All posts in the running category

No #vlm2016. But a bit of @combinedfitness and who knows! #bambicurse

Published October 3, 2015 by Crystal

I have made a promise to my husband.  The next 6 months will not consist of training walks or runs towards a Difference of 26.2 miles.  Last year was the London Marathon. (An event I celebrated with my beautiful bambi, who represents my constant ankle issues)


And for two years before that it was the London Moonwalk



To not have a plan ahead is a little daunting.  To not be pushing myself in some way for a big event is actually quite scary.

But then my week started like this


Which quickly became this







And today, after a week non weight bearing, and then a seven hour shift it is like this


So maybe it really is time to give my bambi ankles a rest!

It is not the end of the world.  I have been wanting to surf for years.  Not training at weekends means maybe the odd trip to Bude is possible.
And on Monday I start a 60 day course with Kerry Eddie. A mind and body programme to turn around the negative thinking and make good changes.  Maybe I don’t actually need big goals to work towards.  Maybe I can scale things down, and still find satisfaction. 

This week has been tough.  It has felt like a week of failure and I have felt very emotional.  But then looking back I can accept I have achieved much.  And that will keep me going.  For a while at least.  I am now off the duloxetine.  And this week is a year anniversary of the start of recognition of a horrid depressive episode that was sucking me under, and however crap this week has been, it has not been quite that bad. Yes I have cried.  Yes I have felt a failure.  But I haven’t stayed with those feelings.   And that in itself is something to celebrate.
So 2016. What is ahead.  It is a little bit exciting because for once I really have no idea!  


Anti depressants and Weight Gain

Published September 21, 2015 by Crystal

I’m taking myself off the Duloxetine.  Weaning off it is apparently a nightmare.  Capsule sizes don’t match the need.  Some people seem to count beads and buy in empty capsules, and spread them out, and so on and so forth.

I have been on 30mg, which I now think is a blessing, but in the last few months my weight has ballooned, and I feel out of control.  So I have decided enough is enough.  Part of my depressive issues are heavily linked with self esteem and body issues, so when the tablet one is on is having a detrimental effect on weight, it can become a negative spiral.

I made a mistake today though, and posted in a group that I was going cold turkey.  My bad.  Everyone is an expert.  A concerned expert, but an expert nonetheless.  So I ended up deleting the post and berating myself for an idiotic move.  “Have you tried other anti depressants?” “Cold turkey is dangerous” “You must talk to your doctor”.  All valid statements.  Don’t get me wrong.  I guess part of the problem with this current medication is that I have very little emotional connection.  I just don’t care.  So instead I get irritated.  Does that make sense?  I know it doesn’t.

Anyway, then comes the wowser statement that pisses me off, especially when the person talking has little to no experience of anti depressants “Medication doesn’t tend to cause weight gain.  Eating more causes weight gain.”

Oh Gods.  Please.  No.  Google any number of anti depressants and you will find stories of weight gain, and depression as a result of that weight gain, and so on.  It may be that people feel happier and eat more.  But judging by the huge number of stories I have read, I am pretty sure it is just not that simple.  I have gained a stone in about 4 months.  It’s not good.  And I am not happy.  I preferred maintaining to this.  And the anti depressants have played a part.  Somehow.

I have no answers.  I just wanted to post and get other people’s experiences, really?

Withdrawal symptoms currently are those brain zaps, and dizziness.  I didn’t initially realise the dizziness was a withdrawal symptom when I had it the other week.  I’d just forgotten to take a tablet, and it turns out the half life of duloxetine is very short.  But then hopefully that means these crummy side effects will be over soon enough.  Back to running, and being more mindful around food and drinking loads and loads of water.  And listening to the Slimpod.

I am running the London Marathon this week! How did I get here?

Published April 21, 2015 by Crystal

(I always feel I need to mention that I am running and walking, so let’s get that out of the way!)

As the #droptheplus campaign rages on, the polarised views of the opposition get louder and more aggressive.  Actually, they are always loud and aggressive, but I am just noticing more.

But one thing that really stands out is the self righteousness of the “Reformed” or “Former” Fatty who speaks out against #fatacceptance.

The sneering comments such related to what the #fatacceptance army might eat.  The judgements on their clothing choices.  The outright anger that they appear to be totally disregarding their health in favour of food and watching movies.

And I pray constantly I will never forget where I came from.  That I will never forget the journey that brought me here.  I have blogged about fat acceptance several times, this is probably the most relevant.  Maybe it helps that I am not the super fast magazine transformation story.  My journey is taking years, and continues to teach me things about myself.  I have learnt, for example, that intuitive eating has taught me many things, but I personally still like the accountability of a food plan and a weight loss group.  I have learnt that I know what foods benefit me, but it still takes time for the message to be picked up.  I have learnt that that ALL or NOTHING need in me is strong, and if I am not perfect, then I will quickly go to the NOTHING bit because “what’s the point?”, and it is a work in progress to drop that need for perfection, and to not drop to NOTHING when I don’t hit perfection.

This last week is a prime example of not hitting ALL, and ending up with NOTHING.  I had the meeting with the psychologist on Tuesday, talking through all my experiences of my latest depressive episode, and to discuss treatment.  Of course, talking through things can be a trigger, and it was exhausting, and left me physically and emotionally drained.  There was mention of a new drug for me, mirtazapine, which sent me into a panic too.  I was also struggling with my training sessions, as if my body had finally given up after 6 months, and I was panicking about staying fuelled for the marathon.  So I made some bad food and drink choices over the week, and as a result have gained a couple of the pounds that I lost the week before.  My instant thoughts, in that ALL or NOTHING mentality are “This is pointless, I will never lose any more weight.  I may as well give up.”  After all, haven’t I dieted before, only to gain again?  Haven’t I tried before and before and before?

But this time I have maintained a big loss over all.  I am currently 6 pounds higher than I was in November, but I am still 2 stone lighter than I was 2 years ago.  And I feel good for it.  I feel good when I eat foods that support my fitness goals.  Physically, emotionally, and mentally.  I feel good when I make a choice that will bring more than instant gratification.  This time I am running.  More than I have ever run before.  More than I could run before October 2014.

It is #fatacceptance, or #sizeacceptance that has brought me to this place.  It is #fatacceptance that gave me the confidence to sign up for my first Moonwalk, and saw me finally cross that finish line, exhausted and tearful;


(I was THE TARDIS by the way, hence the blue).

I kind of worry about those campaigners against #fatacceptance, and #HAES.  I worry that they throw the baby out with the bath water, out of some sort of detestation of their former fat selves.  A fear that if they accept fat people, it somehow undoes all their hard work in the gym and the kitchen.  But the truth is they should be proud of themselves, for the changes they have put in place to make their lives the best it can be for them.  They have discovered a love and passion for exercise (which I get, I totally absolutely get).  And they really understand how foods can hinder or help them reach those personal goals.  Self discipline is a great thing.  Challenging ourselves is an empowering thing.  Putting the effort in and achieving something I never ever thought possible is a euphoric feeling I cannot top (so I’m onto challenge 3 in 3 years).

But let’s not assume that because we diet and exercise we are morally superior to those who don’t.  And let’s not forget human decency in all this, and by that, I mean how we treat other human beings.  We all have our struggles in life.  One of mine is depression.  And it is heavily, heavily integrated with my self acceptance and self esteem, but body positive language helped me, and continues to help me.  I truly believe it can help others.

I want to continue to lose weight and improve my fitness.  And I will be unashamed in that choice.  But I won’t place shame or judgement on someone who’s goals are different to mine.

So on Sunday I run (run walk) 26.2 miles. And it is without shame.  In spite of my bigger body, in spite of my louder breathing, in spite of the length of time it will take.  I do it without shame, and for a wonderful cause.

I am sooooo over running now. #vlm2015

Published April 13, 2015 by Crystal

With less than 2 weeks to go, I think it is safe to say my mind has well and truly had enough, and my body isn’t far behind!

Today I have done a 3 mile run.  And every mile was a bore.  The mile markers didn’t come quick enough, the zombies didn’t spark my interest (kill me now, zoms, I don’t care any more.  New Canton can burn. I don’t mean that, please forgive me!)

It is all just tedious!

Thankfully, there are less than 2 weeks to go.  Thankfully, I vaguely recall a similar feeling as the London Moonwalk drew close, and walking distances had become dull and lifeless.

And fortunately it is Taper Time, and I can shift things about anyway.  Killer circuits on Wednesday, Fun Zumba on Friday.  I know it is just a mental block.  I know it will pass and come the marathon I will be surrounded by thousands who have had similar thoughts and feelings in the run up.  After all, my training started in October.  It’s a long time to be fitting in runs when prior to October I never ran!

And I guess the point of a marathon is that it is a challenge!  It’s not a weekend jolly!  It’s not a stroll down the canal, or a day of shopping in the city!  It is a challenge. To body, mind and spirit.

I sit here moaning and grumbling, but then I also sit here having run a fair distance this morning.  I got up, I got my running gear on, and I got going.

It’s all good!

I just look forward to running being a little more fun, once more!

I am a runner. It has saved me from the #blackdog

Published April 10, 2015 by Crystal

In September 2014, depression hit me over the head, again.  I was weary and tearful, and quite admired the idea of spending every day curled up under my duvet.  I don’t think there was any particularly recognisable trigger the September’s hit.  It was towards the end of the month, so maybe it was the quietness of the kids being back at school, or a feeling that yet again another term of education was passing by and I had chosen to wait another year, before studying or training.

I do remember a discussion with my previous moonwalk buddies and school mums about what might be the next training goal.  What might I do to maintain some sort of fitness, would we all sign up for some great challenge.  I knew the date of the London Marathon ballot results was imminent, but I honestly wasn’t excited or expectant.  After all, how many people apply again and again and again and never ever EVER get in?  So it was a “I’ll wait and see” type thing, and I didn’t expect to be lucky.

My depression continued to press down as the end of September rolled in to the beginning of October.  There were days where I just felt like all I did was cry, or wipe blotchy eyes.  My family kept in contact, getting me out of the house, that sort of thing.  Sometimes it’s hard to describe what depression is when it is so personal.  For me, it is heavy.  And as if colour has been dulled.


And it’s lonely, because it is exhausting.  Because being sociable is exhausting, and thinking is exhausting, especially all the over thinking. And tiredness increases, and the colours get duller, and the air gets heavier.  And it goes on.  And on.  And on.


And this is how things were when the Marathon magazine fell into my mail basket.

you're in!

What?  Me?  Two years of applying?  Already?  What?

It was a shock, to say the least.  But it was also the saviour in what has been a rocky 6 months, and where those horrid black dogs have been at my heels a fair few times.  This magazine, and the accompanying letter were a call to try a new tactic, an incentive to fight depression with a new weapon, because really, what is the worse that could happen?

So it is October 6th, and I’m not a runner!  And I have 6 months to become one.

I have tried running before.  After my first Moonwalk in 2013 I decided I wanted to give it a go.  It seemed like a logical(?) progression from walking 26.2 miles to running 26.2 miles. (It’s times like this when I think I have had several hyper manic stages without realising at the time, grandiose ideas of what I am capable of, and then crushing reality as things happen and my dreams crumble, anyway, I digress).  I bought a Zombies, Run! couch to 5k app for my phone, figuring it would be more fun learning to run 5k with than a general couch to 5k app.  And I started out, in the local streets.  This lasted days, before I was in agony with Achilles tendonitis that really needed to heal before I could give it another go.  I guess 26.2 miles had started it, and the attempting to run was the kicker, so to speak.  Anyway, that attempt ended, and with it, my dreams of learning to run any time soon.

me, running, first attempt!

So that was the last time I had tried, and it hadn’t ended happily.  It had also resulted in a disastrous failure at the Cheltenham Half Marathon, because the tendonitis stopped me running, and even walking for any substantial distances.

Now, here I was, with a ticket to the prestigious London Marathon.  A race that hundreds of thousands apply to each year.  An experience not to be missed.  How could I let this opportunity pass me by?

So, I started to run.  I downloaded a host of apps.  I now had a windows phone, and no offence, Cortana, but the app choices were limited and poor.  But off I went with various 5k training apps, and a whole lot of trial and error.  It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t fast.  But on the plus side I was a couple of stone lighter, and I didn’t have tendonitis burning at my heels (though I did have severe anxiety at the thought of my post Moonwalk 2014 stress fracture resurfacing!).

In the first week of October I couldn’t run a minute without getting out of breath.  It was hard, and I wondered how the hell I was ever, ever going to be fit enough and ready enough to run the 2015 London Marathon.

But the key to progress is consistency, and I followed those audio instructors, and would repeat sessions I felt had gone badly.

Depression continued.  It didn’t go away.  But the load lightened and the colours lifted somewhat. October became November, and my breathing was better, my distances slightly longer, and I kept on.

From October 6th, to November 28th my running capabilities took me to being able to run for 28 consecutive minutes.

But those black dogs were getting more and more aggressive.  Maybe it was the thought of Christmas stress and anxiety, maybe it was the worry that January was approaching and months were rolling by.  A depressive episode struck violently and I took myself to the GP to help deal with it.  We decided to try Sertraline.  And what resulted was the worst December and January in some years.  A low dose did nothing, a higher dose sent me manic, and I actually ended up spraining my ankle, putting me out of action for several weeks.  I had an appointment with the mental health nurse in January, and discussed the possibility of my having Cyclothymia, and she referred me to the mental health team for a fuller appointment in the hope it would be within 6 weeks  (That appointment is actually next week, NHS cuts, anyone?).

So I left, grateful that there may be some explanation to my mood swings, and an explanation, to a degreee, of previous crazy behaviour, but concerned about continuing the sertraline.  By now I was alternating doses each day to try and stay balanced, but what was really going on was that I felt constantly anxious about the medication.  I ended up missing a dr’s appointment, and speaking to her on the phone, only to forget the possibility of cyclothymia, and to be prescribed amytriptyline.  In desperation I decided to go cold turkey and quit all the medication.

And that is where the running finally came into its own.

(Now I am not recommending ANYONE quit their medication)

By now my running sessions were getting longer and I was feeling very physical benefits from running.

 I say running in honesty there is a lot of walking during my sessions too.  I run, walk, run, walk. This became my training plan after my sprained ankle affected my New Year training. Sometimes I run for longer, sometimes less.  But I always cover distance that I commit to.  

With the longer distances came the satisfaction, and physical exhaustion.  I didn’t have to think.  I just had to plug in to my music (And Zombies, Run!  again when my windows phone smashed and was replaced with an android!)

I find that it is harder to ruminate when running.  A song will interrupt, or a piece in the storyline, or the achievement of a distance.  I cannot mull over things when I am physically exerting myself.  It brings a peace.  Sometimes it doesn’t.  Sometimes it brings a “why the hell is this hurting so much?  Why is this taking so long?  Why can’t I be home already in the dry?”  but no matter what, I keep going.  Because keeping going keeps me improving.

By February I was able to cover 10 miles to the next town.

By mid March I had covered 12.

Then illness struck.  A cold turned nasty and put me out of action for a fortnight.  I felt the inability to run keenly.  I felt agitated, anxious, and upset.  I couldn’t sleep.  Rumination ruled as I could do very little physically without kicking off a nasty coughing fit.  Panic set in, because depression has trained me to believe in the worst possible outcome, and I nearly convinced myself I would never be able to complete the marathon.  It set me back a couple of weeks, but in my head it was months.

I was overjoyed when I could get back to physical activities again, and was beyond ecstatic when I managed to complete my 18 miler training session 2 weeks ago!

My mood is more stable when I can and do run.  Putting off a run rarely benefits me, and I reap the great side effects of getting out into fresh air.  Even if it is just a mile or two.

With the mental health appointment on Tuesday, I almost feel like I don’t know what I will be able to say.  Because physical exertion does me far more good than anti depressants do. My mood diary points to ups and downs, but the downs don’t last like they have done in recent past.  They are more fleeting.

I have limited my wine consumption drastically, and that too has helped.  I did plan to eliminate it completely, but I actually appreciate being able to have a glass occasionally with family and friends in a sensible, controlled way, and not wake up with a hangover and embarrassment and regrets.

The Hangover (really just an excuse to get Bradley Cooper on my blog)

Health and fitness wise I know I am better off than 2 years ago, and it is something I intend to continue with.  No more marathons after this one (she says), but maybe a half here and there?

I got angry today reading an article in The Guardian by a woman scorning other women who say they are losing weight for health.  For me, it is absolutely true.  I want to run faster and more efficiently with less effort!  Losing extra mass will help that, without a doubt, it’s basic science!  But a knock on effect is that my mental health is improving as a result of getting better at running!

In 6 months I have gone from a few metres to over 18 miles.  In 2 weeks it will be over 26.2 miles.  OK, I’m not running them all.  But damn it I am running more than I ever did before 2014 and that is something to cheer and celebrate!


If you have a spare pound or two, I know SANE will be thankful, as will users of their services.  You can donate on my running page HERE