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The Monster in my leg

For a while now I’ve had a little monster living in my leg.

little green monster

I first met him while out on a long run a while ago.

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He jumped from the grass onto my leg, and clung on.

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I didn’t notice him at first so I carried on running. I don’t think he realised it would be such a bumpy ride.

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All that shaking about put him in a terrible mood.

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In the end the grumpy little twa…uh, monster…got totally FED UP!

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He decided to put matters into his own hands (or teeth, as it were):

He bit my shin!

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And it hurt!

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I mean, it really REALLY hurt!!

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GERROF, GERROF!! You’re hurting my leg!!” I shouted at him. But he wouldn’t let go!

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So I tried to drug him up with painkillers, hoping he’d fall asleep and fall off…
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…he fell asleep alright…

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…but he wasn’t going anywhere!

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I started doing a bunch of calf exercises to toughen up my leg, so that it wouldn’t hurt so much when he bit me.

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And then…
“Hang on…what are you doing? Why did you get off my leg?”

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“What the…So, you want to help now?!”

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“Fine….but you’ve got to tell me what the flip it is that you want!”

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It turns out the little monster wanted quite a few things…

Massages.

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Some soft insoles he could use as a bed.

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He even demanded to be wrapped up in sports tape so he wouldn’t shake around so much.

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I also figured out a few of his likes and dislikes:

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(we agreed on that one…yuk!)

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“Wait, what?…But I love wine! Red wine’s meant to be good for you!”

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“ok, OK! No wine…”

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So, we’ve agreed: He won’t bite as long as I’m nice to him.

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It’s a strange friendship…but as he really likes my leg, and doesn’t want to leave it anytime soon. So I guess it was the best thing to do.

Basically I have SHIN SPLINTS and I’m trying to deal with it….

It’s really bloody annoying, but it’s a fact – my left shin really hurts when I run!

I’ve got myself some super supportive trainers (Asics Gel Kayano 21’s – check out my previous post about them), I tape up my shin (with KT tape), I wear insoles (from Superfeet), I massage it, I’ve been trying to run on softer surfaces, I’ve been strengthening my calf and I’ve been getting some good rest between runs.

This saturday I am seeing a physio, and I’ll let you know what he says…In the meantime I have been making a few dietary changes to help speed up recovery, which is what my next post is about so stay tuned:)

Thanks for checking out The Green Fox…apart from it being a very motivating and quite fun way to track my journey towards well-being and marathon success, this blog also aims to raise (hopefully) lots of awareness for MIND!

Please help me fundraise for this incredible charity by visiting my Virgin Money Giving page! 

Lots of love,
Oda

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Trainers and Training

So I have just done two things:

I have acquired some PROPER running shoes, and I have embarked on my 16 week plan to get marathon fit!

First things first…

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A very inspirational, beautiful woman once said:

“Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world”

Now, Marilyn has a point…I needed the right shoes! It turns out I have been running in the wrong trainers for quite a while. I was talking to the Mind Team physio about the fact that I’m prone to shin splints and when I mentioned that I was running in a pair of Nike Lunar Eclipse 4 he advised me to look for a sturdier shoe for long distance running, with more impact cushioning and support for over-pronation. He recommended Asics.

After lots of online review-reading, as well as lots of budget-reviewing, I decided to get myself some Asics GEL-KAYANO 21 – The New York City Marathon editions…they are officially the most expensive trainers I have ever bought (a chunky £145), but they are also the most beautiful! For me looking a bit cool whilst training (I say cool….this basically means wearing the brightest and most clashing colours I can find) is great for motivation! I love the combination of light turquoise and bright red with a spectrum of funky patterns. But beyond the lovely colours, these shoes are just really great long distance running trainers!

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After having trialled them for a two weeks, they definitely are the right shoes! I’ve had trainers before that have felt heavy and bulky, but these are the complete opposite. They feel bouncy, sleek and light. I’m not slipping around in them and there’s no uncomfortable rubbing. Unlike the Nikes I had before they feel very sturdy, while still enveloping my feet in a cushioned embrace.

The Sciencey Bit: The sole is made of tri-density EVA foam, with firmer foam on the inner side and with gel pads in the front-foot and the heel. The casing for this wonderful blend is carbon rubber in the heel, and blown rubber on the fore-foot. (You can read a really great, detailed review of the Gel-Kayano 21s here)

So apart from being aesthetically gorgeous, these Asics are built for softness, support and stabilityif only boyfriends were like my new Asics Gel-Kayanos (…Ok, I really have overdosed on Sex and The City).

Now, unlike Miss Monroe and my Viking ancestors, I have no desire to do any world-conquering, but I hope these shoes will comfortably and safely help me accomplish my 26.2 mile challenge.

Plus I was super excited to find out what ASICS stands for: “a sound mind in a sound body”

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They really couldn’t be more fitting for this challenge.

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Below is the 16 Week training plan I am following, which has been adapted from a plan by Marathon Rookie.

The numbers are in miles not km*

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keys:

CT –  Cross Training: On the days that I am not running, I will be changing it up and making my body injury-resistant by doing low-impact, aerobic exercises like swimming and cycling (the latter being the most complimentary to running). I will also be continuing to pop to the gym for classes like Body Pump and Spinning, as well as doing my Yoga stretches in the morning.

 I came across a wonderful article that has helped me understand more about the benefits of cross training, so have a read if you want more info: ‘Smart Marathon Training: What Kinds of Cross-Training Are Best For Runners?‘.

EP – Easy Pace: Two days a week, I will be running at a comfortable, mid-tempo. These are not speed sessions, they are about time on the road and building a solid foundation for the weekend’s long runs!

LR – Long Run: This run is a the longest distance of each week, and is crucial for Marathon Training! It needs to be done slowly, an easy pace with which you’d still be able to hold a conversation!

I am going to alternate between a long, steady run one weekend and doing a fast finish on the next – running the last 30 to 60 minutes at a slightly faster pace (20 to 60 seconds faster per mile)! According to Greg McMillan at McMillan Running “you will see just how effective these are at producing marathoners who can outlast their competitors! Physiologically, you train the body to work more efficiently at marathon pace and mentally, you undergo the extreme fatigue that marathon racers inevitably face during the final few miles.”

 IT – Interval Training: …or Fartlek! These speedy training sessions will be done at 5K Speed or faster. I’ll build up speed over each 600m-400m-200m set (should be reaching for air and counting the seconds towards the end) with a minute’s slow jog between each faster effort. 4 sets, with 2-3 minutes rest between. This makes a solid 3 mile-ish workout! I’ll warm up and cool down with an easy mile.

HR – Hill Run: Hill runs are great for developing strength and speed. These workouts improve the leg muscles, specifically quadriceps, hamstrings and calf muscles…read more about the benefits of hill training at All About Marathon Training. I will warm up for at least 1 mile, then run at 5K pace up a hill that’s at about 10-15% grade steep (not too steep, but not slack either). Once at the top, I’ll jog slowly down, rest for 1 minute and then repeat. Repeat 6-10 times, or switch it up by seeing how many times I can repeat in 30 minutes. I’ll cool down by running easy for at least a mile back.

Rest: It’s vital to let your body recover and heal, so I won’t be doing any exercise on these days. Some CT days can be used for Rest days if necessary!

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Thanks for reading, and I hope some of this is useful for those of you who are interested in running!

Please don’t forget to stop by my Virgin Money Giving account and donating what you can, as this is all to raise valuable funds for the wonderful charity Mind! If you are interested in reading about why I’m running for them, please take a look at my previous post: “It’s All In Your Mind”

Lots of Love, Oda x

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It’s all in your Mind…

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I’ve had a few questions about why I’m putting myself through the intense task (some would say punishment) of running 26.2 miles to raise money for Mind. Why not just give them some money, and support a charity in other, less bone-breaking ways.

Well, let me tell you why….

Firstly, This is the third time I have entered a marathon.

The first time was several years ago, when I decided I wanted to run the Edinburgh Marathon for Macmillan. I raised a fair amount, but never made it to the finish line because of poor planning and lack of proper training. One night after being stuck indoors for longer than I’d planned, trying to get work done for a nasty deadline the next day, I decided to finally go out for a last-minute 16-mile run. My phone died, I got lost in the dark and ended up running over 20 miles. The next day I could hardly walk. That was my first taste of shin splints…

Two years later my friend told me he was running that very marathon (EMF) and our running-centred conversations got me all fired up for a 26.2 mile challenge again. I chose Amsterdam, and this time I decided not to do it for a charity but as a personal challenge. Again, poor planning – trying to fit a training schedule in-between summer weddings and festivals – put a stopper to proper, consistent training. Also, I was comparing myself to the runner I was two years ago and thought starting my first long run with an 8-miler was a good idea. It wasn’t. My shins were screaming in agony for weeks after.

Perhaps also the absence of a goal outside of my own ambition was a reason for the lack in motivation….

So THIS TIME I was determined to succeed. I’d learnt two things:

1)To take training seriously

2)I needed to run for a charity!

Doing something for someone other than yourself is a powerful motivator! Going through this process for the first time is bloody hard work. It makes you look at yourself honestly, it makes you question your own character. When I was running and raising money for cancer research I kept reminding myself that the pain I was feeling was nothing, NOTHING in comparison to the pain of those going through chemotherapy or the last stages of such an aggressive illness! I kept the image of my awesome, beautiful, inspirational Uncle Leif (who died from advanced testicular cancer the year I moved to England, 2001) firmly in my mind every time my energy felt on the verge of running out.

So why then did I choose Mind this time?

The big issue of Mental Health lies very close to my heart…

My mother, an incredibly kind but somewhat bonkers woman, has worked in the Mental Health Service for more than 32 years now. Being an inquisitive child, and Norwegian regulations at that time not being what they are now, I sometimes used to go to the hospital that she worked in after school with excuse of picking up the house key. I liked saying hello to the patients, although I didn’t really grasp at the time what they were ‘hospitalised’ for. Now and again Mum would share a few stories from the ward with me (although she’d never mention names and I was strictly told not to share) and we’d talk about psychology and the differences between human minds. I grew up with a firm understanding of mental health issues.

…At least I thought I did.

When I was 17 I started dieting. I started looking at myself in the mirror and not feeling good enough just as I was. If only I could just lose a little bit of weight, then I’d look better and feel better. I was counting calories all the time, reading diet magazines, obsessing over ingredients, skipping meals whenever I could and exercising at least an hour and a half every day. My bathroom scales became my best friend and I couldn’t sleep unless I knew exactly what I was eating the next day. I became unsociable because visiting a friend’s house or going out meant not being able to control my calorie-intake. The thing was that I loved food (still do!), so those conflicting thoughts and urges would sometimes take over and I’d end up eating ‘something naughty’. Sometimes this just meant eating lunch, when I’d promised myself not to. Sometimes that meant sneaking down to the kitchen in the middle of the night and eating whatever was in the fridge. I’d feel extreme guilt, I’d really hate myself for being so weak and then I’d promise myself to lose more weight by the end of next week. At the time I was also doing very well at school, a type A personality as I was later told. I was competitive, had a constant sense of urgency, would always try to do more than one thing at a time and was constantly very defensive and irritable.

This tight grip of control and the weight-loss that came with it did not go unnoticed by my family and friends. They’d express their concerns, and at first I’d take it as a complement but after a while I started admitting to myself I had a problem. The summer after finishing my A levels I went to my GP complaining about stomach pains and ended up bursting into tears and telling him everything. He advised me to seek help from Steps, an eating disorder clinic based locally, but after one phone consultation I decided against going. However, I did start opening up to my family and closest friends. I started calling my disorder by it’s proper name – Bulimia Nervosa.

However, although I assured everyone I was getting better, I actually got worse. Throughout College and University I started regularly making myself throw up after eating. Not every day, just after a ‘binge’. It helped get rid of the guilt. Mostly I’d just be stuck in a cycle between ‘feeding’ and ‘fasting’, with the occasional ‘purge’. However, I was aware I had a problem…I was slowly, slowly starting to reach out for solutions, for balance, through reading books and seeking support on the internet.

I started to be able to talk about my problems honestly and openly, instead of hiding everything I was feeling in the fear of being judged. 

It was only in the year after graduating from university that I found myself letting go of the constant need to lose weight and fit into size 6/8. The more I learnt about the world, the more I became comfortable with who I was, the more I relaxed. I shifted to wanting to be healthy, to thrive, to have a balanced body and mind.

Years on, I still fight demons from time to time, telling me that I’m fat and not good enough. Although I’m not engaging in ED behaviour anymore, like bingeing and throwing up, I’m still a type A personality – although I have managed to let go of some of the competitiveness and most of the irritability, which hopefully has made a more pleasant person to be around. I still go through bouts of having intense feelings of anxiety, and earlier this year it escalated to full-blown panic attacks.

I decided to try therapy again last summer, through the NHS this time. I went a grand total of two times. Hurrah! I didn’t like my therapist and told myself I didn’t want to focus on ‘having a problem’. Instead I turned back to self-help books (there really are some great ones out there, I’ll post about the ones that helped me another time!), finding support on the internet, consulted my amazing friends and have since made some very positive changes in my life. Deciding to run this marathon was one of them.

Many of my closest friends have had their own struggles, from Anxiety and Eating Disorders to Depression and Bipolar. Sharing information and talking about these problems, not keeping them locked away as taboo subjects, is the key to greater understanding and recovery.

Some of the greatest help I’ve had has come through Mind. Throughout my years of struggling with my own thoughts and behaviour Mind have helped me find INFORMATION and SUPPORT when I’ve really needed it! Their website has guided me on my journey to understand myself by providing everything from facts and detailed PDF’s, to useful contact and links to other websites (I found b-eat.co.uk and bemindful.co.uk particularly helpful). Their phone-lines have also been extremely helpful in the past.

You can read all about the incredible work Mind do on their website. Suffice to say here that they work tirelessly to bring support and respect to every single person struggling with Mental Health problems. 

When I am running and fundraising for Mind I keep reminding myself that no matter how much of a struggle it might be it’s NOTHING in comparison to the struggle I, and others like me, went through before we sought help. My own journey to a balanced mind and body is now linked with giving back to this wonderful charity.

I hope you will help me do so by visiting my Virgin Giving page ( http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/OdaSonju ) and giving what you can:)

Lots of love to everyone, and thanks for reading!

Oda x

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And so it begins…

Hiya

Hello there!

Welcome to The Green Fox blog. This is my very first post, so I guess it needs to serve as a bit of an introduction!

My name is Oda. I’m an Illustrator/Designer with a passion for running, a healthy obsession with plant-based nutrition and a dedication to the pursuit of physical and mental wellbeing. In layman’s terms I’m a hyperactive creative foodie who loves hugs!

Expect: Training updates, running advice, nutrition tips, delicious recipes, bits of inspiration, sporadic servings of mindfulness and lots of doodles!

(Warning: I am fond of rambling…I am the sort of person who ALWAYS thinks a long-winded, complicated backstory compliments an otherwise concise, effective statement. Please keep this in mind as you read on…)

In April 2015 I’m running my FIRST EVER marathon (woop!), and I’m doing it to raise at least £1750 for Mind! I am dead excited. Well, scared and excited.

Ok, mostly scared.

Although I’ve been running for more than 10 years, right now I just can’t imagine finishing 26.2 miles…at least not without a couple of pressure fractures, a violent rash and a spot of internal bleeding. And as for the fundraising goal…well, it’s not exactly an insignificant amount.

For a long time I’ve been meaning to start training! Hang on…I’ll re-phrase that in the sort of crazy way bran visualises it: For a long time it’s felt like I’m on the edge of a very tall cliff, and in the distance I can see the edge of another very tall cliff. On the other side, there’s cake and balloons and a big, sparkly banner that says ‘Yay! You’ve completed the Virgin London Marathon!’. Perhaps I should substitute the cake for pain killers…Anyway, In the middle there’s this great, big void of ‘Unknown possibilities of failure’. It’s dark and scary, but I know I have to cross it to get to the Happy Cliff. And I do really want to get to that sparkly banner and cake! So there I am on the cliff and there’s a bunch of bricks beside me that I’ve got to use to build a solid bridge across the Void. The thing about those bricks is that they’re all labelled with such discouraging titles as ‘Hard Work’, ‘Sweat’ and ‘Tears’.

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In other, more sane and less rambling, words…I know it will be AWESOME when I finally get to stand beneath that glittery Banner of Pride and eat the Cake of Accomplishment, but I am all too aware it will take loads of time and a huge amount of effort. And as I said, I am a little scared. I have been through this process before…twice! But I’ve never made it to the start line. Each time I’ve trained for a marathon in the past, I’ve been defeated by injuries, due to over-training, poor nutrition or the wrong mindset.

So to get me into the right mindset, my dear friend Laura (a very inspirational and wise little scribbler) shared the following with me a while ago:

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I’ve been thinking a lot about this little nugget of wisdom. Laura’s quote made me realise I need to forgive my past self for ‘failing’ (at this point I can hear my housemate Emma screaming ’there is NO SUCH THING as failure!), and just learn from that experience.

It also made me think that I should feel good about where I am right now…I’m just about to embark on an AMAZING RUNNING ADVENTURE! I feel good that I’ve set myself this goal, and that I’m doing it for such an incredible cause!

And when it comes to the future…I am excited! Sure it’s a little scary, but nothing worth doing wasn’t ever a little scary at first…at least I think that’s how the saying goes…y’know what I mean. It will be tough but I know that at the end of each training session there’ll be a big, imaginary, sparkly banner that says ‘Yay!’ on it in bold letters waiting for me. And cake! Non-imaginary Vegan cake (which I will be posting about) !

I will build that bridge, brick by brick! But my building blocks will be labelled instead with ‘Enthusiastic Training’, ‘Plant Based Nutrition’ and ‘FUNdraising’

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This blog will track my journey to MARATHON AND FUNDRAISING SUCCESS, and I look forward to sharing everything I learn along the way!

If you would like to sponsor me please visit my Virgin Money Giving account: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/OdaSonju
(Thank you!!)
My next post will be about why I have chosen to run The London Marathon for Mind.
Enjoy!

Oda
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