Visiting the Mizuno Performance Centre

I am a bit behind with this post, having visited the Mizuno Performance Centre way back in the days when the Olympic Games were still the talk of the town. The Performance Centre was based at Centre Point in central London for the duration of the Olympic Games and I was lucky enough to be invited along to the launch of some new shoes called ‘Be’.

Performance Centre

As it was the summer holidays I had my assistant blogger in tow, so was armed with a bag full of pencils and paper and a little bag of chocolate buttons for any real moments of need (they were quite quickly whipped out of the bag when Hector announced loudly in a hushed room that it was boring and he wondered when the man might stop talking!). The man doing all the talking was the designer of the shoes, who told us that they were not designed for running, but for times in between training sessions, to aid running strength and ability. Here is some information about how these shoes came about:

‘The Be takes inspiration from the old Waraji sandals that were worn by the samurai class and foot soldiers during the feudal era of Japan. Fascinated         by why the Waraji were shorter than the feet of those wearing them, Mizuno conducted a series of biomechanical tests to determine the benefits of the toes protruding slightly over the front edge of the sandal’

We were told a lot about the biomechanics of the foot and how the Be has an inner sock which allows the toes to spread as if walking barefoot (these are not barefoot running shoes though). I had a look at some Be shoes and tried a pair on, they are lovely looking shoes, with the women’s design having a nice grey/pink colour-way and they are certainly comfortable. I’m not sure though how many recreational runners would want to spend money on an in-between-training shoe, but I imagine they might be good for someone who has an injury and wants to think carefully about how they look after their feet at all times.

Women’s model

Once ‘The Man’ had stopped talking, we went and had a look around the Performance Centre and had a go at the various activities on offer – you could test your footballing skills and there was also a mini running track to test how quickly you can come out of the blocks.

Checking out the track

You were given some rather nice spikes to try on and could race a friend or try your time against the clock. We just watched because they didn’t have children’s spikes – much to Hector’s annoyance – and were given a good view of the ‘race’ start from the top of the stairs:


I was also given a lovely pair of Mizuno Wave Rider shoes whilst at the centre, and have really enjoyed running in them since – I’ve had lots of comments about how lovely they are, they certainly stand out! I hadn’t run in Mizuno shoes before, and found them a little firm at first, but they have softened up after a few runs and I now find them just right for the road and a bit of trail – though I wouldn’t want any mud spoiling the lovely shiny toes! I found a page of nice colourful Mizuno shoes over on the Activinstinct website, and they now have the Be in stock as well.

Whilst at the Performance Centre, I was lucky enough to see some beautiful paintings by Hidekichi Shigemoto, and these have now been made into a moving image piece with brush-strokes capturing the movement of the Mizuno athletes in action.


Still at it, sort of

Rubbish. My Octoberthon that is. I have run this week, but gingerly, fearing the dreaded shin splints. Arrrghghghg! I’ve also done something weird to my neck/head. Sometimes I wake up, having slept in a funny position and can only look to one side, but normally it clears up as the day progresses. Well, this happened to me on Monday and has got worse as the week has gone on. I can’t look right or left or upwards, yes, I am a danger to myself and everyone else, especially when I try to cross the road. Now things are taking a turn for the worse as I fend off a killer sore throat and ‘the sniffles’. There’s lots of it about.

I am off to Venice this week for the Bienalle, so my running will be interrupted anyway, but I should take this opportunity to think about what I really want to do with my running. I caught sight of myself in the mirror last night as I put on my pyjamas and thought ‘Oh shit, how did that happen?!’ something needs to be done, and sharpish!

On a positive note, the wonderful Parkruns have moved up north London way, with a new run starting in Finsbury Park on October 31st, so a weekly, timed 5k run…for free! What a great incentive to get 5k fit and beat that PB to the ground.

FitArtist goes a-travelling

I am still here, really I am. I’ve been too busy being away or preparing to go away. Last week we had a bit of family quality time down in beautiful Dorset. We camped on a cliff right next to a beach so it was a tad windy at times, but the weather picked up towards the end of the week and we got to do a bit of this:


We saw lots and lots of these:


Ate plenty of this:


Met the neighbours through the mist:


And even did a bit of this (I’m being brave putting this one up!):


It was lovely to have a little break and lots of fresh air, even if we did feel we might be blown away at times. I did run on one of the days and I would say it is one of the most beautiful runs I have ever done. I ran up, up, up through the cows’ field, saying hello along the way, pausing to watch what I think was a seal bobbing around in the incredibly calm early morning sea, then tackled the biggest hill I have ever run up. I say run, but it was more of a hoist, heavily forcing each leg up to the next sod of earth I could get a grip on. The view was well worth the effort.

So, this week has been spent catching up and getting ready for the next big adventure (I haven’t run I’m afraid, so nothing to blog there, I’m feeling slightly lacking in the running mojo area…). On Tuesday we shall be catching a plane to Helsinki then travelling across country to the lakeland area of Kuopio for my performance as part of the ANTI Festival of Live Art. I’m ever so excited.


Click here to read all about what I will be doing next Friday.

Sports (rainy) Day

(see photos here) 

Well, off we went to the Hackney Marshes for the Artists’ Sports Day. After the hot weather of the previous few days, I had been a bit anxious about getting too hot and had packed lots of water and suncream but, as Edward and I made our way along the canal, we realised it was a good job we had brought the brolley as well!

The event went really well, not as many people as I had imagined, but it was quite a hard spot to get to and people are definitely put off by a bit of cloud. Those who were there were very enthusiastic, and Ellie and I got lots of people signed up for our Sports Day Artists’ Dance-Off. Due to some overlapping of events, our Dance-Off was split into a few sections, which was good in some ways, because we got to see what else was going on. I don’t think standing outside in the cold, but dressed like it’s hot, is good for a 35-and-a-bit weeks pregnant lady, and I caused some alarm with my blue lips, thankfully someone had the foresight to bring a kettle and tea bags, which sort of did the trick.

As the afternoon went on, we enjoyed an ‘odd egg’ and spoon race, a stilletto sprint, a butoh 400m and some gymnastics with a difference. Unfortunately, before we held our final rounds of the Dance-Off, it started pouring down, so we had the final competitors dance under umbrellas! All in all, it was a lot of fun, but I did feel well and truly knackered by the time I got home, and I think it didn’t help that I had walked miles to get there in the first place! A nice hot bath was very welcome on my arrival home, thank you Edward.

On Sunday, I found some more energy to go for a swim! It wasn’t too busy, and I managed 30 lengths – I wasn’t pushing myself because things were aching, and I think my body is now well and truly being taken over by relaxin, so I need to take care not to injure myself. Regarding the pregnancy, I now only have four weeks to go but, realistically, that could mean two weeks or maybe even six weeks. I have been continuing with the gym ball kneeling and all-fours stretches and it’s paid off – when I saw my midwife this week, she said that Eric has turned into the optimal position! I’ve just got to keep him happy there now, so no slouching and lots of kneeling. Good lad.

Sports Day Artists’ Dance-Off 2007

Join Sports Day this Saturday 26 May on Hackney Marshes in east London for the most anticipated event of the sporting calendar – the Artists’ Dance Off 2007.

16 brave contestants will battle it out in a series of head-to-head knock out dancing rounds. They will have 30 seconds to impress the audience with their most outrageous moves, to out dance their competitor and make it one step closer to lifting that much coveted Dance Off trophy. To sign up please arrive from 13:00 on the day or contact Sports Day in advance. Remember if you have a particularly favourite song; please bring a CD with you. The event starts promptly at 14:00. For map and further details please visit the Grunts for the Arts website.

This event takes place as part the Artists’ Sports Day organised by Grunts for the Arts, which aims to act as a protest of sorts against the recent siphoning off of 35% or the Arts Council Grants for the Arts funds in order to pay for the 2012 Olympics.

Why not take a look at – and sign – the petition here.

Unmissable viewing Thursday!

Set your alarm clocks this Thursday, and don’t miss ‘Wonderful World of Weird’ on BBC 2 at 7.30am. This episode features my work for my Bus Sculpture project as an example of how artists look at unusual things for inspiration. Have a look at the WWoW website for more information.

If you are up bright and early, you might also like to tune in to BBC Radio Suffolk to hear an interview with me about Trolley Spotting. I am being called at 5.50am, so should be on air sometime after 6am(!!) You can tune in online or on your radio: 95.5FM, 95.9FM, 103.9FM and 104.6FM. I’m not sure how awake I will be at that time though!

After enjoying all of this over breakfast, why not head on over to Lancaster for my Artist’s Talk? I will be giving an illustrated presentation about my work at St Martin’s College on Bowerham Road, Lancaster, LA1 3JD at 6.30pm. To find out more about this series of talks organised by Folly, look here.

So, tomorrow is going to be a very busy day for me and I won’t be able to make it to my lovely yoga class 😦 I am going to try and do my own version tonight and maybe in my hotel room tomorrow night.