Category Archives: Fitness

How I Fell In Love With HIIT.

From the start of the year, I have drifted away slightly for the gym setting and because I was starting to run more, I felt like because I was running, I didn’t necessarily have to go to the gym as often. This Summer, I have incorporated a new workout structure into my routine, HIIT and that’s what today’s post is all about.

pexels-photo-866021(Photograph from Pexels.com)

If you don’t know what HIIT is (I’m sure most of you do though) it stands for high intensity interval training and according to Wikipedia, “is a form of interval training, a cardiovascular exercise strategy alternating short periods of intense anaerobic exercise with less intense recovery periods”. I had heard of HIIT before, it’s all over the internet at the minute so I wasn’t completely oblivious to it but it never occurred to me to add it in on a regular basis. Scott had originally shown me a workout or two and at the time, it completely exhausted me but I loved it. It was the first time in a long time where it had the same impact that running had, so thinking back now, it seems very strange that I didn’t keep it up.

As I mentioned at the beginning, my usage of the gym had slipped from the beginning of the year and because I was started to run more, it almost gave me the excuse not to use the gym as often as I should. My motivation had started to lower severely over the last few months too so that also became a factor for me.

So what prompted my interest in HIIT workouts again? Well, one of my favourite Instagrammers at the minute is @steffi_loves, a local personal trainer in Belfast who not only is one of the sweetest women you’ll see on Instagram (and real life) but she is incredibly motivating when it comes to fitness. She records her own fitness workouts for her website and Instagram and doesn’t make it seem like the toughest thing in the world to do either. She had announced that she was hosting a HIIT session with a brunch afterwards and I’m all about a good brunch so I decided to sign up. I was going through a period (and if I’m being honest, I still am) of low self-confidence so I was more nervous than I was excited, but I knew that if I wanted to get over that hurdle, I had to make myself uncomfortable, even if it was just for a morning.

pexels-photo-868757(Photograph from Pexels.com)

I don’t tend to go to a lot of group exercise classes, I prefer to workout on my own but after a while, I felt very at ease. At my local gym, when I hear group classes going on, there seems to be quite a lot of shouting from the instructor and that’s what puts me off. If I wanted to be shouted at, I would shout at myself, I don’t expect someone else to do it for me. I understand the reasons behind it; it’s meant motivate people to work out harder but it does the opposite for me. It simply makes me more annoyed and want to quit. Thankfully Stefanie wasn’t like this at all and I believe that was one of the biggest reasons why I enjoyed the class so much.

Now unfortunately I can’t remember how many or all the names of the exercises we did on the day but if you’re looking for exercises to put together yourself, you can check Stefanie’s website or there are hundreds of resources online. For our class however, we did a body weight circuit with thirty seconds on and fifteen seconds off then we repeated that three times with a minute and a half break in between. Once that was done, we completed a ten minute cool down with cardio mixed in there but some stretches too. It was such a fantastic class and it gave me the same exhaustion that running did, so I knew something had really clicked.

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(One of the first HIIT sessions I did on my own after going to Steff’s class)

My set-up is very simple at the minute but I don’t think it needs to be complicated. I choose to do these workouts in the gym but they are so easy to do at home too. All I need is a mat or a soft floor then depending on the body part I’m focusing on, some hand weights too. That’s it, it really is that simple.

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(One of my most recent HIIT sessions focusing on the arms.)

It has really changed the way I look at my fitness performance. When I first started the gym around five years ago, I wouldn’t leave until I had at least completed an hour worth of exercise and I felt like I had to hit a certain amount of calories before I had left. Back then, I didn’t really know that the calories on the machine weren’t that accurate and I thought the longer you worked out, the better it was for you. I was very wrong but thankfully over the years, I have started to become more knowledgeable about fitness and how you should pair different machines with different body parts that you want to focus on. I’ve discovered this year that I have completely fallen in love with both running and HIIT and while I know I can’t workout this way every single day because your body does need recovery, it’s nice to know that I’m still learning about my body and the way certain exercise can impact it.

Thank you for reading today’s post; I’m really excited that I have become passionate about using the gym again and HIIT training has changed the way I workout as well as giving me that little kick up the butt that I needed when it came to fitness.

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Not Eating Enough Before A Race.

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We all have our different opinions on how we like to train; some prefer a fasted run, others can’t train without having something in their stomach. For me, I thought I had eaten enough before a race but today’s post is all about my experience when I realised I hadn’t.

In the middle of June, I took part in the Lisburn 10K race which I recently posted about and I was so incredibly happy with the experience because I got a personal best. However, what I didn’t write about was what happened an hour or two later because I thought it deserved a post of it’s own.

This had been my first evening race and because it was in Lisburn, it wasn’t a case of being able to go home for dinner first so I thought I had planned out my food quite well for that day. I had my bagel and smoothie as normal for breakfast, my lunch was a Thai curry that Scott had made me the day before and I grabbed a snack at around 3:30pm. I certainly wasn’t hungry so I thought I was okay and I didn’t get hungry until after the race.

We got the train home from Lisburn and while I was tired, I was fine. We jumped on the bus from town to where we live and I started to feel iffy on the bus but I wasn’t sure why. I had eaten some dark chocolate on the way home to have some sugar in my system (The bars they were handing out at the finishing line weren’t gluten free) so I didn’t think food had anything to do with it. My body could have been in shock because I pushed it very hard or because our bus driver was driving fast, that could have set me off.

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Our bus took less than ten minutes to get from the city centre to where we were getting off and I started to feel slightly worse. I couldn’t feel my fingers and my legs became tingly; as soon as we came off the bus, I had to go and sit at the bus stop and the tingling got worse. I couldn’t stand up, I couldn’t feel Scott’s hand and my head felt very fuzzy. I had no idea what was happening and that’s when Scott asked me what I had had to eat that day, so I told him and he said I hadn’t eaten enough and my body had used up almost all my energy running that my body was going into shock.

I went from being hungry on the train home to not wanting to touch anything. Once we got back to Scott’s house, he lay me down and got me to drink diluted juice and asked me to eat a Nakd bar. I had one bite of the bar and thought I was going to throw up (I love them any other time!) I could stomach the juice but it was about ten more minutes before the tingling feeling went away. I had never experienced anything like that before in terms of running so I started to panic thinking “was it going happen again?” Scott told me it’s happened to him before and I had no reason to panic but to make sure I eat enough next time.

While it was a scary experience, it’s definitely made me more aware of my food intake before any type of training. If I train in the morning, I’m normally fine fasting but if it’s anything in the afternoon or in the evening, I know that I need to leave around two hours for my food to settle. I possibly should have had a very early dinner at 4pm instead so while the race started at 7pm, it would still be sitting in my stomach.

I’m interested in any tips that anyone has that could help me in the future (apart from eating more, of course) or if you have any experiences around this subject that you think would be useful, please let me know. Thank you so much for reading! 

 

 

 

Lisburn 10K and Half Marathon (2018).

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It’s been a little while since I posted a running update on the blog, hasn’t it? I’m not down and out quite yet, in fact I’m getting my running mojo back slowly but surely so today’s post is all about the Lisburn 10K and Half Marathon that I completed on Wednesday 20th June. 

My last official race was the Titanic Quarter 10K on Sunday 8th April so it’s only been two months which is shorter than I first anticipated. I had been eyeing up the Lisburn 10K for a while and originally, I thought Scott would want to do the half marathon, so completing the race on my own didn’t seem too daunting. Luckily for me, he was interested in doing the 10K along with me, so that was lovely. 

Despite Lisburn being very close to Belfast, it’s not somewhere I would think to go. I’m not sure why but it was labelled as a “fast and flat route” (Side note: it was not flat) so I wanted to give it a go because Scott said numbers wise, it always gets a lot of participants. Based on my past experience with crowds I was initially very hesitant but I feel like I’ve come such a long way that I wasn’t too worried about suffering a panic attack (unlike the Connswater 5K if you remember) 

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The race didn’t start on time but in my very small experience with events like this, I wasn’t too surprised but when you’re standing around in just a t-shirt because you know you will get warm during your run, you start to get a little chilly at the start line. We placed ourselves in the middle  of the crowd but it didn’t make much difference because everyone is free to run around you if needs be. 

It was advertised as a flat and fast route and while I appreciate it’s not as steep as certain parts of the older Belfast Marathon, it certainly wasn’t flat. There were a few hills on the backroads of Lisburn and while I don’t know how many there were, the last one was the biggest struggle but that is no surprise, is it? The last hurdle is always the hardest.  

It was nice to run with Scott again because we hadn’t been for a run together in a long time and admittedly, this is completely my fault. By the time I get home from work and my constant tiredness, I really struggle to go out for a run and I know he tells me it’s okay, I feel like I’m letting him down. I run on my own when I feel like I can so it was nice to run with him again. Unfortunately, at around 1.5K Scott started to get uncomfortable and his calf started to give him trouble so he pulled away to the side and told me to run on. I wouldn’t have minded waiting with him as he stretched it but he insisted. I hadn’t brought headphones with me because I knew we were running together but in the end, I’m glad I was forced not to listen to anything but my own breath. In the past, I’ve struggled controlling my breathing and because it’s such an important aspect, that’s when I tend to have panic attacks. Thankfully, I managed okay with zero sound in my ear and even though I was on my own, there were always people around me so I didn’t feel left behind by the crowd. 

I started to get uncomfortable at around 7K which is a huge achievement for me because not only was my body able to hold out for that long, I was able to do so mentally too. If you’ve read previous running posts, you’ll know that the mental capacity of running is something I used to struggle with quite a lot. My body never gets tired first strangely, it’s always my head but at around the 7K mark, they both hit me at the same time and it was tough because at that point, I had just seen that there was another hill upon me. Thankfully the block didn’t hold on for too long but it did come back at just after the 8K mark and it didn’t seem to shift from that point. I’m proud of myself though because before I would have let that get to me and I would start to panic but it wasn’t the case this time.  

temporary_file174213193.jpg(The complete route on Strava.)

I powered through when I seen the corner to the finishing line and I wish I would have had the strength to steam through faster further away from the gate but I just couldn’t. However, as soon as I entered the finishing gates, I bolted for my life and once I crossed it, it was endorphins that came out of nowhere. I became exhausted and I could feel it was the hardest I had ran in a long time. I stopped my Strava as soon as I crossed the line to see 01:04:18 and I can’t describe how happy I felt. Did I really just do a 10K in one hour and four minutes? I managed to beat my Titanic Quarter 10K time by three minutes despite all the hills that were added to this race. I was over the moon and I knew that I earned that time.  

IMG-20180620-WA0004-01.jpeg(Scott and I with our medals!)

I really enjoyed this race and I would be very interested in taking part next year because it was such a lovely atmosphere, it wasn’t overly competitive from where I was and it certainly put you through your paces but in a good way. Thank you so much for reading! 

 

 

 

Titanic Quarter 10K (2018) Race Day!

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If you’ve been reading the blog regularly, you’ll know that recently I was training for my next 10K, the Titanic Quarter 10K in Belfast. Well, that race took place on Sunday 8th April and today I’m going to tell you all about it. 

(If you want to catch up on my previous posts first, I’ll have them linked at the bottom of the page!) 

That morning, I was really nervous and quite panicky. I didn’t want to have breakfast because I felt a little ill but I knew that it would be a horrible idea not to have breakfast before a race, so I forced myself to eat. I had so many nerves because in my first 5K race, I had a few panic attacks and when we had done the trial run of the Titanic route, I had a slip up in terms of my anxiety and I started to panic. So understandably, I wasn’t surprised I was nervous. 

IMG-20180408-WA0009.jpg(Pre-race smiles!)

We hadn’t picked our packs up beforehand so we arrived there earlier than usual to make sure we weren’t running behind and to give us good time to pick up the packs. We weren’t expecting to get our t-shirt before the race so we kept our regular t-shirts on and put them in Scott’s bag instead. From what Scott said, they had changed the route slightly from the last time he had taken part, but he said that it was a better route than before. We started out in front of the famous Titanic Belfast so if you were a vistor to the city, it would have been the perfect opportunity to see a tourist attraction. 

I was nervous up until we all started to run, I don’t know why but I have the “first run” fear when I think I’m going to be out of breath in ten seconds, which is crazy because I know I can run a fair distance and be absolutely fine. Once we started though, I was fine. We stayed pretty much at the back from the beginning because we thought I might get caught up in a big crowd and run faster than I should be at the beginning, then be completely exhausted half way through. We were able to pass people easily because we had started at the back, but passing people was the furthest from my mind.  

27467803848_0f1d1a6b91_b-01.jpeg(Photo credit to Athletics NI who managed to get a running shot of me that I’m pretty pleased with.)

I didn’t take any photographs when we were running; I don’t mind stopping while I’m running but for me, it’s different if I’m taking part in a run. Fortunately for me, the Titanic Quarter route is not a scenic one so there weren’t many opportunities for photographs. It’s a fairly boring route to say the least but I’m very glad I had ran it beforehand so I knew what to expect. I think that was part of my problem with the Connswater 5K race; I hadn’t ran it before so I didn’t know when we were turning, and especially with a large crowd, I got myself worried with the uncertainty.  

temporary_file1992367241.jpg(This is the map taken from my Strava so if you know Belfast, you’ll know the route we were following.)

Generally over the course of the race, I felt fine. I had one moment where I thought I might panic but I was able to catch myself fast enough to pace my breathing so I ended up not freaking out. I wasn’t overly exhausted, I knew physically I was fine but about half way through the race, I knew that my mental energy was draining fast. I don’t know how many times I said “I can do this” inside my head, but it was a hell of a lot and it seemed to work. The weather was nice to us, the sun wasn’t splitting the trees but it wasn’t cold either. I’m glad I put my coat in Scott’s bag or I would have been sweating buckets. 

Towards the very end of race, we could see the finish line and I knew I wanted to get there as soon as I could. I had started to speed up but I asked Scott was I going too fast too soon and he said yes, so I scaled it back a little until I knew I could really speed up. For this race, I wasn’t aiming for a time, time did not matter at this point because my main aim was to finish. I finished up with a time of 01:07:35 which was naturally, I was over the moon with. 

IMG-20180408-WA0005-01.jpeg(Post-race smiles with our medals.)

Looking back, I wish I had have been able to do a little more training leading up to the race but with a sore toe and the snow disrupting the first few months of the year, it was out of my control. I guess that’s what happens with races during the start of the year, right? Apart from that hiccup, I’m really happy with how it all went and I think I’ll be sticking with 10K distances for a little while before attempting a half marathon distance. I want to try and improve my timing before I try that. 

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post today and as I mentioned at the beginning, if you missed any of my running posts, I’ll have the most recent ones linked below. 

Training for a 10K Race: Wait, again? 
Training for a 10K Race: Three Loops and One Long Run. 
Training for a 10K Race: One Last Check In. 

Training for a 10K Race: One Last Check In.

If you’ve been following this particular running journey for the last few posts, you’ll know that I’m running a 10K race on 8th April which means that this will be my last running update before that race. I understand that there hasn’t been that many but even in these few posts, my running ability has grown massively and I couldn’t be prouder. 

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We’ll start off with St. Patrick’s Day; not an occasion I celebrate personally but I knew I had to work for a few hours that day so I wanted to get out and get some exercise done, so I planned out my usual loop route that I had ran quite a number of times last month. It wasn’t a particular warm day but it wasn’t the coldest one that we had been seeing a lot. However, this was the first run in a while where I didn’t stop once (apart from to take a few photographs) and I was so happy about it because it was a battle that I kept losing, but not this time. 

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My next run was a much earlier run because even though I was off all week, I wanted to make the most of the mornings and I knew I was going for brunch with a friend so it made sense to head out early. I done something on this run that I had never tried before, it was unplanned. Now, maybe that doesn’t seem strange to many of you but I liked to know the exact distance and the exact route of each run because sometimes I find it hard not being in control especially in running circumstances. However, I went by the words of this quote “Change begins at the end of your comfort zone.” and it seemed to work wonders. If you know Belfast, I ran down the Shore Road into Belfast, down at the Lagan Weir, crossing the bridge and up by the BT Tower and back into the city centre before making my way back up the Shore Road. Again, I had no concept of the distance at this stage and it was only when I arrived home, I stopped Strava and realised the time and the distance. While the distance wasn’t ground-breaking for me, I was over the moon that I was able to run and not have a plan in place. Much like the last run, I didn’t feel the need to stop except to get a few photographs, but that was it. 

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I stuck with the previous comfort zone quote and went one further with my next run. This was quite a few days later because on the same day, as well as running the 8.4K, I also clocked up over 30,000 steps. My feet did not love me for a few days so I had to take it easy. Back on Saturday I woke up early again with the intention of another early morning run and had the same mindset of not planning out my route, so that’s what I did. The only difference with this however, if you see by the map, I didn’t run through the city centre streets and when I was coming back home, I ran the opposite way to what I would have done in previous runs through the industrial estate. This one tired me out but I stopped two or three times which I was happy with because I knew that it was going to be a slightly longer distance than last time, I just didn’t know by how much. I was running back home and I knew I was near the street where I had to turn off and I looked at my phone and it said “10.9K”. My first thought was “Oh my god, I’m almost at 11K” and my second thought was “I’m almost at 11K, I can’t stop until I get there” so I didn’t. I ran 11K and as soon as I hit that mark, Strava was stopped. You have no idea how happy I was! It was my longest distance, I didn’t think the time was too bad either and I had a runners high.  

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Now because I’m still a new runner, you would think that after my longest distance, I would take a day off. Scott and I had set a plan up to go and try out the route for our 10K race coming up and I didn’t want to cancel on him, because we hadn’t been able to run together for a few weeks. Unfortunately, my “comfort zone” came to a standstill and a number of issues popped up for me. This could have happened for a number of reasons but my guessing is that because I had ran the day before, I was physically and mentally exhausted. I got into a major panic at about the 6K mark, I had zero fight left in me and I wanted to stop and cry, and I almost did. It was not a nice run at all, I’m hoping that now I know the route and the markers that on the day itself, I’ll be okay but that’s a huge worry for me now. On our first 5K race together, I had several panic attacks and cried while running and I don’t know if I could deal with that again. If it does happen, I’ll have to strongly consider whether running in races is for me but we’re going to cross our fingers that it doesn’t. Once we finished, I was so glad and Scott said for the distance I had ran the day before, he was surprised that I kept my pace up at a good rate. If I took anything away from that trial run, it was that.  

Despite my bumpy last run, I can say that I am proud of myself. Last year I doubted I could run more than 5K without getting tired and now I’m running further at 11K. I’m still breaking down that mental barrier that my head and my feet play with each other but that’s not something that is easy to do with a few runs. It will take many more months but I know it is getting better, one blip doesn’t mean I’m back at square one. 

If you’ve missed my last two posts on my latest race, I’ll leave them linked below. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post today, I really do appreciate it 💕 

Training for a 10K Race: Wait, again?
Training for a 10K Race: Three Loops and One Long Run.

Training for a 10K Race: Three Loops and One Long Run.

Recently I wrote about signing up to my second official 10K race and in that post, I said I would write about my running progress every two weeks, so that’s what I’m doing today.

Altogether over the last two weeks, I’ve had four successful runs. Ideally, I would like to get about six in but four isn’t bad considering the amount of bad weather and snow we have had. These four runs consisted of three loops around the same area and one long run so I’ll start with the three loops first.

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This particular loop Scott introduced me to and it had daunted me because it’s around an industrial estate that I didn’t know too well but once I had been around it a few times, I knew what turns to take and knew when to cross over. When I ran with him, he stopped us at the 5K mark so I could mark my timing correctly and see how well I was doing. However, when I ran on my own, I decided to start a little further back than the last time and I ran past the last point, so what first became 5K then became 6.5K. I didn’t realise I had added an extra 1.5K to the route entirely.

Saturday Afternoon Loop Route

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This run was my favourite run out of the three, mainly because this was the first day of sunshine we had seen in weeks and it was when I discovered I had added on an extra 1.5K so I was over the moon. In terms of pace, I find it very difficult to determine my speed if Scott isn’t there. I never know if I’m going too fast or too slow because he keeps me in line but this is something I’m trying to work on. I may have went overboard on my running gear on this run, I knew it was sunny yet I continued to wear my warm hat and my fleece coat so I was half way done with the run and I was so sweaty. I got about three quarters of the way finished and that’s when the mental battle started because you would think that when I knew I was nearly done, I would push through to tell myself I’m “almost there”. That’s where my head differs, it does the opposite and makes me feel like quitting at the last hurdle. Understandably, I was running then walking for twenty seconds and then back to running, I had a few of these periods towards the end. This is another issue I want to work on because this could potentially hold me back from breaking personal best times and I don’t want that to happen of course.

Tuesday Evening Loop Route

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Tuesday evening’s run went quite well but there was a significant difference in this one and the one on Saturday afternoon, I hadn’t worked on Saturday so understandably, I was feeling tired from work but I pushed myself out of the door anyway and the majority of the time, I am always glad that I do. I wrapped up warm for this run because it wasn’t a nice sunny day and it was a very cold night, but by the end, I was very sweaty. I earned every little sweat drop though! I was over a minute slower than the previous run which I tried not to be too disappointed with and I did slow down towards the end (just like the previous run) and that currently held my time back too. Apart from those few points, it was a good run.

Sunday Morning Loop Route

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Fresh early Sunday morning air. I want to say that I was running at around half seven on a lovely fresh Sunday morning which was so refreshing. I absolutely love running at that time because your body hasn’t quite woken up so it gives you an extra boost and that certainly helped me time wise with this. While I still had the mental block towards the end of the route, this was my fastest solo time on this route so far and I couldn’t have been more pleased.

Last but not least is my big run for the two week period. The full 10K, now it might sound strange that I’m running 10K distances even though this training series is for the purpose of training for a 10K race. Well, fortunately I know that I’m perfectly capable of running that distance but I have a number of objectives. I want to track my progress for this race like I was meant to for my last race, I also want to get better time and pace wise because that is something I can aim for.

Belfast City Centre to Dundonald (via Greenway)

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This 10K started in the centre of Belfast, around by the Lagan River, up towards the Albertbridge Road heading for Connswater and finally heading up to Bloomfield Avenue where I knew there was continuing part of the Comber Greenway. I don’t know where the Connswater Greenway starts in the centre of Belfast so for me, I knew that route from walking it a few times and I then began running on the Comber Greenway route. By the time I was getting on it, it was coming up to about half five and it wasn’t too dark but by the time I got to the end of it, it was considerably darker. I was still able to see and I thankfully didn’t need my head torch but it was cutting it close. If you’ve never been on this particular Greenway, it’s not very well lit and the only light you really have is in front of you when you can see the next set of traffic lights so it’s quite closed off apart from coming up to the next stop.

There were a few obstacles for me on this run. Firstly, I was heading to an appointment back where I used to live so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to run back there. In doing that however, I had a backpack with me filled with my work clothes and everything that I take to work. Mind you, it wasn’t very heavy but it still had some weight in it and it was on my back the whole time. Another obstacle was again, the mental block but it didn’t seem to pop up as often as I thought it would, it still popped up here and there but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I over dressed for this run again, I would say that it was even before the half way point where I felt like I didn’t need my hat or my coat anymore but because my bag was so jam packed, my only option would have been to carry them in my hand and I didn’t want to weigh myself down further so they stayed on.

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The Comber Greenway is really gorgeous in the day time so I would be tempted to run down it more at the weekend during the day to build up my endurance because you don’t see the distance go in as much as you would if you were running up the main Newtownards Road right up until Dundonald, and it’s always nice to run with very pretty views, right?

That’s all for this fortnight’s running progress. As I said, I’m hoping to keep this up every two weeks until the race itself so I hope you’ll keep reading along with me. Thank you so much for reading!

Becoming Comfortable With Calling Myself A Runner.

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Over the last number of years, the term of “labels” or “labelling ourselves” have started a lot of conversations. Many people don’t like to label themselves because they find if they do that, they’re almost stuck in a box and they can’t veer out of it. I have been very open and honest when I have spoken about being vegan; initially I didn’t want to put that label on it and preferred to say I was eating a plant-based diet. By calling myself vegan, I thought I had to be perfect at it one hundred percent of the time and I was almost afraid if someone called me out on something I did wrong (especially if it was accidental). I am not longer afraid to call myself a vegan and I do when it’s brought up in conversation. I can understand completely that some people don’t think it’s appropriate to label themselves and I’m in no way dismissing that, everyone has the right to what they choose to call themselves (or not call themselves), I’m simply speaking about my experience and not only about how I choose to label myself but why it has been difficult for me. 

What am I? I am a woman. I am a daughter. I am a grand-daughter. I am a sister. I am a friend. I am a best friend. I am a girlfriend. I am partner. I am a work colleague. I am a vegan. I am in the media industry. I am a blogger. I am a gym go-er. I am a yogi. I am a learner. I am independent. All labels I am proud of. 

So why was it so hard to call myself a runner? Expectations were a huge barrier for me and it goes back to the point of putting too much pressure on myself and being worried I was going to be judged by other people. When I first started out I told myself that I won’t be a real runner until I can run a certain distance without stopping, so when I did that, I automatically told myself that I had to run further to be classed as a runner. When I ran that further distance, I told myself that I had to do it within a certain time, so again, when I did that, I told myself that a real runner would do it faster. I also told myself that I couldn’t be a runner until I ran in a race but then when I did, it still didn’t feel right. Without me explaining over a dozen scenarios that went through my head, you can see the pattern developing and it’s not a healthy one. 

Changing my mindset and perspective on this particular battle was hard, it really was. I like to think I’m determined (when I truly am passionate about something) and I have even been called stubborn. I’m not sure if stubborn is the right word but I believe when I want something, I work for it and I try not to ask for help along the way. In doing so, I’ve learned that sometimes you can’t do it all on your own and that in itself, has been a huge life lesson for me. 

victoria-wilson-1(Photography by Jess Lowe Photography)

Look at Olympic athletes, did I think they weren’t runners because they “only” ran 100m? Of course not. Did I think those who took part in a ParkRun weren’t runners because they weren’t hitting the specific time that I had in my head? Of course not. Did I think that runners were only “real” runners if they ran in official races? Of course not. So why did I think I wasn’t a runner? 

I was listening to an interview with Tim Ferriss; I’m a huge fan of his work when it talks about mindset and routines specifically. I know I’ve heard him say this quite a few times but I’m not sure if this is his quote or someone else’s but he says “Always try to be the weakest person in the room, in some aspect” It’s a valid point because if you’re always the strongest person in the room, I truly don’t believe you will learn anything from others because you are at the highest point and everyone is looking to you. Whereas, if you are the weakest person, you’re looking towards others for advice and education on whatever that particular subject is. So next time I’m taking part in a race or a ParkRun for example, I know I won’t be the strongest person there and I’ll be getting overtaken right, left and centre but I can only look at that as a positive rather than a negative. I’ll be picking up my pace and I’ll be looking at them to see if they’re using any techniques I haven’t used yet in order to improve my running ability. 

No matter how fast or slow I go and no matter how short or long the distance is, I am a runner and I am proud to call myself one.