Monday, 22 April 2013

Running - You're Doing It Wrong!

You guys!  The weirdest thing happened to me today.  Like, this evening today.  That recently.  It shocked me to my very core.  I'm not even sure if I'm ready to share it with you because it's just so monumental in its...massiveness.

Okay, I am.  But that's only because I'm a pathalogical blogger who needs to share every waking thought with the Hive Mind....The media use that term to scare us internet dwellers, but I quite like it.  Makes me feel like a bee.  Bzzz.  Anyway, bees aside, here it is.  Deep breaths.

I did a run, and I liked it.

I know!  I know!  And if you didn't read that to the tune of a popular Katy Perry ditty, then you are either older than me, cooler than me or both.  Congratulations, you.  For three years or so, I've been doing this love/hate (translate: obsess about/weep about/binge eat and start the whole sorry process again) thing with running.  I have more or less "run" at least a couple of days a week since I started, but bar from the occasional inexplicably enjoyable jog, I have HATED every single teeny tiny second of the actual exercise.  It's a hot, boring, sweaty and stressful thing to do.  Especially when you know you could be at home stuffing cake into your fat face. 

Don't get me wrong.  The things that kept me going out on my little (for distance aint my thang, and neither is speed) jaunts all these years were:

- Guilt.  After building up enough "runs" to be able to tell people I'm not a couch potato all of the time, I felt as though it's not something I could ever ever give up now because I wouldn't even have that miniscule bragging right any more.

- The runners' high.  It's real.  And it's gooooood. 

- Being able to totally justify smothering everything that goes into my mouth with cheese and/or icing.  Because a two mile stop-start thing makes it okay, right?  ....Right?

So you see, the main reasons that I begrudgingly slap on my trainers on occasion are a combination of bitter guilt and wanting what comes after said trainer slappage.  Nothing to do with the run itself, which could only ever be horrible, horrible, horrible.

Until yesterday.  When I learned to my... I don't think my to my slight pause in between battenburg bites, that for three years, I've been running all wrong. 

I bought a book - Running Like a Girl by Alexandra Heminsley (so good!!!) to devour on my Kindle app on my post-accidental-night-out kind of a Sunday.  I read it in a few short hours.  It was ruddy marvellous.  A lady writer's true recollections of learning to run and eventually developing quite a knack for completing marathons.  Right up my street.  It wasn't until the end of the book - in the bit that gives rather bloody good tips for both beginners and experienced runners - that I had it pointed out to me in black and white where I'd gone a bit boobs-up on the running front:

1. I was tiptoeing my routes - sounds weird, but it just means that instead of hitting the road with the middle-ish bit of my foot so I'm getting the most out of a simple stride, I've been alternating between doing these overstretched tinkerbell-types steps (Tink toes!!) and doing these big, clumpy, clumsy heel-to-the floor things, where I overcompensated and ultimately ended up hurting my muscles more than necessary (especially that weird one that keeps bothering my between my leg and my bum).

2. I was running towards something - Heminsley's best bit of visualization advice was to imagine a kindly person gently guiding you forward, pushing you along the route and holding you up, instead of imagining yourself running towards or after something.  This made the world of difference to me today.  It banished the "awh, fuck, am I still that far away?!!" feeling I often get.  Magic trick! I imagined that the kindly person was my grandad, who took me out on my first runs while I was still living at my mum's.... He's the ex military, no-bullshit, work hard and eat even harder kind of grandad.  So my imagination gave me a figure that was sort-of kindly but mostly just wouldn't take any of my lazy-ass crap any more.

3.  I was too bouncy - I thought that good running = enthusiasm, and so I tried to gee myself up by taking bouncy, bouncy tigger-steps wherever I went.  Small wonder I had to stop so often - I was using twice as much energy in pogoing up and down at the same time as running, instead of skimming the floor and landing comfortably on the middle of my foot.  It made every few feet feel like a mile.

Result?  I ran my usual 2.5 miles, which isn't far.  But I did it without stopping even once to "check my phone" or "do my shoelaces" or "look at the interesting thing that no one else can see but is suddenly very important and mystifying to me", which is a massive achievement for me.  I always, always have to walk a little while to find my breath again.  The whole thing felt like less effort, and I was faster! Faster with less effort! Considerably too!  Just... My mind is blown! So pleased.

I hope these tips get read by some other people who also think/thought they would be crap for ever and ever at running.  Three stupidly simple things I had no idea I was doing, and now I realise I'm better at something than I thought I was.  I'm hardly a hardcore athlete, but I'm far from terrible.  Now that I'm doing it properly, I can just concentrate on enjoying myself after and during.  Happy bloody days!  Thanks, Alexandra.  You are my new mentor-who's-never-met-me!

Saturday, 20 April 2013


Currently reading Oliver Sacks' The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat. For those who haven't read it, it's a collection of descriptions of Sacks' neurology patients. I've just stumbled upon a pretty uncanny description of myself. Spooky!!

From now on, I am referring to myself as a "motor moron". Makes me sound like a crap transformer.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Sleeping Becky, Hidden Panties

 I struggled to nod off last night.  I felt like Sherlock Holmes, unable to sleep as I was ruminating on a mystery I simply couldn't solve (..I've been watching a lot of Elementary of late...).

I was stressed out and completely baffled at the fact that when I got into bed and slid my arm in between my pillows, my fist closed around a single pair of my own pants.  Now, I don't generally store my underpants under my pillow, or in any other kind of furniture other than a chest of drawers (drawers for my drawers), and I can't think of any logical reason as to why they would be nestling where I lay my head at night.  No sane person wants to wake up with their face buried in their own kecks.  

My mind ran over as many possibilities as it could conjure up, which weren't many, as it and I had been up early for a full day's work and now we both now badly needed to rest after a good couple of hours trying to keep up with the story line in Prison Break (Scylla is good now?? Actually, don't tell me, I want to find out for myself, even if I am years behind that rest of the world who have already seen it).  Because I was hell bent on getting to the bottom of the mystery of the sleepy knickers (ha, to the bottom!  I didn't even do that on purpose... lulz), my brain did what it usually does when it's required to do something it doesn't feel like doing - it went into snarky bitch mode.  Here are the suggestions it so helpfully threw up for me:

- The underpants gnomes from South Park are real.
- A has now taken to sniffing ladies' undergarments during his lie-ins.
- This particular pair of pants was being bullied by the rest of the underwear in my chest of drawers and decided to run away somewhere safe.
- I put them there one day, just incase we get robbed by someone who values underthings over technology and cash.
- I accidentally left them there, thinking I was putting them away somewhere else.

I'll be honest, the latter is the most likely explanation.  Just this week, I tried to put a customer's documents in the dish washer at work, and I have an inexplicable habit of automatically trying to put cartons of milk in the washing machine and laundry in the bin.  

I wish I could say that I do these things because my mind is on a higher plane, dealing with bigger issues, but the honest truth is that I'm usually just thinking about food and funny pictures of cats I've seen.  That, and I'm prematurely losing my memory.  The only thing that will make me feel better about my receding cognitive ability right now would be some amusing cat-based pictures and a snack.  


(Image borrowed from...several sources on Tumblr...Tumblr loves a cat sandwich!)

Thursday, 11 April 2013


Everybody stop what you're doing and appreciate this picture of a rat with a teeny tiny teddy bear! The cortex of my brain where the squee-motions come from ("squee" is too a real emotion!) just exploded.

(Pic borrowed from @Earth_Pics on Twitter)

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Good Mor-AAAAAGH!!!

Hullo, interweb! I'm feeling a bit twitchy and face-punchy tonight, so I'm going to offload by telling you all about my morning. By the end of this post, you will know how this day and I got off on the wrong foot, and hopefully I will have had a nice chuckle to myself about its events in retrospect. Hopefully. Failing that, I will repeatedly run into a wall until I feel suitably calm/disorientated. I will post footage of it and become an overnight YouTube megastar. Win-win.

*clenches fists and exhales*

I awoke to the sensation of gentle sunlight pawing at my face through the blinds and lovingly prying my stuck-together eyelids open with its warm, affectionate fingers. A snored obliviously next to me as I attempted to will my lifeless arm back to the land of the living, as it had been smothered in the night by my unconscious head. Kind of like how Uma Thurman coaxes her toes back to life in Kill Bill.

"Wiggle you big...thumb."

I felt drowsy, calm and peaceful. And then confused. It was a Wednesday morning, wasn't it? Why was I feeling calm, drowsy and peaceful? Surely something was amiss?

And then I realised. I wasn't being beaten around the head by the usual sound of my alarm going off. I blearily peeped at my iPhone. It looked goofily back up at me, informing me that it was 10.30am exactly (the exact time I should have been walking through the doors at the office). I imagined it innocently cocking its head at me like a mentally subnormal spaniel.




"So? Just get ready and say you're sorry. And stop calling me A. I have a name."


"Calm down...Don't you mean piranhas?"

For the record. I hate being late. If anything, I am always socially unacceptably early to everything. I leave the house in a blind state of unfettered panic even if I am comfortably on time, just incase something catastrophic happens on the way to the thing I have to be at that might result in my lateness...

...Like my running over a person while rifling through my CD collection with one eye on the road (not that I ever do that. Honest.), or having to slow down because I think I've seen the three wheeler from Only Fools and Horses pass me by (I swear, I saw it by Tesco! If I see it again, I WILL take a picture).

Anyway, with one eye still crusted shut, I fumbled with my phone until the text message to my manager read something akin to

"FUCK, slept through my alarm, be there straightaway! I'm so so sorry!!!!"....Yeah, my company's can say "fuck" at the managers by text if the gravity of the situation calls for it...But I didn't have time to sit there and appreciate this happy fact.

Still wearing the knickers I slept in (don't judge me, I was having a breakdown. Am in fresh, new pants now, I promise!), I rooted around my floor-drobe for anything to cover my shame (aka "body") with. I then dug my hat from between the sofa cushions so that I could hide my un straightened hair - unaware that the part of my hair it most needed to cover stuck out in a... I'll call it a mullet with a kicky Farrah Fawcett at the nape of my neck. I bypassed make-up (by make-up, I mean my usual daily routine of "draw eyes back on in eyeliner"), I'm pretty sure I sprayed only one armpit with deodorant before I bolted out of the door to A's handy parting words:

"Don't crash!"

Always advisable when driving, that.

In the end, I arrived at work bang on half an hour late. Pretty mean feat considering I live approximately twenty five minutes away from the building I work in. Upon arrival, I was greeted by a roomful of people laughing at my pant-pissing facial expression and new tramp-chic, un showered look. I sheepishly sank into my chair and looked at the text I'd just received from the manager who hadn't even arrived yet.

lol. No worries.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Mr Bright Side

Today, a lot of people said their last goodbye to a friend. For many of us, it was a "my first funeral" kind of a day (I've been to one before, but it wasn't someone I knew closely, and I was too young to go to my dad's funeral). It looked like some surreal school reunion where the theme was black tie. Seeing a bunch of guys I grew up with, having been used to seeing them in school uniform made me feel like we were only playing dress-up and that the friend we were seeing off was going to pop round the corner at any minute and tell us we were dickheads for believing his silly joke.

The atmosphere was not how I expected it to be. People were pleased to see each other. It's not often that most of my school year gather in one place. There was a lot of joking and catching up as we waited for the ceremony to start, just like how it is on the annual boxing night festivities most of the school attend every year when they've come home for Christmas visits. The only difference here was the sudden jarrings in conversation as everyone remembered where we were and why we were there.

You can always of course rely on one clown to break some tension, for which I was hugely grateful. Today's clown had us howling with laughter as he

1. Walked in on and sat five minutes into the wrong funeral, only realising he'd made a mistake when the person leading the ceremony informed the room that they were there to remember Ethel.

2. Got drunk later in the evening and stumbled from group to group asking inappropriate but hilarious questions like some pesky drunken uncle.

The ceremony was perfect. The twin of the departed lead the speeches, which was pretty fucking brave. I hiccoughed and sniffled throughout the whole thing out of angst for him, the untimely loss of one of our number, and the fact that I knew that if I were in his shoes - if one of my sisters were in a coffin, I simply could not cope. Screw being brave and respectful. I would go to pieces. I can't even entertain the idea for a second.

We entered the crematorium to The Lord of the Rings theme, and left to Monty Python's Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. The stories told during the service were about the our friend's misadventures, the harmless trouble he would always get into, and the fact that the majority of us - if we were to put a bet on it, would never have put our money on him doing something so mundane and unspectacular as slipping away as he dreamt. The quirky exit tune summed him up brilliantly.

The rest of the afternoon was spent in a pub that he used to work and drink in. It was lovely seeing so many familiar faces and hearing about how their lives after school are flourishing. People are climbing the career ladder, hooking up and sprouting children left right and centre. It made me happy to learn that the people I know and love are all getting along just fine in grown-up land. Seeing everyone together in one place, brought together by one person alone made me feel lucky to be part of such a web of caring, fun people. It was a shitty thing that brought us there, but it was also reassuring that no matter how far apart we've all drifted that we are all still connected.

I promise my next post'll be a silly one. I just needed to get today out of my system.

Here's a song for you to enjoy. I loved it before, but now it holds even more meaning for me:

Monty Python - Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Why I Should Never Teach

Since leaving university with my fancy pants degree (i.e my incredibly expensive bit paper with ENGLISH typed onto it), roughly every six months or so, I decide that maybe I should share my bottomless wisdom with the world (pfft!) and give something back to society by becoming a teacher.  I think this has more to do with my freakish love for the educational system than any true vocational calling, as during these flirtations with career choice, I often forget that:

  1. I'm terrified of most people, let alone children.  And when I do meet a child, I'm torn between stiffly patting them on the head, shaking their hand, or running madly around with them, gaining their trust and then proceeding to steal their sweets.  I don't have a natural affinity with those vertically challenged mites.
  2. Even the mere prospect of public speaking makes me want to theatrically piss my pants just so that I can escape the situation.
  3.  I have a serious problem with eye contact.  I can barely maintain eye contact with my nearest and dearest for prolonged periods.  How am I supposed to hold the attention of 30-odd kids or teens for an hour at a time?  And how will I know which kid is which if I can't bloody look at them?!
  4. I use "colourful" language so often that curse words have become second fucking nature to me in my everyday twatting speech.  Fuck.
  5. I am incredibly clumsy.  Accidents find me.  After thousands of pounds' worth of teacher training, I will be sacked on my first day for smacking a child full on in the face whilst making big hand gestures as I speak.  And if not for that, I will be forcefully escorted from the building for tripping over my feet and ended up landing face first in some poor, traumatised teen's lap. 

Further proof of how terrible a mentor to the adults of tomorrow I would be came today, when I was asked to show the new girl at work how some simple stuff is done in the office.  It turns out my natural approach to teaching is:

  • Getting on with what I do normally, but at twice the speed to get the demonstration over and done with.
  • Talking at lightspeed, without pause - therefore leaving no time for the new girl's questions but lots of opportunity for me to stammer and make even less sense than normal.
  • In a frenzied bid to make new girl feel welcome, nodding way too much at everything she says and laughing like a nutter every time she opens her mouth:

N.G: "Could you pass me the stapler?"
Me: "HAHAHAHAHAHA!!...Oh.  Yes."

  • In further bid to make new girl feel at home and reassured, every time she makes a small mistake, instead of correcting her, I word-splurge apologetically about it and hope she gets the point:
"No, we don't normally put that there, but fuck it, it doesn't matter - leave it there, it's a stupid rule anyway.  Filing stuff away.  Put it there.  Or wherever you want.  Sorry.  It's okay there. Or whatever. HAHAHAHA!"

Constantly tell new girl that I am a crap teacher and that "they" never should have trusted clumsy old me to show someone what to do. Don't know why they've not fired me yet.  Ho ho, ha ha.


Think I'll stick to the pursuit of earning money with sweet, sweet words.  At least then I won't have to tell anybody what to do...


Monday, 1 April 2013

Apple Zombie

I have three hours to myself today before heading to the matriarch's for food and meeting a few friends to remember an absent friend. How have I chosen to spend these quiet few hours? By downloading iTunes to my PC, listening to playlists on the iPad using 8Tracks (brilliant app of you haven't got it!) and uploading music to my iPhone 4.

To Apple I pledge my soul, apparently!

What a sellout.

Hope you're all having a lovely Easter weekend.