While I crashed back to reality, facing the brisk wind in the Welsh capital, the edge of this harshness was softened not only by seeing another good friend but softened by my new running tights, a birthday present from said good friend. So I pulled on the junior size jazzy black and white leggings (yes, junior – Nat reassured me they’ll stretch and I’ll fit in them… hmmmmm) and we set off for a short run around the block and the park, with super Seth in tow (the most awesome cocker spaniel!). I must admit, I’m not a massive fan of running with other people. I know I’m not the fastest and I don’t like to push myself too hard; I want to get fit, train well and make sure I get across that finish line come April 23rd but I’m quite happy at going at my own pace in my own time. Now Nat’s super fit, as is Seth! So the pace was a little quicker to what I was used to. Plus, I was a bit rusty. While I’d been doing lots of different kinds of exercise in St Lucia, I hadn’t done all that running – something which I kind of need to be doing! So my legs were a little out of it on this run. However, I did complete it and I did enjoy being with Nat and Seth. Still not something I’d do for every run but I realised much of my dissatisfaction of running with others comes from my own self-consciousness, lack of belief in my own abilities and me comparing myself to others. When I ease off on those, running with others eases, too.
Run #20 Rating & Reflection
Achievement = 4
Ran pretty quickly but had to stop a couple of times for feeling short of breath.
Enjoyment = 4
More enjoyable than what I was expecting (no offence Nat!).
3.17m walked, and probably cried the equivalent distance in tears. This was a tough day.
The pain in my feet was bearable but not the pain in my head. I had a panic attack in the middle of some really pretty woodlands and then I broke down in tears. I realised it was all to do with the break-up I’d been trying to deal with rather than my depression but I also realise that these things are interrelated. So I took the decision to walk to the nearest village, pop in to a pub to warm up by a fire, have a cider and then check in to the B&B as soon as I could to relax, recuperate and re-centre. The whole point of this walk was to give me space, peace and time to think which it really did. It was also supposed to be part of a healing process. While a challenge is good (God knows I love a good challenge), knowing my limits in any given time is good, too. It was on this day that I realised I’d reached my pain threshold physically, mentally and emotionally. And the fact I realised that is a MASSIVE improvement on where I’ve been with managing my emotions and feelings in the past few years. Every cloud…
While updating my journey on Instagram, I shared the above photo of me crying after my panic attack. I felt so alone, so scared, so lost. But I wanted to share that feeling because I know I’m not the only to have felt that way. And I wanted to show that I’m not ashamed of feeling like that, either. I’m not ashamed of my tears. I’m not ashamed of my heart breaking. I’m not ashamed of pushing myself to the edge and feeling like that’s about as much as I can take. I’m not ashamed of having anxiety and depression. I’m not ashamed of being open about my true feelings. And I’m simply not ashamed of being me, like I may have been in the past.
I am not ashamed.
Run #12 Rating & Reflection
Achievement = 2
I just could not go on today. I didn’t give up, but I barely persevered, either.
Enjoyment = 0.5
Today was one of the lowest points I’d had for a while. My entire body and soul ached. How I longed for it all just to stop.
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.
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:
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
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 😉