Wednesday, August 23, 2006


I've decided what the hardest thing about marathon training is. It's not the long runs that are the hard ones. It's the short ones a couple of days after a long one, when your quads and hamstrings are still screaming for mercy, and when the first few steps you take are taken in an awkwardly limping style as your legs try to persuade you that it's really not a good idea.

Yesterday I was incredibly close to not running, but I made myself go into the gym (on the basis that I should at least do some cross training if I didn't run), and ended up doing 30 minutes on the treadmill, then this morning I managed a 40 minute run outside, but it gets harder and harder to keep on backing up at the moment, doing run after run after run.

I'm doing it though. I've cut the distances of the midweek runs a little from what the schedule suggests, but I'm still ticking over. It's relentless, and I sometimes wonder why I'm putting myself through so much pain and discomfort (not the bad knee and hip pain I had a while back, more just muscle soreness), but there's no way I'm giving up now.

And the rest of my life seems to have the same relentlessness. Work is busy, mum's over from Spain, it's a constant cycle of running and working and going down to Sheffield, and going to Spanish lessons. I get in in the evening and I'm shattered, but I get up in the morning and I do it all again.

Thankfully I've got a couple of days off next week. I probably won't get the chance to blog again for a while, so I'll make my excuses now. I'm out tomorrow and Friday evenings, then I'm down in London on Saturday, flying to Prague on Sunday morning, staying there until Wednesday, out on Thursday and then going over to St Annes to see my other grandparents next Friday and Saturday. Phew! I'm hoping to fit in a couple of runs in the meantime (and there's a gym in the hotel in Prague), but if I don't, I might just relax in the knowledge that when I get back I only have one more 20 mile run (on the Sunday I get back from St Annes) before the taper starts.

Anyway, I'm sure I'll spend the weekend drinking too much and eating rubbish, but I'm going to enjoy it anyway. See you when I get back!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Too busy

I might be seeing my grandparents, aunt and uncle tomorrow evening, and I'm getting nervous, for two reasons.

First my aunt and uncle. They live in the US, and I haven't seen them for years. I can't remember when I last saw them, but it wasn't recently. At least two years ago, minimum. Which means that the last time I saw them I must have been close to my heaviest.

I used to enjoy the magical reveal, and even delayed seeing people so that transformation would be more impressive when they did see me. But now I'm kind of bored of it, bored of answering the same old questions, even bored of the praise. It's flattering, but I think that as I get more used to my new body and forget what I used to look like it's kind of old news, and not something that I want to talk about all the time. I just want to get on with being me. (Incidentally, I visited some university friends after my race yesterday, and they played it exactly right, hardly a mention of the weight loss other than a single discreet enquiry as to how much I'd lost, then letting the subject drop).

And then my grandparents. I know what they're going to say, I got the pre-cursor to it on the phone today. When I was little they always used to say that my dad was working too hard, and that he needed to eat more. He is the (relatively) thin one in the family and, yes, he did work hard, but that didn't mean that he didn't eat. The subtext, that my mother wasn't looking after him properly, didn't go down well with her. But to my grandmother, being busy means being too busy to eat, which equates to weight loss. For me (or the old me at least) being busy means grabbing pizza on the way home and weight gain, so she never worried about how much I was working for a long time!

Anyway, at the moment I am busy, and I make no apologies for that. But I know that she'll say that I'm doing too much and it's making me too thin, and that I should look after myself better. The ironic thing is that I'm looking after myself better than I ever have. Yes, I'm spending lots of time working and running, but I'm also making sure I'm eating fantastically well, and I'm fitter than I've ever been. I don't see how that equates to not looking after myself, but I guess we just have different outlooks on life.

Thinking back to my last post I guess she does have a point about me trying to do too much, but that's my choice, and if I wasn't doing marathon training I'd be doing something else with that time, I'm sure.

(To be honest I will try not to get too defensive when she starts on about hoping that I'm not going to lose more, because I'm not trying to and I do realise that I don't need to be any thinner than I am at the moment. But - and I'm about to inspire hatred from all over fatblogland - there doesn't seem to be much I can do about it at the moment. No matter how much toast and peanut butter I eat, I'm still losing slowly but surely. I suspect some of it might go back on after the marathon, but for now there is still just a bit of scale movement)

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


This is a bit Berlin-ny, but I'll post it here because it's more general than that. I had a bit of a revelation about my recent mood swings and grumbles.

The marathon itself seeming more real every day now. Apparently registration packs are on their way and should be arriving in the UK shortly, and I did a search of the participants list on the official website and found my name. It's really happening.

As I reach the end of the real training, and move towards the taper (only two weeks worth of actual hard training to go, but split over 3 weeks because of a long weekend in Prague in the middle), I'm starting to reflect a bit on the whole thing. And most importantly the big question. Would I do it again?

I won't really be able to answer that until I'm standing beyond the finish line holding my medal, but at the moment I'm thinking probably, but not too often. I'm not going to become one of these people who run a marathon every couple of months and rack up stupid numbers of miles. The training isn't so bad, and my legs can cope with it, but it just takes so much out of you elsewhere. I don't know how often I can commit to turning my life over to marathon training.

I only have a finite amount of energy to go round. Of course, I try to eat to boost my energy, but there's still a limit to how much you can do. And the more of that energy I spend on marathon training, the less I have to do other things. Since I upped my mileage to its peak I seem to walk into town less at lunchtime, I make the long run and a rugby match pretty much the only things I do over the course of a weekend, and anything that keeps me out of bed past about 9.30 ends up being a serious interruption to my schedule. Even at the weekend. I can live like that for a couple of months every now and then, but I'm glad that it's coming to an end. I'd just love to have some energy and time back to go for a walk, read a book, do my Spanish homework.

And yes, I keep saying I'll take new progress pictures, but I can't summon up the energy to do that either, or sell my fat clothes on ebay, or lots of other things I've been putting off. Reading and leaving comments on other people's blogs too. I'm getting really bad at that, but I am trying to catch up.

I think some of my mood swings recently have come from the sheer narrow mindedness of my focus, and maybe the fact that I've been working so hard at this explains why it's so much more tempting than usual to just give up. I always thought that I'd found a routine I could live with but recently I started to wonder whether I was wrong, until I realised that this simply isn't my normal routine. I can live with the normal exercise, but this is in a whole different league, and I should realise that rather than worrying about whether it's sustainable. It isn't meant to be.

I need to stop getting frustrated about my lack of motivation to prepare fresh food. Thinking about it more logically, I'm into the territory of using that culinary energy on running. Yes, I still need to work on eating as well as I can, but I need to remember that once this is over I'll have more time to take pleasure in cooking a long complicated weekend lunch rather than relying on something that I can blast with heat as soon as I get in from a long run. And the fact that all my body sometimes has energy to do is sit on the sofa and eat, well that's probably a very sensible way for it to deal with the extra stress, so I need to stop worrying so much about it. Yes, make sure that's what available to eat is decent stuff, but don't assume it's the start of a slippery slope that will lead to re-gain once I stop training so much.

I'm starting to realise how much the training has impacted on the rest of my life. Work has gone crazy recently, and between that and training it's just been a constant battle to stay sane and functioning relatively normally when it comes to anything else. I wouldn't stop training now for anything, but I can't wait for a bit of a rest once it's done!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Demons

All day they've been circling. I'm not hungry, but I have a compulsion to eat. Stupid, stupid thing to do. But I keep justifying it to myself.

My inner wannabe fat girl has been having a ball today, telling me that I'm too thin and that I need to put weight back on. Quite frankly, that thought scares me. I know that every person has a point at which they become too thin, and I know that I'm a lot closer to it than I used to be. But am I there? Really, honestly?

I don't know.

But what I do know is that I shouldn't be using it as an excuse to eat when I'm not hungry. I shouldn't be using it to find excuses to eat when I don't even want to. I shouldn't be using it as a reason to raid the vending machine simply because it's there.

Why am I suddenly sabotaging myself like this. I'm not saying that I'm desperately trying to lose at the moment, but I am trying to rid myself of crappy eating habits like snacking when I don't need to, and the voices in my head at the moment aren't helping. And I'm certainly not intending to start gaining any time soon.

I must snap out of it. Hopefully it's just a TOM issue and nothing more, but I need to get a handle on this.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Human Rights?

I was interested to see this story earlier in the week (but being a lazy lazy blogger didn't actually go out and find the link for myself until it appeared on the RW website). Basically, the issue is whether making schoolkids do cross country breaches their human rights.

Of course, as a dedicated runner (hee hee) I am minded to see the claim as a load of crap, but still, I remember the horror.

Between the ages of 11 and 16 my life was blissfully cross country free. No traipsing through fields or up and down hills, and not much running at all, to be honest. Then at 16 I moved schools and came back down to earth with a horrifying bump the first time I got introduced to compulsory cross country.

I didn't dislike all sport. There was some sport I quite enjoyed. I wouldn't say that I was good at it, but I enjoyed doing it. Apart from one thing - the attitude of school PE teachers that you fell into one of two groups. Those who could, and those who couldn't. And if you couldn't, then you weren't worth attention. There was no point in encouraging you to improve, if you weren't going to get selected to play, or run, or jump or whatever for the county, you weren't going to get the attention. It was quite nice sometimes as it meant you could get away with more when their attention was elsewhere, but, from a life long fitness and health point of view it was us un-coordinated, slow, chubby ones who would have benefitted most from a bit of encouragement.

There was nothing to compare to the horror of that first cross country run though. I have no idea how long it was, or how long it took me, but I remember the long steep downhill at the start, and the realisation that you'd have to get back up the hill to the school at the top on the way back. The frustrating thing, with hindsight, is how much better it could have been, with decent shoes, if we'd been told about how to start building up from a run/walk programme, if we'd been encouraged to race against the clock rather than each other.

I'd never have believed then that I'd end up loving running, the freedom it gives me, and the fitness, and the knowledge that I can run from Keighley to Leeds.

I don't think that cross country running at school was abuse, or in any way a breach of my human rights, but what I do believe is that it was one of the biggest missed opportunities of my life, and had my teachers inspired me to keep going with it at the time, I could have spent the last 10 years in a far healthier and fitter state than I did.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Burger, chips and pizza

I seem to have got a bit lazy and uninspired with my cooking and eating recently. I've got busier at work, and a couple of not so good choices are starting to slip in. Not hugely bad, and carefully managed, but I've started doing things like getting a healthy-ish pizza (i.e. a small one, with lots of veggies) for a post long run treat.

This annoys me.

Not because they're bad things to eat. Today I had a little mini goats cheese and rocket as my post run treat. On the basis that I'd just run 20 miles, and burned off somewhere in the region of 2000 calories, a pizza that came in at less than 400 calories is hardly going to cause the world to end. I wanted something I didn't need to do anything to prepare, as I had no idea what state I'd be in by the finish, and pizza fit the bill!

No, why they annoy me is because I just don't actually enjoy them as much as I did.

Last night I went out to the rugby and, not having planned anything to eat in advance (and the weather was crappy so I didn't do what I sometimes do, and pick up things that I can eat picnic-stylee on the way up there), I decided to treat myself to a meal out. It was pre-long run day, so I decided that pretty much anything would go, and to make sure there were some carbs in there. I ended up having a chickpea burger on foccacia with some chunky chips and side salad. Nothing too disastrous nutritionally compared to what I used to eat, but just so disappointing.

The chips were good chips, I could tell that, as in good examples of their type. But they just tasted stodgy and tasteless to me. The burger was nice, but there was just too much food. Nothing (apart from the salad) had the freshness that I'm used to tasting, and I just felt weighed down by the food.

On one hand, it's nice to know that as a special treat I'd willingly choose strawberries and cream over pizza, but on the other hand, I don't want to turn into the sort of nutritional puritan who makes other people's lives hell when they attempt to eat together. I'd quite like to be able to enjoy a burger or pizza once in a while, in the knowledge that I don't do it often, rather than sitting there wishing they had a more inventive selection of salads and vegetable dishes. (Actually, to be fair they did have some decent looking salads last night, but I wanted something more carby so didn't choose one).

The only problem now is that I'm going to have to get my arse into gear and down to the supermarket because I've run out of food and I'm determined that for the rest of the weekend I'm going to eat virtuous, healthy homemade stuff to get the processed rubbish out of my system!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


Tomorrow is the anniversary of a big milestone for me. 10 August 2005 is the day I finally stopped being obese. I remember at the time just how important that was for me, seeing a 2 at the start of my BMI on the Boots scales.

To be perfectly honest, at the time that would have been enough. I had my big goal in my head, and I obviously wanted to get there, but by getting out of obesity I'd already achieved all I was realistically hoping to do, and I'd achieved the most important thing. Not being overweight is nice, but not being obese is, I'm sure, more important for my health even if I never achieved anything more.

Since then I've lost roughly another 50lb or so. I hadn't realised that it was so much more, but I guess it must be if I'm 154lb now and I was about 202lb a year ago. Here I was thinking that my weight loss had slowed down a lot, but I've still averaged nearly a pound a week over the past year. That's a pretty mind blowing thought. I could put on 50lb from where I am now, and still only just be obese - and that was a weight I was ecstatic to be at!!! I'd never actually thought of the numbers like that before I sat down to type this, and I've just nearly fallen off my chair with the realisation of how much that is.

Originally I never thought of myself as obese, but that was just denial. I was obese, and had been for a long time. The way I lived my life was clouded by, and caused, my obesity, and it was pretty much all I knew in my adult life. But now I've spent 10% of my adult life not being obese, it is starting to fade in my memory a bit. There used to be a time when I couldn't see my collar bones or feel my hip bones? Really? Did I really used to fit into those tent like suits? (Are they really ripped down the seams because when I say fit into them, I'm not being entirely honest...). Did I really go to the gym on that first day and struggle to do 3 minutes on the lowest setting of the exercise bike?

I don't miss the obese me, and I don't want her back. Yes there have been compromises (sleep and time in front of the tv being the big one!), but I remember weekends where my only source of comfort and entertainment was a bottle of wine, a pizza and a family sized slab of dairy milk. I wouldn't go shopping because the clothes didn't fit. I couldn't go running or do exercise (not that I wanted to). I didn't feel confident going out, and I was scared of the prospect of ever needing to go to the doctors because I knew what they would say. Sure, I let myself eat all the rich foods I wanted, but did I enjoy the heartburn and the "so stuffed you have to lie down" feeling? I wondered whether my career would ever go anywhere because, although I knew I was a good lawyer, I worried that clients and prospective employers would never see past my unattractive, uncared for bulk.

So I go to bed at 9.30 now and get up at 5.30 for a run. Once I ran over 12 miles before work, and I regularly run 8. What am I missing out on? Another night alone on the sofa with food and drink for company. Is that really worth shortening my life for and being unhealthy? No matter how hard it seems to drag myself out of bed or turn down that slice of cake, I can unconditionally say that it's worth it. It's worth every mile I've run, every vegetable I've eaten, every glass of wine I've turned down.

Sometimes I think of the past year as a year of maintenance as well as a year of losing. Obviously I have lost more, but the most important thing was to make sure I didn't regain the 60lb it took to get me to that first big milestone. And it's been a successful one on that front. It's nice to think of it that way, to remind myself that I CAN maintain, because I've maintained my non-obeseness very nicely over the past year. There's no reason I can't keep doing that, to maintain the weight I've got to now.

The other thing that starts to hit me more and more often is the number of new people I've met in the past year who just don't know. And those that do know never really saw, so it's knowing in a hypothetical sense, like I might know that a friend used to dye their hair red, but because I never saw it I can't picture it and they'll always be blonde to me. It's clear sometimes from the things they say to me, when they ask my advice about fitness and nutrition. They know that I'm interested in such things, but more from a sports nutrition rather than a dieting standpoint. Which would be right, to be honest (carbs, beautiful carbs, how I adore thee... and how I like the opportunity to have two or three breakfasts on long run days...). You can tell the difference between people who have known me for longer and those who haven't, one group ask for my advice on losing weight, the other on eating sensibly. I'd like to think that the second group have picked up on what I'm doing better than the first.

Everyone who has known me for two years or more tells me how much I've changed. I've changed since this time last year, and I'm sure I'll change over the next year. Maybe that's an integral part of living your way through your 20s anyway, maybe I would have changed between 26 and 28 no matter what happened. But I know that the changes have been good ones, and that given the choice I'd have no hesitation in choosing this life over anything that comfort food has to offer.

Monday, August 07, 2006

All praise the magic shorts

Yesterday I was feeling sorry for myself. My hip and knee were painful all Saturday night, and really interrupted my sleep. I knew when I got up that I wouldn't be able to run straight away, but had vague intentions of doing something "later". I threw some clothes on, went for a paper, took the clothes off again and went back to bed to read, with vague intentions of doing some exercise before lunch.

Except that didn't happen. I had lunch, and still wasn't dressed. I started (carried on?) feeling sorry for myself, about the pain, about the general onset of lethargy, and about my general non-perkiness. I didn't have anything I wanted to do at home, I was just stuck in a state of inertia. I had vague intentions of doing some exercise before the evening.

I felt the afternoon slipping away, so I started trying to reason with myself. Eventually I persuaded myself that if I could only get to the gym I could do something that wasn't going to hurt my legs, like upper body weights, going on the bike or swimming. I reluctantly levered myself off the sofa (my big achievement was making it downstairs...), and went to put my gym kit on.

And then, as if by magic, once the shorts were on, the enthusiasm returned. I actually felt better simply by wearing my gym stuff rather than a dressing gown. I felt like the fit, kick ass me rather than the moping around on a Sunday wondering when it's decent to start on the wine me. I got to the gym, and I suddenly had energy.

I ran 5k, did some weights and went on the bike. It wasn't as long as the run I had planned, but it was still a pretty kick ass workout. I felt better for it, and I was so glad I'd gone. Just putting the shorts on seemed to inspire me more than any sort of mental persuasion talk.

And this morning, similar. My alarm went off early, and I wan't enthusiastic. But putting the shorts on was an important first step, and by the time I'd finished I'd run nearly 6 miles. (Without pain! Yay for the new running shoes!).

So from now on if I want to press the snooze button I'll make myself put the shorts on first. If I want to, I can then go back to bed, but hopefully the magic power of the shorts will win out, and it will get me out of the door and doing something.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Parachute madness

Sometimes I get an idea in my head and it proves remarkably hard to shift. Exhibit 1. The marathon plan.

Earlier this year some people I know did a charity parachute jump. It involved a days training then a jump. They want to jump again next month, before their six month window after the training runs out (I think that you have to jump once every six months if you don't want to retrain). And they've asked me to go along.

Obviously I'd have to do the training day, so it costs more (£180 as opposed to about £35 for the jump itself), but I'm strangely tempted. I'm not sure I have the money, but I really fancy doing it, and it's partly a weight loss treat.

Because I CAN do it.

It's funny, my acceptance that I am actually thin is obviously gaining hold. I was sent a link to more information about the jump, and a document setting out restrictions, including weight restrictions, and I didn't actually look at it. I think somewhere deep down I realised that I didn't have anything to worry about with weight restrictions any more. Some other people I know who were considering it will almost certainly fall down on those restrictions, and it was only when they were chickening out on weight grounds that I realised that it would probably be worth looking.

· Over 13 stone in weight for males and 12 stone for females fully clothed.
Please note: You will be weighed to ensure this requirement is adhered to .
· Overweight for your age, sex or height.

The male weight is actually a typo, it should read 15 stone, but the important bit is the one in the line below. For me 12 stone (168lb) and a BMI of 24.9 are the same place, but it seems that if I was shorter that 12 stone limit would drop and they'd want you to be even lighter. I'm not sure what would happen if I was taller - at 5 foot 10 or 11 I could be over 12 stone and not be overweight, and it seems unfair that men would get away with it and women wouldn't, but that's irrelevant.

Because I'm light enough as it is, without any need to ask whether they can bend the rules slightly. I'm still not a fan of enforced weighing, but I'd be confident that I would make it, even if the scales weighed slightly differently to mine.

The only remaining drawbacks are firstly that I'm not actually sure I have the money (and if I do it might be better spent on a bike, which I've been considering getting for a while now), and secondly that it's probably the weekend before Berlin. That might be good to take my mind off tapering, but I'm not sure I want to do anything that will risk my legs (or any other part of my body!) so close.

Part of me wants to do it, because I can, and because I might not always be able to fit under those restrictive weight limits. But equally, I'm intending to maintain, aren't I? Why should I worry about regaining?

So, should I jump or not?!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Maybe I am getting ill

I've been feeling lethargic all day and had absolutely no inclination to work out my shopping list and food. I've noticed that over the past few days my interest in food has slumped a bit. I'm still hungry and I'm still eating, but I'm more inclined to resort to slightly healthy prepared food rather than making stuff for myself.

Maybe I'm coming down with something, or maybe it's just the legacy of my 18 miler. I hope that it's nothing too serious. Fingers crossed I'll feel better tomorrow once pizza energy has got back into my bloodstream (promised treat for doing the 18 miler, but it tasted surprisingly unappetising).

Friday, August 04, 2006


I don't know what's come over me. I didn't run yesterday, after going out on Wednesday night, then despite telling myself that I would, I didn't run today because Friday's my rest day. In a way it's not a big deal, because I'm trying to rest my knee a bit and the weekend runs are the important ones but still, since when did my alarm go off without me jumping out of bed and putting my trainers on? When did I start pressing the snooze button? How did that happen?

The mornings are getting darker, and the weather has gone horrible, so suddenly those nice cool 5.30am runs don't seem as appealing.

It doesn't help that my eating seems to have got a bit unhinged this week too. I really need to get myself back on track, and soon.

It was Spanish last night. We had to write sentences in the past - two things which were true and one thing which was a lie. My teacher wrote that she lost 20kg a couple of years ago. It was true. I usually travel back home with one of the other students who lives in my direction, and in the car she said to me that she can't imagine anyone losing that much, and the teacher must have been huge.

If only she knew. I still struggle to know what to say in that situation, to be honest. I tend to just be floored by the realisation that there are people out there who don't have a clue what I've done, rather than being able to make a sensible comment about what they've said!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

To Dave


I don't know your email address, or what you're doing. I don't know when you'll be back in the UK, or if I'll ever see you again. But I want you to know, I should have believed you.

Sometimes when I have a drink or two I think about you. I can go for weeks without feeling like this, don't think I'm pining (after six years!). But when the thought hits me, it hits me like a steam train and bowls me over. I miss you, and you were right all along.

Once, after we broke up, you said that you wished we'd had sex. I don't, but I wish I'd been able to talk to you about the reason I didn't, and don't, want to. I wish I'd been able to understand the complex interplay between my body issues and my asexuality and my horrible fear of commitment and being trapped.

You were the first person to tell me I was beautiful. I never believed you, why would I? I didn't believe it myself, and nothing you could say could persuade me that I was worthy of your love.

But now I can finally see what you saw all along, and I want to see you, to tell you that you were right. I'm not looking for a relationship, even less a meaningless one night stand for old times sake. I know you were moving to America to get married, and I hope you're happy. But still, I feel like I have things that I should explain about the shitty way I treated you, and I owe you an apology.

I know you'd be proud of me, but I'm not just looking for praise. I just want to say sorry, and to appease the empty feeling I sometimes get when I realise how horrible I was when I let you go.


(This may be slightly wine induced)