Monthly Archives: August 2012

Running from the orange peel

Warning: this post is one for the ladies.

Cellulite. Orange peel skin. Wobbly thighs. Dimpled bum. However you call it, we all have it: loitering in full view or just lurking under the surface. If super models have it we can all stop worrying and complaining about it. It’s there. It’s with us. We’re women. There’s a lot more we have to deal with, so let’s just forget about a bumpy ride at the top of our thighs and get on with life, shall we?

Or not? In my twenties cellulite wasn’t a word I wrote or considered. But in the last couple of years, I’ve noticed more those dimpled parts at the top back of my thighs. I’m not someone who would ever spend £50 on a miracle thimble of cream (I love creams, but cheap, normal ones that don’t do any magic, just smell and feel nice) and I cannot be bothered with what beauty writers call ‘body brushing’. What is that? I’m no ape. Brushing is for hair. I do subscribe to massages, for any reason. But again, I can’t afford one of those every day/week/month. So, the next best thing I know for looking and feeling good is boring, simple, old-fashioned exercise.

And with the last 5 weeks of half marathon training, running four times a week has been my exercise. I do love a good swim and yoga session and these are sometimes slipped in at the moment with a few weights. But, primarily, running the roads of west London has been my way of burning calories.

You can see where this post is going, I think. It’s going to a far away place, called Cellulite Land, where my own cellulite has disappeared to over the past couple of months. Running has literally run it off. My thighs and bum are by no means super model worthy, don’t get me wrong, but there is a definite improvement in smoothness. Pits and dimples have given way to something resembling solids rather than liquids.

In my cellulite and running reading before writing this I found nothing conclusive about running helping cellulite. In fact one site claimed it caused cellulite. So you’re just going to have to take my word for it. And my husband’s: “Your a*se looks good in that,” he commented the other day.

Running, I salute you. Cellulite, I banish you.

The mysteriousness of wind

After debating whether to sign up for the 30k I’d had my eyes on for weeks, I finally decided to cross it off my list.  I only had a few more weeks in Buenos Aires and I didn’t want to have to plan my weekend activities around my longer runs.  There was also the factor that my mom mentioned of going from winter to summer and getting acclimated before charging along.  While I don’t know if it would have really been that big of a deal it was another reason to cancel the run.

I then took a step back from running and even had about a 2 week break in there.  But now I’m back in Texas and I’m working on getting  back in the routine again.  I went out for what I thought would be 3 miles at 10:30 a.m. on the first try and couldn’t make it.  Lesson learned: I must wake up earlier to beat the heat.

The second go was more successful. Although, I had a love/hate relationship with the wind. I went up the hill to the corner and felt good.  I had to head down before doing the same route again to get in my planned 4 miles.  As I turned to go downhill I suddenly realized there was a cool wind blowing.  It’d been pushing me along the whole way, but I hadn’t even noticed. While I was thankful to have the air move around me to cool me off a bit, it was also annoying to feel the wind in only one direction. I headed back up the hill again and while knowing there was wind helping me along I still didn’t really notice it’s presence as I had while heading directly into it.

Isn’t it amazing how different a tailwind is to a headwind?  They are both there yet one makes its presence much more obvious than the other. I’ve even had moments where  I had the sensation that the air would just swirl around me as I was headed into the wind no matter my direction, but at least this time I knew it had to be helping me when I needed it most…going up the hill.

Run rhymes with fun

I did it again. Oooops. I signed someone up for a 5km without telling them. Paid for, t-shirt, tree and everything. It’s going to be fun, I said. Run rhymes with fun, after all. Not sure she believes me yet. But at least she’s out there, doing it. Without champagne.

Please read her blog below. It will make you smile. And M&MRC supports anyone out there, in trainers, just doing it.

Gadget boy

In last month’s edition of Runner’s World, there was a page entitled Beyond the gadgets which discussed what happens to your running when you leave technology out of it. As my iPod has basically given up the ghost after so many miles, I have been running Nike+ and music free for months now. I figured it made sense when I was training for Cruce de los Andes, as there was no way Maria and I were going to run together without nattering on. And now, at week four of our half marathon training, there are still no gadgets for me.

For Martin, it’s a different story. He’s using his iPhone and an app called Endomondo. He loves it. He loves hearing the mile markers pass, listening to the times for each mile, knowing his maximum speed of the run and collating all this information easily so he can compare with previous runs. And throughout all this he has his music blasting as well. Even just writing that sounded like overload to me.

But I get it, we’re in training. We want to get stronger and faster, that’s the whole point of it, right? So, I have been mapping runs prior to setting out and taking a watch. But even this can be misleading. If I head left out of my road, there are hills. If I turn right, it’s flat. Surely it’s not fair to compare routes like this? I must be slower with hills than with flats… But then, the other day I beat my flat 3-mile time on the hilly route. What would the gadget say about that?

There’s something to be said for the competition and motivation that gadgets can provide. But then we can come to rely on them too much. They aren’t perfect, and this was shown to us once when a running app routed 4 miles, but unless I had suddenly increased my pace by a minute a mile, there was no way it was the full 4 miles and I had to keep running past my house to make it up, judging the time on my regular watch. Because that’s the other great thing about just using a watch; you become far more in tune with how you are doing and feeling if you’re running slower or faster, especially when you are an expert at the routes and roads you run so often around your neighbourhood. Sometimes, I can feel it’s a fast run and I force myself to not look at my watch; to wait until I get home and check the time to see if what I am feeling when I run is right in the results of my times.

And it usually is.

London 2012: The Olympic Games

I am pretty sure that any readers of this blog are the types who are enjoying and marvelling at the times, feats, strength and performance of the world’s best athletes, currently battling it out at the Olympic Games in London. It’s Day 13 of the competition with lots still to be decided and plenty to inspire. And it’s not just the runners: throwers, jumpers, fighters, riders, swimmers, rowers, lifters, players, bouncers, bikers and all-rounders have all had their moments in the spotlight; going faster, higher, stronger, further for one of sport’s most coveted prizes: an Olympic gold medal.

As a London 2012 GamesMaker (one of the 70,000 volunteers recruited to ‘make the games happen’) I am in a privileged position; part of the action, the excitement and the disappointment. The highs and smiles of the athletes as they come through with their medals; the disappointment of those who don’t make the podium, or who have had to withdraw through injury. Coaches, team leaders, personnel and athletes share snippets of their day: triumph or disaster. Some are tired, exhausted from a day’s training; others are focused, preparing for tomorrow; and others are ready to let their hair down and party.

I get to watch some of the action in the morning before my shift and at dinner break. And everyone is keeping up to date with what’s happening throughout the day on the London 2012 apps and Twitter. Saturday night I finished a bit early and ran to the workforce canteen to watch Mo Farah in his 10,000m final. A big bunch of strangers, all cheering together for their fellow Brit, made an incredible atmosphere. We were one big Olympic family watching him, and when he crossed that finish line we went crazy, hugging each other, complete strangers, in total joy and pride.

And although I am physically and emotionally knackered at the end of each day, buzzing from the day’s events and people, dreaming of snippets of the games and the athletes I’ve had the privilege to chat to, I am still managing to go out and run four days a week. It’s now Week 3 of the half marathon training and I am surprising myself. With tired legs and a frazzled brain, I am getting out there and getting quicker. I must keep going.

Because if those athletes can do it; every day for four years, battling all sorts, to get to the Olympic Games and make their country proud, then surely I can get out there and run these miles. There is no Olympic Stadium cheer waiting for me, but knowing later I’ll be heading that way to share more Olympic moments, makes my homeward sprint that little more golden.