Archive for the tag 'running'

Run, fat girl, run

NS January 4th, 2011

So one of my biggest goals for 2011 is to lose the metric shit-tonne of weight (nearly 2 stone) I’ve put on since I had my son two years ago. I’m not going on some crazy fad diet, but I have signed up for Weight Watchers (online version only, I can’t abide those horrid public weigh-ins) and am determined to take running up again. Considering I was running 3 times a week, often before 6am, and completed a 5k just a few months ago, it’s a bit crap that I completely fell off the wagon as soon as I crossed that finish line. My mind was like, ‘Hey, you did it! Now you can reward yourself by stopping exercise altogether and stuffing your face with congratulatory cakes.’

Yeah, so that didn’t work out too well for me.

As I was telling a runner friend of mine about my new goals and how I’d signed up for a 10k race in April to keep myself motivated, she convinced me to add more mini-goals throughout the year. After a few drinks, she had me signed up for a 5k in February, the 10k in April, a 5k in July and then a duathlon in September (5k run, 20k bike ride, 3k run).

I don’t know whether to thank her or make a voodoo doll with her name on it.

Regardless, I am on board and training begins tomorrow.

Pray for me.

Women-only events: sexist or sensible?

NS September 22nd, 2010

News that a handful of men are entering (and often winning) races and marathons put on mainly for women has created a bit of a stir. Are these guys douchebags who enjoy exerting their superior physical capabilities over The Ladiez, ruining the spirit of the event, or is it unfair for these races to be exclusively aimed at  only one gender in the first place?

Some people like to trot out the familiar argument that if women want equality with men, it has to be enforced in all areas. No female-only gyms, no ladies’ night drink specials, no women-only events or groups. Some go a step further and say that women shouldn’t expect separate toilets, exclusion from the military draft or even be eligible for maternity leave. You need to pee or have a baby? Well boo frickin’ hoo, you wanted to be just like the big boys and you GOT it, ladies.

This, of course, is called being a giant JERK.

The thing about this argument is that it assumes that women who fight for their rights think that men and women are exactly the same, with no biological deviances or differing practical needs. It’s also more than a little patronising. Men (and some women) often use this argument to try to ‘trap’ feminists into reneging on their arguments for equality. Much like the groups of white people who cry ‘Reverse racism!’ when minority groups put together an event celebrating their heritage or form a group exclusively for those within that minority group, there seems to be a wilful ignorance and refusal to acknowledge historical power structures in these protestations.

Reverse racism against whites is impossible because minority groups lack  the political or societal power to enforce their alleged biases. In the same vein, women as a whole lack the amassed authority required to actively oppress men and deny them their basic rights based on gender. So when someone cries ‘Reverse racism! Female sexism against men!’ they mostly need to be told to stick a boot in it.

On the other hand, I can see how the ‘women only’ thing can seem a bit unfair at times, especially if it has nothing to do with physical strength or biological differences (unlike sporting events and having babies). I’m no fan of ladies’ nights, when women get into bars and nightclubs free of charge while men pay full cover. That’s very unfair and also pretty gross since the only reason establishments do this is so that there’s more tits and asses in the bar for the men to ogle. It degrades both men and women.

Even if female-only races are, at their core, unequal, I still think that entering a race full of women just so you can win is pretty tacky and mean-spirited. Not only does it prevent a woman from garnering that top glory (since she is very unlikely to win an event that includes both sexes), it can take the sheen off that ‘we’re in this doing it together, girls!’ camaraderie that events like these can help foster.

What do you think? Would you be upset if a man entered a women’s running event for the sole purpose of winning, or do you think it’s his prerogative?

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The pain of art, the joy of living

NS June 14th, 2010

You know how some artists (whatever their medium; painting, music, writing, what have you) depend on being miserable, sad, angry, depressed, lonely, frustrated, misunderstood, tired, undervalued or oppressed (or all of the above) to create their art? And how when they’re happy, busy, valued, surrounded by people, encouraged and clear-headed, with a joyful, fulfilling and healthy personal, professional and social life, they sort of lose their edge?

That feels like me right now. I’m flailing. I’m losing my ‘art’. I’m losing my blogging mojo. I’m losing interest in fighting the fights I’ve been fighting for so long. I feel less and less inclined to come up with topics to write about, things to get incensed about, news to devour and dissect. I haven’t read the papers but one time since the British elections on the 6th of May. I have read articles that would normally have me writing lengthy screeds in opposition or approval and felt nothing but the briefest glimmers of interest. I log in then I log out. I stay up late trying to figure out why I’m drawing such blanks and get less and less sleep. I become more irritable.

But then one day I just stopped for awhile. I had other things going on and didn’t have time. Normally I’m itching to get back to my ‘online life’ after a brief spell away; this time I had to force myself to log in. I felt bored. I felt restless.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve recently taken up running. I’m doing a 5k at the end of next month and have been going three times a week fairly faithfully. Yesterday my regimen notched itself up from 8 minutes at a time to 20. I looked at what the running app on my iPhone screen was commanding me to do  and gaped. Go from an 8-minute run to 20 with nothing in between? No gentle breaking-in, no gradual increase over a long period of time? Who the hell did this running app think it was, bloody Richard Simmons?! I gave it a wary eye and told myself that if I couldn’t make it, so be it. It was too much to ask, anyway! It would be a miracle if I didn’t need to stop due to bursting lungs or cramping calves or some other such affliction.

But it turns out, I did it. I did it and it wasn’t even that difficult. I could do that run all along but I was holding myself back. I didn’t think I could do it so I didn’t even try.

For the last few years, ever since I had my daughter, I’ve been waiting for my life to find its niche, its groove, its upward trajectory towards success and happiness. But it turns out that you can’t wait for this shit to happen; you have to make it happen. You have to pour your heart, soul, blood, sweat and tears into it and then wade head-first, eyes open, into the mix instead of standing on the sidelines feebly throwing cups of water at those racing past you.

Right now I am going through some intense transformations; from couch potato into runner, from a frustrated writer and stay-at-home mum to an independent businesswoman and running-three-websites mum, from distant, grumpy wife to more engaged partner and from a mother unhappy with her parenting practices and interactions with her children to one taking control and doing things to rectify those negative practices, ones that stem mainly from that discontent I spoke of earlier.

Needless to say, something has got to give.

So while I love my art and I love my little corner of cyberspace and the friends, opportunities, emotional and intellectual growth it has provided me, I am beginning to feel that I may be done with Noble Savage. I’ve been going for over five years and I’m not sure what else I can say, really. I’ve poured my heart out, written my fingers to the bone, researched, read, reported, raged, ranted, laughed, cried and gone a little bit loopy in the process.

Maybe I’m not going to get that book deal or journalism job or freelance gig after all. Maybe all I was ever destined to do was write this blog to meet the people and read the things that grew my mind and fed my soul enough to get me on my life’s true path, one that will make me happier, more fulfilled, more at ease and successful than my years-long dream of being a published author or  respected hack ever would have afforded me.

Maybe I just need a break, with no defined return. Maybe  a complete release from the pressure of a blank screen and a full RSS reader will do the trick and when things have settled down with the doula business and the running and getting my marriage back on track, I will have more to say, and better. Hell, maybe tomorrow I will wake up having completely changed my mind and be ready to tear the shit out of some article in the Times or wax lyrical about the highs and lows of parenthood.

But for now, the joy of living is overriding the gut-wrenching pain and time involved in creating my art. And this time, I’m going to let it.

Exciting news and a free smell

NS April 14th, 2010

I have a few items of exciting news to share. Well, they’re exciting to me. You? You’ll most likely yawn and say ‘Is that all? This woman needs to get out more.’ And to that I would say you’re right but avoid saying that to my face, especially if I’ve been drinking red wine or whiskey. I’m a pacifist in theory but we all know how theories pan out in practice. Like that communism one that was supposed to make all the world one, big, happy, altruistic family but instead led to people queueing up for miles to get their hands on a McDonald’s quarter pounder with cheese, extra onion and pickle, in Red Square. Need I say more?

Anyway.

Exciting item #1: Inspired by Gappy’s post, with accompanying photographs, about her trip to Hay-on-Wye, I’ve booked myself in for a train ride and overnight stay there, a few days after my birthday this summer. I’ve been dreaming of going away on my own just to read and relax and I knew right away that this would be the perfect place to do that. Second-hand book stores in which there are comfy chairs to sit and cats to stroke? I’m sold.

Exciting item #2: I’ve booked into a doula training course for the end of May. After I’ve completed the course I have to attend four births to become fully qualified. I’ve already got one lined up in August (a good friend’s) but need to find three more. If you, or anyone you know, are due this summer and live in the South West London or Surrey area, and are looking for an inexpensive doula, do let me know! I’m quite excited about this new career path, really. Not only will I get to help women with something I’m passionate about but I can earn a more reliable income from home which will take some of the pressure off of needing my writing to become a paid venture right away. A win-win situation, really! Besides which, I think I’ll be good at it and enjoy it.

Exciting item #3: I’ve entered into the Race for Life to benefit Cancer Research UK, in which I will run 5k a the end of July in Clapham. Me. A woman who has never been a runner and hasn’t done any form of exercise (other than walking loads and chasing the children) for a good four years. I’ve been getting up at 6am and running twice a week (and once or twice at the weekend) for a couple weeks now. I’m feeling good about it. If you’re so inclined to want to sponsor me (thus blackmailing me giving me more motivation), there is a button on my sidebar that will take you to my sponsorship page. Watch out, Clapham! There will a woman huffing and puffing her way through your streets and commons come July 31st, and she will likely be tripping over her shoelaces as she Tweets about it at the same time.

Exciting item #4: My first guest post, in which I give my thoughts on the term ‘mummy blogger/blogging’  is up at Gappy’s ‘Single Parenthood. Tales from the front-line’ blog. In five years of blogging I have never been asked to do a guest post so I was very excited and flattered to be invited into someone else’s space, especially by Gappy whom I greatly admire and like immensely. She’s a real talent and a new blogger so if you haven’t already got her on your list of must-reads, go check her out!

And finally, a sniff. I’ve managed to capture my favourite smell (line-dried sheets) and convert it to HTML. If you move your mouse rapidly over the blank space below, the scent should release itself. You’ll probably have to lean in quite close and give your screen a good sniff but it’s there, I promise.

 


 

Lovely, isn’t it?

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