Diaries and headspace

Each time I start writing my blog, I re-read what I wrote the week before to get an “essence” of what I was thinking. Last week, the overriding sentiment was that I enjoy running with other people and wish to only really do one run a week on my own. Well this week I have completed 3 runs racking up 18 kilometres (or 11.1 miles) and every step of each run as been on my own.

As a working Mum and wife, I am a slave to my diary. Everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) goes in it. If you want me to be somewhere, you have to send me a diary invite otherwise, sadly, assume that I won’t be there. This is a depressing state of affairs to be honest with you. It doesn’t make me proud or happy but I am a pragmatist and understand that it is what it is. It is almost certainly one of the reasons why I enjoy camping in the Summer so much, as there is no timetable and definitely no wifi. Like many of you, as a family we are juggling work, the school run, teacher meetings, piano and guitar practices, football training, gymnastics, birthday parties and this week it has also been Husband’s birthday. For this reason, I have got myself into the habit of deciding when I am going to go for a run for the following week on a Sunday, and I put them in my diary. This way they happen and are also non-negotiable. If I didn’t put them in my diary, I am sure that I would be able to find an excuse not to go; something at work is more important, I need to work through my lunch etc. I am proud to say that I have not yet missed one.

On average I am now out running for around 3 hours a week. If I had told myself in December that this would be the case, I would have scoffed at the prospect as “I don’t have a spare 3 hours in a week”, but I am here to tell you that I do. I have made running non-negotiable. Of course, as I run my own business, I have more control over my time than many others and I know I am lucky. It means I can go running in the middle of a work day and this week, I think that this has been one of the reasons why I have not managed to run with anyone else.

As weeks go, it has definitely been up and down.

I gained a pound (which I was furious about) I think due to the fact that I ate so much last weekend after the parkrun. I was starving, all day, and so kidding myself that I could eat what I wanted but of course I couldn’t and so paid the price on the Wednesday morning weigh-in. Having said that, I am still losing inches as the photo demonstrates clearly and I have now gone down 2 dress sizes. The T shirt is a Mother’s Day present and is a size 18. I am usually a size 22 and this pleases me enormously.

On Monday, Husband and I ran the 5k loop near the office at lunchtime again. I still can’t run it without walking and this is beginning to really annoy me. If anything I don’t feel like I am making much progress. I am out there and running regularly but I’m not getting any better. On Tuesday I used the app and was supposed to run 10 mins, walk 1 minute and do this 4 times. I couldn’t do it. The first and second kilometre on every run is an absolute killer and on Tuesday it was really hard. I think I could only run for 5 minutes at a time before walking and this was the case for the whole of the first half of the loop. On the second part of the loop I definitely ran more and also clocked much faster splits too with the final kilometre being one of the fastest I have ever run. What does this mean? I want to be able to run 5k, in one go and then build up to being able to run 10k without walking. When I start each run, I can’t even run for 500 metres in one go. I don’t know how or what to do about this. Every time I start a run I am confident that it won’t happen “this time” but it always does. It makes me incredibly frustrated. I may have to enlist the help of “Unofficial Trainer” for advice.

On Thursday it was Husband’s birthday and we had a big dinner planned in town. I really wanted to enjoy the meal and so planned to run a long run home from work. The Red Lady had mentioned that with 10k coming up, I should plan to increase my routes by 0.5k per week so I should be able to run 10k by mid May. With this in mind, I arranged to leave work an hour early and plotted a 6 k route home. I was more than a little concerned about it but knew I had to give it a go. I knew the route and so tried not to look at my watch too much, cranked up the tunes and just went. The first 2 kilometres were hell on earth. I ran/walked, needed my inhaler (which was really unusual), wished I had bought a drink with me, generally felt like crying and thought I was going to die, and then something very strange happened. I just started to run. I kept the speed down (laughable right?!) and just focussed on running. I had the app going, but abandoned it after 15 minutes. I used lampposts, parked cars, hedges anything really as markers and although I did still walk a bit, the further I went, the less I walked and the easier it seemed to get. Please note the use of the word “easier” not “easy”! Nothing about this is easy, but it definitely was easier, and I actually enjoyed it. Yes –enjoyed it! Somehow I got a bit lost on the back roads of Bristol and took a wrong turn. It meant I had to run up a hill (which I managed to do with only 10 walking steps in the middle) but I kept going until I recognised where I was. I was feeling pretty tired but kept going. When I arrived home, I discovered that I had run 7k. Yes you read that correctly. I had run 7k which had taken 1 hour and 8 minutes. I had run for over an hour and I had burnt 9400 calories (which took care of the steak and chips I was going to eat later). I was seriously elated. ELATED. It wasn’t just the fact that I had run the 7k, it was more importantly the fact that I possibly, no probably, could have gone even further if I’d had more time. I believed for the first time that I really could run 10k. This was as big a mental milestone as physical. Mental strength is absolutely as important as physical strength when it comes to running.

Now as good as Thursday was, the mental strength theory was further demonstrated in this morning’s run. As a family, we received some news on Thursday evening (whilst Husband and I were out at dinner) that meant that Friday and Saturday had to be completely rescheduled and we had to attend some very difficult meetings and make some unexpected decisions. The outcome has been positive, but it’s been a very emotional few days and when I woke this morning, I was exhausted. After opening my wonderful Mother’s Day presents this morning, I headed out for my run. I had plotted 6k (hopefully this time I wouldn’t get lost) and set off, as usual knowing that the first 2k would be terrible (which they were). Again I just plodded on. It didn’t feel anywhere near as comfortable as my run on Thursday evening, but I did enjoy the run. I enjoyed the mental headspace that comes from being out on my own. Running gives me time to think. As I alluded earlier, my life is dictated by my diary and time to think is impossible to schedule. When you are a busy person with a hectic life, stuff happens all the time, whether it be to me, Husband, Daughters, work or family and most of the time I just react and manage the situations. Time to reflect is rare but so very, very important.  I really needed it this morning and the run gave me time to think which I valued more than the 6k and exercise. Time alone with your thoughts should never be underestimated and this morning, when I returned after a hard 6k, I was feeling much better about the world.