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
Charlie Dark with some OSSUM tips:
Successful running is about confidence, the more confident you feel the further and faster you can go knowing that whatever the road throws up at you you will be ready.
Here are my top five tips for this week to help you nail that goal.
Looking forward to putting these to practice this Sunday. RUN RUN RUN! ^__^
Post-run knee assessment.
Today I did a 3.something mile run. I wasn’t sure how long I was going to last so I started off with no particular route in mind. About a mile into it I had already slowed down to walk but I had decided I was going to run a big loop and end up at the gym where my brother was training.
It was a pretty boring run actually, and other than a dry heave early on, I have nothing to report. One thing though, people in the ‘burbs don’t like to clean up after their dogs. Gross.
I’m worried about my knees, so I used the new shoe inserts and put two pairs of socks on to keep my ankles warm and pulled some leg warmers up to my thighs before I put my leggings on to keep my knees toasty. This was good advice from the dude who assessed my feet in Snow & Rock.
It definitely made a difference. My knees don’t hurt. They just feel weird. They have that weird sensation where you’re just AWARE of them. You realise how much you don’t notice parts of your body until there is something wrong. Like now.
Still, that’s another run in the bank. I’m going to try and get another four runs in this week while I’ve got some time off from work.
I’m on my way to the Royal Albert Hall now with my family to watch Cirque du Soleil, ‘Totem’. Knowing me, I’ll leave the place feeling like I want to launch myself off The Shard and somersault all the way down to land at London Bridge Station.
I’m making a mental note to behave…
See, now, as I’m typing this, I’m wishing I had run that little bit extra to at least make it 4 whole miles. That vacant 0.07 miles is annoying me. Excuse me while I just run up and down the stairs for a while…
This morning’s run was quite good. I’m still finding it hard to keep going and not stop, but I did alright considering I haven’t ran at all since last Sunday.
Rachel, another Bangs on the Run girl, suggested we run along the river in Greenwich, near where our parents live. Nice spot, bright and open, and thankfully quiet on a Sunday morning. Obviously we came across loads of other runners though (or were taken over by them) and a couple of cyclists too, so we weren’t the only ones trying to make the most of the early start. We both find it really entertaining that runners like to nod and pant “morning” to you as they jog past.
Basically, we can establish that I run at a very slow pace. I’m averaging at about 11-12 minutes per mile. This would all be very well and good if at least I could run without stopping to walk, but this is not the case. I stopped around 4 or 5 times this morning to slow down and walk to stretch out stitches (NOTE: I do not ever stop to stand still, I do keep walking), and I felt bad because I was obviously slowing Rachel down and killing her stride (soz, babez).
Nothing dramatic happened this morning. There were no pools of blood or vomit so this morning I managed to focus on my pacing and breathing without much interruption. Of course, Rachel and I chat like the world is ending tomorrow, so I know I definitely gave my lungs a good work out.
Rachel is also a great coach. Even though she’s learning to get to grips with this whole running thing too, she really pushed me to work hard. She reminded me to lengthen my stride, focus on my pace and pushed me to sprint twice during the 50 minutes we were out running, including once up a hill. Afterwards, we stretched, did some lunges, squats and drank protein juice thingies that Rachel ‘borrowed’ from her gym buff brother. THIS is what they looked like. Needless to say, protein drinks taste vile, and this one (as long as you didn’t smell it) was like taking a rather amusing shot:
Rach’s encouragement was MUCH appreciated, because I still haven’t broken that wall yet where I enjoy running. I’m a bit worried to run on my own because I think I’m a social runner. When I run on my own I don’t push myself with much success. The running angel sits on one shoulder saying ‘GO GO GO!’, but I respond SO much better to the running devil who sits on my other shoulder saying ‘you should really stop now, this is getting ridiculous’.
Anyway, to cut a long BLAH short, today’s run was OK. I could have done better and I wish I did.
I need to run on Tuesday AND Thursday this week and not cop out like I did last week. I have Bootcamp on Wednesday and Friday morning and events that I am coordinating on both days which means I won’t leave work until at least 11pm on those evenings. It’s also my birthday on Friday. This week is going to HURT. I’m already so sleep deprived after a really stressful week, I literally don’t think I’m going to be able to stand by next Saturday. Apologies to my friends, but this week I’m out of social action, except to work and train.
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:
So… Boot camp (Sexy in the City) at Fitness First was fab. Fab as in painful and exhausting. I’m telling myself I really enjoyed it because I really believe you can fool your own mind.
Right now I’m on the Central Line because I’m rushing to work. There’s nothing like powering through a work out then showering, dressing and putting on your make up so fast that you never stop sweating.
The gym is underground. Getting OUT of the gym was a shock. So many bloody stairs. My calves, my thighs and my glutes are in shock. Everything hurts. Later on I’m going to feel it in my biceps. This better friggin work.
Boot Camp starts off with some lunges and movey-stretches (we’ll find the correct term later) to warm up. Then I can’t remember what happened but we started circuit training.
Just seen a girl put her empty banana skin on the back of the seats. What a twat.
Sorry. Back to our regular schedule. Man, it’s hard to stand upright now…
Circuit training consisted of:
• split lunges (whatever they are)
• bicep thingies (using a dumbbell)
• pulling/pushing a huge weight across the room at speed (we were working in pairs I should mention)
• sideways planks
• walking lunges
• throwing a weighted medicine ball at a wall
• START AGAIN AND WEEP, BITCHEZ!
Then we did some lovely and not-so-lovely stretches then raced to get ready.
I’ve got my compression tights on under my leggings, I’m hungry and the only thing stopping me from sleeping is the fact that I’m typing this and listening to Section 80 (Kendrick Lamar - buff voice).
Over and out.
Breaking my Nike Run Club virginity.
Tonight kind of overwhelmed me. I’ve had an opportunity to really sit back and assess things and all in the company of two people, one of whom is already very dear to me and the other is a new friend with whom I am discovering the beginning of what I hope to be a very long friendship.
Today, as a whole, was a good day. Had a shit night last night, I have to admit. Kind of (definitely) got a bit (hugely) frustrated with myself over my behaviour and reaction to something (or a non-thing, to be slightly less vague). I was angry and feeling sorry for myself and already sleep-deprived, so naturally, I couldn’t sleep. I slept after 2am (and I’m a lights-out-by-midnight kinda girl). I woke up not wanting to leave my bed, but work was ok once I got there. Good vibes. Met a someone for lunch, picked up my business phone from the Head Office and psyched myself up for Niketown London’s Run Club.
I’ve been meaning to run with the Nike Run Club for weeks but I haven’t previously had a reason to run around central London unless I was late. Now, of course, I’ve got a bloody half marathon to physically (and mentally) prepare myself for.
Denis and I agreed to run this week together and I promised to take him out to dinner to celebrate his birthday (from last week) afterwards. Yay! Motivation!
I bumped into Mubi yesterday and he liked the idea of joining us. More motivation.
I got a text last night from Christiana saying she would like to do the Nike Run Club with me too. Motivation a-go-go!
I told the pacers I would do the 3 mile loop, but ended up signing up for 4 miles because Christiana told me I could do it. Fucking peer pressure!
Started off alright. I had a great surge of adrenaline because I was finding the sheer novelty of me running with the Run Club so hilarious. Around the one mile mark I hit my usual wall of TOO-MUCH-PAIN and stopped. A great credit to Denis for running at a reduced pace for me and Christiana. Both of them slowed down while I tried not to dry-heave over the fence into Regents Park.
I eventually pulled myself together and actually enjoyed running the next mile or so (ssshhhh! Don’t tell anyone I said that). Christiana’s trainers started to make her ankle hurt and we slowed down again. I sorted out her laces in an effort to relieve the discomfort and then nearly fell into a bush because I stood up too quickly. Nice one.
Then we got lost. For three London dwellers, this was ridiculous. We ran one way, in the dark, into the middle of Regents Park, and had to double back. We knew where we were but it wasn’t the Run Club 4 mile route. We ended up taking a huge detour and wound up at Niketown with Mubi calling us a few times as we were en route to find out what the hell had happened to us. Actual LOLZ. (Sorry Mubz).
Anyway. After a 5.43mile run-walk-run-walk, we strolled in to collect our bags long after everyone else had left. Fail.
Oh well. I had fun. And we had such great conversation! Who bloody cares about running when you’re having a good chat?!
I changed out of my running uniform (I still find this hilarious) and I walked around with Denis and Christiana looking for somewhere to eat. Meat Liquor had a queue that was 30-deep at 8:30pm so we moved on. Everywhere had a minimum of a half hour wait and we settled on a small, almost unnoticeable Thai restaurant. Hands down, the best Thai food I’ve ever had in London and easily some of the best company and conversation. I barely touched my phone (it’s usually glued to my palm). I ate good. I talked good. I kinda ran good earlier too.
Tonight, Christiana taught Denis and I about Grace. I have a new perception of the term, completely disassociated with religion, and this, and a good release of energy has made my day.
Run run run. It’s going to get easier (it had BETTER get easier).
Happy birthday Denis. Love you Yong time.
This is Candice (@iCandieCupcakes), one of the many who have inspired me to run.
She is a beautiful woman who takes everything within her stride and has kept up the pace. Candice is a force to be reckoned with and is planning to run races and marathons on every continent in the world. More power to her.
Watch the video that she and Danielle (@Danilorum) have put together, filmed at Run Dem Crew (at Nike 1948, Shoreditch) and in Jamaica, about running to raise awareness of AIDS.
Beyoncé ain’t got nothing on Candice.