World Mental Health Day

Earlier this year I thought that I had a life debilitating physical illness, I thought I was rubbish at my job and would soon be fired, I thought that my boyfriend of nearly 5yrs didn’t love me anymore and was looking for a way to leave me.

Earlier this year I was so tired my whole body hurt and I was having to get into bed as soon as I got home. I was bursting into tears and flying off the handle about anything – often finding myself inconsolable over something as small as the boyfriend not washing the dishes. I was finding it hard to care about anything – and I mean anything. There were whole days where I wouldn’t want to talk to anyone but then felt desperately alone.

I finally went to the Doctor just after Christmas and after ruling out all of the illnesses I was adamant I had I was diagnosed with depression. My gut reaction was to wish that I had one of the many illnesses I had googled – I was almost disappointed that it wasn’t physical. The first words out of my mouth were “But what do I have to be depressed about?”…

But once I had had time to process that diagnosis I decided to treat it like it was a physical illness. I picked up the medication I needed (even though I didn’t want to be on tablets) and hit the internet just as I had done whenever I got a running injury in the past. It became clear to me that I needed to make time for myself, I needed to be kind to myself and I needed to stand up for my health.

It has been 10 months since I was diagnosed and it wasn’t until I started to feel better that I realised how long I had felt so bad – although at the time I thought it had all hit in the winter of 2015 looking back I think I have struggled on and off for most of my life and severely over the past two years. I also hadn’t considered the impact it had had on those closest to me – there is a moment which stands out for me as a real demonstration of the impact depression can have on everyone it touches…

About a month after I had started to get help my boyfriend and I were going to meet some friends in town but were running late. We realised the train was in the platform and ran across the station to catch it. What, just a month before would have seen me either in tears or angry at all the reasons we were late or threatening to not go anymore ,instead had me laughing and running as fast as I could holding onto my boyfriend’s hand. We got on the train and I was crying with laughter… and he was looking at me with a strange look on his face. When I asked him what was up he told me it was the first time in a long time he had heard me genuinely laugh.

I’m still learning how to deal with my depression – I still have some pretty bleak days but now I know that they aren’t going to last forever. My boyfriend and I are able to talk about it and he knows that if I tell him I’m not doing so great that I probably just need some space to work through it. I’m starting to learn what makes me feel better – forcing myself to get outside for a run and fitting yoga into my weekly routine. I have started to know the signs that I am taking too much on and have focused on finishing work on time to ensure I can do the things that I know I need to do for my health.

I think I underestimated the impact mental illness can have on someone, on your sense of worth and on all of the people closest to you. I didn’t realise how self-destructive it had made me and how I was forcing my worst nightmares into reality to justify my feelings.

I haven’t been that open in the public space about my mental health issues but I have been amazed by the bravery of so many others using social media to open up the dialogue. I know this is not the most profound bit of writing about mental health out there but today, on World Mental Health Day, it was something that I felt I needed to write. 

World Mental Health Day

Yoga with a smile

I really want to find a yoga class that suits me – one where I don’t come away feeling frustrated about my super tight hamstrings or about the fact that I have about as much grace as a baby elephant. I also want to find a class that doesn’t leave me bankrupt!

This quest, plus tired marathon training legs, led me to this morning’s Real Life Yoga class at the Canvas Café. An hour of free yoga in one of my new favourite feel good haunts in London – and it didn’t disappoint.

The Canvas Café is London’s first Happy Café and a social enterprise based on Brick Lane. Unlike the other super trendy cafes in Shoreditch, The Canvas Café has a welcoming and friendly atmosphere… and you can write on the walls… and the sofa! If you ask me a Happy Café is the perfect venue for some feel good yoga time.

The session was held downstairs in the Café’s basement event space and we all laid our mats down surrounded by a circle of fairy lights. Meg from Real Life Yoga instantly put us all at ease – she was chatty and introduced her ethos for Real Life Yoga as a rebellion against the Instagram depictions of yoga as something hot girls in expensive Lycra sets do, often times with a glorious beach or sunset behind them. Real Life Yoga’s focus is on creating a space where everyone can bring yoga to their lives regardless of time and financial barriers.

The session was suitably challenging to make me feel like I worked hard but Meg’s bubbly personality and reminders to smile, breathe and that this is just yoga meant that the class felt supportive rather than competitive.

I smiled my way through the class and left feeling positive and relaxed. I am already looking at other Real Life Yoga sessions to attend and highly recommend you try it especially if you are new to yoga or have struggled to find a class you genuinely enjoy!

There are plans for this session to become a regular free monthly feature at the Canvas Café… the only catch is that you need to pay it forward… but when buying a coffee and cake from the Café upstairs counts as a good deed (praise be to social enterprises) paying it forward doesn’t seem like too much of a burden!!!

Savasana & Fairy Lights! Photo credit @Real_Life_Yoga

 

 

My top tips for if you plan to make a visit to this class: bring a mat (or you will be doing cobra on a concrete floor), arrive early (to get the best spot and make the most of the delicious coffee) and try the coconut brownie (honestly, I have travelled to the café from South London just for a coffee and this brownie).

I am on a quest to find more feel good fitness classes – do let me know of any!

Yoga with a smile

Happiest Running Club in London?

This week I had the chance to join what was probably the happiest running club in London – the Bella Kinesis (the fab women’s Sportswear brand who use their profits to fund business educational projects for women in rural India) Run Like A Girl group led by Carly (aka Project Hot Bitch).

This free running group met in Borough before heading for a 5k run along the River to Westminster and back. From the outset this was unlike any other running group I have joined – Carly was stood out on the street spotting runners and welcoming them as they arrived with a big hug and a grin. As we all prepared to head off it became clear that there was a real mix of runners – from those who hadn’t run for weeks/months to those training for marathons. There wasn’t an air of competition or pretending – we all grumbled at the cold and expressed how much we were looking forward to the post run hot chocolate!

The route was simple – I have never run alongside the Thames at night and it was such a great feeling to do it as part of a group of fab women! The lights across London were beautiful and even dodging crowds on the Southbank was fun as Carly invited people to join us or warned people of the stampede of lycra clad ladies heading their way.

Run Like A Girl
Photo credit to Project Hot Bitch

 

The pace was relaxed – you could go as fast or as steady as you wanted – there was chatting and laughing and some had headphones in. Carly was great at keeping everyone motivated and smiling.

After a cool down together and the obligatory group shot there were goody bags from the Bella Kinesis ladies and, for those who could stick around, a group hot chocolate.

The Run Like A Girl group was one that I would highly recommend to anyone who is starting out running, looking to meet more fab ladies who run or even someone looking to make more friends in London. The run was a definite highlight of my week and I am already looking forward to next month’s. To find out when the next one is keep an eye on Bella Kinesis’ Events page here.

Do you know of any great free exercise/running groups in London? Comment below – I would love to try them out!

Happiest Running Club in London?

“Even a bad run is better than no run”… is it?

I love an inspirational quote – I love trawling through Instagram when I am trying to get the energy up to leave the house for a long run and seeing motivational post after motivational post. However… today I am totally calling out the quote “Even a bad run is better than no run”. I am not sure that it is true. In fact I go so far as to say it is a lie.

This is a fairly honest post about the pain and misery that is the flip side of running – warning now… this isn’t a nice happy post. So if you don’t want to see the other side of the endorphin fuelled posts then stop reading now.

I am currently training for the London Marathon and am reaching that point where you start to doubt whether you can do it – the long runs are getting realllllly long, the weeks are ticking by, the little nagging injuries have become shouting injuries.

I am sat here writing this  in my compression socks, sore knee rested up on a footstall aching from head to toe. Today I had an awful run. One of those runs which from the first foot step felt like it was going to be an uphill struggle. A run where the route was ill planned, the miles passed slowly, kit I have worn for millions of runs rubbed… a run where it felt like every runner was sprinting past me and I was running through treacle with a concrete block tied to my ankles.

Today was only supposed to be 13 miles, a low mileage week before next week’s 20miler. I persisted with the run – even though at mile 6 my knee started to hurt and the doubts started to creep in about my abilities to run the Marathon in 6 weeks. Maybe I should have bailed on the run at that point – told myself it was to avoid further injury. Perhaps I shouldn’t have run at all – I wasn’t in the mood for it.

So back to that quote: “Even a bad run is better than no run”…

This bad run has left me in a spiral of doubt and dreading the 20miler planned for next weekend. Sometimes no run is better than a bad run, especially if you let that bad run impact your confidence and motivation for future runs.

I need to shake off this bad run… but for this evening I am going to wallow in it whilst drinking my turmeric smoothie and doing all things you are supposed to do after a long run.

Have you hit this point in your training? How do you “shake off” the bad run?

 

“Even a bad run is better than no run”… is it?

Race Report: Brighton Half Marathon 2016

Brighton is one of my most favourite places in the world. It also happens to be the place where I was inspired to take up running in the 1st place after watching people tackle the 3rd ever Brighton Marathon. Brighton Marathon also became my first marathon (and was supposed to be my last too!).

When planning my year of challenges (at least a race a month to raise money for the Bromley by Bow Centre, east London community organisation) I knew that Brighton Half had to be on there. I was so excited to race again in Brighton!

It was the perfect race weekend – the Mr and I headed to Brighton on the Saturday afternoon, checked into a gorgeous little air bnb apartment (I am usually super organised and book the Ibis near the station) near Preston Park and wandered into town for a look round the Lanes and some dinner.

On the day of the race it was so great to be able to walk down to the race start instead of stressing over early morning trains! I am a bit of an early bird (in fact the thought of being late makes me really anxious) – it was a good job I am as the walk down to the entrance to the starting pens is realllllyyyyyyyy long and if you need to drop a bag you are easily looking at a 20 min walk back to the starting pens.

TOP TIP: As ever start line loo situation is always a drama but with this half don’t stop at the first set of portaloos you see if you keep walking to the start pens there are LOADS of loos and no queues. Finally a race which understands the need for MILLIONS of loos at the start line.

There was a great atmosphere at the race – running across the start line to a confetti cannon was AWESOME, there were loads of people cheering and the route along the seafront was gorgeous. Fellow runners were fab – not that many had headphones in which always makes me happy – and plenty were happy to chat.

Sorry to talk Loos again but this was the first race where I actually needed to wee during it – I blame the cold – and was desperately looking for a portaloo the whole time with no luck. Men were dashing off to pee alongside the road plus a few brave ladies (I say brave because it was bloomin freezing and there was no way I was getting my bum out if I could help it). Since reading Lissy’s race report I have since realised that there were a couple of loos on the route but honestly I cannot emphasise how much race organisers shouldn’t underestimate the need for many many loos during races.

I managed to get a little PB (1min) but considering I was running for pure joy and only realised I was near a PB at mile 12 (hence a slight sprint for the last mile to secure that 1min PB) I am pretty chuffed with that. I felt strong and enjoyed the whole route.

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The medal is HUGE (always a bonus) and I celebrated my PB with sausage and chips on the seafront (when in Brighton, hey!).

I would run this race again, I love Brighton and its residents who give races such a carnival atmosphere.

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Did you run Brighton Half? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Race Report: Brighton Half Marathon 2016

Dreaming of my Valentine

Love it or loathe it, Valentines Day is fast approaching. One of my New Year Intentions was to make time for the things that make me happy. So I have been dreaming of my perfect Valentines Day and what it might include… which is mostly all the things that I love.

Breakfast In Bed
The perfect weekend would start with breakfast in bed – tea in a pot, toast with a thick layer of peanut butter. Nothing too fancy but good for the soul.

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Top: Striped Bow Top, Weekend Doll

Fresh Air and Country Miles
I love living in London but sometimes you just need to escape. I love fresh air, wind, trees and hills… the Surrey Heathland brings all of this. A morning walk with my Dalmatian puppy punctuated with lunch in a beautiful pub garden would be the ideal Valentines Day activity.

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Dress: Aya Ditsy, Weekend Doll. Cardigan: Verity Cardigan, Weekend Doll

Dinner and Drinks
They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach – this is just as true for me too! Dinner in London is always a treat – whether it is at Ethos Foods near Oxford Street or Kintan in Holborn – and a good excuse to dress up.

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Skirt: Lola Skirt, Weekend Doll

My ideal Valentines Weekend could take place any weekend, with or without the boyfriend. The point is to make time to do it.

*Weekend Doll generously leant me the clothing to wear for this blogpost.*
Dreaming of my Valentine

Running with H(e)art

“We all came out this morning to do the same thing and that’s be great together” – Kevin Hart

This morning I had the chance to run alongside 1000 runners led by Kevin Hart as part of Nike Run Club’s #MoveWithHart. Kevin Hart is leading 5k runs in partnership with Nike internationally following his tour encouraging runners, first timers and old hats, to come together and, well… move!

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The event was great – Nike always know how to do a runners’ festival area… to be honest once I heard there was free Pip and Nut on toast I was happy! What struck me more than anything though was the sentiment behind Kevin Hart’s opening words – he spoke about the unifying nature of a group run such as this one and the importance of looking after your body as part of your quest to live life to the fullest.

It wasn’t anything too profound, it was a rallying cry to the 1000 odd runners to get them hyped for the run but it also felt 100% genuine. It echoed so clearly the reasons I have become so passionate about running and talk about its benefits beyond the physical. For me running has introduced me to lots of great people, people I wouldn’t have met otherwise. It has helped me see parts of London or be a part of so many events I would never have experienced otherwise… such as today.

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I so nearly didn’t go to the run today – I had a headache, I ran 12miles yesterday and the 6am start on a Sunday was unpleasant – however, I am so pleased that I pulled up my big girl pants and showed up. Kevin’s words were extremely timely and will keep me going during the tougher parts of Marathon Training.

 

Running with H(e)art