How Not to Run

I am a fat person.  I have been fat for as long as I can remember. There are pictures of me as a child that I can objectively say no I wasn’t fat but I was still considered overweight. I’m fairly sure lots of issues I have are all bound up in this. I also have a terrible relationship with food and that is something that has just always been the case. It has been with some trepidation at the age of 38 and at about twice the NHS recommended weight I decided that this realistically is my last big chance to do something.

I work in a school and I was lucky enough to be able to go on a trip to Reykjavik.  Whilst there we did a tonne of waking and fro the first time I really noticed that I struggled.  I hated that I wasn’t able to keep up and the tiredness that accompanied it.  I felt that I really had to do something.

Phase one was just going to the gym.  And I’ve been attending classes and doing cardio and I have been getting fitter and the weight has started to move.  One thing I found motivating whilst doing this was Zombies! Run.  I’ve completed the first season while walking but at the end of season one there are some longer distance missions and I thought it would take me forever to walk 20km so I decided that I needed to learn how to run and this is where the journey started.

I am following the Zombies! Run Couch to 5k plan because it works for me. I love the gentle encouragement, alongside the mild peril that the missions bring.  They give me a purpose to be doing this and I want to see it through.

I have reached week 7 in the eight week plan and I started on 24th July so I’m nine weeks in on my eight week plan and you know what I am more than okay with that. There have been a few sessions I have felt the need to run twice and I repeated week six in its entirety and I want to take stock of how I have got here.  Firstly there are days when I have to work hard to get out of the house because of the Fear. The Fear is that insidious voice that tries to persuade me to stay home because people will laugh at me. I’m a realist I have gotten abuse on the street so there has to be negotiation for me to get into the gym in the first place. I create my own zone to run in. I have my noise cancelling ear buds and I listen to cheesy eighties pop and that is my safe space no one can get to me in there.

I have learned to take it one session at a time.  I don’t look ahead because everything because insurmountable.  My running sessions are a practical lesson in mindfulness.  I am aware of every step I take and every inhalation/exhalation. I am the living embodiment of the Sting song. Being so rooted in what I am doing forces out any thoughts of work or other threats. I am fighting to keep on running to not give in and not die. You’d better believe that there is no small amount of pain involved and there are days when I feel that I can’t possibly get to the point where I can just run 5k.

That’s my goal though to run 5k and my last session was week 7 session two and I really was not feeling it.  I’ve had a rubbish couple of days at work where I’ve had some difficult and grown up decisions to make. I had some gentle encouragement from the boy and I went anyway.

Week 7 is tough.  It starts gently enough with a 10 minute brisk walk to lull you into false sense of security and then a 5 minute free form run all good. Next comes the run/skipping drills so I run for a minute and skip for 15 seconds and this is the killer after completing 5 reps of the drill I went into a second 5 minute free form run.  I had to give in at this point and walk for a minute near the start of that second 5 minute run because I was feeling it was too much but for the but one minute out of 17 running or skipping I felt that was still worth celebrating.  I also managed the following two free runs of 5 minutes.  This was my second session that followed the pattern and on the first attempt I was all over the place I couldn’t cope and I walked a lot more.The improvement between the sessions was incredible.  My goal for next time is to not have to walk at all after the skipping drills but we’ll see.

This feels like such a victory for me. I’ve learned some hard lessons particular in week 6 when I finally learnt how to pace myself to ensure I could finish strongly when I needed to. I have come such a long way from literally struggling to run for 60 seconds to being able to run for 5, 7, 10 minutes without dying.  On paper I have four sessions left and I still can’t see me actually managing to run 5k without stopping but maybe, just maybe I’m beginning to believe that I can.

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Rolling Dice in Anger

Heromeet takes place in bar uno at Bangor university it is part games soc reunion part games fest.  I’d been invited to go along by friends who are long time gamers, we boardgame with them quite regularly and had been told that we would be very welcome to join them at this meet.

Friday night was spent playing board games, Ticket To Ride, Seven Wonders at least that’s all that I remember playing there was a lot of general catching up with folks we knew and general merriment.

But Saturday was mainly taken up with playing Dungeons and Dragons.  Oh my freaking squee. Its worth pointing out at this point that I’ve not played ADnD or any RPG for that matter for more than 15 years.  I got adopted into the Games Society at University in Freshers week, they were my people even though I didn’t know it at that point.  All I really knew was that the other girls in my flat had taken against me for no reason that I could fathom and the guys in the games soc were friendly a couple of them were rather cute and they were more fun to hang out with and they were more than happy to have me hang out with them even though I knew very little of table top RPGS or running around with rubber weapons although that would change.

So playing some ADnD at the weekend was pretty freaking cool.  I played a warrior whom I named Catlyn and all was well with the world.  I have missed rolling dice in anger.  I have missed the shared storytelling, the stupidly funny situations which are only funny to your party because you really had to have been there.  I may have bugged the DM afterwards to run us another session in the not too distant future.

There are Role Playing groups out there, but they are all very established and I dont’ have the guts/gall to approach and say, hey can I play and the reasons for that are many.  It always was very much a male hobby.  Or at least the groups I played with were.  When I broke up with my first boyfriend post uni that was pretty much me out of Role playing.  So I’ve been out of the hobby for years.  Lately I’m aware of male friends who have a regular group but when I asked about maybe popping by I was told that the group would probably not be a good fit for me it being very laddish and bantery.

I’ve never had the confidence to run my own games I don’t know enough, they get pretty technical and I wouldn’t want to screw things up for people being a GM is a difficult job. But after this weekend I have hope.  I am going to prod my friend who ran the session and see if he’ll make it a more regular thing. I’ve missed it and I want to play some more.

Outside the Comfort Zone

I wanted to write about reading outside of my comfort zone and it has got a bit weird. Firstly I tried to define what my personal comfort zone is and I couldn’t. If I say fantasy I have to immediately re-qualify it with not all fantasy and I guess that is the thing. Its easier for me to say what I am unlikely to touch which feels negative.

For the last few years I’ve binged mainly on Fantasy and SCience Fiction and all kinds of funky subgenres inside. I’ve dabbled with reading paranormal romance and enjoyed some of it but I struggle with some of the established tropes.

I guess that the above paragraph sums it up although it doesn’t do justice to the breadth and depth of what I do read. I adore ‘literary’ writing as well but nothing shocks me so much as when I dip a toe in a neglected genre and I find I enjoy the novel I’ve found.

I feel like I construct myself from the books I read. If I stay too long in an era or world I will start speaking like a character. I once told my old boss that I would be obliged if she would do something after reading the complete Jane Austen. I seek other times and other places because reading for me is the ultimate escape I regain energy by retreating from reality for a bit. And when I say I construct myself I have deliberately avoiding genres like Romance and Chick-lit because I don’t want to be defined by those elements. That said when I have been persuaded to read something from that area I have loved the novels but something stops me from pursuing more titles in that area. Likewise thrillers and detective novels and manly men grr books also put me off.

I should try and read more widely. I recently read something that would normally be way outside of my comfort zone. Gemini Cell by Myke Cole is probably best described as military fiction meets fantasy. Its set in a contemporary world but magic has been returning and the US government are using magic and jinn in order to create super soldiers. It really isn’t something I would ever have picked up but I’ve been following Myke Cole on twitter, heard him on Tea and Jeopardy’s podcast and he seems like a fascinating guy and so I picked up the book.

The book itself was good, strange because a lot of the tropes deployed were unfamiliar and it took a while to get used to the writing style.  A couple of moments I found somewhat difficult to deal with but for the most part it was well thought out and very enjoyable.

Will I read something like this again?  Yes but not straight away.

2014 frustration in a nut shell

knots

I really didn’t manage to get anywhere near as much writing as I wanted to. The reasons behind this are many and varied. My job is still quite demanding and has not settled into a pattern I can control yet.  Coupled with extended periods of extremely brain busy times which leave me with no capacity to do more than the basics. This sucks but until the situation changes which I’m hoping it will soon then that is going to remain. I am also a creature with hobbies. Musical theatre, board gaming and knitting crochet all of which a necessary to my well being to stop me going completely off the rails. But there is a part of me that feels hugely guilty that I don’t write more.

One of the things I need to do is make space for writing physically in my house I’ve made my office a dumping ground and that needs to change so I am going to have to get my bum in gear and do so sorting of stuff.

Next I’m challenging myself to write something by the end of January. Some poetry or a short story something small and doable. I feel like there is a solid white box sitting in my brain doing nothing but taking up space allowing me nothing but the ability to get the barest of essentials done. The box needs moving breaking down and redistributing but it is swollen and doesn’t want to move.

I’m aware that it sounds weird. Maybe to go with a computer analogy my hard disc is full, I need a RAM upgrade and a defragging. A hard reset wouldn’t go amiss. Though to be fair I could do without the smashing into a wall and dissolving that usually precedes them.

That said the rest over the festive period combined with headcold of doom has meant I’ve had to rest so that should help recharge.