How Not to Run

I am a fat person.  I have been fat for as long as I can remember. There are pictures of me as a child that I can objectively say no I wasn’t fat but I was still considered overweight. I’m fairly sure lots of issues I have are all bound up in this. I also have a terrible relationship with food and that is something that has just always been the case. It has been with some trepidation at the age of 38 and at about twice the NHS recommended weight I decided that this realistically is my last big chance to do something.

I work in a school and I was lucky enough to be able to go on a trip to Reykjavik.  Whilst there we did a tonne of waking and fro the first time I really noticed that I struggled.  I hated that I wasn’t able to keep up and the tiredness that accompanied it.  I felt that I really had to do something.

Phase one was just going to the gym.  And I’ve been attending classes and doing cardio and I have been getting fitter and the weight has started to move.  One thing I found motivating whilst doing this was Zombies! Run.  I’ve completed the first season while walking but at the end of season one there are some longer distance missions and I thought it would take me forever to walk 20km so I decided that I needed to learn how to run and this is where the journey started.

I am following the Zombies! Run Couch to 5k plan because it works for me. I love the gentle encouragement, alongside the mild peril that the missions bring.  They give me a purpose to be doing this and I want to see it through.

I have reached week 7 in the eight week plan and I started on 24th July so I’m nine weeks in on my eight week plan and you know what I am more than okay with that. There have been a few sessions I have felt the need to run twice and I repeated week six in its entirety and I want to take stock of how I have got here.  Firstly there are days when I have to work hard to get out of the house because of the Fear. The Fear is that insidious voice that tries to persuade me to stay home because people will laugh at me. I’m a realist I have gotten abuse on the street so there has to be negotiation for me to get into the gym in the first place. I create my own zone to run in. I have my noise cancelling ear buds and I listen to cheesy eighties pop and that is my safe space no one can get to me in there.

I have learned to take it one session at a time.  I don’t look ahead because everything because insurmountable.  My running sessions are a practical lesson in mindfulness.  I am aware of every step I take and every inhalation/exhalation. I am the living embodiment of the Sting song. Being so rooted in what I am doing forces out any thoughts of work or other threats. I am fighting to keep on running to not give in and not die. You’d better believe that there is no small amount of pain involved and there are days when I feel that I can’t possibly get to the point where I can just run 5k.

That’s my goal though to run 5k and my last session was week 7 session two and I really was not feeling it.  I’ve had a rubbish couple of days at work where I’ve had some difficult and grown up decisions to make. I had some gentle encouragement from the boy and I went anyway.

Week 7 is tough.  It starts gently enough with a 10 minute brisk walk to lull you into false sense of security and then a 5 minute free form run all good. Next comes the run/skipping drills so I run for a minute and skip for 15 seconds and this is the killer after completing 5 reps of the drill I went into a second 5 minute free form run.  I had to give in at this point and walk for a minute near the start of that second 5 minute run because I was feeling it was too much but for the but one minute out of 17 running or skipping I felt that was still worth celebrating.  I also managed the following two free runs of 5 minutes.  This was my second session that followed the pattern and on the first attempt I was all over the place I couldn’t cope and I walked a lot more.The improvement between the sessions was incredible.  My goal for next time is to not have to walk at all after the skipping drills but we’ll see.

This feels like such a victory for me. I’ve learned some hard lessons particular in week 6 when I finally learnt how to pace myself to ensure I could finish strongly when I needed to. I have come such a long way from literally struggling to run for 60 seconds to being able to run for 5, 7, 10 minutes without dying.  On paper I have four sessions left and I still can’t see me actually managing to run 5k without stopping but maybe, just maybe I’m beginning to believe that I can.

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Review: The Silver Tide by Jen Williams

silvertideTrilogies are tricky things to work properly they should do more than simply be one long story there should be themes that ebb and flow. Narratives which build and peak and then build again. I usually count myself lucky if the trilogy I read is three decent books which hold together well. And then there’s Jen William’s Copper Cat trilogy which I am so deeply in love with right now it is a little bit obscene.

Here is my review of the Silver Tide, there will necessarily be spoilers for The Copper Promise and the Iron Ghost.

The Silver Tide is more than just a fitting close to an epic trilogy it touched so many of the right spots that I am literally seeing stars.

Wydrin is an amazing character I love her, I want to be her. She is strong and vulnerable and complex and I want to go out drinking with her although I’m not sure my liver would take it anymore. She is the centre of the trilogy she doesn’t get to wield magic and she doesn’t father a race of dragon kin but she binds the Blackfeather three together.

Sebastian regularly breaks my heart he’s basically a paladin and I love Paladins. A gay paladin who inadvertently becomes father to a race of dragon kin and who keeps falling for the wrong man.

And then we have Lord Aaron Frith who would claim to hate it but I just want to smoosh him forever because he really needs it.

The action picks up not long after the events of The Iron Ghost and the Blackfeather Three are coming to terms with past events. All are haunted by choices they have made along the way and the bonds that did hold them do not seem as strong as they once were.

The group accompany Devinia the Red a female Pirate captain who just so happens to be Wydrin’s mother on an expedition to an island unlike any other.

There is so much to love about The Silver Tide, three complex lead characters who all have their own agenda and their own motivations and past scars that guide their actions throughout. They feel so truthful and honestly rendered. In addition there is a supporting cast of diverse and interesting characters. Devinia who is everything you want from a pirate captain. Ephemeral, Sebastian’s dragon kin ‘daughter’ who is a ruthless hunter who wants to read books and to learn. In addition there are many characters whom I just wanted to root for and and can’t mentnion them because of spoilers butlots of them were women. Women in command, women being powerful in other ways it made my heart swell a lot.

Individually each of the novels in this trilogy work. There is no two towers sense of things are continuing along. There are three distinct stories but as a trilogy there are callbacks to earlier events which tie things together without relying too heavily on each other for meaning and this is to be applauded. Each novel has been pitched beautifully for tension. Williams teases the reader with climatic events which increase in scope within each book. So many huge things happen in The Silver Tide that I may have whooped and punched the air more than once. Its an exhilarating read and it is a rewarding one too. The ending to the trilogy was not just satisfying it was pretty much perfect bitter sweet and I am spent.

Review The Silver Witch by Paula Brackston

The Silver Witch is a lovely story. Set in Brecon Beacons it features two women a millennium apart with a story that is told between them. I really liked this premise, Tilda is the modern lead a young woman with albinism, widowed dealing with the stress and trauma of losing her husband in a road traffic accident. Her historical counterpart is Seren, witch and seer for the Prince Brynach and his followers on the crannog.

This novel really is about Tilda’s recovery, at the beginning she is raw from her loss and embarking upon this new life, the one that she should have been starting with Mat. She is incredibly fragile, she seems unable to look after herself and when strange things start happening to her it does feel like this woman may be about to breakdown.

Seren on the other hand is an amazing character of depth and strength who never falters in her actions she can see what other people are doing and she does her best to steer the Prince to understand and to avoid disasters.

image002As the novel unfolds it becomes clear that Tilda and Seren are linked, the true nature of the link is explored with a couple of red herrings along the way. I have to say I thought I had sussed everything out and was pleasantly surprised when things got twisted towards the end. This is a book about women and the power they possess. Tilda’s journey from rock bottom to capable is a joy, I loved the way she wanted to work things out for herself, that yes there is a love interest in Dylan but that Tilda regularly takes herself off alone to work things out because that is the best way for her.

Where Seren and Tilda felt quite real to me, the male characters at times didn’t feel as detailed, they were there but not quite in focus. Some of the historical characters felt like thumb nail sketches and I would have liked more details about Wenna and Nesta. This may be down to the choice of writing Tilda in third person present tense and Seren in first person present as a reader we live within Seren and can’t understand characters she interacts with with the same detachment that we can in Tilda’s segments.

Overall I thought the novel hung together well, the pacing felt quite staid for the first half and there times I was a bit frustrated with Tilda constantly going out for runs. That said it’s a great book, It kept me reading and I really wanted to know how everything was going to end. It’s a perfect read for a winter afternoon with a large mug of tea and a few biscuits.

The Winter Witch is published by Corsair.