot more on social media marketing, full-time bloggers and influencers have become a legitimate thing and I’m honestly just so grateful that I had a blogging background when I decided to start my shop as it meant I knew all of this from the start, and so my Instagram page has become less about my blog and life, and more about my business, which I am totally cool with.

BUT this does change the pressures on it. Yes I am still very much me on Instagram, and I still use it as a social outlet, but probably 80% of what I consciously do on Instagram now is promote my business. The more I grow, the more people see my creations, the more people become potential customers, and as a small business this is SUPER important.

During the Instagram glitch, I lost almost 200 followers. No big deal, some might say, right? So I’ll just have to wait a bit longer until I hit my next follower milestone, that’s not the end of the world? You might think that and honestly I’m not offended if you do, but from my perspective, that’s 200 potential customers lost. That’s 200 people who may not have seen that I released a new product yesterday. That could be the difference between me being able to pay my mortgage this month or not.

My business aside, there are so many full-time bloggers and influencers out there who could lose out on work if they lost their followers. I may have only lost 200 followers but I know of others who lost thousands. That could be the difference between working with a particular brand or not.

I know this might all be sounding a little dramatic, but I just want to reduce the stigma around people being upset about losing followers, or even just not being able to gain them. We all know how hard it can be to gain followers on Instagram these days, so even if you’re not reliant on your follower count for your income, you’ve probably still worked pretty hard to get to where you are with it, right? Just be mindful about slamming people for something that might be important to them, even if it’s not important to you.

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Colourpop Chasing Rainbows Palette – Swatches and Thoughts

What’s that? Another Colourpop palette added to my collection? I’m not even gonna pretend this was an accident..

I asked my mum for Chasing Rainbows for Christmas, perfectly timed with a 48 hour free international shipping offer, and although that meant I had to wait until New Years to get it, I’ve never found Colourpop products to not be worth the wait.

So this is the fourth Colourpop palette that I have reviewed on here, and if you look back over all the previous ones, you would quite easily come to the conclusion that I have a thing for bright eyeshadows, and that is 100% true, which is why this particular palette jumped out at me – well, that and the super cute packaging..

As the name of the palette also suggests, the range of colours covers a good amount of the colour spectrum, with some staple browns and golds to round it out, and as the swatches below show, the pigmentation is of a classic amazing Colourpop standard.

Left to right: Realness, Feeling It, So Meta, Blurred Lines, Wiggles

Left to right: Not Playing, Keep Cool, Manifest It, Wish List, Woke

Top to bottom: Lucid, Bring It, On One, Eclipse, Prism

I really like the versatility of Colourpop palettes; it makes life so much easier when I’m travelling if I can take just one palette but am able to produce a whole bunch of different looks from it, and this is no exception. Special mention goes to the shade Lucid, which on first look didn’t look like my cup of tea, but when I swatched it I discovered its blue-ish duo-tone effect which is really beautiful.

I feel like I’m often spouting the same spiel when it comes to Colourpop, but the fact is in my eyes there’s not a whole lot they can do wrong.

PS I’m super interested in trying out their No Filter Foundation, so if anyone has ever tried it or reviewed it, please let me know in the comments below!

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February Focus

I tell you what, if you ever want January to go quickly, go on holiday. I’ve never been so shocked to find that we’re at the end of the month.

February is always a decent month in my eyes. Its just 4 little weeks that always seem to fly by, not to mention one of my favourite national holidays (I know its not a real holiday) Pancake day. Its just really manageable, y’know? And much like how I feel about Mondays, I always enjoy the fresh start that a new month brings, and having come back from an amazing holiday with a renewed sense of motivation and drive for the rest of the year, I’m bringing all that energy into February with some new goals and plans for the 4 weeks ahead.

Reorganised office

Towards the end of 2018 I was so caught up with finishing up Christmas orders and then making sure I had everything ready for our trip in January that I let my office get a little chaotic and a messy work space is not helping my productivity BUT I am already in the process of sorting it all out. I’ve got shelves that I still haven’t put up since moving in, so that’s first on the list and then I just want to streamline and tidy everything up so that I can take the rest of the year by storm.

House to-do list

In the last week Matthew and I have been trying to make a dent in the to-do list for the rest of the house – basically the stuff we’ve been putting off because its not vital – but there’s still quite a bit left to do and I’d really like to get through as much of it as we can while momentum is on our side.

Mini-goal weight

One of my New Years resolutions was to regain the body confidence that I lost in 2018, and for the first time in ages I’ve actually been successfully losing weight over the last few weeks. I’m already 5lbs down on what I weighed at the end of December, and although I know that the number on the scale isn’t everything, I’m also feeling so much better. I’m not following any particular plan, just eating better and hitting the gym as usual but I seem to be doing something right, and although I’m not going to divulge the number, I have a particular weight that I would like to hit by the end of Feb and I’m feeling pretty positive about getting there.

Work and save

If there’s any month that’s best for setting a spending ban, its February. January sales are over, there’s no more parties or presents to buy, and if nothing else, its shorter than every other month so you’ve got a better chance of sticking it out for 2-3 days less. So the plan is to get my head down and be too busy with work to spend any money, and just pray that I don’t stumble across anything that I’ll want to break the ban for!

Happy times and happy habits

With January being a bit of a blur for me, going into February I am ready to hunker down and get myself into a good routine with self care, positivity and life in general. They say it takes 21 days to make a habit, and I’ve got 28 to get it right, so let’s go February!

Are you up to much this coming month?

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Things I’m Doing to Love Instagram Right Now

You know, it’s really starting to feel super cliche when I complain about Instagram; it’s just not what it used to be.

On the flip side though, I do have to think that back when our feeds were chronological and the dreaded algorithm didn’t really exist, I didn’t have the following that I do now, so truthfully I can never really compare engagement, and maybe even I wouldn’t have my 5000+ followers now if not for the changes. Who knows, right?

Despite all this, I honestly do still love Instagram. It’s my favourite social media platform because I feel it’s where I can be the most creative, and it’s gone from a place where I post occasional life and holiday photos and promote my blog, to all of this plus being the primary place where I promote my business and a place where I’ve made a lot of really good friends.

Over the last few weeks I’ve made a couple of changes in how I approach Instagram, and honestly they’ve all really boosted my positivity around the platform, and have also possibly contributed to an increase in engagement for me as well!

Getting chatty

I see so many rumours and theories flying around about what helps boost posts and I really don’t know where they come from or if they’re true, but supposedly comments really help. Whether this is urban legend or not, I’m actively making sure that if I scroll past a photo and have a thought about it eg ‘ooh I’d love to go to this place’ or ‘wow I need those shorts’, I put that thought into writing. If nothing else, I know how much I love getting comments so if all I’ve really done is given someone a little internal ‘yay’ then it’s a success in my eyes.

Now I don’t know if this is coincidental, or possibly that other people are having the same thoughts as me, but I have noticed since doing this that I am getting more comments and generally more likes, especially within the first few hours of posting, so I might be on to a winner. If nothing else though, I feel pretty good about it.

New editing software

I went from ‘what is this Lightroom thing that everyone’s banging on about?’ to ‘wow this is fantastic’ in approximately 2.5 seconds. Sure I still don’t fully understand it but I’m having fun winging my way through it! And yes, I guess it is just another additional step I’ve created for myself before being able to post to Instagram, but I really enjoy editing photos and I really love the results.

Planning ahead a little

I really take pride in my Instagram, so it does stress me out sometimes when I can’t find the perfect photo to post and sometimes that means I don’t post for days which makes me sad. I know this might sound ridiculous to a lot of people, but like I said earlier it’s one of my biggest creative outlets so while it may just be Instagram, it’s kinda like an artistic wanting to paint but not having any brushes. You get me?

Anyway, I’m tackling this head on with my handy sidekick, the app UNUM, which I’ve had for about a year now. I don’t religiously plan my posts, but I do like to know what I’m doing for the next day or two, with maybe a couple of blank spaces for ‘of the moment’ inspiration, just like I do with my blog posts, and it means I’ve always got something to fall back on if inspiration is lacking a little.

Staggering photos

I came back from my recent Disney trip with, no joke, THOUSANDS of photos. I posted maybe 2-3 photos a day while I was out there, but especially being on the cruise for a few days with no WiFi, I still have so many photos that haven’t seen the light of Instagram yet. Sure, I could post them all back to back, but I sometimes worry people will get sick of them and I also like to keep some content back to fill the gaps between trips (not that I’ve really got many gaps this year if all goes to plan!), so I spread them out between current photos for variety.

Not getting too hung up on numbers

No one likes not being liked, I get that, but Instagram is a weird and wonderful place full of bitchy politics and bots, and I’m just learning to accept that. Fact is, if you’ve seen your follower count drop overnight, it’s more likely to be courtesy of bots dropping out or accounts being deleted or deactivated that it is that many people making the conscious decision to take you off their feed. Hakuna matata.

As for people playing the follow/unfollow game, I just think that they must be having a really miserable time on Instagram if they feel the need to do that all the time, so they can do them and I’ll just be over here having a fabulous time because it’s so much easier than stressing over it.

At the end of the day, I know its just an app, but its also an app that is very important to me for a lot of reasons, so its so much easier to enjoy what I’m doing on there, don’t you think?

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