I can’t lie, I’m a little bit scared. On Sunday 4th March I do the 2012 Step Change challenge at the Gherkin (30 St Mary Axe) to raise money for the NSPCC.

That’s right, I’m going to be racing up 38 floors, 180 metres and 1037 STEPS. All the way to the top, baby!

So. I’ve got to raise £200 – let the training and the squeezing of lovely people for funds begin…

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Pieces from the 'God Save The Queen' capsule collection

Designer for Sweaty Betty’s Sweat and Run collections, Lisa, took me through SB’s high-octane fitness pieces… Read the rest of this entry »

I was invited down to Kingly Court to check out the upcoming Sweaty Betty range for next summer. Yay! As you might have heard, we in the UK have a little thing called the Olympics coming up next year (The stadium is down the road from me!), and SB have taken that as their inspiration, with stunning results. Let’s have a look, shall we?  Read the rest of this entry »

I'm on the far left, holding a rainbow.

Proudly repping for Run Dem Crew, I was part of a 43-strong team which, as it turned out, was the largest in the word for the MoRunning event (part of the Movember men’s cancer awareness-raising movement).

Despite not knowing my race number, I registered quickly and easily, as the registration staff kept numbered lists which were cross-referenced with entrant’s names (but no master list).

I’ve never used a paper strip race chip before, and making sure that my race number was showing at all times was probably easier said than done; I had to keep turning the paper strip upwards to make sure the number was visible. I tend to prefer the usual chips.

There was a great atmosphere in the build-up to the race. Nearly everyone I saw was resplendent in moustaches – and the men did a fine job also!

The rest of the crew and I took our positions, and the opportunity to skank out a bit to LMFAO‘s ‘Party Rock Anthem’.

The race itself

I’ve said before, and will say again, that the course of what shall now be known as ‘Greenwich Bloodclart Park’ was drawn, then redrawn, by a madman.

We started down the easy descent from the top of the hill near the Observatory, left down a steeper descent and left again down a steeper one still; then I get a bit muddled after the first flat. It’s a hill, so of course the route was hilly. But UGH… the inclines had a special way of making me feel like my legs were weighted with lead, so I tackled them on tiptoe or powerwalked where I could. When my pre-race chug of Jack3d failed me, cursing my existence powered me through the course.

Race organisation – positives

  • The marshals were friendly and encouraging
  • The rout itself was clearly marked and there was no chance of veering off-course, with marshals planted all over.

The negatives

  • Seeing signs for 6 and 7 km before the first km was done. AGGGGHHHHH! It’s bad enough the course breaks your balls, but messing with the mind as well? No bueno.
  • One water station after the first lap? I suppose, in fairness, it’s ‘only’ 6 miles, and space might have been an issue. But it still didn’t seem enough. Moan moan moan 🙂
  • Slightly rubbish goodie packs – lots of paper fraff, which I chucked away, and a Snickers bar. Not great post-race nutrition. The Vitamin Water was welcome, though.

On thing I’ve learned from the race, and from prepping for it, is this: research the route and if you can, do a quick recce or at least a recce run. We did practice runs beforehand, and although the race-day route was rather different, suffering those hills in advance of the race gave me an edge. If I hadn’t cursed and bitched and moaned through those runs, I’d be cussing even more. Fail to prepare = prepare to fail, and all that. Big thanks to Glenn, who helped us get our ish together.

Anyway. It’s not a route for a PB (although one of our nitro-footed number did score a trophy), but I’m pleased to say I rolled in at 1:12:47. And that was with walk breaks!

Post-race
I chilled with some of Run Dem, then took my creaking body off to Chinatown for a massage and some bubble tea. Then I went clubbing that night – I was out until four in stilettoes – and my legs were thoroughly pissed off the next day. Worth it though… but that’s a different story 😉

See the leggings, the moustaches, the  t-shirts, the  tantrums and the sexy Cheer Dem Crew here on the RDC facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=oa.10150397808253749&type=1

I’ve had a couple of people ask me on Twitter what they needed to start running, and I’ve had people say they took up running inspired, in part, by my antics. People are coming to me with questions and asking for advice, so this post is inspired by you, and for you.

Now, the great thing about running is that all it takes to start running is to literally get out there and run. You don’t need fancy equipment – just motivation. But there are things you need to get going on the right path. Let’s get the basics covered:

Trainers

Your AirForce 1s will not cut it. Take the time to get a gait analysis, or at least pay attention to what your foot does when it hits the ground. Does it roll inwards? Outwards? Not at all? Go to a running-centric shoe shop and get advice on what to wear. Even if this means getting a pair of basic, sturdy and unsexy Nike ‘Retards’ (see @thetortoisewithnohair, @tahira, @sammi_x)

Clothes

Your cotton tees and joggers will not do, either. Now is the time to invest in lycra – don’t act like you never wanted to!  Cotton is not a sweat-wicking fabric; it will hang heavy and damp on you, and you’ll smell even more rank after a run than you would otherwise. I wouldn’t know, because my BO smells like Chanel No5, but I digress.

When I say ‘sweat wicking’, I mean mechnical gear which draws sweat away from your body, and depending on the time of year you go out running in, is designed to keep you appropriately warm or cool. Think Baby Bear – just right. There’s nothing more likely to put you off your stride than feeling all ‘Betty Swollocks’.

Look out for pieces with pockets in them, preferably zipped-up back or  side pockets; I’m fairly sure you’ll need to carry stuff, unless you have a monkey butler to jog alongside you. The little shiny bits on the clothing aren’t there to make you look like an extra from Tron; they’re designed to help you not get hit by cars in the dark, if you’re not inclined to wear bright yellow or pink running tights like me.

‘OMG. People are looking at me!’

Yes, you will initially feel like 10 pounds of shit in a 5-pound bag; yes, you’ll feel self-conscious, yes, you’ll look like an escapee from Ninja College. Yes, people will look at you a bit funny, and yes, you’ll feel like the only person in the world wearing lycra. And yes, you’ll just have to get over it. It won’t take long, I promise.

Underwear

Men, you will have to wear something under your tights and running shorts to stop your sugar lumps flailing helplessly about. Likewise, you’ll probably want to avoid any Torture Garden-type apparel which will crush the ‘boys’.

Women, you need to wear a sports bra for the same reason. I firmly believe that any woman wearing her normal bra out jogging should be summarily executed. When I am dictator I will shoot first, ask questions later, but I digress.

Tech

You have the choice to run free, to let your spirit take you to weird and wonderful places at your own pace, and that’s great. You also have the option of looking at your stats, so you can see how long time and distance wise you’re going, if you’re kicking anyone’s arse, and work towards getting a personal best (PB). iPhone and iPod touch users (if you’re hooked up to a wi-fi connection) can download the Nike+ app; adidas have the miCoach app too. A cheap alternative to Garmins is a Nike+ Sportband.

Money

Spending it, that is. You don’t need to go to NikeTown and piss all your money away – there are loads of sites where you can get cheap, good quality branded running gear –  new-season stuff, too! I like Start Fitness and TK Maxx, personally – the selection in SportsDirect merely nudges ‘OK’ in my opinion. I tend to shop in Sweaty Betty during the sales, more often than not, to indulge my love of sport luxe style. Some brands are worth spending the extra on because of the pure quality.

Socks

Get technical  running socks which will support and cushion your feet, and protect them from blisters. Leave the Pringles in the drawer.

Feet

Accept now that your feet will suffer from regular training. Toenails will magically disappear, and blisters will make you their bitch. To protect against this, go to a dance shop like Bloch and get the little toe protector thingies. Unlike Boots and Superdrug, they make them to go over, not just round, your big toes and pinkies. Even if you buy good shoes, they can’t protect you totally from the repetitive pounding motion of running. Also, get bunion protectors – you’ll find them in the footcare aisle of Boots and Superdrug, or any local pharmacy.

Accessories

Carrying things in pockets is long.

You need to get clothes with pockets, but for bits which will make you look a bit suspect (lycra  + funny bulges = not even worth it) get a running bumbag or a Y-fumble. My friend makes these, and these awesome little sleeve pockets can easy fit my brick BB, keys, and a small child with no problem. They don’t slide off. WIN.

Music

If you’re going to carry your iPod or phone, even just to track your movements on your chosen app, make sure you get the right holder for the model. How annoying is it if you can’t swipe, press buttons and change playlists unless you take the damn thing off your arm and out of the holder?

Read

Read up on running technique, and if you can go to a free workshop, so much the better. Paid ones are good, too. We don’t want to overthink at this early stage, but I see so many people running like they’re doing the Charleston that I must state how important it is to think about what your body does when you run. Not least because it prevents injury, and people actually pointing and laughing (and hey, when we run, we think people are doing that anyway. Best not to give them any more ammo).

Read up on nutrition. Read up on stretches; they’re essential. Read about other people, like you, like me, who felt a bit scared to begin with, and grew in confidence.

Mens Running/Women’s Running

Runners’ World

Running4Women

RunningBug

Listen to your Body

It’ll take a little time to distinguish this voice from the voice telling you to eat Krispy Kremes. Your body tells you when it’s sick, when it’s tired, when it needs nourishment and love. This isn’t the voice which tells you ‘Oh God, I can’t be arsed’ five minutes into a run but ‘Please. Enough. I really can’t do this. I need to lie down/poop/take some Nurofen/feed my ovaries chocolate’ etc.

I’ve tried to run during the first day of my period, when all I had the energy to do was stay in bed – even after countless ProPlus pills and a glass of Berocca – and ended up feeling worse. There are some days where mental strength will not get you through. You’ll learn what those are the hard way; no two ways about it. Just learn what those voices are and listen out for them.

Mental Fortitude (or ‘Haters are Gonna Hate’)

People are looking at you funny. The people you run with might be more advanced than you. It’s too cold; it’s too hot. Get over it! Smile, and tell yourself you’re having fun, and when you’re not having fun, dig deep and concentrate on the music, the scenery, your breath – anything that takes away from the kill-me-now-ness.  Some of your friends and family will treat you like you’ve taken up sword-juggling; some people will be hostile and be, as the Scientologists call them, Suppressive Persons. I think 95% of running is up here *taps temple* – as Riley from The Boondocks would say, it’s all in the mental mind, yo.

Everything you do as a runner makes you a stronger person.

You’re Still Here? Get off Your Arse!

So. You have the trainers, the gear, and the attitude. If you’re still reading this, then it’s time to get off your arse and into the big bad world.

Go forth and enjoy – you’re a runner now!

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I’ve been reflecting on my last few sessions with RDC.

I while ago I received the race pack for Boutique Run, the race I’d ambled along, sometime last summer, to Run Dem to train for in the first place. I didn’t know anyone and that’s shit scary enough, but threw myself into talking, running-without-dying, all the rest of it. Charlie made me feel welcome, and I got chatting to fellow ‘after-hours athletes’. Gradually, though, I’ve gone from an occasional attendee to a full member – I’ve got an RDC tee to prove it!

A few weeks ago, I walked into the new-smelling, sexed-up 1948 store in Shoreditch and realised that RDC was quickly becoming my Cheers – a place where people knew me, knew my name, and I knew theirs.

I watched as a heartfelt tribute to Charlie was read out (it was the application for his nomination as Olympic torch-bearer). We applauded as the Virgin London Marathon runners of RDC were handed their seriously amazing Nike iD shoes, personalised with each runner’s finish time.

We were introduced to the Youngers, to some top-level Nike peeps and the designers behind the VLM trainers. We looked after each other on our run, and ate cake back at the shop. I chatted to a Thai boxing champ and a first-time runner (when was the last time you saw a funky paramedic?) I ran, sweated, bitched about work, gossiped, and left 1948 the same way I arrived: with a smile on my face. @iCandieCupcakes did a grand job leading the Tortoises.

I love the fact that I’ve met so many interesting and nice people – and in what must surely be the coolest running club in London, no less. And to think, when I started running, it was a purely solo activity (save the few times I went running with my ex-boyfriend).

Social running isn’t about speed (I was moaning about not being fast enough), it’s about getting to know people but you just happen to be running and getting fit at the same time. I can worry about speed on a solo run or a tempo/interval workout. RDC – well the people in it- are a big part of what’s made running such a positive experience for me.

I learned about the power of ‘you can do it‘ – more magical a phrase doesn’t exist in the English language (apart, maybe, from ‘calorie-free chocolate cheesecake eaten off a naked Bradley Cooper‘, but, again, as always, I digress.)

Jokes aside, I doubt very much I’d be training for my second half-marathon if I hadn’t joined them.

So I’m looking forward to tonight’s run, not least because I’m having a struggle with my training right now, but because the sheer energy we generate is irresistible, whether you’re feeling on top of the world or at rock bottom. That’s kept me going for over a year, and will keep me going.

Just a little light reading to get me through the month: Women’s Health, Runner’s World, Women’s Running, Mslexia 🙂
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Nike+ Sportband

buy one NOW NOW NOW

This, a humble sports watch, is the single most revolutionary piece of running kit I own since, like, my feet.

I’ve logged over 150 miles todate. I didn’t know I’d ever run that much in my lifetime, never mind in 3 or 4 months. That kind of thing is useful to know when you’re in need of motivation.

It’s simple to use – set it up, strap it on, make sure your sensor is tucked away in your shoe (Nike+ shoes have a handy groove under the left insole). Get a Nike+ account and race other people, play tag (using the iPhone/iPod touch GPS app), or join challenges and set goals.

If you’re not ready for a hardcore Garmin but want to track your progress, I can’t recommend this highly enough. Sometimes it’s the only reason I’m out of bed and hitting the road – when you know you can achieve a tangible goal and beat total strangers for time and distance, what’s not to love?

Find me on Nike+ as Ruby_A

Nike+ Store

Shock Absorber B5044 Run Bra

Avoid chafing, excessive movement, and the 'long-titty' look.

Women, listen up. I shall say this only once: YOU NEED A SPORTS BRA WHEN YOU WORK OUT.

I see women in the gym running in their regular bras – stop it! You’re lucky I don’t get off the treadmill to come and slap you. I mean, do you like having saggy tits? Do you like having stretch marks? Do you?

It’s been shown that the breasts move in a figure-of-8 motion, and this can make the Cooper’s Ligaments in them stretch. Boobs are not made of muscle; they are made of fat and ligaments. These ligaments stretch one way, and one way only: DOWNWARDS. To help protect against this you need a good bra to strap those puppies down, so they don’t become spaniel’s ears.

I’ve been lucky, as a Team Bangs On The Run member, to receive a Run bra direct from Shock Absorber themselves – it’s nice when a company pledges their support to us girls and they actually, you know, support our girls! However, I’ve been a massive fan of their bras from day one. They’re comfy, well-made, and with varying degrees of support, have a firm place in my gym wardrobe whether I’m running, rowing, or doing yoga.

A dig in the archives for other witterings of mine you might have missed:


My review of Shireen Jilla’s Exiled, on For Books’ Sake:

“The awkward moment three NYPD cops are stood in Anna’s bedroom in the wee hours, demanding answers after little Josh is reported to be ‘endangered’, it’s apparent things are going to go tits-up… But Exiled isn’t about a fish out of water. It’s a fight for territory: Jessie and Anna’s four-year-old son, Josh. And that fight is with Jessie’s stepmother, Nancy. She’s super-rich, nipped and tucked – and frankly, poor old Anna’s fucked.”

My previous reviews…

‘There Are A Million Stories in The Naked City When You’re A Girl Who Gets Naked in The Naked City’ by Fiona Helmsley (a sex and drugs memoir which, appropriately, has a title which is quite a mouthful)

A Million Stories… grips us by a grimy hand and takes us down into the sleazy New York underbelly, into a friendly local ‘jack shack’, LUV, where the girls dance and the men wank.”

“She knows it’s wrong, but [her new beau is] sexy as hell and has a massive cock to get on, she an ex-boyfriend to get over. Needs must, but needs aren’t quite met…”

‘The Bed I Made’ by Lucie Whitehouse (a taut thriller about a romance gone badly wrong)

“We discover more about the night [Kate] met tall, dark, handsome and intense Richard. Straining against the bit to break free of her ‘work, work, and more work’ rut, she makes the giddily reckless decision to go home with him that same night. Despite herself she becomes hooked on the sex, the banter, the excitement… “

My tribute to Maya Angelou:

“Maya Angelou’s influence is huge. The first of the modern black female memoirists, her tender and lyrical writing crosses all boundaries. She expresses the hard truths of what it means to be black and female, in a world which isn’t always kind to either, without alienating readers who are neither.”

Happy birthday, Maya Angelou!

My first feature on For Books’ Sake – an alternative approach to dating for Valentine’s Day, The Cynical Romantic’s Laws of Love and Dating

“Law 11: Learn to Keep People Dependent on You

Make those who float into your orbit (‘like planets… unable to get any closer’) feel like they’re number one, without giving too much away yourself.

Remember where the bodies are buried and who knows who; […]this is far stronger leverage than being able to do the Oyster, or having a butt you could rest a table of cocktails on (and to those of you who have these attributes, I say: lucky cow!).”