Run #3 Reflection: Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrr it’s cold in here!❄️❄️❄️

Just a quick post-run update since my fingers are still defrosting!

Man alive that was TOUGH. And today’s run reminded me why I’ve started training early. Running in the cold is not only, well, cold but it affects your running, as I found out today. I found it really tough to get in to a rhythm with my breathing. I’ve always found running in the cold tricky and to be honest I’m not quite sure what I need to do to help my breathing settle. And to make matters worse, the first 10-15 minutes of running are often the most tortuous for me. So if anyone has any good pointers on getting through those first few gruelling, breathless minutes please let me know!

I also couldn’t get in to a rhythm with my actual running today either. I’m not sure if it was the cold, a new route or just the fact that it was an off day but it was a real struggle to find any sort of pace. Not that I really know what sort of pace I’m doing other than what Runkeeper tells me every 5 minutes!! But I could feel it today that things just didn’t feel quite right. So running, jogging, walking were all in the mix today… some more than others!

But the important thing: I turned up. I turned up, gave it a go and achieved today’s goal of ‘running’ continuously for 30 minutes. And while it didn’t feel great whilst doing the run, it feels great typing these sentences, knowing that I turned up and didn’t bail out. So that’s what I’m taking forward with me today: turn up, and then let everything go from there, whatever that might be!

Run #3 Rating & Reflection

Achievement = 3 actually no 4

I’m really proud of myself for turning up and giving it a go, and I’m actually feeling quite refreshed having been for the run, but I’m giving ‘achievement’ an average score as I think I could have stuck at some of the harder bits a little more. Then again, it was my first time running in near freezing temperature and that did really through me. Ok, I’ was going to score it a 3 but I’m going to up it to a 4!

Enjoyment = 2

Yeh, I really REALLY didn’t like today’s run. But I did enjoy meeting 2 friends for a milkshake (banana and peanut butter!) after. Silver linings!

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Making the most of now…

A short pre-run post…

I do not want to go for a run today. It’s cold (and soon to be freezing); I’m tired (when am I not); I have a sore throat (and the sniffles); and my feet hurt (from wearing ridiculously high heels to a wedding on Sunday). But none of these reasons are good enough for me to not run today. Plus, I’ve missed 2 training sessions so I have some catching up to do.

What I need to do is make the most of NOW.

I’ve finished work early after a really fun and interesting day learning how to use a camera and shoot for TV. I walked to and from work with the sun shining. And now I’m home early, I’m home just in time to run in the dying moments of today’s sunlight.

So it’s not going to be pretty, but that’s not the point. Run I must.

Run #2 Reflection

If you read my previous blog you’ll know that today’s been a bit of a b*tch and so I wasn’t really in the mood for running. But run I must. I decided that to take a different route today, with running through Bristol and along the harbour. And I’m glad I did. A couple of years ago I entered the Bristol Haf Marathon. I completed it, but with a knackered knee and not a great experience of running a race like that. Anyway, today I ran parts of the half marathon route I took in 2014 and it was a good reminder of progress (again, see previous blog!). Nonetheless, today’s run was marginally more enjoyable than Sunday’s largely because Spotify didn’t throw as many random songs in like it did a few days ago! And the centre of town looked pretty and festive, too, which was nice.

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Pre-run woes; the run stats; mid-run photo; post-run relief

So, let’s get to it…

Run #2 Rating & Reflection

Achievement = 5

Yep, that’s a massive score (the highest). And that’s because today it would have been so easy not to have gone out running but I did. So a pat on the back for me.

Enjoyment = 3

I felt like I got in to a fairly good rhythm today. Also enjoyed taking a different route – think I’ll switch it up a bit more in the future.

Although enjoyment levels went up when I came home to a glass of wine and dinner cooked for me by my better half 😊🍷❤️

P is for Perseverance

Today has been about perseverance.

I woke up feeling exhausted – a feeling I’ve come to know rather well and one that hasn’t left my body for about 3 years now. Some days are better than others, but when it comes down to it it’s just different levels of exhaustion. And when the levels are really low, I feel really low. Despite feeling like this today, I (eventually) got up and ready for work. I never thought that at the age of 30 I’d count getting up and out of bed as an achievement, but that’s where my life is at at the moment. That’s not to say I’m not achieving other things (as this blog and hopefully running the marathon demonstrates) but I have certainly had to alter some of my goals and expectations. I’m slowly coming to accept that but it is hard to do on days like today, when all I want to do is feel like my ‘old self’. Deep down I know I’ve got to accept that that person is gone, just as it would be if I didn’t have depression or if I was a different person. We all change in some way or another over time. But for me, when the change feels markedly different, it’s easy to forget that. Sometimes I feel so different I don’t feel like me anymore. That’s a scary and confusing feeling.

Anyway, I got up and ready for work – yay me. But before work, therapy.

Again, another feeling of having to push on through and persevere. I’m keeping a diary of the things I’m doing at the moment and how they make me feel to see if there’s a pattern in my behaviour that links to my thoughts and feelings, and vice versa. It’s a bit frustrating as I’ve been doing this for the past 2 years. Since being diagnosed with depression, I have taken a proactive approach by reading about the illness (which in a perverse way I find fascinating!) and researching various ways of coping with it and I’ve already done this exercise. However, I do think it’s good to re-visit, especially with my counsellor being able to objectively look at things and give another perspective. Plus, I obviously haven’t cracked exactly what brings me right down on some days so that still needs figuring out. Although I do know that since being diagnosed, I have persevered and made great improvements… if I was writing this 2 years ago, well I wouldn’t have been able to. This time 2 years ago I was in what would become my 4th out of 6 weeks off work after being diagnosed with depression and the doctor writing me a sick note. I was broken. I was beyond exhausted. I was completely lost. I had many, many ‘down days’ and didn’t know how to manage them. 2 years on, and my mood has generally lifted through various CBT techniques, medication and that good old healer, time. But I do still have some ‘down days’ and when they’re particularly bad, I struggle in getting up and out of them. So that’s where I’m at at the moment, trying to find out if there are particular triggers for ‘down days’ and working out a way(s) to cope with them so I don’t let the depression overcome me. I guess I’ve been persevering for a while now – just got to persevere for a little longer.

After therapy, work. A number of my friends/colleagues noticed I was a bit more quiet than usual and asked if I was ok. I said I was fine but they knew that wasn’t true. They know what’s up and I know they’re there if I need them, which makes persevering a little easier. That’s one of the things that has made the past 2 years bearable: understanding, patient and considerate colleagues. Many of them have not only helped me but been the reason I’ve persevered at times. When working in an industry that relies a lot on personality and creativity, suffering from something that can change who you are as a person and how you respond to different things is scary, lonely and bloody frustrating! Having colleagues supporting me has meant I’ve been able to continue working in my dream job, even when I haven’t been firing on all cylinders. At times they’ve carried me, propped me up so I can just about function. So I’ve got to persevere, right? If they believe in me and the fact that things will get better then surely I have to do the same? It’s the very least I can do. And you know what? As today’s gone on, I’ve found that I’ve had to persevere less. The day got a little easier, a little less painful. I got stuck in to some editing and script writing – two of my favourite things to do – and I found that the up hill struggle started to plateau. As one of my colleagues who’s become a very good friend says, momentum is momentum – as long as it’s moving in the right direction, that’s all good.

Now for the final push…

I’ve got to run. I didn’t go yesterday because I’d been to the dentist for a root canal and really wasn’t feeling great. So today, despite not feeling great for other reasons, I’ve got to go. Today’s training is 30 minutes non-stop. Yay *hint of sarcasm*. I’m going to listen to Jack Garratt’s album ‘Phase’ to keep me company and spur me on. I saw him at Glastonbury earlier this year and more recently on Saturday night in Cardiff. His music is energising and his work ethic and talent is inspiring. Let’s hope it carries me for the next 30 minutes so I don’t have to persevere too much more today…

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Progress is progress.

Run #1 Reflection

I’m back and didn’t need a search party (see last blog post for reference!). Although I do need some thicker running tops for the winter – it was a bit chilly. And I may need something that’s not so bright – wearing essentially a builder’s florescent bib may be a bit too distracting to others! But I went out there, ran (and walked twice for about 30 seconds each time to catch my breath) and, most importantly, I got going. As you can see from the photo above, my training has had a ‘delayed’ start for a couple of reasons (one legitimate but the other, not so much). So getting up, going and completing it feels great even it the run really didn’t.

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Before pic (and in my florescent bib!), half way at Ashton Court, end of run photo in Clifton, and me having a rest at home

One of the things I’m going to do each time I reflect on my runs is ‘monitor’ them in the way that I reflect and monitor on my mental health each day. Over the past 2 years I’ve taken part in group CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) sessions, one-to-one counselling and one-to-one CBT, which is what I’m currently doing on a weekly basis. From those experiences, as well as some of my own research and reading about coping and managing with depression, I’ve created my own ‘toolbox’ if you like. As with running, I find it difficult to regularly do the things that I know are good for me but I am really trying hard to get in to a rhythm with recording my thoughts, emotions and (in)actions to help build a picture up of what may trigger what I call my ‘down days’ and what helps to lift my mood, as well as the things that help to stabilise me and keep me balanced.

This is my toolbox with some of the tools I use regularly:

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My mental health toolbox

And then the other thing I’m doing at the moment is rating my actions in relation to achievement and enjoyment. So I’m going to use that now for today’s running reflection along with using some of the words to describe me because I went out for a run. Go me and here’s to resting until Tuesday’s run…

FYI rating goes from 1 – 5 – 5 being the highest, 3 being average, and 1 being the lowest

Run #1 Rating & Reflection

Achievement = 4

I’m still annoyed with myself that I didn’t start running when I originally planned and so I don’t feel like I achieve what I set out to. However, when I break it down and place it all in context, I did get going today when on other days I haven’t and that’s an achievement. I also pushed myself when the run was getting tough to try to keep on going as much as I could. And I’ve written 2 blogs today on my running which really is an achievement.

Enjoyment = 2

I really didn’t like the run today at all. It was cold which made my chest feel tight and the first 10 minutes felt like FOREVER. Probably not helped by the fact that my running app didn’t start when I set it to and 5 minutes in I was wondering why I hadn’t heard a little voice in my ear buds telling me how far I’d ran so far. In some ways I should feel prouder because I ran further than I needed to but really I was out on the cold for longer than I bloody well needed to be. Oh well, at least I wasn’t raining or blowing a hoolie!

Today’s run shows that I am:

AMBITIOUS – while today was 3 miles, come April I’ll be running nearly 9x the distance

ACTIVE – got my heart rate up and my muscles working

DETERMINED – kept going to reach today’s goal

DEDICATED – I stuck to my training plan despite having not in the past 2 weeks

GRATEFUL – I’m grateful for being able to run, and live, in a beautiful and safe place

HARD-WORKING – blogging and running’s taken up time but I’ve worked to do my best

HOPEFUL – I’m trying to have some self-belief in my ability to do the marathon

KIND – I have been kind to myself – I’ve exercised and now I’m going to watch Strictly Come Dancing as a reward, followed by Plant Earth 2

MOTIVATED – thinking about why I’m doing this spurred me on

PROACTIVE – I’ve organised and planned my training and got going

REALISTIC – it was my first run in a while and so I didn’t over-do it

 

 

Motivation

Well, it is time. I’ve done the talking, now time to do the walking. Ok running. Or maybe something in between. Anyway, whatever it is I’m about to do it’s essentially my first run of my training for the London Marathon 2017 – F***! I’ve just tidied up my small flat and came across a large envelope containing my running shirt for the day. It’s given me a massive boost, reminding me that I’m running for myself to help improve my mental health as well as to contribute to a charity I very much care about given the work it does and the people that benefit from such work. So time to put your money where my mouth is and get running to raise money and awareness.

Oh, and there’s another thing motivational for me about the picture: it says Size S on the label. Currently I don’t fit in that size but hopefully I will come April!

I’ll post again once I’m back from my run (3 miles today) – if I’m not back by 5pm UK time, someone send a search party for me in the Clifton area of Bristol 😉

💪🏼👟🏅🏆❤️

Now that’s how you do customer service…

Well, this is rather unexpected. Not only am I blogging a day earlier than I planned, but I also woke up to 3 rather nice emails this morning. They took me by surprise so much that I just had to share it!

First, an email from Fitbit. After having my Fitbit replaced a few months ago after the button falling off, I managed to lose my replacement Fitbit a few weeks ago. It’s something I originally bought last year to help me get back in to doing exercise. An expensive, and potentially unnecessary, way to get back in to exercise but it worked for me and I’m glad I invested in one. Because that’s what it was for me – an investment. An investment in myself, my health and my future well-being. When I realised I’d lost it (the Fitbit, not my mind just so we’re clear!), I felt pretty down. At first I told myself that it didn’t matter and that I’ll just have to do without. But I really missed it and realised it was a great motivator for me. So I contacted Fitbit and told them my situation and wanted to see if there was anything they might be able to do. What I received was a personal email of support and encouragement, making me feel like a valued customer. Not only that, they helped me get a replacement Fitibit and I should be getting it in a few days. I can’t wait!

The other 2 emails that I woke to came from the same company, Bristol Massage Therapy. It was Victoria who emailed – the founder of the business. I’ve gone to her just a couple of times but each time I’ve been, she’s really helped me physically and mentally. Her approach is a holistic one. I talked about my depression and how it manifests physically for me: tight jaws from grinding my teeth from stress; tight, painful shoulders and upper back from tension building in my body; painful hips and thighs from the tension that builds in my legs linked to one of the side-effects from my medication. While it might seem it’s easy for me to talk about this and share it, it’s not, and having to say it all to a complete stranger is really daunting and uncomfortable. But Victoria put me at ease and really did listen. Plus she really sorted out my aches and pains, even if the jaw massage is a bit odd as she admits herself. I wish I could go more often! Anyway, Victoria emailed me words of encouragement to do with the blog and the marathon training along with a kind gesture of a discount on my next massage. I was blown away by both her words and her generosity Again, I felt like a valued customer. But that’s not all. After replying to her email to say thanks I started to go through my other emails. The next one was a notification that someone had sponsored me for the marathon. Yep, you guessed it: Victoria herself made a donation. I was completely blown away. Of course I then sent another reply to say thanks, again!

So there you have it. Motivation and encouragement today from 2 places I wasn’t expecting it to come from but in doing so, I have been given a real lift 😊👍🏼

Thanks Fitbit, Bristol Massage Therapy and Victoria ❤️