In which we view ‘Perspective’ (20th March 2012)
20th March 2012:
If running has taught me anything, it is the value of perspective. I mean, I thought I had a pretty good grasp of this, but this ongoing development has solidified and enhanced my existing notions, undoubtedly for the better.
I have a habit of saying “PERSPECTIVE” in a joking tone when I realise how silly something is, but it’s not always a joke and sometimes you have to be a grown up and be serious.
In terms of running, my first experience of differing perspective was with the fact that I LOOK like I could easily run without much struggle, but the reality is I found it extremely uncomfortable up until about 3 weeks ago. So, to the external and internal viewpoints, things were seen quite differently.
My main issue with running and perspective is pace and timing. Again, I look like I can run well but the truth is I pretty much just jog, ambling along on 12 minute miles. I’m comfortable with that, but even then, at times, I’m pushed off the sofa in my comfort zone. Now, I’m very happy with my 12 minute miles, to the point that I’m ecstatic when I manage to run a 10-11 minute mile. I’ve not yet hit a 9-10 minute mile, but I’m not sure that I care. My perspective is that I’m happy with my pacing and I’m going to run a half marathon in 2 weeks’ time. My brother, before he started suffering from shin splints, was running 7.5 minute miles, and was working towards a sub-1.5 hour race in Berlin. I’m not looking to finish the race in sub-anything, or even work out splits to make sure each mile is completed in the right amount of time because my priority is just to FINISH. I’m not a racer, but I’m in for the long-haul. Hopefully, my brother, if he can’t face the pain of racing and finishing fast, will be happy to run with me. I doubt it, even his patience can’t be stretched to jog slowly for nearly 3 hours, but I’d rather he run slow now and save himself the injury and triumphantly smack down a triathlon at the end of this year.
Run Dem, with the help of Charlie, has brought to light several instances where perspective becomes a major theme. I have met some really great people through this community, all of whom have contributed towards my changing attitude and experience of running. Running is by no means an easy thing to do for some people, and because I have always struggled with it, and still continue to do so, it is very comforting to hear that you are not the only one not having fun. More importantly, it is particularly insightful, and refreshing to kick yourself out of that well of self-pity that you might be comfortable rolling around in, when you hear that there are runners within the group that have pulled themselves through remarkable and life-altering circumstances and are back on their feet and running, providing inspiration for others. I feel like I need a new word for ‘inspiration’ because it is in danger of becoming cliché, if it hasn’t already. But, regardless, at the moment, when you hear that you are sharing a bench with a woman who has pulled through cancer, has gone through chemotherapy and other stressful treatments, or a man who has been motionless for weeks due to an accident, you get a healthy, and very welcome, dose of perspective. There are stronger people than me who have experienced more unfortunate things than I have. Most often, I am not in a position to complain, and I do really appreciate everything and everyone that contributes to my life. There is sometimes absolutely nothing better than coming home to beaming parents, cracking jokes about your abysmal run. Times like this I remember friends who don’t have the same privilege and I can value the heartbreak that an individual is suffering. As humans, we aren’t always open to accept other’s plights, but perspective teaches me to never underestimate the weight of another person’s burden.
I have mentioned Candice on several occasions throughout this running journal thingy, but she is a very relevant person in my life in regards to my experiences of running. Not only have I run with her (behind her – she is an awesome pacer), but I have had the opportunity to follow her own progression, albeit only relatively recently in the last 4 or 5 months. She’s running a marathon on each continent, literally running the world. Candice is about to go and smash up the London Marathon in April, probably in batty riders, Raybans and lipstick. More fool you if you step in her way. She is a particularly motivating individual and I owe a lot of my own recent running achievements to her, Orsi and Bangs. These ladies, amongst others, have given me more much appreciated lessons on perspective over the last month or 2. If I could mend broken hearts and find you diamonds, physical and metaphorical, I’d do all that I could. Thank you.
Finally running with Dem dat Run.
Aside from the blah attitude to training as a whole, I’ve found one positive light in the last two weeks which has been Run Dem Crew. My motivation took a major slump, but my stamina can now at least take a mile and a bit, so I thought I should take up Charlie’s invitation from Summer last year lest it go stale and crumble into regret. Nervous doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt two Tuesdays ago as I walked into Nike’s 1948 in Shoreditch. Jumpy, nauseous, exhausted, delirious, terrified, excited and exhilarated fit the description much better. It’s like walking into a room where everyone is super-cool and really good at sports and everyone already knows each other, and you’re the new dorky kid who’s shit at PE. Oh, wait…
I was anticipating an excruciatingly embarrassing introduction to the whole crew from Charlie and I wasn’t disappointed. So aside from the fact that 175 people, fresh from their post-work dash to 1948, which made the building toasty to say the least, my blushing was enough to melt the Nike+ Fuelbands being trialled by some of the Run Dem Crew runners. (Side note: Nike+ Fuelbands look so OSSUM in real life!) It didn’t help my burning cheeks when Bangs also pointed out to the crowd that “Mei could really do with everyone’s support because she really, really hates running”. So now everyone knows me as the girl who hates running but still showed up to the running club where everybody loves running. FML.
I knew I wasn’t going to be able to cope in anything but the slowest group, so I put two hands up when Charlie asked who was running in tortoises, one for me and one for my stomach which I felt I was going to leave behind on the bench. I have never been so NERVOUS! But here’s why I love running with people. Candice straight away told me that she would run with me, slower than her usual pace, and Bangs leaned over and said she’d be right there with me too. That is LOVE. Both of these women are working towards different goals, but they still chose to amble along with me.
Denny, Mubi and Dom were there with words of encouragement and niceness. Elles, George and Rhalou were being really excited for me. Peigh was there being Peigh. Chaka was being chatty. And I was there trying not to throw up.
There were other newmans in my group. Janet was one of them, an old friend of Charlie’s, and I felt relieved knowing I wasn’t the only one who wouldn’t know my way or know how things run at Run Dem with dose dat run. We did a four mile loop from Shoreditch, passing Liverpool Street Station, running over London Bridge and along to Tower Bridge, over and back up to Liverpool Street then dashed back to 1948 to push ourselves right at the end. Absolutely brilliant. I kept a good pace and managed to get my running mojo to resurface. There is NOTHING like running in a group of people who like running, have experience in running and want you to like running too but aren’t overbearingly patronising. There is fresh perspective from everyone. The group runs steadily, slowing down to support those who aren’t having much fun, but still maintaining a good pace to keep momentum going.I didn’t really struggle as much as I thought I would. And, you know what? It is liberating to achieve new successes with your own personal running-demon beat-downs.
Post-run, I got some good advice on how to stretch properly from Mark and spent the next half an hour rolling around the floor, stretching my legs past their usual capacity while I waited for Denis to be ready to grab pancakes for dinner because it was Shrove Tuesday which means it is the law to eat pancakes, or else.
Two weeks in, and I can already vouch for the fact that there’s a lot about Run Dem Crew that makes it so enjoyable. There is a real sense of community where everyone looks after each other, making it quite a self-sufficient group. The benefit of its huge range of members being so (cool and) diverse and based in London is that there is literally at least one of every type of person you would ever need to meet within the group. If something needs doing, someone can always do or provide or knows someone that can. Plus everyone wants the group dynamic to work, so you can literally see people’s commitment. Charlie’s passion and energy is second to none and it’s motivating to be around that buzz.
The feeling is obviously addictive, because I went back for Run Dem run nombre dos last Tuesday. This time, the nerves weren’t so nervy, I wasn’t such a spaz and I was super happy with the four mile loop we cracked out again. I squeezed in two sprints with Janet and we both agreed we’re ready to try Slow Hares this week. Fleur hung back from the faster group she was running with after tripping over a broken lamppost (SORT IT OUT, HACKNEY COUNCIL) and I got a good chance to learn about her experiences of running half marathons (and stare at her beautiful face) as we ran the last two miles back to 1948. That run was my best yet, aside from all the leery drunk men (there were SO MANY! Why do they all assume that by yelling, “OI, DARLIN’, YOU DON’T NEED TA RUN, YOU’RE GORGEOUS AS YA ARE!” that we’re going to turn around, laugh and flirt girlishly and exclaim that we’d just LOVE to jump into bed with them?). I’m really glad I pushed myself to pick up the pace. I’m nervous about running in Slow Hares this week, but we’ll see how it goes. I’ve got a half marathon to run in less than a month (OMFG!) and I’ve got so much catching up to do.
- Run Dem Crew @rundemcrew
- Charlie Dark @DaddyDark
- Bangs @Bangsandabun
- Candice @CandiceBrownB
- Denis @denisyong
- Mubi @MUMBI_CT
- Dom @dmyrcr
- Elles @broke_grove
- Rhalou @rhalou
- George @wordsoparadise
- Peigh @PEIGH
- Chaka @Chakabars
- Mark @Chopbot
- Fleur @FleurDeGuerre
Be Pretty on Rest Days
I so fully endorse this! Motivation at it’s finest…
It’s time for a fitness revolution. It’s time for women who train for the love of it. Time to get the focus off calorie counting and scales. Time to focus on how exercise makes us feel. Time to focus on being focused, determined, driven, goal oriented badasses who will race you to the bus stop and get in a lunch time press up competition with you. And we will win.
It’s time to not give a f**k who sees you in your lycra. It’s time to celebrate your sweat. It’s time to push yourself, to run so hard you leave your lungs on the track, throw your heels on after a session and walk home like a don.
Take the elevator if you want, we’ll be racing up the escalators, putting hand wraps on in the work bathrooms ready to go beat some pads come 5:30, clocking up miles between meetings, doing core exercises while we wait for the pasta to cook.
The time is now.
Be pretty on rest days.
Four-Miler to Mile End.
So… Guess who ran their first four miler today? Guess! GUESS!
Dahahahahaaa! That’s right, I did. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t this energetic immediately post-run. In fact I didn’t even manage a victory dance of any sort. I just kind of glared at Bangs for making me run an extra half a block to get back to the start point.
On Friday, after Boot Camp 1.2 (week 1, session 2), Bangs offered to run with me for my Sunday long run. I thought instead of doing my usual routine of running around near where my parents live, giving up far too often, and yelling abuse at my brother, that I would take Bangs up on her offer and called her on Saturday night to arrange everything.
Fab. So, she said we’d do a morning run. As I’m trying to get my early morning groove on now I have this training schedule, I agreed, and when Bangs suggested a 10am start, I suggested an 8:45am meet time and a 9am start.
What really happened is that I woke up at 8:30am and inhaled a bowl of Weetabix (I have mine with honey, what do you have on yours?), washed and threw on my running uniform (I’m still resolutely calling it that). It was like minus four million degrees this morning and I managed to twist my ankle falling off the kerb as I ran laps round my car, spraying de-icer wildly at the windows and scraping off a thick layer of frost. I then got lost on the way to meet Bangs and ended up being almost an hour late. However, that didn’t mean we were cutting any time off our run.
The night before, on the phone to Bangs, I said I was aiming to do two miles, but could probably stretch to three miles, and as long as she didn’t tell me what she was doing, she could trick me into running more. I fully believe that sometimes ignorance is bliss. If I had set out to do four miles this morning, I would have cracked and walked more than I ran.
We basically ran from Westham to Mile End and back. Now, there’s nothing really exciting near where my parents live, but let me tell you what we saw this morning…
The first thing I spotted was a pool of dark brown syrupy liquid that was on the edge of the pavement, spilling over the edge of the curb and spread about a foot into the road. It took me a while to realise that it was blood. No dead man in sight but I definitely vommed a bit in my mouth at this point.
The next thing we came across was a substantial amount of actual vomit on the pavement. Bangs kind of went “weeerrr-oooaaahhhh” and I grabbed her arm and yanked her to get us round it whilst clamping my jaws shut and swallowing the second bit of my own sick. (I should probably mention that I feel nauseous 99.9% of the time when I run so it doesn’t take a lot to throw me over the edge).
The letchy men deserve a shout out. We encountered three fine specimens this morning. I’m telling you, nothing makes you think ‘husband material’ more than an unwashed middle aged man leering at you, saying “hey sexy lady” as you jog past, holding your breath so you don’t catch their lurgies. They do make you run a bit faster to get rid of them though.
There weren’t a great deal of people out at just-past-ten this morning, but there were like a BASPILLION runners. It dawned on me that we are still in the ‘New Year Resolution Mission Get Fit’ period though and a lot of people are also training for the London Marathon and other runs this Spring. Still, that’s a lot of Lycra for a Sunday morning. Yay for you if you did your long run today though! Did you see @RunDemCrew’s callout to the masses to get up and get the week’s long run done?
Anyway, just as it was getting super tough on the way back from Mile End, Bangs said there was something good coming up. I panicked, thinking she was being sarcastic, and expected her to make me run up a steep hill over a flyover. Not so. We came up to a bus stop with the Nike #MAKEITCOUNT campaign poster featuring Mo Farah. I yelled “Mo!” like he was an old friend and it kept me going for another hundred metres. Similarly, a billboard with the Megan Fox for Armarni Code advertisement kept me distracted for a full minute until we had run past it (that new short bob and fringe is hot on her, non?). Last, but not least was the Mastercard advert with the slogan “PRICELESS LONDON”. That made me smile. There’s nothing quite like living in London. And running through it is always entertaining.
Bangs and I finished our run with tea, toast and talks about running and life. As much as she joked on Twitter about distracting me with “unicorns and rainbows” her company and brilliant conversation kept me well entertained and she kept me focused when I needed help. Bangs has taken on a mentoring role to coach me and many others and I bombard her with running questions all the time. She is an asset to my life!
I also had a great chat with Charlie Dark (Run Dem Crew founder and general OG) and got some great advice about my attitude to running and doing this half marathon. There’s nothing like a healthy dose of perspective to get you rolling.
I drove over to my mum’s afterwards for that hot bath I promised myself. I saw a boy jogging up Shooters Hill on the way. WTF?! He was like NINE and he was in a tracksuit and running trainers. What a little G.
Anyway, enough of being talky and boring you senseless. Here’s something for you:
Being ill really sucks when you still have to work, but it’s great for my favourite thing ever - non-running. It gives me a legitimate excuse, nay, REASON for not hurtling (bouncy walking, let’s be honest) along a wet pavement, death-staring anyone who tries to block my path.
However, the guilt is starting to set in now. And I’m beginning to feel scared (so scurrrred). Bangs just sent me and the girls an email packed with a call to action (why does this whole thing need to be so bloody self-motivated?!) and although I have been aware that there was a New Year’s celebration (mine was fun, how was yours?), it’s only just dawned on me that there is no huge procrastination post to get past now (“I’ll start in the new year!”). It’s officially the new year. Less than three months till race day. FML. Literally, EFF MY LIFE.
Most people say you can train for a marathon in three months, but these people are well-acquainted with the gym and the treadmill, and probably ran BEFORE they were dared to run a stupid half-marathon or had the offer of free trainers dangled before them. It’s different for them. They probably don’t cry when the running gets tough, whereas I feel as though I want to collapse into a sobbing heap and, if I have the energy, assault anyone who tells me running is fun and easy. These people probably don’t sit, chest heaving on the bus after a 50 metre dash to catch it (although this is probably partly due to my 12kg handbag).
Sexy in the City Boot(y) Camp starts next week. It’s going to be a struggle, but watch this space. I’m looking forward to it because my mind has tricked me into thinking I’m going to enjoy it. But realistically, it’s going to be so painful and embarrassing that I’ll want to smack a commuter in the jaw if they even so much as dare to push against me on the packed train to work straight after the intensive training session.
Request to the Secondborn: help me draw up a training plan? Thanks in advance.
Anyway, today I am feeling quite serene. Don’t know why. Might be the summer nostalgia I’ve been feeling with Frank’s Nostalgic, Ultra. Might just be that Friday feeling. Might just be that I’m so devoid of energy that I have no choice but to feel this way. I almost want to run again. I’ve been testing the water a few times this week with some mild sprints and jogs to the bus stop. My cold has been resolutely sticking to me (it wants me to fail, it’s a personal vendetta) and it makes running suck even more than usual.
But I’m nearly back to usual health (which is awake and not coughing or blowing my nose, but permanently exhausted) so I’m going to run on Sunday. It will officially have been two weeks by then and it will be fun for my brother to take me out running again (ha! It’s never fun for him - I go so slow that it doesn’t even get his heartrate up and he has to go for a 40mile cycle JUST to get any exercise for the day).
Hmmm. Whatever. Run run run. I’m going to get back on this. I promise.