Monday, 13 November 2017

My first Parkrun

At the weekend, I finally got around to doing something I'd wanted to do for ages - a Parkrun.

For those that don't know, a Parkrun is a free, 5km run held in local parks all over the UK on Saturday mornings at 9am. The aim of these runs is to get people active in a friendly environment - and you don't even have to run if you're not quite up to that yet!

I'd been putting it off a bit because it's been a while since I concentrated on running (life is very busy) but when my friend Hannah told me she'd been, we made a pact to go together.

I didn't really know what to expect, but I registered on the website, printed off my unique barcode, and dug out my 'muddy' trainers (I knew it would be raining and as a trainer lover, I have a specific pair for muddy runs). On the Saturday we arrived 20 minutes before the start time, and followed the crowds to the start-line.

My local Parkrun is Penrose in Helston. It's right next to Helston Boating lake, which is nice because it means mid-run you have gorgeous views to distract you from the pain of actually doing exercise so early at the weekend. The run itself is pretty flat apart from a hill midway, but in this particular run you head 2.5km to a specific point and then go back on yourself - so every up hill and down hill is reversed on the way back.

They also have a tail-walker at the back, meaning no one comes last which is a nice touch and a good confidence boost if you're like me and a bit slow to get going at first.

I couldn't believe how nice the atmosphere was during the run. Everyone was so encouraging, and each person smiled or said hello as if you were an old friend about to catch up over coffee. At some stages I walked (I'll get onto personal fitness in a moment), but I had a lovely lady that at some points walked with me. She'd walk whilst I ran, then she'd run whilst I walked - but each time we saw each other, we offered words of wisdom or encouragement.

Towards the end, a guy running alongside us explained that there was only 400m left - and gave encouragement right until the very end. I don't know what I was expecting, but I think some part of me thought there would be snobby racers laughing at the slower runners - but that was definitely not the case at all. Everyone was happy, encouraging and friendly - which is even more surprising when you consider it was 9am, it was pretty cold and windy, and very muddy.

At the end of the run, you're given a finishing token which is scanned as you go over the line. You then pass this and your barcode to another volunteer, who scans them both together. Later that afternoon you're emailed a time as well as given access to the full rankings from your 'race'. There were about 130 in attendance last weekend, which is quite small numbers compared to normal due to the bad weather.

Now, my time was not the greatest, but I knew that whilst I was running because I didn't run the entire 5km. I knew my fitness levels had dropped slightly (I've been doing netball and football, but there's a difference between match fitness and running fitness!) but I didn't expect to struggle quite as much as I did. However, I'm only competing against myself - so next Saturday, I hope to shave at least a few minutes off that time.

There are definitely a few things I will do differently next run - first is to actually eat beforehand. When waking up at 7.30, food is the last thing on my mind but a fasting run is never going to be a particularly strong one. Second is to take my music - I was concerned my phone would get muddy or wet so decided to leave it in the car, which was a big mistake - quiet runs are very hard! A motivational playlist is definitely a necessity. And finally, if I plan on keeping my barcode down my sports bra, I need to laminate it. You can only imagine the boob sweat...

If you're umming and ahhing over whether to go to your local parkrun, my best advice would be to honestly just bite the bullet and go for it. I guarantee it will be a positive experience for you, and waking up early on your Saturday will be worth it!

To register and see where your nearest one is, head to

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Early-mid twenty blues

Being in your early-mid twenties is a confusing time. You’re surrounded by lots of people who are all at varying stages in their lives, and naturally, you compare yourself to all of them.
Some are in the midst of their chosen career, seemingly doing well. Others have children and are married; many own their first home, and some are just flitting around, not really doing a lot but enjoying being young and single whilst they have limited responsibility.

I feel like I'm having some sort of 'quarter life crisis', despite it appearing on the outside that I’ve got everything sorted. I’m 25 next week, recently exchanged contracts on our first home, and have a decent job. To many people I am successful. I earn an okay wage, I’m in love, and we’re waiting for our beautiful house to be built. Life is good, but I still feel as though I’m sort of stuck.
 Do I want to do this job forever? Do I always want to live in Cornwall? The world is very big. I explored some of it during a gap year, and was very glad I took the time out to learn things in a different way before starting University, but I almost feel as though I’ll never get the chance again because I’ve now got responsibilities. On the flip side, I’m sure if you speak to a few travellers, they’d be concerned that they haven’t got any responsibilities, and with responsibility comes security. A lack of that, to me, is also a scary thought.

 The problem we seem to face is that in this social-media obsessed world, everyone wants to show off, and in doing so, they only reveal their highlights. We only ever see the ‘I got the job!’ or the ‘I’ve bought a house!’ type posts – and if you’re not a member of the homeowners club, or you’re not in that ‘career’ yet it can be pretty daunting, and sometimes feels like everyone is successful apart from you.
When Kai and I were trying (and failing at first) to secure a mortgage, it seemed as though everyone we knew had success in this area. That’s because our Amygdala (a little walnut-shaped thing in our brain that processes memory, decision-making and emotional reactions), was sensitive to that particular thing. In laymen’s terms, because we were feeling negative and looking at everyone else’s success, we saw and noticed everyone’s successes in house buying a lot more than if we weren’t going through the process of buying a house ourselves.
It’s like if you want a particular car. Before you know it, because you’re thinking about that car and your Amygdala has become sensitive to it, you notice the damn car everywhere – almost as if the world is tempting you to buy it, or rubbing in the fact that you can’t afford it.

 It’s important to think positively about your life, because in no time you’ll start to notice more and more things to be positive about. I’m not saying your mind is capable of having superpowers or anything, and you do need to be realistic too (if you want to be a professional singer but know you can’t sing, it’s probably not going to happen). But if you have a realistic career in mind (even if it would take a lot of hard work) you need to visualise yourself doing it. Create mood boards, even pick out the clothes you’d wear at the job if you want, and think positively. Combine this with hard work, and I promise it’ll come.

 Now that is all well and good if you have an idea of what you want in life – but you obviously can’t visualise something if you don’t know what to visualise.
We all want the ‘end product’, but what we often forget is that the journey towards this is what makes the success.
The butterfly effect suggests that something as small as the flutter of butterfly wings can start a tornado on the other side of the world. Every single one of your experiences, good or bad, can lead to you obtaining your ‘end product’ even if you don’t know what that is yet. Whether those experiences are gathered through random conversations, through working part time jobs, or through enjoying your hobbies – they all amount to something, which in turn could lead to something else. I suppose what I’m trying to say is if you are feeling stuck, sit back, relax a little, and enjoy fluttering for the moment.

 It’s okay to not have everything planned out by a specific age. It’s very easy to think that forty is old when you’re only in your early-twenties. But if you ask a forty year old if they feel old, majority of them would say they don’t. My point is, you are going to be working until you are sixty-seven. If you’re 25 now, that means you’ve got a whole forty-two years of working ahead of you. And, when you think of it like that, it’s kind of okay to not have it all figured out. Sometimes you need to work in jobs to realise that you don’t want to work in that job. Sometimes you need to move to an area to figure out that actually, you preferred where you were before, or that hey, actually, a new place is exactly what you needed.

The average age of death in the UK is 86 for men, and 89 for women. Hopefully we are all here for a pretty long time, so stop fretting about the things you haven't achieved yet, and focus on what you have and what eventually you will. 

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