I’ve been into this running thing for a while now. In fact, in a couple of months it will be the five year anniversary of my very first race. So naturally, I’m friends with, I run with and I connect with a lot of super amazing bad ass runners. People who run crazy distances week in, week out. People who run ultras, people who do triathlons, people who run ridiculously fast. All of them are doing wonderful stuff. And then there’s me.

Obviously I am in awe of all these people. They show grit and determination and a whole lot of something I don’t have. I just don’t have the bother. I really like running, but in five years I haven’t got a whole heap better. I’ve taken 11 minutes off my 10k and 14 minutes off my half marathon time, which to me is still the same ballpark. Not a massive step forward. And most of the time, that’s fine by me. But recently, for the first time, I have felt the balance of being inspired and enthused by those around me tip in favour of feeling overwhelmed, and frankly, completely inadequate.

Mostly because I’ve stayed still, just circling around myself for so long.

I also found myself questioning my decision not to run another marathon (at least not for a while). Then thinking screw marathons, why aren’t I running ultras? Everyone else seems to love running for hours on end through the countryside, why don’t I? Maybe I should get swimming lessons, everyone on my Twitter is in a wetsuit these days, after all. Perhaps I should’ve bought a sportier bike, and then I could go on longer rides at the weekends.

But then I remember. I don’t want to do any of those things. Running halves and having a modest time goal. Going to yoga and yet still not being able to touch my toes. Pootling around London on my sexy red bike. These are things I want to do.

Sure, these things aren’t the most inspiring; relative to some accomplishments they are pretty mundane. But I’ll keep doing them and writing about them. I’ll keep posting about them on Instagram. If just one person like five-years-ago-me goes for a run because of it, then that’s inspiration enough.

This photo of myself was taken exactly a year ago today.

Other than the devastating fact that this was taken in Mallorca (rather than the rainy London I find myself in right now), the next and slightly bigger blow this photo gives me is that I no longer look like that.

This photo was taken ten days into my first (and so far only) round of Whole30. Whole30 is a very quick and very effective method of achieving quite dramatic body composition results (if that’s what you’re after). You can find the reasons I took on the original challenge here, but looking at that photo I would say that my body is in the best aesthetic condition it’s ever been in.

But like I said, it doesn’t look like that anymore. I’m not saying I am now overweight by any stretch of the imagination, but in the past year my body has changed more than it ever has done before.

A couple of weeks ago, one hot afternoon (I think we’ve had at least one hot afternoon so far this summer), I came home and changed into my favourite pair of denim shorts. Or at least I tried to. I’ve lived in the same pair of stripy Abercrombie & Fitch denim shorts every summer since I bought them in California five and a half years ago. They are (or rather, were) perfect – short, but not too short, slouchy but not too boyish, light but far enough away from white. And now I can no longer do them up. They fit like hot pants and the button does not do up. I could have cried.

Last week, I did an online Nike order that included a pair of training shoes, a vest and some jogging bottoms. The trainers fit (thank GOD), but the clothes to which I’d just waved an “I’m always a small in Nike” to the laptop screen were tight. Later that week I begrudgingly made the trip to Oxford Circus to swap both items for a medium.

The final nail in the coffin for my hope of still being a size 8 came in the form of a carrier bag full of clothes from my friend Felicity. There have been many a time where I’ve raided Felicity’s far-more-stylish-than-my-own wardrobe, but not one single item in the stash would fit me now. And the clothes were so nice *cry face*

Now, I’d much rather own clothes that fit than clothes I don’t feel comfortable in, and I think the idea of owning something you’ll ‘slim into’ ridiculous, but it’s all just been a bit of an odd realisation.

I wrote about feeling body unconfident in September 2011, and I hate to admit I sort of feel the same way again now.

I really shouldn’t. In reality, my body is the strongest it has been in a long time. I cycle everywhere (as my thighs can verify), I’m running consistently good times at parkrun, I go to 1Rebel, strongdem and yoga regularly and tomorrow I genuinely believe I have a very real and very achievable chance at a 10k PB.

So I’m annoyed. I look at this photo of my improving toned arms and I’m proud. I’m confident about a race I’m running tomorrow and I’m glad. I look at my strong cyclist legs and I like them. I’m going to classes I never would have dared set foot in.

But the fact I have half a drawer full of crop tops that won’t be making reappearances this summer still gets me down despite all those things and I am really annoyed about that. Being strong and fit and healthy really should be enough.

So, this is the scariest thing I’ve posted in a while.

Way back towards the end of last year – I’m not even sure how it originally came up – myself and Harry (with some encouragement) started talking about an idea for a podcast.

If you’ve read this post or follow me on Twitter, you’ll know I’m quite the podcast fan. There are a lot out there already, and a lot of those are truly brilliant – but we wanted to listen one that was about running… but not too serious… that recognised there is also more to life… and was by women.

Which is how ONE FOR THE ROAD was born.

We are two people who love podcasts, but have absolutely no idea how to make a podcast. We have been the definition of making this up as we go along. We have created this with zero proper equipment and zero pennies. This probably will hurt your ears. BUT it’s out there; we are up and running. We promise to get better as we go along and learn how to make a more beautiful sound.

Click the banner below to go have a listen to our pilot episode…

 

There are lots of things I know about myself. I am a control freak. I am a planner. I like making decisions and I am not afraid to do so. Once I’ve made my mind up about something, there’s very little going back on it. I’m stubborn like that.

So when something happens outside of my control and threatens to upset the carefully thought through apple cart that is my life, I do not cope well. That is what is happening right now.

I am used to change in a work environment. I work in a very fast paced industry, things change everyday, decisions need to be made and made again. I am good at that. But the one constant is that I am doing the same job everyday. I might be managing and reacting to things out of my control, but my remit and the type of things within that remit remain the same.

But now, even that might be changing. And it’s not on my terms or within my timeline. Gosh, I hate that.

Just over a year ago, I posted this photo on Instagram. Time to remember all the clichés all over again – roll with the punches, ride the wave, everything will work itself out in the end.

Oh, and write lists. Everything is better, clearer and more attainable with lists.

This morning I ran to and then did Mile End parkrun for the third week in a row. Habits don’t stick easily with me, but this is a good one and one I’m intending to keep up.

This is despite the fact that halfway around today’s second lap, I had a panic attack. Only a really little one – relatively short compared to most – but it happened all the same. I couldn’t mistake the building hyperventilation which rose in my chest, resulting in shallow, squeaky breath and tears forming in my eyes.

I’ve been asked in the past if I’m not just mistaking a panic attack for an asthma attack. Although the symptoms sound similar, they feel completely different. The best way I can describe it is that one is a result of the physical (usually cold, damp weather if I’m running) and one is absolutely the result of what’s going on in my mind.

I don’t know why today’s run would be worse than any other – I guess if I knew that it wouldn’t happen. Every so often, I just get all up in my head and the doubt swells and entirely consumes any other thoughts.

As soon as I was brought back out of the negativity and reminded why I was there, it was immediately okay.

You might think that if running makes me feel this way, maybe I shouldn’t do it. This has happened several times before. Times like the Great North Run training run along the canal in Nottingham which resulted in my then boyfriend having to come and collect me. Like the night run in Manchester last year with some of my favourite people. Like at kilometre eighteen of the Copenhagen half in 2013.

But for every run where this has happened, there are at least fifty others where I’ve enjoyed myself, run faster, run happy or – at the very least – not had a panic attack.

And really, it just makes me want to continue running even more. I know that I am stronger than an occasional overwhelming sense of panic. Just like building endurance, building knowledge or building confidence, building mental strength is just another part of the training process and another challenge to overcome. One run at a time.