Tag Archives: running

Running for my Life

Phil: A book about running? Read and reviewed by Phil? Shome mishtake surely…

OK, so this is a looong way from my normal reading. Candice does the running in this partnership. I tried it once and hated it, much like I’ve hated going to the gym, even though I have forced myself to pay a visit 2 or 3 times a week for years at a time twice in my life.

Lets’ get this straight. I don’t just dislike going in a sort of half-hearted way because it’s boring (it is) but because many times I found myself sat on some sort of machine paralysed with misery. Do you ever find yourself thinking depressing thoughts in the middle of the night? Thoughts that become blacker and blacker the longer you are awake? Thoughts that fly away like so many butterflies when dawn breaks? It’s like that except the flying away bit.

Endorphins are something I had to look up in the dictionary, not something I ever found on a cross-trainer.

It doesn’t help that I am rubbish at going to the gym. Aided by staff who couldn’t be bothered to turn up for booked programme reviews, I went through the motions but without enough intensity to really do any good. If I’d turned into a ripped and buff Adonis, I’d probably still be going. Sadly, a jelly with a little bit of muscle tone was the best I could achieve.

I envy my writing colleague many things, but number 1 is her love of exercise.

Anyway, I saw Running For My Life advertised and thought it looked interesting. Maybe I could be inspired into fitness. A couple of days later, loitering in my local library, there it was on the “New Books” shelf. From there, it was in my bag via the checking out machine faster than Usain Bolt can run 100 metres.

Rachel Ann Cullen is best described as “damaged”. She has issues with depression, body image and pretty much everything else. A classic chubby child, her mother, hostage to her own mental illness, would feed her as much food as she wanted, and she wanted lots.

The book chronicles her university life, disastrous relationships with men and all-encompassing love of running. Starting as a way to lose weight, the book takes us through her life showing how running made things better – right up to the day she ran her first London Marathon. Running helps her define who she is. It provides a release from life, a source of friends and even her own business.

Did it make me want to don my trainers and pound the street?


Because the book isn’t so much about running, it’s about setting and achieving goals. The pleasure you can have from pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone and achieving things you didn’t think you could – be it running for ten minutes, beating your PB in a marathon, setting up your own business, exiting a depressing job, dumping a partner who is wrong for you.

I read the book in a sprint – 3 days while doing other things. Like your first jog, the early parts are slightly hard work and I was tempted to give up. Reading the book as an observer, it’s easy to see what the main character needs to do, but then you have to remember this isn’t a story, it’s someones real life. The role of Rach is played by Rachel Ann Cullen and it to do it.

Ultimately though, it’s an interesting read with loads of insight into the world of someone with a metal illness who found a way to beat her demons, ditch the Prozac and chisel out a new and fulfilling life.

You can read Rachels’ blog here.

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By sheer force of will

Henley LunchCandice: People (women mainly, to be honest) often ask me ‘how do you fit it all in?’

By that they mean: working full time, training for a half marathon, writing a blog and a book, etc etc.

My answer is ‘Its a balancing act’. Well, that’s the diplomatic answer to be honest its mainly by sheer force of will!

I’m running my post baby half marathon on Sunday. I was supposed to be running it last October, it was all part of my post Erin recovery plan: have baby, train for half marathon, get back to work. However, after a slow start due to a C Section and then my early return to work, I was starting to get in to the training.

Then I fell over. Short slip up, I thought, but oh no, they found I’d fractured a bone in my leg and all running went out the window. So I picked myself up, literally, and started again in January.

This time though its been another battle: cold weather, sports massages for dodgy quad muscles, chiropractor sessions for misalignment, flu and then this last weekend a bought of stomach bug which meant my last big run went out the window. Add to that the usual issues of new job, more travelling and balancing the child care then even just fitting in all the runs has been hard work. A lot of people would have given up and called it quits.

Then Phil and I decide to ramp it up and write another book.

Now this, more than the running at the moment, is light relief from the day to day, but just trying to fit that in is hard work. Once baby has gone to bed and you have tided up, all you want to do is collapse on the sofa. But then you have all these ideas buzzing around your head which you need to get down on paper.

Phil and I enjoyed a catch up over tea and cakes yesterday in the picturesque town of Henley in Arden, local to both of us. Ideas where discussed, plans drawn up and freckles gained in the lovely sunshine. But in the back of the mind there is always more to do to keep the house ticking over.

So why do I do it?

I could just ditch the book, the running or both and just get on with being a working mom.

Well, sometimes I wish it was that easy. But I can’t. If I don’t exercise I feel stodgy and loose my motivation in other areas (I had to do a turn round the block after the chocolate tiffin and apple strudel we shared) and the book is just something that excites me. Without those things I’d wouldn’t feel like I real existed.

The down side, always chasing my tail and feeling a bit frazzled.

Well at least, to quote Daisy Waugh’s book ‘I don’t know why she does it’, I’m not up to midnight baking cakes for class too as that would just be a step too far.


Filed under Candice, Writing

These things are sent to try us

The leg bones connected to the... Candice The other week I posted that I’d had a fall while running. It wasn’t great but mainly cuts and bruises that I could easily get over. The main thing hurt was my pride.

However I found out earlier this week that it was more serious than I thought, when they spotted I had a hairline fracture to my fibula, the small bone that runs next to your shin bone in your lower leg.

The prognosis, no running (or in fact any impact exercise) for 4 weeks.

This is a bit of a blow to me as I love my exercise as well as having a plan for 2014. When I gave birth to my daughter in January I had a strict recovery plan. Back in my old jeans as soon as possible, loose baby weight in 6 months and run a half marathon.

For years I’d said I’d run the Birmingham half, it’s in October and I’m usually on holiday when it’s on. I’ve run a half before but this was my realistic plan to get it all back in shape, especially as I need a focus to really up my motivation. It’s also a good way to end my running season, as I’m really not up for running when it’s dark and cold.

So it felt like they’d pulled the rug out from underneath me when I went to the fracture clinic on Monday and he said, no exercise. Initially when I told Phil he made a joke of it, saying I was the only person he knew who would be upset about not being able to exercise. But when I challenged him he started to understand that it’s more than just the exercise part.

Running, swimming any of the things I do regularly are more than just a calorie burn. They are my relaxation, my opportunity to take a step back from the day to day and really think. I’m not good at slobbing In front of the TV I need something else at the end of the day to turn my brain off. Reading is good but the only time I really relax to do that is on holiday. I also need the endorphins as I’m not so good at producing my own.

Monday I was not a happy woman but now I’ve decided to put a new focus on it. I’m going to exercise the only part of my body I can without injuring my knee, my stomach. I’ve got a holiday soon so I’m going to work on having the best abs I can instead.

Every day something gets in the way of us being able to do what we really want to, be that work, child or money. We’ d all like a career which pays well and we love but we can’t all have it. However, if you can make the little things better then the big things are easier to cope with. I will get to run my half marathon, ideally this year to hit my goal but if not, I’ll just find another goal.

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Suffering for your art

P1060954Candice: I’ve been remiss this week and not managed to write the Tuesday post.  I have an excuse, I took a tumble of Friday and managed to end up in A&E. Add on to that a teething baby who kept me up a few nights, this is the first time this week I’ve actually felt human.

How did I managed to plant my face on pavement?  Well I was out running, trying to clear my mind of a few things that were troubling me, and I tripped. The next thing I knew I was picking myself up to start off again, thinking I’d just grazed my hand, when the lady who stopped to look after me said “Um, you aren’t going anywhere.” Is was then she pointed out the rather large gash in my arm and on my knee.

Now, I did feel rather like a tit as I managed to do this on one of the busiest routes into Stratford.  And I had things to do that afternoon so didn’t really want to miss work because of a silly graze.  But when the first aider tells you they can see bone, you think it might be best to go home.

Why was I doing this?  Well it wasn’t related to our book per se, but it was when I was using my thinking time, something we know that regular writers need.  Our interviews with Julia Crouch, Polly Courtney and Daisy Waugh demonstrated they all take a jog round the block when they are trying to clear their brain.  I find swimming or running are good for that (usually), but some times, like Friday, you are so focussed on what is going on in your brain, you actually don’t see what is around you.  Not advisable when you are on a main road with raised grates.

Thinking time is good, tripping not so good so be careful out there.


Filed under Candice, Writing

Ever bitten off more than you can chew?

Finish LineCandice: Each year I like to set myself a sporting goal.  It’s something to aspire to rather than just go to the gym week in week out with any other purpose (other than being able to eat more chocolate). It started with running the 5k race for life a few years ago. Then 10k race for life.  Last year it was a triathlon and this year, mainly because we will be away for the tri, I’ve decided to do a half marathon instead.

I’ve always wanted to do one but the Birmingham half, normally in October, often clashes with holidays or generally having crap weather.  I don’t do running in the cold.  As someone on twitter said to me when I mentioned this “you’d better start training”. So, for the last six weeks I’ve been running, getting up to around seven miles. But then the weather has changed and its gone cold again, and suddenly I’ve lost my mojo.  It doesn’t help that last time I did a long run I hurt my knee (or rather aggravated an old injury) and I am now frightened if I push it it will make it worse.  So, I’ve done the sensible thing and being to see my lovely sports massage guy, Wayne, and he’s told me off and given me a good rub down (oh er).  But twice since then I’ve decided to go for a long run and chickened out.  Tonight being a perfect example, where it went from doing 6 miles to 2.5 miles to the gym and then 2 on the running machine when I got there.

I need to get over this mental hurdle as the race is in 2 1/2 weeks!

Anyway, this reminds me of all the writing plans Phil and I have made this year.  Back in Jan we promised to get on with book two.  Then we’ve had some feedback on book one and I want to tackle that, mainly because it feels unfinished (and by that I mean unpublished!).  But with no deadline in sight, only one of our own making, and two busy jobs everything is just spinning our wheels. I’m not really sure what the answer is, but setting our selves deadlines only makes me feel upset when I promise to do something and don’t deliver.

I am going to blame a lot of this on the lack of home computer.  Comet have it back again after a third failure… I’ve now said to the other half at what point do we give up?  I might be buying myself an early birthday present soon.  But seriously, I can’t get to the book so it’s enough of a barrier to make me not write.  Its like this evening’s hail, it didn’t go on for long but I went “Oh I can’t run in that”.  But I have to, else I’ll be finishing the half in four hours,not two.  Can someone set me a deadline for publishing, I can work to that.



Filed under Candice, Writing