** This list was first published in 2017.** To say I am chuffed to have Bryony write a list for me is an understatement. She’s a bonafide journo from The Telegraph and author and now she is an athlete.

Last week she did something epic. She ran the London Marathon. All 26.5 miles of it for mental health charity Heads Together. Bloody amazing. Here she tells us how:

  • Six months ago, I could not run for a bus. I got out of breath$  going up escalators, and carrying my daughter. On Sunday, I ran 26.2 miles – like, the WHOLE thing! No walking! – and at the finish line picked up my 4 year old and swung her in the air. Easy. If I can do it, literally anybody can.

  • When I signed up for the marathon I was 16 stone four pounds, which is really quite fat. I signed up to do it for Heads Together, the campaign led by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry to change the conversation about mental health. The subject is very close to my heart – I’ve had about seven breakdowns in my 36 years – but also I thought I might get to have a pasta party with Prince Harry, which is mostly why I agreed to do it. (That’s a joke, obviously).

  • I started by downloading the couch to 5k app and as I got out of breath running 200 metres I kept thinking ‘how am I going to run FORTY TWO KILOMETRES?! HOW?!”

  • I soon discovered that you never ever want to go for a run, but that you never ever regret going for one.

  • And that when you have really big, saggy boobs like mine, you need a good sports bra. Bravvissimo is your friend.

  • Get some good trainers from somewhere like Runners Need or Run and Become, where they can check your gait and advise you on the best ones for your feet. Don’t worry about what they look like. The more neon, the better. Converse will not cut it.  Remember that they need to be replaced about every 300 to 500 miles.

  • By Christmas, I had run my first 10K, around my local common at night. I felt like Paula Radcliffe. Then I realised that 10k is just six miles, and I had to add another 20 onto that for the marathon. I cried a bit.

  • But slowly, I upped my distances. And before I knew it, I had done eight miles. Then 10 miles. Then 11. Then… injury. At which point I realised that the hardest part of training for a marathon was actually the resting. Who knew?

  • What I did  know was that there was no way I was going to get through the training programme if I gave up everything I loved. It wasn’t sustainable if I gave up my twice weekly beer and fag sessions. Or my Byron burgers. So I didn’t.

  • But amazingly, I started to lose weight. Like, lots of weight. Without even really trying. Because as smug as it sounds, when you are exercising hard, you don’t crave the same amount of junk. By the time I crossed the finish line, I was almost three stone down. You can even see my waist!

  • If I had a pound for every time someone said to me ‘oh I can’t run at all’, I would be able to afford to get the loft done. Anyone can run – it just involves putting one foot in front of the other. I was really self-conscious the first time I went out for a jog, but in reality, the only thing people think when they see a fat girl running is this: what a complete and utter legend. Because she’s trying. Because she’s moving. Because she’s doing something.

  • I’m not a fast runner. I probably walk quicker. I go at my pace. Slow and steady may not win the race, but it does mean you have a nicer time getting round it (when I saw the elites on Sunday, they all looked thoroughly miserable and on the verge of collapse. The rest of us were having fun. Well, sort of fun).

  • And speaking of elites, it’s people like me, who take 5 hours and 53 minutes to get around the marathon course, who are the real heroes, not the dudes running sub 3 hour races. We’re the ones with stamina. We’re the real winners.

  • People with mental health issues make really good marathon runners, because we’re used to wrestling demons. When I got to mile 21 and thought my legs were going to give way, I had a good word with myself. Because moving for 26.2 miles can be no harder than the days when I couldn’t move at all because of the weight of depression on me.

  • Running when you’re a mum is pure escapism. It’s you time. Stick at it, and soon you will find that it’s like breathing underwater. It’s like flying.

  • The thing people don’t tell you about running long distances is the chafing. Oh, the chafing. The rubbing of sports bras on tits, and leggings on inner thighs. Vaseline is your friend.

  • I have hated my body for so much of my life. Now I am proud of it.

  • The running community will embrace you like a long lost friend the moment you get into it, even if you’ve never run a metre in your life. Check out Run Dem Crew for some really brilliant, supportive people who will keep you going.

  • Running a marathon is like childbirth. Painful, amazing. But at least nobody hands you a newborn baby to look after for 18 years at the end of it. You get beer and pasta instead. Winning!

  • I didn’t get to have a pasta party with Prince Harry, but I did get a hug. And the chance to raise almost £44,000 for Heads Together. Which, when I think about it, makes me want to cry happy tears.

  • When you cross that finish line, you will be so proud of yourself. You will know that not all superheroes wear capes. And you never have to do it again.

  • If I can do this, anyone can.

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  • Reply Mess and merlot May 1, 2017 at 8:47 am

    Oh God I’m crying into my scrambled eggs 😭 I love this, you must feel amazing Bryony, what an achievement!!
    Getting a hug from Prince Harry would be an incentive for anyone to run a marathon, it should be compulsory 😄
    So so impressed with your progress and determination, you’ve inspired me to carry on going and also to enjoy the whole running experience. X

  • Reply Rebecca Maberly May 8, 2017 at 12:21 pm

    Well done Bryony this is incredible! Congratulations to you. Thanks Clemmie for posting x

  • Reply poet31 May 21, 2017 at 11:15 am

    A massive well done to you. I’m in the I can’t run” club and after reading your post I’m thinking maybe I can! Xxx

  • Reply Now That’s What I Call A List 2017 – Mother of all Lists December 30, 2017 at 4:29 pm


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