Hanging On

So here’s a thing: I am running phenomenally well. Yep, I am. I am running with ease, I am running without walk breaks for far longer distances than ever before (including a 10 miler last weekend which was grumpy but easy) and I feel fitter and stronger than ever. I ran over 100 miles in January and I enjoyed most of them.

Here’s another thing: I am hanging on and only just about keeping my shit together. I don’t know why. There was no obvious trigger. I got pummelled by jet lag when we arrived back from Florida two weeks ago. It took me the week to feel vaguely normal again. I slept lots. I went to London for work last Saturday and that was the first day I felt like the jet lag might be lifting. But maybe it wasn’t all jet lag. This last week wasn’t better. I stopped being hungry at random times and was just always hungry and I stopped being tired at random times and was instead just a general, heavy and dark sort of tired. I liked the sofa, I spent a lot of time on it. Too much time. I struggled to work to anything like capacity. I spent a week maybe doing 2 easy days of work. I got annoyed with myself.

So as I do battle with my black puppy I can’t really be bothered to do anything much and I can’t think. I’ve had lots of stuff to do that is either already late or with very imminent deadlines. I’ve been a grumpy sort of indifferent about all of this. Irritated by the existence of obligations, deadlines and things to do. When I’m busy or have to do things, I want to run, when I have the time to run, I can’t be bothered. But yet I have. In the same way that you might not really want to take a tablet but you just do, I have just run. I have clung to the marathon training plan like it is the one thing that might just pull me out of the darkness and help me regain my ability to think. And maybe it will.

I ran today. I didn’t want to really. I’m scared of slippery surfaces but driven on by something, by wanting to feel better and not foggy, by wanting my little grey cells to whirr round and have ideas and make connections which I can express in gorgeously crafted sentences which make sense… anyway, driven by something…. As I plodded along trying to stick to the least compacted snow I tried to encourage my mind to heal and just go where it wanted to. This is where it went. There was a definite shift around a mile in.

  1. You’re a bit crap at this
  2. You’ve got too much to do, just give up now
  3. oooh you’re super slow today
  4. Your work stuff isn’t going well is it
  5. What’s the point of your sabbatical – you’re just going to mess it up anyway
  6. Careful, icy
  7. Bloody hell sooo slow
  8. What, what was that – 1 mile beep? Hm
  9. Breathing a bit heavy there? Oh no actually you’re not
  10. Still got 5 miles to go – can you do that?
  11. Careful, icy
  12. So that work stuff? What do you mean not now?
  13. What do you mean it’s pretty
  14. What? You’re running and taking a picture? – You’ll fall
  15. Oh you didn’t fall
  16. 2 miles. What. Oh.
  17. You finished that article
  18. Still slow – oh yes, it’s meant to be slow. Plan says slow
  19. In fact you could slow down
  20. 3 miles. Wow. Nice running
  21. Look how lovely it is
  22. *No idea where it went for a while then
  23. Hill. Oh goodness, hill
  24. Yay, top of hill. Not far now
  25. Done

So where does that leave things? No idea. The fog lifts a little when I run. I can appreciate the beauty of the snowy hills. It also lifts as I sit and watch the birds coming to our bird feeders. The long tailed tits are my current favourites. It also lifts a little as I sit on the bed and fuss the cats and feel more than hear their purr. But mostly it lifts when I run. When I run I feel like thoughts process normally. So stick with me while this works itself out, keep encouraging me to run, be patient if there are no posts for a while. I’ll get there, little step by little step.

More f-ing snow

Right so it was supposed to be spring by now. I did not order this snow and I am thoroughly sick of it now.  There was a dusting of the white stuff yesterday morning and I was grumpy. We had a lazy morning but at some point in the afternoon decided to get out. The roads were clear and in between flurries of snow there was glorious sunshine. So we went for a run. Once I worked out that the road actually wasn’t icy I was quite happy and settled in nicely. I had decided to turn off my run/walk intervals and run by feel. My rule for that is that I can walk whenever I want but before I do I need to pick the landmark where I will walk and the landmark after that where I will start running again. I haven’t run continuously for ages and I think the last few times I’ve tried my feet and/or calves have been sore after about a mile.

It was also a ‘Chase Kath’ run. I don’t actually chase her – that would be pointless! But we set off at the same time and run the same route and at an agreed point she turns round and comes back to me and then we run back together. It works quite well for any route than involves the canal because we can work out a loop or an out and back where we can definitely come back together at some point without risking missing each other. The wind was bitter but the sun was quite warm and I soon realised that I had too much on. My hat came off before I’d gone a mile but I was glad I had my jacket on whenever there was a gust of wind and happy that I could pull my ruff over my ears when needed. So mile one was fine – much of it is downhill with just a very slight incline about 3/4 of the way in. I don’t really remember running mile 1. I think I was just lost in my thoughts really. Not long after the mile 1 beep I passed a woman wrapped up against the elements who lifted her head just long enough to inform me that I must be mad. ‘Yes I am’ I replied quite cheerfully. I think her speaking to me had taken me out of whatever world I was in before because I was suddenly more aware of running.

I crossed the road to continue along the canal towpath and watched a swan trying to get airborne. ‘Bloody hell mate!’ I said as I watched the swan run across the water frantically flapping its wings. ‘You’re making that look harder work than I am!’ Suddenly I felt too loud. My breathing was too loud, my feet hitting the ground were too loud. I spent last week catching up on reading running magazines that had piled up and I remembered something about running better when trying to run quietly. I also remembered reading quite a lot about controlling breathing. So generally it might be best to concentrate on one thing at a time but to be honest I didn’t really concentrate on either – I just kept telling my self to try and be quiet and breathe properly. 2 miles.

My feet and legs felt fine. I passed some Geese and hissed back at them. They’re evil you know, proper evil. I was starting to feel it a little bit but thought that I could probably make 3 miles. I tried to slow down a little bit just to make sure. I said hello to a lone duck, it ignored me. At 2.5 miles I was beginning to wish Kath would hurry up so I could turn around and break up the ‘running in a straight line is beginning to feel hard’ feeling. I got  to where I could see the next canal bridge. ‘I could stop there’ I thought. ‘She can’t be far off now. I’ll just stretch my calves and wait for her’. Hm. I had to give myself a talking to:

  • ‘Do your legs hurt?’
  • ‘No’
  • ‘Are they tight?’
  • ‘No’
  • ‘Then what the fuck do you want to stretch them for – move your moomin butt past that fucking bridge’
  • ‘Oh just fuck off

But I ran past the bridge and just as the canal takes a gentle left hand bend I could see her! Yay! I turned round and managed to run to 3 miles, had a very brief little walk break (less than 20 seconds) and then started again. It was nice listening to Kath talk about her run and the woodpecker she’d heard but hand’t been able to pick out. My feet were beginning to niggle a little but nothing major. I seemed to have decided that I wanted to run to 4 miles. So I did. It wasn’t easy but it wasn’t ridiculous either. At 4 miles I had a short walk break and then ran the last bit along the canal over the bridge and to the bottom of the slope to walk home. Happy.

Today I was meant to run 3 miles. I didn’t. There’s this vile white stuff on the ground. I don’t run in snow. Kath did, she had a lovely time I think and when she showed me her photos I almost wished I’d gone with her. Almost. So I’ve done very little today – I did some strength exercises but that’s about it. Never mind, tomorrow’s a new day.

Oh yeah, it’s Sunday – ‘hate the scales day’. The scales are not friendly today. I’d stay off them if I were you.