The End of the Endless Summer Part 1

2016-08-03-14-38-40Since I returned from my Endless Summer , or rather  six week surf adventure in Wales, I have found it difficult to write anything. How do I put into words the seemingly endless weeks of unplugging from normal life and living in a tent, in a field, next to the gorgeous Rhossili Bay, surfing up to three times a day and watching countless sunest?

How do I explain the simple pleasures and slower pace of life I experienced which when written down seem completely trivial and insignificant to other people?  How do I write about the feeling of walking on grass in bare feet every day, about not looking in a mirror and how that made me feel a sense of freedom I’d never had, about sitting quietly outside my tent starring at the night sky with no noise in my head, about the smell of bbq’s and                                                    haze from the smoky fires in the sunset?

How do I write about how I felt at home in a place I’ve never lived, about surfing at sunset alone, with the red sky on fire (see cover photo), about the quiet letting go of nonsense and noise from my normal life, about becoming less wasteful and more resourceful, about how days felt like weeks as I got up with the sun, slept with the darkness and made the most of the in between?  How do I write about the strong,  amazing, women I spent time with , who lit the path for me like the stars that they are, about the revolving door of rather handsome neighbours I had who each taught me something about myself?

I drove away from Gower at the end of summer with tears streaming down my face .  I could barely mumble a goodbye to Welsh Surf Bird for the lump in my throat. It felt like my heart was trying to escape out of my throat and stay there in Llangennith,  like a dog who doesn’t want to leave the park.  I was scared of losing how I felt that summer but, with four hours drive home I had plenty of time to think about how I was going to deal with this.

I stopped off an hour into my journey in Abergavenny to say goodbye to Ozzi, another of the Welsh birds and when I pulled away from her house I knew a decision had been made without me realising.  It wouldn’t be easy and could take a while to orchestrate properly. Although the thought of leaving my friends and the familiarity of 23 years in my adopted home city scared me, looking back at the number of visitors I had over my six weeks away, I knew that distance would be no obstacle to those very long and strong friendships. Surf Bloke had been up and down like  a yo-yo from Lancashire all summer and my surf brainwashing had finally taken a hold of Long Legs who had visited twice and bought himself a wetsuit .

There was nothing I could do but, move there as soon as I could, somehow.

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Come to Morocco November 2016

SURFSTAR MOROCCO

3rd to  10TH  or 5th to 12th November 2016 depending on which flights you prefer

IS SURFSTAR FOR YOU?

Have you ever fancied learning to surf? Are you looking for a new experience on holiday? Do you practice yoga at home or want to give it  a try for the first time?

Are you already surfing but, want to progress?  Are you stuck in the white water or afraid to push yourself out of your comfort zone?

Are you a solo traveler who enjoys the independence of being alone but the companionship of a group when you want it? Are you a group of friends looking to do something amazing together?

Yes?

Come on my next trip to Surfstar Morocco 

Check out their website here and Facebook page here and excellent trip advisor here 

what to expect on a surfstar trip

Click HERE for a recent video made by the Surfstar team

Surfstar Morocco is a beautiful surf/yoga camp (house) in  Tamraght , about 30 minutes North of Agadir and two miles south of Taghazout. Surfstar is run bu Lucie and Momo and along with members of their family and other Moroccan staff they run a very, very, special place. You will make new friends, you will feel at home and you will very likely want to go back as soon as you leave.

Yoga

Yoga takes place twice a day at 7.30 am and again in the evening after surfing and before diner. Yoga takes place on the private roof terrace with a view to the sea one side and the mountains the other side. Mats are provided. Yoga is for all abilities.

 

 

 

surf_symbolSurfing is for everyone, from first timers to people who have done it before and want to improve.  People are in groups according to their ability. We will go to different spots depending on the tides and conditions that day so you will get to see a few different places. We start the morning session leaving the house at 9.30am and once at the beach get suited up and have a fun warm up all together followed by a proper lesson in small groups with fully qualified and experienced instructors. After lunch which is also provided, it’s time to get back in the sea if you want and  practice surfing, play, have fun or just read a book and relax or even call it a day and head back to the house.  Surf instructors stay at the beach until the last person is out of the sea  at around 3.30pm so you are always safe in the water.

 

food-symbol-clipart-1The Food  food is included in the price apart from evening meal on Friday as it’s the chefs day off. The food is gorgeous. Breakfast is fruit, yogurt, cereals, fresh bread, jam and honey. Lunch is  make it yourself salads and sandwiches. In the morning you help yourself and label your pack up. The evening meal is always 3 courses and is restaurant quality, the tagines are amazing. Special dietary requirements are not an issue just let Surfstar know in advance. You also receive a large bottle of water every morning on the way out to surf so you don’t have to worry about finding a shop.

 

219dbbeefef0dcd45c869f58442ebc5bRooms all are slightly different and sleep 2, 3 or 4 . There are no bunk beds. There is a bathroom and kitchen shared between two rooms. Though there may be chatter and laughter on the roof at night it will not disturb those wanting to sleep early or chill out. Most people are happily exhausted anyway so a late night is around 11pm .

Cost and how to book

€470 per person per week surf package ,  you can then add yoga at 10€ per session with the 6th and 12th sessions free (pay as you go)  deposit 94 euro non-refundable with the balance due on arrival

€570 per person for the surf and yoga package 12 yoga Sessions included  deposit 114 euro non-refundable with the balance on arrival

Both of these packages include

  •  pick up and drop off at Agadir airport
  • all meals apart from Friday night
  • wetsuit and board rental
  • 6 days of surf lessons in the morning and supervised surf practice in the afternoons
  • transport to and from the beach
  • optional surf analysis with the surf instructors in the evening
  • accommodation in a beautiful Moroccan house in a shared room *

Bookings need to be secured with a deposit asap as places do fill up quickly and to guarantee rooms together

*you can ask about a private room when you send a booking enquiry

You will  need travel insurance, Morocco is covered under Europe for most travel insurance policies so check with your insurance provider.

To Secure Your Booking

Please email surfabella@gmail.com in the first instance to check availability. Once I have confirmed there are still spaces you will need to pay a 10% deposit to secure the booking.

 

You will need to book your own flights and make your way to and from the airport in the UK. Cheap flights are from LGW to Agadir with Easy Jet

If you make a booking please join the FACEBOOK group so we can possibly look at sharing transport to the airport and meeting up. There are already 4 ladies booked who have never surfed before and me.

 

 

 

Lessons From Nature

 

A mountain or fell, like the sea, reveals all. It demands  your strengths and magnifies your weaknesses both physical and of the mind. Nature does not care how much your gortex, hyper thin jacket which transforms into a tent cost or how much you paid for that Nineplus long board or all singing all dancing wetsuit.  Nature does not care if you talk the talk, she is only interested in if you can walk the walk. Believe me, during my weekend in the Lake District, I certainly walked.

On day one I was tricked into going up Fairfield Horseshoe by a whiley wayed mountain goat . As a local fell runner,  these peaks are mere hills to him, to me they might aswell have been Everest.

The Coffin Route? Was I about to die?When I first saw what we were about to do doubt kicked in immediately. Walk Lakes website declares,

Do not underestimate 
the seriousness of 
this walk

In total it was a four hour ascent.  I struggled in parts, especially the steep start.  I threw a hissy fit and hurled abuse at The Goat and Long Legs . ( read about my surf strops here) I also laughed a lot, made it to the top with a huge sense of achievement, enjoyed spectacular views, saw some cool ninja sheep and slid down some of the two hour decent on my arse which was fantastic fun.

A Collection of Photos of my friends backs as i try to keep up

Afterwards,  when we were in the pub sinking a few pints I felt exhausted and exhilarated. The Guinness tasted like the finest liquid to ever pass my lips. I had worked for  it, I’d got up the highest peak I have ever been up under my own steam. After meeting up with the Friday night arrivals, a belly full of food and beer and neat rum back at the hostel somehow I managed to get up and walk another 14 miles the next day. I had no idea I enjoyed walking so much.

Climbing the peaks of The Lake District showed me a few things about myself in exactly the same way that surfing does, mother nature and her incessant lessons eh? Firstly,  it showed me that my weakness is not in my body but, in my head. My weakness is self-doubt. It also showed me that I am stronger and fitter than I think but, I still have a way to go.

I spent most of the day looking at two backs in the distance and I found it really disheartening at times but, I have to remember that three  years ago I wouldn’t have been able to do a quarter of this height.

Perhaps most importantly this trip showed me that I need to start seeing myself as I am now. I’ve been what I’d consider an active person for just a few years.  I was everyone’s  fat, daft, drinking buddy who couldn’t really do much in the way of activities for most of my late 20’s and 30’s. It’s time to stop saying I can’t do things and realise I am actually walking the walk, albeit not as steadily, quickly or skillfully as the others but, I’m bloody doing it.

I  came home from this trip with a similar feeling I get after a surf trip. I felt the best kind of tired, a bit grubby, slightly hung over and very satisfied.  I also felt a comforting amity with the group of old and new friends that I’d shared the weekend with.

I highly recommend that you get yourself up a mountain this spring and walk the walk. Get a blister, throw a strop, sit down and refuse to move if you must. But, also breath in the fresh air, take in a spectacular view, enjoy overcoming something you thought you couldn’t do and come down  just a little different to when you went up.

Some Useful Links for Getting Out and About

Join the National Trust for free entry and parking to heaps of cool places around the Uk

2016 is Wales’ year of Adventure explore the vast mountains and coastline and find #yourepic

Join YHA for budget friendly accommodation in spectacular locations around the Uk

Visit trekking Great Britain for inspiration  on walks, hikes and climbs

If it all seems a bit much read Wild by Chery Strayed from the comfort of your sofa

Surf Tour – Cornwall Done

CAPTAIN’S LOG

in the officeI’m sitting outside writting this , it’s 8pm and the sky is pink in the distance , hinting at the last of the sunset. It’s also my last night in Cornwall as I continue my surf adventure North, to The Gower in Wales tomorrow and then onto Pembrokshire, Wales on Saturday.

TWO days have passed with no sign of human life……

It’s been a mixed bag this week where I’ve felt at times quite lonely and isolated, then really happy in my own company in equal measure.  Interspersed with seeing friends a few days I have spent most of this week on my todd.  The week started off great as I picked up a friend who’d flown in from Dublin for a few nights. Much debauchery at the infamous Retorrick Mill was had , that’s a story in it’s own right that to be frank may never be told or quite remembered. I blew my budget for the whole week in one night, my bank statement certainly jogged my memeory on that front.
Due to the high winds there was no surfing but, we’d had fun  and we know, you can’t always get lucky with waves. That’s ok, for two days.  As soon as I dropped her off at the airport that’s when Storm Katie decided I needed some girly company and she more than outstayed her welcome . You can read about my hellish night here.
All By Myself
Storm night was followed by long days and longer nights alone, listening to torrential rain beat the roof of my caravan. I live alone so am used to occupying myself but, what do you do all day in a caravan with no TV and no tasks or chores to fill the time?  I started  wondering,  what the hell am I doing here? Do I actaully have any friends?  Will I die alone? Where did it all go wrong? This  is when I questioned whether I could do this for six weeks in summer and in a tent.

A CHINK OF LIGHT IN A STORMY SKY

Miraculously when all seemed lost and I was going to give in and go home on Tuesday afternoon, the weather turned, the wind dropped a bit, the sun came out, the sky was blue (in patches), I surfed, Kernow Surfgirl dropped by the beach and it all changed.  I’ve surfed today and yesterday and the day before.  I spent wednesday with Kernow Surfgirl  and we had a great surf and some laughs. Then, today I met a nice man at the beach, a surfer,  how unfortunate I’m leaving tomorrow. Who knows he could have been the Silver Surfer. It’s amazing what a turn in the weather can do.

So, coming to the end of the Cornwall leg of the surf tour, having driven the beautiful coast road home from Newquay as the sun started sinking and satisfied after surfing,   I am certainly sad to be leaving this stunning place, it’s got a hold of me and I feel like I’ve always been here . More importantly though,  I’ve answered many questions and raised more about if this is the place I’ll spend my surfing summer and that was the reason I came on this trip.
20160330_190211[1]
 I packed the car with a stupid sad face tonight but, I’ve absolutely nothing to complain about, the sun has not set on this trip as the tour continues.  Bring on Wales, tomorrow’s first Welsh stop is the Gower where I’ll be  calling in on a beautiful soul and Surf Seniorita who I haven’t seen since last summer. I think I might need a chaperone as she also has a little devil in her and I’m in possession of wine, hey ho here goes.

Surfabella Surftrip is On

moroccon adventure

If you read my post entitled Tired of Solo Surftrips a few weeks ago you will know that I convinced my friend who I call  Long Legs to come on a surfing holiday to Morcocco, despite being a non surfer. Hoo-rahhh.  Long Legs is also Surfabella’s, Art Director, and Chief Designer, more to come on what he’s tinkering with later in the year.  He also  makes a smashing cup of tea in our meetings. We love tea.

 

Also coming is Surf Bloke, my ever  patient surf buddy and Surfabella’s  Tech Guru.  I normally beat him up when I’m in a Surf Sulk so,  for protection from my sulks he’s bringing  his non surf friend along too.

So, as all three of us are away we are on shutdown here at Surfabella. Apart from posting a few snaps,   our out of office is on. The Yorkshire Tea bags and suncream are packed, lets go!

Bonjour Surfstar Morocco, Au Revoir cold, wet UK

Team Surfabella xx

Surfabella_logo

How to Recover From a Debauched Christmas

STICK A FORK IN ME, I’M DONE

Its official, the festivities are over. We are hurtling into January at warp speed and into the new frontier of 2016, darkness reigns across the galaxy as we return to work, broken and bewildered. Ok,  I went to see Star Wars on Saturday, no more references I promise. It was meant to be a quiet, sedate and relaxed end to a few boozy days away with some pals. New Year’s Eve hangovers had just begun to retreat and we were all feeling decidedly better.

It started so well but,  somehow, after the film I drank my body weight in red wine, ate a whole pig and a kilo of cheese, smoked fags, stayed up after 5am, performed a self-choreographed modern dance in the kitchen set against the backdrop of 90’s gangster rap (although I was not the only one) and physically wrestled people to stop them from going to bed, again. This has been happening since mid-December.

So, the upshot of having lived like Henry VIII for almost three weeks, (apart from the wives, rolling heads, opulent lifestyle and that I’m not a King or indeed a man) is that I feel like I’ll never be able to run again and I’ll live in giant pyjamas for the rest of my days, get gout and only respond to the name Jabba.

Alternatively, I get off my ass, get moving and stop moaning because the longer I moan about it the less I’m doing and the more likelihood there is of slipping into old habits.

I’m sure I’m not the only one feeling this way so here is what I’m doing to move on from a debauched Christmas towards feeling more sprightly and getting into the swing of being active again. It’s all very obvious and simple but, sometimes we need reminding that we really are only a few steps away from feeling great again.

Acceptance

Be kind to yourself, what’s done is done, don’t beat yourself up. So, you stuffed your cake hole and didn’t make it out for a run or even a walk and can’t fasten your work trousers, regret won’t change that or make your trousers looser. Remember, your newly shaped belly was cultivated with love, what a comforting thought. Drinking, eating and being merry with your favourite people are the reasons for your food baby and you had a great time, just accept it and move on.

Set a Goal

 What is your goal? Is it just to deflate a little and get your energy back? To take up a new activity? Setting realisitc a goal, even a small one is a great way to get you back into the swing of things. Without a goal how will you motivate yourself? I need to be Surf fit for Morocco in 8 weeks so there’s mine right there. My goal of being able to surf my brains out every day and not get tired or injured is a really positive one. Note that my goal is not guilt driven or a punishment and it’s not so narrow that I can’t have a lazy weekend or a takeaway.

Make a plan and stick to it

How will you reach your goal? Make a simple, realistic plan and stick to it. Make sure your plan  has flexibility so you can enjoy the unexpected things that may crop up, like a night out or cancelling a run because you are tired. Just do it, don’t create obstacles or make excuses. It’s your decision to follow your plan or not, the time will pass anyway.

Today was my first day back in the office after finishing on 18th December, during my time off I travelled 800 miles around the UK, eating, drinking, surfing and being a dick head here, there and everywhere. I enjoyed every minute of it, clearly seen in  my puffy ‘Elvis in the fat years’ face . I had to goto  to work in ‘lounge pants’ today as I genuinely cannot fasten any work clothes. I imagine a lot of people were sneakily unfastening the the top button of their trousers and feeling uncomfortable today too! Lets not wallow, instead get outdoors, run, walk, bike,  do something new, break a sweat doing whatever.  You are only a few steps away from feeling great again .

A Momentary Lapse in Fitness ( that lasted a year)

the beginning of the quest

I appear to have had a lapse in my quest for improved fitness and weight loss. I haven’t just missed a few classes  and eaten a cake. This lapse has been a year long, my motivation has been AWOL despite the fact that I’ve been surfing more than ever. The quest began in February 2013 and I made some significant changes up until June 2014.

  • lost 60-65 lb (fluctuated)
  • dropped 3-4 dress sizes (same)
  • quit smoking after 24 years
  • took up running and fitness classes
  • ran a half marathon 4 months after my first ever run
  • started to love my self a little more

The quest,  as I appear to be calling it, was borne out of an obsession with surfing after I had a lesson on holiday. I loved it but, knew I’d never be able to stand on that board with the body I had. At 17 stone with a bmi of 41 and an age of inactivity behind me, I waged war on my old habits and set about making some positive changes. I was strict with my regime but, had to be. My old habits had a loud voice that would try to tempt me back but,  I would not be distracted. As my body and mind improved the elusive ‘getting up’ on my board got closer and closer and I was more focussed than ever.

Every ache, stitch, pain, struggle to breath, bead of sweat and mad face pulled was for surfing and eventually the hard work paid off. After 21 x 4 hour lessons I was up. I was standing on my board. My motivation grew as I shrunk. I was  slimmer than I’d been in 15 years and fitter and stronger than I’d been in my life. Outside of the water I was happy, proud, confident, focussed and felt so sparkly on the inside it felt like it was bursting out of me.  The only thing I needed  was to be  fit, strong  and on track for surfing. It’s this very thing that may have been my downfall.

losing my way

They say pride comes before a fall and just as things couldn’t get any better,  I had an accident that put me out of all activity and in dry dock for  for 12 weeks.  I was in  a sling for 6 weeks and off work for 5. I couldn’t even dress myself or brush my hair such was the pain in my shoulder and neck. Home alone all day bored, in pain, feeling sorry for myself, not able to even stick to healthy foods as I couldn’t prepare anything, an army of white bread toast and crisps knocked at the door, I had to let them in.  I was hungry.

 Eventually my injury healed enough to slowly get back into activities but, it didn’t come easy. Iv’e tried, I have. I would convinced myself I was back on track for a few days or a week here and there but, it never lasted. I did managed a half marathon although it was more about stubbornness to finish than the training I had put in because I barely trained. I’ve never got back to the level of commitment I had before. I could stand on my board so I felt working hard to get stronger wasn’t as important and I blamed my dodgy shoulder for everything.

Time was separated in to before shoulder-gate and after. Where there was newly gained  lean muscle there is pudgy,  soft,  squidgyness once again. Where there was no question about going to body pump or pilates there are excuses. ‘I’ll start next week’ has been hanging  heavy in the air every weekend along with the stale smell of the cigarettes I nick of friends after a few drinks. There’s a faint echo of I can’t or I’m not good enough in the distance.

Lubricated by a few glasses of wine on Friday, I was talking about hating myself for letting it go AGAIN with my friend Long Legs. (hate is  such a horrible word to use about oneself)  I said something along the lines of ‘why have I let this happen, I’ve put weight on, I’ve lost my exercise mojo, I worked my ass off ahhh I’m a failure ‘, I whined. ‘ Cut yourself some slack kid’, said Long Legs and then something along the lines of, ‘ look how far you have come, all these changes are not easy and you did them all in one go, stop beating yourself up, you can’t always be perfect’. I sort of half heartedly agreed, hoofed down the last of my bottle of wine and went home.

back on the right path

The next day  the simplicity and sense in what Long Legs had said dawned on me . I guess sometimes it takes another voice that’s louder than the doubtful one  in your head to tell you that you are doing ok.   I can’t be ‘on it’ all of the time, it’s not possible to do so and have a life, things get in the way, you can’t always get a run in after work, sometimes you want a pint instead of the gym, sometimes you have a break which is out of your control. My quest was so much the centre of everything I did that when I was forced to stop I couldn’t handle it and that had affected my ability to bounce back. I’d been sabotaging myself because I felt like I was failing after not getting back in the swing of things after my injury.  Before it was all and now it was nothing, either manically up and muscular  or miserably down with a muffin top.

I realise I need to find balance, a middle ground where I’m making progress on my quest but, I’m not going to throw it all away and wallow if I hit a bump in the road or have a few mad weekends. A break in fitness and a weight gain is not a failure  it’s an expected part of my life that will occur from time to time.

I have decided that I haven’t come this far to not finish the job. How I deal with this lapse is a measure of the person I have become. So, I’m going to  regroup and go back into battle with a new strategy with balance as my focus, just like on my board balance really is the key.

Cold Water Surf Tour with Jessie Tuckman

I first came into contact with competitive surfer Jessie Tuckman a year or so ago when she commented on one of my very first Surfabella posts. I was chuffed that a proper and awesome surfer that I had no personal connection to had read my blog, at the time I thought it was just my mum and my mates reading it out of loyalty.

Hailing from the non surf capital of the UK , Manchester,  Jessie took to surfing a little later than most girls on the competition scene and shot through the rankings pretty darn quickly. I do a terrible injustice to her story by cutting it short but, you can read a recent Guardian article about her journey from Manchester  to Newquay and from office to beach here.

Life on the competition  trail isn’t easy and there’s a distinct lack of  lucrative sponsorship contracts for our UK girls. The reality is , it’s bloody hard work and  surfing the cold and oft brown waters of the UK  isn’t exactly the sun soaked dream the big sponsors want to sell. Jessie does have the support of some awesome local sponsors but,  in between training, surfing, competing, coaching and working has to raise additional  funds herself.

Jessie’s latest project aside from the zillion other things she has on the go is to embark on  a Cold Water Mini Tour and she has a crowd funder set up to this end . I caught up with Jessie just after Boardmasters to find out a little more about the tour.

Hello. How was Boardmasters

Boardmasters was fantastic! I have enjoyed the surf. It started off a solid overhead and clean day 1, I competed in a mushy 3-4ft and then we had a few small days. But the sun was out and that made it great for mulling around in the shopping area and watching the skaters on the half-pipe. The final day had good surf too. Peony Knight won with some impressive surfing.

 You seem to have a crazy, busy life. With a job, training, surfing, coaching and everything else what’s a typical Jessie day when you are not on the road?

I’m up at 5am, normally have breakfast and do some stretching then off to work. I clean the Stable, which is a pizza and cider specialist on Fistral Beach. (convenient location) They are one of my main sponsors too. Once I finish I’m normally straight in the sea for a morning of surf. I feel the most awake and energised in the morning. Then time to eat lunch and answer emails, contact companies that might want to hire me for work or discuss sponsorship and interviews. Surf number 2 after than and then the gym for a surf specific workout.

So, what can you tell us about  the Jessie Tuckman Cold Water Mini tour?
 It’s still secret right now but it is going to be exploration of a coastline in the British Isles that is not covered as much as Cornwall and Devon by the surf mags. It is a beautiful, cold location. I will be meeting up with some female surfers on the way who will share their local knowledge with me. That’s all I can say at the moment but if readers would like to follow me at www.facebook.com/jessietuckmansurfer there will be updates closer to the time and I will also post a daily photo from the trip…so maybe they will be able to guess where I am? who knows! anyway It will definitely be exciting.
Get Involved
 
Tell us more about the Crowdfunder?
My  sponsors help with some of the contest costs and coaching but,  when I add it all up it still isn’t all covered. I use my personal wages to cover most of the rest. Although for this trip I just can’t afford it without a fund raiser. I’ve set up a Crowdfunder to help  fund this  Exploration of Cold water British Surf , specifically funds are needed for fuel and photography fees.
Win a Snugg made to measure wetsuit

Click HERE to enter via Jessie’s Crowdfunder

Pledges of £10+ will be entered into a raffle,  the main prize is a Snugg Wetsuit voucher of £300. (it  covers a summer suit but can be used towards a winter one if preferred) It’s super cool as its made to measure and there are so many cool colours to make it really radical. I’ve also got runner up prizes so far of a hoodie, some sunglasses and a sticker pack.
I really appreciate all the help that surf supporters can give. Even if they don’t win they are really helping me on my quest for wave exploration, exposure of british women in sport and keeping it all close to home.
Thanks Jessie and good luck with the tour. I hope I can catch up with you somewhere along the way. x

Want to Start Running?

You can do it. Really!

I’m not sure if I can call myself a runner, mainly because of the speed I move. I’m more in the style of lolloping Labrador than whippet but, moving is what it’s all about and that’s what I do and I like Labradors. Anyway run, jog, plod, canter, whatever you want to call it, in this post I’m calling it running.

I started running in June 2013, the day I signed up to a half marathon. Admittedly this was quite ambitious but I’m an all or nothing sort of girl. Luckily for me my best lady mate is an experienced runner and assured me I could do it so, I believed her and got on with it. That day I could not run for 20 seconds, a total beginner.

I decided to run for the charity Wave Project and I documented some of the trials and tribulations of 0 – 13.1 miles on my fundraising page. Amazingly, a number of people said they felt inspired to give running a try after seeing me do it and reading my ramblings here. I was a normal, unfit, smoker who was significantly overweight and at almost 40 years old had not run anywhere since school. I had recently tried surfing for the first time and wanted to get fit to enable me to start learning properly rather than just bobbing around lying down on my board like a giant manatee. I went from zero to half marathon in 4 months. I am proof that anyone can do it so I guess people can relate to that.

Lessons I learnt, some the hard way!

What I learnt on day one was that running does not come naturally to me. As time went on I discovered running is bloody hard, it is challenging, rewarding, relaxing and frustrating all at the same time. You will love it and hate it and you will push yourself to do more than you ever thought you could. Here is a little of what I learnt from other people and things I discovered myself that might make your first days a little easier or just reassure you that everyone goes through the same thing when starting out.

1. Running is not just putting one foot in front of the other fast

If you just go out on your own with no plan and having done no research about how to get started you will make the mistake a lot of people make and leg it like a demented emu, hate every second of it and declare yourself someone who tried running but, just can’t take to it. On my very first attempt I found I didn’t know how to breathe, I didn’t know what was the most comfortable pace for me and I went too fast then too slow.

Your confidence will grow with some guidance. Follow a sensible beginners training plan like couch to 5k or any of the Runners World training plans. Most beginners plans are a combo of walking and jogging you should find it challenging but, achievable. Eventually you will learn to listen to your body and respond to it during your runs and you will build up a strong foundation of fitness and more importantly confidence that you CAN do it.

the first few weeks can be tough but, very quickly it becomes a habit and I find I look forward to going for a run. That feeling of achievement when you’ve reached a personal goal is amazing and I’m constantly suprised by what my previously unfit body can do – Laura Lou

  1. It is not glamorous and you will wobble – get used to it

You will wobble, sweat, pull faces, have mad hair, a bright red face and look a mess and you might get snot on your shoulder (guilty). Good. That means you are working hard. If you feel a little self-conscious as you run past people in the street or see all of the passengers on a passing bus look at you, remind yourself of the fact that you are out there doing it, they are not so don’t worry about what you think people are thinking when they see you . You may get heckled by knob heads, I had a few incidents of men shouting insults about my weight out of car windows and once even some bloke on the opposite side of a canal I was running by. Do not be put off. Quite simply they are knob heads , you are Zeena Warrior Princess, end of.

The true glamour of running, sweaty, red and puffed out! Maybe a bit delirious too.

  1. Stop Looking at other people – dance to your own beat

At the very beginning you will feel like a slug dipped in treacle dragging yourself up a hill while trying to pull a HGV using a piece of elastic. You will be ok with this because at least you have started. That is until you start comparing yourself to other people. Stop it right now! It’s a huge error I made and still do make on a bad day.

Everyone encounters that super lean, super fit, sex kitten with buns of steel in the tight lycra who runs effortlessly past them like a gazelle. You jealously consider pushing her in a bush but, unfortunately she’s half a mile ahead of you now. Well, she was a beginner too. She knows exactly what you are going through. She remembers how bloody hard the first few months are and she is rooting for you. It’s highly likely she thought ‘good for her’ as she passed you. You don’t know what it took for her to get where she is. You are unique, you cannot compare yourself to anyone. Beginner or not, concentrate only on what you are doing.

No matter how slow you go, you are still lapping everyone on the couch is a quote by Austyn Clark Fry. I have it printed off and on my wall. Everytime I think I can’t be bothered going out for a run I read it. – Jo

  1. Your progress will creep up on you suddenly

The hardest part of running is the early stages, it feels like a mountain to climb. How will you ever get to run for 10 minutes if you can’t even run for 1 ? Will you ever be able to control your breathing? Will you ever be able to do 5k? Yes you will, trust in the training plan, be consistent, eat well and look after yourself.

Each time you run your confidence will grow. You will have a moment about 6 weeks in where you realise how much progress you have made and you’ll probably cry like a baby because you are so shocked and proud of yourself. Enjoy the small victories, they add up to a massive achievement! You will look back on this time and realise that this may have been hard but, it was also the best time because those achievements and firsts were coming thick and fast.

Every bit of movement no matter how fast or slow is productive. You are worth the effort and the rewards will come. Take some positives home from every outing that are not just about your run, the surise,morning mist, reflections in the rain- Claire

  1. Figure out your why – very important

Why have you decided to take up running? What is your why? You are going to need a good why when you are having a tough day or are struggling to get motivated. For me it was because I wanted to get strong for surfing and to do that I had to lose weight and get fit. As a landlocked surfer I also needed a way to get an endorphin hit outdoors when I was unable to surf. Running answered all of these things.

If you are taking up running because you hate your fat belly or you can’t stand the sight of yourself in the mirror this is not a good reason to start or the right mind-set. Exercise should never be something we do because we are crap or fat or rubbish or because we hate our bodies and are not good enough. That is called punishment and we are all guilty of it. I exercise because Iove my body and the things it allows me to do and because I want to take care of me.

If your motivation for exercise is because you value your health, because you want to feel stronger, because to want to achieve something, raise money for a charity, run around more with your kids, be happier and more energetic or maybe you want to get fit and climb Mount Kilimanjaro you are much more likely to succeed. Running will be a positive addition to your life that will benefit you in other areas not a torture you have to endure because you ate a cake.

Find your why, brainwash yourself with it and visualise a healthier, fitter more energetic you. On a tough day I still visualise myself surfing inside an azure barrel, in tropical waters, looking like Venus crossed with Zena Warrior Princess, I know running is helping me get there and so I push on.

  1. It’s worth spending money on some quality kit

You don’t need to spend a fortune on pants/shorts/running tights and a top to start out, addiction to buying technical kit will come later. However, do get a good quality sports bra, that’s optional chaps! Decent socks are also a must, I wear hilly twin skins and love them.

Whatever you do get proper running shoes. Proper running shoes will keep you comfortable for extended periods of time, they will reduce the risk of injury and they will last.They also make you feel like a kangeroo for the first week which is fun. They may have been the most expensive trainers I have ever bought but, I swear it was the best money I have ever spent on a pair of shoes. If you think you are going to keep it up spend the money, it’s worth it. Go to a local, specialist running shop, talk to the staff, don’t be intimidated they love talking about running and shoes.

When I’m out runing and really struggling, when my head is saying I could just turn round and go home, I start to narrate my run using the voice of Morgan Freeman. This makes me laugh and stops me thinking about what I have to do, it’s also quite relaxing to hear his voice in my head and helps me get out of that moment – Surfabella

  1. Enlist the support of friends and family

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Encouragement and support are really important to the beginner runner, it doesn’t matter if they are running with you or not. Just a pat on the back now and then and somebody to moan to or celebrate with is very important. However, it’s even better if you can get some mates to join you. Doing it together is so much more fun. My best mate started at the same time as me, a man with long legs. You won’t always be running the same pace so enjoy this time .

When we were beginners we kept each other on track, never backed out of a run we had arranged and often when one had a weak day the other would be stronger and we’d get through it together . Now we have found our own stride we can’t always train together as I just can’t keep up . When we do run together it’s a more of a social run or its a moral support run when one of us is recovering from injury or has been off the wagon and needs a little help.

  1. Warning! You will become addicted

Before you know it you will have completed your beginners running programme and you are regularly out there running more than you ever thought you could. Whether you continue as you are enjoying a few runs a week or decide to go for bigger distances, speed, races or charity runs it doesn’t matter. You are now a running addict and will turn into a demented banshee if you get injured or can’t run for a few weeks. You will have more running clothing in your wardrobe than normal clothing and bore everyone at work with boring stories about the boring run you plan to do tonight or the boring run you did last night! Welcome to the club. You’ve done it and proved to yourself that This Girl Can.

Still not sure you can do it?

While I was writing this post I thought about some of the people I know who run. Some helped me along when I was a beginner and some are new to running themselves. I asked them to give some words of advice for beginners, they are the quotes that appear throughout this post. These final, beautiful words sent to me by a friend who took up running around a year ago should have you convinced that anyone can do it including you!

Start small. Don’t aim for 10k on your first day. Take every run as it comes. Some days will be hard, some will be easier. Once you accept your limits, go beyond them, Push yourself to run the length of 2 extra lampposts on your next run. As you improve and as your distance gets longer, change your route. Go explore, see the beauty of the world and discover some place new. Don’t block out the “chore of running” with music. Open your ears to the sounds around you, get into your body’s rhythm instead of a musical one and let your mind wonder. And when you finally complete the great north run, and look back and think “a few month back I couldn’t run down the street without a break” you feel the greatest sense of pride you ever will. Oh! and enjoy every minute of it – Hannah

If you are at this page because you are after more surf specific info this is a great post from Landlocked Surf Girl which looks at where to begin to improve your surf fitness with some great suggestions and practical advice.