My tips to prepare for running a marathon.

Sport

I’m at that age where people left, right and centre seem to be signing up to run a marathon… (I didn’t know that you’d ever done any physical activity since leaving school but waheeeey ok why not)

Running a marathon is one of those beautifully pretentious acts that allows you to feel smug forever more and to be perceived as a true hero for years to come.

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that face = eternal smugness

But before you can bask in your super fitness glory you need to prepare yourself. Big time.

Although I’ve only ran one half marathon and one full marathon (proper rookie over here.) I’m going to give my 2 cents and document my best tips for marathon preparation..

1. Don’t underestimate the distance/experience

Everyone will tell you how hard it is. Everyone will tell you how long it is. Everyone will tell you how rewarding it is when you finish. It’s all of those things; don’t believe it will be any different than that for you.

2. Know your course

Most marathons will have the course available to download with information of terrain, altitude, incline etc. Study this to prepare yourself. Practice hills if it’s a hilly course, train on the road if it’s a road race! I’ll never understand people who only run through fields and on grass before a road race. You’ll arrive on the day of the marathon and your knees will be like F you mate, you’re on your own baaaai.

Also, stalk peoples blogs to see how they’ve found the run in previous years. Their experience will be vital if it’s a smaller race with less info on their website. The better you know your course, the better you can physically and mentally prepare for it.

3. Food glorious food.

Oh the pre marathon diet. Some love the whole ‘let’s nourish my body!’ period, others loathe it and focus on everything they’re missing out on. Mate, adapting your food is honestly the most beneficial and enjoyable part of your training and you can tailor it to totally work in your favour. Carbo loading = all the pasta. You can eat pizza! You can eat chocolate! You can go out and drink. Just don’t be an idiot about it and take it too far.

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I just added more protein to my diet, totally cut out processed food and went for frequent small meals instead of fewer large ones (YES you can finally prep your meals in tupperware boxes like a top class knob). Add all the veg. Eat all the fruit and plan your meals around your training. I spent like 2 months eating non stop and still losing weight. Just lots of good food. Keep clementines in your bag, dried fruit, banana chips, whatever. Drink so much water and green tea that you spend half of your life on the loo. Happy days. A runners diet is nowhere near as bad as a bodybuilders diet.

4. track your runs

If you track your progress you can keep tabs on how you’re getting better. If you don’t keep track how do you know what’s effecting your performance? I used to have my Nike + app in my ear reeling off stats every kilometre, it’s super repetitive but I could predict my time of each run almost to the second. I then knew how new aspects threw me off or helped me along the way, e.g. a 15KM on a sunny day after a McDonalds was going to be 3 mins slower than one on an average temp day with no burger.
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5. whats your motivation?

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What’s that one thing that drags you out of bed and into your smelly trainers? What voice is telling you to turn down social plans for an evening in the gym? Why did you just casually drop £78 in NikeTown? If there’s nothing spurring you on then you’ll give up real quick, TRUSS MI DADDY. Realise your motivation early on and keep it at the forefront of your thinking. I once set a photo of a marathon medal as my phone background as a constant reminder. Very sad, I know, but bish I did not give up!

 

6. cheater cheater compulsive eater

Cheat meals and cheat weeks are the essence of life. Gurrrll (or guy) just live once in a while. Let your self slip off the bandwagon. Hell, trip over the bandwagon and break it into a million pieces. You WILL slip up. Build a bridge and quit crying. Untitled//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

7. be consistent

That being said… try and keep your training as consistent as possible. If you like yoga on a Tuesday afternoon, go every week! If you prefer early morning runs to after work ones then stick with that. If you have a routine you’re way more likely to stick with it

8. rest and recover

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Radox muscle therapy bubble bath will be heaven sent. So will bath salts. Adopt a consistent stretching method and commit a good 20 mins to cooling down from a run. I used this one and adapted it over time to include more yoga poses.

9. rewards

Rest day is a reward in itself, don’t ever skip it because you think you’re invincible. Buying yourself a new pair of shoes after a week of solid training is totally acceptable. Buy yourself all the treats. Have a bubble bath every once in a while. Watch a tacky reality show while you work out. Rewards are yours if you put in the hard work.

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10. have fun

Believe it or not, at some point this seemed like a great idea. Maybe once upon a time you actually liked running!? I found the fun parts were the classes I went to to keep up my fitness and cooking new meals at home. I wish I’d found more running buddies with similar goals. But yeah, make it fun. I’m all about making your playlist upbeat and going to classes which you’d not normally go to because why the hell not.

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11. it’s all in your head

I don’t care if you’ve heard it before – running is 10% physical and 90% mental. This is probably the most valuable thing I’ve learnt since I started taking running seriously; your mental outlook is the most important part. If you tell yourself you’re tired, broken and can’t go on, you’ll give up! It’s cheesy and cliche but you 100% need to have a positive outlook if you stand a chance of crossing the finish line. You can train and eat right and have the most snazzy sports bra but if your heads not in the right space you will fail. So, invest in some positive thinking books or apps, tell yourself you can and will do it and keep going.  

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You got this.

x

Hiking in Librilla

Europe, Murcia, Sport

I’m sure most erasmus students in Murcia have visited the tiny and deserted town of Librilla already but as always I’ve gotta be late to the party (plus I only arrived a month ago). But no ones bothered by the old town church or endless orange and lemon trees, everyone comes for the hike up the hills to see this amazing view of the lagoon. Then to go down to swim in the blue water.

Hiking in Librilla, Spain

Courtney, Nina and I got the 20 minute train to the town of Librilla yesterday; Courtney kept telling us empty this place was, but she was so wrong on this occasion. People filled the streets, cars beeped us out of the way and everyone and their daughter was out and about dressed in their best church wear. We headed towards the mountains, maybe getting a little bit lost on the way but we were pretty chilled. Eventually we reached the path that we knew was going where we wanted. We passed endless lemon trees; seriously Spain loves their lemons. I picked a few oranges from a tree and they were almost definitely the best oranges I’ve ever tasted, a watch dog barked us away and we carried on up the hill.

Hiking in Librilla, Spain

Hiking in Librilla, Spain

Detouring again, expecting to see water and just ending up with views of the town and a whole lot of rocks, we backtracked and finally ended up with a beautiful view. And a load of guys in trucks maybe a hundred meters away shouting ‘guapas’ at us. The descend to the water was definitely a lot more difficult than our ascend for the beaut view (and mini picnic of pizza crackers).

Hiking in Librilla, Spain

Hiking in Librilla, Spain

Hiking in Librilla, Spain

Hiking in Librilla, Spain

Jumping through long grass and avoiding massive dry bushes was easy in comparison to sliding a few feet onto our bums because of loose rocks. I landed weirdly on my ankle too and imagined dying there, with one yank and one South African in the middle of a quiet town in Spain, how tragic. But I was actually fine (dramatic thoughts). Somehow we made it down, all alive, to the water. I blew up my rubber ring (always totally at one with nature…), we stripped off and swam in the water crazy blue water. The ground is pure clay so it feels gross to go in at first but you get used to it. As it was time to get out I covered myself in clay because I’m all about that baby soft skin.

Hiking in Librilla, Spain

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Getting out of our little lagoon area was actually pretty tough and the best way to do it was to just go go go without stopping even though the hill was mega steep. We were literally grabbing vines and prickly flowers to stop us from sliding all the way down.

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I may or may not have braved the barking dog to ‘borrow’ some oranges and lemons on our way back into town. Cue fresh lemonade when we got home. Nina and I were absolutely knackered when we got in and our plans of a late night out were replaced with moaning about our aching muscles and bitching about wacky Eurovision entrants. Over 8 hours of walking and swimming had caught up with us.

Hiking in Librilla, Spain

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Anyhow, such an amazing and surprisingly tiring day.

Mary x

p.s. see all the photos on my flickr hereeeee

Hiking in Librilla, Spain

Markets, Cake & making my way to Paris – 14th – 16th June 2014

Europe

On Saturday I barely left my bed as I felt so ill, I think my travelling was starting to catch up on me. I did eventually manage to leave at 4 in the afternoon to go to some cafes and let Nina get on with her work. That night we went into town and found a great bar to people watch from, the next bar was our chosen spot to watch the England/Italy match. Somehow we were in the perfect spot to see the game with a full room of enthusiastic men behind us and there was a table of English girls in front who needed to go out and smoke every 5 minutes because the game was ‘so stressful’. I decided England aren’t too great at football and they just want to constantly chase the ball; I can confidently say most of the boys at Otjikondo play better than them!

On Sunday I booked my travel to France(!!!) and then went to a vintage market in Mauer Park. I didn’t know the way when leaving the metro station so just followed the hipsters to wherever they went; like magic, 10 minutes later I was there. This place is a huge market; some stalls were just selling second hand clothes and unwanted things from home and others were selling handmade jewellery, badges, sunglasses, dog clothes and lots more. I could’ve walked around for hours as there was so much to hunt through but I knew I couldn’t spend too much money so I went to listen to some of the singers on the grass area next to the market. One singer told the audience how she lives in Cape Town for 4 months of each year and how much she misses it, basically, everyone loves Cape Town.
Next I went into town to catch a bus to see some of the more classic tourist sites. As I’ve been to Berlin before I wasn’t too fussed by the big buildings so just observed from the top deck of the bus… I wrote some postcards and bought a little sew on german flag which I did originally want to put on my jacket but I think I’ll get mum to put it on my camera strap and I’ll add flags from the other countries I’ve been travelling in. In the afternoon I arrived home to a hungry Nina so she took me to her favourite cake shop, Bravko, just down the road. I had a lemon pie whilst Nina had some fruity, crumble thing. We left, I packed and I said my goodbyes. It’s been awesome staying with Nina; we’ve got to know each other so much better, she has the cutest flat, she knows all the best places in Berlin, she prepares the best breakfasts every morning (fruit salad, german bread, smoothies woo) and is generally a fab host. So thank you Nina!
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I rushed to the coach station, arriving there at 6:45, really smug that I managed to get there 15 minutes before the coach was due to leave. I was then informed that I had to stand in a long queue in order to get my boarding pass. As soon as the guy at the counter filled it out (he tod me to CALM DOWN) I grabbed it and ran to my stop. I jumped on the bus with 30 seconds to spare. Luckily I hadn’t started thinking about what I’d of done if I’d missed it.
As I write this I’m sitting at the back of a coach that’s travelled from Berlin, through Belgium and we’re due to arrive in Paris any minute 😀 I have a few hours before I’ll then catch the train to Saintes. I’ll be staying with my sister, Georgie who’s living and working in Royan at the moment. I know she’ll rub it in my face that she’s more tanned than and she’ll probably complain that I haven’t bought her any presents but I’m still excited to see her after nearly 5 months apart!
Mary x

I’m currently 3 floors high in an apartment in Berlin listening to the noisy street below and preparing for a day of sightseeing. The past 2 weeks have been crazy and I’ve worked out that I’ve slept in 6 different beds (alone, don’t worry!) in 3 different countries, in 2 different continents, in 6 different towns/ cities/ villages and gone from seeing donkey carts, bakkies and women carrying bags of rice on their heads to bicycles, Mercedes and businessmen in suits having meetings on the metro.

Back in Namibia –
I joined Paul and his son Matty for the 5am drive to Otjiwarongo; we saw a bat-eared fox, kudu and we nearly ran over a skunk, not your average drive to school. I then hitch-hiked to Windhoek in a 5 seater car and 7 people. I sat with a 9 year old girl on my lap for the next 3 hours, not my favourite car journey I have to be honest. I made my way to the Cardboard Box hostel, dumped my bags there, emailed people to tell them I was alive then headed to Katatura; the not so nice part of town. I had to travel to the Baileys Reo Liner ‘head office’ (basically a poorly constructed, messy concrete box), I’d booked a return coach ticket back to Cape Town that I could no longer use, I’d hoped to get my full $600 back until I noticed the ticket said NON REFUNDABLE.. oops. I found the manager and explained the situation, he told me there was no way he could give me any money back. I used my skills from GCSE drama and started crying and giving my best ‘lost, confused teenager’ look. I think he saw right through my acting but agreed to give me half of my money back. I then jumped in a taxi back into Windhoek and was laughed at a lot by everyone when they all tried to speak Afrikaans to me and I could give no response. My last few hours in Africa were spent trying to book hostels, travel and attempt to check in online (it wouldn’t let me, I panicked and then the women at the hostel convinced me it would be fine).
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I travelled to the airport with my new Swedish friends Martin and Emille, we enjoyed our last Windhoek lagers and Savanna ciders with pizza and chocolate before messing around in the (tiny) airport. We somehow lost track of time and ended up being the last ones to board the plane, about 3 minutes before take off! I kissed the ground outside of the plane, hugged one of the air hostesses and settled into my window seat, ready for the long flight. Luckily the plane was almost half empty so I could spread out over 2 seats, some people had 4 seats to themselves?! I watched most of ‘The Book Thief’ and avoided both of the sad looking plane meals. The most exciting part of the flight was waking up at around 3am to see we were flying over Nigeria; Martin, Emille and I noticed there were flashes of light in the sky below us every couple of seconds. We were watching a thunder and lightning storm happen from above, such an amazing sight.IMG_1049

We decided to start a clap when we landed in Frankfurt (you know, as people sometimes do at the end of a flight…), no one joined in an we had a really awkward 30 seconds as we stayed committed to the clapping (and the occasional ‘woooo go Germany!’) and everyone on the plane turned around and glared at us. Just glared. A tiny bit awkward.IMGA0056

Somehow I was the last person off the plane too! I said my goodbyes to the Swedish guys and they gave me one of the bank notes folded into a shirt shape for remembrance. I was now in Frankfurt with a few euros and my hostel name written down with no idea how to get there. I was directed by a really nice woman at information to take the shuttle bus to the train station and then take the train to the nearest station (I can’t even remember where I got off, oops) and then the hostel was a 20 minute walk away. So off I went, the morning before I was in the African bush seeing crazy wildlife and watching the sunrise and now I was sitting on a stuffy train with miserable looking businessmen. No one was talking to each other, no one even looked up from their phones. Such a contrast to life in Namibia and Cape Town. I just missed the noises and the atmosphere of ‘Africa’.

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My hostel was huge and looked really clean and safe but the next day I was proved wrong when I was covered in bed bug bites… I made friends with one portuguese guy who was travelling back from 6 months in South East Asia; basically, he looked exhausted. My explorations in Franfurt included trying to find a shop that sold a travel adapter, it took over 6 hours and cost €10 😮 I know in Bags Etc they used to be around £2.50?! I visited the Skyline Plaza shopping centre and spent way too much time in shops like H&M, Mango and Zara. I couldn’t believe how expensive everything was; I was converting money in my head from €’s, then to £’s and then to South African Rand and standing in shock at almost everything. A day in Frankfurt was enough and a message from my friend Nina made me book a coach ticket to Berlin for the next morning.

9 hours on a coach is like a breeze for me; soon enough we arrived in Berlin to some cloudy skies. I hadn’t actually arranged where or when I was meeting Nina so hunted for a cafe with internet so I could check my Facebook. The only place I could find was a chinese restaurant with awkward waitresses pressuring me to order more than a glass of water. I gave in a got some disgusting tuna, rice roll things. At least I managed to find Nina and meet her friends Emma and Daniel. We waved Daniel off as he was getting a bus back home then we went to get ice cream, yay!

Nina and I met more than 3 months ago on a coach from Namibia, we then were on the same coach back to Cape Town by coincidence and did lots of driving around and beach hopping before she moved to Berlin. So to see her in Germany and stay with her for a few days is strange but awesome!

Mary x

Africa, Europe