Monday, 25 March 2013

My Thoughts About Running

I'm going to be real with you guys. For the first 17 years of my life I was the girl who would have rather died than run anywhere. PE lessons were torture and if anyone said the words "gym" or "treadmill" in my earshot I would probably laugh out loud. Yeah, I don't run. That was my thing. But over the last few weeks and months of my life I've been running. Voluntarily. Some a quick mile and a half in 20 minutes and one or two for a good hour or more. I'm starting out slowly and this may not seem like a lot to anyone who's more experienced but please don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that these hours (and they're stacking up) that I'm spending on the run are changing my life. Within the first three weeks I sped up, I got breathless in 10 minutes rather than 1 and my thighs actually did look slimmer. Who knew? And the longer I do it for and the faster I run, the more I love it. Its nice thinking that if there was ever someone chasing me (because, you know, my life is SO like a superhero movie) I might have a chance of getting away in one piece.

So far my running kit extends to leggings and about eight layers of vests, t-shirts and hoodies - I live in the south of England and according to our weather forecast today, its going to continue being about -5 for several more days. It is so cold that when I ran today I felt like my face was being sliced up with knives made of ice. So put it this way, I'm not exactly worrying about sweating just yet. The one thing I really like about what I wear to run in is my sports bra. Yeah, I actually went out and spent like £11 buying this thing that I picked out because it was purple and I thought it would look cute with this black top I already had. It is honestly the best about-£11 I have ever spent because its the most comfortable piece of clothing ever. Sometimes I have to stop myself wearing it just to wear trackies and watch TV because normally when I do that I start eating ice-cream or something and I feel that that would be wrong and offend the concept of "sports"-bras. Basically its great and the best place to buy one if you don't have one is TK Maxx. That's where I got mine and its cheap.. Properly cheap - they have real weights and yoga mats and stuff for like £5, as well as all the cute dresses and jeans that will look so much better on you after you buy the workout things as well. (I think that's how they're marketing them...?)
My second, or possibly joint number one, favourite thing about running is music. I have spent more time over the last few weeks downloading music than I thought was possible while having time to sleep and stuff. And I can say that the best time to listen to Beyonce is definitely while you're running. Its probably even better if you're running in a storm or maybe just in the rain - I haven't got round to that yet though, but I don't know why, it just seems like it would be more dramatic. And dramatic running is always fun, you can pretend that you're in the music video to your favourite song (does anyone else do this?!) and run past cars that have to sit and wait at traffic lights like HAHAHA. Its so great. Like: "My legs are beating your very expensive-looking car because you have to stop there until a little coloured light changes! That can't stop me - I'm free! I'm free like the wind!" is basically what goes through my head. I now have about seven different running playlists and when I'm bored at any point in my day I just make a new one and plan in my head where I'm going to be running when a song comes on. Its only slightly taking over my life. And if I could give one tip to anyone thinking of starting out, not that I'm qualified to do this in any way, it would be run to something fast and don't keep pausing to skip songs - just have a long playlist of fast ones, with motivational lyric type ones thrown in for once you get past about half an hour. Either that or: plan your route. Because if you're easily confused, like me, you can end up going round in circles and not really being sure where to go. If you have a route in your head that you know is roughly a mile or three miles or however far you want to go, its honestly so much easier. And then if you want to go further, you just run it again. Easy-peasy.

The next best thing about running is (not the actual moving your feet part - we'll get to that) but the eating. Obviously not while you're running, although if that did become possible it could improve it even more. Just kidding, I am of course referring to the fact that you now have a certain number of extra calories you can consume in a day absolutely guilt-free. Or you could choose to not replace these calories and then lose weight, but who's going to do that, right? 2 mile run, burn 250 calories, enjoy your cupcake, ice cream, pizza, whatever your junk food of choice may be and you don't have to feel bad about it at all. Need motivation to run further? Just think about all the Doritos you can eat later and you will feel unstoppable. Have I convinced you yet?

Okay, I said we'd get to the moving your feet part. This is obviously for some people (me) where it gets harder and a bit less fun. But the way I have found to actually force myself to do it is by not thinking about it. For example: its 7pm, I've been to dance, come home and had noodles and stir fried vegetables or something for dinner and am probably sat on the sofa watching Keeping Up With The Kardashians. Ad-break comes on. My brain: "Hmmm maybe I should go for a run?" Body: "Okay." *Gets up, goes upstairs, changes into running stuff, grab ipod, water, doorkey, etc. Press play on running playlist and just walk out of the house.* Then at some point, normally about a song and a half in, I just start running because I realise I look stupid looking like I'm going for a run when really I'm strolling along at a normal person-going-for-a-walk pace. And then I just run until I can't breathe. Stop, drink water and repeat, cutting out the walking as much as possible. It literally involves no brain power at all, which is sometimes a really nice refreshing break from attempting to study for A-levels (those notoriously brain power requiring things we have to do...)

My life is also made a lot easier by the fact that the ipod I have ( a nano or something, I'm not really sure, its small and square if that's any clue...?) has a fitness app pre-installed which is so useful at counting all your miles, times and calories for you. It has a little clip on it which I don't use because its annoying so I just stuff it in my sports bra - what, its designed to hold stuff for you?! Don't judge me, I know you do it too. It actually makes me wonder how guys cope with running - like where do they keep things? Its a mystery to me. Anyway, back to the app...  It lists all your personal scores as well so you see how much you've improved and also shouts motivating things at you mid-run! Like "Get a move on, fatty!" (No, I made that one up.) They're more like "Five minutes to go!" or "You've done 1.5 miles!" I prefer mine though because that's what I shout at myself in my head. So that helps. I think its designed as an exercise ipod, which explains its ridiculously limited storage capacity. Like I need the entire Killers back catologue on there ipod, plus 500 million other things. Deal with it, okay! Fitness app, yep, that's another running essential.

The last thing I wanted to mention is the notorious "Runner's High." What is this mythical thing, I wondered to myself on my first run. And then I got home and got in a hot shower and sat down on my (tired) butt. Ohhhhhh now I get it. The best reason to run that I can possibly think of to give you is that it feels so incredible when you get to stop. I'm sure as I keep going and run further I might get to experience this feeling while I'm actually running (which would be a nice and weird thing to happen) but for now if this is as good as it gets I'll take it. I actually told my bed I loved it the other day, as I crawled in with my limbs aching after a 3.5 mile run, mostly up various hills (ouch, basically). MY BED?!?! That inanimate object well-known for its willingness to respond to spontaneous declarations of love - I'm clearly losing my mind. But I don't even care, because I saw my first ab the other day. I have an ab, you guys. I might even have two. That's it: I love running, I said it.
This Hellogiggles "Illustrated Tweet Of The Day"
just sums it up, am I right?

So there you are! How a life-long run hater transformed herself into a run lover. Its official: I'm a convert to the incredible toning, stress-relieving powers and general amazing-ness of running. I'm aware that I'm only just at the very beginning, but remember that phrase a wise old Chinese philosopher or someone said: "A journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step." Turns out that's true for running also, even if that step is only in the direction of the nearest TK Maxx in search of a snuggly purple sports bra. I also wanted to add - none of those pictures are of me: I do not run in shorts and I don't have cute, athletic shiny hair swishing everywhere. These pictures are lying to us. Nobody looks like that - I look like a sweaty tomato when I go running (remind why I'm sharing this with the internet?) but I still love it anyway and I hope you do too; if any of you lovely readers run? Do have any tips for me or anyone else - if so, you know what to do! xoxo

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