One or two years ago I was still fit enough to run a half marathon. Then my BA thesis happened and ten months of internships happened. The past two years have been awesome, but still, a part of me mourns those hours spent running. Then again, nothing is ever accomplished simply by looking back. If you want to make changes, then the only way to do so is by actually ‘doing’. Which is why I made a promise to myself. No more sporadic runs, instead, I am back to training regularly. I am setting up a schedule and I am setting the goal for myself to pick a running event in Edinburgh.
MY running project
Part of wanting to get back into my routine is that I have a few months before my official moving date. I want to be used to my routine again so I can have some stability, something to focus on when I move. Although I am madly excited about the time to come, I do realize it’s going to be an adjustment to move away from everything I know. As The Meadows is practically going to be in my front yard, I have zero excuses for not going out and running a lap (or two). Running is going to be what I will turn to when I need some common ground.
The first run in my schedule was last Saturday. The next run was on Monday. And the next will be on Wednesday (the day after this post goes live). That’s three runs already, three runs closer to my goal of getting back into that running rhythm that I miss so much (and yet not at all, because let’s be honest, a bad run can be harrowing). That burning feeling in my lungs. That euphoria when you get back from a run and feel like you’re on top of the world.
The fun part about getting back to training was finding out that I hadn’t drifted off as far as I thought I did. On Saturday I ran 3k quite easily. I might be slower than I used to be, but I still had the stamina to run the entire distance. However, on Monday the distance didn’t quite come as easily as it did two days before (and I believe a slight case of sore muscles might have a hand in that as well). Easy does it. I am not going to force it: I am going to enjoy getting back into the rhythm because what matters is that I am getting back into running again.
I guess what I am trying to say is: it is simple to get lost in what used to be. Try to remember that, no matter how insignificant, every run you go on is progress. And don’t forget to enjoy the process!
This post recaps my month: my personal life, the fun and not so fun; books I’ve read; movies/ tv shows I’ve watched; and all other things worth mentioning.
I have no other word for September than ‘busy’. September carried so many new opportunities and experiences for me. It was tiring in many ways as new experiences usually are, but also incredibly exciting and fun! Let me recap it all for you.
September marked the end of my summer break and the start of my internship at Overamstel Publishers! I worked alongside my study, but I never worked a full-time job before, so I knew it was going to be challenging. What I didn’t quite expect was how much I was going to love everything about the internship. I have wonderful co-workers who are a joy to work with. I love being surrounded by books all the time as well as getting to know the ins and outs of the publishing trade. I’ve been working there for a month now and I learned so many different things and no event is the same, which is what makes them so much fun, to begin with.
As the post title states, I turned 23 this month! Unfortunately, I was sick on my birthday (the entire week actually…). I caught a sinus infection and felt miserable for most of the week, mainly because my asthma started bothering me as well, but luckily I was at home and my parents made an enormous effort to make me feel like a birthday girl.
September was also the month that I redesigned my entire blog (as you might have noticed, haha). I played around with the idea of this header for ages and finally, I asked Anna Lena from Finelinervreter to design it for me. She truly is an incredibly talented artist and did such a great job designing my new header! If you’re not familiar with her work I highly recommend checking out her Instagram and let yourself be inspired by her work!
Reading wise September was lots of fun! I started my reread of Eragon and I’m currently close to finishing the fourth and last book in the series. I should’ve reread this series so much sooner because I am HOOKED all over again! You can expect a very fun post on this topic on Thursday. Yes, you read that right, I am back to blogging baby! I am completely inspired and the posts are flowing out of my fingertips!
I splurged quite a bit on books this month. But hey, it was my birthday month, I’m allowed a little splurge every now and then (especially when it’s my birthday!). I bought Girls Made of Snow and Glass, Jane Unlimited, An Enchantment of Ravens and If There’s No Tomorrow. I can’t wait to get cracking and read them all! I also started a book club! Which I will keep you updated about!
Working out wise this month started out GREAT! I ran two obstacle runs the same weekend: a 7k on 2 September and a 12k on 3 September. Then I got sick, but hey, I’m taking the time to get back to a 100% (my lungs are still not liking me, probably because of that hacking cough I couldn’t get rid of for two damn weeks) and I’ll be back running 12k’s in no time.
I haven’t really paid a lot of attention to keeping track of everything I’ve read, watched, and listened to this month, but I’ll do my best to list it all for you!
- Eragon by Christopher Paolini. (5/5).
- Eldest by Christopher Paolini. (5/5).
- Brisingr by Christopher Paolini. (5/5).
- Royally Screwed by Emma Chase. (3.5/5). This book was quite entertaining, to be honest.
- Paper Princess by Erin Watt. (2/5). For some bizarre reason I had to keep reading, but I didn’t particularly enjoy it at all…
- Broken Prince by Erin Watt. (2/5). I have some idiotic fixation wanting to know how this story ends, but still can’t say I enjoy the story.
- Twisted Palace by Erin Watt. (2/5). I AM A GLUTTON FOR PUNISHMENT… WHY?!
- Inheritance by Christopher Paolini – Currently reading.
Shooter season 2, episode 1 – 4. I just realized I need to continue watching this! I wanted to wait until more episodes were available and then I forgot *gasps*.
Sleepy Hollow season 1, episode 1 – 5. Rewatching this! Yay!
Do not laugh at me… I watched like three completely cheesy and REALLY BAD but terrifyingly enjoyable Hallmark Christmas movies #sorrynotsorry! I don’t even remember the titles, but they were so fun to watch because I could just shut off my brain and enjoy some good old chrismas themed rom coms!
As my active lifestyle is a big part of this blog I think it’s important to share the highs as well as the lows with you. So today I want to share what’s going on workout-wise lately, or rather, how it hasn’t been working out for me the past month. As many of you might know, I pride myself on being active, on being a runner, and on my workouts in general because I enjoy them and they’re a big stress reliever. I even give the advice to people that when life get’s busy to keep making effort to do your workouts, because it helps deal with stress. I tell most people that, but when push comes to shove I guess I am crap at following my own advice… And you know what: that’s okay.
My workouts have NOT been working out for me the past two months. I still run, but you could call it sporadically at best, and my gym-time has pretty much cut back to zero hours a week. The cause? Three things: exams, deadlines, and life. I am currently finishing up my third year of university, and will, hopefully, graduate this year. The deadlines, my thesis, the finals… they had, and still have, me in its grip. Then, life got rough for me. I won’t bore you with the details, that’s not what this post is about, but let’s just keep it at the fact that I had a really hard time dealing with everything this past semester. With everything going on, and the added stress of deadlines and finals approaching had me increasingly stressed. My workouts went down the drain in no time.
As much as I loved working out, I did not have the time nor energy to spare. And, as I’ve slowly come to realize, that’s okay. It’s okay not to be superwoman. Sometimes you simply don’t have the time or energy to spare for workouts when there’s so much going on around you. I don’t have to be able to lift all the weight of what’s been happening on my shoulders while getting good results at university and have the time and energy to spare for working out three to four (or five) times a week. It took me a while to come to this conclusion. And truly, it is so important to realize that I shouldn’t feel guilty for taking a step back, nor is it ‘bad’ that I wasn’t as active in the gym as I normally am. Working out should, above all, be fun. Not a must. Not something to feel guilty about when you skip a day or two (or a month). You do it for you and nobody else.
It took me a while to come to this conclusion. And truly, it is so important to realize that I shouldn’t feel guilty for taking a step back, nor is it ‘bad’ that I wasn’t as active in the gym as I normally am. Working out should, above all, be fun. Not a must. Not something to feel guilty about when you skip a day or two (or a month). You do it for you and nobody else. So yeah, maybe I have been a slacker workout-wise, but hey, if slacking allowed me to keep up my grades while dealing with all that was happening around be then I am glad to have been one!
So far I have mentioned what has been going on, but what about what is going on. Well, luckily, I am doing a bit better. I made the deadlines (only a few left) and I had my last exam yesterday. Life is still not back to normal, but it is slowly getting there. I am planning on picking on my run training again today (starting with a comfortable 5k run) and might pick up HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) again because it goes very well in combination with running.
The good news is that I’m back to working out now! My sister joins me on my runs a lot and, as you can see, we have fun while doing it. If you learn anything from this post I hope that It’ll be that having fun is most important when it comes to working out. If it starts being anything but fun, if it becomes a must instead of a want, something has to change. This wasn’t the most upbeat most, but I want to keep it real on this blog. It might seem like working out comes easy to me, but it takes time and dedication, and sometimes this can be hard to find and there’s no shame in that.
Upcoming Sunday I am running the Rotterdam 1/4th marathon alongside my dad and thousands of other runners. The Rotterdam 1/4th marathon has always been one of my favorite events to run. The vibe is amazing and there are SO MANY people that cheer you on, another thing that plays a big role as to why it is one of my favorite events is the fact that two years ago this was my first ‘big’ run. I will never forget that overpowering sense of accomplishment once I crossed that finish line and even though the time I ran was nothing to write home about, that 10k was about so much more than simply setting a time.
Two years ago I proved to myself that I could do it. It took me WAY too long to run that 10k, but I proved to myself that if I put my mind to it and trained properly I could run any distance I wanted. Look at me now, two years down the road, and I have a lot more distance in those legs of mine. The past two years I ran some more 10k’s, some 10 miles, and a half marathon. I’m a way more experienced runner than I was two years ago and through it all I learned some valuable things about how to prep for race day. Since this is the week before race day for me, I thought I’d share my do’s and don’ts the week before race day.
The week before
Do not train heavy the week before a race. It might seem obvious, but you’ll be surprised how many people make this mistake. And I too made that same mistake before. It is so tempting to do that leg day session or to run a 10k just to prove to yourself that you can do it. Don’t. You’ll tire your muscles and they won’t have enough time to recover. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t train at all. I usually go on one or two short distance runs. If you’re running a 10k, run a 3k or 5k during the week. Just don’t speed, aim for a comfortable pace that doesn’t get you winded.
Don’t eat any differently than you normally do and don’t eat anything heavy two hours before your race. It might be so tempting to make a special breakfast with more carbs or more proteins to fuel your body, but this won’t work in your favor. It can have the complete opposite effect. Your body might not be used to this kind of nutrition and react badly to it. Believe me, you do not want the be the runner at the start with a stomach that’s cramping or feel your food coming up during your run. If it is oatmeal you have every morning, have oatmeal the morning of your race.
If you’re nervous about running a new route: don’t sweat it. The organization usually make the route known so you can cover the route beforehand. You can go check it out to get familiar with it, or, if you know the area, you can just check it online to see where you’ll be at what distance. I know from experience that it can be a bit daunting when you’re running and you have no idea how far into the route you are. Checking the route beforehand can solve that problem for you. There usually are markers alongside the route as well. Another option is a running watch, this is the more expensive option, but I promise you once you get one you’ll never want to go back again!
Last but not least, stop stressing. If you’ve trained well try to relax a bit. A week before the race there’s nothing you can really do to prepare better. The time to train for a distance is not the week before race-day. Try to enjoy the process. The events itself, you’ll see for yourself, are filled with positivity from the community! You’ll find tons of strangers cheering you on, feeding you, and giving you water. It is so much fun and you’ll only impact your own experience if you don’t try to take it in and enjoy it.
My very first Half Marathon is a fact! Yes, you read that right, I ran my very first Half Marathon. This is my furthest distance up to date, and it was scary and nerve-wracking but also exciting and incredibly exhilarating! Even though I have been running for quite some time now, even I make mistakes, and looking back I find that there are some things that I would have done differently now I know what running 21,0975 kilometers is like.
1. Don’t do ANYTHING the week before the race
You’re gonna roll your eyes and say “damn Iris, you actually made that mistake, that’s the golden rule before race days” and YES I admit it, it was stupid as hell, but I did make the mistake. I didn’t go on a run that week. Nor did I train my legs in the gym. What did I do? Train my biceps and abs in the gym… I wanted to work off some steam because I was really nervous, so I figured that since I don’t run with my biceps it would be fine. NOT. I was really sore after training them, and a sore body equals a tired body. Tired body before running your very first half marathon is not a good combination.
2. Avoid adding stress
There were two things that had me stressing out before going into the race. Firstly, considering it would be my very first time running a half marathon I was nervous already, but knowing I did something stupid and knowing it was going to affect my race doubled those nerves about tenfold. Secondly, someone had told me that the last three kilometers would be really hard. I was so afraid of those final three kilometers in advance, that when I actually got to them I made them harder for myself because of what I thought they would be like. Turns out that those three kilometers were pretty much the best part of the entire race and I didn’t enjoy them AT ALL because I had been so afraid of them in advance. Running such a long distance is already stressful enough, you need to avoid adding EXTRA unnecessary nerves to that.
3. Shit happens
Sometimes things happen that you just can’t foresee or change. During my second kilometer I got this stabbing pain in my right side. I still don’t know what it was, I never experienced it before, but it hurt A LOT. I kept running but had to slow down because it hurt that much. You can probably imagine how bummed I was. I trained my ass off for this, and then right at the start things don’t go as planned. Sucks, but shit happens, you can’t change it. All that kept going through my mind was that this couldn’t seriously be happening. Those first five kilometers were a struggle but then it faded away. Just as sudden as it came up it disappeared again. Around the ten kilometer point there was another kilometer or so that the same pain bothered me, but just as before it faded away again. Some things happen that you just can’t see coming. It sucks, but you have to go with it because you can’t change it. Will I try to find out what it was so I can make sure it doesn’t happen again? Absolutely! But during the race you will have to face whatever is happening and deal with it.
4. Don’t set a time goal
This might sound unrealistic because EVERYONE sets a time goal for themselves, but I wish I hadn’t. As you can read above my first half marathon was far from perfect and all of the things mentioned above kept me from finishing under the time I’d set for myself. I was quite disappointed at first until I realized that was so damn stupid. I just finished my first half marathon ever. Key words being: I FINISHED! Perks of that first race? It’s always a Personal Record.
5. Enjoy the little things
This too might seem like it speaks for itself, but sometimes it’s not. I was so busy with myself, with running and finishing the race, that I sometimes forgot to look around. The route was great, the supporters were awesome, and kindness and support come from so many different angles. Around the twelve kilometer point, this little boy handed me a cup of water. Imagine me, all red faced and starting to tire, and the little boy just pats my back and tells me “Come on miss! You can do this! You’ve come so far already.” I smiled at the boy and continued but what he said didn’t penetrate until after I finished. Just like my father’s antics. My dad ran the race with me (he’s the best support system a girl can wish for!) and he’s always been faster than me, when I started to tire he would crack jokes or race ahead and make funny faces, at that moment I just brushed it off. I mean, some moments I felt like I was dying, ain’t nobody got time to laugh when you feel like your legs are going to give out. But looking back these moments bring a big smile to my face. I genuinely think that if I would’ve been more open for these moments this race would have been much more enjoyable!
Looking back at my first half marathon there are quite some things that I could’ve done better, but in the end, I wouldn’t change a single thing. I finished my first half marathon and no one can take that accomplishment away from me. I learned from my mistakes and hopefully (probably) the next one will go much smoother. Running isn’t a walk in the park, it’s hard work, it’s pushing through pain, but that moment you cross the finish line is indescribable. That euphoria, that feeling of accomplishment, knowing your body is capable of running 21,0975 kilometers is indescribable!
As you can all probably see, this is a new feature on my blog! In my latest post I shared how I would be making some changes and this is one of the first sections I added. I have mentioned my runs before, but only briefly, and that’s something I have wanted to change for a long time. Truth is, I run 3 times a week, training towards half a marathon and I want to start sharing my journey and progress with you! So from now on I’ll be doing Race Recaps from the running events I did!
16 April was race day! The Antwerp 10 miles! I’d been training towards this race for the past few months. It would be my longest distance run up to date and to say I was a little nervous would be a big fat understatement. I’d run quite a few 10k distances before, but the leap from 10k to 10 miles (a little less than 17k) is a pretty big one. Don’t get me wrong, I’m well-trained and I’d run distances longer than 10k by myself (and with my dad), but still, this would be a first and I think firsts are always pretty nerve-wracking.
Before the start
I actually planned on wearing long tights during the 10 miles, but when we parked the car and I saw how sunny it was (against all odds!) I grabbed the pair of running shorts I’d hastily thrown into my bag the day before, just in case the weather decided to play nice, and changed. Armed with an iPod filled with kickass fast paced music and the best running buddy a girl can wish for (aka my dad) I joined hundreds of others at the start, nervously shifting my weight from foot to foot. Tons of banners with funky little motivational quotes like “sweat, run, smile every mile” helped in calming down some of the nerves a bit and once the starting shot ran out I resolved to just run, have fun along the way, and not worry about setting a time.
Kilometer 1 – 5
I noticed pretty fast that this was going to be a good run. I set a good pace right away, the weather was GREAT and there were supporters cheering the runners on everywhere. After the first 2k the first tunnel appeared. I have never trained for those and I had been warned in advance to take them slow, as it would be hot inside and because you’re climbing, because it’s an easy way to drain all your energy when you haven’t even really started. I took it slow and as a result I pretty much breezed through the frist 5k.
Kilometer 5 – 10
A little after passing the 5k marker and right before the second tunnel was the first water point. Can’t say I really needed it yet, but with the sun shining brightly and right another hot tunnel coming up ahead I wasn’t going to complain or pass it up. Freaks by Timmy Trumpet blaring in my ears, running was going great and I was having tons of fun watching all the supporters that were literally EVERYWHERE along the route.
Kilometer 10 – 15
Normally, after passing the 10k mark, I start to tire a bit and running becomes a little less fun for me… However, that wasn’t happening, yet. I mentioned the supporters before, and I they pretty much pulled me through those next 5 kilometers. I was hearing my name shouted along with encouragements left and right for quite some time already. At first I wondered how they actually knew my name, silly me, because my name was on my starting number, haha. The music, crazy amount of supporters along the route all attributed to the GREAT atmosphere. It’s the best thing to experience! At one point my dad grabbed a cone and shouted my name through it, supporters all around started clapping and shouting my name, it was crazy, and it all put one big CRAZY smile on my face.
These last few kilometers were absolutely killing. They saved the last, and hardest, tunnel for last. That picture was taken right before the tunnel from hell. The banner being the only thing that was fun about it, it says: “There’s light at the end of the tunnel”. Do me a favor, if you ever find yourself in the Waaslandtunnel in Antwerp, please curse it for me. I was told that every year quite some people collapse inside that particular tunnel, but a part of me hadn’t really believed the stories. Man, it was hard. It killed my pace, and I pretty much cursed myself for ever deciding to run the Antwerp 10 miles. The heat inside the tunnel was stifling and all I could hear was the pounding of running shoes against the asphalt echoing all around me. My legs became heavy and I looked at my dad and told him that I didn’t think I could do it. I thought I would make it out of the damn thing (the climb was about 1k up). He pulled me through it (almost literally) and told me that once we got out it would only be 500 metres until the finish. I didn’t really believe him, but once I pushed through the pain and exited the tunnel still on my feet I saw a sign saying “500m until finish”. I actually managed to run a little faster and at 01:44:53 my dad and I passed the finish line: 10 miles in the pocket!
Even with the tunnel from hell, this was one of my favorite races ever, and most of that has to do with the atmosphere. I have never ran a race where there were supporters throughout the ENTIRE route, it was crazy, the whole 10 miles people were beside the route encouraging and supporting the runners. Best thing ever! I am going to train for those tunnels, and next year I’m running the Antwerp 10 miles again, hoping to better the time I set this year!