The time has come. I can't deny it any more. It's 'new year, new me' season, and I've vowed to get my sorry ass running in 2015, by hook or by crook. The Run Way is my journey, and it starts right here.
It's Spring. It's no longer new year, as I say in my prelude to my posts. And I'm feeling a bit like an April Fool gone seriously wrong. As you might have noticed, it's been a few weeks since my last blog - one where I promised holiday running and was on a high from 10k with Apple Watches in my mind. And yet, since then, I've only run once. Now I'm feeling like a serious let-down finding it near impossible to get back into the groove, while seemingly everyone else in the world is upping the ante in preparation for the marathon.
I was derailed by a couple of weeks of hectic plans - from busy days at work, through consecutive messy nights out (and being drunk ten nights in a row at one count), and on to a holiday, my routine was way off course, and so was my running.
While I packed my running gear to take on my trip, I was instantly intimidated out of trying my hand at Peter Islands steep course. I was stopped in my tracks my crippling renvy (running envy) that half of our group were able to do intrepid 6am up-hill double loops (not to mention yoga poses on the beach, and snorkeling - all of which I am incapable of), and instead opted out completely for fear of embarassing myself. This fear is something a government report has just found that two thirds of women feel on a regular basis and is holding us all back from doing exercise at all. Instead, I resorted to type: a lazybum on a lounger self-conscious in my bikini.
And now I've been back for a fortnight, and yet, despite my best intentions, I still can't get back into the flow of progress I had been making before. It was a bumpy path already, but now I've been thrown off, I just can't seem to get back into it. I stay an extra half hour at work feeling stressed, I'll write the night off and get a take-away. It's been raining in the morning at the weekend, I'll not bother to go out for a run even when it dries up. I feel deeply ashamed of myself. I couldn't even bear to write this blog as it would mean owning up to my dismay. I had run out of excuses.
So last week, I set up a meeting with the President of Equinox (the sexiest of all the gym chains) - Sarah Robb O'Hagan. Her Twitter and linkedin profiles told me that she was all the things I was not succeeding in being right now. She's a super powered boss (versus my stressed work self), runs every day (see me hiding and hungover), not to mention being a happy wife and mum (OK, so that part's all good, and there are no babies currently), she also advocates for the Women's Sports Foundation, which like This Girl Can, is a drive to get women back into exercise. I knew she was going to be empowering – I just needed to take her advice and literally run with it.
Meet Sarah Robb O'Hagan...
**Hi Sarah! You're the President of Equinox. Why do you think is it so important to work out? **
I truly believe that the act of doing something good for your body, instantly gives you confidence and strength and mental strength that you otherwise wouldn’t have. We all have really stressful days at work, or know that we’ve got a big meeting that we’re nervous about. But those mornings, once I’ve been for a run, I’ve prepared myself for the day. I’m like ‘I’ve just run 5 miles – I’m in this tough meeting, and I know you haven’t done that.’ It gives you that mental edge of ‘don’t you try and bring me down, I’ve got this.’ Particularly for women, having that physicality is empowering.
I'm really struggling to force myself out the door – what are your top tips?
It's about forming habits. I've gotten so good about my sleep routines, so that when the alarm goes off, more often than not, my body has woken up already. I don’t give my body the option to stop. 'You’ve got that far,' I mentally tell myself, 'get your feet on the floor, even if you went back to bed you wouldn’t get back to sleep.' For me now, it’s the complete opposite [to your predicament]. A day when I don’t run, I really notice it. I get more stressed, anxious, because I’ve come full circle the other way.
**And sleep is so important… **
Now I'm absolutely solid seven hours. Sometimes eight at the weekend. Before I worked at Equinox, I would have five. We’re all like it, 'one more email before bed.' Now I'm super strict with myself: I have to be in bed by 10, because I’m up by 5.15. But I never used to do that. I used to get up more like 6.30 and I remember I used to hate it, it was too early, I was bitter about it. But someone told me, it’s like muscle memory, you have to get into the routine and your body gets used to it. Stick with it, you just have to push yourself through the awful first few months.
**You're a New Zealander living in New York, working for a big empowering US brand – what tips can us cynical (moany) Brits learn from American confidence? **
New Zealand is very like here. We talk about 'Tall Poppy syndrome' - anyone who puts their head above and is successful, we're like 'whack 'em down! How dare you be successful?' I remember when I first got to America, it was overwhelming. Even in job interviews, you're expected to really stand up for what you've done - I still struggle with it. You have to be true to yourself, honestly, there are a ton of people looking at you thinking 'I'd love to do that!' and we have to remember that sometimes. I am equally open to talking about massive failures as well as what's going well. And getting fired is right up there - it made me so humble. It was a huge game changer for me, I was listening a lot more.
So you can fail and get back up again. This Easter, I'm going to get those trainers back on and get out there. Let's hope I can make myself (and Sarah!) proud...