Don’t scrimp on the Vaseline and 3 other lessons from the Marathon

Last Sunday I ran for just under 4hrs 50minutes and finished the London Marathon. Aside for a few stops to hug friends and a frustratingly long queue for the portaloo at mile two, I tackled the streets of London and survived. In fact, I enjoyed it.

Mile 18 boost from my BFF

Getting a mile 18 boost from a favourite friend

I know that I’m supposed to share horror stories of bleeding nipples, lost toe-nails and hitting the infamous wall, but luckily all nipples and toes remain unscathed and, much to the disappointment of Alec who was looking forward to a good ‘wall story’, I managed to avoid any debilitating psychological lows. A surprise for us all

So, aside from being generous with the Vaseline, what else did I learn from doing the marathon? 

1. We choose how we feel

In the week before the marathon I spent a lot of time eating sweet potatoes and a lot of time thinking about how easy I’d find the race. I imagined myself running effortlessly, feeling strong and crossing the the finish line with a smile. And I did. Positive visualisation is commonplace in sports training and although we know it can work in general life too, we still dwell more on the ‘what-ifs’ than the ‘what we’d likes’. Let’s break those habits and start pre-paving how we want to feel.

2.We create our own experiences

As I prepared for the marathon, I heard a lot about the ‘wall’ and how I was bound to hit it. Everyone did. Around mile 19 I’d reach a point where I could no longer continue and I’d have to grapple with my demons and push through. It didn’t happen. I’m pretty sure this was down to my positive thinking and the fistfuls of free sweets I’d eaten along the route, but whatever. The important thing to remember is that other people’s “certainties” don’t have to be ours. Finding a job you love isn’t unrealistic, starting a business doesn’t have to be impossibly hard, finding true love at any age isn’t a pipe dream. We don’t have to be constrained by other people’s opinions.

3. We get the most support when we feel it

There’s no way I would have had such a positive marathon experience without the support of friends, family and the thousands of cheering strangers lining the streets of London. This is what got me round. Eschewing the power ballads on my Ipod and listening to the shouts, whoops and cheers instead, I took every last drop of energy and I sent it to where I needed it the most: my legs. The positivity powered me when my own reserves were low. It seems odd, but consciously choosing to absorb the compliments and messages of support we receive rather than just hearing them makes a difference. Next time you’re struggling, focus on where you need the support most and then visualise past or present words of encouragement going to that point.

Finally, a HUGE thank you to everyone of you who entered the joyful raffle and sponsored me or sent me a god luck message. Every single message spurred me on when I needed it; I couldn’t have done it without you. I’m pleased to announce that the winner of the extra special joyful care package is Cara. Thank you.

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A marathon random act of joy and a competition!

If you're losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon

I had big plans for a special London Marathon random act of joy this year. Big plans. Involving marching bands. But, as it is, I won’t be cheering anyone on as I’ll be too busy gasping for breath as I tackle the race myself.

If you’re in London this weekend, I urge you to take my spot on the sidelines instead. Don’t worry, you don’t have to organise your own horn section, but taking to the streets and cheering for strangers is one of the most uplifting experiences there is. Every time I’ve done it I’ve ended up in tears as I watch someone who is at the brink of their physical limits step forward with just a little more energy at the sound of someone calling their name.

And of course I have a vested interest as I’m relying on the spirit of strangers (as well as some of my wonderful friends) to help me get round. So if you do come to cheer then please yell loudly for me too. I’ll be wearing bad lycra and an oversized red vest with CHERYL typed on it.

If you’re not in London, don’t worry, there’s still an opportunity for you to get involved. I’m running the marathon in aid of Shelter. As someone who delights in creating joyful experiences and gets so much pleasure from making a beautiful home, the idea that anyone is without one is deeply upsetting. My target is £1800 which is enough to find 54 families secure housing. Definitely worth running the 26.2 miles.

In order to meet my target, I’ve decided to create an extra special joyful care package and raffle it.

The lucky winner (from anywhere in the world) will be chosen at random and after a good old chat, I’ll put together a customised care package just for you. The usual monthly packages tend to include stunning stationery, designy treats and lots of care and thought. This one will be worth over £100 so there’ll be plenty to surprise and delight.

Make Me Joyful Marathon Comp

To win it:

1. Go to my sponsorship page HERE and make any sized donation (even £1 will help).

2. Include your full name (so I can track you down if you win).

3. Put MMJ somewhere in the message so that I know you’ve entered.

I’ll be announcing the winner on Thursday April 17th so please do it before then. A HUGE THANK YOU in advance.

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The most wonderful time of the year: national stationery week

We’re in the middle of national stationery week at the moment which means that it’s time to swap the leaky biro for something more elegant, pick out your favourite notelets and put pen to paper. We all know that Happiness is Handwritten so, take advantage of the season and send someone a letter this week. And if you’d like someone new to write to, be sure to request a pen-friend here.

In honour of the week, I’m going to celebrate my current favourite stationery:

Make me Joyful National Stationery Week Sketchbook

This little letterpress sketchbook is filled with grand plans, scribbled ideas and frayed edged pictures. I’m using it to develop some exciting new projects and I can’t think of a better place to do so. Made by Bison Bookbinding.

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