A fork in the road


Well, isn’t this a surprise. Well, not really. I have to warn you, this is a rip roaring self pitying read – I’m posting it up here to share with you all in the hope that it resonates with someone to show that you are not alone. Any advice welcomed too, of course.

I have not been very good at updating this blog of mine lately – real life is getting in the way. In all honesty though, I have been ashamed. I have not been running very much at all, and when I have, I have run in bad faith.  What I mean is,  I have struggled to run for fun. I’m so hung up on the numbers on the watch – the speed, the pace, the miles, the heart rate, that I forget that I am supposed to enjoy doing it.  Even worse, I have been fixated on other people’s numbers, and while I am pleased for them to achieve PBs and ultras and everything else, I have a stab of jealousy when they do. Especially when we used to be the same pace. When I used to be faster. When I remember them starting on their running journey, and I encouraged them along.

I know what I would say to others in the same situation as me. I have said it. The numbers don’t matter, you’re getting out there and that’s what counts. Don’t compare yourself to others – and that includes you from four years ago. You do what you can on the day. But the truth is, I am resentful and frustrate and annoyed that all the training in the world doesn’t seem to make a difference for me and it makes all the difference to someone else. Last year I did the Hanson marathon method for Rotterdam in my nth attempt at a sub four. Training went reasonably well until I got a chest infection, but in reality, even then, it was fine. But my head wasn’t right and on the day, it leaked away like sand through your fingers. Four months of 5am starts and six days a week of running. 10 mile mid week runs. For a time which was at that point, my personal worst on the road. Don’t worry though, I managed to get a new personal worst in Chicago in October, hoorah. That was after another chest infection. Lucky me.  I know, I know, pity party for one, over here, bring the tequila.

So I feel like I am now at a crossroads. I am supposed to be training for Helsinki marathon in May and haven’t really started to.  I think, if I can be completely honest (again) – I’m afraid to. What’s the point? I’m just going to choke on race day anyway. And even if I could train, my asthma is a constant presence now so it feels like there is always something sitting in my chest, day and night. I have to take two antihistamines and a pretty strong steroid inhaler every day, one which is affecting my vocal cords so I lose my voice if I speak for long periods of time.

So my choice seems to be: go all in or not. I know I need to shake off this bad faith, I know I’m not being fair to myself or my friends and family by being so bad tempered. I just seem to have this constant mantra in my head, a drumbeat of “It’s not fair It’s not fair itsnotfair notfair notfairnotfair” I think I need to suck it up. But I feel like I have done that, so many times before. I don’t have the emotional energy or strength. Every run is not a triumph. Every run is a repeat of the slow plod the day or week or month before. I am getting slower, not matter what I do. I have tried high volume and low volume and rest and slow runs and heart rate runs. Strength training and protein diets and no dairy diets. Different trainers and morning and night and fasted.

All of this and I feel I am running out of time. Every cycle is a waste of youth, a waste of my physical peak.

The bottom line is that I know what I need to do, I’m afraid that if I do it, it still won’t work and I will still be slower than I want to be, slower than I have been.  So maybe I don’t concentrate on speed. Ha. Even if I could ignore it, I couldn’t. What else do you see apart fro the time it takes you to do a run? Maybe I take each mile as It comes and don’t worry about it. But what if I don’t push myself at all and that’s the reason I’m getting slower – I’m not improving because I’m kidding myself that I am pushing myself?

It’s really complex and the struggle is 90% mental. I know it is. I just feel like my mental energy battery is so low, and I’m not sure how to refill it. I am doing yoga every day, and have done this year – it’s making me feel stronger but it’s not running. It’s a means to making me faster, although I do find it’s also a really good way of bringing me some peace, too. Noticing the incremental gains is satisfying – I can now almost touch my heels to the floor in Downward Dog. I can plank without thinking about how hard it is (although I am ashamed of the little belly pouch and wobbly thighs I have). I know the balance poses are not far away – I’d love to do crow but that hasn’t flown since I was in a class. I don’t think I am confident enough, not at the moment.

Okay. So maybe I need to be patient, be kind and see what happens. I do think I need to see what my training plan is doing though – three weeks in and I’m not sure I’ve hit any of the sessions yet. Maybe I’ll do four runs a week not five, and I’ll make sure I schedule yoga tine in too.

So no goals this year, not like last year. I did get two of the goals last year – both of my parkrun goals, woohoo.

My main aim is to re-locate the joy of running. I will see if I can run offroad, no agenda, no time, no distance in mind. Maybe I’ll also see about sorting out my head and getting rid of the negativity. Running should not be this complicated. Lace up, get out.

What do you think?





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