having projects

Ages ago, I read somewhere, possibly in an interview in newspaper, that it was important to have stay interested and do new things, try new things, all the time. In fact, that it was more important to keep trying new things than to finish them — and this is why I feel no guilt in having started and abandoned, in no particular order:

– learning Russian
– sewing classes
– 100 push-ups challenge
– an online sociology course
– dozens of embroidery pieces
– a variety of art projects
– ballet
– taking the exam to become a certified French-English translator
– several “classics” which I never got into, despite being a huge reader — I have documented my struggles with Anna Karenina before
– passing my driver’s license (although I will probably have to come back to this one day)
– half a dozen blogs and tumblrs other than this one

I still get a lot out of every new endeavour, but abandoned them, fairly quickly, when I lost interest. What mattered was trying new things out. I need to make every day interesting, and what is more interesting than something new? besides, you never know what I will come back to eventualy. There are things I keep coming back to over and over again though, such as:

– learning Chinese (10 years and counting! never give up!)
– writing this particular blog
– running

Yes! it’s a sneaky running post again. I have started a training plan (via Runkeeper) for a half-marathon. This time, instead of 8 weeks, I have 23 weeks (TWENTY THREE WEEKS? WHO KNOWS WHERE I WILL BE IN 23 WEEKS?) to work myself up to 21.1km. This time, I’m following a specific, professionally-designed training plan, instead of the advice of a well-intentioned but ultimately crazy Taiwanese ultramarathoner. And this time, despite the longing for more, I will NOT run multiple days in a row.

It’s actually really hard. The bright sunshine wakes me up around 7am every day and I don’t get picked up for work until 9:15. This is perfect running time and I’m aching to go, but I ran last night (intervals, urgh, 5x 3min @12km/h, 3min @6km/h) and I mustn’t run again until tomorrow. Looking back, it’s easy to see how I got injured last year. Even though McArthur’s pushing me to increase overnight from 5-8km three times a week to 12-17km five times a week was insane and I kind of knew it, it was kind of like being told to eat chips for every other meal — I knew it was a bad idea but it felt really good at the time!

However, this time it’s easy to remember not to over-train. The pain in my shins and knees has never really gone away and if I try to push it, the pain increases dramatically. Also the memory of how miserable I was in January and February, not able to run, is fresh enough of a threat to keep me in tow.

And so I went swimming on my rooftop this morning instead… 20 easy laps.


training club

This morning I awoke to sunshine yet again, and had a pity party about not running yet again. Then I reminded myself that there was plenty of Chinese to work on still… I did reading drills for two hours, which was good, apart from how much I always kick myself for not doing it more often and specially before exams. Still, let’s not take anything away from that achievement.

I considered going for a swim, but as I was flicking though my iPad apps saw Nike Training Club which I downloaded the other day. I had initially thought it was something like miCoach (by adidas) but in fact it is exactly like a personal trainer — better than my old PT, in fact, because it doesn’t make racist or homophobic comments.

I am worried about my knees, and there were a lot of lunges involved in the workout I did, but I think/hope that the lunges will strengthen my legs which will take pressure off them.

Me, full of grim determination prior to starting the 45-minute “Stress Slammer” workout:

Stress was sucessfully slammed. I was planning to show me post-workout, but I forgot in my eagerness to get in the shower — just picture bright red, soaked in sweat, having got rid of the t-shirt because I was over-heating. That was HARD WORK. I haven’t done any strength training for ages, definitely over a year. Yoga does help somewhat but I have been inactive for over 2 weeks so I really felt the burn!

I have dutifully stretched and massaged my knees with the medicated gel. I don’t know if I can think of running again before I leave; the half-marathon at Shuangxi is in exactly a month and only an idiot would believe they can go from injured to 21km in a month. Right?

I want to believe. Despite my tendency to overthink, some things I have successfully gone years and years without thinking about (been many years and I still have never calculated how old those jellybeans would have been if they hadn’t been aborted). Until now I have refused to ponder whether I should forget about running Shuangxi. Let’s keep it that way.


Thanks to my darling mama’s unexpected gift of a £25 voucher, I get to spend Christmas morning poring over Amazon’s (really disorganised) lists of books, trying to compile my own wishlist. In order to get maximum value for my pennies, I want the books to be long, and interesting, and preferably no more than £5 or so, so I can get at least 4 or 5 of them… reminds me of the good old days perusing La Redoute making lists of all the clothes I could buy with my Christmas vouchers. It makes me so happy, because I haven’t been book-shopping in so long, so thank you Mummy for such a thoughtful present! (and feel free to make recommendations!)

Yesterday was packed full of business: shopping for sports bras (fail — I will have to order some from Australia) and for vegetarian/vegan sources of protein (semi-success — I haven’t been able to find protein powder but I will be enjoying my horrendously expensive imported Greek yoghurt and various hippy grains). I also purchased halloumi, and made onion jam which I served up together (after frying the halloumi into a golden salty explosion of delicious) as my contribution to Catherine’s party last night.

Seeing as I was stuck by the stove caramelising onions for hours, I also made a batch of dhal, complete with cumin and goodness this time, which I have frozen in portions for the rest of the week. I am surprised at my own domesticity, but rest assured, my room still looks like a bomb hit it.

I’d been instructed to run a brisk 6km yesterday, and was pleased to see it took me exactly 32:00 — 2 months ago I ran 5km in the same time, and almost died afterwards. I have now signed up for both the Shuangxi half-marathon and the Wan Jin Shir half-marathon (they are within 2 weeks of each other), a decision which probably makes little sense, but I really wanted to run Shuangxi originally and by the time I found out they would accept my application after all, I had already signed up for WJS. So I will run the first one very, very slowly (they have a 3:30:00 finishing time, and I know I can walk 20km in 4 hours, so surely, surely, I can hope to run/walk Shuangxi in that time?).

Today I am running the Christmas Hash, which is a rare city run and will involve wearing a Santa hat. I have mixed feelings about this, but I always run the Hash so I will go. After the run I’m heading to Shida for a Hanukkah party. And then it’s back to school on Monday (I really should do some more homework this morning but ICK!).