Back in the pool


These past few weeks I’ve been working really hard on trying to improve my day to day health. I have gone gluten free to see if that helps with my absolute exhaustion and fatigue. I have been feeling slightly better, though whether that’s because of the gluten or not will only be confirmed once I go back on gluten for a while. I’ve been trying to cycle to work twice a week, walk to church when it’s at the church near by and encourage Jack to take walks with me during his lunch break when I stay at his.


We are ridiculously adorable sometimes!!

This morning I took another step, with Jack’s support. To start with, I woke up at 4am and worked until 7am, so I was feeling super productive anyway! I woke Jack up at 7am with a cup of tea and a banana. And, an hour later, we went swimming.

I haven’t been swimming properly since June when I was visiting my big sister in Australia. I did a triathlon in July, with no training whatsoever, and swam 400m in that, but aside from that I haven’t been in a pool except to supervise children. I have run since the half marathon in September. And cycling to work takes 8 minutes – I really don’t feel I can count that as exercise! But this morning’s escapade was something different.

We paid our £4 entry fee and wandered round like fools for about 5 minutes, totally unable to find the changing rooms and, for a while, the pool itself! But we found it eventually and before I knew it we were standing at the edge of the pool’s medium swimmer lane and it was time to get in.

I LOVE swimming. It is one of my all time favourite things to do. It’s a form of exercise with minimum pain and it reaps great benefits. But I was frightened. I was really scared. My anxiety was sky high as I looked down the length of the 33m pool (bearing in mind that the pool I had been training in last year was only 18m long!). It seemed endless and vast and totally unconquerable. But I’ve learned recently that there are some things you have to take a day at a time. I decided to take this a length at a time.

First length, front crawl

Second length, breast stroke

2 lengths, front crawl

2 lengths breast stroke

3 lengths front crawl

2 lengths breast stroke

4 lengths front crawl

2 lengths breaststroke

A length at a time worked. Some were slow, some were speedy. For some I did backstroke, for others I doggy paddled the last 10m. I took 10 second timed breaks when necessary and stopped a couple of times to chat to Jack.

Actually, let’s just take a moment here to dwell on how wonderful Jack is. He is not feeling well today, and when I woke him up he really, really struggled. We walked down the wrong street to get to the pool because he was so tired. He’s resting right now, well deserved. And you know what? Before we even got in the pool he told me he was proud of me, and reminded me not to do a typical me and overdo it completely. Every time we paused for a chat he told me I was doing ‘amazingly’ and encouraged me to keep going, within reason. The walk home he couldn’t stop telling me how proud of me he was.

Jack understands what a big deal today was. It wasn’t just a swim. It wasn’t just exploring a new pool. It was facing a fear. It was standing up to my illness and saying ‘no, today, I will not be beaten back down’.

And I swam just over 1km. Slowly, with breaks. But I did it. I came home and literally in the time it took Jack to find sausages for his breakfast in the freezer, I had fallen back sleep in bed. I woke up half an hour later, refreshed and excited.

It wasn’t a great workout. It wasn’t up to the standard my swimming was at this time a year and a half ago. My back hurts and I have water trapped in my ear :p But today, I took a step in the right direction.

It’s funny really. I hadn’t realised how intertwined all aspects of my life are. The depression separated me from this blog after only 1 post. It took away my exercise, my sleep, my health, my books. It kept me in bed, knocked me down time and time again, until I had forgotten what enjoyment and non-despair felt like. Starting back on this blog was a small step. Reading books again, that was a massive step. Seeing doctors. Taking medication. Explaining to friends. And now trying to get back into exercise and taking control of my diet. Maybe, just maybe, the depression isn’t running my life anymore.



Disney Land Paris Half Marathon


This year Disney Land Paris held their first EVER RunDisney event – a thing that I never knew existed until now! RunDisney seems to have run in America for years, with various events taking place in both parks, and the first ever Disney Land Paris event appears to have been years in the making! I was privileged enough to stumble across it before it booked up, and took myself and my parents for a weekend in Paris. And last year, when I booked it, I thought ‘well, I can run 10km now, this time next year 21km should be no problem!’. That, I think you’ll find, is optimism at its peak. A serious bout of depression and anxiety, a discovery of 2 extra ribs and pure exhaustion later, I showed up at Disney Land having only recently managed to get myself up to walk-running 5km. Yep, I was doomed!


The day began at 4.20am when I got up for an early breakfast before dragging my parents out to the running expo because I didn’t want to be late. I had purchased an emergency belt with a water bottle, as I knew I wouldn’t have able to hold onto a bottle for the entire run, popped on my old running shoes because the insoles in my new ones still cause me cramp, and pinned my number to my top. I was ready to go! At 6am they let us into the corrals. I was in corral C – even in my optimism last year I knew that I wasn’t going to be fast, and had put myself in with the slowest runners! There was a stage right next to the start line with various people coming up and talking about the event, but it was quite hard to hear from where I was standing, at the front of corral C. And it was cold!

In very un-disney-like fashion, the event kicked off 10 minutes late, and those of us at the front of corral C watched the elites, corral A and the entirety of corral B, which stretched back for hundreds, if not thousands, of people, leave before we were moved to the start line.

Then it was time to go! The sun was slowly taking its hat off to brighten up the day and I, along with several hundred others, began the mammoth event.

Running through the village and into Disney Studios was really exciting, and I felt reasonably energetic and excited, though I made sure that I paced myself. That’s the one thing I’m probably really good at is pacing myself, because I know my limits! Round a corner and ‘oh, there’s Captain America and Spiderman!’. The next corner was far more exciting for me as ‘IT’S THE CHIPMUNKS!’ I adore Chip and Dale, they’re my all time favourite characters. We ran through the stage for the car show, and the route of the tram, and progressed into Disney Park through the main gates. Spectators had been able to collect wristbands to allow them to stand on main street and watch the runners. It was so amazing, in both lands all the staff were out, super early in the morning, cheering us on and supporting us! Up the top of Main Street I found my parents, cheering loudly and enthusiastically. I ran on, past Cinderella and her Prince, stopping for a snap with Alice outside the maze, as well as Baloo. I was determined to stick to under 10 minute kms though, so I skipped a few characters and went on my way.

Leaving the park about 5km into the run, I knew the hard part was only just starting. I stopped for a toilet break and then continued on my way. There were bands placed at various points throughout the run, and so much cheering and support you felt invincible. Until you reached km11. From which you could see km 16. And the first part of km 11 was a steep downhill. All you could see was the ones ahead of you running back up the hill. I was tempted to stop there! But I knew I could manage the downhill. So I kept going. At this point I was optimistic that I’d be able to maintain my 3 minutes running 1 minute walking rotation. On the way back up to 16km I agreed with myself I could go down to 1 minute run 1 minute walk. By 18km I was walking as long as I had to and running as short as possible. My hip hurt. I had severe blisters developing on my feet. I was hot and tired and really really really hungry! Just after 19km I could see people running on the other side of a small river, and I looked over, knowing how far away that was, and just thought ‘I can’t do this anymore. I just can’t.’ At that point, I started repeating to myself what my Camp America Director told me several years ago. I can do anything I put my mind to. Anything at all. And I kept moving. I couldn’t stop, I knew I wouldn’t start again! I just kept going. And 19km became 20km. I saw my parents, waving and cheering, and I called out to them that I was going to run over the finish line, and I kept walking.

And you know what? I did. I rounded the corner to see the straight line up to the finish line and I ran. Well, hobbled energetically. I DID IT! I, Hannah Tindall, with very little training, a bad back, depression and anxiety, blisters and a bad hip, managed to complete a half marathon. It took 3 hours 16 minutes and 22 seconds according to the official timings, with an average pace of 9 minutes 19 seconds per km. I can 7112. Out of over 8500 people! I wasn’t last. I didn’t get picked up. And I did it!

This was the hardest thing I’ve had to drive myself to do. To keep going when the only person you’re going to let down is yourself. To push yourself to the limit and then keep going for another 2.1km. To run when all you want to do is collapse.

No one can quite believe I did it. My parents were shocked, my boyfriend speechless and my best friend not surprised at all (I feel that she recognises and acknowledges how stubborn I can be!).

It hurt. I am still limping 5 days later. And I may never run that distance again. But I am so incredibly proud of what I have achieved. If I can do it, anyone can!



Funnily enough, this blog is called ‘Read Exercise Repeat’ and yet I have managed so far to avoid talking about any form of exercise! There are several reasons for this… when I first started the blog I almost immediately hit a rough patch and ended up taking a lot of time off from running. Now, a year later, I’m struggling to get back on the wagon. I’ve gained weight, exercised less and am mostly pretty unmotivated.

That said, I did do a triathlon this year. I did 2 last year, and they were both faster and better, but I decided that since I was signed up for 2 half marathons later in 2016, I should probably do something to get my head in the game! (*insert High School Musical soundtrack here*). I completed the triathlon, a 400m swim, 21.5km bike and a 5km ‘run’ (walk) and was pretty proud of myself for that. My boyfriend was amazingly supportive and was there cheering me on for the whole 2 hours it took me.

And now, in 17 days, I am supposed to be running a half marathon. Yesterday I ran 5km for the first time in months.

I’m worried. I’m nervous and frightened and scared. Most of me wants to pull out of the run and just wave the money goodbye (it’s in Disney Land Paris so it would be waving a lot of money goodbye).

The remaining part of me is constantly asking ‘what’s the worst that could happen?’ I injure myself. I permanently injure myself. I have to get picked up half way round the course because I’m running too slow (gotta be doing a 16 minute mile). I can just about run 5km at a 15 minute mile. How am I going to feel after km 10? 15? 17?

The thing is, I’m stubborn, and no matter how small the stubborn part of me is right now, it won’t be overlooked. I AM going to go to Paris and I AM going to give the half marathon my best shot. For the next two weeks I hope to be able to train myself to run 15km. The remaining 6km will just happen. Or they won’t. But I need to give it a try. And when the necessary intensity of this training is over, I want to go back to really training. Cycling, running, swimming. Exercising because I want to, and I love it. But for now, I gotta run.

I will in the future talk about the apps I use and the programmes I follow. But today, know this.

A 12 minute mile is just as far as a 6 minute mile.

I am a runner.

And I will run.

A Brief Introduction


‘If not you, who? If not now, when?’

I am the queen of putting of things because I don’t have the right coloured notebook, or I’m too tired, or my pen broke. But not today!

I recently read a book by Andy Miller entitled ‘My year of reading dangerously – 50 books (and 2 not so great ones) which changed my life’. I have been inspired to finally read some of those books that I’ve said I would, and decided that a good way for me to track my reading and any changes it makes, or interest it causes, is by blogging – and you never know, someone else may find it interesting!

In the meantime, I have been making personal changes including living a healthier and more active life (training for triathlons and various runs). So why not include that as well. None of us are made up one single thing, but rather made up of many different elements which make up our entirety.

My final thing which is important to me is the taking up of the kids work in my church. I have just finished a week of leading a Holiday Programme, following a drama investigation which I planned, wrote and executed myself, with the help of an amazing team.

So, off I go to read The Count of Monte Cristo – I will let you know how it goes.