Apologies for the quietness over the last week. I’ll be totally candid and say that it’s because I haven’t worked out. My mental health and fitness are fatally intertwined in the sense that working out makes me feel better but if I’m not feeling great, I can’t bring myself to workout. And I’ve had a week where I just couldn’t get myself there.
I didn’t beat myself up too much though on the basis that I knew I’d be coming home for the Easter break this week and would be able to use my favourite and original gym. And today I did! AND it was my best workout yet.
I followed the same workout structure but stretched it out to 40 minutes, alternating between running and walking. It was meant to be 5 minutes of each all the way through but I lost track of time at one point and did a six minute lap and a 4 minute lap. But that means I ran for a total of 20 minutes and my longest continuous streak was 6 minutes. And I felt good doing it! It’s true that the first run is by far the most painful and that the pain reduces with each subsequent go. Today I felt confident that I could push myself without it feeling like I might not be able to handle the extra.
Now, 4 hours later, as I’m sat at my computer writing this, my lower back and hips are aching so my next task is to find out how to reduce that side effect.
Now that I’m home for a couple of weeks and can use Parkwood Gym, my aim is to go at least 3 times a week and to make a small improvement each time (as I have done so far). Next week I have a PT session booked in with my lovely friend Charley at Parkwood, who I used to work with and who is so passionate about her job as a PT. I’m excited to have her input and will let you know how it goes!
Part-time position, hours negotiable. Open to males and females of any age. Must be enthusiastic and reliable. Payment in smoothies and eternal gratitude.
I have never been good at self-motivation. If I don’t feel like doing something, I probably won’t do it. The only thing you can guarantee getting me out of bed in the morning for is work and that’s only because I’ll be punished if I don’t and the other thing I’m not good at is confrontation!
The fact that I’ve signed up for this 10k and have managed three workouts in a week is a bloody miracle! The excitement and sense of achievement is a big motivator, I won’t deny, and it’s certainly got me to the gym so far. But, what I’d love is for someone to come with me and shout at me about what a great job I’m doing!
Last week, when I did those first two stints on the treadmill, the people next to me must’ve thought I was nuts if they could hear me under my breath muttering, “Go on girl, you can do it, just 30 seconds left, yes that’s it, you got this…” etc etc. Much less embarrassing when someone else says all of that to you!
Teamwork makes the dream work; they said it in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and I’m saying it now. Whether it’s someone to motivate me through, or someone who’ll convince me to get out of bed when I don’t feel like it, or just someone who’ll join me in the sauna after a session, I’d love to have people support me on this journey. I’ve got friends who just like gyming and friends who’re doing or have done courses or degrees in sport/personal training/fitness. Whether you’re one of those or something in between, or if you’re a stranger reading this who either lives in Brighton or Salisbury – get in touch! If you’re a friend I haven’t spoken to in years but you want to help me on this journey, reach out!
If the next 9 weeks go by as quickly as this one has then I’m gonna blink and it’ll be race day!
I’ve always been fairly on top of my fitness but as a runner, I am a complete beginner. When deciding whether this was really a good idea, I had to tell myself that if I could run around the athletics track in Year 11 to warm up before a PE lesson then surely I can still do that much and work up to this 10k. The fact that that was 5 years ago is but a minor hitch!
Despite my nerves, I’ve done 3 runs this week, and I am so proud of myself.
Run the First
I got home from uni last Monday (before posting the first blog about this – I wanted to make sure there was some chance of this happening before I committed online!) and before I could change my mind, I put on my trainers and headed back out the front door. Opposite my house in Brighton, there’s a little cul de sac so I decided to head in there and give this running a go. The residents probably thought I was staking the place out for a burglary; there’s not far to go in a cul de sac other than round in a circle! I was out for maybe 10 minutes and I didn’t even run for all of that, it was part walking. But the first step is the hardest to take and that’s the one I knew I needed to get on with. I just wanted to see what, if anything, I was starting with.
Run the Second
The second attempt had a bit more structure to it. On Thursday afternoon, I went to the Gym and got myself on the treadmill. One of the reasons I’ve never done much running is because of a problem with my left knee where my patella (knee cap) doesn’t track in a straight line, as it should. Basically, I’m wonky. It’s been okay for a couple of years but when it was at its worst, the impact of running was unbearable and I got into the habit of using the cross-trainer instead. It’s been my best friend for cardio ever since. Alas, when gearing up for a 10k, one must make amends with the treadmill. So, on I hopped, and started with a walk to warm up. I’d checked out some of the advice on the Vitality London 10,000 website and there’s a beginners 10 week plan on there which I’m using for inspiration. Interspersing running with walking is the main gist of that, so I experimented with my own little routine, which ended up as follows:
5 minutes walking (to warm up)
3 minutes running
2 minutes walking
3 minutes running
4 minutes walking (Guess where I started to get tired!)
3 minutes running
5 minutes walking (to cool down)
A total of 9 minutes running out of 25 doesn’t sound like much, but for me, it felt like a massive win! I did a little bit of weight training after that, and headed home feeling victorious.
And what did I do the very next morning? I got up and went to the gym again (don’t get carried away, it was 11am – I am still a student!). I did the same thing but managed to push myself a little bit. The second set of 3 minutes became 3.5 and the third became 4 minutes. That’s a minute and a half increase!
I took the weekend off to let my body recover and tomorrow I intend to be back at it. Week 2, let’s be ‘aving ya!
On this day a year ago, I returned from my amazing trip to Australia, all 3 months of which, I documented on this blog.
Today, I’m going to start documenting an entirely different, but (hopefully) as exciting and fulfilling journey…
But first, a word of context. Someone who really inspires me in the area of body confidence is Giovanna Fletcher, author, actress, wife of McFly’s Tom Fletcher and mother to three adorable (according to Instagram) little boys. Giovanna, who tends to be known as Gi, knows that even though her body may not look ‘perfect’ according to society’s ideals, it’s done so much for her and deserves to be loved and taken care of. One of Gi’s body’s achievements is giving birth to her three children and if you’re familiar with any of her work, you’ll know this is what she’s most proud of.
I haven’t been all that happy about my body in the last few months. I’ve always had issues with my back and my knees, I regularly see a chiropractor to keep my spine from crying, and recently I’ve felt so lethargic and lacking in energy. Things like exhaustion, headaches and lack of sleep come as symptoms of my poor mental health. And while they won’t officially diagnose me with asthma, I use a Ventolin inhaler to keep me from wheezing when I exert myself a little too much. My body may be keeping me alive but sometimes I feel like it doesn’t let me do much more than that.
I want to do something to remind myself how amazing my body actually is and what it’s capable of, and give myself a chance to nurture it while also giving it a gentle push to get its act together!
Obviously, bearing children is not part of my immediate plan, so I can’t use the same approach as Gi Fletcher, but I can attempt something else. I’ve decided to run the London Vitality 10000; a 10k race, taking place on 27th May.
I think it will be an important and challenging experience for me, plus I miss writing something that isn’t lecture notes, so I’m going to write about my training journey on this blog (Pipe down, I never said it would be exclusively a travel blog!).
The run is in 10 weeks, so I’ll be starting from scratch and publishing plenty of posts about how I’m getting on. Also, if you’ve done anything like this yourself (Mickie, I’m looking at you), I’d LOVE your advice. As someone who doesn’t usually run unless it’s for a bus, I’ll be needing as much help as I can get.
It’s embarrassing when you realise you forgot to post a homecoming blog post and just left everyone hanging post-Blue Mountains.
One day I might post a throwback post with the pictures of my last couple of days (spent back in Perth with Beth) and the motley parade that met me at Heathrow Airport when I got home! But for now, something a little different.
This was never just meant to be an ‘Australia Blog’, hence my not putting anything overtly Oz related in the name of it. It’s a travel blog and I plan to do a lot more travelling. There’ll be quiet periods, as there’s been for the last 3 months, but when I am travelling, I plan to write about it. I’ve always loved writing; English was my favourite subject as a child and all the way through school. To that end, the other reason I intend to keep this platform alive is to keep writing, little and often (ish), because it’s something I really enjoy. And if I can write about my adventures, so much the better! I’ve not got a huge amount planned for the rest of the year, but I’m certainly not staying at home – especially not during this beautiful heatwave we’re having in the UK – so, keep your eyes peeled for some travel related tidbits here and there!
I spent the day at the Blue Mountains National Park, which is located about a two hour train journey west of Sydney.
I caught the train to a town called Katoomba where I purchased a hop on/hop off bus pass with a company called Blue Mountain Explorer Bus. Let me just tell you, this was an amazing way to see the area! There are a lot of companies who run guided tours, even picking you up from your hotel/hostel in Sydney, but I wanted to go it alone and do the day at my own pace, which is why I chose to catch the train.
When I bought the ticket, I was given an amazing little guidebook, which actually is the ticket – you just wave that at the bus driver when you hop on. The book had a map of the bus circuit, an full index of all 31 stops, an example itinerary for getting the most out of your day, detailed information about all the stops and attractions, and smaller maps of each area which could be used for the walks. Furthermore, the drivers was so friendly and informative; I can’t say enough, how awesome this service was!
Anyway, the first place I hopped off was Katoomba Cascades. The whole area is full of waterfalls and streams, so this was the first of many that I came across. I walked for an hour or so, through to ‘Scenic World’, where I stopped for a sandwich. Scenic World is an amalgamation of the Skyway, Cableway, Railway and Walkway. I didn’t go on any of these due to the price and the fact that I wanted to see as much as possible rather than linger over one area, but it’s definitely one I’ll add to the list for next time.
Here, I hopped back on the bus to Echo Point. This is where you can get the best views of the Three Sisters, the main attraction of the Blue Mountains.
Having walked down to the bridge where you can actually touch the Three Sisters, I got back to the bus stop to find that a bus had left about 5 minutes before. (This was admittedly my own fault for not keeping an eye on the time or checking the timetable which was literally in my hand…). The buses run every 30 minutes, so rather than sit twiddling my thumbs for 25 minutes, I decided to walk round the escarpment to the next stop. Somewhere along the way I must’ve misread the map, because two hours later, I’d walked all the way down into the valley, and back up again…oops! Though to be fair, it was a beautiful walk and it didn’t take long for me to realise my mistake, at which point I chose to just carry on, rather than walk back on myself. For anyone who’s familiar with the area, I walked from the Three Sisters to the Leura cascades, and for anyone who’s not, I walked a bloody long way!
When I eventually got back to civilisation, around 4pm, it was nearing the time of the last buses and it looked like I wouldn’t have time to do much else without missing the last bus. I asked one of the drivers what he’d suggest and without a second thought he recommended Wentworth Falls. This is a little further out from Katoomba and Leura, and the explorer company run a shuttle there; you get off the bus at Stop 21, and immediately get on another, which takes you to Wentworth Falls at Stop 31. Pretty nifty. This was the last shuttle out there, but the Wentworth Falls train station was a short walk away and on the same line as Katoomba. I was sold.
Off I went to Wentworth Falls and it was so worth it. If I’d admitted defeat and finished the day at Leura, it would still have been awesome, but Wentworth Falls was a perfect round-off.
I put my bathers on and went for a swim at the Fletchers Lookout, before heading back. I had two options here; either walk in a straight line down the main road until I reached the train station, or take the Charles Darwin Trail through the forest. Since I had no time limit, I obviously chose the scenic route! The Charles Darwin trail follows the stream back up and was a nice easy, mostly flat walk, unlike the many many steps of my earlier hike. What turned out to be a major ego boost is that the official estimated time for this trail is 1 hour and 15 minutes – I managed it in 40! *muscle flex emoji*
Back in Wentworth Falls, I got on the train back to Sydney, and after a shower and some dinner, I crashed out for a good 12 hours! (Note: my legs are definitely feeling it this morning!)
The hostel I stayed at in Sydney, Sydney Central YHA, put activities on for guests every day of the week, and on my first full day, I took advantage. I think that’s pretty awesome, cause it’s a great way to meet people and do some stuff in the city that you might not have known about or wanted to do alone.
Obviously, the most famous beach in Sydney is Bondi, but the other main one is Coogee (with a soft g, as in Geoffrey) and this is where we started. The eastern beaches coastal walk follows the coastline round for 7km to Bondi Beach, passing by Gordon’s Bay (shout out to Toby’s grandad whose name is Gordon!), Clovelly Beach, Waverley Cemetery, Bronte Beach and Tamarama Beach.
What’s more, I had the most bizarre encounter on the walk. Kara, the YHA staff member who was leading the walk, was talking to another member of the group, who lived in Portsmouth. Kara’s response was what caught my attention:
“Oh yeah, I know Portsmouth, I lived in Salisbury for a while…”
I couldn’t help myself, I turned and exclaimed, “No you did not – I’m from Salisbury!”
Cue us asking each other questions about where each of us lives/lived, how long ago she was there etc. It was when she asked me what schools I’d been to that things got more weird: turns out she was in Salisbury doing a year of work at none other than my first primary school! She’s only a couple of years older than me so it was well after my time there, but we talked about teachers we both knew and places in Salisbury we liked etc. Given that most people I’ve met here, haven’t even heard of Salisbury, it was super nice to be able to fangirl about it with someone.
Also, after that, whenever I introduced myself to a member of staff, they went ‘Oh you’re the one from Salisbury, Kara told me about you!’. In hindsight I felt a bit bad and apologised for my initial reaction, after all I did turn around and basically shout in this poor girl’s face! But she told me it was fine and that she’d have been pretty disappointed if I’d just casually gone ‘oh yeah I live there’. I’m glad she was excited as I was!
After the walk, the group dispersed and myself and Gemma, somebody else I’d met (who incidentally has an Aunt and Uncle that live in Salisbury – wtf?!), went to get fresh fish and chips which we sat and ate by the beach, before topping up our tans.
To round off the day, I went with the YHA gang to a club called The Ivy. Those of you who know me will know I’m not really into clubbing, and I wouldn’t have gone if we hadn’t been given vouchers for free entry. I’m so glad I did go though, and despite being completely sober, it was probably the best night out I’ve ever had. The club was massive and super fancy; two buildings, connected by a sort of outdoor courtyard, both of which had multiple floors and there was even a rooftop pool! Polished off with McDonalds on the way back, was a preeeeetty damn good day!