Your Pace or Mine? by Lisa Jackson

If you know me in “real life” it probably hasn’t escaped your notice that I’m training for my first marathon ( you can sponsor me at ). As a result I got some great running-related presents for Christmas, including a copy of Your Pace or Mine? by Lisa Jackson.

Rather than a book about technique and speed and winning, Your Pace or Mine? is a study on the other bits of running – the people you meet, the life experiences, the achievements, the crowds cheering, the catharsis, the mental game, the failures and the smiles and laughs along the way. The best bits.

Lisa tells a mean story, and she is at once warm, funny, engaging, encouraging and inspiring. First-hand accounts from Lisa’s running companions and heroes top off each chapter, bringing each lesson to life and reinforcing the power of the running community I have – somewhat unexpectedly – found myself part of.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. While the subject is running, I imagine it will be similarly inspiring if you’re preparing to take on pretty much any challenge. I DEVOURED this book in a week’s worth of commutes, and I got the strangest looks on the Piccadilly Line each morning as I went from giggling, to welling up, to snort-laughing all between Hyde Park Corner and Knightsbridge.

Lisa’s enthusiasm is infectious, and her positive attitude filled me with ambition, and helped with my mental game (after all, marathon running is 90% mental – and the other 10% is pretty mental too). I feel quietly confident that I’ve got the miles in my legs, and I have a good chance of achieving the time I want – and that if I don’t, that’s also fine.

Despite the fact I’m yet to run my first marathon, about half way through the book I found myself full of enthusiasm and entered the ballot for the New York marathon this November. Oops!

Happy thoughts – Wednesday 15th February

  • I finished my book – it’s called Some Assembly Required and is a transgender male’s account of his teenage years and experiences as he worked out who he is, and started transitioning – and I’ve really enjoyed it. Clearly it’s a complicated subject, and no two experiences are alike, but Arin, the author’s, account is just written with such heart and positivity and honesty that you can’t help but root for him every step of the way.
  • Went out for dinner with a friend and we set the world to rights – Trump, Brexit, the works. I’ve known him for quite a few years, but we hadn’t really hung out just the two of us before, and it was really lovely to get to know him a bit better over good food and a bottle of red.
  • I came home to flowers. Nothing showy or expensive (certainly not red roses) just some lovely yellow and peach freesias – which I think were also my Gran’s favourites – which are perfect for brightening up the flat a little.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

In my efforts to make my life more creative, I’ve picked up a couple of books that I hope will help my get my thoughts in order. The first, bought on a whim after seeing it mentioned on a Buzzfeed list, is Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.

In my rush to buy it, I didn’t realise she was also the writer of Eat, Pray, Love – I haven’t read it, so maybe I’m missing out on a life-changing experience, but had I realised that, I might never have bought it.

The book is a thoroughly enjoyable read – lots of great little anecdotes to illustrate her points, and it never drags. Despite only reading for short, interrupted periods on my commute, I flew through it in about a week. But – and this probably says more about me than anything – I found it a bit too positive. It’s written from the point of view of someone who has figured it all out. Who’s spent her life doing the thing she loves most. She’s not smug, and I’m all for the idea of a higher power – the ‘Big Magic’ of the title – but I found the optimism and the implication of the universe playing a major part all a bit removed from my reality.

But I agree with so much that she says, and the section on fear really did resonate with me. Below is just the first few lines of a multi-page list of reasons we are afraid to live a more creative life, and I have thought every last one of them.



But I struggled to share a viewpoint with and buy into the ideology of someone who writes from such a different position to me. She sold me a lot of her ideas – they’re not difficult concepts and concisely chosen – but didn’t really get me on side. Maybe I’m asking too much of a book, but I didn’t put it down feeling like I was any better equipped to overcome my anxieties and make practical changes to how I live in order to feel more creatively fulfilled.

But saying that, I’ve quoted various points from the book to a number of people over the last week. It is worth a look – and it’s a low time and effort commitment as it’s short and really quite a fun read. Maybe with time to reflect and absorb, I’ll stop focusing on little niggles and the message will be what stays with me. And then maybe it’ll help me produce some magic of my own.