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What I learnt whilst running

April 2, 2011

As can be seen from my last post I had a bit of a week or 10 days of hell which finally caught up with me and left me feeling very agitated, which translates as intense navel gazing and grumpiness. So, to get myself over it and determine how to best get through the next 2 weeks, I wrote a to-do list. I like lists. A lot. In fact, I feel better now. So I wrote another list too, a list of what I’ve learnt: The Highlight version, because trust me I could keep going:
The difference between clearing your mind and a clear mind: Aim to run with a clear mind, free from thoughts and observations, do not aim to run and clear your head, which is how I normally run (in an attempt to distract myself)- otherwise I find I end up stressing about things and resenting the time I’m running, as stopping me from dealing with other things. This was really apparent in the longer distance runs. Use running as an active meditation. This is helpful as then Joany Moany in your head has to shut up too. Good times.
– If you can’t concentrate hard enough to meditate: Race trees, you’ll always win. I learnt this in my last run- I picked a tree in the distance, narrowed my sweaty little eyes and I whipped it’s arse. I even went so far as to smack talk the trees and lamp posts. True Story. But it certainly kept me amused and did wonders for my time. (If you don’t know what smack talk is wiki it)
– Running teaches core life principles: Endurance: to keep going, most pain does pass. Discipline: this is where self respect lies. Breaking it down: identify which tree is the next on your hit list and if times are tough, just chose a closer tree. Determination: goals are futile exercises in self fulfillment (just like trees lining the path home), but seeing everything in life can be seen in this way, setting goals and focusing on achieveing them- ie:learning to run in 100 days, completing the London Marathon, are what will make for great memories when you are old. Everything is in the head.
– Tie your shoelaces, use a watch and blow you nose.
– My big lesson was that running a marathon may be a journey run alone but it takes a whole team of supporters to make it possible and so I learnt gratitude.


Houston, Radio Silence/ 17 days

April 1, 2011

I’m sorry for the silence this week. I’ve done a spinning class and a 6 mile run. I know. I know. Awesome training. There are a million and one excuses, all valid, but all ultimately point out that I haven’t put the marathon as my ultimate goal. It comes second to my job. My house. My family. And ultimately there is only one thing that it should come second to and that is my family- but even then, had it not been for the other two I wouldn’t feel that way. So, all in all it has been a shocking week, I’d love to use a stronger expression other than shocking, but hopefully my refinement says it all. I have felt like a person who moments earlier was standing proud on a beach in the waves, declaring ones power and domination over nature, to tumbling arse over end, not knowing which end was up. I can’t seem to work fast enough, organise builders enough, run far enough, blog enough, fundraise enough- and by spreading myself thinly I’m doing not enough for everything.

So, it is an early finish at work today, and hopefully that will help, but to be honest, I doubt it.

Perspective and perseverance

March 28, 2011

I have Sunday blues on Monday night…tomorrow morning is a 6am 6 mile run before a long day at work. I need to conquer this bitching, whining tendency and accept that it is my choice. If I want to finish the marathon running than I need to put the effort in. Thing is that bitching whining nature of mine who we shall call Joan (Joan the moan with a voice like Joan Rivers) will also say to me in the morning- you don’t HAVE to finish the marathon running. I mean, loads of people will be walking it. People who had more than 100 days notice about entering the marathon. And the thing is with Joan, is she is vicious and so I will believe her. I guess by externalising that personality trait I can be objective about it. Well that’s the psycho analysis theory.

It goes further: Twitter world is fast becoming addictive and also equally and worryingly demotivating for me. Winning approval and following from strangers is actually a very perverse practise. It just serves as an ego trip and fall. I got unfollowed by someone and I was actually deeply offended. Have you ever heard of anything more bizarre? Ok, maybe not deeply offended- but I noticed! How sad is that? Unfollowing someone is as significant as not everyone getting off at the same tube stop as me, and then me taking offense at the audacity of someone not being wowed by my tweeting prowess or clambering off to walk with me to work. Which to be fair is (and should) only be of intense interest to me. But on the flip side, it is really nice to speak to people who are also overwelmed by the London Marathon and the full reality of it. So it’s a catch 22 that again needs the balance.

So, now that I have put that into perspective, I can return to putting tomorrow and my attitude in place. Right, I enjoy running once I am out and about. The spring flowers are gorgeous at the moment. It gives me a good adrenaline boost in the morning, but most importantly, I will regret more NOT going than going. I have the opportunity to do something like running in a world famous event. I am asking people to go out of their way to support me and to then not put the effort in because I’d rather sleep is a little rude, really.

I entered this to change myself. To make me realise what dedication is. And also to find out whether I still have in me something that earned me my very first (and still proudest) certificate. Some kiddies get it for maths, not me, some kiddies get them for academics or dramatics, not me. Some kiddies even get it for watering the plant for the teacher, not me. I got a certificate for perserverance. I guess the teachers were scrapping the barrel, but nonetheless, it still a certificate. Which I still have! So it goes to show, followers and admirers are fleeting, I can’t even remember which teacher gave me the certificate. All I remember is that I got it and that I must have done something to show I can and will perserve.

So, Joan can moan, and twits can tweet, but there is a 6 year old’s first certificate that shows I can do this, I will do this and if I want to look forward to running, then I will! 3 mornings this week I will be running and I WILL perserve and spend less angst on twitter feeds and following! Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another.
– Walter Elliott

…oooh look a new tweet. 🙂

An easy to forward link

March 27, 2011
My sponsorship page…just for ease of passing it on. For every like of their Facebook page my charity that I am running for: Outward Bound gets sponsored 50p…all adds up! Please like and share the link with others x

21 days to go…cunning plan, engaged.

March 27, 2011

Wow, time evaporates in twitter world! I’m into the “engagement phase” to work out where everyone else is at for #VLM. (LOL- check me out! I’m trying to figure out all the lingo!VLM is Virgin London Marathon, hell-o! Get with the programme! Dunno if the lingo is really for ease or exclusion…but another story for another time!) What is awesome is how motivating other peoples stories can be- it really make it all seem worthwhile. I am..wait for it people….new words entering onto this blog…getting excited about the marathon! 🙂

My cunning plan discussed on one of my previous posts has come together and my new found favourite friends at A.Vogel did such a good job to make the page look nice- now I need to find 1000 people to like the page! ( I am really excited and overwelmed by the reality of what I am doing! Well, hopefully with some social engagement exercises I can not only find solace with others but also share a new way of fundraising instead of flogging friends and family! It was nerve racking approaching a company to see if they would be interested in the idea but it was so great that they were. It was also a genuinely win-win. I can get sponsorship through my friends support, whilst they get exposure for a product that is awesome- and trust me after my run today I will vouch again for it’s awesomeness. My only regret is that they removed my quote about Arnica being magical… advertising standards and all that.

So onto the gore of the day: 17.2 miles in 3 hours… which is my longest run ever! It was very hard- even my friendly daffodils were wilting in heat of early spring. The problem with running in the afternoon is that it is tricky making sure you eat early enough so you don’t get a stitch or struggle in the run, but then also avoid what happened today to me which is desperate fantasizing about any sugar based substance on the way back- especially coke or haribos…neither of which are really street cred in the running world it would seem… but hey ho. I also am learning to run through the pain of running- to prove it I have a beautiful blister the size of a small country on my toe and a nail that looks ominously likely to go AWOL… But, I think I just might cope with 26.2 miles. Matt reckons I might even run the whole way. Good thing he wasn’t with me today as I stopped and started my way through the route. Maybe on the day with people witnessing the quit mentality I might quit quitting. Nothing like a baying crowd to quicken the feet.

Broken nails and bruised feet

March 26, 2011

Life is hard, and then you train for a marathon. Why??? Surely it means excessive stress at a pretty intense time in my life anyway? Work has been off the radar (company mergers, new job position, project conclusion), my house is gutted in renovations that are going to run over Jess (sister in law) arriving to stay, so her bedroom is crammed to the rafters with our rubbish. And yet, people, and yet…I am pretty chilled at the moment. I have flutterby moments in my chest when I look at the scope of what is happening in my life, but it passes. And I am starting to suspect this running melarkey just may be the root.

I also make quite unusual choices. Today I was locked out of home- where I would be without our neighbours, I don’t know- well I do, I’d still be outside probably. 🙂 Anyway, so I’m locked out, the spare key isn’t working, so we get out the step ladder and I clamber onto the back roof, look down and realise it is quite far and so send Nick over, because in my mind, I actually was worried about getting injured and not being able to run. Me, who only 3 weeks ago was desperate to look up spontaneous and non-permanent limb loss. So there I was feeding my friendly neighbour to the lions just in case I couldn’t train! Last Friday I relinquished the chance at a much needed trip to the pub to go home and run instead!

Then this Friday morning, I went for a run, wearing Matt’s watch (mine is slightly too glam and unfunctional to run with) and the difference it made was staggering. When I’d drift into my day dream I’d pick the pace up because I knew in 5 minutes I needed to be at the traffic lights or at the intersection and so I’d hurry up. The advantage of that is that I shaved 5 minutes off my time- so running at under 10 minutes per mile. It also highlighted how slap dash my prep has been. I realised tinny music helps me and although I like listening to the radio, running with my phone in my pocket is probably a bad idea, so I got a little shuffle and some sport earphones- rather excited. Then I am going to get a running watch too.

I also have devised my running strategy (if you think it is pie, please tell me as it’s not much point thinking it if you don’t tell me) Anyway, so I know I can run 16 miles (doing 18 tomorrow!) so if I do a 16 mile run and then take a 10 minute break, walking and getting some mojo back and taking on my fluids and food, then I’ll run again for the last 9-10 miles- which I know I can run. It means I’m not running 26 miles I’m just doing what I have done on one weekend, just in one day instead.

I’m also not going to worry about my time. I reckon I should be able to do it under 5 hours, but then I get real and remember my starting objective was to just not die doing it! It goes to show you how all this life balance and stuff is going to my head! Next thing you know I’ll be referring to myself as an athlete. Oh no, wait I already do that! Went to our local pub when I first declared this plan, and the barman asked me what I was drinking I said a J20 (it’s a fruit juice) and he just looked at me like I was mad, and asked me why…which probably was a sign that I drank too much there too often! But I told him I was running the marathon so now I am an athlete, and oh how we all laughed, ummm, yeah, guess you had to be there.

But it brings me neatly to my final point which is public expectation. Have you seen my sponsor page? If you like it they will sponsor me running fund raising for Outward bound 50p… so far I’ve only gotten like 5 people to do it, as everyone like the link not actually the page! LOL. Well, really what can one expect from non- athletes? 🙂 x

4 more Sundays, it will all be over

March 20, 2011

So, I ran twice around Richmond Park. Stark difference to my second attempt there, where I didn’t even get around it once! You might not remember that fine moment so click here to remind yourself… It was damn hard. I also was not very quick, my posture was rubbish, but at least my pace meant I noticed all the glorious, blue sky day, spring flowers (don’t think any country celebrates spring in quite the same camp fashion the British wild does).

It was a beautiful day and loads of runners/ cyclists about. I think I did really well, but I’m still not happy with my pace and panache. I need to work some elegance into it all. There are so many bouncy, bonny runners with high ponytails and high stepping, bright white sneakers. I can hear them as they approach me and whoosh past with neat little ipod earphones bopping out some tinny tune. But appropriately they come and they go, as meaningfully as the light neat footsteps they leave behind. The earth feels me deeply and so I leave a more lasting impression. Surely. Well that’s what I keep telling myself- and the two tiny bunnies munching blades of grass as they watch the throngs of people, rapt in their activities, hurtle past.

Eventually the pain ended and I curled into a painful lump in the car. My knees hurt, because my ankle hurt and finally my hips felt like the socket was a grater. I tell you what this running melarky is painful, but it is all in the mind and is all conquerable. I am reading Murakami’s What I talk about when I talk about running, and he describes training as training a beast of burden to carry a load. Your body is like a horse or a mule and needs to understand what is expected of it, so in order to communicate that, exercise needs to be put in. And I need to experience what some of the pain will be like, and to understand when I am being melodramatic (all the time- just FYI) and when I need to stop (so far, I’ve not ever REALLY needed to, even when I have but that’s what you learn through experience)

Then you’d think- if you were me, at least, that I would not be able to move today- seeing 16 miles is the furtherest (sic) I have ever ran, but I didn’t. (I wasn’t even that stiff- which shows you how I really don’t push myself…. note to self) Instead, I tied up my laces, and went to run 10 miles…Again, not being able to tell distance I thought my new and improved attitude and pace (including the use of tinny music) meant I was bolting along- like a stallion, baby. But actually I’d just shaved 2 miles off the distance, not 20 minutes off my time. LOL.

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