Tuesday, 26 May 2015

My Bra

My bra is awesome. I really can't say that enough. There is literally no bounce when I run. Zero bounce! Do you know the last time I could move without my boobs also moving? I was twelve. Countless "sports bras" later and I had basically given up hope that I would ever find something to strap my DD puppies down. Lo and behold I have finally found it: the Shock Absorber Run bra. My holy grail of bras. There is nothing worse than running (or indeed walking) around with an uncomfy, non-supportive bra on. Now I can smugly run around knowing that while I do, everything stays in its place.

(This is definitely not my stomach by the way, although my boobs are way more awesome than hers.)

See? Isn't she (the bra) glorious? No pointy wires that stab you, some extra heavy duty straps which don't dig in and a little bit of pink to keep me feeling girly. Love it.

Now, we've all at one point or another stuffed something down our bras: money, ID, another bra... so obviously, when faced with the dilemma of where to keep my music when running my mind went straight to my bra. I don't have a bumbag and the pockets in my trousers are far too small for both my music and my keys. With this in mind I decided to conduct an experiment and went for a run with my mp3 inelegantly stuffed down my cleavage. I attached a lanyard to it just in case the bra plan failed me mid-run but I have to say, so far I haven't had any mishaps. My mp3 player nestles snugly in there and I don't even notice it! This is nigh on miraculous for me and only adds to the many brownie points this bra is earning with me. I do hope that my mp3 player is at least slightly damp-resistant though cause you know, sweat is a thing that happens.

I should mention I haven't been asked/paid by anyone to write about my bra,  I am just genuinely this excited by it. Sad, I know.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Great Expectations

I was meant to go for a run yesterday. It didn't happen but not for lack of motivation. When I went for my run on Tuesday I pushed myself a bit too hard trying to hit a certain time. My legs were still quite sore yesterday (even after a full rest day and a yoga day) so while I could have tried running anyway on Friday I probably would have ended up doing myself more harm than good, especially given the extra mile I was meant to be doing. My legs felt slightly more normal this morning so off I went and while it was definitely not a pleasant experience it could have been much worse. I ran 3.12 miles in 38:45. Slower than I thought I would do it which is a bit disappointing,

This is my main problem, I think. I expect too much from myself. Partly in a naive "it can't be that hard" type of way, but also in an impatient "why aren't I improving faster" sort of way. I can't describe how frustrating I found it yesterday not being able to go for my run, even if deep down I knew it was the right thing to do for my body. I know that at this stage all I should be doing is just going out there and enjoying it and be happy that I manage to run the distance at all, without worrying about speed, but I can't help it. Every two mile run I've done so far has inevitably found me checking my watch to see if I am going to make it home faster than the last time. Which I have, every time. While this makes me very happy, I think it is also part of why I am fairly disappointed with today's performance. Before I set off this afternoon I tried to guess how long it would take me to run my three miles. But I based this prediction on my times and speeds from my two mile runs. I should have known that keeping up that pace for an extra mile wouldn't have been possible at this stage but, being pig-headed like I am, I figured I could probably make it home in 34 minutes. When that time (and an extra four minutes) ticked by on my watch it irritated me. I felt like I had failed. Even worse, this run gave me my first look at what my 5K running time could be and, I have to say, I didn't like it. 

This is what I'm talking about, though. I need to remind myself that this is still early days, this is all still new for my body, that I still have six weeks until race day and that I just need to cut myself some slack sometimes. It's easy to write it down here say this is how it's going to be from now on. Taking my own advice next time I look at my watch mid-run might not be so easy. 

Thursday, 21 May 2015


As I mentioned in my first ever post, I need a certain level of motivation in order to keep going with my running plan. Part of that motivation (other than the pretty new running clothes) comes from the fact that I have signed up for some races over the space of the next year. I can't back out. I have spent money on entry fees and running kit, all of which means that if I don't follow through I will not only have wasted money but also wasted running spots which could have been occupied by "real runners" (more on them later). 

It all started with the Race for Life 5K run in Hampsted Heath this July 4th. Having not run at all for over half a decade I figured this would be the place to start. Nice and easy. 

See? Proof this is actually happening. Has my name on it and everything so now I have to go through with it.

After the 5K I plan on doing a 10K. Haven't decided which one yet but this hasn't stopped me from going ahead and entering a half marathon in the new year. Yes, you read correctly. I have gone from 5K to contemplating running just over four times that distance. I signed up to the Vitality Brighton Half Marathon mainly because I have heard some very good things about it and also because the course takes you along the seafront for most of the race. At least I will have something pretty to look at while I curse myself for ever signing up for things like this. This will be happening on the 28th February next year. Did I mention that is two weeks after my wedding? No stuffing my face with cake and slacking off training for me!

Finally, I have thrown my name in the hat for the big one. The 2016 London Marathon. Odds are slim, given that almost a quarter of a million (247,069!!) people are hoping for a place, and I am not holding my breath but it still acts as motivation. If I do get a place and don't train I will be in a sticky, awkward situation. If I don't get a place I plan on running a marathon anyway, it just won't be the London one. 

So there we are. A year long plan with nice little distance markers along the way so I feel like I'm  constantly accomplishing things. 

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

The Running Gods

Generally speaking I am quite a pessimistic person. I expect the worst case scenario. I try not to get too overexcited by or about things. This way, when it all goes wrong, I will be prepared. Healthy? Probably not, but it works for me. When I came up with this whole running plan I was, of course, not too hopeful I would be able to do it but as I got to the end of the first week I was feeling more optimistic. I had survived the first three runs and was improving with each one. Things were good. So when I cautiously started looking forward to today's run, the Running Gods had obviously had enough of all this positivity nonsense. 

Time for them to step in.

And step in they did. Today was drizzly day. It rained on and off from the moment I woke up. It even hailed briefly at one point. I nevertheless got dressed in my kit and forced myself out the door. As I started running I shouted a mental "HA!" at the Running Gods, as if to say "see? It is mildly damp out and I am still running. So there." 

The Gods obviously didn't appreciate this impertinence.  

As I got to the end of my road and started up the only hill of the run the clouds emptied their entire contents of water on my head. I was still close enough to home that I genuinely considered turning back. Then I thought that's exactly what the Running Gods wanted so I defiantly ran on into the rain. Five minutes later the rain fizzled out. I thought to myself, it was a test. They were just testing my resolve, to see if I would turn back and give in but I didn't, I won. I WON. Take that Running Gods!

Big mistake.  

They unleashed their best weapon. Hail. Yep. Hail. It fell almost horizontally right into my face (that'll teach me). By this point I was so far into the run that there was no point turning around. I kept going because now I didn't have anything left to prove to the Running Gods. I had to prove it to myself. I came across two other girls running through it all and as we passed each other we shared an exasperated look and a thumbs up. This show of solidarity surprised me and gave me the boost I needed to finish the run.

I got home and peeled my sopping wet kit off and looked at my stopwatch. I had shaved 50 seconds off last Sunday's run time. I had really really wanted to get out of that rain. Not to be outdone, the Running Gods had a final cruel laugh at my expense: the second I got into my dry clothes, the sun started shining. 

Post run - slightly damp!

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Week one down!

Week one is over. Two surprising things. First, I really didn't think this week would go by so fast. I genuinely thought it would drag on in a never-ending haze of achy muscles. Second, I'm shocked I actually did what the plan said and didn't just stay on the sofa watching another How I Met Your Mother rerun. This week I ran seven miles and lost my yoga virginity so, all in all, I feel like I have accomplished something. Do my legs still hurt more than ever? Oh, so much. Still, when I got back from today's two mile run (in under 23 minutes) I had nothing but smiles!

...well, smiles and a yummy banana

Hopefully next week will go just as well. My long run next friday gets moved up from two miles to three but seeing as I already accidentally did that this week I don't see it being too much of a shock to the system! Roll on week two!

Friday, 15 May 2015

Here We Go Again

Run number two. After the first run's super uphill-ness I decided to change my route. I figure I should allow my legs some time to get used to the idea of running before I throw multiple hills at them. It's only polite. I managed to find a two mile route in my area that had minimal hills (zero hills is impossible I have found out) and while I was at it I created a similar three mile version for the next stage of my plan where my runs start getting longer. 

Music in my ears and sun shining, off I went. This time I thought I had managed to pace myself a little better as I set off. I made a conscious effort to rein my stride in knowing I would thank myself later. I kept to my two minutes running/one minute walking strategy but as I got to around twenty minutes into the run I started really struggling. I started thinking that this run was feeling and taking way longer than the last one. I started wondering how I could be so much slower this time round when there were fewer hills to navigate! I was thinking I'm obviously just not cut out for this running business and why am I putting myself through it anyway? Nevertheless, I kept trudging on, feeling frustrated, for another eleven minutes until I got home. I went to log my workout, feeling quite upset and confused. Which is when I realised something.

I had accidentally run the three mile route, not the two mile one!

Pretty much sums up my feelings right now!

Granted, I took the teeniest of shortcuts on the way home so I actually ended up running 2.72 miles, not the full three but still, no wonder I was exhausted and it took so long! I feel silly for not having realised that I had been running for almost a whole extra mile but at the same time quite surprised that I had managed to keep going at all. I did it in exactly 31 minutes which, I have to say, I am quite proud of. Compared to today, this Sunday's two miler should fly by! Hopefully. 

Thursday, 14 May 2015


This post I will be talking about yoga, my chosen form of cross training for the time being. However, before I get into that, I'd just like to preface this by saying a quick word.


The past two days I have felt every single muscle in my body scream like it never has before (or at least, not in years and years). I can feel discomfort in muscles I wasn't even aware I had. Don't get me wrong, I knew this would happen and I braced myself for it but it has still taken me a bit by surprise, especially in terms of which muscles hurt the most. Obviously my legs take top spot there (no surprises as they did the bulk of the work on Tuesday) but an unexpected second place goes to the tummy muscles. Who knew? Actually, I'm sure lots of people knew and will be shaking their heads in a "silly girl" sort of way but, like I said, I am a complete newbie and so I reserve the right for things like this to still take me by surprise! So basically, to recap, everything (still!) hurts.

Moving on. Yoga.

I chose yoga partly because for the time being I don't have a gym membership so gym-based activities/classes are out. I will eventually join a gym so I can take part in some of the fun classes my local one has on offer but for now, home-based activities are where it's at. The other reason for choosing yoga is because I have read that it is helpful for stretching out those post-run aches and pains and can help prevent running injuries. And, you know, the whole relaxing, achieving calm and serenity stuff, that too. 

I thought I would just youtube a yoga video and that would be that but then I came across a website called Do Yoga With Me. There are hundreds of videos for different ability levels and different yoga styles, as well as for targeting different parts of the body and they are all lead by experienced instructors. I signed up (it's free) and downloaded a 6 week program for absolute beginners which included suggestions for which videos and tutorials to follow, as well as shorter classes if time is an issue. So far I'm feeling very guided.

The first video it suggested for me had some lovely calming music in the background and the man leading the exercises had a very soothing voice. It took me through some basic stretches from my arms to my upper body down to my hips. I have to say, while I certainly couldn't hold some of the stretches as long as the man could, I definitely feel much more relaxed and sort of looser in a way I can't quite describe. It was a very relaxing experience and I am actually looking forward to the next video this time next week. I may even squeeze in an extra session this weekend. Safe to say, I can see myself becoming a serious yoga convert!

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

First Run

So there I am. Pre-run. Obviously, cause I'm actually smiling. Almost looking smug, like yeah, running is going to be awesome! Silly past me. Fast forward to now and I just got back from my first 2 mile "easy" run, as prescribed by my plan. Long story short: it was unpleasant. Painful, even. Made me question this whole idea of mine that running is something I could do. 

Long story a bit longer: 

I left for my run, all kitted out in my new motivating running leggings. I had my mp3 dangling from my neck and neatly tucked into my bra (more on that later) and my man's ancient casio watch on my wrist. I didn't have space for my phone anywhere and have no fancy GPS pacing watch so I just set off and hoped for the best. As I realised half way through the run, I obviously set off waaayyy too fast. Way too fast. Add to that the fact that, unbeknown to me (I should have known, really), most of my route was uphill. Oh and in a final karmic twist, no matter what direction I ran in, the wind was constantly against me. Are you feeling the unpleasant? Cause I definitely was. 

I set off telling myself it's only two miles, you can run that without stopping, that should totally be achievable. Boy, did I underestimate how unfit I am! One minute into the run, halfway up my first uphill, I decided that running all the way was not going to be an option. At all. In any way, shape or form. So, I adopted an approach I've heard many people have had success with. The run/walk. You alternate a certain amount of running time/distance with a smaller amount of walking time/distance. Most people I have read who do this seem to manage 4 or 5 minutes running for 1 minute's walking. I went for 2 minutes running and 1 minute walking. It worked quite well, by which I mean it stopped me feeling like my lungs were going to pop out of my mouth. 

In the end I managed to get home in 19 minutes, 11 seconds (and 81 milliseconds) and realised that I'd forgotten to take the long way back past my house which was part of my route, which meant that I actually only ran 1.7 miles, instead of 2 miles. Still, that means (according to my running app thingy on my phone) that overall I ran at 5.6 mph. Definitely faster than I thought I would do. 

Reading back over this post as I write it definitely seems like the whole thing was deeply unpleasant, and honestly, as I neared home at the end of the run I felt like I never wanted to do this again - so much for runner's high! But now that I'm home, out of my icky clothes, have done some stretching and had some water and a banana I can truthfully say that it wasn't as unpleasant as it felt at the time and I am actually looking forward to my next run this Friday. Although, I will definitely be amending my route to include fewer hills, at least until my legs and lungs have gotten used to the idea that running is a thing that is happening now. 

Post run looking less fresh

Saturday, 9 May 2015

The Plan

Organisation has never been my strong point. Ok, that's not entirely true. I'm great at organising other people. I just can't seem to take my own advice. However, fresh start and all that... so I went and found a running plan which seemed achievable and spent longer than I'm proud of making it all colour-coded with happy colours (no murky browns or icky greys for me, thank you).

So there it is. My own SmartCoach plan for running 5K in eight weeks. It lives on the cupboard the biscuits live in, in an attempt to discourage me from snacking on them unnecessarily (although I like to argue that biscuits are always necessary). The plan has me going for my first run this Tuesday and splits my runs into "easy runs" (blue), "tempo runs" (hot pink), "speedwork" (red) and "long runs" (yellow). Green bits are rest days, lilac is yoga and the solitary orange square is race day! I know that cross training is an important part of training for this sort of thing so for the time being I have chosen to do yoga as it is something which can be done from the comfort of my living room. Further down the line I will be joining a gym and introducing some other forms of cross training to keep things interesting but I figure easy does it in the beginning!

Given that I have no idea how fast I can run 5 kilometres - last time I did was in secondary school many many moons ago - when asked to estimate how long it would take me I said one hour. Basically, walking pace. But, and this is the key sneaky-mind-trick-motivation tool, when I get out there and realise that I can probably shave at least a couple of minutes off that hour estimate I will feel like I've already accomplished something. Even though I technically haven't, at all. See? Sneaky.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Lazy Lady

I am lazy. There, I said it. I have always tried to lie to myself, telling myself I'm not lazy I'm just doing what I want, when and how I want. Empowering myself by making all my own decisions regardless of outside pressures. Recently though, I've stopped buying my own bullshit and have forced myself to own up to it. Don't they always say that admitting you have a problem is the first step towards recovery? Well I am admitting it. Shouting it from the rooftops (silently in my head).

I am lazy.

This doesn't bode well for my running plan. Especially since the last fond memory I have of running was when I was ten and I was racing a classmate's little sister across the playground. I was sooo much faster than her (obviously. I was ten and she was six) but I still let her win. Since then all my running has been either enforced PE running around a 200 metre track in the baking Italian summer heat (I grew up in Italy and did all my schooling there) or half-hearted guilt-motivated runs on a treadmill in a gym. This cocktail of unpleasant memories coupled with my general slothfulness means that on paper I should really not be excited about the upcoming miles I plan on running. And yet, I'm excited. 

I'm excited because this morning it finally clicked in my head. I've never gone running for myself. It was always either because I had to or because I felt I had to. This time I set the goal. I chose it. And every time I find myself battling my laziness and struggling to get on with it I will think back to ten year old me running full pelt across that playground, not a care in the world, and I'll let it carry me forward.

Now all I have to do is get up off this couch...

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Ready...Steady... Couch!

Yes, I am still sitting on the couch. No, I haven't been for a run yet.

But I am going to. A week from tomorrow marks the beginning of my training which, a year from now, will see me entering and running in a marathon. I have been formulating this plan for quite some time now but only recently revealed it to my nearest and dearest. Parents and partner were supportive, if not slightly sceptical given the zero amount of exercise I have done in the past six years (yes really, zero). My best friend however was slightly blunter. "I'm questioning your sanity dude. You hate running. Really. You hate it." Obviously she was eventually supportive but I like to think this is a testament to my level of beginner-ness to running.

Now, don't get me wrong, I have tried to get involved in some sort of fitness/exercise activity over the years. Gym memberships bought and cancelled after a couple of visits. Perhaps a quick, painful run around my area and much vowing never to do it again. None of it has stuck. This time however, not only have I created an actual (free) personalised running plan, courtesy of Runner's World SmartCoach, I have also signed myself up for a Race for Life 5K this July. This is the crucial piece of the puzzle. There's no backing out now. I have made a commitment to raise a certain amount and run in this event and this is what will hold me to my training plan. At least in the initial "why am I doing this to myself" stage.

So here we go. I have my routes mapped out, my plan is set and my new running kit is due to arrive within the week. New pretty things, a motivational tool if ever there was one.