One Big Fat Run

The last weekend of the month means it’s One Big Fat Run (#OBFR) time. #OBFR is a monthly virtual 5k. You can read more about it via the link above or search for it on Facebook. Anyway, the plan was to do 6 x 800 metres with 3 minute walk breaks in-between as my #OBFR – it would amount to nearly 5k of running and would overall be more in terms of distance – but close enough. Alternatively, if we also managed to get out for a 45  run on Sunday, I’d use that. We set off on Saturday, walked down to the canal and set off for the first 800 metres. All fine. Then we walked for 3 minutes, turned round a little earlier than we really wanted so as not to get tangled up with a group of dog walkers, set off running for the second 800 metres. All fine for the first 500 metres. Then I felt a little niggle along my left shin. Then, with maybe 150 metres to go, a sharp pain across my left shin and simultaneously a twinge just below my butt on the right. It brought me to a halt.

I was so upset and pissed off. Just when the running was actually going quite well I was going to be injured. I had a little panic and strop and walked home grumpily. There was no pain when walking and no pain when I ran my hand across my shin – so maybe it was ok after all. I did a few stretches on Saturday and had a busy day in the garden. I then did almost nothing at all on Sunday other than a walk to the sheep. I felt a bit crappy for not getting my #OBFR done at the weekend but I slept lots so maybe I just needed a rest.

Today we went out at lunchtime to run a 45 minute loop. We did our sheep loop the ‘wrong’ way round. We set off and it was fine, no pain and feeling relatively comfortable. I managed to run downhill slowly without too much of a panic and settled in along the canal. Mile 1 was fine. We had agreed before that we would walk up the golf course from the car park but that still meant I had to get up to the car park! I started struggling from probably about a mile and a half in. I don’t think I was struggling physically, I think it was all in my head and I couldn’t make my legs go faster or even keep at the pace I was at. I was still breathing fine and my legs were a little heavy but ok but my brain wouldn’t work. As we crossed the canal bridge and started the shortish sharpish hill to the car park I thought I’d never make it but gave myself a bit of a talking to, gritted my teeth and pushed. I got to the top and then we walked.

At this point everything sort of hurt but not really. I didn’t really want to walk up the golf course, I most certainly didn’t want to have to start running again when I got to the top. But to the top I did eventually get and run I did. Slowly. I knew I was physically fine. I wasn’t finding it physically hard – I knew this because I was breathing fine and my legs felt ok and yet my brain was telling me that it was far too hard and I couldn’t do it and I needed to walk. I didn’t walk, not yet. We made it past the sheep and up the little slope when Kath called a walk break. I’d just surrendered here and did as I was told. I didn’t want to think or make decisions. I was quite happy to run when told and walk when told. Kath took us towards home with 1minute/1minute run/walk intervals. As we hit the bottom of Ilkley Road something clicked in my brain and I decided I wanted to run home from there – up the slope, all the way, just because I can. At times for those last few minutes it felt like I was going backwards. Any slower and I would have been rooted to the spot. I was screaming at myself (in my head, not out loud, I don’t think) to just stop and walk and then screaming back that I didn’t bloody well want to walk.

So with head down and terrible running form I pushed up the last little bit of the hill and turned the corner into our road. I looked up, straightened my back and kept putting one foot in front of the other and just as the watch beeped for 45 minutes I stepped onto our drive. 3.23miles, one of my slowest 45 minutes ever but done.

This run was not about being physically able to run a certain time or distance – I am perfectly capable of running 45 minutes or 5km. This run was all about the mental. Running is mostly about learning to take your mind with a pinch of salt and not believing everything it tells you. I am far more likely to be convinced by the negative messages about not being able to do it than I am by the positives. When I am not in a good frame of mind and when I have self-doubt I need to really focus on doing the opposite of mind over matter because it’s my mind that needs pushing on and/or ignoring. I proved to myself that I can do that today by running up Ilkley Road when before that, really, I’d given up. I’m proud of that because not so long ago I would have given up on the golf course and just walked home. Now I just need to find a way to get to that point sooner. I need to think about what changed mentally when I turned into Ilkley Road. What made me decide that I wanted to and decide that I can? What made me lose it on the golf course? Up to that point I’d struggled but managed to keep pushing. What could I have done there to make the walk a positive (it was planned in anyway) and then keep running after without having to drop into intervals? Why can’t it just be simple – you know like run a certain distance regularly = distance becomes easy…

Still #OBFR is a fabulous thing. Without it I may have come up with all sorts of excuses to not run at all today and it gives me a monthly 5k marker which gives me the opportunity to reflect on all things running and most of all it reminds me that there are lots of others at various stages of their own running journeys and we’re not in this on our own.

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