There is No Wall is an incredibly easy to read book with incredibly tough content. Bailey writes about her life; growing up, working in the music industry and weaves her extensive ultra running races and challenges alongside it. It covers her alcohol addiction, depression and relationships. The love she has for friends and Pickle Pie (her dog) shines through so although the content might be hard, especially if you have struggled with similar issues you can see that there is some light. Despite this it doesn’t have the story arc you expect. We might expect a tough upbringing, comfort found in drugs and alcohol, a discovery of running, running saves her. It is so much more complex – just as life generally is.

I love that she is so clear that running didn’t save her – more that it kept her going long enough to have the rock bottom moment and still have something to strive for on the other side. I loved her little digs at us triathletes! I love that because Bailey worked in the music industry she offers us a track to listen to, to complement each chapter. Mostly though I loved how Bailey shows us the importance of belonging. Our craving to belong. Our craving to be understood; not to fit in with others but to be truly accepted for who we are.

One of the biggest issues I see the ‘very intelligent perfectionists’ I work with struggling with is the need to be ‘good enough’. When you are a perfectionist (whether by nature or forced into you during your upbringing) you will never feel good enough and that gap between where you feel you should be and where you are can feel like a chasm. A chasm that can cause all sorts of wellbeing issues. Bailey highlights many of these. But what Bailey also does wonderfully is highlight is her ACT (acceptance and commitment therapy) therapist helped her to keep her values (hers are honesty, integrity and kindness) in mind and at the forefront of any decisions so that she could constantly aim for progress not perfection. This is a goal I would love us all to adopt.

Bailey can really write – she has really lovely phraseology. My five favourite quotes…

  • “At times, running has crushed me, broken me and made me feel like utter shit. It has shattered my heart and left me bereft. It has frightened me, flogged me and fucked me up. It has promised the world and delivered nothing, and it has made me feel that I am just not good enough. But it has also given me a lot….It has shown me acceptance, community, even love.”
  • “The trip was proof that my thoughts alone could not kill me, it was only my actions that could do that if I allowed them too.
  • “Running was not saving me. Running doesn’t save anyone. While it maybe therapeutic, it is not therapy. It is not a magic bullet. What running was doing was buying me time.”
  • “Acceptance is incredibly difficult but ultimately a superpower.”
  • “I had  100 miler to run. I was convinced that would be the making of me. I was convinced that would change me. . For information, running a 100 mile race is not and never has been a successful way of dealing with depression or addiction. It has never been recommended to anyone by any medical professional ever, mainly because it’s fucking stupid and doesn’t work.”

It is published in late January and can be pre-ordered at: There is No Wall by Allie Bailey – Adventure Books by Vertebrate Publishing