Sunday, 21 June 2015

Salty Eyelids FTW

Sunday night bloggy time again!

It's not been a proper 15 mile run unless you have salt crystallising on your
eyelids and chocolate milk smeared all over your face...
This week has been great...I think. I'll admit I've been burning the candle at both ends a little bit. After heading out to Sneaky Pete's on Tuesday for Matt Norris & The Moon album launch (you can listen on Spotify here) I got up and ran 5miles in the rain before scooting off to Glasgow for a hefty day of bid team meetings and digging into my team's plan of attack at work. Then I thought it was a bright idea to go to a Bonobo set at Sub Club (I was seriously the oldest, squarest, soberest person there - the walls were practically dripping with Glasgow Art School types with no spatial awareness) which finished at 3am...and then I drove my buddies back to Edinburgh in the daylight. 

Winning at life. I am so young right now.

Tatty in da cluuuurrrb..
 Anyway - I also smacked down a good 7.2miler on Friday evening after a fresh orange at the pub, and got shat on by a pigeon on my way back through the Meadows. How nice. Needless to say the final 2miles home were...swift (no bird pun intended). 

Some say it's lucky. 


And then today was my 15.2miler (ASK ANY MARATHONER AND THE POINT TWO MATTERS, OK?!) - long, kinda boring, hard work, but I got there with something still in the tank I think. A night at The Basement probably didn't help. I figure that if I can complete all my long runs in Edinburgh weather, with Edinburgh HILLS, with a slight hangover, race day should be a breeze. 

I jest - I've been taking it rather easy on the nights out with friends. But it's as important to seize the moment and embrace the enjoyment of life's spontaneity as it is to run long and run slow. I'm trying to have a little bit of everything in moderation...and running in droves.

This evening I bumped into an old friend of mine, Gregor, and we had a beer in the garden seeing as it is so beautifully light at the moment. Seriously, it's 11.20pm and still light out there, it's a beauty. 

I told him about my fundraising for Alzheimer's Society and he was, like so many people have been, genuinely keen to support me to not only raise funds but to raise awareness too. Gregor's dad passed away 18yrs ago from early-onset dementia. He was diagnosed in his early 60s - just another example of the various ways that people can be affected by different types of this disease. Gregor was keen to come along to my fundraising BBQ this summer and share his experiences and advice with others who have that personal connection. It's really important to him, and he's not the only one. 

I'm genuinely bowled over by how many people have responded with personal stories after I've told them I'm fundraising for this cause. My friend in Australia has just found out her Grandad has Alzheimers, my downstairs neighbour's father has recently received a diagnosis of the early stages of the disease, Gregor's dad, my friend from many years back at the Tap, a contact I know through my current job. So many people have a personal connection and it's been so encouraging and heart-warming to hear their stories too. It makes me feel like I'm not just running this Marathon out of my own interests, but in the interests of so so many people around me. It's spurring me on to no end. 

So, I think this is what's also keeping me moving and helping me to remain so positive, driven and excited about all the long miles ahead. The hardest line to cross in any Marathon isn't the finish line, it's the start line. This training is hard work, my legs are tired already and my priorities are all over the place. But I'm so engrossed in it, and it's going well so far. 

14 weeks now until race day, and still lots of miles to go. I've completed seven weeks of training so far and I've run 134.6miles (216.6km) in total, averaging 19.2miles (30.9km) per week at the moment. That's only set to rise now, but first I'm taking a few little weeks of holiday while my BEST FRIEND GETS MARRIED and we all swan off to Tuscany for a few days. I'm looking forward to getting back out on some fresher legs after a fortnight of short runs to see how the timings are looking at half marathon distance. At the moment I'm running long and slow on pretty fatigued legs all the time, so it'll be interesting to see how the long run goes when I'm a bit fresher. Fresher, and filled with wine and pasta. 

It's's "carb loading"...

To take a peep at my fundraising page, head to JustGiving.

All my FitSnaps re training runs can be found on my Instagram

Thanks so much for sticking with me - I'll be funnier next time, I promise. :)

Meanwhile, watch this because it's gorgeous and you all deserve it, you gorgeous lot...

Lots of love, 
Nikki. xxx

Sunday, 7 June 2015

I'm sorry, this list needs more wine...

Hello all - yes I'm still running and I'm still fundraising. 

Total mileage this week comes to 29.8miles (48km) and I've not pestered you for sponsorship since before do take a peep at my lovely JustGiving page and pop a few pennies into the pot if you can. The sacrifices have started...I'm already thinking about the massive roast dinner I'm going to dive into when I get back from Berlin. There's also some toenail shit happening again already...I'd suggest you sponsor me if you do not wish to hear the gory specifics... 

Go on...just click it...

But really...

Recently I've been thinking a lot about prioritising this year's goals. I've got heaps going on, so I think my confused little brain is craving a bit of order and structure to things. I'm making a lot of lists. 

With this in mind, I thought I'd write about my lists of motivations for doing the things I'm doing. What should our priorities be based upon..? Should we feel guilty about doing something that isn't a priority, or should we prioritise things that make us happy and scrap the guilt?

A lot of people are surprised by those of us who enjoy running. I think it's an enjoyment that differs from person to person, but I believe that at the heart of it is a sentiment that is universally satisfying: smugness. 

It's difficult to describe the type of enjoyment I get from running. But trying to explain the prioritisation behind why I run has thrown up some amusing self-analysis...

Before heading out for a long run, or any run for that matter, my long-suffering flatmate Tom will tell you that after uttering the words "I'm going out for a run" I faff around for at least half an hour. I mean I engage in some serious faffery. Chattering like a wind up toy about things that are drab and unimportant, emptying the dishwasher, feeding the fish, browsing the bookcases, all while dressed in head-to-toe running gear and the occasional flash of hi-vis. I look desperately out of place huffing and plodding about in the living room while Tom's trying to enjoy a G&T, watching Jamie's 30 second meals, or however fast he's cooking these days. But I like to stare out of the window for a while and pass comment on the weather conditions. 

Though Tom is not obliged to enter into a conversation about the weather, he almost always just says "I think you should go"...

That's a direct quote. 

But by the time I reach the end of my street, I'm brand new. I look silly when I run - that's just fact. I'm not lean or athletic in build, but I have an ever growing selection of marathon t-shirts that might as well say "When was the last time you ran 26 miles, you fat-head?" to anyone who looks at me and thinks something negative about my appearance. Part one of why I enjoy running long distances - because it surprises people who have pre-conceived notions about what "a runner" or a healthy person should look like. The irony of this is that I find it hard not to look at myself without the same judgement and negativity, especially when some idiot beeps their horn at me. Urgh, I could just cry. I'm not alone in this, I know, but that's another battle that I'm coming on to...

Part two: the endorphins. They say some people take as little as 10 minutes to experience an endorphin release - I think it takes me about 10 seconds. And once I'm settled into a run I'm smacked off my tits on the stuff. I smile at dog walkers.

Part three, and this is the most significant one: the sense of achievement and satisfaction. It doesn't matter what you set out to do, whether it's exercise or reading a book or building a model ship, it's the enjoyment of reaching the point of completion that matters. I love being able to embrace the achievement and we all need to do more of that, no matter what our goals look like. I'm not sharing a goal with anyone else, it's just mine, all for me. I don't want the same goals as Paula Radcliffe because I'd just feel pants when I'm not setting new World Records within a fortnight. It's about perspective, realism and respecting the long game. 

Having said all of this, I too fight with a huge lack of perspective regarding other goals of mine. I can't remember a time in the past 16 years when I haven't wanted to lose weight. And I've lost some, sure, but it never seemed to be enough...until recently when things have started to rearrange themselves a bit.

This week I ran almost 10miles before going to work on Monday morning and I felt great. 

On Tuesday I got a gold star from my GP for having textbook perfect blood pressure of 120/80 and told that I just need to just keep doing whatever it is I'm doing, and I felt great. 

I had a busy week at work and turned around an application for funding that I was proud of, and I felt great. 

I resisted Tom's offer of steak, wine and goose-fat roasted potatoes on Wednesday, instead opting for a 5mile run and some turkey with salad, and I felt great. 

And then at the end of the week I stepped on a set of scales, saw I'd gained half a pound, and I felt crap. 

Why? Why, when things are laid out plainly like that, does the last element have the overwhelming power to make all the other things feel completely void of value? Why am I prioritising a few pounds over everything else in my life?! I'm not the only person who has felt this way, I'm sure. I've spoken with two friends today who have what I refer to as the "Food Guilt", because they enjoyed a day of indulging in less healthy foods and having some drinks and laughter with close friends. Now they feel bad and one of them literally want to exercise until they pass out in order to make up for it (I love you, you hilarious person). 

Well I've decided that the Food Guilt is absolute rubbish, and we all need to take some chill and get some perspective. Give that little shit-spouting demon on our shoulder what-for, and humiliate him by boasting about all the very amazing things we have all been achieving. I follow a movement (makes it sound weird but bear with me) on social media called "Healthy is the New Skinny" - it was set up by an amazing lady called Katie Willcox and she, aside from being desperately beautiful, has inspired me to change the way I prioritise my goals. 

My advice to anyone feeling swamped by images of unrealistic so-called "beauty" needs to delete half of their Instagram follows and start building up some #healthyisthenewskinny content. A daily Insta-feed of real, beautiful, confident women of all different shapes, sizes, colours and nationalities will work wonders - it's refreshing, encouraging and most of all it gives us all a bit of much-needed realistic perspective. At least it's certainly helped me to stop fixating on an irrelevant number on "the sad step" as my friend calls it. 

I've decided I'm not going to let weight be an overarching priority any more. Life is too short for feeling guilty all the time. So mix the good with the gluttonous, go forth, have wine, and play Cards Against Humanity with your close friends. It sets the mind up just perfectly for a nice long run the next day. :) 

My priority is everything else I'm looking to achieve this year, including reaching a £1,000 fundraising target for Alzheimer's Society, details of which are all on my JustGiving page.