Friday, 27 September 2013

Why do I run?

My running story is much, much shorter. I've always been pretty active; enjoyed sports at school but wasn't anything special at them, dedicated all of my free time during my first degree to the university lacrosse club and have cycled to get around London for the past few years. But I'd never even considered running as an enjoyable pastime. I'm a bit too short and heavy, and besides my joints are a bit useless. And it'll ruin my knee. (I tore my ACL playing lacrosse in 2010 which required surgery). I'm just not made to be a runner. 2 things changed this.
1) My wonderful boyfriend. He is very much a runner. Parkrun on Saturday mornings, regular(ish) 10ks, and our first holiday together was a trip to Stockholm with one of his friends and his wife so the three of them could run the half marathon. He has a collection of medals and T-shirts (and a mug) and has done the remarkable; run a marathon. In short, he is a bit of an inspiration.
2) Peer pressure. I'm currently studying physiotherapy; the stereotype of physios being young, fit, beautiful people? It's so true. I felt such a misfit. All the girls at lunch times were chatting about their ironman training, or what time they ran their 10k that week, or which gym classes they'd been to that morning.

Basically I started running because I didn't want to be left out. I didn't like being left behind at the start line.

It was very much fuelled by my boyfriend's unshakable belief that absolutely anyone can be a runner, and his repeated assertions that I certainly wouldn't embarrass myself if I gave it a go.
Having started running I discovered a few reasons to keep going;
- It's incredibly satisfying. It's true, 99% of the time you'll feel better after a run than you did before.
- It's quite addictive. Not just those endorphins, but the 'maybe next time I can go a bit faster' feeling.
- You look extremely talented. Well, maybe not, but before I started running I never saw a jogger and thought, "They're rubbish". Because they were doing something I couldn't. No matter how slowly they were doing it, it was still more than me. Now that I do run, whenever I see a jogger I think "I bet they look better than me".
- There's something for everyone. From walk/running a charity 5k to running ultras, trail to barefoot to track athletics, there is something for everyone. And it's not like you're going to run out of places to run, it's a big world out there!
- You're part of a club. I'm still struggling with this. Because I'm new part of me still believes that there's some sort of initiation test, a rite of passage, something that marks you as a 'proper runner'. But there's not, everyone's welcome - my first Parkrun showed me that. Despite there being plenty of serious runners, everyone was so friendly and welcoming and encouraging. All you have to do is take part.

So I've been running for about 4 months now. How long have you been at it?

Why do I knit?

I can clearly remember when I decided I wanted to learn to knit. We had a babysitter who lived in the other end of our village, affectionately referred to as 'aunty'. She used to bring her knitting with her when she babysat us, and I was fascinated. After watching closely I - somewhat ambitiously - decided to try it myself the next day, using some string I found and two of the little wooden pointy sticks from our 'pick up sticks' game (remember it? Like this). Obviously I got no further than some tangled string and a frustrated little face. But next time Aunty came around, I asked if she could show me how to knit. My two sisters also decided they wanted in on the fun. She cast on the stitches for us - one for each year of our age, which made me very happy as it meant I had a couple more than my sisters - and off we went.
Throughout my childhood I knitted endless scarves with some pretty crazy 'novelty wool' from the local craft shop. My greatest achievement was this little jumper for my teddy, that I knitted as 2 flat pieces and my mum sewed together for me.
I stuck with scarves until university, when I bought the Stitch 'n Bitch book, which in turn led me to Ravelry and I haven't looked back. Blankets, jumpers, socks, hats, gloves, slippers...endless exciting things.

So, I knit because it was something I started as a little child and enjoyed, so have never stopped. But, here are some grown up reasons to give it a try;

- It's very therapeutic. Somehow it takes up just the right amount of brain. This is one of my main reasons: it is a pleasant way of spending free time (if it wasn't, then regardless of your determination, you probably wouldn't actually want to spend much time knitting).
- It's incredibly satisfying. Making something from nothing but a length of yarn using just your hands is a really great feeling.
- It's all unique. No-one else will be wearing it, or have just unwrapped an identical one.
- It guards against waste. You're pretty unlikely to throw away something you spent hours and hours making just at the first sign of wear. You'll try and fix it. You'll accept that it's looking a bit loved. And if something woolly really has reached the end of its life, you can unravel it and knit it into something else.
- You look extrememly talented. That magical ability to make something from nothing? To those that don't understand it, it makes you look pretty awesome. Even the simplest scarf will get gasps of admiration and "I don't know how you manage it!" comments. And everyone needs a bit of an ego massage occasionally.
- You can give things money can't buy. A handmade item has your time, your hardwork (and possibly your blood, sweat and tears) worked into it. Giving it to someone shows you think they're worth all that, and that's something pretty special.
- It's actually quite a cool thing to do. It's not just for grannies you know (if the Huff Post says it, it must be true. And it's been cool for a while).
- There's something for everyone. Once you can knit and purl, you can make things. Right from the off as a beginner there's things to do. But there's so much to learn and so much to make that you'll NEVER run out of things to do. You'll never know everything, there's always something new.
- You're part of a club. There's so many knitters out there. And they're all lovely and friendly. It's extremely likely there's a little group of them that meets somewhere near you, and are a real mine of inspiration and knowledge. More of a lone ranger? The internet is full of free tutorials and patterns.

So that's why I knit. Do you? If so why?

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Hello world!


Isn't this exciting?! If there's anyone out there reading this, hello! Thanks for taking the time to have a look. But if not, then I'm quite happy to sit here and have a quick chat with myself...

I'm planning to use this blog as a way of charting progress with my current knitting projects/running training, and also to explore any thorny issues I come up against along the way. Think fiendish looking knitting techniques, different shoelace strategies and philosophical debates on PBs'. Hopefully someone is reading this because I'd love to hear what people have to say; this is all about tapping into the internet's vast collective knowledge (which is really just people like you and me, having little chats).

Next time;

My knitting and running pedigree (or lack thereof).