It’s been almost 5 months since I published my article about 2017 goals and I promised I would update you all after one of my highlights of the year – The Edinburgh Marathon Festival weekend. We all need goals to keep life exciting and they can be anything you like.
A couple of my goals, which I shared with you in January, were:
To get a bit lighter to make running long distance easier and to fit back into these denim shorts.
I am pleased to say the shorts are back on. Whooop Whooop. A pair of denim shorts and a nice top is my all time fave summer look.
In terms of running – my goal was to take part in the Kilomathon – April for the first time and the half at the Edinburgh Marathon Festival – my favourite running festival where my journey began in 2015. I wanted to get a new PB for both distances which I managed to achieve.
The 8th medal I picked up this weekend, at The Edinburgh Marathon Festival, will always mean the world to me. We learn through experience and this event was one that will stick with me for some time. I started strong, despite the heat. I continued to wish the sun would go behind the clouds. It finally did as I hit mile 7. I thought to myself:
AMAZING, YOU HAVE GOT THIS GIRL – A PB IS A GUARANTEE NOW AND A SUB 2 IS TOTALLY POSSIBLE!
Next thing I know, I trip over a small, slightly elevated water access point on the pavement and I am flying through the air. NO matter how hard I try I can’t find my balance. The ground is flat and I am running fairly fast, within the 8 minute mile category. To the shock of those around me, I come smashing into the ground. It is all a bit of a blur. I get up as quickly as I can and get some help from a lovely couple who live next to where I fell. They bring me some cold water which is amazing. I want to know if my head is ok. Can I keep running or is there a risk of head concussion? They encourage me to go into their house and sit down and rest. I look down at my legs which are pretty badly scraped and feel a pang of pain in my shoulder, face and hands. After a wipe down I am desperate to keep going. The thought of doing all the training and not getting the medal is very upsetting. At the same time, I am in a bit shock and unsure if I am in a fit state to carry on. In my head, all I can do is try and see how I feel. My health has to come first over the medal.
In a way the pain acted like a tens machine in labour, it gave me something else to focus on. I kept running, despite the tingling and stinging. On checking my pace and time I was confident I could still achieve a PB from my last half marathon time in September 2016.
I took deep breaths, put one foot in front of the other and thought about all the amazing people who struggle each day with their physical and mental health. People who have it so much harder. I kept going. I thought about my friend Mac who was running ALL 4 EMF 2017 EVENTS!! It was so hot and I hoped he was ok. For his story and some other chat check out the vlog at the end of this article.
As I reached 12.5 miles my body was screaming at me to walk. The last mile felt like too much. I kept running. I pictured the cold drinks at the end and ice pack that would shortly be sitting on my leg. I told myself that this moment would soon pass and to stay calm.
Despite the fall, I managed to get a new PB with almost 8 minutes off my last time – coming in at 2 hours and 8 minutes. I was absolutely over the moon. It is great to have that medal.
I think of those who are not so fortunate, those I ran past that had to stop completely and get urgent attention. The hot conditions made the event extremely challenging.
Improving my fitness and strength has been a lot of hard work. I hang out at my health club, David Lloyd more than Radio 1 play Ed Sheeran. If I am not working from home, I often use the lounge for my office and am hooked on their running club, body balance, rpm and weights. Don’t get me started on that outdoor pool.
I have also learnt so much from my incredible trainer Graeme Starkey (team GG). The man who trained Mollie Hughes – the youngest female to summit Everest from both sides. How inspirational is that?! He encourages me to step out of my comfort zone when my feet start to burn. He challenges me to turn goals into long term lifestyle changes and I love that. A challenge is so good for our mental wellness. He reminds me that pushing through the pain makes me stronger – both physically and mentally. We also discuss safety though. We discuss warning signs and the balance between pushing for a PB, or simply to finish, and listening to our bodies and knowing when it may be time to stop. I really value his advice and love his openness. We have covered it all – bowel movement chat concerning exercise is not something that phases him.
I am not a fan of the scales and never have been. I also follow the Body Positive movement closely as I feel an enormous pressure as a parent to get it right.
If I don’t respect and talk nicely to my body – how can I expect my kids to? I have scars, I have lumps and bumps but I am strong. I am fit. I made a promise to myself to respect my body for all it can do. To stop beating myself up in front of the mirror. To ignore ridiculous comments in magazines about airbrushed celebrities losing all their baby weight in 2 weeks. It is all a pile of bull. Check out this clip by Body Confidence Coach Michelle Elman – she is an incredible person and I was lucky enough to hear her talk at an event recently.
Some may ask: can you embrace body positivity and confidence if you want to lose weight or put it on? In my opinion yes you can. I wanted to lose weight to help me run quicker and this journey is ongoing. Some may need to put on a bit weight in order to gain strength. I love my body and am amazed at what it can do. What I do like to use, to measure my progress, is the body scan system in the gym. This is far more sophisticated than any scales and shows me things like my fat vs muscle %. How much visceral fat I have around my organs (practically none whoop). How hydrated I am, boy I have a lot of work to do here. My body has been screaming out for more water and slowly I am trying to make drinking water a long term lifestyle change. The benefits are insane.
As a Mum who has embraced fitness, like Trump with a P45, my kids are watching and they see it as normal. They want in on it. One of my highlights of 2017 so far has been seeing Bonnie, our 4 year old learn to swim. She is on her 2nd set of term time lessons and the improvement have been insane. She was once terrified of putting her face under water and now she jumps in the water dolphin style. This makes me so happy (I confess to shedding a few tears of pride, but I was swimming so it was easy enough to hide). She also tells me she wants to be a runner like Mummy. So I involve her. She will often join me on my first warm up mile, either running and walking some of it or on her scooter.
I recently reported in the evening news about the latest scary stats. Physical inactivity is costing the NHS £1.2 billion each year! I get it though, in a fast paced world exercise often goes to the bottom of the list. It is so easy to make excuses in our heads. It needs to happen though for both our physical and mental health. We need to keep moving – in any form we enjoy. Surely you can think of something? Walking, dancing, running, yoga, sex – JUST MOVE if you are injury free and you can move. Sadly, thousands don’t have that privilege. I remember after having an emergency C section with our 2nd baby, which they call major surgery, I wanted to move so desperately. I hated the fact I was on a 6 week ban from heavy lifting, driving and general activity. It made me want it all the more and I will never forget going off to buy a running jacket when those 6 weeks had passed.
I gave a talk at a Womens Running Event recently and I actually had a lump in my throat when I muttered such simple words:
Running has changed my life.
It really has. Something I once saw as a chore has become an essential part of my life. Someone said to me the other day
“Jojo, you are always so bubbly, so happy”.
I give running and exercise a lot of credit for that. It really is the most underused antidepressant. I wish I had found it sooner, although walking around the world with a huge backpack and dancing in the clubs was most certainly my exercise of choice throughout my younger years.
The next goal?
Check out this vlog if you missed it across social media. I signed up for my next goal this morning with G during our post race debrief. I am so excited for another goal, after a nice week or so chilling out, eating great food and drinking cocktails of course. Then it’s back to stepping out of that comfort zone. There is no way I am going to let all this hard work go to waste.
I always tell people they should exercise for the mind first, then the body. A fit body that lacks soul is pointless. We need to work on both and the Royal family are even talking about it now. The mental health statistics scare me – check out my recent article. Can you believe only 13% of us across the UK have high levels of good mental health?
Seeing progress is so good for our mental health. Set yourself a new goal every 6 months, something that excites you and scares you at the same time. Fear makes us feel alive. But find balance and know when your body needs a rest too.
On that note – massage discounts – all you runners need them but to be honest – everyone needs a good massage.
For a sports massage in the comfort of your own home with the incredible Love Massage – quote ‘Mummy Jojo’ for 20% off your first booking and then 10% off your next. This offer is valid until the end of 2017.
For a luxury ESPA massage Quote ‘Mummy Jojo’ for any 40 minute massage of your choice. You can choose from; Classic, Aromatherapy, Fitness, Hot Stone for £30!!!! (a saving of up to £15) at Vibe Beauty Clinic based at David Lloyd, Glasgow Road or why not go for a Jessica Geleration manicure – get this for £25 ( normally £32). This offer will be valid until Friday 30th June. For a complimentary guest pass at David Lloyd in Edinburgh quote ‘Mummy Jojo’.
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