I've always done a lot of running. Running away from my problems, boys that were too nice to me and for the morning bus after snoozing my alarm eight times.
Actual running - y'know, where you put one foot in front of the other quickly and pant a bit - was done a lot less frequently. I always had that 'one friend I went on runs with', but as neither of us had a goal nor tracked what we did. Our usual 'running agenda' was as follows:
1) Meet up (if could be arsed and EastEnders wasn't on the telly)
2) Wear something that looked like it had been salvaged from a lost property box
3) Do a slow jog as soon as we found a cycle path (running in front of people (imagine!) was a definite no)
4) As soon as we could no longer breathe, we'd stop
5) Walk home whilst discussing a Kardashian's sartorial choices
Not a workout plan coming to your local Waterstones anytime soon, is it! I think I only bothered with points one to five in the first place was to try and convince my family I wasn't a complete slob and so I could write a #humblebrag tweet 'Just went on a run! #Exhausted!' with loads of bicep emojis.
Meh Meh Meh. I didn't like my body, I hated how big my thighs felt! How much they wobbled! How they touched! How all of me felt very uncomfortably present. You're not really supposed to tell someone when you feel like that, especially as I knew I wasn't fat fat, so I kept the thoughts buried inside which corroded away at my self-esteem and perpetually reminded me that everyone definitely thought I was obese.
I would fantasize about cutting bits of flab off, became firmly aquatinted with dodgy fat-burning tablets from the internet and skipped meals. I then proceeded to eat 13 packets of chocolate biscuits and a small village when the hunger pangs became too much.
I am also prone to bouts of not feeling anything at all. Feeling apathetic. Feeling nothingness and numb. It's a truly terrifying state of mind and I can only see it like that when I'm no longer in that place. When I'm there I feel like I could give up the job I love, push away the people I care about, because nothing really matters!!! (BUT IT DOES, SO KEEP GOING.)
Its hard sometimes to feel motivated when it's just you. When you're the only one keeping tabs and the only one who gives a shit if you eat a nice meal or sleep eight hours. Like hey, sometimes I irritate myself and would love to go on holiday away from my brain. I don't care if I have nice things because I'm essentially a walking piece of rubbish. I don't deserve the things I like. I don't care if I'm unhappy. I couldn't care less if I never woke up again, in fact it would make things an 'ellaovalot easier... (NO IT WOULDN'T.)
A few months ago, my very sporty friend Alyss said I should go on a 5k with her around central London before work. A 5k before work?! Is that even a thing? Surely I'd need some medal or something on completion? Aren't you supposed to have training and all your friends and family sponsor you before embarking on such a feat?
The first run was horrendous. My chest hurt, I could barely breathe and Alyss insisted asking me 101 questions about my life. 'So what are you doing this weekend?' she effortlessly asked me as I could barely muster a response. I had to walk a bit. I asked her if we could stop at least three times. I thanked baby Jesus every time we had to wait to cross the road.
But every 5k I completed became easier. I could feel my body become stronger. I could see things improve and as someone who is motivated by accomplishment and results, tracking my runs helped massively. (I recommend downloading the Nike running app and a snazzy pink fitness armband from TxMax.)
This was miles away (#LOL) from myself before, where I would guess my progress and judge how well I did depending on how much I weighed. I'd run for about ten minutes and would think to myself 'that was probably 3 miles and 500 calories burned, well done me!' I wouldn't even time it.
Now I look forward to running. I achieve my best time! I feel stronger! I can do fucking anything! I am out there getting better every single day. Someone literally try and stop me, I dare you!
I'm watching BBC1's Mind Over Marathon and it's really striking a chord with me of how fucking fantastic running is for you. Or any exercise for that matter. Yeah sure at first it's really hard. You're gonna fail. You're gonna be shit. Revel in it! Roll in the mud called 'Failure' and wear it proudly on your cheeks like a deranged Viking. This is the worst you'll ever be, because you're gonna get better and better, just you wait!
It's also helped my relationship with food. You've done a work out? Right, well now you need to refuel, honey! None of that 'no carbs' bullshit and this is definitely not the time to skip a meal (there is never a time to skip a meal!) You need good fats, you need protein, you need complex carbohydrates. You need to look after yourself now, because you're an utter champ. You deserve it for working so hard. Go you! Have a peanut butter smothered banana because your body needs it.
I don't want to eat very little because I won't be the best I can be. I don't want to eat lots of chocolate cake either because that makes me feel groggy, lethargic and gross. I want to eat nutritious, wholesome foods that will make me become stronger, that will make my skin glow and that will give me lots of energy.
Running has opened my eyes to a new life, where my body and brain are on the same team. And to tell you the truth, it feels bloody marvellous.