Saturday, 29 November 2014

How To Make Running Suck


I mean, hello! Hope you've found this Saturday as relaxing as I have.  And by relaxing I mean: 
  • A morning spent at a women-only CrossFit session with Outcast Swansea. No smelly boys to slow us down!  Except for the coach.  Who wasn't smelly, and who refused to tolerate any slowing down.  At all.  And he tried to kill us with burpees.  Like, kill us dead.  It was touch and go for a moment there, as I wondered whether I'd ever get my breath back, but I loved it, and survived to tell the tale!
  • An afternoon unwisely spent in town Christmas shopping, which is a fancy term for spending 45mins parking and 10mins dodging elbows in the shops, getting too stressed and shuffling back to the car with tail between legs and a single pair of jeans.  Tis the season to be elbowed in the boobs by browsing strangers. 
Week's not been a bad one either for getting off my backside. I went to one other CrossFit class on Tuesday which featured a lot of core/ab/that middle bit where I keep my cookies work, and after several minutes of overly enthusiastic "fuck yeah, I'm NAILING this!!"ing and a smug night's sleep, I spent the following 3 days unable to pull myself up into a sitting position.  I hadn't realised how much I needed my mid-section until I tried to get out of a bath and nearly drowned myself;

"Okay, time to get ou-AAAARGH IS THAT A HERNIA?!!"

Needless to say, I don't suffer DOMS (stands for "death of muscles. Shit.") graciously.

On Monday, I went for a short jog that turned into a magical, hilly 10 miler, because I'd discovered that we've got one of those electric signs that detects cars' speeds on a hill near our house, and I childishly wanted to try and beat my time.  On one loop, 26mph flashed up, but it turned out that there was just a car behind me.  Shame.   Anyway, I figured out that if I run downhill with all my might and just a bit of arm flapping, I can reach a princely speed of... 7 miles per hour. 

My cheetah-esque abilities aside, I really enjoyed that run.  Distance in double digits (the name of my first album/book/autobiography...whichever comes first) is usually a daunting prospect for me.  I've done it, but not all that many times, and I almost always have to grit my teeth through it, at the very least towards the end.  There's something special about those runs, of any distance, that end up being much more enjoyable than you initially though it would be.  The more often I do this putting one foot in front of the other thing, the more handy little tools and mental games I'm picking up to help me pass the time and to get more out of a run.  

That being said, I have a WAY bigger list of things I've learned the hard way not to do when I'm out on my shuffles, so I'm going to dispense those findings to you instead.  So, here is my list of the multiple ways you can make a regular run completely suck balls.  Don't say I never give you anything.  

1.  Look at your watch/tracking doohicky regularly to see how far you've gone/how much time has passed.  I guarantee it will be less than you wanted, and you will want to cry.

2.   Expect the run to be easy, because you've been doing it lots now, and this is only going to be a slow one.  I don't think I've ever found a run easy, or that I ever will.  My opinion is that it never any less difficult (though there is a small chance I've just been doing it wrong the entire time...Let's not rule that one out).  You just learn to embrace being challenged.  Unless you're hungry, or it's windy out. Then it's totally okay to just sit in the house and eat chocolate spread on toast.  Especially because you've just discovered that Maltesers does a crunchy spread now, called Teasers and it's the best thing in the effing WORLD!  Beautiful, glorious, evil sugar-paste. Mmmmm.

3.  Eat something heavy immediately before you head out the door.  For energy and that. And by "that", I mean vomit.

4.  Worry from start to finish about how slow you are and how that elderly gentleman that whizzed past you on his mobility scooter was definitely smirking at you like he was in a convertible sports car and you were in a Morris Minor.  Whatever, guy.  Morris Minors are cool. 

5.  Make sure you have enough noisy change and keys in your pockets in order to be driven slowly insane.

6.  Forget to take music with you.  

7.  Try to distract yourself from the fact that you're running and that your legs/lungs/bum cheeks/entire body hurts.  It won't make everything seem ten times worse, honest.  Go ahead.  Try so hard to "engross yourself in nature" that dog walkers wonder why you're so angry at their pets.

8.  Make your strides unnaturally long so that it's all over with faster, or so short that you're emulating that classic, British "trotting across the car park" run that people do when they see cars coming but are too civilized to break into a full on jog.  

9.  Constantly calculate how much further it is you have to go. Are we there yet?  Are we there yet?

...Are we there yet?

10.  Pick a completely flat, out-and-back route with no decent views.  That way, both your brain and body get a big, fat slice of boredom.  Yippee, hooray!

And there we have it!  Plenty more where that came from.  I am most definitely shirking my calling as a personal trainer, aren't I? Such motivation.  Much positive. Wow.

Happy running, peoples! =)

Saturday, 22 November 2014

It'll Be Alright On The Night(time run)

Firstly, I'd like to blame my absence entirely on Netflix.  Thanks to American Horror Story, I am now completely desensitized to gore.  I don't think I'd bat an eyelid if one of my limbs just decided to drop off and spurt blood all over the walls, Phoebe off of Friends stylee. Example:

Also, I have finally decided who I want to be when I grow up.  Jessica Lange.  I don't even care if her identity's already been taken - she is a bad ass.  

While we're on the topic of bad-assery, this week, I joined a group of runners from my local running club in a nighttime run through some woods for the first time.  Loved it!  This bunch of speedsters regularly seek out hills on Wednesday nights by strapping on some flourescent gear and trekking up towards the mountains. Nutters. 

On our run, I saw some cool, out-of -the-way houses and ruins, ran alongside what seemed to be Wales' loudest river, and chugged up some inclines like the stumpy-legged steam train that I secretly knew I was.  Choo choo! 

There was something really enjoyable about not being able to see much further than an arm's length in front of me.  Usually, as I start to get tired, I can get in the habit of staring balefully the horizon and inwardly lamenting how far I have left to go. When you can see naff all ahead, this isn't an option.  Not a bad thing!  The time flew by.

If you get the opportunity to sling on your trainers and go on a nighttime adventure (with company! There's no fun in accidentally falling over if you don't have witnesses to laugh at/with you... and maybe help you up), then take it!  It's an experience.  Plus, you'll have an excuse to buy a head torch, which means you can Snapchat lots of pictures of your face lit up at weird angles to freak your sister out....

N'much more to report than that this week.  It's hard to get much shit done when you're on a Netflix spiral.  I'm definitely not in Kansas anymore.

Later, gaters!

....Don't ever let me say that again.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Marathon Running For Mortals

As with anything I have the remotest interest in, as soon as I decided to sign up for a marathon, I've immediately started to ingest any and all information I can find on it like something hungry... that eats books.  Something more original sounding than "bookworm"... Knowledge Beaver? I don't know. It's nearly my bedtime, leave me alone.

Point is, for me, it's not a hobby if I haven't completely nerded out on it first. 

First book I've got my greedy mitts on on the subject is John "the penguin" Bingham (if you're a slower runner like me, look him up. Guy's an inspiration!) and coach Jenny Hadfield's Marathon Running For Mortals.  I've already read Bingham's No Need For Speed and enjoyed that, so made sense to seek out his waddly wisdoms first.

Devoured the thing in a couple of days.  It's rather good!  Full of memorable quotes and tips to do squiggly lines under in biro (not pencil.  Biro makes them super important).  Here are a couple of quotes that got the squiggle treatment from me:

"If you climb too slowly, you find yourself getting bored with the pace and the activity.  If you climb too quickly, you find yourself so winded that you can't enjoy the beauty of the experience... You should find the place between boredom and exhaustion."

"Long distance success is more about tenacity than talent."

"You may not be in the top tier of that race, but as a long-distance athlete, you are fitter,better trained and more disciplined than 99 per cent of the population who have ever lived. Remind yourself of that when you start to obsess about your pace or finish time."

And most importantly

"It's all about the medal."

Too right, Mr Bingham.  Too right!

Sunday, 2 November 2014

It Aint So Bad...

Happy day-after-Halloween!  I hope you're also suffering a food hangover from the excess Haribo you bought for the Trick-or-Treaters that never came.  I think 80 mini bags might have been a smidge ambitious.  Oh, well.

I read a bloody good book last week.  I'm partial to autobiographical essay books (Lena Dunham's Not That Kind of Girl, Tina Fey's Bossypants, anything by Augusten Burroughs and so on and on and on...), and while I was scanning my bookshelf for something to re-read until payday came around and I could buy something new/re-enter into society, I found that we've had one that I'd not read, sitting there for nearly three years screaming:

OI, DIPSHIT!! You bought me because you knew I'd be good, so just bloody read me already!!

...Or probably something a bit less crass, because it was by Derren Brown.  Confessions of a Conjuror is brilliant.  It's just one great, big, weird train-of-thought narrative where he meanders from card tricks, to odd habits and even at one point to instructions on how to poach an egg.  

My favourite bits were lists he'd made of his odd compulsions, many of which I found I have in common e.g When driving, he has an urge to just close his eyes and see what happens.  I've never acted it out, but on several occasions, I've thought;

"If I just locked the steering wheel right now, would I survive the crash?" Not even in a morbid way, just a kind of mild curiosity, knowing I'd never really act on the impulse.*  All the way through the book, I wanted to create some similar lists of my own, and I've settled on "borrowing" his idea of listing the things we find oddly pleasurable despite always avoiding doing them until the last minute (like cleaning the house and coming over all calm because the chaos around you is dormant at last).  Mostly because I felt more people are prone to procrastination over mildly pondering their own demise on a quick jaunt to Tesco.  Here goes:

Doing the Dishes

Just being in the house with more unwashed dishes than is necessary makes me edgy, but instead of just buggering on and doing them, I will huff and glare at the house's other occupants (cat included) and bore holes in their skulls with my eyes for not reading my mind and doing them for me.  The second I pick up a sponge, I relax.  Something lovely about having my hands all warm and knowing I'm actually getting shit done when I eventually get around to it.  Household chores are rarely as bad as I imagine they'll be.  Helps that I distract myself with Netflix on the iPad while I'm doing it.  I have to trick myself into chores.  Same goes for cleaning the house.  Anything's possible when Spotify's blaring and you're dancing around the house in your pants.


As is the case with anyone that claims running as a hobby, it's hard to love it all the time.  Despite what those smiley ladies on the cover of Runners World imply.  Sometimes it sucks balls and makes you feel like you're going to poop out your lungs.  These pant soiling runs are fewer and further between than the good, average and elated ones, but like a negative comment in a sea of compliments, it's always the negative memories that rise to the top -  especially when you're tired from work and it looks a bit icky outside.  It's easy to forget that the hardest bit is getting yourself in your stretchy things and out the door.  Again, the reality is nearly always better than the expectation.  That horrid drizzle turns into skin cooling "ahhhh"-ness (another scientific term, I swear), and your fatigue buggers off because you're body's way too busy trying not to fall over itself to remember how tired it is.  Before long, you're bouncing back in the door and chewing everyone's ear off about how great running is, having completely forgotten that just an hour ago you were hunched in the doorway with one trainer on, crying a bit about having to go out in the cold.

Remembering to Eat Like a Human opposed to a being that runs solely on Maoams and trifle. Sweets, cakes and anything else promising me an immediate sugar fix make me feel like crap.  If I'm not doing that thing where one leg bounces of its own accord in a bid to rid me of the excess energy I'm consuming faster than I can use, I'm sitting bolt upright and asleep, head thrown back and drooling because I've fallen into a mini, snack induced coma.  Brain knows that sweeties are the Devil incarnate and I can get naff all done on them, but it takes a long time for my body to catch on. It thinks it needs them. As soon as I chill out and start doing that moderation thing I hear so much about, I become able to stay awake for an entire day without unplanned naps, and people don't have to gauge whether I'm in my manically happy I'm-going-to-talk-so-fast-at-you-your-ears-will-bleed phase, or whether I'm going to start chewing on their fingers until they give me Haribo.  Better for everyone when I'm sweetie-sober.

...And there we have it! Seriously, though.  Read Confessions.  It's much better!  

Speaking of putting things off, I finally bit the bullet and signed up to my first full marathon.  I chose the Liverpool Rock 'n' Roll marathon.  Mostly because there's a band at every mile and I'll need as much distraction from the "what the fuck am I doing?!" thoughts I'm going to be having. I'm scared, confused about how I'm going to fit in CrossFit into a useable training plan that won't kill me, bewildered... but most of all, I'm excited!  I cannot picture for the life of me how I'm going to manage to keep moving for upwards of five hours, but I'll certainly give it a good crack!  No motion, no medal!  I'll keep you updated as my training progresses.  Wish me luck!


Bwaaaah!! =oO

* That reminds me of another one my sister and I share.  During conversations with people, we've both admitted to occasionally playing out completely inappropriate behaviour in our minds that we wouldn't dare do in reality.  These mental excursions usually worsen if the conversation is a serious one.  I find myself wondering things like

"If I just licked her on the nose and carried on as normal, would she react, or would she be too polite/freaked out to do anything?"


"What if I slapped him really hard for no reason?  How angry would he be with me?"  

These are conversations with anyone.  People I love. People I barely know.  I reckon (hope) most people have these funny little fantasies along the lines of what is the worst thing I could possibly do in this situation?  If no, at least it seems to run in my family, so I'm not totally alone!