Wow…what a year 2016 was!

My main focus for 2016 was to improve my health, and running was at the heart of that. My running journey went amazingly, after completing the Couch to 5k programme, I completed a 10km race and then went on to finish the Cheltenham Half Marathon. The sense of achievement I felt at the end of it was something else, to go from not being able to run for a minute to being able to finish a half marathon left me stunned.

 

I took time out after the half marathon to work on an injury I’d developed, but that left me time for plenty of yoga which is also something I started in August. Yoga was one of those things I’d always wanted to try, but I never thought I’d be any good at it. I always felt like I was incredibly un-flexible and that I didn’t look like your typical yogi. I very quickly discovered that yoga is one of the best, if not the best, things to improve flexibility – so starting out not being able to touch your toes, for example, is not a bad thing (although I was actually more flexible than I thought!). I also quickly learnt that there is no such thing as a ‘typical yogi’s body’, much in the same way that there is no such thing as a ‘typical runner’s body’.

Yoga is completely about working with your body, listening to your body and also being kind to your body; letting yourself relax and taking some time and space to rest and recuperate from busy lives. Although saying that, some of my yoga classes have seriously been some of toughest workouts I’ve ever subjected myself too…some people just make it look easy! Before my first class, I was so scared that I’d be expected to stand on my head in the first session, but over the last 6 months I’ve learnt that every pose and flow has an option for everyone, you can always make something easier, and you can always challenge yourself further.

 

With both the running and the yoga, this is the first time I’ve ever started an exercise regime and stuck to it for more than 6 months. I know this is for multiple reasons; my own determination to do well at something, the support of an amazing running club and the amazing people I know through it, the support of my partner, friends and family and also seeing the improvements and health benefits I’ve noticed along the way.

For a while, people kept commenting about how much weight I’d lost, but in all honesty, the number on the scale didn’t change. What changed was my body shape as a result of being more toned, the way I carried myself and most importantly to me, my confidence. This year has seen my self confidence leap to new heights, I’ve never felt better about the way I look and I’ve never felt more capable than I do right now.

One of the biggest things I’ve learnt this year is that for too long I’d been putting things off, believing that I didn’t fit this mould I had created in my head. Whether it was something as simple as denying myself certain clothes because I was ‘too big’ for them, right through to having an “unobtainable” dream of running a marathon or thinking I wasn’t the right ‘body type’ for yoga.

So this year has been about health and my physical health has improved dramatically, but more importantly, I have a much healthier view of myself.

 

2017 will see a lot more running, of course! I’ve already booked the Spring Trails Forest of Dean Half Marathon as a 30th birthday present to myself in March – let’s be honest, if someone had said to me a year ago that I’d be running a half marathon as a birthday present to myself I’d have laughed for days! Joe and I have also entered the Disneyland Paris Half Marathon in September…yes, you read that right…Disneyland…Half Marathon…there aren’t really enough words to express my excitement about this!!

So I would love for you to join me on this journey! I’ll be continuing to use my Instagram account for daily / weekly updates on my running and activities instead of this blog – follow me there to keep up with my running adventures (I also post the obligatory food photos, selfies and general life musings).

Which leads me on nicely to this blog, along with my other achievement of 2016. NaNoWriMo.

I love taking part in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and I have done for the last three years, completing my 50,000 words for all of them. The sense of achievement when you reach that word count is very similar to crossing the finish line of that running event, your hard work pays off and you make it to your goal.

 

Every year, I always tell myself that I’ll keep up the good habits, that I’ll continue to write every day or start to edit one of my first drafts to see if I can turn it into something. So far, I’ve done none of those things!

So, I’ve been trying to think of things to try to keep me motivated this year. I used the Christmas break as a chance to read through the first draft of my first novel, which I completed during the 2014 / 2015 NaNoWriMo challenges. And…I didn’t hate it!

 

It’s a first draft, so there are major plot holes, some of the characters don’t have names, two of the characters need to be merged as a result of my second novel and well, it’s a mess! But, I didn’t hate it. I see some glimpses of promise there, I think the underlying story is great, and some of my writing is good, I just need to work on it. So, at the moment, I’m getting some feedback on my first draft from Joe, he’s a big fan of Fantasy Adventure books, then I plan to do a full rewrite, taking into account the notes he has given and notes I’ve made myself. In total, it’s about 100,000 words so that in itself will be a huge task, but it’s the first step in a long process to getting it up to scratch!

During that time, I need to get into a habit of writing, every day. I also need to step out of my comfort zone and start sharing my work for feedback and critique. This is where my blog will come in. I’m going to be using daily writing prompts as inspiration to write something every day. The prompts are all from a website so I won’t allow myself to pick and choose, I’ll take them in order each day, and write with that prompt in mind. I’m hoping this will push me to write in different genres, different points of view and by publishing my writing on this blog, I’ll open myself up to constructive criticism and feedback, a vital part to improving as a writer. Other than school, I’ve never had any lessons or guidance in Creative Writing, it is purely something I enjoy, and the closest I’ve come to sharing my work is entering a writing competition a few years ago (Start the Story).

So this is my plan, 365 days of Creative Writing Prompts! Posting every day might be tricky so I might save up a few posts for different days, I’ll see how it goes. If anyone wants to join in with me, whether it’s creative writing, poems, journal entries, etc… the writing prompts I’ll be using are from the following website: http://thinkwritten.com/365-creative-writing-prompts/

As my blog has become more writing focused, I decided to have a bit of a rebrand of style and layout, I hope you like it! Even though I’m caffeine free, I only tend to write when I have a mug of coffee (decaf of course!) close to hand and as the pieces I write will only be short, they’ll be the perfect length for your morning or afternoon coffee, or other hot beverage πŸ˜‰

I hope you enjoy reading some of my work, please comment with any thoughts and feedback, it really will help me to improve as a writer. If you’re joining in, please post links to your blog posts in the comments, I’d love to read your work too!