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.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Happy birthday to me!!!

Here we are: my 40th birthday.  My #fortyb4forty challenge is now officially finished I guess. I've raised £520 for the PSP Association, taken myself out of my comfort zone on numerous counts, and am happily settled into 2017.

So what now? Nothing as yet. I'm just enjoying myself in exploring new ways of boosting my self-confidence, whilst still leaving my comfort zone. But knowing me, it wont be long before I find another challenge to set myself!!!!!

Friday, 6 January 2017

Happy New Year!!!

Well, since completing #fortyb4forty, today has been the first time I have run. And a very nice 4.5 miles with my running buddy, through the frosty woods, and up and down hills. A right mixture of challenge but I ran it all!! Very happy bunny, albeit a very tired bunny!

So, I have made the decision to continue running. The one decision attached to this is that for the time being I am choosing to not enter any races. I had entered a couple of virtual races but I'm okay with this as I completed one today, and the other completes at the end of January. I want to learn to love running without the pressure of upcoming races with very fast runners, which invariably causes anxiety and lack of self-confidence. And I'm okay with that. I now look forward to weekly runs with my running buddy (who really is awesome and very patient with a slow worm) and this is a real turnaround in how I think abut running. I've also joined the gym, and plan to swim when the children are having their swimming lessons. 

In 2017 I have chosen a 'word for the year'. I've seen a lot about this the last couple of years and wondered about it. So after looking at what I'd like to try and achieve this year, mainly eating better, increasing fitness, developing better spiritual disciplines (for starters), I have settled on the word 'nourish'. I see this as taking baby steps to look after myself without making drastic change and setting myself up to fail,  but improving my physical and mental health over time. And allowing new habits to settle in.

So, I have no specific resolutions as such but instead I'll be making changes, where mistakes will invariably occur, but not to admit defeat when they do. But to move on and carry on.

Sunday, 25 December 2016

And I'm finished!!!

What a fabulous feeling. A few weeks ago I was struggling with the fact I had several events to do, and the thought of doing them just seemed completely out of reach. But today, on Christmas Day, I completed my 40th event at parkrun this morning. It's so nice now that it's all done. 

The last 15 months has seen me through a mix of good and bad experiences. There have been times when low mood has really affected my motivation and focus, and this has been part of the challenge. It's not natural for me to want to do exercise, although I'm well aware of the health benefits, both physical and mental, and this is where a large part of the challenge has lain - moving myself to complete these events, and to try and do a variety of events that would challenge me. Sometimes anxiety has really played its part in not doing more things than I could have done, and coupled with low mood, this has affected my focus and motivation to get out. Physical health problems such as bronchitis and viruses, that have floored me, have also played their part in not seeing this challenge finished earlier than it could have been. I have faced personal challenges of pushing myself to do things that have taken me out of my comfort zone (trail half-marathon comes to mind), and facing demons in my head who would be telling me I was incapable of doing things and there wasn't much point, that I was useless at running, and because I was doing a mix of running and walking I felt I wasn't doing it properly.

On the positives I have done things I might not have normally considered doing, and usually I've been with friends at events, which makes so much difference. I have taken myself out of my comfort zone, which does add to the exhilaration of finishing an event I initially thought I would bulk at, and pull out, or not even enter. 

Over the last 15 months I have completed half marathons, parkruns, virtual races, 10k races, 10 mile races, 5mile races, a quarter marathon and a triathlon. In terms of seeing achievements I have finally been able to run 5km more consistently than before. 

But ultimately, I have actually done this challenge. I've completed it and to be honest, at one point I was worried that it wasn't going to be achievable. But I DID IT!!!!!!!! 

There is no medal to show I have completed this, nor have I reached my fundraising target, but I know every penny that has been donated is going to make a difference to those affected by PSP - both individuals and family members. 

Thank you to everyone who has supported me during this time, both friends and family. I have received much advice, information and support over the time, all of which has made a difference in how I then faced each event as it came up.

Some stats over the challenge:

Total mileage covered - 201.54 miles of which I did:
18 parkruns
7 X 10 km
X 5 mile
1 quarter marathon
2 X 10 miles
2 half marathons 
1 X 8 miles 
1 triathlon
1 X 7 mile (multi lap race)
2 virtual races
1 mile fun run

My medal collection through out the challenge:
Plus two of the following medals which were virtual races (the Father Christmas and Rudolph medals). The other two I did combined with the parkruns yesterday and today, where part of my entry fee went to Girlguiding UK. 

So, what next? Well, a few weeks ago I was contemplating having a break from running completely. Then, more recently, I remembered I had signed up for two virtual races in January. Not letting my entry fee go to waste!!! Guess, I'm not giving up that easily then. But at the moment I intend to run just for the sake of looking after me, without worrying about trying to raise money. Mind you, I keep saying that and then I find another cause to try and raise money for!!!! 

So Merry Christmas my faithful readers. There have been good times. Not sure when the blog will get updated next. But I'm keeping it open.