Today’s run was a long time coming.

I lolled around all morning, toyed with running and then not running, worried about the back pain, the chesty cold and the shin pain that have graced me with their presence over the last couple of months. I procrastinated, felt sad about boys both past and present and wasted time chain-drinking tea and tweeting about being nervous whilst watching Sunday Brunch.

Then at 1pm, I finally went for a run.

It was a really good run.

And I’m putting it down to Amy Poehler.

I confess I’m not a fan of SNL or Parks and Recreation and I haven’t seen (or just can’t remember her in) any of the films she’s been in. But this morning, after reading this article on the Guardian, I downloaded her audiobook on a whim and hit the Thames path.

Today I spent nearly two hours in the company of Amy, and I love her already. Hadley Freeman’s article is spot on when it describes her as being insecure but having self-respect. It’s a great combination.

In one of the chapters I listened to on today’s run, she speaks about how the phrase ‘Good for her, not for me‘ should be every woman’s mantra. How God damn true. I love being supportive and encouraging and proud of other people’s achievements, but they are not mine and they don’t need to be.

I thought a lot about my current training (or lack thereof) during those eight and a bit miles, along with the pledge I made after my New Year’s Day run TO ALWAYS RUN HAPPY. I haven’t come to any conclusions so far, but I feel like some changes – to goals, priorities, attitudes… I’m not sure yet! – may be afoot.

I was on the Kindle app, I promise

I don’t really do new year’s resolutions and this year I certainly won’t be setting any running ones (I know what I need to do, I just need to get on and do it). But I am setting myself just one, completely fitness unrelated task for 2015 – to finish every book that I start.

As embarrassing as this is to admit, reading the Fifty Shades trilogy a couple of years ago reminded me how great reading is. Before that, I don’t think I had properly read a book cover to cover since studying for my A-Levels, and even then I scraped through English Lit without actually reading everything I was supposed to. Yes, those FSoG books are really quite bad and really quite cringe (not to mention completely unrealistic – no one can have that much sex and not get a UTI), but I devoured them in days and rediscovered the joy of being completely immersed in a story.

Not long after, I bought a Kindle, which has remained one of my favourite possessions ever since.

The problem I have is that I have no time to read. This is obviously complete rubbish – I just think I have no time to read. I walk to work (and I am not being that person) so have lost the hour and a half tube journey I used to have each day in which I would do most of my reading. This of course doesn’t mean I have no time – I have all the time I watch junk on TV (read this and you’ll never want to watch telly again), all the time I arse around on the internet, reading absolutely everything on The Debrief (okay, I’m not actually ashamed of that one). I also love a good faff.

I get distracted whilst reading, don’t get into books, find something else that looks more interesting, start reading something else instead. I am a digital age cliché, flitting between one thing and the next, in a world where “a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention”. Through reading I am going to try and reverse this. My Kindle is filled with half read books, which if I’m honest will probably never be completed. But from now on, every book that I choose to start will get my full attention and will get finished. At current count, I have 47 books on my Amazon wish list. I can’t think of a single TV show I want to watch more than I want to make a dent in that list.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/d6e/18782832/files/2014/12/img_2416.jpgI always knew December was going to be a toughie. It has been noted that I can occasionally act more like a fifty-something than a twenty-something, but the prospect of a little less sleep and a little more socialising than normal was exciting. But what transpired was exhausting. This month saw way, way too many hangovers, most of which were earned on a school night. I’ve eaten a LOT of burritos and cried in front of a few too many of my colleagues. I’ve only run once. I’ve worked a lot. I’ve seen the inside of trains, planes, my GP surgery and a hospital. I’ve had an infection and a nasty chesty cough. I’ve made just one visit to the gym, at 2pm on a Thursday – and that was just because it was the only opportunity I had to shower between having been out the night before and going out again later that day. Gross.

I got to Christmas Day feeling decidedly more sluggish, podgy and generally unwell than I would have liked. I know that this is the very time for merriment (which was in abundance), but as usual, my boom or bust attitude to most things has left me feeling the opposite of relaxed. More than ever, I feel like a Christmas cliché, waiting for January to come along and sweep away all my missed workout and ‘one more glass of red’ guilt.

Most of all I feel panicked. I don’t think I possibly could have got marathon training off to a worse start. Barcelona marathon is eleven weeks away and I feel like I am literally at square zero. Time to practice what I’ve preached and try and do this running happy thing. There’s nothing else for it.

Nakedness has been a topic of discussion between myself and several friends over the past few weeks. It turns out I have quite different views to (what seems like) most people. So I thought I’d open it up to be a bit of a debate. Me vs Steph. Let us know who’s corner of the changing room you’re in…

Lissy says…

I have a question. It’s been bugging me for a while. And then I started cycling to work and using the changing and showering facilities almost everyday in the basement of my building and now I really just don’t get it.

Why is being naked so awful?

Our changing room, like many others, is full of grown women of all shapes, sizes and ages, dashing from cubicle to cubicle, doing the ‘trying to put underwear on without dropping the towel’ dance and just generally avoiding eye contact like their life depended on it.

We have three showers that are in self-contained cubicles and four showers that are open plan. Every morning, there is a queue for the three closed off showers, whilst the four others stay unused. The same thing happened recently on my first visit to Cyclebeat. Eight showers – six open, two cubicles. And a queue which I was able to breeze straight past as long as I didn’t mind a couple of people seeing me shampooing. Fine by me.

I’m not suggesting we all need to wander round flaunting it in each other’s faces, but it makes me sad that we’re regressing to feeling like we are 14 again and changing after a PE lesson. Especially as these are all people who have just run or cycled into the office, or have just finished a workout in the gym or studio next door.

I asked my male colleagues what happens on their side of the wall. The shower set up is the same, and all of them get used. Apparently everyone is a lot more ‘matter of fact’ about it and they just get on with what they need to do. Need to put their towel down to get dressed? Done. Need to be at their desk in 20 minutes so don’t have time to faff around trying to cover up? So don’t bother.

For now, and until I have an answer, I’m just going to carry on being the only weird one that walks past the queue and uses the shower without a door.

Steph says…

I’d just completed a tough 45 minute work out, I was sweaty, tired and hungry and ready for a lovely shower. I walked into the ladies room, put my bag on a hook and looked around for the changing/ showering cubicles.

Then I heard the showers and realised that the other ladies by the six hooks were already stripping. Heat rose in me, bile started in the back of my throat and my head filled with stressful thoughts.

My dreams of a lovely shower were replaced by flashbacks of school, knowledge I would have to rush my shower and realisation that the complimentary towels barely covered by foof and boobs at once filled me with fear.

Don’t get me wrong I’m okay with getting changed in front of my friends, I’m not a complete prude. I just like my privacy, especially with strangers/acquaintances. A shrink would take me back to school where I had enough ammunition for the bullies that the possibility of my body looking different (it wasn’t) was enough to put me off PE and communal changing for life.

So far this has all been about me, but if there had only been me in the room I would have coped with open showers. Having to squeeze past others to get into/out of the showers, having to look at the floor whilst getting ready and having to put my contact lenses in/makeup on next to the lady that dries her hair naked in public made the whole the thing much worse.

I’ve never used the showers at a gym either, I always go home/to work and use a private shower. An added bonus is that I don’t have to lug all my stuff around.

Trying to rush, get my undies on under the towel and finding anywhere to put my things amongst the naked bodies in the under provisioned changing rooms resulted in me heading to work as a stressed, sweaty mess with wonky hair and clothes. I might as well have not showered at all.

Maybe it’s just me and my issues but when I am paying £16+ for a class I don’t want to have to go through a stressful experience every time. Places like Boomcycle have it right where there are beautiful big towels individual cubicles where you shower and get ready before facing the world. Because of these facilities I can enjoy my class and the rest of my day with no stress, well except for when I forget my bra, but that’s another story.

Balance never lasts long, it seems.

Things I’ve done lots of over the past couple of weeks:

  • Work
  • Think about work
  • Be at work some more
  • Eat a lot of biscuits

Things I haven’t done so much of over the past couple of weeks:

  • Blog
  • Life admin
  • Cycle anywhere
  • Fix the puncture on the yellow beauty
  • Run
  • Hit the gym
  • Prepare good food and eat well
  • Get anywhere near 8 hours sleep a night

It’s now less than two weeks until training for Barcelona marathon begins. And by then I will make sure balance is restored…