super generic girl

the awesomely average life of a girl like all others


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13 ways I’ll try not to screw up 2013

new year's

It’s that time of the year again. Yes, that exciting time when you make a bunch of plans and compose a list of things you will achieve in the new year. All of a sudden, life seems all organised and put together and you feel like you have it all under control and exciting times lie ahead. Then comes the new year celebration and the resolutions get forgotten down that third bottle of cheap sparkling wine.

I’m exaggerating, as usual. I actually did pretty well in 2012 (*pat on the back*), all things considered. So there is hope for me. And if there is hope for me, you know what that means, right? There’s hope for anyone. Even you, Lohan.

Grab the cheap sparkling wine, call it champagne like I do – it’s time to write those resolutions down.

I’ve decided to keep it simple this year. It was the formula I used last year and it seemed to have worked. I’m not going for huge unattainable goals here. If I bag some of those, bonus. But that’s not what I’m going after. Resolutions are about motivation and there’s nothing good about setting myself up for failure with big scary goals. So here’s 13 things I want to focus on this year, in no particular order:

One Hike the Tongariro Crossing again. It is still my absolute favourite day hike in the country, in spite of the horrible second experience I had on that mountain. Time for a third go at it.

Two Run a marathon. This one is sort of cheating because it’s already lined up. But hey, it doesn’t count until I’ve crossed that damn finish line and, right now, that’s looking pretty unachievable.

Three Volunteer at a running event. It’s time to give back, even if giving back just means giving people plastic cups full of water as they run past.

Four Run an ultra-marathon. Let’s talk about this one later. It requires more than one bottle of cheap wine.

Five Enter all as many XTERRA trail running events as I can. And basically every other trail running event within an acceptable radius from home. Essentially, I want to run events at a faster rate than Taylor Swift changes boyfriends but I do realise that might be a bit hard to achieve.

Six Dust off the camping gear. I haven’t camped since the beginning of 2012. Enough of this roof over my head kind of stuff.

Seven Discover 5 new authors/ read 5 excellent books. It’ll take me a few average reads to get this number but I really want to get to the end of the year with some new favourite books. 2012 was not a bad one in that sense but there’s a lot more to discover out there. Got a favourite? Let me know!

Eight Do a 30-day photo project. It’s all about discipline, people. And I need lots of that.

Nine Go to the gym at least once a week. This year, I shamefully paid for at least 5 months worth of gym membership without showing my face there. Then I went back, tried weight training and kind of liked it. So more of that in 2013.

Ten Make at least 10 more Kiva loans.

Eleven Add more recipes to my recipe journal. I’ve been real lazy writing them down. My future offspring – if cats can be called offspring and ever develop the ability to read – needs to know how to make the perfect packaged meal or precisely how much cheese to add to <insert any food item in the universe>.

Twelve Buy my groceries online. I don’t know why I’ve been putting this off for so long. I like picking my own stuff from the shelves. But I also like staying home and not have idiotic children bump their trollies onto my legs. So I think that wins.

Thirteen Declutter (but for real, no mercy). About 5 years ago, I reduced my entire life to 2 suitcases and moved to New Zealand. Those 2 suitcases magically expanded into, well, a buttload of stuff. No human being needs the amount of crap I’ve accumulated over time. Time to scale down. You get to read all about it here, just to keep me motivated. I know, riveting stuff. Try to contain your enthusiasm, kids.

So there. I’m sure lots more will happen but these are just a few things that’ll keep me motivated once the January 1 hangover is gone and all the After Eight mints have been consumed.

2013 is going to kick ass.

What are your plans for 2013? Tell me all so I can either nag you about them throughout the year or feel less sorry for myself when I see you’re doing just as badly as yours as I’m doing at mine.

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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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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.