super generic girl

the awesomely average life of a girl like all others


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In defense of lazy days

It’s obviously pretty hard to maintain a running blog when you’re not doing much running at all but I thought it was about time I logged on to clean up some cobwebs around here, while I procrastinate on some actual paid writing work I have to get done.

I was even supposed to have a race recap to write today but I didn’t actually start the race. Sad, I know. I was too. Then I heard it was all on loose sand and now, frankly, I’m not feeling quite so bad about it.

Still, this morning, I got up early to run the XTERRA run in Woodhill. I got dressed and ready to get out and head over to the forest for the run. About 15 minutes into this weird auto-pilot mode, I realised there was no way in hell I was going to drag my hungover ass for about 15km up and down that forest, after a very late night at a friend’s birthday party. I mean, I do some pretty stupid stuff but we’d be trying to redefine stupid right now, if I’d done that.

Since I was already in my running gear, though, I decided to punish myself with a road run. I managed not to throw up for the entire 10km but did feel like I was sweating vodka (lovely, I know), which confirmed that my decision not to head to Woodhill was a wise one. Wise decisions aren’t something I’m known for so excuse me while I pat myself on the back for that one.

As bad as I feel about this morning’s DNS (only my second ever since I started entering running events at a rate of about 1 per month for the last 3 years), I know it was actually a smart decision and, you know, you gotta know when to stop do what’s best for your health and all that. Jesus Christ, I’m such a freaking grownup sometimes. 

But also, I just haven’t really felt like running much lately. And you know what? If I feel like sitting on my ass instead of running for a few days, I’m gonna go ahead and sit on my ass and you’re not going to make me feel guilty about it, internet. Did you hear me, people on Pinterest? Get off my back with your motivational crap.

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Oh dear. Now I really hope you didn’t come here looking for some running motivation. Put your pyjama pants back on, you’re all invited to my pity party.

It’s not all bad, though. Things actually started changing again this week and the mileage of the last few days is almost back to the usual levels but the truth is that the graph for this month’s mileage looks pretty damn miserable. I didn’t actually run at all for the first five days of the month. Five entire days without running, for no reason other than “meh, running schmunning”. I allowed myself a break because, well, I felt like it.

That five-day hiatus was, however, broken mostly because I was (not so) kindly invited out the door for a run because I was apparently getting a little too grumpy to be around other human beings.  I was about to start a “WHO ARE YOU CALLING GRUMPY?!” speech but immediately saw the point and proceeded to dutifully lace up my running shoes. Off I went to get my sweat on and, of course, a mere half an hour later, the world was full of rainbows again. I hate it when other people are right.

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My point still stands, though. Sure, running is amazing and stops me from wanting to murder people. But I shouldn’t feel pressured to run, or I’ll risk falling out of love with it. The thing that helps you deal with stress should never be a cause of stress. It can be just a phase and it’s ok to allow yourself a break. I mean, if I’m going to get all stressed out about how I’m not doing enough of what helps me deal with stress, then there’s a really serious flaw in my plan.

And I’m not the only one who thinks that. The company I technically still work for even though they made a bunch of us redundant (TOTALLY NOT BITTER!), arranged for us to have this “outplacement support” sessions with a coach who’s supposed to be helping us find a new direction and gear us up for our next job and understand the meaning of life and all that stuff. I had my first session this week and the lady talked me through the stages of grief in job loss. Since I’ve got two sessions to go, I’m not going to say a damn thing about what I think of it. No, no a word. Stop insisting. But in any case, the lady showed me a list of things people do in order to deal with grief and stress and asked me what I was doing and what I normally do to deal with a stressful situation. So I told her. I told her about the running, and the bikram and the baking sessions and how I haven’t really done much of any of those things lately and have, instead, replaced it all with a giant load of nothing, while getting angry at people who say I should be doing something (like, you know, running) because doing nothing is suiting me just fine right now thankyouverymuch.

I realised the level of my bitchiness as soon as the words came out of my mouth but, by then, it was too late. She was lovely and understanding and even managed to find a way to praise my decision to slow down, calling it “responsible”. HAHAHA, “decision”. Oh lady. There was no “decision”. There’s been a lot of sitting on the couch with a family-sized bar of chocolate thinking about how I should probably-maybe-perhaps-who-knows be running instead. Next thing you know, it’s midnight and the next day comes again and I find myself “deciding” to sit on the couch with another chocolate bar. I’ve been talking myself out of runs with the same ease Lindsay Lohan talks herself out of rehab. And you know what? That’s fine. Well, for me, not for Lindsay. Get your shit together, Lindsay.

The point is: I don’t need your stupid guilt, Pinterest. I’m not interested in your silly fitspiration, internet. Am I even saying it right? Fitspiration? I don’t actually care. Making me feel guilty about not running is not going to make me head out for a run any faster, it’s only going to make me feel bitter about running, which is the last thing that can happen because then who’ll populate the internet with angry posts filled with annoying animated gifs (other that, you know, everyone else)?

But I now feel like I’ve gone through my bout of chocolate-fueled laziness and, if this week is anything to go by (excluding the DNS from this morning), I’m ready to up my numbers again. I even managed one morning run before work, a true sign that my commitment to this whole thing is coming back.

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In the mean time, while I make sure my running mojo is back to stay, here’s some cool running-related stuff, in bullet points because I really need to move over to the next tab and get writing about the stuff I’m actually being paid to write:

Cliffy was on TV here last weekend and it’s a really lovely movie. Not entirely sure how anyone as badass as Cliff Young can be so sweet but he’s so cute I just wanted to put him in my pocket. Metaphorically. Calm down.

– Just in case you’ve been living under a rock or took a holiday to a different galaxy, the Oatmeal posted his best comic ever this week. Of course it’s about running. In case I’m speaking to the only person on earth who has not read it yet, go read it like 3 or 4 times in a row right now.

– My little Portuguese heart nearly burst with pride when Carlos Sá won the Badwater Ultramarathon this week. A few hours later, my little adopted-kiwi heart got all happy again when kiwi Amy Campbell crossed the finish line of the same grueling race and set a new NZ record for that course.

– While I was busy not running and not writing about running, I somehow got into this Reader’s Choice list of Top 100 running blogs, which includes a long list of blogs written by people who’ve actually been getting off their asses.

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One down, twelve to go

I crossed a goal off the list and got a t-shirt to prove it. I also got a hat and wore it but hats don't suit me so I went with the headless look for this photo instead, for your benefit. You're welcome.

I crossed a goal off the list and got a t-shirt to prove it. I also got a hat and wore it but hats don’t suit me so I went with the headless look for this photo instead, for your benefit. You’re welcome.

When the alarm started going off at 5:30AM and I moved in bed to reach for it and shut it up, the pain on my legs reminded me I had just run 32km the day before. Naturally, I questioned what the flying heck was I doing getting up at stupid o’clock again but then I remembered that, later in the day, I’d have an item ticked out of my list of goals for this year so that helped. This is why I disagree with people saying new year’s resolutions are useless. Call them resolutions, call them goals, call them Harry, call them whatever you want. If they motivate you to get out of bed (even though it’s early and you’re in pain), they’re a good thing.

I had the chance to volunteer as a marshall on the run course of the Ironman 70.3 in Auckland and, with that, I knocked down one of my goals for this year.

Standing around for that many hours wasn’t the ideal recovery strategy  post-long run but seeing all those amazing people getting off the water and onto their bikes, cycling 90km and then running a half marathon like it was no big deal really did help put my pain into perspective. I recognised a few of the faces along the course and collected a bunch of cool little memories, like 76-year old Garth Barfoot looking strong and thanking me for telling him he did or the couple of guys that raised their hands for high fives and they went past me towards the finish line. And I’m not even ashamed to admit that the little kid shouting “daddy! Daddy! You’re an ironman!” as his dad ran past him brought tears to my eyes. It was amazing, those people are amazing. My lack of better adjectives is less than amazing.

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You mean machines. You make me want to go out for a run right now but my legs are all “uh, nope”.

So I’ll stop here. The point is that I’m pretty stoked to cross this one off the list. Running about a dozen of events a year, it’s about time I start giving back to all those people that come along to help out with those. I’m looking for other events to volunteer for but it’s hard because, whenever I find one, I want to run it rather than help out (that didn’t make me sound very nice but there you have it). In any case, I’ve submitted my interest in volunteering for the Auckland marathon this year so I’m not putting this goal behind me completely. Either way, CHECK!


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“I don’t have time” and other bullshit we tell ourselves

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(know that meme)

A couple of years ago, when I was all “yay, I have a Kindle! I want to download all the eBooks on the internet!”, a friend recommended a book called How to Live on 24 hours a Day. The title sounded a little silly but I downloaded it anyway for three main reasons: 1) it was free (and I’m a sucker for a bargain), 2) it was short, 3) it got me one book closer to that “all the eBooks on the internet” goal mentioned above. I started reading it with the often misguided low expectations I have of some free stuff  but it turned out to be one of the most enlightening books I’ve read in a while.

How to Live on 24 hours a Day sounds a little like “How to Inhale and Exhale Repeatedly to Avoid Death”. I thought to myself “I’m living. My days have 24 hours. So yeah, I think I’ve got it covered”. Some people (me) need the really obvious stuff spelled out to them. Some people (me) need a book from the early 1900s to tell them to get off Facebook and start making better use of their free time. To live rather than exist, as I think the author puts it at some point.

So, basically, I had a dude from last century schooling me on how to deal with my busy working life as a young adult in the 21st century.

Awesome.

Turns out this book, which is now 113 years old (!) is one of the earliest self-help books ever written. I read a self-help book. But it’s ok. I actually learned stuff. Plus, it’s philosophical in a way that I’m not sure other self-help books are. I haven’t read any others. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

But anyway, where was I? 24 hour days. Right. We’ve got lots of those. They come around every day. For the longest time, I got used to dismissing the entire five days of the work week as time when I couldn’t fit anything else in because I was working all day long.

The word you’re looking for is “bullshit”.

Let’s do some math (there’s something you won’t catch me saying very often): I work 8 hours a day. Add an hour for the commute. That’s nine hours. The day has 24. Nine and 24 aren’t even close together, there’s a whole bunch of other numbers in between. Sure, I sleep about 6 or 7 hours every night (on a good night), but that’s only a total of 15 or 16 hours dedicated to working and sleeping (I’m really kicking ass at these calculations, I wish my 7th grade Math teacher was reading this). Anyway, 15 or 16 hours a day for work + sleep. This leaves a whole other third of the day for other stuff. Stuff I didn’t feel like I had time to do. I know it sounds incredibly obvious now but I wanted to smack myself in the face when I read that book. What a load of bullshit I had been telling myself with that “I work all day” crap. I work a third of the day. It might be the best third – when the sun is out – but, mathematically speaking, it’s still only a third. The rest of the time is mine. And I had been wasting it on nothing.

What I’m trying to say is that, more than Runner’s World, online training plans or books by famous marathoners and ultrarunners, it was a time management book over 100 years old that helped me with all the running I’ve been doing.

So, just in case you suffer from the same problem as me, I thought I’d tell you that, like me, you’re just full of crap. You’ve got plenty of time. Safely remove that USB, it’s ok. You’re not in that big a rush. And the stuff you wish you could do during the week when you’re not working? Look at all that time you’ve got to actually do it! If the time you spent at work today felt like it was very long, it’s because it was. The good news is that you have another good few hours ahead of you to get stuff done. So wait for that You Tube video to fully load. Watch Jodie Foster’s Golden Globe speech in its entirety. Go nuts and read those terms and conditions (just kidding, ain’t nobody got time for that).

Every time I hear someone tell me they would love to get into running too but they just don’t have the time, I have to wait a few seconds to let my brain go from the instinctive “are you trying to say you’re busier than me? Because I’ll have you know I’m pretty god damn busy!” to something a little more grownup (but also patronising as hell) like “as a matter of fact, you do have time for that, if you really want to do it. You might just not be managing your time right.”

I still have a massive time management problem but I’m much more aware of it now. There are a bunch of things I wish I “had time” to do. I wish I was a morning person (or, alternatively, I wish I could show up for work at 11ish) so I could sit down for breakfast or properly dry my hair instead of the 30 second blow dry that leaves it just slightly-less-wet-but-definitely-nowhere-near-dry. I wish I had time every evening to prepare my lunch for the next day instead of resorting to the atrocious service and stupidly high prices of the cafe at work. But I guess what it boils down to is that I don’t really care enough about these things. Otherwise I’d find the time. If I don’t really want to do something, I’ll find an excuse not to do it. If I really want to do something, I’ll find the time.

Whoa. Enlightenment.

So, the bottom line is, I don’t have time for running because I’m any less busy than anyone else. I’ve got time for running because I really freaking love doing it and, so, I make time for it.

Bennett wrote in this book (that, in case you haven’t noticed, I’m highly recommending here): “We never shall have any more time. We have, and we have always had, all the time there is.”

So, if you want to run, get off your ass and run.


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a running update on all the running I haven’t been doing

rip, dirty old shoes. lets hit the trails, you pink beauties!

Oh hi, glad you’re still there. I know, it’s been a while.

Remember how I had a super-sucky half marathon in Wellington last month? Well, what followed were three weeks of a whole lot of nothing, with a couple of shameful single digit runs and a distinct lack of motivation to go any further.

I tried to cheer myself up and rekindle my love for running by spending more than I’d like to admit in a long overdue pair of running shoes. My faithful Mizuno Wave Nirvana 7 saw me through a handful of half-marathons, a 35km in the bush and numerous other training runs in a little over a year. In total, I calculate they did about 1200km (or slightly over that), much more than the recommended distance for a pair of running shoes. I loved every kilometer in them (ignore the big fat exaggeration for the sake of the nice obituary for the shoes – I actually did flat out hate some of those kilometers) and it’s now time to let them rest in peace. I’ve upgraded to the Mizuno Wave Nirvana 8 (same type of support, different colours). They’re pretty, too pretty, and I’m desperate to get them dirty.

While busy not getting any running done, I also signed up for the superlong course of the XTERRA trail run in Whitford on August 12 (21.8km with a not to shabby elevation chart and a toughness factor of 9/10 as rated by the organisers). I’ll be happy to bag another half marathon (and a trail one!) the day before I turn another year older awesomer. In the mean time, I’ve also guaranteed that, should I go completely nuts between now and December, I have a spot on The Goat run. I signed up for it because it sells out quick (in fact, it did not long after I got my registration in) but I’m yet to commit 100% to it. You see, it’s in Tongariro National Park (which just yesterday was in the news due to abnormal seismic activity), it starts at pretty high elevation and has a 1000m ascent over some of the toughest terrain to run on. No, you don’t have to tell me how silly that sounds.

Note that the trend here is that I’ve been spending a whole lot of money on running-related stuff but not actually doing any running. If the total number of dollars spent actually compared to the number of kilometers run, then I wouldn’t be feeling like such a slob.

Until yesterday. A short 5km with S., who’s also been on a running hiatus, led to the decision to shape up again. We want to enjoy the upcoming trail half marathon and want to go back to feeling like we can actually do this sort of stuff. So stay tuned because the bright pink on the new shoes should not stay bright for longer.