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.