Opening sentence: “I never thought I was a runner.”
I finished reading Eat, Drink, Run last Sunday on the day of the London marathon and seeing as how it’s all about Telegraph journalist Bryony Gordon’s experience running that very race for the first time, that seemed quite serendipitous. (Perhaps randomly as a non-runner, this is my second running-based memoir, the first was What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami; very different to Bryony’s account, but also really interesting.) Eat, Drink, Run is Bryony’s third memoir. I’ve previously read Mad Girl where she discusses her mental health issues in such an honest and educational way and in this book she continues her story, with the focus on how embracing exercise – specifically running – has helped her manage her OCD.
It’s strange because even as I started reading, I thought, ‘I’m not a runner, so might not really engage with this’ but as you can see from the opening sentence, Bryony is not your stereotypical runner. As she puts it: “I am a runner. I am a drinker, a smoker, an eater of burgers and chips, but a runner all the same. I always was a runner – the only person stopping me from getting out and doing it ‘properly’ was myself.” I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting this book to be so inspiring, it’s peppered with snippets like, ‘I can now see that having fun is not the same as being happy’ that really made me pause for a minute and assess the way I approach things.
Written in such an easy-to-read and conversational tone, it’s full of great anecdotes: Bryony started Mental Health Mates after the idea popped into her mind while out for a jog. It’s a wonderfully simple yet effective initiative: groups of people with mental heath issues meet up to chat and provide a support network for each other. I also love the story of how she volunteered to run a marathon in the first place. After the publication of Mad Girl, Bryony found herself thrust into the role of mental health ambassador, so due to this was invited to the launch of Heads Together, the mental health charity founded by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry. She has big fan-girling moments about meeting the Royals, especially Kate, and I can fully relate to this (not meeting them, I’ve sadly never done that, but know I would be just as excited and in awe as her if I ever did!) Caught up in the excitement, Bryony volunteered to run the marathon on behalf of their charity, despite not (at that time) considering herself a runner at all. She trained, she struggled, she learnt things, but she got there.
She also includes the transcript of the interview she did with Prince Harry for her podcast, Mad World, where he talks exclusively about his own mental health issues for the first time. It’s a great podcast series, highly recommend giving it a listen!
I can’t believe I’m writing this, but I really feel like I might dig out my running shoes from the wardrobe this weekend and take a gentle jog around the park, sometimes at the moment I really feel I need to take time to clear my head and as Bryony says, – ‘the only person stopping me from getting out and doing it ‘properly’ (is) myself.’ I know I often think of the negative first, or convince myself I can’t do something before I’ve even tried. It’s a terrible habit that Bryony has inspired me to break. OK, I wasn’t expecting this review to end in a mini self-therapy session, but here we are.
/Published Headline in 2018