Anxiety: What It Took Me A Long Time To Learn

I’ve suffered with GAD for as long as I can remember. I remember realising I had something odd going on with my mind when I was in about year 5 or 6. I was having OCD tendencies, which I knew I wanted to stop and made a mental note to do the opposite of what my mind was telling me to do.

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Members of my family suffer from OCD so I knew it was something I’d been exposed to, but it still surprises me to this day that as a child I knew this was an issue and something that needed stopping.

It wasn’t until many many years later I was diagnosed with GAD and found out that this was something another member of my family suffered with. And it wasn’t until a few years after that, that I read a blog post online that really helped to change the way I dealt with anxiety.

I honestly don’t remember where I read the article. I was doing research for a blog post in my job and happened across the post, with relation to something else. But the post struck a chord with me.

Simply put, the author noted that she’d been trying to suppress her anxious feelings. They’d been weighing her down to the point where she was saying no to meetings, new business and opportunities. She’d been allowing her anxiety to define her and it was preventing her from moving forward in a business sense. Until one day she had a breakthrough. She decided she would greet her anxiety – acknowledge it. She moved forward knowing that she would have this reaction and instead of causing herself more stress trying to fight it, she described herself moving forward with the anxiety walking alongside her.

She soon found that it wasn’t there as much. Because she’d decided not to pay attention to it so much, not use up her energy analysing it or fighting it, that it wasn’t getting the attention it wanted and so it didn’t seem as important as it once had.

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This idea was really powerful to me. I hope it is to you, too.

Anxiety is a big snowball of horrid. You have it, you analyse it, you feel guilty for it, and then you have more of it. It’s a cycle that seems so unnecessary and is very tiring. It can debilitate, numb, paralyse. It’s in no way fun.

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It’s different for everyone, but I hope, if you suffer, that by reading this you might find some sense of relief. It won’t work every time, it doesn’t cure, but it might offer a little respite on occasion.

 

How Waking Up Earlier Helped Me Feel Less Tired!

I’ve always needed LOTS of sleep. Since I was a kid my bed time was always way earlier than anyone else I knew (or know now) but now I’m an adult I’ll happily go to bed at half 8 without complaint.

They used to say you need at least 8 hours sleep in order to fully recharge, but I think that’s been changed to 6 hours now. I feel like a good 6.5 hours is all I really need, and a few years back I realised that I will actually feel worse if I have too much sleep.

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There’s a lot of research about different types of sleep, you can get apps and trackers that will tell you how much ‘useful’ sleep you’ve had and such.

But a while back I decided that I’d just wake up a little bit earlier in the normal working week and see how that affected my tiredness. After a little trial and error I found that waking up around 45 minutes earlier than I had been (and I usually go to sleep around the same sort of time every night) lead me to feeling more awake and refreshed than I had when I’d slept a little longer.

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I was sold! I’ve also tried a few other things to help with getting a good night’s sleep. I’ll put my phone down as soon as I go to bed, and watch tv for a bit before falling asleep. I don’t like to use my phone after around 9:30 if I’m honest, just because it’ll give my brain a little rest. iPhone recently added a feature that takes the blue out of the screen backlight after a time set by you, which is supposed to help your brain switch off and be less active ahead of sleepy time.

I was also sent a few sample products by the brand Kiss the Moon to try out. A couple of balms and face oils.

 

One was a temple balm and one was a face scrub and since my skin is so picky and changeable I didn’t really want to try the scrub. But I do love a nice face oil. I’ve given them all a go and though I didn’t find them to aid my sleep at all, they did have lovely calming scents. There’s three types and each one is aimed towards a different skin type. I decided to take one on holiday to Rome with me.

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The calm oil is my favourite scent of the bunch, but I’ll be honest they’re very ‘herbal’ scented and not really my cup of tea. I did find them to be calming, as I mentioned before, but they didn’t do anything for my skin. I have face oils which when I wake up I can feel they’ve made a difference to the softness of my skin, and with these oils they didn’t seem to make a difference, so I can’t say I’d reach for them. That being said, that’s not the primary point of these. They’re designed to relax you in an essential oil kind of way, and in that this succeeded.

Of all the things I’ve tried out, to help me wake up feeling more refreshed, I’d say setting my alarm to an earlier time was the most successful. It took a couple of attempts to know when was best, but now I’ve done it I’m so pleased I did. My brain has enough time to wake up, I’m not rushing to leave the house, and I’m calm and relaxed. I’m so pleased I did it!

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Kiss The Moon sent me a few samples of their products free of charge to give a go. You’ll be able to tell my opinions are my own and I have recieved no financial benefits for posting this article.

How Running Changed the Way I Feel About My Body, For the Better!

I was never an athletic child, I hated doing PE, never went in for sports and in fact the idea of going outside even filled me with dread.

Then we hosted the 2012 Olympics and all of a sudden I became interested – to the point in which I started running. Let’s be honest, I wanted the shiny medals, but I also wanted to see how far I could push my body and what I could get it to achieve.

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My affair with running ended abruptly after a series of running injuries that I managed to stretch and yoga out and ultimately ignore until I couldn’t ignore them any more. But this isn’t about that (and if you’ve been reading this blog for a while you’ll already know the back story). This is about how I now realise how much impact running and fitness had on the way I perceive my body and how I still feel about it.

I’ll start with how it affected my relationship with food. Before I started running I had never really considered food as fuel. Of course I knew it was, but I didn’t ever look at it in a clinical way. I feel like I began to see how different foods would benefit me in different ways, partially in how it would enable me to endure whichever activity I was participating in that day, but also how it could help me recover from those activities too. Once I started thinking this way, I was able to adapt this into creating healthy and useful meals so that it wasn’t all boring ‘healthy’ foods, but also things I looked forward to eating.

I posted in a recent article about how wearing sports bras affected how I felt about my small chest size, but wearing sports clothing also affected how I felt about my body all over. I had never liked the way my stomach looked when I sat down – blobby and rolly and much better if I was standing – and sure, eating well and working out makes a difference to that, but in turn because I knew I was working hard to be healthy and fit my opinion of how my body looked changed. All of a sudden I was proud of each part of my body for enduring what I was putting it through. Because my muscles, for the most part, were keeping up with the demand I was asking of it, I didn’t see my body in a negative light any more – my bum wasn’t shaped any better, my legs weren’t more shapely, my stomach wasn’t more toned – BUT I knew everything was doing its job. I was happy.

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Even though I have stopped being active in the same ways I was back then, due to injury, I still have most of that mentality. Yes I get a bit fed up if I start to feel bloated, but I know weight is relative, I know my body is strong and relatively healthy – and I know it’s working for me.

 

I’d never felt this way about my body until I started being regularly active, and I really enjoyed the way it made me feel about myself. This isn’t something I’ve forgotten since I’ve become more sedentary, either. I remember how I felt and I don’t lament over it. I’m so pleased I went through this phase, and who knows, it might rear its head again – but until then I’m delighted with the mindset it brought with it.

Here’s to feeling fit, healthy and happy with myself.

A Change Is As Good As A Rest

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, and as much as this can be true of relationships, it can also be true for blogging.

I was unable to take part in the usual blogging chats, conversations or read tweets whilst I took my recent trip to Italy. I missed the social side and the chats but it also allowed me to take a step back and think about Shutterbug and my YouTube.

And what I’ve gained from that, I’ll share with you.

Before my trip I assumed I would be vlogging. Why wouldn’t I go somewhere like that and film? However, during the time there, at no point did I feel like I actually wanted to film. It almost felt like something I felt I had to do, but at no point felt natural. And I knew that would come across on the footage, so I decided early on in the trip that I wouldn’t vlog.

It made me realise that I felt happier not vlogging, and so as a result I’ve decided that as much as I enjoy putting up YouTube content and that I won’t shut it down totally, I’m not going to force myself to create videos weekly. It’s not like my following is so large that it demands regular uploads, and I’m aware that subscribers won’t grow massively, if at all, if I don’t post often – BUT I also know that if I force it, the content will become bland and unnatural.

So that’s where I am with YouTube. As and when I post, it’ll be because it’s something I want to do and not something I feel I should be doing.

As for my blog, I’ve decided my content needs to be more my own voice again. I enjoy putting thoughts to screen, and of late I’ve been feeling like some of my content has pandered towards what I feel I should be posting to get views and follows, and not what I want to put out sporadically.

So I’m going back to my roots. You might not notice a difference, but I’ll notice a change in feel and that’s what will be therapeutic to me.

Lastly, in the next few weeks I hope to upgrade my WordPress package to a paid service which will allow me to use more features, and also have a dedicated url for Shutterbug. I’m not sure how this all works, or what will change logistically at that point, but it’s a big deal for me. It feels like an important next step in my blogging journey and it’s exciting!

So thanks for following, reading and supporting Shutterbug. And I hope the changes I’m making are one you’ll like! See you on the flip side!

Mental Health: A New Trend?

Trying to explain an anxiety disorder to someone who doesn’t have one is nearly impossible. It’s kind of like trying to describe a migraine to someone who’s only ever had a headache.

And it’s not the person to whom you’re talking’s fault. It’s no one’s fault. It’s just really hard. In fact it’s even hard to explain your kind of disorder to someone else who suffers.

Personally my anxiety disorder presents itself in lots of ways. It can be triggered by many things, and it’s so inflicting that it can make all my muscles seize so I can’t even move. My brain can switch off, everything goes slow motion and I sometimes won’t even know until after it’s happened.

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But this blog isn’t about that. We now live in a time where it’s more common to speak out about mental health. And as much as there’s still a HUGE way to go and reducing the stigma attached to mental health issues, people are still going for it, and trying to make others aware of it.

But I have a few concerns. There are so many people who will just fling terms around. “I’m so OCD I have to keep all my shoes in pairs” or “That ugly sweater gives me anxiety”. No one can tell whether these people really suffer, and who am I to say that they don’t. But it is starting to appear that a select few are wearing mental health issues as if it will make them more interesting. Something to add a little drama into their life.

Even Jennifer Lawrence, whilst being interviewed on The Tonight Show alongside Jessie Eisenberg recently, flippantly said ‘You’re the most interesting person’ and ‘I want weird quirks’ just minutes after he had opened up about his severe OCD. No one who has OCD *wants* OCD.

And in an episode of Veronica Mars (if you don’t know what that is, you seriously need to Google it and watch!) students were claiming GAD (Generalised Anxiety Disorder) to get out of exams. It was so normalised that it penalised any students that really did have it.

My fear is just that, that people who really suffer from it are being washed away by those seeking attention. I hope I’m wrong.

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My second concern is one that I have zero basis to believe will happen – it’s merely a fear (heck, it’s an anxiety). I love how much anxiety and mental health disorders are being talked about. It’s fantastic that people are trying to end the stigma surround them. I myself don’t openly talk about it to my colleagues or even really bring it up to friends unless it’s relevant. I know, not with friends or family, but in the work place mainly it can alter how people treat you. I’ve seen it happen, not so much in my current job, but in past places, where I feel like your capabilities are questioned. Luckily if ever I’ve had to mention it at work to my direct boss I’ve been met with support and understanding. But I do have a concern that if having a mental health problem is normalised too much, it won’t be taken seriously.

I’ll go back to my headache analogy. If someone tells you they have a headache you expect them to take a pill and carry on, but you have no idea how it’s affecting that person. Their head might be splitting, it might have gotten so bad they need a dark room or a sleep. It might even be a migraine. You have no idea how it’s affecting that person. But headaches are normal, they affect so many people and they’re so common. Anxiety is common, affects so many people but you have no idea how it’s affecting someone at that time. My fear is that I tell someone I have really bad anxiety and because it’s so normalised they tell me to sit quietly or take a pill and expect me to carry on as normal. They just brush is off, and don’t realise how seriously it’s affecting me at that time, because it’s ‘just anxiety’. Sometimes with a migraine you need to take days away from normal life to recover. Sometimes with anxiety you need to remove yourself for weeks.

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It’s selfish and hopefully wrong, but for that reason I almost don’t want GAD to be normalised too much. I guess I just want it understood. I don’t want to feel brushed under the carpet, because my struggle is real, so so real. And I really don’t want it to become the next fad, like veganism or yoga.

I think for now, I’ll leave it at that. I don’t really want to go into my own experiences in too much detail. I still find talking about it, and even reading other people’s experiences, a bit of a trigger. I just wanted to put words to ‘paper’ and put them out there. I also don’t want to offend with anything I’ve written, so hopefully this hasn’t. I can’t control my fears and in this instance, this is just how current events have made me feel.

I wonder if anyone else feels the same as me?

Learning About Myself

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At the tender age of 32 and a half, I feel like I’m just starting to understand myself. They say you can’t be loved until you love yourself. I think that’s true in part, but who truly loves themselves at the age in which they’re finding love?

As I head towards 33 I’ve been reflecting on the things I’ve learned about myself up until now.

I’ve learned that I can’t stand the sight of my own blood without literally passing out, and that I have ZERO control over it. I know it’s going to happen, I can rationalise with myself all I like, but it’ll still end badly. And there’s very little I can do to stop it once it starts. Yay for my brain!

I’ve learned that it’s okay to live with anxiety, and the worst thing to do is be anxious over your anxiety. Living with GAD isn’t great. Very few people understand it and so I don’t tell many people about it unless I feel safe in their space or unless it necessary. I’m learning that it comes and it goes, and that no matter how other people feel about it (and even though the opinion of others sometimes makes it harder to get through) my feelings come first in those situations.

I’ve learned that I have a lactose intolerance, and my love affair with cheese was ill-fated. I’ve also learned that people are intolerance intolerant and just think I’m being picky or fussy when it comes to dealing with it. I’m learning to simply tolerate those intolerant of my intolerance 😀

I’ve learned that I can read people rather well, and that if I take my time and consider all the parts of a story I can usually put myself in another person’s shoes and work out the motive behind their actions. Or at least create a multitude of different scenarios to explain why someone might behave in a certain way. I find it very interesting. As an uber over-analytical person it’s nice to put this obsessiveness to practical use. I’ve found it’s enabling me to give other people factual advice on their problems. Being on the outside of a situation, along with this kind of perspective is very interesting. I sometimes start speaking and by the end of the thought have discovered a solution I didn’t even know was possible, through reasoning. None of that probably made any sense, but there you go – welcome to my brain!

I’ve learned how to let my friends in. I never used to hold onto friends too tight, simply because I assumed I wasn’t worth their time. I didn’t see my value in their life, mainly because I didn’t see my value full-stop. But during the process of helping my friends see their value in MY life, I was able to see the other side. And now I have a heap of close and amazingly wonderful friends, who I couldn’t live without.

I’ve learned that you can be in a long-term relationship and not get bored of the other person. I didn’t think it was possible, when I first started seeing Gary, that you could be in a long-term relationship and still keep interested in the same person. But 14 years down the line and things are better than ever. We still have fun. Still talk in depth about anything and everything and still adore each other.

I’ve learned I’m a massive bitch, and that I should be a bit kinder when it comes to first and quick impressions. I default to dislike of things out of the norm or different than me. But to be different, individual or confident takes a brave person, and who am I to judge? It’s not so much what I say or how I act, but more how I think, and that’s what I’m working on. I want to be a pleasant person, kind and nice. I think I am all these things, but let myself down sometimes and this is what I’m working on.

I’ve learned so much, and so much more than these few things over the years. I really enjoy working on myself, and making this Erin the best Erin I can be. I’m looking forward to how much I change and learn about myself over the next 10 years. Life is darn exciting!

Blood and Blogging

My week so far has been fairly uneventful. Though it is only Tuesday so what else can be expected?

I say uneventful but I did almost pass out yesterday after bending my thumbnail back half way down the nail bed, and after seeing the blood I lost consciousness for a few seconds and then could hear nothing but ringing in my ears for about a minute. So that was fun. But my nail didn’t break so I guess I have OPI Nail Envy to thank for that.

It’s annoying how I manage to cope with pain and stuff but as soon as I see blood that’s it, I’m gone. And it’s not even like seeing someone else’s blood does the same thing, or talking about blood, or seeing it on the TV – I only have that reaction when it’s my blood…. And thinking about it now I’m fine, and I know how odd it is. I can’t rationalise it. One minute I’m fine…. Until I’m not.

G and I have been feeling rather under the weather, him more so, but we’re both feeling incredibly run down. The weather isn’t helping. We’re being offered a smidgen of spring, and before we know it we’re watching snow falling outside. I’ve picked up some lovely new summer tops for my trip in September but I’d rather like to start wearing them soon, please.

Next weekend is a Bank Holiday, so a 3-day break, and we’ve got some stuff planned which is nice. I’m hoping the sun shines and it brings some of my happy back.

I’ve been really enjoying reading more blogs and seeing what other people are writing. As much as I love to read all about makeup and fashion, it’s great to see there’s still some intelligent and substantial blog writing happening. Sure it doesn’t bring in as many ‘likes’ or follows as the latest palette review, but I appreciate it. And I’m not suggesting that beauty isn’t an intelligent subject, but you know what I mean.

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I was listening to This American Life in the car on the drive home today, and they were talking about memories. The journalist hosting that particular part of the podcast was talking about how people she was afraid to forget parts of her life so much that she kept boxes upon boxes of memories so that’s she could look back and reminisce – she’d even lugged them to no less than 12 apartments over 10 years. That describes me perfectly (the memory part not the 12 apartment part). I’m so afraid of having an awesome time and forgetting it over the years – it’s petrifying.  I think that’s why I blog. It’s like a living journal – the living part being you guys, my readers. I love knowing you’re out there and that you like reading what I’ve written. My blog was started just for me, to memorialise parts of my life, but years on I now love how it’s an outlet to interact with like-minded people.

Over the years I’ve focussed on books, then fitness, running, food and now beauty. And a lot of you have come along for the ride. It’s nice to have you here!

So the rest of my week will be full of sweaters and chilly evenings wishing the heating wasn’t on. But if the forecast is to be believed things might be picking up by the end of next week. Until then I’ll keep my scarves out and curse the snow flurries. It’s April, Man. Give us a break!

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Allowing the Storm to Pass

The last two weeks have been particularly volatile. Storm Abigail and Storm Barney have hit the UK and we have seen really strong gales and gusts. My drives home from work have been difficult mainly due to me driving a very light car. When being hit with 30 mph gusts I find I have to concentrate very hard – I’m a fairly new driver and this is my first experience of this!

I’ve also been dealing with stormy weather in my personal life. Hormonal changes and my crazy brain put me into a fairly dark place for the past couple of weeks. It’s lead to me stripping down my calendar, cancelling a lot of long standing plans and dealing with the present. I find in times like this that if I simply deal with what’s in front of me I can calm my nerves and start to feel much better.

I had a lovely long Skype call with my friend Tash last weekend. We chatted and chatted and I caught up with what she’s up to in Vietnam. It was wonderful to see her face and touch base with her. She’s only been there 7 weeks but I miss her a lot!

I’m also waiting on the imminent birth of the second Book Club baby. Hayley’s baby boy isn’t due until 27th November but people keep telling her she’s going to be early. She’s having baby twinges but no contractions yet. I can’t wait to meet him!

Christmas season is upon us now, and the TV is full of Christmas adverts. John Lewis have come up with another cracker, about the Man on the Moon – though their ads are becoming increasingly tenuously linked to Christmas. The Coca-Cola advert was shown for the first time this year, last night. It prompted me to YouTube their The Holidays are Coming advert because I always seem to remember it slightly different. Originally aired in 1995, the advert was much longer, had a longer song in it and in my opinion had a much greater build up. More exciting and prettier. But over the years it’s been shortened. I wish they’d debut the advert each year with the longer version and then show the shorter one after that, if they must.

I’m starting to feel a little more Christmassy, and since it’s only 34 sleeps until the big day I think it’s about time. Next weekend will most likely see our annual tree putting-up session, whilst we watch people squealing on The X-Factor. And speaking of the X-Factor…. Last year’s almost winner has released her first single ‘Sax’. It’s being played, ad nauseaum and even features on the new Christmas Asda adverts. But one thing is really really bugging me about the song (other than it’s Uptown Funk’s inferior cousin) – there’s no obvious saxophone in the song. In a song where she demands you ‘Play that sax’ repeatedly, you’d expect some obvious saxophone action – or at least a Baker Street-esque saxophone riff. But no. The song does have saxophone in it, but it’s an un-obvious muddy bass line and totally missable. Bad form Fleur, bad form.

Anyhow, I digress. I can foresee the next month being full of Christmas plans, babies (or one baby!) and hard work. Gary and I still have to plan some of our trip to New York, which is one of the things getting me through this difficult, cold and dark end to the autumn. I’m hoping some festive lights and festive activities will help me along.

 

London Bupa 10,000 Race Recap (aka Never Run with an Injury)

On Bank Holiday Monday I woke early, shoveled down a bagel and hopped in the car, headed for London. Gary and I were heading off for the Bupa 10,000, a race which promised to guide you around some of the sights of London whilst pounding the streets with 12,000 other runners.

Confession time: I wasn’t 100% race fit. The previous 2 weeks I’d been having hip pain and after a visit to a sports physio it turned out to be a TFL injury. I had two massages in the space of 8 days and was able to walk without any pain by the time race day arrived. Great! But I knew I would probably still have some pain, having not run for two weeks.

We arrived at the starting area, nipped to the portaloo and took in some of the atmosphere. Gary and I were starting in different pens so we split up and went to wait for our starting times.

IMG_3101That’s Buckingham Palace at the veeeery far end of the Mall in the photo.

And then we were off! I was aware of my hip, but within about 1k I couldn’t feel any problems. I quickly spotted the Dementia UK (the charity I was running for) cheering squad on the other side of the road and gave them a wave.

IMG_3114I felt great starting off, and I can see from photos of early on in the race that my posture has greatly improved since last year’s races.

Then the sun came out, and I got really rather warm. I don’t run well in the heat but still felt good, only taking a little water from both water stations, which was all I felt I needed. There was a great atmosphere, people cheering me on by name and a lot to see. I can’t say I really noticed much of London around me though. By about 7k I could feel my hip again and I was in quite a lot of pain by 8k. I powered on, but photos of me from this point show the pain in my face. I still managed to smile for Dementia UK as I passed them on my way towards the finish. (And my posture still remained good despite the heat and pain! Awesome!)

IMG_3117Coming into the finishing area I went as fast as I could, but didn’t manage a PB. I ended on 1:06:42 – though my Nike app stated 1:04 and the route was longer than 10k. I’m still happy with either of those times considering I slowed right down towards the end. Not the sub 60 mins I was after, but I know if I hadn’t had the hip issue I would have made it! I’m surprised I finished at all to be honest.

The organisers had laid on free massages, but because they were free the line was huge and I knew if I stood and waited in it my hip would seize up. So I walked. I walked back to the car and then hydrated and fueled on the journey back. By the time I’d got home my leg had seized up completely. At time of writing I’m still pretty crippled and unable to put weight on my right leg at all. Foam rolling and yoga seems to be helping, but I have a race in 5 weeks so I hope to be back to myself then. However, no medal is worth this kind of injury and pain, so we’ll see.

IMG_3103It is a darn pretty medal though!

I’ve raised £200.00 for Dementia UK so far – thanks to all who donated!

2 Years In – My Running Tips

I will shortly be celebrating my 2 years runniversary! Amazing that I’ve stuck at it this long, and it wasn’t a fad. Who knew?

When I started out running I really wanted to get advice from people like me – not just running magazines and sports therapists. I did get some great tips from bloggers and friends which really helped. So I thought I might do the same, and share some of the do’s and dont’s I’ve learned along the way, in the hope that it might help some of you. Since the weather is improving and spring is here, running season is kicking off – so here goes!

  • Running is free – this is true, but you really must invest in good shoes if you’re serious about running regularly. My first pair of shoes, Nike Pegasus, were wonderful for a while, but too wide for my feet it turns out. Get a gait analysis and go to a shop that has more than one brand, so you don’t just get lumbered with the best shoe that ONE brand can offer. You need the best shoe for you!

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  • Everyone learns at different speeds. Everyone starts from a different fitness level. Everyone is different. Some people will run a mile on their first outing, and others will take a month before they can manage a mile. The important thing is you laced up and went out.
  • If you run, you’re a runner. (p.s You’ll hate it if anyone calls you a jogger!)
  • Speed isn’t everything. When I started running I was impressed with the speed I could run a mile. But I was shattered after it and wanted to throw up. I soon realised speed isn’t the be all end all – it’s finishing that matters.
  • Leading on from this, don’t compare yourself with others. This is much harder than it sounds. Two years in I still berate myself for not running as fast, as far or as often as another person. But they might be lighter than me, or younger than me, or just simply more athletic. They also might be pushing too hard and end up with injury.
  • Listen to your body. I’ve had two bouts of injury, ITB and runner’s knee. I ran too far too quickly and didn’t listen to the niggles when they happened. At the time I was working in a two storey shop on my feet all day, and would spent days between runs in pain, taking painkillers to make it through the day. It’s not worth it. But if you train smart you can avoid it.
  • Running is bad for your joints – When I started telling people I was taking up running, I heard it all. Mostly that running wrecks your joints. It’s true to an extent, but it’s also true for all high impact sports if you don’t take care of your form and your body between run days…..
  • …which leads to…. Complement your running with core work and weight training. You’re putting your body under lots of stress every time you pound the street. I do a yoga session which is designed to help strengthen and stretch my body twice a week. I do arm and leg weight sessions once a week, focussing on my weaker areas when I need to (leg press to strengthen quads and glutes really help prevent further ITB injury). I work on arms, because when you get near to the end of a long run that can be all you have to help propel you on!) and core work which really helps with my form (especially posture).
  • You’ll have really good runs, and you’ll also have crap ones. Lots of crap ones. But at least you’re running!
  • Run with friends. It’s amazing how much more enjoyable running alongside someone else is. You don’t need to chat, just run!

stage

  • Enter races! If you don’t decide to join a club or have a running buddy then you might not know the joys of running in a group. And if you are familiar with how fun that is, then you must experience the anticipation and camaraderie of running an organised race. Plus goodie bags and medals…. it’s a win win!

mkm5

  • You will become obsessed. I know I told you running is free, which is technically true, but you’ll want ALL the clothes and ALL the accessories and to enter ALL the races. You have been warned. You will also, all of a sudden, be absolutely fine wearing garish neon colours and loud prints you would never have dreamed of wearing before!

UVtunnel

  • Never use nutrition on race day that you haven’t trained with. You don’t want to be caught short in the middle of a race because you’ve tried a new gel that day and it’s given you the two bob bits.
  • Hydrate in the days leading up to a race. If you’re chugging on water the morning of your event all you’ll do is need to pee every ten minutes. Portaloos are not your friend.
  • One of the best bits of advice I read when I started out: “Never trust a fart after a mile” Crude but true.
  • You will all of a sudden be fine with discussing your bowel movements (and girls, your monthlies) with other runners, and you know, everyone else.
  • Don’t put too much pressure on yourself – I’ve been there. I still go there. If I have a race coming up, I want to be the best I can be. But because of this I put so much pressure on myself that it stops being fun to train. Don’t fall into that trap.
  • Just because you ran for ten minutes doesn’t mean you can go and eat a McDonalds. But I actually found that I went right off most fast food and fatty snacks when I started running and I really just wanted a banana….. I still do get the occasional burger though…. beef’s good protein, right?
  • Most of all enjoy it! You’ve chosen a great, social sport, that will get you healthy and outside into the fresh air…. and lots and lots of shiny medals!