Book Review: Jog On by Bella Mackie

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Title: Jog On
Author: Bella Mackie
Publication Date: 27th December 2018

Synopsis: "Divorced and struggling with deep-rooted mental health problems, Bella Mackie ended her twenties in tears. She could barely find the strength to get off the sofa, let alone piece her life back together. Until one day she did something she had never done of her own free will - she pulled on a pair of trainers and went for a run.

Over the previous decade, Bella was so paralysed by her fears that exercise was the very last thing on her mind. So that first run didn't last very long. But to her surprise, she was back out there the next day. And the day after that. She began to set herself achievable goals - to run 5k in under 30 minutes, to walk to work every day for a week, to attempt 10 push-ups in a row. Before she knew it, her mood was lifting for the first time in years, and she had swapped hiding in her house for fresh air, unknown roads and running tracks.

In Jog On, Bella explains with hilarious and unfiltered honesty how she used running to battle crippling anxiety and depression, without having to sacrifice her main loves: booze, cigarettes and ice cream. With the help of a supporting cast of doctors, psychologists, sportspeople and friends, she shares a wealth of inspirational stories, research and tips to show how exercise often can be the best medicine."

My thoughts: This book is a bit shorter than I expected, but still packs an emotional and fact-filled punch! Mackie explores both mental illness and how running has helped people, and then also relates things from her own life to give a extremely interesting reading experience. It almost convinced me to try running myself (I think it would have been successful if I didn't have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and have to really watch what exertion I engage with...).

The tone that Mackie strikes is friendly, without becoming too bogged down in emotion, and shares just enough facts to be interesting and informative without becoming too dry. I think I got a lot out of reading this because of my own experience with depression and anxiety - it really helps to remind yourself with books like this that you're not alone in your experience. Or, at least, it helps me. Mackie is open and honest about her experience, though at times I wished we heard just a tiny bit more from her own experience rather than from experts, data, or other people.

I will say that it was hard for me at times to relate to Mackie's experience simply because I don't drink or smoke, and at times she seemed to make jokes about drinking too much/hangovers/etc and because that doesn't align with the way I live my own life it felt a little jarring. But that really is just personal preference.

Ultimately, this is an interesting little book, with an interesting story. I would recommend to those with a lived experience of anxiety, OCD, or depression, or even just those who want to learn more about running and how it can improve your life.

{I received a review copy of this book from William Collins/HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!!}

A favourite line from the book: 'I ran for three minutes today. In the dark, slowly, and not all in one go. That's three minutes more than I've ever run in my life. I'm out of breath and I've got a stitch and I already feel better than I have in years.That's enough for a first attempt. Now I can go back home and have a cry. Or some wine.'

You would like this book if: you enjoy nonfiction that looks into someone's life and the way they improve it, with some science-y facts thrown in, too; you like running, obvs. :)

Tea to drink while reading this book: I think, really, you may need to go for a run after reading this. So unless you have some iced tea (homemade, of course) in a water bottle, you may spill your tea...

Rating:  8/10

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