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IT’S BEEN A TOUGH FEW MONTHS!

I haven’t written an entry on this blog since the end of June, 2020. Looking back on it, my main concerns then seemed to be when we would be getting races back. Little did I know what was in store for me and my family over the coming months. LOL. WARNING – this blog will contain A LOT of emotional triggers.

West Wittering December 2020 – photo by Phi Hill.

Back in June, it felt like things were getting a bit more positive re the COVID doom. Things were opening up, the sun was shining and I was also running pretty well! I was in PB running shape – I ran the 21 mile Hangers Way with my friends Dan and Oliver and I’d even been to the pub for a pint. All the posi vibes went out the window when my lovely little mum was diagnosed with cancer. To add even more darkness to an already pitch black situation – all the lockdown miles caught up with me and I got plantar fasciitis in my right foot. Obvs mum’s diagnosis was the worst thing but when you use running as a coping mechanism, it wasn’t an ideal situation and another worry on top of everything.

Little walk with Big Fran around The Heath. A day I will always treasure.

Mum’s illness took centre stage of course. I was very lucky to be able to spend lots of time with her. I took her to the hospital (along with my brother) and enjoyed our chats in my van as we coasted to the coast. She was getting radio / chemo at QA Hospital in Portsmouth and when she was in there, I sat in the back of my van working and stretching my foot. To cut a short story even shorter – mum died of cervical cancer on October 3rd. She’d only been diagnosed in July and everything happened super quick. Of course my family and I were super sad. It was such an emotional time. I’ll never forget the hug she gave me after the first lockdown ended – she burst into tears on her doorstep and said to me, “Jhonny, I just want to give you a hug.” It was my favourite ever hug. I am crying while I write this. I keep having dreams about hugging her which are simultaneously strangely satisfying and disturbing in equal measures.

Mum emailed me this a few weeks before she died. I am on the right.

I guess I have always had issues with death. It is a taboo of western society for sure and something that I never really talked about with my family when I was young. I knew that one day my parents would die. but I guess it’s not something we want to think about on a daily basis is it? My friend Steve died a few years back – and that was the last time I cried before mum got ill. Needless to say, I’ve been pissing out the tears ever since. Mum dying has improved my relationship with death. She never complained even when she was feeling terrible – and I love that about her, even though she had every right to. I guess I am lucky that I got to say everything to her that I wanted and I know she loved me, and she knew I loved her. We looked exactly the same for fucks sake – two fluffy doppelgängers. I feel like I have lost the most important part of my support network as well as a little bit of me… I kinda feel like a big bag of raw emotions that has been squeezed into a brick and then every time I feel sad, it’s like someone is picking up the brick and trying to grate it on a grater made from sadness. The tears have made the grater rusty and it’s getting harder to grate. Great!

Liss Runners summer trail run – showing off is infectious.

I am so lucky to have so many lovely friends, family and even internet acquaintances that helped me through this. Thank you all so much! I am always here for you, you know this. I owe you and I love you. I was also very lucky to have done a counselling course in the last year which helped me process stuff, as well as receiving grief counselling from MacMillan. What a brilliant service! I am still having a weekly chat with a lovely lady for an hour. I sit on my bed and cry and she says nice things. It’s like a dummy for my brain. It’s been particularly hard having to sort all mum’s life admin, her funeral as well as look after my dad – again, things you never think you’ll have to until they happen. Thank fuck for the counselling.

Breaking up the running pics with the two best boys – Jeff & Frenzal. Both total twats!

To celebrate mum’s life, I always knew I would do some sort of exercise based charitable event. When she was in hospital, I spoke to a nurse on the Oncology Ward who said they needed funds for things like exercise bikes to help the patients exercise safely during these COVD times. I decided on Christmas Eve, which would’ve been mum’s 69th birthday – to run to the hospital and back from where I live. It was 34 miles and of course I had done no specific training. I set up a fundraising page and I am overwhelmed to say it raised close to £9000 with nearly £1800 of Gift Aid as well. I am sure the Oncology Ward will put the funds to good use. I am so grateful to everyone who ran with me or supported the event – it really helped me channel my grief towards something positive and to honour my mum. You can check out a video from the day here. I will never forget my friend, Dan, playing ‘Happy Birthday’ to my mum on the bagpipes on the top of Portsdown Hill – what an emotional moment.

Just some of the amazing runners who supported me on the run to the hospital (and back). Don’t let me do the route!

To compound the 2020 clusterfuck, I am also sad to say that Rowena and I broke up. She had her reasons (damn Specsavers opening up again) and we weren’t helped by lockdown life and both losing a parent last year. It was hard for us to support each other. When her dad died early in the year, I guess I blocked some of it out due to my own aforementioned issues with death. It was also super-hard as we were in lockdown and there was nothing to do and only each other to show off to. Mum got ill and Rowena was so lovely to her, I will never forget our last trip to The Heath in Petersfield and the fun we had. Losing Row was another big loss in terms of relationship / support network and one I am still probably processing but after the loss of my mum, I guess I took it on the chin and chalked it up to being another casualty of 2020. Get that brick on the grater!

Doing some trail running even though I am a bit shit at it.

I reckon I should talk about running for a bit, eh? My plantar fasciitis got better (mainly due to wearing a night-sock which looks like a bondage party for one) and I could run a bit more. I built up slowly and enjoyed training with my Longmoor Squad boys as well as running with so many lovely mates and chatting about all things life. I was lucky to be able to do a couple of races in December. The Goodwood HM – I didn’t race properly but I turned up and ran well and enjoyed it, and after the tribulations of the year – that’s all I wanted. I also got to run at the PB5k where I ran exactly 18 mins. I would’ve been a few seconds quicker if I hadn’t shown off for every camera and been so excited about running fast again.

Ardingly 5k in September. I realised I need to put some effort in right near the end.

I have to thank the Running Punks Community (especially Jimmy, Rhodri & Jon) for all their support. They sent me cool kit and the best fucking flowers when my mum died. I now know I like lilies – especially the smell! Also, HOKA ONE ONE (Joe Wade is a superstar) for having me on their Racer Program and sending me all the best shoes and kit to support my running. I am much better off for having all these people in my life, so thank you. Last but not least my Longmoor Squadron who I’ve trained with for the last few months in lieu of races.

Doing more great showing off at Goodwood HM. I was the first person home in a cotton tie-dye shirt!

I managed to run 2612 miles in 2020 (plus a few hundred on the bike) and in 2021 I am going to step it up in terms of better training. In a week, I start working with Jo Wilkinson (not the comedian, Andy) who is going to coach me so I can actually aim for some PBs. I learnt in 2020 that running isn’t all about PBs… I knew it was there for my mental health as well but now I know I can enjoy it just for getting out the door and it being like a good friend. Always there for me but not one I need to rely on for happiness – I can rely on myself for that. Having a coach will hopefully reign in my tendencies to overtrain, help me focus and also that word beginning in a which I have forgotten but will hopefully remember at some point. ACCOUNTABILITY. Got there. I am also working a lot more on my strength work to support running faster.

Running is all about the people you run with and DDP is just the best guy. And great at the bagpipes!

FUCK! This has been a long post hasn’t it? Did you make it to the end? Well done. If you did, you can listen to my Running Punks Playlist as a reward. It’s really good and not really that punk. Or maybe it is. Let’s hope the next time I write a post, that 1) It’s not so long and 2) It’s not called ‘It’s been a tough few months.’ Ironically I know it’s going to be a tough few months with lockdown and especially babysitting my dad (read this for context) but I am up for the challenge and I actually feel in a much better place than I was this time last year. Life’s much more than races, I understand myself more, why I am like I am and when COVID eventually fucks off, I am going to hug the fuck out of you all. Something we can all look forward to, eh?!

Festive Longmoor Squadron

Did I mention you should really listen to my Running Punks playlist? It’s the perfect companion for running to get your vaccine and one step closer to a hug from me.

Gonna make a splash in the running world in 2021! Even if its in puddles of my own piss. Photo – Phil Hill.

Gonna sign off now and just say – Mum I love you and I miss you.

Took Mum out for Xmas dinner in 2018 – this photo always makes me cry. Look how gawjus she is.



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Featured Post

RUNNING THROUGH LOCKDOWN

It’s been over two months since my last blog post – that was all about running a garden marathon but to be honest – it feels like bloody years ago! It’s taken a trip to the vets for Frenzal (my dog who is convalescing from a minor op, he’s drowsy AF and I wanna keep an eye on him) for me to sit down and start typing some word sperm for you all soak up through your eyes.

Photo by my lovely friend, Oliver Herdsman. Sorry I don’t know when your birthday is.

This time has given me time to reflect on the whole lockdown period we’ve been going through. As I type, we’re currently at Defcon 3 and the U.K (well England at least) feels like it’s moving away from the stricter lockdown we’ve experienced over the last few months. No idea if that’s the right idea, I am not a scientist – just another internet turd with an opinion. Although, I feel this blog is more about feelings than opinions. Someone once told me, “opinions are like arseholes, everyone’s got one” and the same can be said about feelings – but sometimes it’s easier to share your opinions out of your arsehole rather than your feelings out of your mouth. I think they call the former – Twitter. That wasn’t an opinion, it was a joke.

Another 5k TT – another poser on his doorstep.

LOCKDOWN EH! Feelings wise, looking back on it – fuck me, did my head feel like I was in a tiny little brain bubble. Before I write this, I realise I am EXTREMELY privileged – I live in a lovely cottage with a garden and my family were all safe and shielded from the cruel impact of COVID. That doesn’t mean to say that it’s wrong to still feel a bit shite sometimes. I’ve worked hard the last few years about pushing myself to leave my brain-bubble and try and genuinely connect with people a bit better. Obvs COVID brought this to an end, with the only way to connect to people was by waving a nipple at them on Zoom. I definitely value freedom, and even though we could still run (thank fuck), looking back – the world went from feeling unlimited to existing in the palm of my hand. Not a wanking joke.

Trails for days – especially Ashford Hangers!
Anyone else like the curves on a field? Definitely field-sexual these days.

I was also extremely privileged to be able to WFH, do my college course online, live with Row and Frenzal and have enough money for lockdown bagel-orgies as well as my health. It’s really interesting to look back even a couple of months and think how I felt, and how I feel now. I feel much better – how about you? I hope that by the next blog I write things in the world in terms of COVID will be in a better place, again I am just being positive, I am not a scientist. I think we have to *try* and be positive going forward (while respecting others’ feelings) and get out of our lockdown brain-bubbles (I’ve been calling it bomb-shelter culture) but again I appreciate this isn’t for everyone – especially people who have had the virus, had a loved one die, or who are worried about getting it. I understand your worries and I genuinely hope that one day soon you’ll be able to live in a world free of fear.

Not even the stupidest thing I bought in lockdown – anyone else buy pegs online?

This is the fifth paragraph and I haven’t even really talked about my running yet. It’s almost like there’s been more important things happening. I have to say again, we have been so lucky that we could run all through our lockdown. Running through lockdown has been a fucking godsend. Looking back again, my training has been:

Pre-lockdown – Training hard for HM races
Into lockdown – Fuck it, I will run a garden marathon
Phase 1 – Explore, explore, explore – trails and Strava Routes galore.
Phase 2 – Fed up of exploring and following a line on my watch, challenge me!
Phase 2.5 – Centurion Community – 100 mile week / 5k TTs
Phase 3 – I CAN RUN WITH MY FRIENDIES AGAIN
Phase 3.5 – Speedwork with mates is so much more fun than on my own

Phase 4- Finally bought some Aftershokz headphones and have been LOVIN’ running to punk rock. Never ran with music before and it’s a whole new world of motivation.
Phase 5 – Who knows what is next but prob more TTs until we can race again! Who cares, I am having fun.

Working hard on a 5k TT – you have to earn that gurn.

I am sure most of the running community went through similar feelings. The Centurion Community event to run 100 miles in a week – was a great challenge! It was my first attempt at running a 100 mile week, and without a lockdown – I would never have even attempted it. Kudos to Centurion Running for organising a brilliant event that came along as the perfect time.

A real race number! Oh my lord!
Last run of the 100 mile week – an unplanned 10k and art attack!

Again, without lockdown – I wouldn’t have spent hours boring Row to death about a new route I worked out on Strava. She knew when I’d found one because she’d hear the dull thud of my skinstick poking my laptop. I’ve also done a couple of 5k TTs recently – did a 17:35 and a 17:52. Happy with those considering they were on my own and I buzz from running with people. Hopefully someone can drag me along to a sub 17 at some point this year – I will keep going with the speedwork until this happens! I wasn’t sure whether doing speedwork / TT without an actual race would be fun BUT I still get the same positive feeling from running my best / as fast as I can.

Hooray for running with friends – friends who are faster than me!

Mileage wise I did 230 miles in March, 228 in April, then 296 in May (biggest ever but there was no way I was going to run 4 more miles to hit 300, haha) and we’re now cruising through June. My plan this year was to be consistent (100 mile week challenges aside) and not compare myself to others. I am happy to report back, both are being successfully kept to. What’s next for running? And the answer is – who fucking knows. I sure don’t. I am going to keep running, keep my consistency, keep smashing my speedwork with my mates (big up the Longmoor Training Squad) and keep strengthening my body. Maybe we will see some races / parkrun before the end of the year? Maybe not. I am taking each day and each small win as they come. Now my win is to be able to train with my mates and show them my balls through my tiny shorts.

Oliver likes to keep his balls hidden.

That’s running done! Obvs there’s lots more going on in the world… and straight out of semi-lockdown we had the despicable murder of George Floyd and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests. This whole thing made me realise more about my white privilege and how lucky I am to be a white man in this world. The murder of Ahmaud Arbery while running also highlighted this – imagine going for a run and not coming back home just because of your skin colour? And also – what is it with people beeping at females when they run? I keep seeing it on Strava and this regularly happens to Row. I am lucky and I’ll never know how it feels to be treated unfairly because of my skin colour or gender. Everyone has their opinions and you’re prob fed up of people telling you what to do on social media. Ultimately there is only one opinion – racism is wrong and we need to fuck it off forever. I am educating myself so I can be a better person and to help others who haven’t had the joys of being surrounded in a social echo-chamber of beautiful, non-racist, liberal people to educate them. Read more here.

If there’s a good thing to come out this lockdown, it’s this sexy’tache.

Last but not least – massive shout out to HOKA for all my running shoes. Currently still loving and rotating the Clifton 6, the Elevon 2, the Rincon, Carbon X (all road) and Speedgoat 4 and Torrent for trails. I’d also like to encourage you all to follow Running Punks on Instagram – it’s a great community for like-minded positive-vibed runners / music fans. Go check it out.

Proof of said 100 mile week.

I think at the beginning of this blog, I said something about not sharing opinions. And I haven’t. All of the above is stone-cold fact-gold. Feel free to leave a comment (I’d love that) and hit me up on the links below.

Lots of vegan love,

Jhon xo

Instagram
Strava

Ultra running vegan legend, Harry Jones, posted this cool vid from Cardiff HM last year! Check me out at 7 mins
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Featured Post

Jhon’s Garden Marathon!

Well blow me down with a feather, it’s been EXACTLY a month since my last blog post. On my last internet scribing, I was wondering whether Fleet HM would be on (it wasn’t) and I remember feeling an overwhelming sense of doom. Roll on a month and the U.K is on lockdown, thousands of people are dying via an invisible virus, anti-vaxxers are running riot with conspiracy theories (whatever gets you through the day, eh) and queuing for a supermarket in a face-mask is the new norm.

Man vs Horse – horse won, I’d say by a nose but that would be a lie with my beak.

I don’t want to focus too much on COVID-19 in this post as wherever you look, someone else is offering an opinion based on fear and worry, and although that is understandable, I want to try and keep this post as positive as possible. Saying that, I do realise a lot of people are having a shit time and people’s lives have been turned upside down by all of this. Keep talking to people, keep trying to do stuff and keep being nice to other humans and we’ll get through it. Moving on…

The shorter the shorts, the faster you run. Just not in a garden.

I’ve worked hard this year on my running, I was feeling in great shape leading up to Fleet HM and I was also feeling pretty good in the old noggin. Can’t run well if you don’t feel well, too, right? Mental and physical health go hand in hand. Like all runners, I was missing a race to test myself. When our Chinese mates went into lockdown earlier in the year, I saw some lad had done a mara around his living room table – I knew that if this happened to us, I would end up doing something similar. First off, to keep myself sane as having something to look forward to is good for me and secondly, coz I wanted to raise some spondoolies for charity as I hadn’t done that for a bit.

Row made me this number – I chose the number because I am a child.

What could I do? I am very lucky I live in the countryside, in the small village of Steep just outside Petersfield. I live in a rad old cottage with a decent sized garden. And yes, I appreciate that I am very privileged especially as a lot of people are trapped in flats in city locations. I decided to run a ‘parkrun’ 5k around my garden a couple of weeks ago to test the garden’s runability and to see how the ‘course’ was. It was a bit lumpy underfoot but a loop of 0.06 miles was born, and definitely possible to run around. I completed the parkrun in around 27 mins (GPS is shite here as you’ll see later) and the seed to run the garden mara had developed in my brain into a full on plant. There was a plant growing in my brain and this plant had sprouted and shouted ‘RUN A FUCKING MARATHON, JHON.’

RUN A FUCKING MARATHON, JHON.

I haven’t done any marathon training really – I got up to 16 miles a few weeks backs on my long run but I knew this was going to be more of a slower, endurance challenge. During the lockdown, my girlfriend Rowena is living with me. She’s a bundle of energy, so between us, I knew we could organise and promote a pretty good Garden Marathon event. The date was set for Easter Sunday, April 12th at 10:30 a.m and I had worked out that it was gonna be roughly 440 loops around the garden. We chose the charities to help – Tower Hill Animal Sanctuary (run by legendary Vegan Runner, Fiona Oakes) and The Fountain Centre (Row’s dad died recently, and they were super helpful to him and her family towards the end of his life). We planned the Facebook Live stream from my page, and how we were going to promote it – Row was gonna be event director and the lovely Joe Wade from HOKA ONE ONE had seen my post about doing the marathon, and HOKA got on board with helping to promote it – super cool! WE WERE READY TO RUN A BLOODY GARDEN MARA.

HOKA weapons of choice for the big day.

The Just Giving page had seen a steady stream of donations and we hit our initial target of £1000 in 24 hours. I had been running over the weekend but the Monday before the mara, I woke up and couldn’t walk, let alone run. I did what most runners don’t do – I stopped running, spoke to the physio (thanks Bev) and she gave me some exercises to release my wonky sacrum. It worked because after three days off, I could jog again – even though it felt like I had a metal pole through my midriff. I was worried as I thought I was going to have to postpone it – which of course would’ve been fine but when I make a plan I like to stick to it. My sacrum got looser and the challenge was on! In terms of the challenge, I have to say I wasn’t that worried in advance of doing it because I like running in loops (can’t get lost) and I didn’t think about it too much other than I had to get the job done.

Looking focused as I imbibe on performance enhancing drugs.

MARA DAY came around and after a hearty oat based breakfast, Row and I set up the garden for the live stream so people had something to look at when I was out of shot. Wifi had been sacked off in favour of a USB connection to make sure it didn’t drop out, so people could only see me run for about three seconds while I ran around the rest of the house. Luckily Row kept everyone entertained with her enthusiastic patter. We’d hit over £2500 in donations and I was actually excited to get going as well as being full of some pre-run nerves. After several poos and one last sacrum release (they’re different, honest) it was time to get going. The aid table was set up, we had a giant cut out horse, Vegan Runners flag and my infamous Broccoli outfit in shot (I ran a mara as a Broccoli a while back).

The garden set up which some people watched for 5 hours – thank you!
The live stream had more sun protection than me.

Run wise – I decided to change direction every mile to mix it up and try and prevent any injuries. My garden is pretty flat except for one rise around each side – so one short uphill on every loop. There’s a few lumps on the ground and it was a bit wet to start, so I started running in my HOKA Torrent (trail) and half way, I changed into my Clifton 6 (road) for a bit more comfort and cushion. The first 10 miles passed uneventfully but I was already getting hungry about 6 miles in! Running a bit slower bit than usual and the heat began to take its toll. It was about 20C as my garden is a bit of a sun-trap. I hit the HM, changed the shoes, took on lots of water, had a quick stretch and carried back on.

Quick shoe change at the half way point – mainly so I could have a sit.

Everything felt pretty good ’til about 16 miles and then my legs started to grumble. I was close to three hours on my feet and I knew it was probably going to be a couple more at least! I had never been so hungry on a run and gels weren’t cutting it – so Row brought me out bananas, Trek bars and even a whole buttered bagel which helped. I started to flag at about 21 miles and could taste the salt on my new pornstar-tache and forehead. I downed a couple of glasses of salt water and immediately felt much perkier. 4 hours rolled by… I had never ran for more than 4 hours, so this was a novel experience. I couldn’t eat anymore food as it wasn’t sitting right. Miles 22 to 24 felt like a bloody eternity but I could see the light at the end of the tunnel and the last mile was a joy. Mainly because three randoms had strolled by and were clapping every loop like it was a proper sporting event – while socially distancing of course.

We left this guy in charge of the router – he just barked at it for 5 hours. Twat.

Row had done a great job in keeping my spirits up by reading out everyone’s comments on the live stream. I had come to the last lap, which was probably my quickest for at least a couple of hours. My left hip flexor had stopped working and I just wanted to sit down and eat, drink water, seven beers, sleep and wash. Finally, I finished. I had come 1st and won a marathon! I mean, I will probably never win one again whilst setting a course record, so I had to savour the moment. Row and her Mum had made me an amazing medal which Row presented to me at the end (she also made the race number) – The charity money had risen to £3400 while running and now sits at £3800 – mental! I felt a lot worse than I did at the end of any previous mara – even my sub-3 at London… TBF, I was so happy after that, that I went straight to the pub!

Yes, I do deserve a medal.

STATS:

26.2 miles in 4 hours 55 mins and 52 seconds.
4 hours and 29 mins of moving time.

An hour longer than I’d ever run.
5k of loops with Row.
4 loops with Frenzal (my dog) before he got too annoying and jumped over a wall.
5 garden pisses.
Albums by Mungo’s Hi-Fi, Pears, Frenzal Rhomb, The Living End & The Skints
.
3000 calories burnt.
136 bpm average HR.
2 gels.
At least 5 bottles of rehydration drinks.
2 bananas.
I bagel (cinnamon & raisin).
2 Trek Bars.
2 glasses of salt water.

Several bottles of water.
At least 450 loops.
2 arguments with Row.
5 hour non stop Facebook Stream (
watch here) with 700 comments and 1.5K views.
30 plus Insta Stories over the day.

The horse cut-out only fell over 4 times.
1st place.
New CR.
Last place.
Slowest ever marathon
.
One Strava Map that looked like an Easter egg.

A massive thanks to everyone who watched the live stream, dropped me a message, walked by and cheered, shared the Just Giving page and donated! You rule. It would be great if we could get the total to £4000 for the charities. You can donate HERE! Thanks again to Joe Wade, Hoka One One, Ben Southall (he knows why), Bev for fixing me and my friends at Cricket Without Boundaries for setting up their own garden challenges over the weekend. Oh, and Rowena for dealing with one grumpy and tired runner – she also ran 5k of it to support me and only stood on my leg once, a new record. She really is the best and most supportive girl. If you’re thinking of doing something similar in your own house – I would recommend it. Even if it’s not a marathon, there’s plenty of awesome creative things you can do during this lockdown to challenge yourself and raise some money for a charity you love. Make an event out of it and get people online involved, and you’re on to a winner.

Who fucking knows what next month’s blog will bring!

Jhon xo

Not a clue why the only picture we have with my medal is with the bloody horse as well.

Check out these links:

Just Giving Page – let’s hit 4K please (money not distance).
My Strava
My Instagram
Listen to the Portsmouth Running Podcast (Dan featured me on here the day before the mara)
Tower Hill Animal Sanctuary
The Fountain Centre
HOKA ONE ONE for the best running shoes

Would I do it again? Maybe next weekend but I’ll have a few days off.



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THE LAST SIX WEEKS OF MY LIFE!

As I write this blog on Friday March 13th, 2020, we are in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic. It’s also Friday the 13th – so if you’re superstitious then there’s a good chance the world might end today – so you might as well read all my brilliant brainfarts before you pop your Corona-clogs.

Hogmoor parkrun with my good friend, Dan’s Tent. Photo by Gary Sherin. Shoes – HOKA Rincon.

Don’t worry, this blog isn’t going to feature lots of misinformed information from me. I am not a health official, I am not a doctor – I am just another idiot on the internet being alive. I have also been washing my hands religiously, it is race week after all – Fleet Half Marathon is this Sunday and I’ve been making sure I don’t get ill like I normally do before other target halfs. Last year before Fleet, I got some sort of 24 hour sickness bug and yes, I spent 24 hours being violently sick. I also got a bad cold before Milton Keynes late in 2018 and was so close to the sub 1:20 HM time I wanted but alas, no joy. Not to mention Cardiff last year – where my mental health was all over the fucking place. Hoping for a sub 1:20 PB at Fleet this weekend, as long as it doesn’t get cancelled last minute and I run well of course. Old me: “PRESSURE, PRESSURE, PRESSURE” – new me: “STICK BEETROOT UP BUM ALL WEEK, RUN HARD AS YOU CAN, BOOK ANOTHER HM IF YOU DON’T DO IT HERE.” When COVID-19 fucks off in time obvs.

Doing my best impression of a mathematical compass – at parkrun obvs.

Of course there’s a lot more important things happening in the world than running right now but this is my running blog, so I am gonna focus on running for a couple of paragraphs, what I got up to in Feb and then I will do some kind of heavy thought piece on social media, viruses and life, then we’ll tie it all up in a sexy bow with some positive vibes at the end. Cool?

My aim this year with running is to be consistent with training, not worry about what other people are up to running wise, and try and love myself and my running – I can confirm I am doing all of the above! I ran 206 miles in Feb which is another solid month, and had the pleasure of visiting Portugal with Rowena (girlfriend with lovely round head) and doing lots of running around the Algarve. We had the pleasure of staying near Albufeira, running along the beach in the mornings, running around the international XC course and running along the wide and hilly paved streets of the Portuguese south coast. If you’re a runner and you haven’t visited here, then get it on the list. There was also loads of great vegan food and it was perfect to get some Euro-sun on our Winter-filled British bones. There’s a lot to be said to going on holiday in February. Would recommend. I was genuinely sad to come home – I think in the past I have blocked out feelings about returning from great trips but not this time. It was nice to feel sad for a couple of days and reflect on what had been a beautiful week away with my special and very loud girlfriend.

You’ve heard of Bondi Beach? Well this was Bondage Beach.
Life’s a beach and then you spend three hours walking on one and it’s harder than running.
The international XC course – main blog pic is me running there.

Holidays aside, I’ve been training well with my normal schedule of 45 – 50 miles a week. Easy runs with some strides, recovery runs, a long run and intervals mid week, one day off, a hard parkrun and then a slightly harder long run than I was doing last year. I didn’t have any target races in Feb, so I did a few hard parkruns… no flat ones but 18:31 at Fareham, 18:47 at Hogmoor and I know I’d be around the mid 17s if I did a fast one, so that’s nice. I also had a fun run around Brighton Half Marathon with Dan’s Tent and Keith from Vegan Runners. It was the windiest run I have ever done. Windy as in gusts and not twisty. Aim was 1:27 with a hard last 5k… luckily the last 5k was wind assisted and ran an 18:20-ish effort to finish the race, haha! I also had fun at my first XC race for my club, Liss Runners, in about 18 months. Managed top 20 and ascertained that I am still shit at running in mud but I actually enjoyed every second. I didn’t want the race to stop which was a nice feeling.

If only social media could show how windy Brighton HM actually was. Can you see me?

Although this blog is about running, it’s also about mental health. I am feeling pretty good at the moment. I am really enjoying going to college, I just passed my Level 2 Counselling Course, I am currently doing Level 3 and I’ve got a place for Level 4 which is a two year course starting in September. The course isn’t just about learning how to counsel others, it’s all about improving myself and developing me, so I can be there for others. I am not putting any pressure on myself. I am not going nose-first into it and stressing myself out – I am enjoying learning new things about myself, others and academically. Good mental health will work with my physical health to create the best version of Jhon Cosgrove you have ever seen. Something like that anyway.

Running for Liss at the XC – photo by Laura Armstrong. Shoe – HOKA Torrent.

The one thing thing that causes so many people issues with their health is social media. You can see it during this Coronavirus outbreak. The whole toilet paper thing is / was fucking mental and we have social media to blame for this, as well as people being selfish due to panic. I know it’s ironic for me to be writing about social media while on social media BUT social media can be such a positive tool for change, inspiration and information. Sadly, people panic and start sharing false info and freaking themselves and everyone else out. Remember that unless you’re reading something from someone who is a doctor, health official, the government, then it’s just an opinion. WHAT I AM WRITING IS JUST MY OPINION – DON’T LISTEN TO ME. The last day or so has made it all feel a bit more real with events being cancelled, and I feel very sorry for anyone who is mara training right now – just remember you’ve smashed your fitness, and your health (and the world’s) is more important than one race – there will always be another. I do have armageddon style images flooding my brain of police helicopters flying over my village, stopping me from going running if we all have to self-isolate. They will have to catch me first, ha!

Look how good Rowena is at showing off while running! Photo by Gary Sherin.

Social media in general is just people sharing a digital version of themselves and their lives. It’s in 2D and the world is in glorious 3D. How many times have you met someone in real life after seeing them post on social, and seen how different they are? When someone shares an image of themselves smashing a race and it looks so easy, you haven’t seen the thousands of hours that have gone into training and the sad days, the hard days and the real bad days. I think we all just need to be a bit more aware of the negative side of the internet and how it can cause others to feel shite about themselves – just look at the Caroline Flack situation. That was pretty shite, eh? I used to write horrible things on the internet ALL THE TIME back in the day when I also felt horrible. When social media, Facebook etc… was a thing at first, no one said or knew that it was going to be such a big thing and effect everyone’s mental health in such a big way – that’s whether we spend countless hours comparing ourselves to others’ achievements or writing negative stuff about others because we don’t feel good about ourselves. I am all up for having a LOL on the interwebs but we definitely have to be more aware about others’ feelings and respect them too. We’re not going to to get it right all of the time, but as long as we educate each other without just arguing all the time, then we’ll hopefully get somewhere. Everyone has feelings, so I guess we have to try and respect them and talk about why they feel like that, rather than calling them a wanker and questioning the legitimacy of their parents’ marriage. Let’s start with how everyone feels about COVID 19, and respect each others views and stop panic buying fucking bog roll so I don’t have to use my curtains again.

Post Brighton HM with Dan’s Tent. Shoes – HOKA Clifton (both of us!)

Let’s summarise these last six weeks then – I feel very privileged to be alive, I appreciate being alive, I think these ‘end times’ type vibes that the media are perpetuating are making us feel more ALIVE (whether that’s a good or bad feeling), running is really good and going where I want it without killing myself so I hate it, I love my girlfriend and friends, I am really trying to live in the now and not worry about the past or future – and I think we should all be a bit nicer to animals and maybe we wouldn’t be in this mess in the first place.

“SHUT UP YOU DICK, NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOUR OPINIONS ON SOCIAL MEDIA”

Thanks for reading my words and pray to your gods that I get a PB at Fleet (if it’s on) – if not, then there’s always another race – I will do a post about the race anyway! Except if it’s not on or my legs fall off, no one wants to read that.

xo

Thanks as always to HOKA for the shoes – stop looking at my balls and look at the shoes. Clifton 5 in this one.
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HOW I BEAT AN OLYMPIAN – JANUARY ROUND UP!

YES, it’s a massive clickbait title to get you to read the blog so I become a famous running blogger and make loads of money from ads and sell out to every running brand out there. I jest of course but I also apologise – all will become apparent soon!

The clue is in this picture.

I really enjoyed January. Well, every day and week has it’s ups and downs but my January was defined by 202 miles of running, a handful of Gladiator Camps (a circuit class I attend in Petersfield) and even the odd bike ride including some Watt Bike intervals. Highlights include: Stubbington 10k (38:03 – unfit but used it as a training run), Farnborough HM (1:22:17 – getting fitter, 2 weeks after the 10k race), and this was sandwiched with an 18:17 at Southsea parkrun. None of these were anywhere near PBs but I enjoyed them all and I am loving the journey to get fit again and into PB shape. Have a looksy on my Strava.

Stubbington 10k – look how happy that onlooker is.

BRAGGING aside, my month was defined by one single run. My friend, Chris Dettmar, took me out for a run and made me run out of my comfort zone and reminded me how to run fast. This was in terms of posture, cadence and technique but also WANTING to run fast. I have that hunger back again and since then I’ve been working a bit harder on my easy runs, and training in general, to get me back to where I was before. I think all the marathon training in 2019 made me slow and steady and got me away from running fast. Posi vibes, eh?

Bring a dog to parkrun they said, it’ll make you faster they said. He had 3 poos.

I love watching people run. It doesn’t matter to me how fast anyone runs. If I see someone jogging out on the streets, it just makes me think about how that person is trying to improve themselves. Running is the best physical form of self-improvement, in my opinion anyway! Obviously there’s lots of other physical activities and any exercise is good but there’s something just so inspirational in watching people run and run as hard as they can. I’ve also smashed the whole ‘not comparing myself to others’ this month. I don’t give a flying fuck about how fast other people are, I love seeing people do well and improve themselves and I am loving living in my progress, too.

Post Farnborough HM with Row – she ran with a cold, bless her.

This year is all about the consistency for me – I ran 202 miles in Jan but my aim is to be around that mark every month and to build on it for if I run Valencia Marathon in December. I think if I am consistent in training rather than trying to run closer to 300 miles for a couple of months and getting injured, then I will be in the PB ballpark before long. I’ve entered Fleet HM and Eastleigh 10k in March, and will be fun to see how much faster I am than my Jan races!

Rowena (my very loud and excellent runner GF) and I watched the Disney running film ‘McFarland’ last night. If you’re into Kevin Costner, cheese and running, then this is the film for you. It’s about a school who start a running team and they’re the underdogs and then they get good, and people do crying and it’s cute and you get the gist. One for a weekend cuddle on the sofa whilst still soaking up all those positive running vibes.

Stop looking at my vagina FFS. New Year’s Day double parkrun, feels like years ago now.

I am also proud to say that I am gonna be part of the Hoka Racer team again for 2020 – which means I better get myself into PB shape and do those sexy, cushioned shoes proud. I think last year I was a bit like, “I AM NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR NICE SHOES AND EVERYONE IS BETTER THAN ME, I AM BAD, WHY ME FOR NICE SHOES” but as I’ve binned off the whole comparing thing, I am now completely deserving of nice things because I am a lovely boy with a nose like a dolphin (this is what Row says!). Fave shoes this month are the Rincon – I wasn’t 100% on them at first but I’ve done 150 miles in them now and I am using them for everything from tempo runs to long runs. They’re really light and cushioned like all HOKA shoes but I’d say they’re a faster Clifton and a good all rounder – go try some on but make sure they suit you. I don’t think they will be banned any time soon either 😉

Frenzal approves of the Rincon or he can smell dogpiss.

Classic blogging trick to leave the clickbait story ’til the end so you have to read all my other bollocks first. I was running in the Farnborough HM and got to about 12 miles, and had been running on my own for most of the race, when I heard two runners behind me. I looked and it was the GB Olympic runner, Andy Vernon. He said “do you want to latch on” and I was like “yes please mr fast man” and managed to hold on for a quicker last mile and finish the race strongly. I did come ahead of him technically but bear in mind that he was on a 20 mile training run at that pace – I was blowing out of my arse. Fun though and now you’ve read all the way to the end, and it’s a bit like watching a film that you know is gonna be shite but you still watch it and then you’re all like “why did I watch this shite film all the way to the end?!”

See, there’s clearly an Olympian running behind me in a race. Always got enough energy to show off.

That’s it for Jan – I am hoping to do a round up blog every month but also some other winning content regarding all things positive and running. Who knows, I am a bloody maverick aren’t I.

Happy running, everyone xo

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2019 – MY ANNUS HORRIBILIS!

Hey everyone,

In 1992 The Queen described her year as a ‘Annus Horribilis’ which is very old speak for having an horrible anus. I reckon 2019 was my horrible anus. Not because I’ve had an awful year but because one bad arse stopped me from running Valencia Marathon. It’s a tenuous link, as the anus and the arse are of course slightly different but it’s close enough to drag you in to reading the rest of this post.

Talking about arses – let’s talk about me! Facebook and Insta have been choc-full of lovely people talking about what 2019 had in store for them. I am gonna join the trend and write about my year and tie it all in with some Posi Cozzy vibes as we all look forward to ripping it up in 2020. I’ll keep it brief and I will keep it real. Like you, I am fed up of all the fake shit we see on the internet. It’s far more fun to overshare and make y’all feel uncomfortable!

Finishing London Mara – best day of my life! More of that below.

THE UPS!

OH! I forgot to say, this blog isn’t gonna be just about running. It’s gonna be about some general shit as well as running. Mainly running though, coz running is the best.

1) This year I met Rowena. She is the loudest, most enthusiastic, most annoying, most hyperactive, most emotional, most self-aware, prettiest and best person I have ever met. If you think I am loud, wait until you meet Row. I met her at Hogmoor parkrun and we bonded over both running London Marathon. Next time you meet her, please don’t call her ‘Jhon Cosgrove’s girlfriend’ – please call her Rowena. She’s been bloody great all year and she’s also an awesome runner – she just doesn’t know it yet!

Row having a few lols at the Great South. She ran 77 mins! She doesn’t do any speedwork, she is great.

2) London Marathon. Ran 2:58:19. It was the best day of my life. I loved the training, I loved the build up, I loved being mothered by my lovely friend Nazia. I loved every single second of the race. I loved sitting on the grass after unable to control how happy I felt. I loved drinking countless pints when I got back to Petersfield. Did you get the fact that I loved it? Best fucking day – sub fucking 3!!

3) Veganuary Bike Ride around India! This was a bloody winner as well. Signed up on a whim and spent 5 days riding around Rajasthan in the Indian sun with loads of vegans. I will never forget learning to ride with no hands on the bars. Prob not a big deal for most people BUT I was so uncoordinated as a kid, that I couldn’t even take one hand off. I built up my confidence in India and got up to 6 and a half mins with no hands. It was also a very good fitness base for running London and we raised lots of money for Veganuary. I am very proud to be a vegan and everyone should give Veganuary a go… message me if I can help. More bike rides in 2020 please! Check out the video below.

4) Ran 2039 miles and rode 634 miles. That’s my biggest ever running mileage and considering I spent nearly 2 months injured I am happy with that. Never done any bike riding until the end of last year, so can’t really complain at that. Quite like bikes BUT I really need to learn to change a flat tyre because I can’t go far on my own. Laughing emoji. I am 38. Crying emoji.

Follow me on Strava for proof!

5) I went back to college! And this time instead of smoking skunk bongs in a Peugeot 205, I’ve actually sat down and learnt some stuff about myself and some other stuff too. Really enjoying my counselling course and looking forward to learning lots more in 2020! Who knew I was passive aggressive? Really? I mean don’t worry about it, I knew it anyway, don’t worry about it – I’ll sort myself out, no fucking problem (was being passive aggressive).

6) Hoka One One let me join their Racer Prog! Sadly I haven’t done much racing this year BUT I now have enough shoes to run in until my legs fall off. And I am gonna race hard next year!

I love tiny shorts and new shoes – call me a Kardashian.

7) I’ve been lucky to spend lots of time with lots of friends and family. I’ve made new friends as well. Mainly runners. Did you know I run? I really appreciate friends and family now. I know this seems like it’s an easy thing to do but I feel I’ve worked harder on having actual relationships with people rather than fake on-the-surface bullshit. I hope you think so, too.

8) For some reason, I got a couple of awards for running the Broc Mara last Boxing Day! I hated it at first but on reflection, I feel much more comfortable about it and I am looking forward to doing more charitable stuff in 2020!

Roger Black interviewing my nose.

THE DOWNS

YOU STILL HERE? Great – we’re getting there. Promise.

1) Injury. No one likes getting injured. I am much better at dealing with it now BUT getting injured two weeks out from Valencia was a bugger. I’ve dealt with it now. I wasn’t enjoying running then anyway, I am enjoying it now and that is all that matters!

What I learnt from this: everyone gets injured, it’s how you deal with it and come back from it that matters. Don’t overtrain you dickhead!

2) Stupid fucking appendix. My friend at a party the other night mentioned that I’d made a big deal out of this. I agree. I did. It fucking hurt. I think it was more the shock from running 13 miles one day to being in excruciating agony the next. It made me feel like I was weak, didn’t like that. Fucked my head, too. Not to mention the running!

What I learnt from this: Don’t ever run 2 and half weeks after a major op. It will feel fucking awful.

3) Mental health. It’s a fucker init? The constant ups and downs on a daily basis can be overwhelming. I feel really good right now and in a very positive place. I don’t think I will be able to run well and train well unless my mental health is in sync with my physical health. I did go and see a counsellor though! I can’t wait to go again. It’s really fun learning more about yourself and why you think the way you do and how you can change how you think. You are not your thoughts! Thoughts are wankers. Next time you’re thinking negi vibes then please try and remember that.

What I learnt from this: I am still learning and will continue to do so!

I love running with Frenzal! He’s as fucking nuts as I am. Weird that.

4) Comparing myself to others. Fucking stupid. We all do it whether it’s in real life, on social media or looking on Strava. We see people who SEEM to be leading better lives… people who can run faster, people who are running 100 miles a week, people who just got a massive race PB. NONE OF THIS FUCKING MATTERS. They’ve got their own struggles, you are you. Do what you can. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. I let this get on top of me and control my thoughts. I won’t do this in 2020 coz I am me and I am fucking rad.

What I learnt from this: see above. Don’t compare yourself to anyone, you rule! The internet is just a highlights reel. Real life > reel life.

5) Losing the will to run! I am sure we’ve all been through this but it was a major issue for me during mara training. I overtrained, I didn’t get strong after my appendix op and my body / mind was weak for the rigours of mara training – therefore everything collapsed and I didn’t want to run.

What I learnt from this – all that matters is enjoying running and to do strength stuff as it’s very important.

Veganuary Bike Ride in India – as a kid I failed my cycling proficiency test, so this was a winner.

6) Other people. I’ve let other people’s issues overwhelm me sometimes. Whether that’s family or social things. We all do this, it’s natural to want to help everyone and make everything perfect but it’s not going to happen. The world is fucked but all we can do is be there for people. Smiley emoji.

What I learnt from this: help but remember it’s OK to put myself first if it’s making me go mental!

GOOD NEWS! There were more ups than downs! And I am not gonna do any NY resolutions. I have running aims. I have some life aims. The main thing is to be well both physically and mentally and to enjoy my running and friends and fam. If I can get anywhere near that then I will be a happy scarecrow!

If you’re struggling with anything then please try something new in 2020! You might have a secret talent for something you haven’t discovered. I am obvs biased towards running but if you wanna try naked kite flying, you fucking go for it. I might join you. Sounds fun unless you get your willy caught on the string. If you don’t have a willy then you’re laughing.

Happy New Year and enjoy 2020! Sorry for the essay, I had a coffee just before and was off me chops on caffeine.

Posi Cozzy x

Showing off at the Hogmoor Xmas Day parkrun!


PS: Here’s my fave albums of 2019 and here’s a Spotify playlist I made for you to listen to.

  1. Pup – Morbid Stuff
  2. Masked Intruder – III
  3. The Skints – Swimming Lessons
  4. The Wildhearts – Renaissance Men
  5. Lizzo – Cuz I Love You
  6. Nervus – Tough Crowd
  7. Mungo’s Hi Fi – More Fyah
  8. Dinosaur Pile Up – Celebrity Mansions
  9. Gang Starr – One Of The Best Yet
  10. Bracket – Too Old To Die Young

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MY FIRST POST – THE TALE OF THE INJURED RUNNER AND AN IMAGINARY TRIP TO VALENCIA.

It’s Saturday night. I’ve aligned my evening, so I can watch Pointless Celebs. I’ve just eaten a cold veggie burger and potato waffle in a roll. I have a smelly spaniel spreadeagled next to me taking up the majority of the sofa. I’m looking forward to Take Me Out. I’m gonna stay up and watch the Test Match. Why am I boring you with these trivialities?

I should be in bloody Valencia.

Before I fill you in with the details as to why I should be in Valencia and not gorging on Saturday night TV and leftover vegan junk food, I would like to welcome you to this blog. I’ve been trying to set up a blog all year so I can write some stuff down. I’ve always enjoyed writing on the internet, mainly to show off – but this time around it’s all gonna be about running and these awful little buggers called ‘feelings.’ I am even going to try and be positive about myself. Something I weirdly struggle with… you wouldn’t think it but I find it really fucking hard to say nice things about myself / accept my existence and that I am not a pointless human (nothing to do with the aforementioned TV show).

The last time I ran – East Brighton parkrun. It felt all wrong! Pic by Gary Sherin.

I could be in bloody Valencia.

I’ve trained the last four months in order to compete in the 2019 Valencia Marathon. it’s happening tomorrow – Sunday, Dec 1st. I entered because my good friend and Vegan Runner, Dan’s Tent, was planning a stag do around running a sub 3 hour marathon. I had enjoyed running London earlier in the year so much (2:58:19 and the best day of my life) that I thought I’d join in the fun. Another Vegan Runner called Matt was joining the party. Sadly, Dan couldn’t get the time off work. First lesson learnt here – don’t enter a marathon for a stag do!

Anyway, I worked my little vegan balls off (they are actually reasonably sized balls) and did 4 x 20 mile runs, 2 x 18 milers in training and had ALL the training ups and downs. Doing a 70 mile week the week before a PB attempt at Cardiff HM also fucked me up. I lost the enthusiasm for running at one point, I hated the Great South Run and found it increasingly hard to get out the door… was my body telling me something? Did I fucking listen? Was I getting any fitter or just running on auto-pilot?

Fucking myself up with another long run.

I didn’t make it to Valencia.

Two weeks out I felt a pain in my arse. It was a dull pain at first. I did a parkrun and then I couldn’t run the next day. It took me a week to accept I was injured, it took me another day to realise I wasn’t going to make the marathon. It took me another day to realise there was no point going to Valencia for a holiday I couldn’t afford without the joy of running in it. I am not very good at sitting down and relaxing, and although the appeal of a little Spanish sun sounds AMAZING right now, it made sense to stay at home and start some rehab on my diagnosis of ‘insertional hamstring tendinopathy.’

Why didn’t I make it to Valencia?

Well I didn’t make it coz I cancelled my flights and got a massive £13 refund from EasyJet which I won’t spend all at once. Why did I get injured though? With hindsight, it was a few things. To start with, I wasn’t following a training plan. I just ran loads of fucking miles and did 3 x 70 mile weeks which is a lot for me. So, an overuse injury. Secondly, shite warming up. I know I need to activate my glutes before I run but sometimes I didn’t have time / motivation and just had to get out the door and run. Third – a weakness in my glutes from not strengthening enough. I know I need to do strength stuff to stay strong and not get injured. I didn’t do enough. Fourth – I had my appendix out in the summer. I have four scars on my belly which are still bad and apparently they can effect other parts of your body. Mad eh? I had a scar massage this week to help it. Fifth – comparing myself to others on Strava. We are all guilty of it whether it’s in terms of mileage or speed. I have to remember that I am an individual and do what works for me. Comparing yourself to other runners is the fucking devil.

There’s also other issues with some over-pronation and the fact my calves are currently tighter than an EasyJet flight refund.

Post Great South Run with my beautiful GF – Row. The smile hiding the sadness that I didn’t enjoy it.

I’ve accepted I am not running Valencia Marathon.

I nearly cried in my college class on Tuesday. Luckily it’s a counselling course, so it’s more than acceptable to show emotion BUT I can’t cry. I haven’t cried for five years. I would love to cry, make me cry. Saying that, I think I am in a much better place mentally than I was a year ago… I shared all my feelings about doing all the training and then getting injured two weeks before the race via my girlfriends’s ears (thanks Row) and on the internet. I also think that with hindsight after having my appendix out (I didn’t take surgery seriously enough – classic me) that I shouldn’t have gone straight into marathon training. I can’t wait to ‘start again’ wth my running next year and smash the 5k, 10k and HM distances before I take on another marathon.

Hanging with the Running Punks after Cardiff HM – Harry Jones & Jimmy Watkins. Bloody love meeting nice people who love running.

I will definitely go to Valencia one day.

I will run Valencia Marathon another year and I will fucking smash it. There’s people in a lot worse life situations than me but I also realise that I value myself and that it’s ok to be sad about something going wrong.

Imaginary trip to Valencia – the summary

Writing this post has been a positive experience and made me feel better. Feel free to leave a comment and let me know if you’ve been through something similar or if you just want to have an internet cuddle. I’ve learnt from this experience to listen to my body and my heart more. I can do whatever the fuck I want with running and 2020 is mine to own. I hope this has been a positive post for you to read.

Posi Cozzy xo

This is what my face is gonna look like when I smash 2020.
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