Monday, 23 July 2018

Going Solo

For those of you who are knew here, I am not a native to the North of England, but I have called it my home since 2013, along with a cohort of individuals who I now have the pleasure of calling my friends.
Since 2013, I have faithfully trundled from house to house year after year (student year long leases are a bitch when you hate change and moving) with a growing amass of clothing and ‘cute’ mugs which range from ones with funny slogans on to a mug with an actual unicorn head and tail sticking out – like I said, cute.
It wasn’t until June 2018 that I had to actually become an adult and make the adult decision to go it alone in house hunting, moving and setting myself up. When I say it was my decision, I mean my best friends were moving to London to start a new life together (I still get sad about this, so I’ll gloss over that for now), and I had no choice but to find somewhere solo to live.
After several disastrous house viewings, one with so much mould under the window it could’ve been classed as a nuclear hazard, I stumbled upon ‘the one’ and signed the contract with outright glee on my face.
Moving day came, and my friend, her boyfriend and her baby loaded up the remains of my furniture and clothes, and helped me drag them up to the third floor room which I was now inhabiting. I made the very smart decision to buy a tower fan that afternoon, and I’m currently sat next to it on max speed, still sweating like I was in the Sahara.
I have successfully navigated how the washing machine works without breaking it, the awkward breakfast chat with my new housemates and I am yet to have anyone walk in on me in the shower after I’ve forgotten to lock the door.
I’ve managed to apply for all of my content insurance, tv licencing and general life essentials without fucking up too badly, and I am currently in bed watching Power on Netflix whilst cramming M&M’s in to my mouth and trying to think of when I will need to go to sleep to get enough hours in to not feel like I’ve been hit by a train in the morning.
If this is adulting, then I am nailing this.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Facts About Running A 10k When You Aren't A Runner

(And by facts, I mean my facts, not things you'll find in Women's Health or Runner Weekly.)

Last weekend, I ran in the Leeds 10k for the first time. This was my first run of any kind, let alone one in 26 degree heat whilst my pasty white skin struggled under the layer(s) of factor 50 that I generously lathered myself in. 
When the starting claxon went off for my group (i.e the non-runners), I hopped from foot to foot in anticipation and remembered something important. 
 Rule one : Always stretch before running. 
Whilst I was busy picking out my perfect starting song and wondering if I need to wee again for the third time in half hour (just incase), my fellow athletes were limbering up with various stretches and lunges which would've made my fake hips scream and retreat. With the startline insight and a surge in activity like the scene from The Lion King with Simba and his father and the antelopes, I tried frantically to limber up by pointing my toes to the sky and stretching my calves - so far so positive. And then I was off, jogging across the start line with as much enthusiasm as Red Rum getting ready for the Gold Cup. 
Rule two: Find your pacer. 
Pretty quickly I made a bee line for the 1 hour 15 minute pacer, who was wearing neon yellow and squealing at her cohort of followers that they were doing amazing, two minutes in. 
I tottered along behind her for around ten minutes, before realising that I was finding the squealing pacer more like a drill sergeant on cocaine, and quickly nipped round her and her growing fan base whilst running under a bridge. Not long after, I spotted the 1 hour 10 pacer bobbing away ahead of me, and thankfully (for my limbs and my lungs which would not have had a chance of making it to the 1 hour 5 pacer by the last km), and thankfully I couldn't hear any frantic motivational screams coming from her lungs - I stuck with her the entire way round, and I think I may be in love with her now.
Rule three: Watch out for the try hards. 
Whilst running down Kirkstall Road (for those not accustom to Leeds, it's a long as hell road with no wind and no sun cover - a living hell), a runner barge clean through me to get to the water bottle which had been held out for me by a volunteer.
And when I mean ran through, I mean that lovely gentleman nearly took me out entirely with his verg large, very unfit 6 foot frame. Thankfully I wasn't the only person he did this to, and a much braver man than I am screamed at him to stop pushing the smaller people (i.e everyone) out of his way - runner spirit at its finest for the little people.
Rule four: Do not stop moving. 
By kilometer 6 my legs were on fire and my lungs weren't faring much better. The heat was painful and my Harlequins hat from a rugby game last year turned out to definitely be for a mans head as it kept falling down over my eyes and rubbing my forehead with every stride.
The issue with water stations is that everyone is trying to grab their bottles, regardless of who may be there before them (see rule three), and slowing to a walk whilst approaching the station is criminal amongst runners (I did tell you these were my rules and not a magazines, okay?), so you're best up staggering forward until you can give yourself enough clearance space from the Holy Grail that are water bottles.
Rule five: Give yourself enough energy for that photo finish. 
When I saw the sign for kilometer 9, I nearly keeled over with relief. I had just been power showered with ice water by the fire brigade and accepted Jelly Babies off a child when I saw the sign, and the pacer who I now love was racing up behind me on the incline. "Come on, come on, photo finish we've got this!" She called to her disciples (I was one of them, it was like a cult and I'm glad I got out when I did), and I managed to find enough strength in my legs to round the downward corner in to Leeds City Center at a half run half hobble with blistered feet (Rule 6 : buy proper running socks for the love of all that is holy) , and I'm glad that I did as the crowds were huge. I felt tears in my eyes and turned my music off to bask in the screaming and cheering crowds (this must be how famous people feel) as I motored my way up to the finish line as gracefully as possible. The photos after show that I was anything but bloody graceful, and I shall be burning all traces of these.

And that's my debut 10k over with, in one hour and nine minutes of a hot type of hell. 

Sunday, 10 June 2018

The Pursuit Of Being Average

Average, the word you use to describe a lack lustre date, or a meal where your rare meat turns out medium and you have to sit and eat it whilst knowing deep down it wasn’t what you asked for but you’re too afraid to say anything to the angry looking waiter.
When we are younger, we are encouraged to ‘try our best’ which resonates in to ‘being the best’ as you get older. When I was little, I hated coming second, and I would often get angry with myself if something went wrong horse riding or in netball. I am fiercely competitive, which I was always praised for, as it meant I gave it my all.
But suddenly being competitive switched from being competitive with myself, to being competitive with people I didn’t even know. Scrolling through social media, I would find myself poking my belly whilst looking at another girls account. These girls had it all in my eyes, perfect makeup, perfect body, perfect life. Right? And suddenly it became a competition to do my makeup better for the next day at work, or perfecting my body by twisting myself in to weird positions to look as toned and skinny as possible.
For me, being ‘average’ had a negative connotation. Being average means you aren’t the best, sure you aren’t the worst but still… being average?
Slowly, being average is beginning to be acceptable on social media. The hashtag is pulling through vast numbers of posts as people look to not hate their life, and just find it average. Having high standards is great, but when Negative Nelly rears her head and tells you to put the doughnut down so that you can look like Amy off of Instagram Explore when she went on holiday to Ibiza, then it’s time to sit back, reflect and readdress your outlook on yourself. 

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I’ve switched my mindset from constantly wanting to be the best, to simply wanting to be when I am struggling with day to day activity. Put clothes on for work? Fabulous. Put clothes on for work that also don’t ‘go’ together? Fabulous also. I no longer feel a twinge of irritation as I stand in front of my mirror, sleep deprived and trying to get through the Wednesday, when I notice my clothes don’t look how they pictured them in my head. I no longer look at the aesthetics of my food when I get in from work and throw things in a pan before diving on the sofa to watch Love Island, not everything needs to be #AestheticDinner or #InstaFood , sometimes it can simply be a disgusting looking combo of peppercorn sauce and pasta (no one can judge me for this until they’ve tried it, you won’t regret it I promise you).
On down days, I look to be average. I get through the day, purely on being average but feeling content with this, as it stops me going in to a tailspin when I accidentally scan a document the wrong way round, or head to my meeting with a pen that has ran out of ink whilst sitting in my desk. It’s okay to be average, it’s great to be average.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

What's In My Gym Bag

I had many goals for 2018, and one of those goals was to start looking a bit more fashionable. I sat in front of my wardrobe on January 1st, slightly worse for wear whilst my bath was running, and assessed my clothes. What was making the cut, and what was getting cut? After a good 15 minutes of foggy pondering, I stood to leave and clapped eyes on my bag. 
Now, before anyone judges me, I wake up at 5:45 every morning for work, and my idea of stylish was getting in to my clothes and looking semi human. My 'gym bag' was a carrier bag, as I was uhhming and ahhing about buying a Sweaty Betty gym bag. If you don't know Sweaty Betty and their prices, lets just say they are the Prada of gym bags - as in, they cost an absolute bomb and you can't really tell why. 
I hit ASOS not long after, and bought this modest yet practical Scuba Holdall  for £28 - bargain. 
Now that I have a snazzy bag, I can finally unveil a 'what's in my gym bag' without trying to get shots of an ASDA bag. 
The first lot out of my gym bag are the two pieces of kit that I can't live without, and get severe stress when I see the battery key flashing on my Polar watch. I've had the M400 for about three years now, and it's safe to say i've had my moneys worth. It's starting to become a bit too clunky for my needs now, and I'm beginning to look for my next upgrade, however the fitness part of the watch is still fantastic. I have seperate profiles for weight lifting, cardio, outdoor running, spinning and swimming - oh and badminton, for when I do it twice a month with work. The GPS on my watch comes in handy for my 10k training as it'll split my miles down by average pace and how much effort i'm putting in to each mile, which is a massive bonus when I'm dawdling along at a pace that most people on mobility scooters could overtake me with. 

The next two on my hitlist are slightly less glamourous, however I got in to a routine of exercising before work which meant these were an essential. If you've not used Mitchum deodrant before, then I'm assuming you live under a rock. When it says 48 hour protection, it damned well means it and then some. It's slightly more expensive than other brands at around £3 a bottle, but I have a heavy stockpile going on which will last me until quite possibly 2020. I'm obsessed with the Love Spell Lace edition of the Victorias Secret body spray, and will spritz some of this on as I'm running out of the gym to catch my bus to work. Unlike some other body mists, the VS ones last all day without turning to an 'off' smell that you can get with a few brands. The bottles last me absolutely ages, and I get complimented on them quite often which is a bonus. 
The next essential in my bag is a water bottle and some hand sanitiser. Everyone at work rolls their eyes at me as I liberally apply my hand sanitiser multiple times a day, and I'm quite glad they don't see me in the gym otherwise I wouldn't hear the end of it. I get it, you're in a rush after you're finishing your cross trainer workout because something on the TV distracted you - fine, great. What isn't fine, and definitely isn't great, are the individuals that don't clean down the equipment they were using after sweating over it for 45 minutes - even typing it makes me shudder. My water bottle also comes everywhere with me, and I will make sure I have a bottle in my bag before I leave as I'd rather keel over from dehydration than drink from the water fountains in the gym - yuck.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Things I’ve learnt whilst training for a 10k

Before signing up to this 10k, I don’t think I had ran outside for anything other than to run for the ice cream van when I was desperate for a 99. People laughed when I told them I’d signed up, and asked what drove me to do it.
As a total running virgin, I decided to grab an app off of the App Store, find my swankiest pair of trainers and hit the streets to begin my 10k training. That was two weeks ago now, and I so far have not been hit by a car (yet), have not done myself an injury (yet) and finally have some muscle growth back in the twiglet legs.
I have learnt that the whole cast of Bugs Life is out in force around this time of year, and you will end up swallowing them whilst you’re gasping to get some air in your dishevelled lungs (yes, this may have happened to me). I’ve also learnt to breathe more through my nose for the above reason.
Elderly people will actually smile at you when you run past, though this may be in confusion at your garish, yet swanky, running trainers. Little kids will try to race you without looking obvious, and no, I will not let a child win purely because they’re a child – life is tough kid, so is running on little legs.
You learn to do a subtle nod at every runner passing by – you both know it sucks, there’s no need to be anything but delightful to your fellow runner.
There is such a thing as a super playlist to get you through everything in life. My playlist is now a delightful mix of Dj Khaled, Tina Turner and Skrillex, in that order. Need a pick me up? Spotify playlist. Need a ‘I think my legs are falling off’ motivation? Spotify playlist.
My polar watch has now become my greatest ally. I have recently been looking in to upgrading my Polar, as it is becoming slower and, quite frankly, not very stylish around the office. I love that it tracks all my movement, but the sheer size of it and its depleting battery life has had me looking elsewhere. However, when I run outdoors, it is incredible at tracking my movement, my distance, my calories used and my average pace per mile. 
Factor 50 and running go hand in hand. After one particular run, I ended up shuffling home the colour of a tomato, and it wasn’t just because of my running technique. It’s no secret that my natural skin tone is akin to Casper the Ghost, and if I don’t lather myself in Factor 50 sun lotion when the first sign of the sun appears, then me and my skin will have a falling out for the next couple of days. Now when I run, I spray myself liberally with as much lotion as my skin can handle, grab my hat and run through the streets with my mouth firmly closed shut.