Finding my strong

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Earlier this week the thought of having to pack all my things up, leave behind a newly fitted kitchen, and all I have invested (time and money) shocked me to the core. Then I realised that was all just ‘stuff’. It would be easy to think that the last 2 years have been a total waste of time, but I don’t see it like that. I’ve had the best of times and the worst of times, and I have been incredible fun and a nightmare. I’ve climbed mountains, run marathons, travelled, and found a job I’m happy with. I’ve picked myself up from rock bottom after choosing to move on from a life that others would give their right arm for but wasn’t right for me at the time, to be in happy place with myself. What it boils down to is that stuff doesn’t matter – people matter. There’s no point in me staying in a place where I’m not happy and the other person isn’t prepared to take me for who I am – an amazing/damaged/fragile/strong/intelligent/impetuous/determined/messy/loving person. I deserve the best I can get.

I could quite easily resort to eating pizza, drowning my sorrows with alcohol and foregoing my normal exercise regimen, but then the only person that hurts is me. So this week I have lifted weights, ran 13.5 miles, looked at flats, smiled and laughed with friends and family, discussed changes with work, sorted out unnecessary direct debits and I’m making a plan.

I’m focussing on the positives – the time on my own to do things that I haven’t done for ages: blog properly without question or guilt, workout every day, attend classes, learn a language, see friends, visit more places, go vegetarian and do precisely what I want.

This is my time now and I don’t want to waste a single second of it!

sian

Do what you love

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Since the London marathon, I have been struggling to get back the body and the fitness I had this time last year. I was lean, stronger and faster and, above all else, I was happier. I was training up to half marathons, running lots of 10ks and feeling good. BUT, I felt this need to sign up for a marathon. I got sucked in by the other runners at my club and people on Twitter and Facebook – I felt the pressure (albeit positive and well meaning) to join in. Thereafter followed boredom and misery for nigh on 6 months. I felt stressed and irritable, and I was a pain in the backside to be around. I irritated myself on pretty much a daily basis. I had turned into a marathon arsehole – I lived, breathed and slept marathons, and avoided socialising in case it interfered with the dreaded plan.

Then the RUNger set in (noun: the need to replenish energy stores used up after a long run with cake and shit food) and where once I had traces of abs trying to peak through, was a blob of gloop. In essence, marathon training had turned me into a blobby, slow and miserable loser.

Contrary to what others have said I would do, I haven’t come away from the marathon after all of that trauma and all-round bollox and thought ‘hey I’ll sign up for another one’; quite the opposite. I’ve looked at why I feel the need to self flagellate by signing up for things that are frankly horrible and not right for me, and I’ve looked at what I really want to do and what I enjoy. Life is supposed to be about fun after all, and that involves feeling good about ourselves and sharing that positivity with others.

Lately I have been indulging myself in pretty much anything I want to do and it’s been a huge amount of fun. I have been strength training daily with Julia Buckley‘s Extreme Inferno (more on that another time, but it’s great!) and my personal trainer, I’ve gone out and got drunk, I’ve learnt to love cycling and I’m going open-water swimming this week. I leave the watch at home and I’m ok with that.

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I may not be a marathon runner, but I’m a happy, strong and positive runner and that’s what matters to me.

sian

Back to Kilimanjaro

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On a rainy day in July 2010, I was sitting on the train reading the Metro (a free London commuter paper) and I saw a large Alzheimer’s Society advertisement for Kilimanjaro. For some reason this really sparked something inside of me and I immediately signed up on a whim. Apart from hiking boots, I didn’t have one single piece of hiking, camping, exercise-related kit so I had to buy everything from scratch. The other point to mention is that I was really quite unfit and overweight. I didn’t let that put me off though and I did do a lot of hiking training for the trip. When Kilimanjaro came around, it was probably all a bit too much for me – I wasn’t used to camping, not washing for days, drinking slightly murky tasting water and being away from home comforts.

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I was also carrying a bit more excess baggage than I should have been and the rest of it is pretty much a blur. I got quite bad altitude sickness and didn’t make the summit, and when I came back I was broken. For ages when people asked me about the trip and Kilimanjaro, I didn’t have a good word to say about it and now I’ve since realised it wasn’t the mountain I hated, but myself. What I did make though was huge changes to my life afterwards, which you can read about here. The shame and the disappointment kick started this love of exercise and travelling, and in that respect I am thankful, but I have unfinished business with that mountain…

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So I am taking my new-found confidence having taken on Toubkal, Mont Blanc and Elbrus to go back and face Kilimanjaro again, this time for pure fun! Now I know what to expect and I am better prepared. I know that I can do it and, importantly, I can enjoy it this time. I’m also going to make the most of being there by visiting the orphanage and going on safari.

This is who I am now, and I’ve got this!…

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I am climbing Kilimanjaro in August 2015 with Discover Adventure. Come and join me! x

sian

Triathlon training: Why I love cycling

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My Trek Lexa and I have had some fun lately She’s taken me much further than running ever could…

Cycling is scary, it’s complicated (well, for me it is because I previously hadn’t ridden a bike since 1993) and it hurts your bum. That was my previous assessment of cycling and why I got a bike and did nothing with it for a year. This year, after the marathon, I decided I needed to shake things up a bit and get out there doing other things as well as running. I dragged the boyfriend out with me as moral support and we took to the cycle path (one of the few good things about living in Bicester – sorry, Bicester village doesn’t count for locals) and then ventured out towards quieter roads in the surrounding villages. It took me a little while to get used to the gears (I think I have just cracked them now), mainly anticipating hills, getting the speed up and legs turning over, and getting in the right gear. Apart from at busy junctions where I am still really cautious (and rightly so!), the traffic hasn’t scared me as much as I thought it would.

What I love about cycling is the freedom it gives you – it can take you places much further and faster than running ever could. Yesterday I cycled to my work and back (70k, nearly 44 miles) as a test run. It was the furthest I’ve ever cycled in my life and I felt great. We stopped for a cheeky chocolate fudge cake in the local pub and headed back much faster than on the way there. Looking at the stats, we were flying along at 30k/h at one stage! When we started out yesterday I felt tired and my butt hurt at 3k – it didn’t bode well, but then I just got on and did it! I’m feeling so proud of myself today.

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I wanted to share with you some of the tips I have picked up along the way:

– Familiarise yourself with your bike before heading out – don’t do what I did here.

– Find a friend who is a reasonably confident cyclist and get them to cycle along a quiet road (or better still a cycle path) side by side with you to help you get used to the gears.

– Pick a short circular route to start with.

– Think ahead – drop it down into an ‘easy’ gear (ie, one that you can turn over quickly) when coming up to junctions, traffic, obstacles etc. That way, you can get away quicker and easier if you have to pull away from a standing start.

– If you can’t remember which gear is what, then try to logic it out. On my bike, I know that the easy gear (used on hills or at a junction) wiis the small switch (ie, easier to change), the harder gear (one you use on the flats) is harder to change (mine you have to push the break lever side ways). You don’t have to worry too much about the chain stresses as much with road bikes as they have fewer gears than mountain bikes so can readily switch among all the gears while you learn without consequence.

– If you’re in the wrong gear going up a hill, don’t sweat it – just cycle back down and start again.

– Attend a cycle maintenance course (this is next on my to-do list).

– Just go for it – don’t put it off until tomorrow, cycling is so much fun!

So this week I am putting on my clipless pedals and learning how to use them. 🙂

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I am training for the Tri For Life triathlon in September – a charity triathlon. You can sponsor me here.  I chose the tri for life triathlon as it looks perfect for beginners, it takes place in the stunning grounds of Woburn Abbey, and, as it happens, it’s organised by a small friendly team of people. It’s also a charity triathlon. It’s been ages since I’ve done anything for charity because running is something I just do it seems rude to ask for sponsorship. This, however, is a major challenge for me. I’ll be raising money for charities such as Great Ormond Street Children’s Charity, Rays of Sunshine and the Teenage Cancer Trust.

You can check out how the competition winners, Lucy and Lozza are getting on here and here.

sian