muddy shoes

Running is amazing – for all the reasons I listed here, there’s a lot to be said for popping on your trainers and heading out the front door.

However, there are a few *niche* gripes that you only recognise once you start to run regularly. Introducing the problems only runners will understand…

1. When people take up the ENTIRE pavement in front of you.

Your patience level for pavement hogging reaches zero when you’re running. Okay, you’re not an arsehole – a mum with a buggy or someone in a wheelchair can’t help taking up a narrow path. But when you have a group of three people walking astride TOWARDS you and they still don’t get out the frickin’ way, you’re sorely tempted to just trundle on right through them.

2. Anyone who shouts piss-taking ‘encouragement’ at you.

And let’s be honest, any randomer (usually a 13-year-old boy) who shouts ‘faster’ at you in the street is taking the piss.

3. Discovering your headphones have tangled themselves into oblivion.

This ALWAYS happens on those days when you’re short on time. And you always stare at your headphones in disbelief like ‘What the hell, I only left you alone for half an hour and you’ve done this to yourself!!


4. Needing the loo during a run

Oh my god is there anything worse? The answer is no, no there isn’t.

5. Getting home from a ‘needing the loo’ run to find that some other household member is in the bathroom

This is a true test of love and loyalty for everyone involved in the situation.

6. Disobedient traffic lights

Ok so here’s the thing: occasionally, you’ll be in your running groove, and hope that every pedestrian crossing you come to is green so you can speed on through. Other times, you’re like ‘dear god I’m dying, please let there be a red man coming up’. In both scenarios the traffic lights will do the OPPOSITE of what you require from them *shakes fist*

7. Wet leaves on the ground

Much like all public transport in the UK, your response to travelling through a slippery, sludgy bunch of leaves is basically ‘ugh’.

8. The earbud that constantly falls out of your ear for an entire run

This is a weird one, because you can be wearing the same earbuds for AGES and then suddenly, you’ll go for a run and one side will just continuously pop out despite you ramming it in with ever-increasing force. Did your ear hole get bigger or something? *checks in mirror*

9. Rain

This is the worst (except if you kind of didn’t want to go on your run anyway and you can point outside at the light shower outside like ‘Oh look, I couldn’t POSSIBLY run in this hurricane’.)

10. Beauty articles that tell you only to wash your hair once a week.

Given that post-run your hair looks like it belongs to one of the more disgusting peasants on Game of Thrones, there is no way you’re leaving it seven whole days before washing it… (see below: sexy huh?)

post running hair

11. Waiting for your watch to get GPS signal

Me to Fitbit: ‘You’re not even trying, are you?’

12. Running + a runny nose

Just eww.

13. When someone overtakes you while they’re running for a bus.

It is truly humiliating when someone wearing jeans, a jumper, smart leather shoes and a shoulder bag sprints past you while you are in FULL RUNNING GEAR. Although in fairness they clearly have more motivation to be putting in a sprint session at that point.

14. People not sympathising with any of your running problems.

Because after all, you have chosen to do this to yourself.

 

Last Thursday was certainly not your average weekday evening for me – rather than a gym session then dinner in front of the telly (my life is so glamorous), I found myself at the Honorable Artillery Company near Old Street, competing in The Great Row for Cancer Research UK.

The challenge was to row a marathon, 26.2 miles, as a team of six, all the while competing against 13 other teams to complete the distance first.

As well as being a fairly challenging experience, it was also an educational one! Here are 6 things I discovered…

1. 26.2 miles is a REALLY long way to row

An admittedly fairly obvious statement to start with – but I’ll be honest, I hadn’t quite appreciated how long this distance would take to row. Sure, I’ve run the marathon, and I remember it being bloody hard, but I assumed on a rowing machine we’d be done in about an hour and I’d go home to put my feet up (clearly, I hadn’t thought this through).

My boyfriend even said to me when I signed up ‘Errrm, you do realise you’ll have to row about 7k each right?’ and I was like ‘Yeah yeah piece of cake.’ Nope, it’s hard. Luckily the atmosphere at the event was electric, with club tunes pumping out and plenty of encouraging teammates – plus, we were rowing for an amazing cause, which definitely helps you find that extra power!

2. Technique is everything when it comes to good rowing

About the only wise thing I did when I signed up for The Great Row is take advice from Patricia Carswell, who blogs all things rowing over on Girl on the River. She gave me some really good advice on technique; namely, that you shouldn’t be whacking the resistance on the erg up to 10 when you train (it’s not good for your back or technique) and that most of the work should be done by the legs, not the arms.

While we were doing the marathon row, she was great at pointing technical points out to me, such as keeping the length in each stroke (sometimes I tend to get a little frantic), which really helped me up my game rowing-wise.

Since taking her advice, I’ve also noticed LOADS of people are using the rowing machine incorrectly in the gym. I’d say the majority think it’s all about speed and a mega-high resistance, but their technique is shocking and actually looks like they could be doing themselves some damage! If you’re not really sure how to do it properly than I urge you to watch this video Patricia sent me, and educate yourself.

3. I have a weird crush on Dan Walker

Does he count as a weird crush, or a normal one? We were lucky enough to have Dan presenting on the night and I must say he has a certain tall and jolly appeal.

Staring lovingly at Dan with a sweaty ponytail

4. Teamwork is everything

I was SO lucky with my team, especially considering I’d never met any of them before. As well as Patricia, there was also Georgina from Fitcetera,  TV presenter and blogger Olivia Cox, Made In Chelsea’s Akin Solange-Caulker and finally Akin’s lovely friend Devon. Everyone was brilliant – no one had a tantrum and gave up, no one turned their nose up at taking the position of ‘foot holder’, and the whole team was really great at encouraging each other to keep the hell going.

5. CrossFit makes you hardcore

From the start of the rowing marathon, it was clear one time was extremely dominant – the CrossFit team. They finished way ahead of everyone else, whereas we were close to the bottom, which suggests to me that I probably need to start CrossFitting IMMEDIATELY.

6. Cancer Research’s goal is for 3 in 4 people to survive cancer in 20 years

Now here’s something truly important that I wasn’t aware of – Cancer Research UK’s next big aim is for three quarters of those diagnosed with cancer to survive it (currently, it’s one in two). They hope to achieve this amazing feat within the next two decades, but obviously, they require a huge amount of fundraising to support this, which is where you guys come in! Sign up to take part in The Great Row yourself and aim to raise at least £25 per person – more info here. You can even train for free at David Lloyd gyms every Friday in March. Personally, I can tell you it really is a rewarding challenge to take on; I found it tough but the feeling of achievement once you’re done is incredible!

The final sprint to the finish!

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Today is Blue Monday – the day of the year when, scientists say, we’re at our most depressed.

What a lovely thought.

It’s fuelled by the crappy weather, high debt levels, the Christmas comedown and flailing motivation to stick to our New Year’s resolutions – basically we’re bored, poor and want to start eating chocolate again.

Although I’m not 100% thrilled with the idea of Blue Monday – sometimes I think that telling people they’re really depressed can be a bit self-perpetuating – it’s fair to say this isn’t the jolliest time of year.

So here are 18 little things you can do that will make you feel instantly happier…

If you have… 1 minute

1. Text a friend you haven’t spoken to in ages

There’s nothing like catching up with a close friend, or just letting them know you’re thinking of them, to make you feel all warm and fluffy inside.

2. Make a cup of tea

Oh god the amount of times I’m at work thinking ‘I’m dying for a cuppa’ but convince myself I can’t possibly tear myself away from my desk for one minute to make one. Life is ALWAYS better with a tea on the go (plus health experts say we should be getting up from our desks regularly) so just move yo-self.

3. Water your plant

Looking after nature is, in itself, therapeutic – researchers have found that having plants around you improves feelings of wellbeing and reduces anxiety. Plus, let’s be honest, there is nothing more depressing than realising you’re the type of person who can’t keep a pot plant alive – get watering!

4. Give someone a compliment

Sorry to sound slushy, but making other people feel good makes you feel good. It’s time to tell that person you work with that they’re looking damn fine today (in a less creepy way).

5. Spray yourself with your poshest perfume or aftershave

The one that makes you feel like one of those fancy, gorgeous people on the fragrance adverts, who for some unexplained reason are zipping around Venice on a speedboat or wistfully rolling around under a translucent bedsheet.

6. Google ‘cute baby elephants’

And spend 60 seconds looking at cute baby elephants. Their trunks! Their ears! Their sweet, fluffy heads!

If you have… 5 minutes

7. Listen to your favourite upbeat song

NO weepy stuff. Whether it’s the Bee Gees or Beyonce, make sure you dance, sing or strut with full vigour.

8. Book yourself in at a restaurant you really want to go to

Snap up a table and then think about who you’d really like some quality time with.

9. Reply to the email you’ve been putting off forever.

You will feel so relieved afterwards that your mood will instantly be lifted!

If you have 15 minutes…

10. Browse the web for a really great birthday present for your friend/family member 

There’s always another birthday coming up, and all too often you find yourself chucking some last minute purchase at your mate or telling them (untruthfully) that you ‘left the present at home’.

The thing is, it’s really nice giving people good presents – ones that you’ve really thought through – and you’ll feel instantly more cheerful once you find the right gift.

11. Eat your favourite chocolate bar

And do it absolutely guilt-free. Rather than just scoffing all the crap food that comes into the office, and feeling bad for it, save yourself and sit down for 15 minutes with a cup of tea and your favourite chocolate. You deserve it!

12. Start planning your next holiday

There’s nothing better to lift the spirits than having a Google for flights and hotels. Even if you’ve got a tiny budget like me, there are so many cool places on Europe you can travel with EasyJet. I’ve just booked Italy for June and seriously, it is seeing me through the January blues!

easy ways to feel happier

13. Call your mum

Some of you will read this and be like ‘What, I already call my mum like 16 times a day anyway?’.

But there are others, like me, who sometimes realise they haven’t phoned their parents for weeks, so give them a quick ring (this obviously only applies if you have a good relationship with your mum to begin with!)

14. Pop out and get a coffee

I’m a simple soul and I’m not ashamed to say that a skinny cappuccino or latte brings me joy (#basicbitch). Just remember, those takeaway cups they give are NOT recyclable (they contain plastic) so for extra happiness points take a reusable mug – I’ve got an Ecoffee mug which does the job perfectly (and sometimes in Pret they give you free coffee for being eco-friendly!)

cappuccino brickwood clapham

If you have… 30 minutes

15. Watch an episode of your favourite comedy

From Game of Thrones to Westworld, so many really popular TV shows these days are just a bit… serious. And violent and scary. When I’m stressed out or low there’s nothing better than watching a few episodes of Peep Show or The Royle Family to get me back in a good mood.

16. Switch your phone off and read

If you’re already feeling down then scrolling through endless pictures of people having fun on social media or freaking yourself out by reading all your work emails is not going to help.

Instead, put your phone off or in another room and take some time to read offline – I recommend Alexandra Shulman’s Inside Vogue which I’ve recently finished, which shows you what goes into the making the UK’s most iconic magazine.

17. Tidy up

OK bear with me here. I know tidying isn’t everyone’s idea of a laugh, but if you’re the type of person who gets miserable when surrounded by clutter and mess, then spending some time tidying/putting things away/sorting out a charity bag can be hugely therapeutic.

18. Go for a walk with a podcast

Being outdoors has been shown to improve mood, but if you feel a bit aimless just walking around, listen to a good podcast to focus your mind while you get a breath of fresh air. I love Emma Gannon’s IRL podcasts, PanDolly, Jools & Sarah and Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour – but whatever floats your boat really!

 

 

1. MASSAGE

What it means to other people: A lovely, relaxing experience where you are gently rubbed with fragrant oils while listening to whale music.

What it means to runners: A grit-your-teeth-and-bear-it feat of endurance, involving a sports therapist sticking their elbow in your bum muscles while you try not to scream.

2. GEL

What it means to other people: A hair product used extensively by 14-year-old boys.

What it means to runners: A energy-boosting substance you squeeze into your mouth during long runs. May or may not give you the sh*ts, which is always a fun gamble.

3. SPLITS

What it means to other people: An impressive gymnastic feat, usually performed at the Olympics or at 2am at house parties.

What it means to runners: The time is takes you to run a certain distance – doesn’t prove quite so interesting as the gymnastic kind at social gatherings.

4. CAKE

cake for runners

What it means to other people: A special treat.

What it means to runners: An ESSENTIAL.

5. RECOVERY 

What it means to other people: The day after a heavy night on the town.

What it means to runners: The day after a heavy run.

6. ROLLER

What it means to other people: An little cylinder you put in your hair to produce Cheryl-worthy curls.

What it means to runners: An instrument of torture; made of foam you use this to ease out muscle tensions while gently screaming.

7. PB

What it means to other people: Peanut butter – for the true American. PB & J sandwich, anyone?

What it means to runners: Personal best. To you this figure  is very important and interesting, but all your friends and family are like ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ when you start talking about it.

8. BIB

What it means to other people: What babies wear when they eat. Catches all the dribble.

What it means to runners: What runners wear when they participate in mass races. Again, good for catching dribble.

9, RICE

What it means to other people: Delicious carb that you eat with curry. YUM.

What it means to runners: The stages you follow when you’ve pulled a muscle: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. Except you only remember to do this about three days after the injury has occurred…oops.

10. STREAK

What it means to other people: Running around naked. Highly entertaining.

What it means to runners: Running every day for a certain period of time. Much less entertaining .

11. HIT THE WALL

What it means to other people: A physical act we all try and avoid while parking the car.

What it means to runners: An experience that occurs during a marathon. Specifically the bit where you suddenly start promising yourself you’ll never do this again because you’re so exhausted you can hardly breathe/blink.

12. WATER

What it means to other people: What you drink when you’re thirsty.

What it means to runners: Something you spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about before you do a long run. Will I be too thirsty? Can I carry that much water? Will I drink so much my brain explodes? Will I need the toilet halfway round and ruin my time? Etc etc etc.

13. CHIP TIME

What it means to other people: Only the best bloody evening of the week – time to hit the fish and chip shop! (Side note – I’ve noticed people in London don’t do this is as much, but where I grew up in South Wales Friday night was chip night).

What it means to runners: Your finishing time in a race, recorded by a tiny ‘chip’ on your shoe or bib.

14. WAKING UP IN WINTER

What it means to other people: The hardest thing in the whole goddamn world.

What it means to runners: Even harder, because you know you have to go OUTSIDE and run around.

15. SENSE OF ACHIEVEMENT

What it means to other people: Something you feel occasionally at work or at home when you make a really good lasagne.

What it means to runners: A feeling you experience EVERY TIME you run *high five*

16. RUN

What it means to other people: A horrible activity you only do when you’re absolutely forced to i.e. running for your bus.

What it means to you: An exhilarating activity you CHOOSE to do several times a week even though you have no bus to catch, much to the confusion of your non-running acquaintances.

 


Whenever anyone’s asked me what my New Year’s Resolution is for the past few years, I’ve said “to be perfect, obvs”

What I mean by is, to become one of those flawless girls who does yoga and makes smoothies every morning; who always has shiny, straight hair and clean shoes.

Obviously I’m half-joking when I say this – no one is actually perfect, and if they were, they’d probably be completely boring. But these days, there seems to be so much pressure to be doing EVERYTHING in an idyllic and photogenic fashion, from eating breakfast (#smoothiebowl!) to being in a relationship (#spoilt #soblessed) that you  do sometimes feel as if everyone else is living in a dream world that you’re somehow excluded from (and it’s probably your fault for being so goddamn lazy).

It’s not just relationships, interiors and fitness regimes these dream girls seem to excel in, it’s also their careers. I read a brilliant piece recently by The Pool’s Amy Jones this week where she talks about feeling under pressure to achieve great things in the digital sphere alongside her day job.

“I took a scary new job, which I threw myself into headfirst, revitalised my food blog, started a newsletter, looked into podcasting, began writing a book. I took on every project that sounded interesting in my new job, woke up early to work on my side projects and spent my evenings and weekends running around London or in front of a laptop” she says.

Reading this was like scanning a list of all the things I feel I should be doing. After all everyone else seems to have 20k Instagram followers, a perfect flat in Notting Hill, an award-winning podcast and at least 13 holidays a year, so why haven’t I? The idea of ‘perfection’ is so visible these days that it’s easy to feel like you’re failing to achieve the same things as everyone else, and for someone like me who has always put pressure on myself to achieve ‘the best’ – A grades, an Oxford degree, an excellent shoe collection – this can be particularly stressful.

However, as Amy concludes, trying to achieve absolutely everything is stressful and exhausting.

I think I need to accept that by the age of 30 (I’m 28), I won’t be able to complete my mad checklist, which includes: live abroad, get abs, read all the books anyone has ever mentioned to me, become editor of the Sunday Times Style, own a perfectly-trained dog, buy a scenic cottage with an easy 30-minute commute into London, and have a wedding that’s so wonderful Vogue magazine will approach me and be like “Look, we know we don’t put brides on our front cover but with you we just HAVE to.”

*Breathes*

Back in the real world, the problem with my list of (slightly exaggerated) goals is that no one has the time or energy to ‘have it all’.

What’s more, sometimes the facts are against you – when I graduated, I assumed I’d be earning megabucks in a swanky job by now, but the sheer state of the economy (not to mention the journalism industry) means that the days of getting paid loads and being easily promoted through the ranks are long gone. I DO get free shampoo though.

Constantly putting pressure on yourself and living with a ‘What next?’ mentality is draining and unsatisfying. And I’m definitely guilty of it – as soon as I’ve achieved one thing (“Great, I’ve got engaged!”) I’m onto the next (“Maybe I should do another marathon while I plan the wedding?”).

So my goal for next year is to accept that perfection doesn’t really exist and spend a bit more time appreciating the little things I already have, whether that’s an evening with friends or an A-grade cup of tea. There’s nothing wrong with setting resolutions in January – I’ve got a few up my sleeve – but above all be realistic and use your aims as motivation rather than a stick to beat yourself with.

Happy new year!