Could running be a form of therapy?

‘Why do you run so much? Does it not get boring?’

I get asked that a lot. The answer is no. I love to run, it’s one of my favourite things to do.

I run most nights during the week and usually head out early on a Saturday morning. I run for around an hour after work and usually a little longer on the weekends.

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Why, you ask?

To keep fit? To lose weight? To look good?

Partly, partly not. 

I run to relax.

Now there’s an oxymoron.

Let me explain.

When I tie my laces and put my headphones in – I feel disconnected from the world. It’s an hour of my day that completely belongs to me, and I love that.

It’s MY time; time to think, time to reflect, time to evaluate. But sometimes, it’s my time to not think, to zone out, to meditate.

I see running as a form a therapy, not a chore or an exercise. Running gives me the chance to take some time out – to truly disconnect – allowing me to reconnect in calm, positive mood.

If I’m having a bad day I go for a run, and sometimes when I get back I see things in a different light. If I’m having a good day and I go for a run, I use the time to reflect on how grateful I am.

I often go into a trance – I forget what I’m doing. I daydream, I fantasise, I let my mind wander – I really believe I remove myself from the real world.

Other times when I’m struggling to disconnect, I take the time to notice my surroundings. Whether it be the way the houses I run past are built, or the old man I always see at the bus stop, who’s finally started to smile back at me.

It’s funny what you notice when you take the time to really look.

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We all know running releases endorphins which make us happy, and I think that plays a major role in why I do it, too. It makes me feel good. I could be sat at home watching Come Dine With Me eating chocolate cake- which sometimes, I admit we all need to do.

But doing something that’s chemically good for your mind, body, and well being is important, and I think we should all try and give it a go – especially when we aren’t feeling great.

I’m not saying running is for every one.

Some people will never enjoy it, but a lot of people do, and the more you do it the better you’ll become.

At one time I couldn’t even run up the stairs without breaking a sweat, but I wanted to try something new and I was determined to succeed.

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Running improves mental strength

You might think running is simply a form of physical exercise, but believe me when I say it’s so much more than that.

To run for a long period of time, or to keep going when your knees are weak and you’re tired, requires a lot of determination.

The more you go out, the more you’re testing your mental strength. You train your mind to believe you ‘can’ do it- and you won’t stop regardless of how you feel.

Why I run marathons?

I ran my third marathon this year and smashed my personal best. I’ve been running for five years – and 26 miles never gets easier.

I said to a friend the other day: “It was like taking a ride on an emotional roller coaster.”

I went from feeling pumped, excited, and energetic, to weak, tearful, and angry. Then I felt motivated again, then I felt proud, determined and passionate.

It was exhausting. On my body – yes. On my mind – hell, yes.

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So, is it worth it?

The sense of accomplishment is surreal and knowing you’ve pushed passed so many barriers proves how strong you are.

To do something you know is going challenge you, and possibly even break you, then succeeding, is a million dollar feeling.

Nothing can beat that.

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26 things I’ve learned at 26

 

Coffee is life

I’d rather go without lunch than without coffee; the stronger the better.  I can easily knock back four cups before 11am…

Then sit at my desk with twitching eyes and jittering fingers, looking like I’m having some kind of seizure.

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I can’t eat crap and stay thin

Gone are the days of having a metabolism faster than Mo Farah. No longer can I eat my way through 8000 calories and fit in size 8 Topshop skinny jeans. Hello Pure Gym.

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I started to care about serious things – like tax and insurance

Mainly because I feel like half of my salary is scooped by the tax man – But I actually have no idea why I pay it or how I benefit?

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Erm? A little help.

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Washing and drying my clothes is hard work

How do people work a full time job – and remember to take their clothes out of the washing machine before they start smelling like their estranged uncle Bill? As for people who have kids – I bow down to you.

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I’ll also never be able to iron a white shirt

I could iron for an hour and the shirt would still be creased. If I was a man, I’d have to seriously consider my occupation. Builders don’t wear white shirts, right? How do office boys deal with this shit everyday?

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I can’t dance to save my life

I’ve finally started to accept that I cannot dance. I’m stiff, awkward and have zero rhythm. I never know what to do with my hands – so I make sure I hold a drink and a clutch bag at all times. Once described as Tinkerbell on acid.

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Failure is key

In my 20s I’ve failed a lot – jobs, relationships, friendships. I’ve made a lot of mistakes – and I’ve owned up to them.

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And I’ll keep failing

I’m starting to realise that failure is vital. I need to fail.  When things seem like they are majorly fucking up, I always remember a quote from Thomas Edison – who I think invented the light bulb?

He said: ““I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Reckon I’m on at least 9,000 now. I’ve got to be nearly there.

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But I’ve learned a lot

Without failing, how will I ever learn?

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I’ve learned how to empathise

A few years ago if somebody did something I didn’t like, I would have had a raging tantrum and then cried because things weren’t going my way. But now, I try to understand why people do things – and why I don’t like it.

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However, there are some things I will just never understand

Human behaviour is unpredictable, and I’ve learned that you can’t control what other people think, what other people say, or what they do – you can only react – so make that count.

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I like gin way too much

Pink gin, rhubarb gin, Hendricks, Bloom, Bombay. Bathe me in gin and drown me in tonic. Gin is the only spirit that works for me. Vodka turns me into a lunatic, wine makes me cry, but gin just hits my sweet spot.

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The thought of having a child terrifies me

I see girls my age with children and wonder how they do it. The thought of being responsible for a tiny human being terrifies the hell out of me. I can’t even make toast without burning it, and it takes me a good 90 minutes to get dressed.

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There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ time

When I was 18, I imagined that by 25 I’d be engaged, living with the love of my life, in our own house, with a cute dog.

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That didn’t quite go to plan

But I’ve realised there is no limit on time, things will happen when they are supposed to, you’ve just got to let it be.

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My circle got smaller

I also don’t have half as many friends as I did when I was 18, but the friends I do have are really valuable. They’ve stuck around from the beginning and will stay in my life forever.

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Uni students don’t realise how easy uni is

I see uni students posting about the stress of exams and dissertations and I think ‘I would do anything to be you again’. It’s easy at uni – you either pass or you fail. You know whether you are right or wrong, there is an answer. Things aren’t so defined in the real world.

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I spend 75% of my spare time looking at holidays

I want to go to Iceland, Croatia, I want to travel in Thailand, and sip cocktails in the maldives. I want to go EVERYWHERE.

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Not Ibiza though. Ever.

The days of wanting to get f*cked up for 7 nights are well and truly over. I want a beach, I want relaxation, I want solitude. I don’t want to be surrounded by wannabe’s sharing a bottle of Laurent Perrier between 10 and taking selfies. *Vomits*

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I like doing stuff on a Sunday

Sunday used to be the day I lay in bed with a MASSIVE hangover crying as I watched Titanic for the 15,000 time.

Now, I’d rather wake up not feeling like a slug that’s just rolled in salt, and actually do something awesome.

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I no longer think taking a photo of my Pret a Manger lunch is cool

Paying £6 for a takeaway sandwich does not impress me, it offends me. Now, I’d rather take my own lunch to work and save up to go on one of the 15 holidays I’ve mentally planned – either that or buy a nice candle.

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And people who take selfies with dog filters are ridiculous

I don’t even need to explain this one.

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Wearing tiny skirts doesn’t make you sexy

I’m all in favour of the phrase ‘If you’ve got it, flaunt it’, and I’m not shy to show a bit of leg. However, I no longer think women need to wear a tiny skirt and a low cut top to be sexy. The glamour model era is over. Intelligence is sexy, humour is sexy – bleach blonde hair and double D’s aren’t essential.

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And wearing six inch heels is a definite no no

I remember when I was 17 and went to my first night club. I wore the highest heels I could find, and I could not walk in them to save my life. My knees were bent, and my toes were crushed, and I took them off by 1am.

Pass me a pair of pumps and let me have a good time. High heels are now saved for nights that require minimal walking.

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Living for the present is the best thing to do

I used to get hung up on the past and worry about the future. At 26, I realise that I can’t change the past and I can’t predict what;s going to happen- but what I do today will shape tomorrow, and what I do next week will effect next month. It’s all about taking each day as it comes, and enjoying every moment while you still can.

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P.S – If you liked this please share it 🙂

Love Hol x

 

 

How to find the magic in Marrakech

There’s a lot of magic in Marrakech. You’ll find it weaving through the mystical maze at the souks, and pouring from the waters of Oozoud falls.

The colours of the city will flash before your eyes, and the aromas of spice and leather will awaken your senses.

If you’re visiting Marrakech, get set to take a carpet ride into the world of the unknown – and if you’re looking for magic, here’s where to find it.

Jemaa el-Fnaa

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Jemaa el-Fnaa is the city’s largest trading square – and a popular meeting point for tourists and locals alike.

Here you’ll find over a hundred stalls selling an array of local delicacies, from Es Cargo to spicy lamb tagines, along with freshly squeezed juices, sweet pastries, nuts, figs and dates.

You’ll also find snake charmers, show monkeys, and if you’re lucky you’ll spot the illusive ‘street dentist’ pulling molars in the street.

The square is particularly breathtaking at night, as the atmosphere is electric.

Watch Arabic dancers moving to the beat of drums, as the light from hundreds of colourful lanterns flickers in the moonlight.

Although it’s enchanting, it’s also crowded – meaning you need to stay safe.

Be careful upon entering the square, as here you’ll find ladies offering henna tattoos. Keep your hands in your pockets or they’ll grab hold of you in a bid to ink your skin.

Steer clear of the snake charmers and monkeys or you’ll end up with one on your shoulder – and be demanded to cough up some cash.

Don’t let this put you off though, as Jemaa el-Fnaa is a wonderful place and will give you a true taste of traditional Marrakech.

If you do happen to get stung by a street trader, it’s easier to just pay them a small amount of money to avoid getting into unwanted bother.

The souks

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To lose your senses in a city of mystery, getting lost in one of the many souks should be at the top of your list.

The largest souk in Marrakech is at Jemaa el-Fnaa, which connects a honeycomb of alleyways leading into what feels like a parallel universe.

As you enter the souk, you’ll find everything from traditional Moroccan teapots and handmade ceramics, to magic lamps and Ali Baba dress robes.

It’s easy to get lost in the souk – and once you’re in, it may feel like there’s no way out.

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Items for sale here aren’t priced, so you’ll have to haggle.

To avoid getting your fingers burned, it’s a good idea to visit the Ensemble Artisanal before hand.

The Ensemble Artisanal is a fixed priced indoor market on the other side of Jemaa el-Fnaa. It’s only around 300m from the square – and hard to miss.

Look for the name in large letters above the large wooden door.

Inside, you’ll find all the items for sale at the souk, only there’s no haggling and everything has a price tag.

This should give you an idea of how much the items are worth, so you don’t up paying a small fortune for something that’s only worth pennies.

Oozoud Falls

After a couple of days in the city, you may need a break from Marrakech’s madness.

The busy streets, the crazy traffic, and the rush of adrenalin can be a lot to take in.

If you want some peace and quiet – Oozoud Falls is a must.

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Tucked away in the Atlas mountains a three hour drive from the city, you can hear the splash of Africa’s highest waterfall, along with the footsteps of wild monkeys who live in the surrounding trees.

As you embark up the mountain you can see the homes of the Berber villagers who live there.

The Berber tribe is scattered across North Africa and speak a minimum of nine languages including Arabic, French and English.

Berber villagers will greet you with a warm welcome, offering traditional tea in their small, rustic restaurants – mainly built from clay, mud and straw.

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As you head up the mountain path, you’ll find dozens of olive trees and wild monkeys who’ll sit on your shoulder in exchange for a couple of nuts.

Reaching the top, you’ll be blown away by the views. From here you can see the spectacular palace, home to the King of Morocco.

On the way back down the views are even more mesmerising. The breathtaking scene will stop you in time and trap you in a temporary paradise.

You’ll see a number of handmade, wooden boats – dressed in soft pastels and decorated in colourful flowers, rowed by villagers who’ll take you underneath the falls for photographs.

Trip advisor organise this trip for around £25 per person, but you can also arrange in the city of Marrakech with a local tour operator.

Majorelle Gardens

Marrakech is famous for its stunning mosaics, and Majorelle gardens is home to some beautiful artwork.

A little set back from the centre, probably around 30 minute walk from Jemaa el-Fnaa, you’ll find the gardens paying tribute to Yves Saint Laurent, who lived in Marrakech for a number of years.

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The garden is enchanted with splashes of royal blue and canary yellow, which created the setting for some of the designers most famous photo shoots.

You can go to the YSL museum for around £4, where you can see inside his famous house and look at some memorabilia.

This is a major tourist hot spot – so it’s probably best to go early in the morning to avoid queuing outside in the heat.

If you can’t make it to Majorelle gardens, the Cyber Park is also worth a visit. This is in the centre of Marrakech, just by Jemaa el-Fnaa.