Why walk through life, when you can run – #marafun

In #marafun, Features, HOME, LIFE by Sam Prance

#marafun is a feature in which novice marathon runner, Ellie Smith, will open your eyes to the trials and tribulations of long distance running. A word of caution – this feature will be prone to mood swings and short outbursts of intense self loathing. However, it will also cover the joys of exercise and whatever the weather, Ellie will still be running and writing…

Why? Why? Why? Last year I made the bold and perhaps rogue decision to sign up for the London Marathon 2014. Swept up with Olympic fever, New Year resolutions and a need for a challenge I signed my name on the dotted line and kissed goodbye to my free time and sanity. It may also have had something to do with a school friend of mine scoffing at the idea of me doing a marathon and me being slightly deluded but determined to prove him wrong that I decided to sign up.

Pictures12So, this is how you find me: 9 weeks to go (what?!), exercising 5 days a week, sleep deprived and still 26.2 miles to go. Over the next few months I will keep you updated with brief updates into my training, my playlist, my fundraising and the ‘joys’ of running. Some weeks I will want to pound my head into a brick wall…repeatedly. But others, I will be feeling on top of the world, glowing from the feeling that myself and Paula Radcliffe are both marathon runners!

Running is a wonderful thing because anyone can do it. How hard can it be, you just put one foot in front of the other and repeat? Although find me 10 miles into a run and I do not share this philosophy. But I do love the feeling that follows a long workout and the satisfaction that I could eat a whole family size bar of Dairy Milk if I felt inclined. Running does make you high! The body releases endorphins as a mechanism for dealing with pain so the natural high that you experience from exercising is designed to reduce discomfort, increase pleasure and give you that extra kick to get on with your day. So if you are feeling a bit low, tired or bored, then grab your trainers and do some exercise. It doesn’t have to be running but anything which gets your heart rate up and is hard work is good for you- promise!

Pictures13The key is to start with realistic goals. Like with New Year’s Resolutions, the tendency is to be over ambitious and this just means you hit February and you are right back where you started. You are not going to go from zero to hero so the key is to set small and achievable goals and work up from there. A 10 minute run will quickly become 15 and before you know it you will be able to manage a 30 minute run. This weekend I did a half marathon with my friend Rory Dowie, who is currently training for the Marathon de Sables, a gruelling 6 days which comprises of running 7 marathons across the Sahara Desert whilst carrying all your necessary kit. Suddenly the marathon doesn’t seem like such a big deal! We were training up in the Highlands and the scenery was incredible, I honestly had no idea that Scotland was so spectacular. The first hour was comfortable and the company was greatly appreciated. Running can be a lonely sport and I would really recommend finding a running partner of similar ability. Whilst we chatted a ridiculous amount of rubbish and nothing of any note – I certainly enjoyed his motivational pearls of wisdom as he literally dragged me kicking and screaming up a mountain- okay…hill. Like a scene out of ‘Run Fat Boy Run’ Rory became my demented sidekick, spurring me on and reminding me that this hill was the key to getting the ideal bum. Pftt – yeh right.

One of the joys of running is rediscovering some old gems on my iPod and each week I will give you my top 5 power playlist. Below is this week’s:

1. Movin’ Too Fast – Artful Dodger

2. Pure Shores – All Saints

3. Trick Me – Kelis

4. Holdin On – Flume

5. Dancin – Aaron Smith (Krono Remix)

An eclectic mix with no real common thread but they are what  pushed me on in those last few miles and I was particularly happy when All Saints’ seminal classic Pure Shores came on shuffle as the last song on my 10 mile run. Coincidence? I think not!

I leave you in a good mood this week, I’m off to stretch out my quads, have a nice warm bath and then take on a 5 mile run tomorrow in Inverleith Park (highly recommended if you want a great view of Edinburgh without having to endure the pains of Arthur’s Seat). And remember its mind over matter when it comes to running.

Thought for the week: ‘Even if you fall on your face, you’re still moving forward.’ – Victor Kiam.

Ellie Smith

Ellie Smith is 20 years old and she is currently studying French and Spanish at the University of Edinburgh. Ellie has a sense of humour similar to that of an immature ten year old boy and sites Blades of Glory as one of the best films ever made. She is obsessed with Russia, Mini Eggs and Ryan Gosling. The Holy Trinity in her eyes.

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