Dear new runner…

Dear new runner,

So you have embarked on the mad but rewarding journey of running. Whether you are a shiny new runner, or someone who is rediscovering their passion for running, let me share a few words because it is only four years since I started running, so I remember all the emotions and motions as if it was yesterday.

First of all, a word of warning: You are at a serious risk of having your life hijacked by this sport. Actually, running is not just a sport, it is a lifestyle. I could warn you about all the expensive pairs of shoes you soon realise you “need”, and the ever-growing medal collection that will start taking over your living room to your family’s displeasure, but I willl not mention any of that. One thing I will mention is that running is NOT bad for your knees as you’ll hear over and over (and over) from non-runners.

Running is not just about the physical act of putting one foot in front of the other. It is a physical, mental and emotional challenge. One that will potentially transform yur life, your attitudes, your points of view and your perception of time and distance. Above all, running is a spiritual journey of a sort. It’s like a pilgrimage that carries on and on, never to be completed because there is no actual destination, and this time, however clichรฉ that sounds, the journey is the destination.

Just like most of the time in life, you will have support and encouragement of others. Just this time, quite often the “others” will be strangers on the Internet and your running club members who will understand you and your struggles better than your own family will. That is okay. And quite often, despite all the support, you will be alone to search and find your own strength, battle through setbacks and experience feelings that only you as a runner understand.

So what I would like to say to you – believe in yourself and do not let anyone or anything discourage you. Running is an activity that is all about you and you can make it whatever you want it to be. You will and should do things your way. Because your way is the right way for you. (Unless you do all your runs at race pace and don’t foam roll, in which case your way is totally wrong ๐Ÿ˜‰

And finally, you will be surprised how quickly all the things that now seem impossible will be within your reach. Then you’ll realise the real reason why we all do it – to achieve something we never thought we could. And this feeling, once tasted, is so addictive that it won’t ever let you go. So good luck and congratulations because you have just taken the first step on the journey to forever change your life.

New Balance 1080v10: the Cadillac of shoes

I might be a bit late to the party, but still – I have always been a NB 1080 fan. Last year, I went through four pairs of the previous version (v9), while patiently waiting for a decent discount on v10 (I do love a bargain!). So on 2nd January, I broke my New Year’s resolution to stop spending money on running gear and got myself a pair of NB 1080v10 for ยฃ95 which is an excellent price given the fact they still go for ยฃ135 on New Balance website.

I instantly fell in love with them as my (slightly embarassing) video debut documents. So why do I love them and what are their key characteristics worth noting?

  • They are ultra comfy

I swear they are the comfiest shoes I have ever run in. This is primarily due to two factors: Fresh Foam midsole really makes them ultra-cushioned, while the heel cup (called Ultra Heel) gives your heel a gentle hug. The Ultra Heel deserves a special mention because it was the element that I was the most unsure about, but once experiencing its comfort, it is the element that I appreciate the most and that really makes this shoe stand out amongst its competitors.

  • They come in different widths

Do you have wide feet? You are in luck! This shoe comes in different widths, so besides standard, you can get wide or extra wide fit (or even narrow fit for ladies). I have v9 in both standard and wide fit, so I went for standard fit in v10. The upper is really stretchy, so while I should have probably gone for wide fit, the standard fit does not bring me any discomfort whatsoever.

  • They are light

You will notice immediately that for a cushioned shoe the 1080v10 is surprisingly light. It makes a noticeable difference. While they don’t give you that spring and bounce racing shoes do, running in them feels somewhat effortless so they are perfect for those long easy run.

  • They seem fairly water resistant

I normally get my shoes soaking wet as soon as I get out of the door, but my 1080v10 seem to manage water really well. I intentionally ran through deep puddles and while they got wet inside, they never felt like I’m running with an entire pond in my shoes (which often is the case with other shoe types). Also, I just ran on snow and ice, and they had a very good grip which is an unexpected bonus because who wants to land on their backside. right?

  • The design

While they look good overall, the design is okay…just okay. I have absolutely nothing negative to say, it just feels like they lack a little bit of oomph, something that makes them extra special and memorable. (Arguably, the Ultra Heel is the one feature that stands out.) But since mine are already covered in mud, who am I to complain? ๐Ÿ™‚

Finally, some specs:

Type: Neutral

Heel drop: 8mm

Surface: Road

Weight: 280g (M) / 238g (F)

My size UK 7.5 B (standard lady fit) was 258g. (I am very much tempted to start an investigation into what sizes is the weight data based on and whether this is standardised across shoe types and brands…)

Cushion: maximum, Fresh Foam midsole

Price: ยฃ135, but available cheaper on Amazon and websites like SportsShoes or Wiggle.

Overall verdict is that this shoe is a real mile-cruncher that keeps you going while making sure your feet are comfortable. (I tested them on recent a half marathon.) I will definitely run all my easy long runs in them and am confident that they can take one comfortably through a marathon.

Hmmm marathon….that reminds me I haven’t run one for a few months. *Starts planning a marathon route.*

Thanks for reading and pop your NB 1080v10 opinion in the comments below or let me know on Instagram!

Welcome to Lockdown 2.0

Itโ€™s fair to point out that this lockdown is little less lockdowny that the previous lockdown. Apart from toilet rolls availability (yay!), the main difference is that schools are staying open so the joy of getting stuck in school run traffic is here to remain. Also this time, we know what to expect which isn’t necessarily a good thing. The financial impact aside, just like last time, the more extraverted you are, the more you are likely to suffer in the next four weeks. Socialising in pubs and cafes with friends? Forget it. Going out for a meal? Dream on! (Ahhh, remember the good times of Eat Out to Help Out scheme?) Non-essential shopping therapy? Not a chance.

For me as a busy parent and an introvert, very little has changed, but I know many people who struggle greatly with the idea of being limited by the lockdown rules for another four weeks (minimum).

Given the change of season and cold weather, it is going be so easy to give in to self-pity, TV, booze and take-outs. Besides, we have cleaned, reorganised and decorated every inch of the house during the previous lockdown, so what’s left to do other than binge watch Netflix and try to survive until the pubs open again, right?

But how about living, rather than surviving? I mean, you have nearly a month of “solitude” so why not emerge on the other end as your better self, rather than someone who earned a million Pizza Hut loyalty points and is a Tiger King expert (is that show still a thing?). This is your chance to surprise the world and exit the lockdown smarter/faster/stronger/leaner/healthier…

Let’s be realistic – it would be extremely difficult to get a six pack in four weeks, but you can start creating positive habits that will continue when lockdown is over. Go for a walk or a run (and bring a friend along because Boris allowed you to), do that online course, start cooking healthy (no, no more banana loaf!), meditate, embark on a push-up challenge…do whatever it is you always wanted to do. Because just surviving is not good enough. So many people would love to have more time in the world and they don’t. You do. So don’t you dare insulting them with this “just surviving” nonsense. Time is precious. So whatever it is you always wanted to do – start now! As in N-O-W. Chop chop!

I ran 11 miles today so if you excuse me, I shall put my feet up and enjoy my well-deserved Friday feeling. Looking forward to hearing all about your lockdown activities and if you need a kick in the bumbum, I’m here to help (=annoy you) as always! ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜Ž

The return of the segment ninja :)

It’s a common knowledge that I used to hate running (and sports in general). I was a nerdy kid. I wore old-fashioned clothes and read Harry Potter while J. K. Rowling still lived in a cardboard box and The Witcher before it was translated to English. Perhaps it was all the books, or perhaps something else, but I always felt very much limited by the streets of my home town. I felt I didn’t belong there because the town just didn’t get me. I was freaked out by the possibility that I would lead a little life locked in the cage of “normality”. So when the first opportunity presented itself, I ran (not literally because at that time I still hated running).

That was over 17 years ago. Since then I have been all around the world and have done and experienced more than some (most?) will do in their entire lifetime. Whenever I have (briefly) returned to my home town, I felt proud because each time I came back crowned by another little success (whether it was a uni degree, a new job, or a different country I have visited/lived in). Today I have returned once again, for a brief time as usual because I am afraid that if I stay too long the town will cage me and lock me up. Today, when I returned it was different than any other time in the past.

First of all, I started the day with an epic segment session when I smoothly took all the Strava segments in the neighbourhood. Given the fact that I was nothing but a nerdy unfit kid when I left, being able to comfortably outrun any female Strava users in the area is just something that blows my mind. And that’s not all. It’s not just the running side of it. This time I arrived back to my home town with a full house….wait….a royal flipping flush in my hand. For the first time in my life I feel like I have it all. Did I mention I run fast? Yeah, that. Plus I feel healthy and great and fit. I have an awesome kid (=an annoying little bugger). I work for the most British airline (for now….loving the furlough life). I live at a place that feels like real home. I have friends I can count on and belong to a supportive community of like-minded nutters (runners). I feel content and at peace. And I have finally met the man of my dreams, although I had very little dreams left in that department and was certainly not looking for any man at all.

So this geeky kid that took a risk 17 years ago, came back to her home town knowing it was all worth it (yes, it was bloody hard work) and that she finally has it all.

“Feeling lucky” does not even come close to describing how fortunate and grateful I consider myself. So maybe, just maybe, this all means that if you keep the faith through the tough times and take some risks instead of following the easy path, you’ll be rewarded for it in a much better way than you can ever imagine ๐Ÿ™‚

My running milestone

I just ran 1000 miles!

Obviously not in one go. I ran 1000 miles since the start of 2020. Just to put it into perspective, the previous year I ran 392 miles in total, so I am very proud of myself right now.

Just like going from no running to some running 3 years ago has changed my life, the big mileage increase has changed my life yet again. 2020 is considered to be a horrendous year with a huge amount challenges that affected pretty much everyone, including myself. I used running as an excellent way to put my life problems into perspective…or to avoid them completely (whichever way you want to look at it). In the process I found friendship and love, peace of mind, some confidence, massive gratitude and joy, and most importantly an ability to share it with others.

However clichรฉ it sounds, every single one of those miles helped me become a better person, not just physically but also on so many different levels. I feel really fond of all my miles because they are full of memories – memories of joy, of greeting strangers with a smile, getting thumbs up from passersby as well as being frowned upon, feeling free as well as struggling, loving life as well as wanting to give up, being soaked, lost, sweaty, euphoric, exhausted, determined… It definitely was more than mere exercise. For me, it was (and is) a means of soul searching and finding myself…and I sure do like the person I have found in me.

Let me leave you with my variation on famous Proclaimers’ lyrics:

I just ran a thousand miles, and I will run a thousand more.

Here is to running! Whatever your motive is – just keep going!

#13x13challenge with buggy: the end of the journey

Last day: 13 June 2020

Miles: 27.4

Total miles: 186.4 in 13 days

Highlight of the run: Too many highlights! It was so much fun! Also, this was my longest run ever. I feel on the top of the world!

After my half marathon no12 I had only one more left to do the following day. As I was finishing no12 I asked myself “Can I go and do the same distance right away?” The answer was (surprisingly) yes. So then it was a no-brainer. For me personally, meeting expectations is almost disappointing; I have this curse of always trying to exceed any kind of expectation. So I decided to do a marathon instead of a half. And as I am easily seduced when it comes to running activities, I was quids in when a fellow Dasher suggested a route that would be 27miles+. Thanks Steve!

It was actually Steve’s idea. I had nothing to do with it (cough)

I just can’t help it. I always like beating my yesterday self. You should try it sometimes (while remaining sensible please) – attempt to do something that will make you feel proud. Achieving something you were unsure you can achieve transforms your life – it makes you believe – it gives you pride – it raises your self-esteem – it makes you love yourself – it helps you make the right choices going forward, and most importantly – it inspires other people to do the same. And if each of us inspire someone, we will transform this world into a much brighter and happier place. Peace & love!

PS: MASSIVE thanks for all the positive comments, encouragement, support and also sponsoring my challenge! You are wonderful!

PPS: Any ideas for my next challenge? ๐Ÿ˜‰

#13x13challenge with buggy: Day 12

Date: 12 June 2020

Miles today: 13.1

Total miles: 159

Highlight of the run: New trainers! They arrived only yesterday but were needed so badly that they completed their first half marathon only 14 hours after getting un-boxed.

Today I was exploring Burnham Beeches. I cannot believe I have lived so close to so many gorgeous places that I have never been to. It took a pandemic and silly running challenge to actually start discovering my area. I even made it to a different county!

I have really enjoyed my daily half marathons for many many reasons, but perhaps the top reason is that every new run is a sort of an adventure. You never know who you’ll bump into – a fellow Datchet Dasher, a hot topless runner (I wish) or a lorry driver stopping his truck in the middle of traffic lights to give you a parenting advice (yes, that actually happened). Every morning when leaving my house for a run I was excited about all the adventures that are waiting for me. And there were loadssss of them! Like for instance today – if you heard screams in Burnham Beeches, it was me trying to shake huge ants off my pants. Note to self: watch where you pee…

Now I shall retire and rest because tomorrow is the last day of my running challenge and I wouldn’t want to let you down, would I? Huge thanks for your incredible support and for sponsoring my runs. I’ll check in tomorrow once I conquer my 13×13 challenge. And watch out – there might just be one cute little rabbit left to be pulled out of my hat… ๐Ÿ˜‰

#13x13challenge with buggy: Day 11

Date: 11 June 2020

Miles today: 13.1

Windsor Castle

Total miles: 145.9

Highlight of the run: Despite weather forecast, we miraculously managed to stay dry on yesterday’s and today’s run. I actually enjoy running in the rain, my child less so.

I โค๐Ÿ•

Day 11 and I’m losing it. It’s like my entire world consists of running, thinking about running, talking about running, planning runs, rolling on a foam roller and listening to Baby Shark. Yes, that’s correct. Baby Shark. Dooo dooo dooo dooo dooo. My son is normally very lively, so he knows he can have and do anything that will keep him happy and still in the running buggy. So when he requests to watch a one hour (one hour!!!) YouTube video with Baby Shark on repeat, who am I to say no?

Apologies if you expected a daily dose of running wisdom. There isn’t any. Apart from the obvious – do NOT listen to Baby bloody Shark for an hour straight. Just don’t. Because if you do, dooo dooo dooo dooo dooo… ๐Ÿฆˆ

#13x13challenge with buggy: Day 10

Date: 10 June 2020

Miles today: 13.25

Total miles: 132.7 and counting

Highlight of the run: Apart from running with my lovely fellow Dasher Louise, the other highlight was exploring Harmondsworth Moor which is quite literally next to my work but I never got the opportunity to discover all of it. Gorgeous spot!

Miss you British Airways ๐Ÿ˜˜

Doing my little #13x13challenge I am lucky to get loads of praise that includes me being called amazing, inspirational and even a “remarkable athlete” (which is my favourite one as I hardly think of myself as an athlete, never mind a remarkable one). While snooping through Strava today, I came across this mad woman who does ridiculous mileage, and a half marathon is just her every day warm up. What I am trying to say – if you are trying your best, don’t let anyone make you feel like that’s not enough. The only person you should compare yourself to is your past self. And make sure you are better than that person! Whether it means running your first mile, getting your 5K under 25 mins, or aiming for your first ultra – it is always an amazing achievement as long as you give it your all.

So give it your all! ๐Ÿ™‚

#13x13challenge with buggy: Day 9

Date: 09 June 2020

Miles today: 13.1

Total miles: 119.5

Highlight of the run: I survived it! And had to wait for baby geese to cross the path ๐Ÿ˜ Cuteness overload!

Jubilee River + baby geese

I was wondering how many half marathons will I get to do before I start struggling. The answer is 9. It was everything but easy peasy today. I woke up feeling like someone took my body apart and reassembled it in a dodgy way. If I listed everything that hurts, we would be here forever, so let me just highlight that I found out that elbows can hurt (from taking turns with a buggy with a fixed wheel) and also discovered a painful lump in my groin. Oh yay! ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

Strangely enough, I am happy to be struggling, because I was starting to get worried that I can do 13 half marathons in 13 days easily, and that would be just disappointing. The point of a challenge is that it’s difficult. If it was easy, it wouldn’t be a challenge. So now, finally, this is starting to get a bit more interesting! What will it feel like tomorrow I wonder? Will I catch a second (actually third) breath or will I shuffle like a zombie? Who knows. Whichever it is, I am already excited to find out because that’s all part of my 13×13 challenge, just like pain is part of being alive….and I surely prefer being alive, over not being alive. So here’s to pain! ๐Ÿ˜‰