Get it Together & GO RUN

New Balance sports bra, top, performance leggings & 711v2 Graphic trainers.

Photographs by Toni Tran.

There are a few things in life that cause me major internal conflict; one of those being exercise -  hence the post title. For the best part, I love exercise whilst I’m in it. However, the dialogue I have to have with myself, to get myself to do it most days, is comical. I know I’ll feel great after and yes, I know it’s good for me and helps me balance out any other annoyances that I’m facing but that doesn’t make it any easier to get out of bed an hour and a half earlier to do it though, does it?

So, for one week, I decided to remove the decision from myself. I would run every day for a week and that would be that. And what better way to test out some new New Balance kit. 

This seven days happened to coincide with my first week in Australia, which couldn’t have been more perfect: a few deadlines but no meetings mean my time in Australia is what I make of it and there was no excuse not to start every day off with a run.

I don’t think I’ve ever exercised seven days in a row before and I’ve certainly never run seven days straight. 

Day One

Day one of my seven days in unknown territory started as I intended to go on. A 6.30am alarm and the sun was rising over the hills of our Brisbane suburb. I’d woken more times then I cared to remember the night before (nice one jet lag) but I was geared up to get on with my seven day streak.

New Balance gear on, I started my timer and off I went. The beauty about running new territory is you’re making it up as you go along; you’ve no idea where you’re going and there’s something relatively freeing about that.

Of course I managed to chose the hardest route I’ve ever run. I reached the peak of one hill only to run down it and find myself at the bottom of another. 

It was the slowest 5K I had run in months. I felt disheartened. Even though my new kicks have a cushiony sole, my shins hurt. A treadmill might be able to prepare you for hill climbs but they can’t prepare you for such steep down hill runs and my shins hurt for it. 

I fell into a heap on our doorstep, obviously opening snapchat to share my absolute dismay. One day down and I was absolutely dreading the six left that I had to go.

Day Two

Another 6am rise but I felt weirdly positive and gave myself a bit of a pep talk. “It’s a hard run but over the seven days, it’ll get easier and you’ll get faster and at the end you’ll f-ing breeze it, YEAH” was a little something how it went. If you hadn’t realised it yet, yes I’m an absolute weirdo - hey, nice to meet you!

It was just as hard. I ran just as slow. It still bloody hurt my legs and I was just as much as a sweaty heap when I finished it as I had been the day before. 

Memo to my inner voice - you’re full of sh*t.

Day Three

My legs were like ten tonne boulders that I had to drag out of bed on my third day. 

My muscles felt sore and tight. I had a very, very long stretch. 

I’m still working out whether I believe the whole ‘mind over matter’ mantra’ that seems to be preached throughout pretty much every exercise class I attend. No matter how many times I played Bump n’ Grind whilst waking up and stretching, my body was still telling me no. Today was the day I put the mantra to the test. 

Never under estimate the importance of a good running soundtrack. The third day was the day to pull out the big guns - we’re talking the best of UK Garage playlist obviously. Nothing gets me going like 138 Trek.

I ran up the first hill without stopping, HALLELUJAH. My legs began to run on autopilot. When the downhills came, my feet adapted their landing as if they’d be running downhill for years.

It wasn’t that much easier still but I finished thirty seconds faster than the day before and that felt good.

Day Four 

Day four was much the same as the third day. There’s not much to report; I didn’t run any faster and I didn’t find the run any easier. I was, however, really bloody bored. 

Day Five

Day five was the day it went pear-shaped. I woke up with every intention of going. My body hurt. I had pains shooting up my shins and quite frankly, I just didn’t want to go. 

I don’t know about you but I have days when I’m just being notoriously lazy and then, there are days when I’m actually exhausted. Day five of my seven days was the latter.

Listening to your body is important. I’m hard on myself and find it difficult to work out whether or not I’m am just being lazy. Saying that, when you know, you know and I gave myself day five off because YOLO, life is too short to make yourself go running when you really don’t feel like it.

Day Six

I came. I saw. I still did not conquer. My competitive side was getting bored of being defeated time after time by the same old hills. You’d think I’d been running the same route for a year the way I’m writing about it but when you have as little patience as I do, it didn’t feel that far off of a similar period of time. 

Day Seven

Finally, day seven was here. If ever there’s a way to take the joy out of running, it’s to make yourself do it days and days in a row.

But it was over. The hills had got a bit easier. My time had improved a little. If I was to stick at the same route and run it two or three times a week for a few months, there’s no doubt I could improve my time further. Yet, there’s a huge part of me that’s relieved that won’t be the case.

Just in case you’re wondering, after the six days of running, my internal dilemma about exercise is still as strong as ever. 

Disclaimer: this post was written in partnership with New Balance. 

Freelancing 101: A Guide to Working from Home

Dell XPS Laptop* shot using props provided by The Apartment.

To the 9-6 office job worker, the freelance lifestyle sounds like a dream. You can get up when you like. You can exercise whenever you want. You can make your schedule fit around your personal needs, rather than your personal needs succumbing to your work. 

Sounds ideal, right? Wrong. While the perks may outweigh the disadvantages, being self-employed sure does come with dilemmas. Waking up in the morning and motivating yourself isn't easy when there's no one else telling you what to do. Tax returns suck. There's no one else to bounce ideas off of because you spend the majority of the time working at home, all by yourself. Also, imagine never knowing where your next pay cheque is coming from.

I wish when I finally took the leap to blog and write freelance full-time someone had explained just how hard all these things can be, even though they are worth it ultimately. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. Here are my top tips for anyone who is struggling with their freelance career:

Create a professional working space (and keep it tidy)

Sound simple but in the reality of London rent prices and lack of space, this isn't the easiest of tasks. I have a great little desk space in the hallway outside of my bedroom but it's in no way any sort of office. However, it's enough for me to be able to sit down in an area that is primarily located to working. Mentally, this shifts me into work mode yet it's still only a few metres away from my bed. 

Have the right equipment on hand - pens, a notepad for rough ideas, inspiration sources, a Dell XPS laptop, perhaps. Find what works for you and keep this space neat. A tidy space really does make for a tidy mind and saves time in the long run. 

Put your meetings in your diary as soon as you arrange them

Another very obvious one but this is something that took me a lot longer to nail than it probably should have done. You may read that email and think that you've mentally logged that event or meeting but the reality is, if you don't put it in your diary straight away, you'll forget to do so later causing unnecessary chaos. Basically, being organised is absolutely vital to a successful freelance career.

Lists are key

Every morning I check my calendar and then write a list of the things I have to do today. Then I sit and do them, ONE BY ONE, until I've reached the end. It's easier said then done. I'll be writing a post and end up procrastinating and losing my train of thought. Concentrating fully on one thing is totally underrated, imperative and really bloody hard to do. Drawing lines through those list items is wholly satisfying also.

Stuck for ideas? Get out of the house

Whether it's a meeting, going for a run or meeting a friend for a quick coffee in their break, there's rarely a day where I don't leave the house. In fact, I think it's one of the most unhealthy habits freelancers can fall in to. Social media and being so easily connected with friends and family makes it far too easy to cut yourself off from real social interaction without you realising it but its these in person interactions which are the most important to keeping your creative juices flowing. 

Find a mentor 

I can't stress this one enough. Find someone you like and respect, who likes you, who works in a similar freelance role and has been doing it for a good while and ASK THEM EVERYTHING. From fees to negotiation to trade secrets, this person will make your life a lot easier. There's absolutely no shame in needing help or not knowing things - they would have had someone help them. DO buy them a drink and dinner occasionally to say thanks for the constant support though obviously.

Don't be afraid of chasing the money you've earnt

You stuck to your deadline and delivered the work on time. You earnt that money. Why shouldn't you be paid on time. There hasn't been a month since I went freelance full-time when I haven't been chasing someone for money. Throw in a late fee on the end of your invoices and bloody well make them stick to it. It's embarrassing for everyone involved having to chase money but rather that then having to default on your bills etc, right?

Always have a goal

It's easy to get lost trying to make ends meet and just 'surviving' as a freelance. There needs to be a reason why you're doing what you're doing and a point somewhere in the distance that you're striving to reach.

You are your business/brand, behave appropriately

When you work for yourself, everything you do affects your work and your clients. You are a personal brand. Look after yourself and be seen doing it. The way you behave and treat yourself is reflective of the way you approach your work and influences everything you do too. Look after yourself. Work hard but make sure to take time off. Lastly, don't expect work to come to you. It's part luck AND part hard work - great opportunities do not just land in the laps of the successful.

Disclaimer: This post was written in partnership with Dell UK.

Good Vibrations

Every day has the possibility of something new when you wake up in a city like London. Whether it's a new experience, a different type of food or a personal style you'd never usually try, the possibilities are endless.

Last Friday, Kitty and I headed down to Danceworks to do just this. Let's get one thing straight first; I'm terrified of every sort activity that requires any coordination. Something about my hands and feet don't seem to want to move together.

Chris Fonseca, our teacher for the class, is deaf but that he hasn't let that interfere with his love of dance and with that in mind, who was I to let my lack of coordination and crippling fear of the embarrassment from tripping over my own feet to keep me from at least giving a dance class a go.

So, there I was in the bright airy studio last Friday warming up to throw some shapes with Chris. Chris explained to us that he may not be able to hear the lyrics but he can feel the beat of music. We spent the first part of our session learning a few moves of a routine. Even though most of class picked up the moves pretty quickly, the first ten minutes were anything but smooth in my case!

In all honestly I flopped during the first part of the session but I had a quick chat with Chris during the class interval. Kitty and I asked his advice on what to do if you have little to no coordination - i.e. the both of us. Chris explained that the key to a good dance class isn't to nail every move but to enjoy it, let loose and at the end of the day, if you've tried it and failed, at least you tried.

I felt a lot better after that. We tried a couple more run throughs before putting in ear plugs to block out the music and Sub Pacs, which look like a backpack, which vibrate in time with the beat of the music, enabling the dancer to feel the music when they aren't able to hear it.

You know when you're in a club, next to a loud speaker and the vibrations pulse through your body? Well, this is exactly how the Sub Pac backpack felt. With a lack of the usual melodies and lyrics, my senses were heightened and moving to the beat of the music via the sub pac was a weird but eye-opening new experience; I felt more connected with the music then I think I ever had done before and danced about ten times better. Maybe there's some hope for me and my co-ordination after all.

The real reason behind the class was that Chris is currently trying to raise awareness within the deaf community that hobbies such as dancing are a possibility and has teamed up with Smirnoff to create a video to do just this.

Chris is a great teacher and I left the class with a little more confidence in myself and in awe of what an incredible dancer he is. It's not every day you get to meet someone so inspirational. And on that note, Smirnoff are providing Chris with a dance space to host classes every Friday of the month (the first class is May 27th) so, there's the opportunity to get down and check one out yourself. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: This post was written in partnership with Smirnoff. Both myself and Smirnoff like a good drink but advise drinking responsibly.


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