Sunday, 29 April 2018


Today I set myself a target.

Having entered the Wickham Whistler, a multi-lap event where you run as many laps that you want, I set myself a target of 2 laps. Since January, the furthest I’ve run is 3.5 miles, and to meet a month target run of 26.2 I needed to do 5.9 miles. Each lap was 3.3 miles long.

I set myself a plan of running 3 mins and walking 1 min. I kept this up for the first 3 laps, even recognising that I was having a thoroughly good time.  The only sign of being uncomfortable was towards the end of lap 3. I could have stopped there having done what I set out to do. But 4 laps would be a half marathon. Did I have enough in me to do the 4th lap?

I started on my timed intervals but suddenly I couldn’t keep going with it. It was like my legs said no more. I finished the lap walking it.

But I did a half marathon distance - double what I expected to do. I managed to stop my watch after three laps without thinking, and then restarted it for the final lap. This however had its benefits. I was able to note that it took me just over 2 hours to do 9.9 miles - just under the distance for the Great South Run, which I’m doing again in October.

As said before I have seen unexpected changes to my mindset since restarting running in January. I am definitely more positive, I am enjoying it and am willing to push myself further. I loved today’s event. Seeing friends I haven’t seen for a long time made all the difference to how I felt.

So, let’s check out the next On The Whistle event.....

Did I mention that I hurt now???

Saturday, 17 February 2018

It's been a while........

Wow!! I can't believe I last blogged back in October when I signed up again for the great south run 2018. My intention had been to start training again from that point. It didn't happen.

However, since the start of January this year, I have been to 4 parkruns (out of 7) and been running with a friend too. I did also deliberate rejoining a running club but as training sessions do not fit with family stuff, it was not worth the membership at this time especially as I am not entering races on a regular basis to get the affiliated discount.

Anyhow, I am finding several things since starting running again:
* I am actually enjoying running
* going back to parkrun with people, be it friends or my daughter, has made it lass daunting for me to turn up
* whilst I have completed 5km running once so far this year, it's showing that I haven't completely lost fitness over the last 12 months, and my other runs have gone okay with walks in between.
* I really do have an awesome running buddy who adjusts to what I need to do to keep moving
* I belong to an amazing running community online
* I'm reconnecting with running club buddies
* I'm actually believing in myself that I can do this

And to be honest it's the latter comment that I've never really had that feeling of before. I don't know whether it's because I have no 'pressures' such as lots of races, belonging to a running club, but I look forward to running most of the time now. Still need to work more on my motivation but one step at a time........

Along this year, I am tracking my running efforts with the Run Mummy Run challenge where I pledged to run 5 miles a week. It hasn't always happened, however I am still running each week.

So it's all good at the moment.

Happy days

Sunday, 22 October 2017

The green-eyed monster

The decision to take a break from running happened a year ago at the Great South Run. Whilst I generally like the course and the event, I didn't enjoy last year. So I said then I wasn't going to re-enter (despite always being tempted by the early bird offer) and look at taking a break from running events once I finished the forty challenge. 

Forty challenge completed on Christmas Day 2016. I have done some casual runs with a friend since but entered no events this year. I had no regrets with that decision. Whilst I'm missing not running the GSR today, I'm not sorry I followed my decision to have a break. Although whilst the green-eyed monster reared its ugly head today, and it was almost painful to watch my husband go off to the GSR this morning, it has been good in a way to realise what events I do enjoy. So after carrying said green-eyed monster this morning for a few hours I have now entered next years GSR event with a sense of anticipation and excitement. And a year to train with something to look forward to. And perhaps come back to running with a renewed inner strength that I can do this. I'm starting from the beginning again with the running but that's okay. It has taken a lot to realise that it's okay to restart with a couch to 5k programme. Particularly with the reinstatement of asthma treatment and learning to manage that whilst running. 

I have focused a lot of this year on my mental health, and getting myself into a better place. It's an ongoing process, but I have found areas that I have moved forward in which has made such a difference. Hopefully I will be able to carry forward what I have learnt, particularly through more difficult days. 

Just in case you were wondering, my husband did an awesome job at the GSR and I'm am so proud of what he achieved today. 

Sunday, 14 May 2017

I've got going

So, I'm still reading the motivation chapter of the book. It's been a hard one to read, partly because being brutally honest with myself is never pleasant, and it means I have to face some home truths. But I will persevere.

This last 7 days I have been swimming twice, and to the gym once. I have to admit to having some anxiety tonight prior to swimming - no real idea why but just really struggled with going out. But I went it.

I have really enjoyed swimming, rhythmically going up and down the pool, and the refreshing feel I get when submerging my head in the water. And trying to keep going, and do more, to reach a target, or beat what I had the previous time (which didn't happen this time). its difficult to describe but. That feeling of flowing through the water, being in that moment, not worrying about anything else (except maybe a stray or slower swimmer). 

The gym went well too. It fair to say I got very sweaty, but for the last 10 mins I was the only one in the gym. Which was quite nice. 

I'm trying I really am. I will get there. All being well, come October and should I be offered a marathon place, I will have got myself to a decent place where I can concentrate on marathon training.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Mental health and exercise

There is much available to read about the benefits of exercise to improve mental health. So I decided to delve into a book that actually offered the chance to properly explore motivational thoughts (and unmotivating thoughts), not just read and and try to absorb.

So I found this book: 8 Steps to Mental Health through Exercise by Dr. Christina Hibbert. So far, I have completed three chapters, and it has really allowed me to delve much deeper into my thoughts that stop me from exercising, as well as exploring what my benefits of exercise would be. Interesting that whilst she offers information into the benefits of exercise, her questions allow you to explore your own reasonings. I wonder whether you have to be the right frame of mind to allow yourself to do that, but so far I have been really honest with myself.

So right now, I am working on the Motivation chapter. The hardest chapter so far for me. And I guess in some ways this is probably the key chapter in the book to try and work through. Having not yet looked further this is likely to be he chapter to help kick one's butt back into action.

But I ask myself some questions more personally:
*why having run since April 2014 am I still struggling to find enjoyment and accepting the benefits of exercise to mental health?
* why can't I get myself sorted out? I want to go out running and swimming and cycling, but I now particularly struggle with the thoughts that having not exercised since January my fitness has gone downhill and I'll just be a red-faced ball mess after about 5 minutes. What is stopping me from just getting my running gear on and going out?

Yesterday I had my first vague medal envy this year. Is this a sign things are on the up?

I can't be the only person to go through this. But yet I feel very alone in this.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Mind over......... part 2

Last night, I watched the second episode of Mind Over Marathon. I was anticipating being affected by the emotions that might be portrayed, but I didn't anticipate how much it really did start questions going around in my brain.

Up to now, I've always said I would never do a marathon. I've watched the London Marathon in previous years and always thought that doing it was never an option. 26.2 miles. Not do-able. I've seen friends complete marathons and I think they are utterly awesome and amazing, but I've always had the idea that it wasn't for me. Until last night.

Watching them complete training and go on to run the marathon, seeing their emotion when they finish it, was just heart-wrenching. It took me back to when I did the Great Suth Run in 2014, and I ran all 10 miles raising money in my memory of my dad. I was so overwhelmed with emotion at the end, I was sobbing into a friend's jacket.

One of the things from the programme is the feeling that we let ourselves down when we ask for help. I can relate. Feeling that it make you seem and look weak in your own eyes, and in the eyes of others, if you ask for help. Sometimes I don't know what to ask for - almost like I want someone else to take the lead and tell me what to do and how to do it, and actually come alongside me on the journey. But how do you ask someone to be so willingly committed to you, even in the days when feelings are low, so low, and they might need to really support you through those times?

One thing that I really battled with last year was feeling very anxious about getting to an event. Dealing with hoarded of people around me, going in different directions, and me feeling very pulled in abut 5 different directions. And that's one of the things about London that would sway me to not have a go at entering. How would I cope with finding where I need to be? That feeling of being alone and scared. Being in the startline and dealing with the voices of doubt. I can't recall not doing an event because of anxiety. I think I pretty much did everything I entered for the purpose of the challenge. So I know that I can do it. But it was really really hard.

I do have something in my heart and head that I do want to give it a go if the opportunity arose. But I'm scared to go it alone. Fighting the feelings of the sense I'm not good enough, I can't do it.

I have been reading about 'jeffing', a method of structured run/walk . This makes doing this more appealing rather than the feeling of trying to just run it all. I think I need to become more confident in myself in using this method with It's feeling I let myself and others down if I don't run it all.

I have the equipment and facilities to train. But why can't I just get myself out there?

I'm still undecided about entering for a ballot place. But I know that if I do enter, it will because I want to have a chance to do it and I want to do it. Not because I'll enter it because it's unlikely I'll get a place and then freak out should it actually happen. And it's likely next year there likely to be a record number of applicants for the ballot as a result of inspiration of this programme, which could lower the chances of being successful.

London seems to be the pinnacle of running challenges. There are other marathons around. There was one local to me last weekend, but London seems to be the coveted race maybe due to the balloted places.

I love what the Royal Family are doing with Heads Together, and their efforts in normalising mental illness.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Mind over.......

I've just watched on BBC iPlayer the first episode of 'Mind over Marathon', where, if you haven't seen it, a group of volunteers with various mental health issues challenge themselves to train for the London Marathon 2017.

Some of the barriers the volunteers faced I could relate to. Not wanting to go out running alone, anxiety about getting somewhere new, finding the energy to just keep going.

I stopped running a couple of weeks after completing forty b4 forty. I lost the motivation and will to persevere. By the end of 2016 I had managed to run 5km without needing to walk. That was something I had really wanted to accomplish.

Sometimes looking at my medals, I feel I ought to take them down. I know I've earned them, and some of the events did take me out of my comfort zone. I faced anxiety before races in getting to an event venue, and at the start line where I felt I just was not able to do the race. During races I struggled to manage my emotions and was thinking I just want to finish now, I've had enough. But looking at them now, and knowing that I stopped running, makes me feel I don't deserve to see them because I haven't persevered following my challenge.

There is lots of research which suggest that exercise releases endorphins, which are the chemicals that make you feel good, and as a result improve a person's mental health. I'll be honest and I have struggled in feeling good consistently for a long time particularly after exercising. Is this a mindset thing? Why can't I just feel ecstatic and awesome after doing a run? Instead of feeling hollow and glad to be back home.

I'm not a pessimistic thinker by nature, as I can really be enthusiastic when I get my teeth into a project or task, but I struggle to apply positive thinking to myself. A form of self care I guess. Running alone is something I do really struggle with and I know I don't have to run alone, as I know there are people who will run with me. But I hold back for a number of reasons:
* I'll hold others back
* I'm not good enough
* I've lost fitness
* what if I have to walk?

I do feel very alone as I look at other runners, and think 'how do you keep going?', 'how do you enjoy exercise so much?'. So, why not me? Why is the motivation to push myself so difficult?

So for everyone running this weekend, particularly in Southampton and London, I think you are all utterly awesome, totally nuts for doing a marathon, and I really do admire your determination and focus you've shown in training.