View from the penthouse suite at The Edinburgh Grand
It may or may not have escaped your notice that I moved to Edinburgh in August. One of my absolute favourite characteristics of this city is that there are a plethora of walks to enjoy. Since it has now been five months since that I moved here, I thought it would be nice to share my favorite places to escape the city for a bit. Armed with a home-brewed cup of coffee, I prepared a list of beautiful and relaxing places to walk in Edinburgh or around the Edinburgh area.
Arthur’s Seat can be spotted standing tall and proud in the picture from The Edinburgh Grand above. This was the first walk I did when I visited Edinburgh about two years ago. It still remains a favourite of mine to this day. It is a short walk. You’ll reach the top in about 30 minutes if you set a good pace, but it is quite steep and makes for a good workout. However, Arthur’s Seat is quite the tourist attraction and it can get really busy at the top. The crowds can be easily avoided by going up there a little early (when the tourists are still fast asleep). Getting up early is surely worth it! It will allow you to enjoy the views Arthur’s Seat has to offer in peace and solitude.
If you want the beautiful sight of Edinburgh stretched out before you, but don’t feel like getting up early or braving the crowds at Arthur’s Seat, Blackford Hill is the perfect walk for you. You won’t be as high up as you would be at Arthur’s Seat. But the walk is slightly longer as you’ll walk through a park before you start climbing the hill. The walk is very enjoyable and much less touristy. You will probably be joined by locals walking their dogs.
The Water of Leith Walkway
The Leith Walkway is one of those walks where you’re still right in the middle of the city, but it doesn’t really feel like it. The walkway is about 12 miles long and goes all the way from Balerno to Leith, passing some of my favourite areas in the city, such as Stockbridge and Dean Village. When I did this walk I started out in Dean Village and just followed the trail from there. I really recommend this walk as it is really nice and picturesque and you get to see the city of Edinburgh in a different light.
This walk is out of the city itself, but it is so nice that I really couldn’t leave it out. North Berwick is about a 40-minute drive from the city. When you arrive you’ll make your way through the woods before arriving at the beach, where you get to walk alongside the shore for quite a while. When I was there the tide was really high, but there’s usually quite a stretch of beach to enjoy! North Berwick is a great place to get out of the city for a bit.
That’s a wrap! If you know of any other walks that I might enjoy, feel free to recommend them to me!
One or two years ago I was still fit enough to run a half marathon. Then my BA thesis happened and ten months of internships happened. The past two years have been awesome, but still, a part of me mourns those hours spent running. Then again, nothing is ever accomplished simply by looking back. If you want to make changes, then the only way to do so is by actually ‘doing’. Which is why I made a promise to myself. No more sporadic runs, instead, I am back to training regularly. I am setting up a schedule and I am setting the goal for myself to pick a running event in Edinburgh.
MY running project
Part of wanting to get back into my routine is that I have a few months before my official moving date. I want to be used to my routine again so I can have some stability, something to focus on when I move. Although I am madly excited about the time to come, I do realize it’s going to be an adjustment to move away from everything I know. As The Meadows is practically going to be in my front yard, I have zero excuses for not going out and running a lap (or two). Running is going to be what I will turn to when I need some common ground.
The first run in my schedule was last Saturday. The next run was on Monday. And the next will be on Wednesday (the day after this post goes live). That’s three runs already, three runs closer to my goal of getting back into that running rhythm that I miss so much (and yet not at all, because let’s be honest, a bad run can be harrowing). That burning feeling in my lungs. That euphoria when you get back from a run and feel like you’re on top of the world.
The fun part about getting back to training was finding out that I hadn’t drifted off as far as I thought I did. On Saturday I ran 3k quite easily. I might be slower than I used to be, but I still had the stamina to run the entire distance. However, on Monday the distance didn’t quite come as easily as it did two days before (and I believe a slight case of sore muscles might have a hand in that as well). Easy does it. I am not going to force it: I am going to enjoy getting back into the rhythm because what matters is that I am getting back into running again.
I guess what I am trying to say is: it is simple to get lost in what used to be. Try to remember that, no matter how insignificant, every run you go on is progress. And don’t forget to enjoy the process!
As my active lifestyle is a big part of this blog I think it’s important to share the highs as well as the lows with you. So today I want to share what’s going on workout-wise lately, or rather, how it hasn’t been working out for me the past month. As many of you might know, I pride myself on being active, on being a runner, and on my workouts in general because I enjoy them and they’re a big stress reliever. I even give the advice to people that when life get’s busy to keep making effort to do your workouts, because it helps deal with stress. I tell most people that, but when push comes to shove I guess I am crap at following my own advice… And you know what: that’s okay.
My workouts have NOT been working out for me the past two months. I still run, but you could call it sporadically at best, and my gym-time has pretty much cut back to zero hours a week. The cause? Three things: exams, deadlines, and life. I am currently finishing up my third year of university, and will, hopefully, graduate this year. The deadlines, my thesis, the finals… they had, and still have, me in its grip. Then, life got rough for me. I won’t bore you with the details, that’s not what this post is about, but let’s just keep it at the fact that I had a really hard time dealing with everything this past semester. With everything going on, and the added stress of deadlines and finals approaching had me increasingly stressed. My workouts went down the drain in no time.
As much as I loved working out, I did not have the time nor energy to spare. And, as I’ve slowly come to realize, that’s okay. It’s okay not to be superwoman. Sometimes you simply don’t have the time or energy to spare for workouts when there’s so much going on around you. I don’t have to be able to lift all the weight of what’s been happening on my shoulders while getting good results at university and have the time and energy to spare for working out three to four (or five) times a week. It took me a while to come to this conclusion. And truly, it is so important to realize that I shouldn’t feel guilty for taking a step back, nor is it ‘bad’ that I wasn’t as active in the gym as I normally am. Working out should, above all, be fun. Not a must. Not something to feel guilty about when you skip a day or two (or a month). You do it for you and nobody else.
It took me a while to come to this conclusion. And truly, it is so important to realize that I shouldn’t feel guilty for taking a step back, nor is it ‘bad’ that I wasn’t as active in the gym as I normally am. Working out should, above all, be fun. Not a must. Not something to feel guilty about when you skip a day or two (or a month). You do it for you and nobody else. So yeah, maybe I have been a slacker workout-wise, but hey, if slacking allowed me to keep up my grades while dealing with all that was happening around be then I am glad to have been one!
So far I have mentioned what has been going on, but what about what is going on. Well, luckily, I am doing a bit better. I made the deadlines (only a few left) and I had my last exam yesterday. Life is still not back to normal, but it is slowly getting there. I am planning on picking on my run training again today (starting with a comfortable 5k run) and might pick up HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) again because it goes very well in combination with running.
The good news is that I’m back to working out now! My sister joins me on my runs a lot and, as you can see, we have fun while doing it. If you learn anything from this post I hope that It’ll be that having fun is most important when it comes to working out. If it starts being anything but fun, if it becomes a must instead of a want, something has to change. This wasn’t the most upbeat most, but I want to keep it real on this blog. It might seem like working out comes easy to me, but it takes time and dedication, and sometimes this can be hard to find and there’s no shame in that.
I can scratch something off my to-do list. Rocycle class in Amsterdam: check! Joining a class has been on my to-do list ever since I first heard about it a few months back, and, yesterday I experienced what it’s like to join one of their rides! I have one word for you to describe my entire experience: intense!
Firtst things first, what is Rocycle?
It’s a 45 & 60-minute full body workout on a bike. You train your core and your upper body with light hand weights and handlebar pushups, and your heart rate will go all the way up. Each class has a unique playlist handpicked by your instructor to fit their style.
So, what was my Rocycle experience like?
I reserved a bike for my friend Manouk (bikes 18 & 19, just in case you were wondering where we sweated our butts off) for Monday 10 April at 18.00 and we arrived fashionably early. Almost an hour early. As we arrived I was mostly excited, but if I’m very honest with myself I’ll admit that I was beginning to feel a bit nervous. From what I’d heard Rocycle was a lot like spinning, but ‘more’ intense, and my past experiences with spinning combined with my asthma had been less than pleasant. We were shown around and explained how to set up our bikes and that’s when the fun began.
I had about 5 seconds to be nervous before all my nerves were replaced with sweat. The music was good. Our instructor, Isabella, was awesome. It was on from the very first minute and you have no choice but to let the music take you and let your instructor guide you through it. There’s a quote on the wall that says “music on, world off” and it couldn’t be more accurate. It is so easy to get swept along with the music and the vibe in the studio that I had to remind myself sometimes to take it a bit slower. I took a breather every now and then when my breathing got a bit too rough, but it was so much awesomeness in just 45 minutes and it’s over before you know it.
How a workout can be so brutal and so much fun at the same time is beyond me, but I’m not complaining. I repeat: it was SO MUCH FUN. My legs felt a bit wobbly once I got off the bike, but the energy you get from that workout is insane!
One thing is for certain: I’ll be back! If you’re in Amsterdam and you want a little something different for your workout, go join a Rocycle class! You can book your ride online, there’s a first-time offer that I promise you won’t regret!
Weekend Special numero uno! That’s right, I’m introducing a new feature! We all have those weekends that are more fun than normal weekends (because let’s face it, some weekends we just don’t really do anything special), and the weekend of 4 and 5 June was definitely a memorable one for me. I’ll admit, it’s a bit late (after this first attempt at recapping the weekend I’ll start posting them in between Mondays and Wednesdays, pinky promise), but better late than never!
Dutch BBG meetup time! This was only the second BBG meetup ever, but ever since that first meetup back in March I’ve been wanting June to arrive faster. I stayed the weekend with a friend who lived closer to the city we were meeting up in and on Saturday morning we got up around 8 to get ready for the day. The meetup started at 11.15 am and we were early, which left me plenty of time to catch up with everyone! It’s so crazy to realize that I’ve only met these girls once of twice before. We’re always talking and supporting each other online and this makes it feel like I’ve known them for so much longer already. Anyway, I’m getting off-track here. After some quick hugs and catching up it was time for the actual workout and to get sweaty!
The warming-up consisted of some partner exercises, which were so much fun! Now, Kayla’s BBG workouts are never easy, but I can tell you that they become even harder when you do them when it’s 24 degrees outside and the sun is shining. It was ridiculously hot outside and the water in my bottle more or less resembled lukewarm tea water after only a few minutes. You wouldn’t believe how red-faced I was when the workout was done. I pretty much flopped down on my belly and stayed down for a while.
Djanne, who organized this meetup, pretty much anticipated us being totally overheated after the workout and arranged for some ice lollies. Best. Decision. Ever! After some stretching and some group pictures, it was time for the picknick. Everyone made something and brought it to the meetup, so we had a huge amount of food to choose from, it was perfect and my tummy was totally happy (which it always is when good food is involved haha). It was crazy fun catching up with everyone, loooooots of pictures were taken, and at the end of the day I was crazy sore from the workout, which is just how I like it! A Saturday well spent in my opinion!
Sunday: 24k walk baby!
The plan was to take it slow on Saturday during the workout because I was going to walk a 20k the next day with 7kg in my backpack as a part of my training for the Camino I’m walking this summer… Of course, taking it slow totally went down the drain when it was actually time to do the workout, so when I woke up on Sunday my quadriceps were terribly sore. No time to whine, we (my friend and I) wanted to beat the heat and get an early start so we got our butts out of bed and left the house around 8am.
Walking went pretty well, although the downhill parts of the tracks brought out the soreness of my muscles. Around the 15k mark, the heat was starting to get to me a bit. We might’ve missed a turn and realized that only about 1k later (so had to go back), plus, at that point we should’ve passed the second rest stop already and we still hadn’t… Turns out they had to make some changes to the route and it ended up being a 24k walk instead of a 20k walk.
No biggie, except I ran out of water at 20k… and they had no point to refill our bottles. Even when we finally got to that second rest stop (which was at the 20k point) there was no possibility of refilling and for an event this big, and with temperatures running so high, that just can’t happen. Frankly, it got me a little cranky. I was pretty happy once we finished the walk, and boy was I feeling my legs.
All and all it wasn’t the best walk ever, but I only had myself to blame by pushing myself a little too hard the day before. At the end of the day, we finished that 24k and it was a very good training walk for the Camino. And don’t you think I look adorable in my walking gear? Totally sexy if I do say so myself *cough* haha.
I’ll just leave out how CRAZY sore I woke up on Monday… haha. I think we can all agree it was a very active weekend for me. I gave my body some well-deserved rest on Monday and did some extra stretching and yoga to get rid of the soreness of my muscles.
Some of you might have seen me mention my workouts on Twitter or Instagram. Now, I know that IrisjeXx is a book blog (in case all the book related content didn’t give it away already), but it’s also my blog, and there’s simply more to me then just my love for books. So I thought it was time to tell you all what’s up with all the workouts I’ve been doing! I’ve wanted to share for a while now, and figured it was time to do just that!
Where did all this craziness get started?
A year ago I started running. I set the goal for myself to run a 5k, but never really thought beyond that. At the time I just thought being able to run a 5k would be really cool and a great way to get a bit more fit. It wasn’t always fun: lungs burning, legs hurting, cussing at myself for being crazy enough to do this. But that feeling after completing a run: that feeling of accomplishment, of being proud of yourself for grabbing your running gear and just go, of feeling like you’re on top of the world; that feeling got to me. I caught the running bug. That feeling is what motivated to keep me going, and THAT feeling is what’s so addictive about exercising.
What happened when I accomplished that goal?
So I could run a 5k, what now? Well, I just ran a 5k distances for a while. Running outside, and not always running the same round will keep you interested for quite a while, but after a while I pushed myself to run a little longer and a little harder. My average pace started improving, and before I knew it I was running up to 10k! I ran in the Rotterdam marathon (1/4 marathon, let’s be realistic here) with my sister and my dad and everything was going great!
Then, I fell off the bandwagon…
Even though I loved running, before I knew it I hadn’t run ANY distance in a whole month. One month became one month and a few days, and I was REALLY disappointed with myself. I have asthma, and not training in such a long time meant that I basically had to start from rock-bottom again, which kept me from finding that motivation again and getting off my ass and back to training. I had a major exercise rut and had a hard time getting my motivation back. I’ve often heard that it’s not hard to start exercising (and this is so true), however, what IS hard is finding the motivation to keep going when you’re sore, or tired, or just don’t feel like doing anything.
Changing up the routine
So I decided it was time for some change. I started looking for ways to make training fun again and add some variety to my routine, and by searching online I happened upon Kayla Itsine’s Bikini Body Guide. I talked to some girls who were doing the BBG program and their excitement was so palpable that I decided to purchase the guide. The combination of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and LISS (Low Intensity Steady State) turned out to be a golden combination for me.
Six weeks ago (January 11th) I joined in on The Kayla Movement 2016 together with TONS of other women all over the world. I started a separate Instagram account (for those of you who’d like to follow that account: iris.does.bbg) to keep in contact with others doing the same program as me (which was a golden move! Motivation to find in abundance!). Six weeks of 3 HIIT workouts, 3 LISS workouts, and one rest day a week and I feel great. I’m not gonna lie, it’s hard work, really hard work and my muscles were SO SORE after that first week, but it’s so worth it.
I have a LOT of energy, I am happier than I’ve been in a long time, and I’ve never been more comfortable in my own body than I am now. I’m improving in all fields: I’m running faster than ever and I’m getting stronger and stronger each day. I can see my body changing; my muscles are developing and I love how strong I’m looking.
What does a week in workout-land look like?
I’ve got quite a happy workout schedule going on right now. Warning: you might think I’m crazy.
Monday: 4 x 7 minutes Legs & Cardio (HIIT)
Tuesday: 5 to 10k run (LISS)
Wednesday: 4 x 7 minutes Arms & Abs (HIIT)
Thursday: 5k run (LISS) in the morning and Abs workout (HIIT) at the gym later that day
Friday: 4 x 7 minutes Full Body workout (HIIT)
Saturday: 5 to 10k run (LISS)
Sunday: Rest day (or, when I’m feeling like it, a 5k run)
That probably looks crazy to you, but if you do the math, besides Thursday (and the days I run more than a 5k), you’ll see that I only spend 30 minutes on my workouts every day , and 30 minutes really is such a small proportion of the day, almost everyone can miss 30 minutes. I just to spend 30 minutes of my day, that someone else might spend in front of the tv, working out. I have all the equipment I need at home: dumbbells, medicine ball, and workout mats. So there’s no need to do my workouts at the gym (I just love to do so every now and then, especially when I go with a friend). If it’s raining outside, I can always switch around, and if I feel like having a rest day, I’ll just have a rest day.
I don’t force myself to train, I want to. I get restless and have too much spare energy when I don’t. At a certain point I started to crave those workouts, I crave exercise, they clear my head and make me feel strong. I push myself every day to become a stronger version of myself and I am SO proud of how far I’ve come!
What am I working towards?
March 6th I am running a 10k in during the CPC (City Pier City run) in The Hague with my father. I’ve been working hard on improving my average pace over the last two months. I run a 5k under 30 minutes quite easily, and I’m a bit afraid to set a time goal for myself for the 10k, but I’m hoping it’ll at least be under 1 hour and 10 minutes (taking in account how many runners there’ll be and how swarmed the road will be with them).
Recently, I was chosen for the most awesome project EVER! Glamour magazine (sponsored by Maybelline) set up a program to work towards half a marathon. Together with 29 others, we’re going to train, under guidance of professional trainers, towards 1/2 marathon. Our starting ticket will be paid for by Maybelline New York and we’ll get a ticket for the Glamour Health Challenge (last year THE Kayla Itsines gave a bootcamp, so I can’t wait what this year will hold!), we’re all getting a personalised training schedule, and a package from Maybelline New York. I literally CANNOT contain my excitement about this and I cannot wait to share all about it with you on my journey to 1/2 marathon! #Makeithappen
So, how crazy do you guys think I am? Haha
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