Running and non-running.
Hi. My name is Sarah Mei and I hate running.
I have always hated running. Mainly because I am not very good at it and my self-discipline is not strong (non-existent) when it comes to pain thresholds. I am what you call a ‘fassy’.
However, about a year and a half ago, I started actual running as being lazy wasn’t fun anymore. I ran on and off, but mostly on (a credit to myself [gold star for me]) for about a year, usually with Run Dem Crew but, every now and again, on my own (another gold star for me).
And then I stopped.
Months went by and occasionally I’d run but I couldn’t enjoy it anymore. (I kind of never enjoyed it, but there’s something about running with a huge group of people that feels exhilarating). Right now I’m definitely back in the I HATE RUNNING zone.
I set up this blog in 2011 expecting it to last until the Berlin half marathon on the 1st of April last year. But I didn’t stop running after that race and the responses to my honest take on running and my injuries were so positive so I kept posting on here. (FYI, I love the messages and emails I get from other people in the I HATE RUNNING zone. I feel like we should start a club, guys).
So much changed for me as I got caught up in the running movement. I have met people who have changed my life and those who have helped develop my perspective. I have travelled so much and have been lucky enough to experience unforgettable hospitality from Nike, Graviteam, Patta, Bridge Runners and Black Roses. I have met people from all over the world, I’ve reached out and made contacts with interesting individuals, I’ve found friends I’ll never get enough of, I’ve found myself on important radars and been overwhelmed that my opinion sometimes matters. It’s not often that things like this happen for a twenty-something year old girl from London who hates running.
So this, even though I’m crap at it and I hate it, is why I’m reluctant to not run. There are people who support me and I will never not appreciate this.
I’m a creature of habit who has accepted that change is often the best thing, so, in the spirit of change, I’m giving up non-running for Lent.
I am not remotely religious (bar a few Chinese superstitions), but forty days of running is a good idea (credit to Bridget Minamore [@bridgetminamore], OG Run Dem Crew Younger, poetic extraordinaire and a funnier-than-you-wish-you-were young lady). Forty days is not a lot (by day three it will feel like forEVER, no doubt), but I cannot expect to enjoy change unless I put it into motion myself.
Today is day 1 out of 40. I ran 1 kilometer. 1. One. Not even a mile. In fact, the main reason I ran was to get hair serum from Boots on the high street because I’ve run out and can’t wash and dry my hair without it (don’t judge me, my hair stylist says I have amazing hair and she knows everything about hair). Tomorrow I think I’m going to run for donuts (my local Tesco has FINALLY started stocking Krispey Kremes and this is worth a celebration).
1 kilometer is better than no kilometers. Well done me.
The shoot I did for Nike UK before Christmas has been up since the new year and the images are on the Nike store homepage and on the Facebook page for Nike Running.
Darkz, Jamie, Venetia, Lina, Orsi, Elle, Petra and lots of Nike Fitness Club trainers spent a day doing drills (HELL) and sprints (MORE HELL) in East London for the Make It Count campaign. Anything I do with Run Dem Crew is fun. Never a dull moment. The drills were worth it for the laughs we had.
Still hate the word “banter” though…
I found the other pics on the Nike Facebook page. The photos of my brother, Chris, were from the Nike+ Run Club New Year’s Day Make It Count run from Niketown London. He’s one of the pacers for Nike+ Run Club when he’s not at uni and he came straight from the airport to join in on the run and enjoy the three free breakfasts. What a winner (div).
Running with Darkz and Venetia up and down, over and under bridges, lots of (fucking) banter banter banter (I hate that word) and lots of Nike+ Fuelpoints earned. This was a fun shoot and we’re on the UK Nike store site for the New Year Make It Count campaign.
HAAAAAAIIIII! I’M RUNNING. RUNNING ON NIKE’S HOMEPAGE! *waves* 2013….How will y’all #MakeItCount? I will be going hard with training! Happy New Year folks, hope it’s a good one! x
I’m just over halfway into my holiday in New York, and so far, it’s just as amazing as everyone said it would be. I don’t want to leeeeeeave! If I didn’t have a job to return to, and a crew to run with, I’d hide out here until I got bored or the US government turfed me out. The latter is far more likely - I think we all know that.
Last time I posted, I was about to go to see a physio about pains in my lower legs. Just as expected, it was shin splints. No great surprise there, but not remotely encouraging to have it confirmed. It turns out that since I’ve stopped dancing (I did a lot of ballet growing up), I’ve lost a lot of flexibility in my feet and in the muscles attaching my Achilles heels to my calves. As a result, this tightness is creating a lot of strain and effectively pulling on the muscles around my shins. The term shin splints can often be used to describe a few causes of pain in the lower legs, but ultimately, it is when your muscles begin to rip away from the bones they are attached to. Did you just throw up in your mouth a bit? It kind of makes you wince to hear that, and it scares you shitless to learn that’s what’s happening to your legs. Suddenly you start thinking HOW?! What did I DOOOO?!
For me, it’s a mixture of a poor running style (which is largely due to weak core muscles and not enough power in my glutes and hamstrings), tight muscles and the wrong running shoes.
I know I overpronate, so I need footwear that provides support to stop ankle rolling. I usually run in Nike Zoom Stucture Triax, which is the shoe with the firmest support option that Nike sell. The shoe utilises a dual density foam, with a pretty solid section just behind the arch of the foot to prevent as much rolling as possible. This is an old school shoe, first released in 1990-91, and (if you’re vain about your shoes, like me) not necessarily the model you’d pick up first when you’re looking at the selection that Nike has to offer.
I was running in a pair of LunarEclipse+ trainers earlier in the year when I was training for the Berlin half marathon, but had a half size too big. I got a pair in the right size of the LunarEclipse+ 2 new releases when they dropped around April, because they really are a beautiful shoe - easily my favourite supportive running silhouette. The support in this shoe comes from a dynamic support system, which means that it really comes into effect as you start moving. The cushioning is insane - its like running on pillows - and they are beautifully light. The added bonus is that they look as great with a pair of shorts or rolled up jeans as they do with Lycra. For me, personally, though, my gait demands firmer shoes - strictly Structures for me - as I need support rather than cushioning.
The reason why I’ve drivelled on about this for so long, and why I decided to share it in the first place, is because it is extremely important to make sure you are running in the correct shoes. It doesn’t matter what you wear on your body, but your feet might need a certain type of support and that needs to be taken into account when you’re buying running shoes. This is something that differs with each individual. Please don’t tell me you wear your friend’s kicks to jog around the park in?!
Most running stores provide a gait analysis service, which involves running for about 15 seconds on a treadmill while they film the back of your feet to check the alignment of your ankles in regards to your foot strike. It’s ridiculously easy. Some places do charge, but Nike stores definitely do these for free, so make the most of it before you invest in new shoes.
Different shoes do different things. Sports companies don’t just make performance shoes that look totally different just for the sheer hell of it, so my advice is don’t just go for what looks good. The performance aspects in each shoe have been researched and meticulously designed to create features that athletes need. That applies to us too. Bill said it best: “If you have a body, you are an athlete” (Bill Bowerman, Nike).
I rely on advice from specialists that work in Nike stores, as well as the physio that I see, my dad (who teaches radiography and physiology) and the experienced runners that I know. Trust me, anyone who likes running also likes to talk about running, so it’s not hard to come across someone who will be happy to share their experiences for you to compare and apply to your own.
ANYWAY. Enough blahs about shoes. I’m sure you’re bored. I didn’t do any running for weeks and I was pretty worried that I was going to come out to New York, visit the Bridge Runners, but not be able to run with them. Thankfully, by the Wednesday before I left for NY, I wasn’t feeling any pain when walking or climbing up or down stairs. This was mega! And made me super excited about my holiday. Spending any length of time with runners when you can’t run would SUCK.
I turned up to Bowery Stadium with John to run on Wednesday evening, totally excited, but nervous that my stamina was going to take a beating. Having not run in a while, I knew I was going to suffer.
I’d spent the day on a rented bike, cycling from Downtown Manhattan, over the Williamsburg Bridge, through Brooklyn to the Brooklyn Museum to see the Keith Haring exhibition. 10 miles on two wheels in the sun and then 5 miles pounding Manhattan streets… WHAT WAS I THINKING?! This is me, we’re talking about. BEYOND BRAVE.
Needless to say, I struggled, but John was patient, Robin and Jessie were understanding, and Coach Saes didn’t look like he wanted to ban me from running with the crew again, so I didn’t feel too bad. I saw some familiar faces from Berlin and met other good peoples. I finally met Tony (writer behind A Running Life With Friends - one of my favourite blogs) and laughed with Mali about the whole running experience so far. Drinks followed (Red Bull for me, SO ROCK AND ROLL) and food followed that.
We ran again the next day, from Bowery Stadium to the new Nike Running Flatiron store. We took a couple of detours to make a mile and a half stretch a little further to give the crews filming for Nike something decent to capture. Lots of laughs and good vibes. My shins started hurting though. They’re still hurting now, and it’s been two days since I ran. I’m not sure how long I’m going to need to rest for this time. FML. I’m not running the Nike Great British 10K, but I want to start training for the Amsterdam Half Marathon pretty soon. I have 2 hours 47 minutes to beat, but I know I could do it in a sub-2:30 or less if I train properly.
I’ve been sitting in Miss Lily’s for the past 3 hours, eating, drinking, writing and chilling to good music. If you ever want good West Indian food in Downtown, good reggae, and to spend your meal staring at phenomenally beautiful women, go here! New favourite spot.
Signing out now. Blah’d too much for too long.
Hope London’s sunny when I get home!
Ok, so here’s the deal. I’m not running.
I’m not running because I can’t. Well, I CAN, but it really fucking hurts which is really fucking frustrating.
I had got to a stage where I could run a 10k on a Tuesday night at Run Dem and feel great about it. I mean, it would be hard and I’d have to push myself, but it’s 10k that I wouldn’t have been doing this time last year, so it #totallyfriggincounts. I’ve made so many new friends through running, made international connections and I’ve been building something that is essentially borne from running and now I’m on a time-out that seems to be lasting FOREVER.
Remember when I posted that I wasn’t running because my lower legs hurt? I decided then to take a few weeks off and rest to alleviate the stress on my legs. I had about two weeks of painful shins and sore calves when even stepping off a kerb hurt and stairs would make me sweat with the effort of walking down them (down is always worse than up with whatever this is), and then things started feeling better. I kept off the running though, just to make sure. I figured I’d wait out the month and start running at the beginning of June.
It got to a stage where I really missed running. I felt like I was missing out or being left out because I hadn’t laced up my trainers and worn Lycra for anything other than a fashion statement. I grabbed every opportunity to take a Barclay’s Bike because I wanted to feel like I was being productive. I dunno, I think I missed the adrenaline.
Anyway, I laced up running trainers for Ed Skrein’s video project and was filmed running through Shoreditch at the end of May. Other than the heat, my legs were making it really uncomfortable to keep running and I was glad it was only an hour in front of the camera. Any more than that and I would have melted into a crying, sweaty heap in front of everyone sitting in the sun at Boxpark.
I also did a couple of short bursts of running and jogging for photographs for Japan’s Corner Magazine which made me think that I either need to train to run in a more efficient manner (it’s likely that I’m doing something wrong) or I need to rest for a bit longer.
But then Sunday came around. I was chilling with John Law from the NY Bridge Runners, Jeggi, Denis and Rosie, watching the Queen’s Jubilee boat procession on tv and avoiding the crowds and the rain. Apparently we were all congregated to chill, eat and run. I was only aware of the first two activities but definitely wanted to hit Tarmac while Law was in town and a mini Run Dem sesh was in place at my house.
So we ran. 2.5 miles. Rosie was under strict Charlie Dark orders to do no running, so we grabbed a Boris bike so she could join in the fun.
Except it wasn’t a fun run. I usually love running with Jeggi, he’s probably the best company to have while you’re out on the street, but I didn’t enjoy it at all. I felt really unfit - no running for a month definitely took its toll on my lung capacity. My legs were screaming from the moment I moved at a faster pace than a walk. Every time I stopped, I would feel surges of pain shooting up my shins and my calves felt tense. I couldn’t relax to keep running so I was caught in a catch-22 where nothing could relieve the pain.
I took the next day off work and finally took the advice of so many people and really rested. It’s two days later and my legs still hurt. I’ve iced them, elevated them, massaged them and booked in to see a physio, but MAN I am scared she’s going to tell me something I don’t want to hear!
I’m sitting in the mezzanine in 1948 at the moment waiting for everyone to get back from tonight’s run. Totally bummed.
I know this is a complete 180 from last year’s attitude to exercise but…
NOT RUNNING SUCKS.
Easter Monday: I meant to post this as soon as I got out of the car last month, but evidently I forgot to blog it.
However, nothing’s changed and I still feel the same about everything that I talk about in this video - especially with regards to the people who have influenced my attitude and running achievements over the last few months. Namely, Charlie Dark and Bangs - Papa and Mama Runner.
Running (or the lack thereof).
It’s been a week since I put on running shoes to run in. I’ve just been wearing my new LunarEclipse+ 2 trainers around like they’re just a normal Sportswear trainer, wearing them at every opportunity. Other than Frees and LunarRacers, these are the first running model in the last few years that I’ve really, REALLY loved. I kind of don’t want to run in them so they don’t get dirty, I just want to wear them with jeans or shorts. They’re so summery!
ANYWAY. I digress. I haven’t done any running since last week at Run Dem. It’s not like I rack up much more mileage in between RDC sessions, but I’ve been wanting to. Last week I managed to hurt my legs. Real life hurt with real life pain. I have no idea what I did, but throughout the run (and the whole of the next two days) my lower legs were in agony. I don’t think it was shin splints as my calves were just as painful, but I’ve been taking it easy nonetheless.
It’s frustrating because since Berlin I’ve wanted to up my running game and enjoy this “summer” (WHEN IT STOPS BLOODY RAINING) at a considerable pace. The aim is to run the Amsterdam half marathon in October in less than 2 and a half hours. I’m pretty sure I can do this. With a few track sessions and (perhaps a couple of bridge running sessions in New York some time soon) I might be able to get it down to something below 2 hours and 15 minutes. Whatever. I’m not getting too ahead of myself. I just really want to be able to run strong enough to keep up with my friends.
On the plus side, over the past few weeks I’ve been trying out a new yoga class, stretching and breathing like a rhino while Denis and Jeggi stretch somewhere behind me, melting like AZN sorbets. I’ve also managed to FINALLY find a place to live and I’ve moved all my stuff and I’m settling in fabulously. I’m proper chuffed. After the stress of house-hunting and all the other crap that I waded through at the beginning of this year, I feel like I deserve living in such a nice flat. AND I’ve seen a(n amazing) physio about my knee pain. Barbara stuck me on a treadmill and then told me that my knees hurt because I run funny because I have a weak core. She gave me a bunch of exercises to do that I only remember once I’m at work and in no position to be planking and thrusting around in a studio full of bewildered people. I’m going to sign off and go and do some core work now.
That’s the update. Nothing
wildly remotely exciting, but I thought you should know. It was meant to be short and sweet, but that kind of failed once I started waffling. Soz. I also wanted to show you my new trainers. Best (looking) investment I’ve made this year so far.
I think you should all know that I just ran my fastest ever mile. Yes, I’m aware that I started my run at 11pm but I’ve been restless all day, wanting to run all week and couldn’t get a bloody Boris Bike earlier to cycle home from work. Someone on the other side of the ocean suggested I try and get a quick 3km in the bag. So I ran.
I’ve been trying to get below the 10 minute mile mark for WEEKS but tonight, running over London Bridge the Nike+ lady on my Nike+ GPS app said I ran the first mile at 9 minutes and 2 seconds.
Let’s just pause for a dance break…
I know Bangs is going to be super proud. Look, Mama Runner, no hands!
Alright. As you were.
On Sunday I stood and yelled in strangers’ faces for four solid hours. My throat was hoarse. Thousands of marathon runners went passed the Run Dem Crew cheering station and it was brilliant to see the effect our noisy support had on them. We were LOUD.
There were around 50 of us out to cheer on our crew members and keep the masses moving. Imagine 30 cowbells, over 50 screaming men and women, whistles, horns, vuvuzelas and a wamp sound system. It was like carnival in April, but with running and movement-related music.
Spirits were high and I couldn’t stop smiling. I shouted out as many names on shirts as I could read as runners moved past me. We encouraged runners to keep running and walkers to keep going. It was such a beautiful thing to see someone’s pained face crack a smile while they stepped up the pace because they appreciated our support. We made so many people smile on Sunday. It was one of the best days I’ve had this year (I’m still not down from my Berlin High) and I’d gladly repeat that every day until I wreck my vocal chords.
Run Dem Crew don’t disappoint - I don’t think they have the capacity to. That community means more to me than I had anticipated and after months of physical and emotional support from the crew I appreciated the opportunity to start repaying the favour. It was visible in hundreds of strangers’ faces that we made a difference on Sunday. From the gritted teeth that relaxed into smiles to those who ran a little bit faster as they soaked up our vibe. It’s like we were spoon-feeding energy to lots of tired people.
It was Charlie’s idea to set up at mile 21. It’s apparently the point in the race where you’ve already run 20 miles and realise you’ve still got another 10km to go. It’s the point where resilience starts fading and desperation and negative thoughts are inescapable. For me, that’s mile 12.5 of a half marathon and I was surprised that I only saw one tear-soaked face moving through the Supporters Zone. I think I would have melted my face with my own saline if it was me running last Sunday.
Charlie’s organisation to get all the posters and banners up made Commercial Road a colourful place to be. Props to everyone who cut, glued, nailed and gaffer-taped to make the visuals just as loud as we were. The Rosie Lee posters were phenomenal and they make us a proud bunch of happy, screaming supporters. We had huge images of Nathanial, Shameek and Candice posted up and when they ran through we went wild. Seeing Nathanial and Shameek made me feel so proud, moving like 21 miles so far was easy and they’d breeze through to the finish line. Caroline literally looked like a bundle of fun, all smiles, and looked amazing in her kit and temporarily tattooed and. Ellie and Kimberly looked ecstatic to see us and I’m glad I got a sweaty hug. I’ve never seen anyone as excited as Skinny - BOY, that dude can jump! He and Sami literally bounced through us, grabbing hugs and leaping onto us. There wasn’t a single person who wasn’t laughing at this point. Unfortunately I missed the other RDC runners, Robin (NY Bridge [badass bandit] Runner) and even my friend Jez, but I know you guys got a blast of motivation from the Supporters Zone!
The excitement didn’t ebb all day. We were waiting to see everyone we knew and when we saw Candice in the distance the crew exploded. Supported by Nathalie, who walked and ran with her from mile 16 where she had been volunteering, Candice was physically and mentally exhausted and overwhelmed by our cheers. The minute I saw her face crack behind her Raybans my throat caught, my eyes and nose stung and I was crying as we ran to meet her. She was surrounded - we took over the road. In hindsight, this was probably the worst thing for other runners to have to deal with. We’re sorry, we didn’t mean to be so selfish, but this girl’s something special to us, you know? We ran with Candice, encouraging her. I was filming and shouting, running just behind her. I kept yelling “come on girl!” (watch the video; even my own voice annoys me, I know it’s repetitive, SOZ) while we all kept her moving. Peigh, Chaka, Nathalie, Denis, Keith, Jeggi and Angel kept with her till almost the end when the majority of them got pulled off the course by race marshals while Petra and I turned back to help Charlie and Bangs pack up.
I really recommend cheering for runners at a race. There’s nothing like it. Remember that they’re doing something that you’re not. Even if it’s within your own capability, many of those running are pushing themselves past their comfort zones, past previous limits and achievements, and that’s admirable.
Seeing real emotion and pain in a stranger’s face always gets to me, maybe more so because I’ve had a taste of distance race (though not at any impressive ‘speed’) running. What really struck me was how I felt about the people I saw. I felt a little overwhelmed and quite proud of the women who had run fast enough to slip into the men’s group. I found myself looking out for the few women who had achieved this, and really cheered for them. I must have yelled “GO ON GIRL!” about a million times. Of course it was starting to get annoying to me and everyone around me, but those women who heard me knew that I had recognised their achievement and I got more than a few grateful smiles back. Well done ladies, you’re doing all sorts of wonderful things for the girls!
To everyone who ran all or part of the Virgin London Marathon last Sunday, congratulations on being so amazing. You’re winning at life!
In which we have finished our very first half marathon.
12.5 miles. I hate running.
When I met ‘The Wall’. The Berlin one.