Run #30 Reflection: 2 little ducks 🦆🦆

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It was as if the stars and planets aligned, the various Gods of this world were all smiling down on me, or I’d simply got out of the right side of bed (which, ironically, is the only side of the bed I can get out of in my new flat for lack of space in the bedroom). I can’t really describe to you what this run felt like other than, well, glorious. And I can’t believe I’m using that word to describe a run! But it really was. The night before I’d had a decent dinner (salmon, broccoli and sweet potato), had a decent night’s sleep, got up feeling relatively refreshed and had a good breakfast (my usual porridge, seeds, almonds, cinnamon and honey) as well as a bagel and coffee. A friend of a friend who’s run the London marathon before suggested I had a plan for my race day run, something I hadn’t yet considered. And so in preparation for the day itself, I thought it was worth putting my plan in to action to see how well it played out before I did it for real…

So, as above for preparation. I set off late (I’m always late – better change that for April 23rd!) but it was only by an hour; I was trying to mimic what it *might* be like on marathon day so I felt adequately prepared. So I set off in my shorts, vest, running belt (I look like Lara Croft of Runners World, just not as hot or fit) and my new runners (I’m in love with them, sorry old Asics). The sun was shining proudly against a clear blue spring sky. It happened to be the weekend that there was a mini-kind-of-heat-wave in England. Not ideal although I guess helpful just in case the end of April throws up some lovely weather for everyone but runners (well, I don’t like running in the heat, anyway). At least there was a bit of a cool breeze. But unlike my last long run – the failed – 20 mile attempt – today, I was in the zone.

In. The. Zone.

My music was pumping (thanks to a friend for putting together a unique Spotify playlist for me – old school hip hop with some power ballads!). I was focussed. I just kept on visualising the London marathon. My mind wasn’t wondering, my legs weren’t aching and I didn’t feel sick. The only thing that was a slight discomfort around mile 15 was the fact that I needed a wee, and then the added agony of trying to decide whether or not to have a pee in the bushes (I decided no – I just wanted to keep on running). I was doing 3 loops of a route I’ve come to really enjoy in Swindon, my new home. Running out towards Coate Water Park – a favourite childhood place and actually, still one of my favourite places as an adult – felt so good. A mix of hills and flat running and then, when you get to the park itself, opportunities to shelter from the sun in the shade of the woodlands and the chance to enjoy the view of the lake – not to mention the challenge of darting out of the way of children on scooters at the play area! I’m sure some people in the park had a serious case of déjà vu throughout the afternoon. But it was glorious. Absolutely glorious. It just didn’t feel like that much of a challenge. How can that be, when Monday was so tumultuous and trying?

In fact, this was such a glorious run that not only did I meet my 20 mile target, but I went for another 2 miles. TWO MILES! That was like another half an hour (my pace had slowed by then!). I was chuffed. So bloody chuffed. Not only had I reached my target, but I’d surpassed it. It was so important for me to try to reach 20 miles before the marathon; mentally, I needed to know that physically (and mentally) I can do the bulk of it. I should have started tapering at this point, doing a 15 mile run today but I just simply had to do at least 20 miles. And I did, and then some. 22 miles. I can’t quite believe it. And yet, I can. I now believe in myself. And that is the best feeling of all of this.

So come on April 23rd and the additional 4.2 miles – I’m coming for you.

Run #30 Rating & Reflection

Achievement = 5

Enjoyment = 5

Run #4 Reflection: Well, I turned up at least!

A short post because I got distracted writing another post I’m yet to finish and only just realised the time – I need my beauty sleep!

As you’ll soon find out in the pending post, I haven’t ran for a couple of weeks. I won’t wang on about why here. And I won’t wang on about how crap today’s run was either. Essentially, I was too warm, too slow and too unfit. Oh, and I lost a glove… twice! But as the vibrations on my wrist reverberated signals to my brain (my Fitbit telling me I’d reached 10,000 steps) I at least realised that today I showed up to my run and gave it a go. I know as time goes on I’ll need to be tougher with myself if I’m actually to run any part of the London Marathon but for now, with still 4 long wintry months to go, I think it’s enough to give myself a pat on the back for at least going out for a run / jog / walk / wander. Next time though, I need to do a bit more to get a pat on the back.

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Run #4 Rating & Reflection

Achievement = 3

Bit disappointed in how much I’ve lost in 2 weeks in terms of habit, fitness, stamina and just sheer grit. I know if I put it all in to context given the past 2 weeks the achievement rating should probably be higher but I know I can do better than today.

Enjoyment = 1

As I said, too warm, too slow and too unfit. Although I did run across my favourite part of Bristol: the suspension bridge. Still not enough to lift the run’s enjoyment rating. Onwards and upwards…

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!

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.