WIN! A place on the next Up & Running 5K Course

image from At Up & Running Julia and I are getting pysched for this Sunday 1 May, when we open registrations for the Summer 5K Beginners Course. The course starts on Monday 13 June and I am so freaking excited. Who will sign up? What corner of the world will they hail from? Will they charm my pants off as the Spring Up & Runners have done? I can't wait to meet 'em!

Want to join us? Fancy making this your Summer of Running? Or your Winter, if you're from the Southern Hemisphere. I'm giving away one free place on the course. All you have to do is leave a comment on this blog post and tell me, What's your favourite summer food? Yes, it's always about the food around here!

  • Entries close 5PM UK time this Sunday 1 May
  • The prize is a place on the Summer 2011 5K Course, which starts on 13 June.
  • The winner can give the prize to a friend, so you can enter if you know someone who you think would dig it!
  • Winner can be from anywhere in the world. Remember the Course is for women only.

Here's what the current Up & Runners are saying about Up & Running:

Philippa, UK:

The one thing that keeps making me teary with regards to this running is how much I am capable of. I have never pushed so hard for something that is just for me. I suppose I've thought it seemed selfish to spend this much time just on myself, but I need this. I need to remember that I am worth the effort and to stop being scared of failing. I can do far more than I thought I could. So I CAN skip in the park and I CAN go for 2k. And I can do it just for me. And I can go and cry a few tears for the almost 30 years I've wasted thinking I can't.

Amy, USA:

I, too, am a Couch to 5K refugee. I just couldn't make it work for me and it left me more discouraged. I'm sure it was due to the lack of community. Everyone here makes me feel like part of a team and keeps me accountable because I have to keep track of everything and report back. The C25K program really doesn't offer that accountability that we get here. And the friendship. It's really starting to feel like we are becoming long-distance friends, and who doesn't want to run with friends?

Jo, Australia:

I don't think I could say (yet) that I love the act of running. What I am really, really loving though is the sense of my body being alive. I love all my aches and pains! I love finding out how I can make it move.

Nicole, USA:

Halfway to 5k! I'm so proud of myself for making it to mid-program without missing a workout! I've ordered my "Outrunning the Zombies" t-shirt as a reward. For the first time in my life, I'm able to run a mile without stopping. This is something I never thought I would be able to do, and it gives me the most incredible sense of accomplishment.

Jill, USA:

Over the past few years, running, once a source of joy in my life, has morphed into a symbol of failure for me, both consciously and subconsciously.  But as I’ve begun to see major progress with the Up & Running online program, I’m starting to view myself as someone who sets realistic goals and then achieves them through repeated and consistent effort.

Here's the big list of what you get with the 5K Course:

  • Eight weeks of training plans created by expert running coach Julia Jones, including downloadable workout plans.
  • Up & Running Gear Guide packed with essential information on running shoes and gear to help you get organised.
  • Bonus “Warm-Up Week” before the workouts begin to get your mind fired up for your running adventure.
  • Personal support throughout the course via private, password-protected forums – we’ll answer all your questions!
  • Easy-to-follow tutorials on our private course blog, including:
    – a weekly theme, such as staying motivated and nourishing your mind and body
    – motivating videos – weekly exercise demonstrations, plus coaching tips and insights from Julia
    – inspirational stories from women runners around the world
  • Weekly email newsletter to keep you energised and on track.

You can find out more about our kickarse 5K course right here.

Winner will be announced on Sunday evening UK time. Go for gold, baby!

Dances with Ferrets

There are a lot of Zumba classes in my town these days – over 90 classes per week within a five mile radius. They pop up in church halls, gyms, schools, Scout halls, night clubs and community centres. Last night's class was a first for me – it was at the village pub.

There's a small function room next to the main bar with ye olde wooden beams, stained glass windows and a stopped grandfather clock. There's shaggy green carpet with a little wooden dance floor in the middle of the room, so if you chose your spot right you could boogie on down like John Travolta. I picked a carpeted bit towards the front so I could check out my moves in the bar mirror.

It started out like any old Zumba class – a shimmy here; a sashay there. Then halfway though Track 3 a voice boomed from the doorway, "ZUMBAAAAAAAAAAAAA!"

An old man wandered in. He might of been quite young actually, 60ish? It was hard to tell from his bright red complexion, the result of a day in the sun with many many beers. He shuffled and twirled around the ladies in the back row as he cried, "Zumba! Zumba Zumba ZUMBA!"

As if that wasn't surreal enough, he was carrying a ferret under his arm.

And not just any ferret – it was a taxidermied ferret, mounted on a log. A lot like this one:

The whole class was in stitches. Maybe he pops in on a regular basis? I don't know. The instructor seemed torn between bemusement and mortification as man and ferret made their way to the front of the room and stood beside her.

"RIGHT LADIES," he said, step-touching from side to side not quite on the beat, "Let's ZUMBA!"

He hoisted the ferret above his head like a barbell, pumped it up and down a few times as his hips shimmed, "Zumba! Zumba! Zumba! ZUMBA!".

He then tucked the ferret back under his arm, and left.

The rest of the class passed without incident. Kinda disappointing, really!

Headaches and Weight Maintenance

For your aural pleasure!I’ve got a brand spankin’ new episode of Two Fit Chicks And A Microphone for you – Episode 26 – Lynn & The Art of Weight Maintainence. Yep we’ve finally tackled the oft-requested topic of maintaining.

We spoke to the wonderful Lynn Haraldson of Lynn’s Weigh who has maintained a 175lb weight loss for over five years. And she’s been on Oprah, so needless to say we had oodles to chat about! It was quite an emotional interview in many ways. Lynn is very open and honest, so we really got down to the guts of the ups and downs of maintenance, what mindshifts are required to be successful, and what it’s like to write publically about your weight. As someone who seriously flunked out in the maintenance department these past couple of years, it was great to ask her some how the hell do you do it kind of questions.

I’ve also just realised that I negelcted to link to Episode 25 – When Staying Healthy Is A Pain, in which we spoke to Jennette Fulda about her new book Chocolate & Vicodin and her never-ending horrible headache. Jennette is another very open and articulate woman, and in this interview she is so philosophical and brave about living with chronic pain. She is a legend.

So two new episodes that I’m really bloody excited about. If you fancy something new to listen to while you’re slaving away at the gym or bored to tears on a long commute, why not give us a go?

Friday Link Feast #14

Action before Belief?

Jen's juicy quote yesterday got me thinking about self-belief. I agree with her sentiment that when you truly believe that something is a top priority, nothing can get in your way. It's simple, but as some of you said in the comments: "it's not easy". As Jen herself said, "I'm not there yet either… I'm talking theoretically here".

So how do you get to that point of believing?

I tend to find that action comes before belief. If you're not someone with confidence on tap, I find it useful to do what the lovely LBTEPA said in her comment, "acting as if you believe it". I interpret this as "performing the desired actions as if you believed in yourself" as opposed to pretending you believe. If that makes any bloody sense at all. For example, at this start of this year my self-belief levels were at a dark and skanky low. Even as I started doing tiny, positive things (keeping my food journal, small amounts of exercise, listening to my hunger signals) I had no real conviction that they would do any good.

But I vowed to keep plodding along regardless of what the brain was telling me. So even when the Voice of Doom was whispering, "Wow, you used to be able to do this easily!" in the middle of kickboxing, the idea was to keep going and focus on the action.

Slowly the balance has started going the other way. Momentum is building. The more tiny, positive things I do, even with teeth gritted, the more my brain seems to link the actions together and conclude, "You are capable of good stuff."

I'm noticing this with some of the Up & Runners. The more training sessions they string together, the more positive they feel and the more they start to believe they will get through the eight weeks. This is regardless of how good or bad the session itself was – the victory is simply in the doing. I can see them starting to believe in their own power and it is so, so inspiring.

I find the action-before-belief thing applies to many aspects of life, in large and small ways. Like every time I make an effort to hang up my coat instead of dumping it on the floor, I am slowly changing the tune of "I'm a slob" to "I'm quite a tidy person".

The only exception might be writing. No matter how much action I take on the writing front, the self-belief doesn't come. But I reckon that might just be a writing thing. Maybe if you allowed yourself to believe in your own abilities too much you'd get cocky and a piano would fall on your head. I think with writing you need that wee bit of terror and doubt in your guts to keep you motivated. Hehe 😉

What works for you? Do you have any tips or tactics for cultivating self-belief?


From Jen @ Perfect in our Imperfections today:

"I think when we get to the point where we really believe something is at the top of our priority list, nothing can stop us. We can find a way around any excuse. We don't need advice, we just need to realize our own power and make our own goals a priority, and then rearrange our lives accordingly. Simple, right?"

I love Jen.

New Year Goals Check-In: March

I'm doing monthly updates on my New Year Goals. One quarter of the year has passed, for feck's sake.

March highlights:

  • I started to properly enjoy kickboxing again, instead of spending the whole class fuming about my lack of fitness.
  • Pilates is fantastic. Some moves that killed me in the first week are getting easier.
  • I lost a couple more pounds.
  • Food diary still going great guns.

Things that didn't go as well:

  • Once again I lost momentum with my eating at the end of the month. The pattern is now clear: I plan the meals for about two weeks, then the groceries run out, then I get busy and tried and just buy bits and pieces here and there, and the meal choices don't end up being quite as healthy. The plan for April is to set a reminder to re-shop. I do it online; so I could really just click one button and they'd deliver me the same stuff as the previous order… it's really not bloody hard!
  • Once again my exercise frequency tailed off at the end of the month. I simply did not make it a priority and that cannot go on. I have the time, I just have to make the time.

Example: A few weekends Julia and I were feverishly working on Up & Running over Skype. After awhile she announced, "Okay I'll be back in an hour, I need to get in my bike ride".

What!? I felt rather indignant. What about all this work we had to do? When she returned later all refreshed and energised, the words were blurring in front of my eyes and my bum was numb.

And what had I been editing while she was away? A post about the importance of making time for exercise. For crying out loud 🙂

These past few weeks I've been marvelling at the lovely Up & Runners planning their schedules, ditching excuses and truly committing to themselves and their training. While I had been skipping workouts and not getting enough sleep.

This has been my pattern for a long while now. I'm not being harsh on myself here when I say I find it very easy to find "very important" reasons not to exercise. Some of it comes from worrying about what other people think if everything's not perfect and wonderful, but a huge part of it that I really quite enjoy spending hours in front of the computer in my tracky dacks, instead of going outside and working up a sweat.

I need to take a leaf out of Julia's book and put the exercise first. She plans her exercise, then she schedules in her work tasks, then she sticks to the bloody plan. She thinks highly enough of herself to keep that committment.

I know I do better work when I make time for physical activity. I know it helps my lard-busting efforts but most importantly it keeps my mind clear. And althought I'm not a runner, I don't want to be a hypocrite and cheer on all our lovely Up & Runners for making time to exercise when I'm not bloody doing it properly myself 🙂

So in April it's all about working smarter, not harder. Let the glacial progress continue!

Friday I’m in love

My pal Carla has been nagging gently encouraging me to update. I told her I don't like to write "too busy to post" posts because it looks like you're saying, "My life is sooo terribly exciting I just don't have time for this silly blog!".

"Nooo", said Carla. "I just meant share what you've been up to!"

Again I resisted since the "what I've been up to" consists entirely of Up & Running and I am still traumatised by the day I dared to blog a schedule of book-pimping radio appearances and I got that SHUT ABOUT YOUR BOOK WE'RE SICK OF HEARING ABOUT IT email.

But, well, this is what's happening and I am old and cranky enough to realise the futility of trying to please everyone with everything one writes, so let's just bloody get on with it 🙂

Up & RunningSo the first Up & Running 5K course started last Monday and I am loving it. I'm completely smitten with all the wonderful women who signed up. The first week was the Warm-Up Week, in which there was no running, just mental preparation and figuring out their goals and motivations. As I read the course forum I was alternately in floods of tears and giggles reading about their reasons for wanting to run. Such smart, funny, inspiring, courageous people. Dude.

I'm in awe of the little community forming already. This week the running began and there's so much encouragement and support on the forums. And most excellent random moments. Louann from Washingon DC said of her reasons for wanting to run was, to be able to outrun the zombie apocalypse… I would really like to know I can get home under my own power should the need arise." Next thing there was a request for a Zombie t-shirt, then Sara from Italy's graphic designer husband whipped up a design totally unprompted. A week earlier there was only an empty forum, but suddenly there was apparel and a team catchphrase. Dang!

I've not felt this rollercoaster of emotions since I was writing my book. Such incredible highs followed by self doubt and panic, hehe. I won't lie, it's been a crazy amount of work with some extremely long hours. Trying to juggle it with the increased responsibilities at Day Job has been insane. I have spent many sleepless hours staring at the ceiling worrying if the Up & Runners got their login emails and if I caught all the typos and eeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

But… it's great. I'm learning so much. I feel alive and challenged and buzzing like I've not felt in years. It's creative and geeky and people-oriented and very fulfilling and lordy I want all our Up & Runners to succeed. I have no idea where this project will end up but I'm just going to enjoy it.

So that's about it. New Years Goal Check-In coming up soon!

How are youuuuu? Have a rockin' weekend!