Monthly Archives: January 2017

Training recap week #4

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Week: 4/16

Runs: 3

Miles: 17.6

Legs: Strong

Mood: Determined

Tearful outbursts: 4 or 5

Running related tearful outbursts: 1

So that’s the end of week 4 of marathon training, and for the first time I didn’t complete all 4 scheduled runs. As those that follow me on Instagram or Facebook will have seen I have struggled quite a bit this week with my anxiety. When I woke up last Tuesday morning it was like something heavy but restless had settled on my shoulders and something flighty, breathless and skittish had taken up residence in my chest. I couldn’t shake the dreadful anxiety that I was somehow completely unacceptable as a human being. The brain weasels took the biscuits I ate and enjoyed the night before and turned them into something shameful. They took the fun pictures of me running on Sunday and turned them into a horror-show of flabby thighs and cellulite. They took my long to-do list at work and turned it into a list of failures. They took everyday interactions with colleagues and made them feel dangerous. 

These kinds of feelings are no fun at all, but they’re not as scary as they once were. I know that sometimes they come, with little warning, but more importantly I know that always they go. 

In terms of running, I was damn proud of my Wednesday night (nearly) 6 miler. It was cold, dark, the air was full of dampness and mizzle, and I was tired after a day or normal work plus the extra drain of all that anxiety. But I did it, and I didn’t hate it, and I had pizza afterwards!

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All smiles on Sunday!

I ended up skipping my Friday easy run because I’d had a niggly little pain in my right shin for a while and it seemed to be linked to tightness in my calf that came on during Wednesday’s run. I was hoping that a rest would help it to feel better, but weirdly it actually got worse the longer I didn’t run on it. So on Sunday out we went, Coach Matt and I, for 90 minutes in the park. It felt incredible. My legs felt strong and my pace was pleasingly steady. Matt commented that my stride looked stronger and that I was picking my feet up much better than last week. I am definitely getting stronger, and my positivity about the marathon has returned. I can totally do this!

Next week, week 5, is a low-mileage week, in theory so that my body can adjust before some speedwork gets added in in week 6! Exciting times.

I’m running the 2017 London Marathon for Mind, the mental health charity.
If you’d like to sponsor me please go to my fundraising page here!

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Training recap week #3

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Week: 3/16

Runs: 4

Miles: 19.14

Legs: Bruised and battered

Mood: Fearful

Scraped knees: 3

Tearful outbursts: 1

Week 3 is over, and I am very glad to see the back of it. I completed all the runs on my plan this week, even managing to keep to a 10 min/mile pace for a couple of sessions. But overall I am feeling a bit negative and afraid of what the coming weeks will bring. Can I really become a marathoner?

First, my body is shouting at me pretty loudly tonight, as I’ve managed to fall over my Friday and Sunday runs. On Friday I tried to really test my speed on a popular Strava segment, and then really struggled to get my breath back and find enough energy to finish the run. Whilst running tired I failed to pick my feet up, and went flying. I landed on a patch of rutted frozen mud, and bashed both elbows, both knees, both palms and all down the outside of my left thigh. Ouch. I managed to talk myself into completing the intended number of minutes, so there’s that… On Sunday, 20 minutes in to an 80 minute session, I tripped on a drain cover (Coach Matt tells me I veer to the left and so basically run myself into the rough edges of the pavement… sigh…) and hit the ground again. Scraped knee #3.It was around then that the tears happened!

But, attempting to look on the bright side, I completed all my runs and felt relatively okay during them. We even managed a couple of 4ish mile walks over the weekend to make the most of the beautiful sunshine. According to my Fitbit I’d done nearly 27,000 steps come Sunday bedtime!

I hope week 4 is kinder to me…

I’m running the 2017 London Marathon for Mind, the mental health charity.
If you’d like to sponsor me please go to my fundraising page here!

You’d feel a lot better if you’d just…

I wonder if this phrase is familiar to anyone else? It’s usually followed by things like:

“…do some exercise.”

“…eat more fruit and vegetables.”

“…get outside more.”

“…think more positively.”

“…try to be grateful for what you’ve got, rather than what you haven’t.”

“…learn not to dwell on things so much.”

I find these kinds of comments incredibly frustrating, because they are, in a way, difficult to refute. It’s no secret that a healthy diet and positive attitude have an impact on your mental health, and I’m not about to argue against exercise being a powerful tool in the battle with anxiety and/or depression! But then again…

What a lot of people don’t realise is that when I hear these things I hear “If you don’t help yourself in this, this and this way, then you’ve not earned the right to sympathy, help, or even acknowledgement that you have an actual illness with actual symptoms that won’t magically go away if you learn to appreciate the beauty of the natural world.”

These (usually well-intentioned) bits of advice can sound pretty accusatory. Almost like the advice-giver is excusing themselves from providing any sympathy or assistance until you, the sufferer, can prove that you are actively trying to combat your symptoms yourself.

But someone with depression might sometimes find themselves utterly unable to get out of their bed, even going hungry for hours because the prospect of going to the kitchen to fetch food is just too much. Someone in the throes of an anxiety attack cannot stop “dwelling” on the source of their anxiety because their nervous system is telling them that they are in danger RIGHT NOW. Sometimes the depressed person watches dirty laundry pile up before their eyes, and wants with every fibre of their being to do something about it, but they just… can’t. Sometimes a beautiful gift sends an anxious person into a tearful spiral of shame and guilt because they know, when they look into the very core of themselves, that they do not deserve it.

(Yes, those last two examples are all me, and believe me they are not isolated incidents.)

This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t give advice to someone suffering from mental health issues. But, please don’t make their following that advice a requirement for the continuation of your support. If they are anything like me, they already think they are stretching your patience to its last thread, and if they find themselves unable to do whatever it is you suggest, well… it won’t have the desired effect!

 

 

Training recap week #2

trainingweek2

Week: 2/16

Runs: 4

Miles: 17.5

Legs: Somewhat stronger

Mood: Determined

Week 2 is done and dusted! I’ve had a few up and downs this week, with my legs feeling much stronger at times, but one session that I nearly quit halfway through. I’ve had a bit of pain in my right shin as well, so I’ve been concentrating on recovery, doing lots of stretching and strengthening exercises. And I’ve been reacquainted with my foam roller (ouch!).

My long run on Sunday was one of those runs that just feel amazing. Matt came with me on his bike, and rode alongside the whole way. It was great to have someone to talk to (at least after mile 3 and I’d settled into the rhythm!) and the fact that he was willing to ride around for an hour in the rain made my heart feel very full, and I’m more grateful than I can adequately express.

Wednesday’s run was supposed to be “steady” pace. As my plan explains, this is the pace that requires 10-20% more effort than “easy”. I find it very difficult to assess my effort levels, especially in shorter runs where I don’t ever really feel like I’ve got into the swing of things. So I paced it by just pushing a little more than what felt like minimum, and didn’t worry too much about the actual speed! And then on Friday, for some reason I felt like I was flying, and I completed the same distance in the same time, but without having to put in nearly as much effort! As I go further with the training journey I hope I’ll start to figure out what makes different runs different, and learn a lot about myself as a runner!

Bring on week 3!

I’m running the 2017 London Marathon for Mind, the mental health charity.
If you’d like to sponsor me please go to my fundraising page here!

Training recap week #1

trainingweek1

 

Week: 1/16

Runs: 4

Miles: 13.79

Legs: Slightly sluggish

Mood: Optimistic

So that’s the end of week 1 of 16 of my marathon training plan. I’ve chosen a plan aimed at “improvers” as although I haven’t run a full marathon before, I have done several half marathons and I have a pretty good understanding of how my body handles running longish distances. The first 4 weeks of the plan focus on easy or steady pace runs, with time rather than distance goals. Other than making it rather more difficult to plan a route when thinking in minutes, this really doesn’t make much difference to me! I know that my easy pace is around 11 min/mile, so that has been my target this week.

I think this first week actually went really well, I haven’t run so consistently for a long time, but I had virtually no aches or soreness beyond the very very minor. In fact the only issue I had was on Saturday evening after an hour walking along muddy tracks up on the Ridgeway. At that point my legs felt super sore and tired, but happily a bit of foam rolling and a massage from Matt sorted it right out and they’ve been fine since.

I’m looking forward to week 2!

I’m running the 2017 London Marathon for Mind, the mental health charity.
If you’d like to sponsor me please go to my fundraising page here!

I’m going to run a marathon!

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So, this is the big announcement that I alluded to in my post earlier this week. I’ve been waiting for the right moment to write this, and it turns out that the right moment is the end of week 1 of marathon training. I guess now it feels real enough for me to “say it out loud”.

On April 23rd this year, I’m going to be running the Virgin Money London Marathon!

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This was a plan that hatched last spring, after running the Bath and Reading half marathons. I decided that I wanted to try and raise some money for charity, and to turn the good that running does for me into good for others too. I applied for a place in a charity team and found out in September 2016 that I was successful.

I’m incredibly proud and excited to announce that I’ll be running for Mind, the mental health charity!

The work that they do: providing support, improving education, raising awareness, and more… is truly amazing, and in these times when, because of incredibly high demand, our NHS struggles to provide timely assistance to those in need, also incredibly necessary!

I’ve pledged to raise at least £2000 for Mind, so please do sponsor me if you can! My fundraising page can be found by clicking here.

This is the biggest challenge I’ve ever attempted, and your support means the world to me!

Over the next 15 weeks I will post regular training updates, I’ll write about mental health issues and post plenty of photos for your entertainment.

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p.s. I can’t end this post without a huge thank you to Matthew,
my #1 supporter, unofficial coach, and very patient photographer!

Running Anecdotes

So the festive season is over for another year, and I’ll be heading back to work tomorrow. For me the turning of the year is a double-whammy of celebrations because my birthday is on January 1st, and right now I’m feeling extremely loved, relaxed, well-fed, and overwhelmed with the generosity of my family and friends who have spoiled me with so many lovely gifts!

I’m feeling a bit anxious about returning to work, and some of the familiar weasel-y (read: unhelpfully negative) thoughts about my abilities and the length of my to-do list are fluttering in the background. But what is most astonishing to me is the vast change in how I feel compared with this time last year, which was a dark time, even with my 30th birthday party to look forward to. I am determined to keep tight hold of the positive energy and momentum I’m feeling right now!

I have two little running-related anecdotes (runecdotes?) to share today.

wp-1483464613535.jpgThe first is actually from Christmas Eve, when Matt and I went out for an early (ish) jog around the park, wearing matching Santa hats and with a plan to wish everyone we met a merry Christmas! I was incredibly excited by the number of people we saw, even having a couple of beeps from passing cars, and it was a great way to start the day. As we were about to leave the park we passed the play area and noticed that it was empty. Now this play area is only a few months old and it is absolutely awesome. We (and many of our adult friends, too) have been wanting an opportunity to have a play since the summer, so obviously we jumped at the chance! We rode the slides, I bounced on the trampoline while giggling madly, and we raced each other on the zipwires. If there is a better way to end a run, or indeed to start Christmas, I don’t know what it is!

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The second is from this afternoon. I went out for my first run of 2017, just a short easy jog around the block. I was struck (for the umpteenth time) by how getting out and running provides me with the opportunity to appreciate the beauty of the world around me.

Today’s run was actually the first official training run for something rather exciting, which I will talk more about in a couple of days!