super generic girl

the awesomely average life of a girl like all others


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All this nothing we’re doing is actually killing us

I would not pick a fight with this 93 year old. But then again, I probably wouldn’t pick a fight with any 93 year old -they’re always so adorable. Just not usually this badass.

I caught bits of a TV show the other night where doctors were trying to figure out the mystery cause of some weird symptoms a lady had been displaying ever since giving birth to her son. She had put on what she described as “copious amounts of weight” following the pregnancy and had been suffering from a myriad of symptoms that doctors didn’t seem to be able to associate with any particular disease. The last doctor she visited analysed her lifestyle and realised that her extremely poor diet and absolute lack of exercise were mostly to blame. It took her a couple of months of dieting, combined with exercising three times a week, and her symptoms began to disappear.

Of course it’s not always this obvious but, more often than not, the equation really is that easy. We can try to make all the excuses we want for what we do to ourselves (“I really deserve this tenth piece of brownie because I took the stairs to that second floor instead of taking the elevator”) but the fact is that a healthy lifestyle usually leads to a healthy life. It’s not really rocket science. Of course there are diseases that can happen in spite of someone taking the best care of themselves but you are pretty much guaranteed to avoid a number of issues if you just take responsibility for your health.

It’s a harsh reality, though, and we always find a million excuses. I speak for myself here. But when I started thinking about it watching the show, it hit me how painfully obvious and in-your-face this fact actually is.

Eventually, we will all start decaying before we finally die (what an upbeat post, I know). As much as modern medicine can do for us, it’s the cycle of life and the planet would really be in trouble if we all stopped dying. No matter how many artificial limbs or organ transplants you get, eventually, your machine needs to stop moving. But does that mean the process needs to be a slow painful one?

I came across this Ted talk today and it was as inspiring as it was eye-opening. Charles Eugster is right – old age has come to be synonym of a number of health problems. But does it really have to be? I mean, look at him.

The 93-year old oarsman and bodybuilder hits the nail on the head: We are over-nourished, over-medicated and physically inactive and that inactivity is a major cause of death.

“Natural healthy aging is unseen, covering by a blanket of disease. In fact, it is falsely assumed that disease is a natural consequence of aging. Lift up the blanket and there could be surprises,” he says.

He gives some good statistics and makes some great points so I highly recommend you get yourself a cup of tea and sit through the whole 16 minute video.

Eugster also goes into much deeper issues such as retirement age/ life expectancy (which has not only health but also financial consequences).  I don’t fully agree with absolutely everything he says. He calls retirement a “massive health calamity” and a “future financial disaster”, I call it a lifelong dream, but I do see his point. Life doesn’t have to start ending 20 or so years before it’s actually expected to end.

His point is simple: look after yourself and those problems that we grew used to associate with aging will disappear. And if you’re going to use your age as an excuse, then quit it right there. Eugster started well into his 80s so, really, your point is invalid.

Oh damn, I feel like I’m coming across as preachy. Am I coming across as preachy? Maybe I am. Listen, I’m definitely no role model. I don’t think I’ve ever turned down a family-sized bar of mint chocolate and I have no intentions of ever doing that. But, on the other hand, I’ve made a bunch of little changes to my lifestyle in the last couple of years and, even with my regular slip-ups, it all has had an amazing impact on my health. I’m millions of midnight snacks away from an actual proper healthy life but videos like this are a great use of  “inactive time”.

I’ll shut up now. The point is, let’s stop sitting around. It’s killing us.

***

photo source: Ted Blog
For further reading on Eugster’s achievements, check out his website and this article he wrote for the Guardian.


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How Lord of the Rings and VFX relate to marathon training (at least in my head)

Well, if we’re going to talk about numbers, this week was a massive catastrophe. Good thing we’re not going to talk about numbers then, or else I’d have to admit to you that I didn’t get anywhere close to the goals I had set up for myself. Among the reasons I didn’t run nearly as much as I should have this week I include: work commitments (those bills aren’t gonna pay themselves, apparently), meteorology (can’t control the weather, amirite?) and just overall laziness. You know, the usual. And yes, I am feeling stupidly guilty about it but guilt won’t really get me running any faster or longer so I’ll just harden up and get over it now.

I did put together a bit of a training plan with S. on Monday evening (while not running because of the rain) so that’s gotta count for something. I then flew to Wellington for work on Thursday and, on Friday afternoon, managed to drag myself to the path along the waterfront (part of the route of the half marathon I ran there back in June). It was a lovely, albeit fairly short, run, during which I only stopped a couple of times very briefly for the photos you see here (Instagram is my new excuse to take breaks during runs).

The conference that took me to Wellington ended on Saturday night with a gala dinner at Te Papa Museum (hands down my favourite museum in the country). They had a guest speaker come and give a bit of a speech after the awards ceremony (or was it before? I don’t know, it was in between wine). The speaker was Wayne Stables, a name that didn’t ring any bells to me but must make serious Lord of the Rings fans’ hormones go a little nutty. He’s the big visual effects guru at Weta Digital, Sir Peter Jackson’s film company.

It was during his talk to the conference guests that I realised two things:

1. I need to immediately take a weekend off to re-watch all Lord of the Rings (including the bits during which I fell asleep in my first and, so far only,  attempt)

2. I’m so obsessed with running and marathon training I’ll find a link between that and anything else in life.

All the man did was stand there for a few minutes talking about his amazing work in movies such as Lord of the Rings, Tin Tin and Avatar. My brain related pretty much each one of his sentences to running. One of his key messages was that working with massive visual effects productions means you have a lot of really big overwhelming challenges – like, for example, creating all the vfx for the battle of Helm’s Deep in LOTR or the super long continuous shot that was the chase scene in Tin Tin. There are a million little details that have to come together to create those scenes. If you think of the whole scene as one big thing, you’ll be completely stumped and overwhelmed by all the details that need looking after (stuff we don’t even think of as we watch the movie, such as cloth motion or the most realistic way to get water falling). So the key, he says, is to break those big challenges into tiny little ones and look at each detail at a time, rather than having the whole big picture in mind.

D’ya get it? D’ya? D’ya? Don’t tell me I’m the only one who made an immediate correlation to training for a 42.2km long run (not to mention that the marathon is only part of a much larger goal to run a 75k trail run, but that’s a whole new blog post). It’s all about breaking the massive challenge into little ones. Simple and yet genius. I went back to my hotel room later on having run a grand total of zero kilometers that day but with the distinct sensation that sitting through that talk  represented some sort of progression in my training.

Probably bullshit. I better get my ass on the road and run because, at this rate, special effects really are the only way I’m ever going to be seen crossing that finish line.


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Amazing people doing amazing things – the Kim Allan edition

Are you ready to feel like a lazy unhelpful uncaring slob? Read on then.

Kim Allan, an Auckland mum, will run/walk 500k continuously, without any sleep, around the Auckland Domain.

You know how sometimes you get in the car and drive because that convenience store located 1km away from home just isn’t convenient enough to walk to? Now think that, times 500.

Did you hear that? That was the sound of all my excuses to avoid the gym being flushed down the toilet.

If attempting to run/walk 500k without sleep didn’t automatically place Kim in the “amazing humans” category, the fact that she is doing this to raise funds for the CatWalk Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Trust and the New Zealand Spinal Trust grants her an immediate spot in heaven right next to whichever god you think is the most powerful.

“This will be a huge challenge, not only physically but mentally and there are days I simply can’t get my head around being awake for that length of time. But in the words of Nelson Mandela, ‘It always seems impossible until it is done’,” she says in a press release. Kim expects the whole ordeal adventure to take 4 days, during which she will not sleep or rest for any significant period of time.

More from the press release:

Kim, 47 and from Tuakau, first decided to take up ultra-distance events as a way to encourage her four children to stay committed and work through hard times. Her son, Ben, now laughingly points out “Ok Mum, you’ve made your point”.

Having competed in several ultra-events, including the Oxfam Trail Walker and the NZ 24 hour race, Kim decided to attempt something that would provide the ‘ultimate challenge’. She admits there is no guarantee that she can actually do it so the challenge is very real.

Because Kim will not be able to sleep during her attempt she needs encouragement to keep going and the public are invited to come to the Domain from Thurs 22 through to Sunday 25 November to cheer her on. On Thursday Kim will be joined by a group of young people taking part in the first Blue Light International Youth Leadership Program. These young people will join Kim for several laps of the Domain.

Kim hopes to beat the record set by Pam Reed, the American Ultra Runner, who completed 486km in just over 80 hours. Kim’s Blue Light 500kms/0hrs Sleep challenge will mean completing 332 laps around the Sri Chinmoy Peace Mile. Kim points out that the time is not important, it’s the distance she is aiming to cover that will break the record. However, the sooner she gets it done the quicker she can get to sleep.

To raise additional funds, Kim is auctioning an entry package to the Tarawera Ultramarathon (which also comes with accommodation at the Holiday Inn, shoes and other running gear, a training programme and a subscription to Runner’s World magazine, a package worth over $1500).

If you’d like to contribute to Kim’s fundraising efforts, click here. You can also follow Kim’s amazing effort by liking her Facebook page and maybe even join her for a lap or ten of the Auckland Domain, from 9am November 22.

Image credit: Kim Allan’s Blue Light 500km/0hrs sleep, in aid of The CatWalk Spinal Cord Injury Trust Facebook page.


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Marathon training – week 1

It still feels a bit weird to talk about marathon training with the word ‘half’ preceding it.

It also feels a bit weird to talk about marathon training for this week when my average mileage was even lower than what I was doing back when I was training for the 35k trail. Still, every week from now until marathon day will be a training week and even if I waste it all on a giant caramel and cinnamon cake (which I may or may not have just done), you’ll get all the details until you’re so sick of it you contemplate disconnecting your internet at home so you don’t accidentally stumble upon this blog anymore.

But until you do that, I’ll be here to give you the exciting marathon training report, week by week, no matter how uneventful it actually is.

Like this first one. This week, I ran a grand total of 25k (divided in 2x 10k and 1x 5k sessions). Nope, nothing else. No gym visits, no other workout, unless slicing up the aforementioned giant caramel and cinnamon cake can be considered a workout. So there you go, weekly report done. Shameful, isn’t it?

Week 2 starts tomorrow and I decided it would be a good idea to set myself some goals for the week, to keep me on track:

Run at least 42.2k in total. A marathon in a week shouldn’t be too hard to achieve. I’m flying down to Wellington on Thursday and I think that flat waterfront is going to help me with the mileage.

Return to the gym. It’s been longer than I’m prepared to admit.

Sit down with S. and draw up a proper training plan for both of us (okay, this is sort of cheating because we’ve already agreed to do this)

Make at least one of the runs this week a morning one. Now I feel like I’m pushing my luck.

Book an appointment with my GP to check on a recurring pain on my knee every time I run. If I’m going to do this, I better make sure I don’t completely destroy my poor bones in the process.

This should be enough to keep me out of trouble.


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42.2

Every time I run a half marathon, there’s a voice inside of me that wonders about a few important questions. Some common ones include “why did I add this song in my running playlist?”, “did I really think eating half a chocolate torte the night before the race was a good idea?” and, more importantly, “why am I not in bed like normal people?”

A few minutes after each half marathon, however, I wonder about different things. Lately, I’ve been finding myself questioning whether, with a little more training, I could push it further and keep going for a little while longer.

So it’s time to go a little further. More specifically, twice as far. Less than four months from now, I will be at the start line of my very first full marathon. It was all Stacey’s idea (and I’m putting this in writing here especially in case it all turns to custard). Yes, the same Stacey that had the 35k trail run idea. We had been talking about how exciting it’d be to enter a marathon in an exotic location in some faraway land. After one glass of wine too many, I even emailed the NZ-based travel agent responsible for getting kiwi runners into the Great Wall Marathon.

A couple of days later, Stacey emailed me saying she had found the marathon for us and added a link to the Mountain to Surf Marathon, in New Plymouth. Okay, so not really what I had in mind when we talked about exotic faraway locations (unless, of course, you’re outside New Zealand). But:

1. It’s not in Auckland. One of the things we had discussed was how hard it would be to run a full marathon along a place we know too well. We need the excitement that comes with running in a new location.

2. It involves a road trip. Or a flight. Whichever is the cheapest. Either way, exciting travel-related arrangements to be made.

3. It’s mostly downhill and flat. This could also very well turn out to be a bad thing, since downhills are so tough on the knees, but I definitely prefer them to steep uphills.

4. It starts in Mount Taranaki and ends right on the edge of the island by the Tasman Sea. So, beautiful scenery guaranteed.

5. Registration was only $70. Sadly though, there doesn’t seem to be a finisher’s medal. I might just have to add “marathoner” to my email signature and take that as my badge of honour since kiwis are clearly not into the whole medal deal. If they ask for my bib back at the end of the race, though, as it has happened before, I’ll lose my shit.

Mount Taranaki, a photo taken back in 2009, back when my hair was longer and my marathon dreams were non-existent.

We agreed to sign up for it on pay day but I didn’t trust myself not to chicken out before then and so went ahead and signed up straight away. From now on, the clock is ticking and it’s time to get training. According to the marathon training programme I downloaded from the event’s website, I’m already behind. Training will, of course, be an essential part of my life in the next four months. I’ll probably talk about it a bit all the freaking time so, dear friends, if there’s a holiday you’ve been meaning to take or any plans that involve not having contact with me, now is the time to put those into action.

It’s good to be back in training mode with a major goal in mind. Not to dismiss half marathons in the least (they’re still a challenge), but it was time to move on from those into something more, especially since I can’t bring myself to worry about speed so training to get faster never ends up happening.

Chocolate milk and a cinnamon cookie – an essential part of marathon training.

To prove I’m taking marathon training seriously, the day after signing up I headed to the newly opened Moustache Milk & Cookies bar in Auckland to inaugurate marathon training season with a cookie.

Just kidding. I started marathon training the day I signed up. With a chocolate doughnut. So you know I mean business.


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If you didn’t record it, did it really happen?

When the TomTom watch crashed right at the start of the Adidas Auckland Half Marathon last weekend, I panicked for a second or two before realising I had my iPod on me and could still track my run. Had I not taken it that day, though, my stress levels would have probably turned that run into a really bad one. And why, really? The course was gorgeous, I felt good the whole time, the day was beautiful. All of that is true but if I had not been able to add that run to my Nike+ profile, I would have been one unhappy runner (and an unhappy runner in a tutu is not a pretty image).

Now before you think I’m weird, the concept of the quantified self has been documented for some time now (since 2007, in fact). There are companies dedicated entirely to tracking devices capable of helping us cope with this newfound need to track our every movement. Last year, both the US and Europe even held Quantified Self conferences, the type of event that makes my nerdy hormones jump up and down with excitement.  Obsessively tracking everything is now a thing. So no, I haven’t completely lost my mind. Compared to some, I’m actually mostly normal (stop laughing. No, seriously, stop it).

I don’t track my sleep patterns, or my food intake (well, sometimes), or my mood or the number of steps I take every day. I don’t track these mostly because I don’t currently own a device capable of tracking them all in a hassle-free way, like FitBit) but I’ve got all the symptoms of someone who would totally get addicted to one of those. The analog expression of my self-tracking needs is in my constant diary updates (I have religiously kept a Moleskine diary for years now).  I’ve always used that diary to keep track of things like movies watched, books read, recipes tried, restaurants/cafes visited, or albums listened to.

More importantly, I track every single one of my runs. I know my stats well and, at times, analyse them to the point of exhaustion. I once turned around and ran back home after 400m because my iPod ran out of battery and couldn’t track the run. I know it sounds terribly lame but, in my head, if I can’t add that run to my total numbers, then what’s the point of even getting my clothes sweaty?

In a way, self-tracking helps me feel like I’m in control, especially during particularly stressful times. It ties in with my obsession for making lists (and lists of lists) and helps me feel organised. The time I trained for a 35k trail run was, so far, the height of my quantified self. On top of tracking a number of non-running related things (websites like Good Reads have helped simplify the process), I tracked my training runs, gym sessions, most of my meals and even my water and caffeine intake. Have I ever sounded more like a freak to you? Didn’t think so. But you know what? It helped. Mostly mentally, of course, although I’m sure tracking my progress also indirectly led me to make adjustments to my training and end up with better physical results. So, in the end, it’s as much about how much data you obsessively gather about yourself as it is about what you then do with all that information.

The good folk at Slimkicker have contacted a number of fitness bloggers, yours truly included, to try out their new device that will come out early next year (their iPhone app has been around for a while now). I had a look around the website and, as much as the feminist in me has a problem with their branding (slim does not equal fit, people!), I’m more than a little excited about trying out the gadget. It is one more in a pool of connected heath devices (or ‘health 2.0’ as some people call it) and even though I’m not big on counting calories (there just aren’t enough zeros to quantify some days), anything that gets people excited about getting healthier and fitter is good in my book.


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In which I act as if getting out of bed is a big accomplishment

Hey sun, you’re big and hot and stuff but it looks like I still got out of bed before you this morning. Lazy.

Today was my third consecutive running day so, obviously, I’m here to brag. Take some time to congratulate me on my awesomeness.

Okay, that’s enough now.

After running 5km on Monday after work and then another 5km on Tuesday after work, I got up a whole hour earlier this morning (A WHOLE HOUR!) and ran 9.5km before work.

As a result, life is looking far awesomer than normal today. I was fairly productive at work and even found time to not only pack leftovers for lunch but also to coordinate the colour of my bag, jacket and boots (my usual morning routine squeezes in shower, coffee and feeding the cat in a grand total of 12 to 14 minutes between getting out of bed and out the door so outfit choices are hardly top of mind). But, see, mum and dad, looks like I’ve really got it together now.

I stop myself from falling asleep while running in the morning by taking random photos with my phone. It’s a legitimate part of training. I say so.

There are a few (well, five) reasons why I’m finding it easy to stick to a running routine this week and I bet you’re dying to know more about them. Or maybe you just emptied out your Google Reader and ran out of You Tube clips of cats attacking their own shadows to watch. Either way, here they are:

1. Running goals I’ve got another half marathon next month, potentially the coolest half marathon in history. Having a specific race to train for always gets me motivated. By “motivated” I, of course, mean scared shitless. As a result, I run.

2. Responsibility I’m trying to follow a training plan and, along with my friend who’s also running the aforementioned half marathon, I’m back in the Google Docs shared training plan bandwagon (if it’s not a thing, it should be). Basically, if I don’t run and he does, I feel shitty. Works a treat.

3. Longer days Fina-freaking-lly. It is now fairly light outside at 7am and still light around 5:30pm. The countdown to spring is entering single digits and I’m obviously pretty excited to kiss this winter goodbye.

4. Running-related reading It might be a sign of obsession that I spend so much time reading up on all running-related subjects. I don’t care. The end result is that I get out the door and run. Win.

5. People pissing me off As a general rule, punching people in the face is frowned upon by society so, instead, I embrace the rage and throw it all down on the pavement. In the end, I get fitter and they remain losers – everyone’s happy. Well, not everyone – just everyone who matters.

So I guess that’s the lesson I’m taking from all this. No matter what your reasons are, whether it’s happiness or stress, too much cookie-induced guilt or just overall frustration at all the idiots in this world, the real important thing is to get out there and run the Oreos off. And even if it sucked at the start and it sucked during it, you get to see the sunrise and then blog about it anyway so in the end it’s all a-OK.


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Well, it looks like I’m a runner

I had an epiphany the other day. At the hairdresser. Yep, you read that right. I sat on that scary chair facing the scary mirror and the scary guy holding the scissors cheerfully asked me “so what are we going to do today?”. The truth was that I was going to give him far too much money for him to give me a hair style I was going to be able to maintain for about 18 hours after walking out of that place and never be able to replicate by myself ever again. I didn’t tell him that, though. Instead, I just described what sort of cut I was after. He asked how short I’d like it to be and my answer was “short but not so short that I can’t tie my hair up when I run”.

There you go. Epiphany. Right? I mean, the lady sitting two chairs away from me was asking for “curls like these” pointing at a magazine. I wanted him to do his job but not do it so well that I wouldn’t be able to tie my hair up when running. I know, I think I’m stupid too. But anyway, as he was cutting away, I thought about I’d said to him.

You see, I feel like I’ve been running for a while now. In fact, I didn’t run a lot in the last couple of weeks and the result was a crankier-than-usual Vera. Running is as much a part of my routine as brushing my teeth or eating entire family-sized bars of Whittakers mint chocolate (and definitely a lot more of a routine than blowdrying my hair properly but don’t tell that to the guy with the scissors). Running influences my moods as much as coffee and pictures of kittens on the internet. I’ve entered more running events than I can count, have an almost psychotic need to always have an upcoming running event planned and paid for, and would put my racing bib collection right up there on a list of things I’d want to save in case of a house fire. I plan my days around whether or not there will be running involved more often than I plan my runs around what’s planned for the rest of my day. I obsess over running playlists for more hours than I like to admit, my kitchen pantry is filled with trail mix and my browser history makes me look like a Department of Conservation worker from too many hours spent plotting trail runs. Hell, right now, there’s more Gu than beer in my kitchen. So, you know, I’m kind of a runner. Yesterday, I went running after dark for the third day in a row. The first two runs in the dark, on sunday and monday, were also under constant rain. They were short, yes, 5km on sunday and 6.5km on monday. But the fact that I got my poptart-eating ass out of the couch and put my running clothes on while it was raining means that running is more than just something I do whenever it’s convenient.

And I even bet you knew I was going to mention the fact that a couple of months ago I ran 35km (that’s THIRTY-FIVE KILOMETERS, capitals and all) in the bush, which is still right up there in the list of things I’m most proud of (a list that includes things like once riding a bicycle for about 200m in a straight line and that one time I re-watched that scene in Love Actually when Colin Firth talks to Aurora’s family in Portuguese and I didn’t cry*).

But anyway, my point is, I never really felt like much of a runner. Until I asked the hairdresser to leave my hair long enough so I could still tie it up to go running. I guess that’s what makes me a runner, more than the kilometers pounding the pavement, the playlists, the racing bibs, the methodically packaged trail mix bags and even my newly-found tolerance to stomach crap like Gu. I’m a runner because I make running a priority even with things that aren’t quite so obviously running-related. It also makes me a potential clinical case but that’s an entirely different blog post.

And yes, I know this has been a major cliffhanger throughout the whole post so I’ll put your minds at ease: he did leave it long enough. Major relief, I know, I felt it too.

*much


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10 things I learned during the Wellington Half Marathon

1. Flat courses aren’t actually easier

I spent this entire time wishing I could run a half marathon on a flat course. I got all excited when I saw that the route of the Wellington one was flat as a pancake. Turns out that pancakes as metaphors for course altitude are actually pretty boring (as oppose to real pancakes you get to eat, which are, of course, more than a bit awesome). A flat course means your body is always performing the same movements, with the same force (or, in my case, lack thereof). Boring. This flat course taught me how to love the hills.

2. No training = No PR

It’s actually a pretty obvious equation, when you think about. I didn’t. I came out of that mammoth 35k in the bush at the end of May and barely moved for the following couple of weeks, thinking I had time to train for Wellington. I didn’t. Next thing I knew, it was time to fly to the capital and harden up. Not my worst time but certainly not my best. Mental note: to run faster, run often.

3. Do not go to a yoga session (or anything you haven’t done in months) 3 days before the half marathon

Your body will ache. Three days isn’t actually enough time for me to get it all back to normal, as it turns out, especially since my back had already been hurting. On that note…

4. If your back hurts, running is not going to fix it.

Contrary to what my mind likes to tell me, running is not the solution to all of life’s problems. Almost all of them, yes, but not quite. Like back pain. Running made it worse. Oh-so-much-worse. Voltaren is my new BFF.

5. If you are told not to wear the same pair of running shoes longer than 700km, don’t be a tight-ass about it, buy a new pair of shoes and shut the hell up.

Running 1200km+ on the same pair of shoes and then assuming they’ll still be comfortable for a further 21km? Stupid move.

6. You better just come to terms with the fact that you’re not going to enjoy some runs. It’s okay.

You wake up some days and you don’t really feel like running, for one reason or another. It’s okay. Sometimes that happens to be the day you not only paid the entry fee to a half marathon but you also flew to that city for that particular reason. Harden up. Whatever. Get over it. Onto the next one.

7. Don’t panic about the weather.

Just because you nearly got blown off a pier while trying to walk along it the day before, it does not mean you can’t wake up to beautiful sunshine and almost no wind the next day. Case in point: Wellington’s schizophrenic weather which was very much a pleasant surprise on race day. Stop worrying, damn it.

8. Good or bad, you’re 21km closer to where you want to be.

I know this sounds like terribly hippie new-age crap but it’s a comforting thought for when you finish a half marathon that you didn’t particularly enjoy and that leaves you wondering why you even bother.

9. Running events are the perfect excuse for a weekend away.

I may not have had the best time during the run but the weekend in Wellington was all kinds of lovely. Flying to another city just because of a running event might sound silly to some but that’s only if you make it solely about that couple of hours and nothing else.

10. Stop whining. 

Running 21km and crossing the finish line is pretty damn awesome. No one cares that it took you five minutes longer compared to your previous PR. You shouldn’t either.


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So, hmm, now what?

pictured: random non-running related snippets of the last few days, reminders of how I’ve been really busy, you know, not running.

I had heard of it before. That hiatus that settles in after a big run. You train for months, run the event you trained for and then… well, then nothing. You tell yourself you’ll definitely hit the road again as soon as you recover but, really, the recovery excuse gets used for far too long.

In the period since the Big O Trail Run on May 26 and today, I have run a grand total of around about 26km (of which nearly 16km of those were yesterday). Lame, I know. It’s not even that I was in pain (I was only in pain for a couple of days following the run). My legs just didn’t want to run. I ran a shameful 3km a week after that event and, despite not sore, my legs just didn’t feel like moving.

I don’t even really have a good excuse. I’ve been allowing myself as much crap food as I want (although, surprisingly, I haven’t been craving as much bad stuff as I used to) and I’ve been taking time out to do stuff I hadn’t done during training (stuff like sleeping in or taking a nap on a weekend). I’ve also been reading more and spending a lot of energy trying to stay warm. I’ve even taken a ballet class (a good 20 years after the last one), and found a way to relate it to running and, somehow, justify in my head being in that studio rather than out on the road (exercising different muscles, stretching, yadda, yadda, yadda).

What I need is a new challenge. The Wellington Half Marathon is coming up this weekend and I’m ready to fly down to the capital and get blown by the wind gusts as I try to run along a mostly flat course along the waterfront. I haven’t exactly trained for it, unless you count weeks of chocolate intake as training for a half marathon. And once that run is finished this coming sunday, I’m in serious danger of having no goal to work towards.

One thing I know: I want to get back on the trails. The road does very little for me these days and I find myself looking up bush tracks online in my spare time. I need something big and something better, something that will force me to panic and work hard for it. After two months of obsessing over that 35km distance, there’s an emptiness that comes with having no set goal to train for. With the cold days of winter well and truly here to stay, I either find a new challenge soon or I risk taking up hot-chocolate-drinking as my new sport.

This week’s self-imposed homework: get out there and run (no tapering needed when training was non-existent) but, most importantly, pick a new challenge to work towards.