Dude, where’s my Mojo?

You know when you wake up and you think ‘ugh. I just don’t want to do it’? Whatever it might be. Work. Shopping (food, not fun). Cleaning.

 

That’s been me and running all week. My mojo has gone! I got one run in on Sunday, and another on Tuesday, but for the rest of the week I have sat on the couch oscillating from mourning my lost mojo to defiantly watching TV and being all ‘I don’t care, whatevs man’.

 

It happens to all of us – you can’t love something all the time, even if it is one of your greatest passions. So here are some tips to help you find your mojo if, like me, it’s gone on a late-Summer holiday:

 

  • Recognise how you feel. Try to work out what’s going on: is your body tired from training, and needs time to recover? Does your mind just need a break from always having something next on the to-do list? It’s definitely the latter for me. Now my mind is saying ‘you know what would be ace? Just chilling. Chilling with some guacamole and Doritos’. And who am I to deny my mind this one small thing?
Emoticons are a great way to self-diagnose. I like to feel like emoti-Spiderman before I pretty much do anything.

Emoticons are a great tool to diagnose your mood. I like to feel like emoti-Spiderman before I pretty much do anything.

  • Be kind to yourself. The last thing you need when you’re already feeling flat is more pressure… from yourself. That makes no sense at all. There are times when you will love running, and times when you won’t, and it’s ok to have an off-period. If you need to take a week or two to sort your head out or let your muscles relax, then do it, and don’t beat yourself up about it. Honestly – it’s ok.
  • Think about your next goal. My mojo is definitely linked to looking forward to events: planning them training for them, running on new routes and setting new records. Right now I don’t have an upcoming event, but I do know what I’ll be booking as soon as payday rolls around: a 10 mile road race in November.
Thanks Runners World for always finding the right motivation and inspiration.

Thanks Runners World for always finding the right motivation and inspiration.

  • Share the love. Now is the time to embrace whatever running community you’re in, not shy away. Don’t hide from how you feel – tell others, and you’ll be surprised at the support you receive from those around you. Go to your club run, accept that friendly smile and return it.  In a moment of frustration I tweeted, and got some really helpful advice from a friend in Sydney:
Original tweet. Followed by mistaken tweet from my buddy. And then:

Original tweet. Followed by mistaken tweet from my buddy. And then:

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#GlobalRunningCommunityUnite!

 

  • Seek inspiration. Keep reading those running magazines, and find things that you want to try out.  Look for inspiration around you – it’ll be there somewhere. I have a friend living in Vancouver who sends me pictures of all the (cheaper!) running clothes she can buy over there, and updating me on her distances – and her excitement is literally just what I need to remind me of the great things about running. Like cute running shorts. 
She sent me this today. HOW GORGEOUS are those mountains?

She sent me this today from her run. HOW GORGEOUS are those mountains?

  • Just run. If, at the end of all this, your mojo still hasn’t made an appearance, then just put your shoes on and go. Slow, fast, long, short, whatever you want. You are far more likely to remember why you felt running was a good idea in the first place if you go and do it. Remember the runners high? Drinking chocolate milk like it’s going out of business? Fresh air on your face after being indoors all day? Feeling like your legs are made of lead when you go to sleep? All positives from running. Well, positives in my running, anyway.

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And that’s my list! I’ve given myself til Monday to put the first five into action, and then I’ll do the sixth. August was such a busy month, and September is the same, so maybe a time out isn’t such a bad idea.

 

My Sunday run was at a folk and arts festival – it was the first morning that was really chilly. Like I had to shake my hands to keep them warm chilly. I guess the days of running in shorts are coming to a close….

 

Sunday Morning Sun

Sunday Morning Sun

 

I hope all of you reading this have your running mojos, and if not, I hope some of this was helpful!

 

Have a good weekend.

 

Ellie B

Friday Five

Good afternoon everyone!! Welcome to Friday!

 

It’s a long weekend here in the UK – the last one before Christmas – and the whole country is excited. Well, apart from those who have to work.

 

I have seen other blogs do ‘confessions’ posts, where they basically reveal things about them that you might not know. Because I am nosy, I really like these posts. So here, for your reading pleasure, are my Friday Fives: five things that have happened to me in the last 10 days that you might not know:

 

  • I forgot my socks when I was in London, and went running anyway. Now my running shoes stink, and I can’t get the smell out. And, as they were in my suitcase with my other clothes, I’m worried that I smelled the whole time I was in Berlin. Being in HR means that everyone speaks to you very tactfully, so no one would have told me. Who knew a short 7k would prove such a potent enemy to my pretty, purple runners?
  • I discovered that green tea makes me sick. After drinking it first thing on an empty stomach for a while, I always felt nauseous. This morning I was actually physically sick – poor SB was trying to open his birthday presents, and I had to keep running to the bathroom.  It was a great start to his birthday. After a some good internet diagnosis, I learned that green tea stimulates stomach acid, which can upset your stomach. So… beware of green tea on an empty stomach! Back to coffee for me….. it’s a sign.
  • My mojo has gone this week… I haven’t wanted to go on any of the runs that I’ve done. This is kind of how I’ve felt this week:
Of course, that is not how I approached my runs this week because mid-week drinking is never clever.

Of course, that is not how I approached my runs this week because mid-week drinking is never clever.

 

Shut up and Run says you have to approach running like you would a doctor’s appointment, and think that you can’t back out – which is 100% true, and very helpful when you don’t want to go. Drag yourself out there, and about 5 minutes in, you’re a new person, all in love with life etc.

  • And for those looking for a bit of romance – I read this poem this week, and it has made my insides all gooey. It’s so romantic. I  love the idea that someone’s eyes has a voice which is deeper than roses. Imagine being the person this was written about – how could you carry on each day knowing that?
Roses

Gaaaah!! How can you not love those words?

  • I have recently become a bit concerned with facial wrinkle prevention: my dual struggle is that I smile a lot and also run a lot. Laughter lines are pretty well-entrenched – I’ve tried to master the no-wrinkle-smile, but it just look like I’m about to kill someone.
One says 'well well well... I've been expecting you' and the other one says 'genuinely happy to see you'.

One says ‘well well well… I’ve been expecting you’ and the other one says ‘genuinely happy to see you’. Both are kind of school-picture awkward.

 

And I dunno whether running causes wrinkles, but I’m not about to stop. What I am about to do is spend all my disposable income on good stuff to help this. My friend has this blog which has literally saved my life with all this – she is a chemist (like SB) and so really and actually knows what works and what doesn’t. Thank you, Lab Muffin!!!!!

 

I have also been eyeing up some races for Autumn – I haven’t done a half marathon this year yet, and it’s making me twitchy. I love the half!! I can’t wait til payday and I can sign up to them all.

 

And it’s SB’s birthday today!! Happy birthday to the cleverest Organic Chemist in all the land. I am using his special day as an excuse to eat as much chocolate and cake as I can. He’s not even here now…. I can still celebrate 😉

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Happy Friday everyone, and if you’re in the UK, enjoy the long weekend!!

 

Ellie B

 

 

Too much pole to choose from!

Let me tell you a story.

 

Seven years ago, a young girl tried pole dancing and fell in love. She learned how to move with the music, how to walk in killer heels, and satisfied the monkey-tendencies she developed during her tree-climbing childhood.

 

Four years later, she moved to England, and found her beloved pole dancing wasn’t quite the same – in England they were all about pole fit. She searched high and low, in London and beyond, for a school that taught a similar style to her school in Sydney, but it wasn’t to be. So, like a well-adjusted human being, she had adapted her expectations and get on with life. Only to find that she discovered a friendly pole school in Durham, and rewarded with loads of new moves to learn, a completely new style to get to grips with, and lots of new friends.

 

This post looks at the differences between pole dance and pole fit, and is 100% based on my own experience: I’d love to hear from people who have different experiences too. When I first arrived in the UK, I noticed significant differences between the style of pole in Australia  (dance) and the UK (fit). Here is a basic breakdown on the styles:

 

pole table

This isn’t anything official, but is my own interpretation based on what I saw when I arrived in the UK

Both are designed to be challenging, fun and to reclaim the idea of pole dancing as something that’s not inherently related to the red light district. But they do it in slightly different ways.

Pole dance reclaims it by maintaining the overt attractiveness to the dance: fitness and strength are as equal to mastering a smooth routine, with sexiness an important part of the performance. You as the dancer are in control – you’re not being objectified (not that there’s anyone there to objectify you!), and you are choosing to demonstrate your strength and femininity in that way. And looking objectively, apart from the shoes and the costumes, a lot of the routines aren’t overtly sexy – what makes them sexy is the attitude of the dancer themselves. They consciously steer their performances towards a certain interpretation.

Bobbi Right Leg Hang

This is Bobbi doing a pole dance move. The way her arms are placed, her shoes, and her facial expression all shows that this is a performance. All lines are smooth, but not dead straight, suggesting movement and fluidity.

Pole fit has a different focus: it focuses more at the actual move itself in isolation, with an emphasis on building core and muscle strength. In my experience, UK dancers know loads more actual moves than the Aussies, but they don’t always have the stamina to do combos or routines. They reclaim the sport by trying to negate any sexual connotations: their focus is on the sport and fitness of the activity, and work to steer their activity away from any inherent sexiness.

pole fit scorpio

This is the same move as Bobbi, but a pole fit version. The lines are straight and rigid, her outfit emphasises sport rather than costume, and the overall composition of the photo is designed to show off the move itself rather than create a performance.

So, basically, the Aussies are saying ‘too bloody right, mate, being sexy is a part of the sport and we’ll continue to work that into our routines with kick ass moves, and we’re true blue proud of it’ (because that’s how all Aussies talk), the UK are saying ‘excuse me, actually, you can have a perfectly respectable sport without reminding ourselves of the stripper pole, thank you very much. Now pass the tea’. And I am qualified to make those statements because I am: a) a pole dancer, and b) have lived in both countries, so know how they talk.

In recent years, there has been a shift in both spheres to focus on really contortion-y moves: how you literally tie yourself in a knot around the pole. The only way I’ll do this is to remove a few ribs, or quit my full time role and spend my days on a rack, like the good old middle ages.

Contortion 1

Rainbow markecho

Recently it seems like  UK has started to focus on expressionist dance. Performances are done bare foot, and costumes have to include a certain amount of material to pass: you can’t be too sexy. So with that in mind, here is some homework before we continue.

Go and watch these videos:

  • Here is a performance by Bendy Kate – UK pole superstar, and winner of the World Pole Dance 2014 as well as many other titles (web address: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NV_zbt7ycUc)
  • And here is a personal hero of mine, Cleo the Hurricane, two-time Miss Pole Dance Australia, dancing to Courntey Love (web address: http://www.poledancevideos.com.au/weddingday/)

 

So. One is a competition entry, and the other is a freestyle dance. Both are really fun, amazingly impressive and super advanced, but in my opinion, Cleo seems a little more free. Maybe cos it’s not a competition entry, but still. The routines that are based in pole fitness are often more creative because they interpret it in so many different ways, however they sometimes lack a certain…. liberty that is present in the routines based in pole dance.

Personally, I love the energy in Cleo’s style. It’s fun, and she’s completely in control of what she’s doing – like I said before, there’s no objectification there whatsoever: what you think says more about your attitudes than her, and her unapologetic confidence is like a huge f*ck you to any naysayers out there.

That’t not the only reason why I like her style, but I appreciate what the Aussie style pole has done for me personally in terms of not being awkward about yourself: now instead of feeling self-conscious on the dance floor, I frickin tear it up, as we found out on Friday (whether the moves were any good is a different question…).

Anyway, this is a bit rambly now. The main points are:

  • Although I like the inventiveness of the expressionist pole routines, as long as the UK is still a little conservative towards certain styles of pole dance, Aussie pole dance will be my favourite
  • The sexy element of pole dance is what has had the biggest impact in my overall attitude, and I don’t think I’d be as open minded, happy or relaxed in myself if I’d learned only pole fit – if that sounds weird, I’m happy to talk more about it!
  • The moves that my pole heroes can do are breathtaking in their grace, strength and contortion, and both pole fit and dance are moving in an incredible direction
  • I have made some amazing friends through pole fit in the UK, and so even though I don’t get my headrolls in as much as I’d like, I would never choose to be without these ladies

 1973773_10152293493469551_1782847630_o

So that’s that. Like I said, this is all based on my own experience, so please feel free to agree, disagree, go off on a tangent in the comments…..

 

Ellie B

Oh the places I’ve ran…. (with work)…

Hey y’all. Thanks for your patience while I was a little bit AWOL last week. I started my week in London and ended it in Berlin: quite the schedule considering that last weekend was spent in Yorkshire, and the week before in Stockholm.

 

Yep, it all sounds peachy. And mostly, it is. But it also impacts your life in ways that all add up: I go to bed later, I rise earlier, I drink more, I eat more, and I run less. A week of travel can leave me 60% elated and excited, and 40% adrift and out of touch. But don’t get me wrong – I’m always grateful, and know how lucky I am to have these opportunities.

 

Over the past two weeks I’ve only ran three times: once in London, once in Yorkshire and once in Berlin. I’m feeling bloated, heavy, too-full-of-chocolate (the treat size bag of m&ms I ate today don’t help with that), so to help me clear my funk, I’ve thought of my favourite running experiences whilst on work travel:

  • Edinburgh, August 2011: This was back in the day when running 5k at 6.30am was a big deal for me (to be honest, I’m still amazed when I do anything before 7am). My hotel was in the suburbs, and so I didn’t see any  sights, but I felt proud that I was out running before a workday that I knew would last until at least 12am that night. I was still adjusting to life in England, and adapting my running habits to UK running. I don’t have a photo of this run because I was such a novice that it never occurred to me to take a photo while running (I’m sure some people would say it’s not great running etiquette…).
  • Stockholm, March 2014: This 10k route was recommended to me by my CFO, and takes you through the town to a body of water called DjurgÃ¥rdsbrunnsviken. I ran at 6am, just after the sun had risen: everything was cloaked in a fresh, golden light and the water was so still that it looked like a deep silver, silk carpet. I saw the typical Scandinavian colourful houses, as well as crystal clear reflections and dappled sunlight through tree branches. This was definitely the run that made me immediately want to go home and write wonderful poetry that so perfectly encapsulated the experience that there’d be a new literary movement called ‘Runmantics’ – like the Romantics, but running (or maybe that final sentence shows why it’ll never, ever happen).

IMG_4019

IMG_4021

Awww how can you not love it?

IMG_4022

 

  • London, 2011-14: London is one of my favourite running cities. Unless you go first thing in the morning, it is stupidly crowded with people, but even at these times I love it. London is made up of thousands of tiny streets: running through the narrow and dark alleys like Milk Street, Bread Street and Smithfield Market, I can imagine what life would have been like 200 years ago. If I ignore the music pumping in my ears, the City Boys with their beards, pinstripes, and aviators, and the H&Ms on every corner. But! Then you reach the Thames, where you can run for ages and ages, taking in the sights of London while improving your lactate threshold. Is there anything better?
photo-130

London Summer Running

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London Winter Running

  • San Francisco, January 2013: This route took me from Union Square, through the FiDi (totes  just learned that means the Financial District in SF),  along the water to Pier 39 and back. It was about 8k in total I think. I ran at 7pm, when it was cool and dark, so until I reached Pier 39, the route wasn’t anything special to look at. But it was ace seeing the skateboarders doing their thing, seeing the lights of Pier 39 get closer and brighter, and feeling the fresh Winter air blowing in from the bay. And it was a long way from Europe or Australia.
P1020290

Love Hearts at Union Square

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Did you ever see such a typically American restaurant?

  • Berlin 2014: So this one happened this week, which is why it’s made the list. :) And also because Berlin is the coolest of the cool. Our office is in the East side of the city, with MTV just down the road, so you know, that’s how we roll. It’s a really creative area, with people playing music on the streets until well into the night, loads of clubs which don’t close until the sun has been up for at least 8 hours, and fancy pants graffiti on any surface that will hold it. Shoreditch graffiti looks like a GCSE art project compared to Berlin graffiti. This run took us across the Spree, with a fab view of the Molecule Man, and into Treptower park, where I got my fix of running beside water (see Stockholm, SF and London!).

photo 2-11 photo 1-12

 

So – are you still with me after all of this?

 

The week in Berlin was great, and on Friday there was a regional party. On the way there, I saw this sign:

 photo 1-13

 

So I did what it said. Eleven hours later, I found myself going to bed (the sun was about to come up, people!), and now four days later, my quads are still sore after all that boogying.  It’s not that I’m #TooOldToParty. If anything, I’ve found a great way to cross train. Same effect as running uphill: dehydrating, crying legs, a sense of disbelief as to what’s just happened.

 

And to close, here is some Berlin wall graffiti for you all:

photo 2-12

Ellie B

 

First Fell Race: Arncliffe Village Fete

Oh, hi Yorkshire Dales, looking all gorgeous and sunny, with your sheep and cowes and yellow Tour de France decorations. What’s that, you say? You have a fell race? Why, count me in!!

 

And that pretty much sums up my weekend.

 

SB and I went to the Yorkshire Dales to visit friends of ours, and it was very nicely timed with the village fete. Cue lots of cake, ice cream and cider, with a strong man competition thrown in for good measure.

 

Whilst there, I also ran my first ever fell race.: the Arncliffe Gala Fell Race It was 1.9 miles, so the distance wasn’t too intimidating even if the hills were. Where better to test out my fell-legs than in one of the most beautiful parts of the world?

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It soon transpired that this little event would bring almost as many nerves as the marathon, and before the start I was all sweaty and quiet. It came down to three things:

  1. This was a local race, in an area overrun by farmers and people who run up the fells every day as part of their everyday work. Their calf muscles alone told me how familiar they were with this landscape. How would this city slicker do in comparison?
  2. I had no idea how to pace the race. 1.9 miles – you should be able to sprint that pretty quickly. But how do you tackle the giant hill? What about running down? Do you pelt it down, and risk breaking your ankle in a rabbit hole?
  3. There were only about 80 competitors, plus my friends were watching. I’m used to the anonymity of bigger races, where I feel like I can fade into the fabric of the other runners, and this felt much more exposed. This issue was 100% a matter of pride 😉

 

So. We lined up in the village green, after children of all ages ran their races in spectacular style (I’ve never seen so many kids in running club vests). The compere confirmed that we should start on the whistle and not the count of three, and then we were off to literally run up hill and down dale.

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We left the village and entered one of the fields, where for the next ¾ of a mile we ‘ran’ up the side of one of the dales.  Except no one ran, apart from maybe the people in front. Most people were walking, with their hands on their quads pushing their weight through their legs. It was so steep, with so many hidden holes and rocks, that I don’t actually think you could run.

 

The view from the top. Not taken mid-race!

The view of the village from the top. The hill fell steeply away beyond that stone wall… Not taken mid-race!

The next section took us across the ridge of the hill, where there were some fantastic views if we’d have been able to look. All I could do was watch where my feet were going, and try to keep up speed without losing my footing. More than once I stumbled, and eventually found it easier to run with my arms out for balance. I like to think I was channeling Mo Farah’s winning pose, but I think in reality I showed myself as a novice.

 

Not me.

Not me.

Going down was what scared me. Instead of trying to keep a good running posture, I leaned back, spread my hands out in front of me, and took tiny steps. I totally copied this style from a woman who overtook me on the slope.

 

And then before I knew it, we were back on the flat and I pelted the last section. I was able to overtake the woman whose style I copied (competitive much?), and finished in 16:52. I was eighth woman in, out of eighteen, with the first woman coming back in 13:32. It was a different running experience: I never ran at full capacity until the end, because the landscape demanded special care where I placed my feet. This took more concentration, as well as a strong core, to make sure I didn’t tumble down the hill and really expose myself as a novice. I really enjoyed the whole thing: participating in a local event, running in some gorgeous scenery, and not being too sweaty at the end for my friends!!

 

Another fete activity: count the sheep.

Another fete activity: count the sheep.

The other highlight of the day was seeing my 18 month old goddaughter win second prize in the children’s fancy dress competition. She was a sheep, and if I do say so myself, was the cutest sheep in all the land. She’s no fool – she knew when the judges were there, and went ‘baaaaa’ as they walked past. I see a bright future for her in politics or on the stage with those crowd-pleasing public speaking skills at such a young age.

 

Ah, and we also watched the Strongman Competition and Tug-of-War in the afternoon sun! This weekend had so many highlights, and Arncliffe has set a very high standard for how a village fete should be run. It’s not hard: have a strongman competition, running races, and lots of cake.

Tug of War! Serious stuff!

Tug of War! Serious stuff!

 

Ellie B