Monday, 30 December 2013

2013 - Keep on surviving

So as I type this opening sentence we have approximately 26 hours left of 2013. Why not jump on the blogging bandwagon and review it?

One thing I can say for the year of 2013 is that I am sure I will always remember it. It's not going to be a 1997 or 2004, forever lost in the wilds of my memories being unable to identify any specific event that may have have occurred. I've had some brilliant highs and some terrible, core-of-the-earth scraping lows.

I remember clearly at the end of September sitting on the floor of my old bedroom in my parents' house, surrounded by empty mugs of tea and hyperventilating, with no idea where I was going to live and what I was going to do, and thinking to myself "This is rock bottom. I am always going to look back at this and think, that was rock bottom." And you know what? I was wrong. I have never been as scared as I was for those few weeks of sofa-hopping around South London. I have never felt so lost or afraid and I have never listened to so much Kelly Clarkson. However, I have never felt so 'the opposite of alone'. The amount of genuine support, both practical and emotional, I had from so many people - family, friends, colleagues, even people from the internet I'd never met-  was INSANE and you know what? I bounced back sooner and higher than I could have ever imagined.

November & December of 2013 have been two of the best months of my life. I feel like over the past few years I had, so slowly I hadn't even really noticed, lost my control over who I was and what I wanted. Finally, I feel like I'M BACK AND I'M AMAZING. Because you know what? I am amazing. I may be slightly chubby and have minging feet, but at the same time I'm hilarious and have great hair. I don't know if I'll ever look in the mirror and totally like what I see (spending three years as a teenager being called ugly and annoying every day of your life will do that for you) BUT I look in the mirror now and I don't hate myself. I think, particularly if I've already done my make-up "You look okay. Perhaps even above average!"

I write this blog weighing about half a stone less than when I wrote my end of year blog in 2012. Most of that weight loss to be honest I can't really chalk up to anything more than a bout of extreme stress followed by a change of lifestyle meaning there's less junk food around the kitchen. However, weight loss really isn't my priority anymore. My priority is to be happy and (somewhat) healthy, both physically and emotionally. And more importantly, to continue to have a positive relationship with my own self-image.

Most importantly of all perhaps, when I wrote my end of year blog in 2012 I'd have struggled to run to the end of the road and back. I write this blog in 2013 being able to run 5k 3 times a week and having signed up for a 10k in March. Despite my chronic unfitness throughout my life and my utter aversion to physical exercise, I have accidentally discovered a love for running through nothing but my own amazingness (i.e. actually sticking to the plan and CARRYING ON TRYING.) If that's not something to love myself for I don't know what is.

My only New Year's Resolution is - Keep on surviving.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

My favourite workout songs of 2013

Something you should probably know about me is that I am a MASSIVE pop music fan. I've only ever once ran without music which was when I did my 5k race as headphones weren't allowed. I just about managed to cope because of the sheer adrenaline and excitement of being in a race, but otherwise I literally could not imagine how horrific it might be to run without Eye of the Tiger and Survivor egging me on. Running's a really good way to listen to a new album and sometimes a proper TUNE coming on can really inspire me to go faster.

Anyway, I thought I would make a playlist of my favourite running songs that were released in 2013 (these aren't my favourite of all time of course - but I will save that for some sort of massive 100-song mega playlist at some point.) (My usual running playlist has 450 songs on it and counting). This playlist is 40 minutes long so is perfect if you are training for a 5k and feeling like being reflective over the year. 

Be warned: This playlist, much like me, is NOT 'credible' 

$$$ex - Vanessa Hudgens vs YLA
Work Bitch - Britney Spears
Roar - Katy Perry 
Heart Attack - Demi Lovato
I Need Your Love - Calvin Harris ft. Ellie Goulding
#thatPOWER - ft. Justin Bieber
Pompeii - Bastille
I Love It - Icona Pop ft. Charli XCX
Summertime Sadness Remix - Lana Del Rey vs Cedric Gervais
Do What U Want - Lady GaGa ft R.Kelly
Can We Dance - The Vamps

PS - My favourite workout song of all time is Miami 2 Ibiza - Tinie Tempah & Swedish House Mafia. I seriously do not like it at any other time except if I am exercising but when it comes on during a run I am ON IT. Give it a go. 

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Motivated by new clothes?

Christmas came early for me this year when SportsShoes got in touch and asked if I wanted to try out some new running gear as part of the Fashionably Fit campaign to get me motivated to get out running in the winter months. This could not have come at a better time for me because as you know I massively got out of the habit of running for three whole months and I was absolutely thrilled. I chose some new running gear and I cannot believe I am about to put a full length photo of myself in exercise clothes on the internet but here you go - remember the camera, and the fact this was taken on CHRISTMAS DAY, adds 30 pounds.

Nike Running Jacket* - was £35.00 when I picked it, but reduced to £29.99 now!, c/o
(Barely visible) White vest top - I think this was from Marks & Spencers?! 
Karrimor Running Tights - £10.99, Sports Direct
Nike Flex 2 Women's Trail Running Shoes* - was £55.00 when I picked them, but reduced to £39.99 now! c/o

Now I'm not going to beat around the bush here. This is seriously high quality stuff at pretty amazing prices and I genuinely do thoroughly recommend this website.

I'm used to basically getting the cheapest of everything for sportswear - I ran in Tesco and/or Asda leggings for months. My old trainers were £15 from Sports Direct and unbranded. I always thought they were okay, but that was until I tried these trainers. As well as looking SERIOUSLY COOL (neon much?!) they feel like walking on air. I'm used to my feet feeling like I've been dancing all night in massive heels after a casual 5k, but these are so light and speedy it's unbelievable. I would be lying if I said I chose these trainers because they were trail running shoes as opposed to because I liked the blue/pink colour combo, but they are perfect for running on the beach and I'm sure they'll fit in well with all the running in parks I'm hoping to do once I get back up to London.

I am utterly in love with these trainers. Shoes come and go, but every now and then a pair will come which you will love like they are your own children. The last pair like that for me were my amazing Topshop Athena boots, and I never thought that I'd feel the same about a pair of TRAINERS, but there you go, I do. Let's have a look at another shot of these absolute beauties:

They are actually so pretty I might cry sitting here looking at them.

I don't feel the same kind of passionate, all-consuming love for my running jacket as I do for these beautiful trainers, but it is a pretty ace piece of equipment. It's the first time I've ever had a running jacket, but I thought it would be really useful for the winter months, and I was right. The annoying thing about running in the winter that I have found is that it's freezing but at the same time running makes you hot so you don't want to be trudging around in your eskimo gear. This jacket strikes a lovely balance between the two whilst also blocking out the dreaded 'rain'. It's also good to be a little more high-vis in these darker months. Plus, perhaps most importantly of all - it co-ordinates with the soles of my trainers.

Back to the question originally posed to me by - does having nice running gear motivate me to run in the winter months? Well in the same way as my Topshop Athena boots motivated me to learn how to spend a whole working day in heels, these beautiful trainers are TOTALLY inspiring me to run in the winter months. I keep them in display on my room, partly so on occasion I can look at them and sigh, and also because every time I see them I just want to get laced up and off out for a run, with my jacket to keep me suitably warm and dry. To the extent that yesterday I went out for an elusive Christmas Day run, and not only that, it was my longest run of all time ever (only 3.5 miles, don't get too excited - but still - slaying those records!)

Goodbye all, I hope this review has not been too useless given my lack of technical knowledge as a beginner, but I just wanted to give my perspective on what I genuinely thought rather than using random jargon! (in case you didn't grasp, my genuine thought was that THESE TRAINERS ARE MY NEW GOD!) I will be browsing with an intent to spend some of my Christmas money on productive equipment rather than merely make up giftsets.


PS - 2 days ago I started a Twitter page for my blog. If you're reading this and have Twitter I'd love it if you could give me a cheeky follow as I'm feeling a little lonely - I'll be tweeting all about my adventures with beginner running and some of my friends have told me that from time to time I can be 'quite amusing' so GIVE IT A GO.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

My first run in 3 months

As I mentioned before, I have had a BIG lifestyle change in the fourth quarter of 2013 and it has been difficult to make eating healthily and exercise a priority. I've found I've lost a bit of weight - not heaps but enough, 7-10lb - without any effort. This has made it pretty difficult to be motivated to work out and/or eat nothing but chia seeds. I have been so busy, so busy in such a really great way, that I haven't even had time to THINK about what might be a better dinner to have than "a jar of salsa" or what might be a better form of exercise than "thigh-toning slut drops". 

However, my busy life has come to an abrupt halt as it is now "Christmas holidays" and I have come back to the abyss of joy that is East Kent to celebrate our saviour's birth (I do actually LOVE my hometown but in a bit of an ironic way to be honest). I suddenly find myself with yawning gaps of time ahead of me. It's weird as when I'm busy I often crave time to myself to get on with things but at the same time when it actually happens I feel a bit weird and twitchy (I'm typing this at about 120 words per minute). So this afternoon I thought - WHAT BETTER TIME to get back into the 'fitness' swing of things? I caught sight of my amazing new trainers in the corner (more on that in my next post) and before I knew it I was rocking a ridiculously high ponytail, pulling on my mum's Tesco Cherokee joggers and heading out of the door towards the beach.

I only planned to run to the next bay and back as, well, it was my first run in three months and as mentioned, I have literally done no other exercise in this whole time, and I'd assumed I'd be dying at this point. I listened to the following playlist on repeat, and therefore felt like I was flying:

1.8 miles rolled around and I was approaching my parents' house again, and I just thought, "GOD, I FEEL AMAZING. THE COLD NEVER BOTHERED ME ANYWAY" [bonus points for getting the reference] so I thought I would just keep going, so basically ran around in circles for another 20 minutes, but the point is, I ran 5k!! Here is my proof:

So I did it, I might have run 5k slower than a literal snail on Valium, but I did it, I completed 5k without a single walk break when I hadn't ran at all in THREE MONTHS. I just felt SO HIGH, which I still feel now a couple of hours later, which might be why I KEEP USING CAPS. But what an ACTUALLY BRILLIANT FEELING.

Back before my life imploded and then brilliantly pieced itself back together again, I signed up to run a six mile race on the 23rd March 2014. I really feel with enough effort I might be able to complete that and in a decent time and all. I'm going to go for a few more casual runs over the Christmas break and then in January get on hard with training for that, WHY WOULDN'T I WHEN I COULD FEEL LIKE THIS THREE OR FOUR TIMES A WEEK OR WHATEVER. 

I am just so proud of myself right now, I began 2013 overweight and a bit unhappy and unable to run to the end of the road and back. And look at me now - just under three months ago I had nowhere to live and I thought my life was over. But now, my life is better than it has been for a very, very long time and I have the base level of fitness that I'm able to run 5k without even having any kind of coronary failure. This is why I started running, this is why I got addicted before, and this is why I should never have stopped - I love feeling good about myself, and I never feel better about myself than just after finishing a good run. If anyone reading this has thought about starting running but not sure if they can be bothered or if they would be any good or whatever - I urge you, please, just try. It will change your life and your outlook on it.