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…

I can’t believe how glorious the month of October has been this year. Other than the one day last week where I got soaked in a torrential downpour during my ill-timed cycle to work, the last few weeks have been brilliant autumnal weather.

With temperatures due to drop (and a LOT of rain on the way) as we head into November, I thought I’d pause and be glad of a few things that I really shouldn’t have been able to do at this time of year.

I’ve spent a lot of time eating outside recently. Myself and a couple of work colleagues have got into the habit of going for breakfast every Friday morning and last week we ventured to the café opposite our office and ate outside! It was warm enough at 9am to be outside and eating my full English. Wonderful. And at £3.95 – including a cuppa! – I was happy as larry.

I’ve also had breakfast in Hyde Park, at White Mulberries in St Katherine Docks and picnicked around and about near my office.

Clockwise from top right: banana bread & a piccolo at White Mulberries, me and my gorge borrowed Tokyobike in Hyde Park, enjoying the splendour of the Prudential building on Holborn, Friday morning full English

Last Friday, as well as an outdoor brekkie, I also managed another first – my first ever RUNch! It was such a nice day, I had some spare kit under my desk, so I decided to head out for a quick loop along the river, taking in Waterloo and Blackfriars bridges.

This photo does no justice to how warm it felt – I was in a vest and shorts on the run, and then at my desk with a very red face for most of the afternoon. Most impressive though was that I managed to change, run, shower, change again and be back at my desk in under 50 minutes.

Last weekend I got red faced again as I stood for 90 minutes at my first Norwich match of the season at Craven Cottage (home of Fulham). I am so used to going to football in the depths of winter, that I was so overdressed in my four layers and overheated throughout. I’ll miss that feeling when I’m shivering on a Tuesday night in February though.

And this week my Monday morning was made instantly better by the beautiful blue sky that greeted me as I stepped out of my front door. The clocks going back mean some lighter mornings, if only for a short while, and I really appreciated this one.

I wish autumn could go on forever!