You’re beautiful because you know your own darkness and still, that alone doesn’t stop you from finding your own light – R.M. Drake

Ahhh the month of luuuurve! Self love at this time of year however is often forgotten, you won’t find a card to celebrate it…but really the key to being able to give love is to love yourself too.
For me this month has been focused on self love and for a very big reason. I took the first week of the month off and had my first appointment with my psychotherapist. I’m not only suffering with PTSD and anxiety but also depression. Some will read that and say “but your life is so good…you have a great relationship, wonderful family, a secure home, a job you love and fabulous friends” yes I do…but that doesn’t stop me feeling how I am. Slowly depression has been setting in since October 2019, there looks to be a link between it and the anniversary of starting chemo…the reason is very simple…my brain is starting to ‘deal with’ what I had to go through – you don’t get chance to do that at the time, life is in someone else’s hands and the person undergoing treatment is literally at fight or flight mode everyday.
I’m also trying to come to terms with being me…menopausal at 36, a body that is still recovering from being pumped full of toxins and then zapped with radiotherapy, a new outlook due to what I’ve been through, a different feeling emotionally to what I had before and a very different attitude – if you want the lovely, do anything for anyone, always willing to go the extra mile, smiley, organiser – you’ve lucked out, she got breast cancer and I came out the other side…she got walked all over and sang to other people’s tunes…I’m a different beast entirely and I’m finding getting to know me is hard work. I remember old me, I’m grieving for her and the life that was…that will take me time to come to terms with. She had unhealthy coping mechanisms…I’m trying to form healthy new ones, but again that’s a struggle.
So if you haven’t heard from me please don’t worry, but I’m really not fine…I am however working hard on the fact that I’m going to be!

My running this month slowly increased in mileage, finishing my base building phase and taking on the intermediate part of my training plan. The intermediate phase builds intensity aswell as mileage and is the area in which to really assess your performance. I tried to run mindfully, listening to both my body aswell as everything external. Due to this I feel a little like February is the month I’ve fallen back in love with training.
The biggest change has been in my pacing – by fluke I put my car key and a small tin of vaseline in the upper pocket of my hydration vest the first Wednesday of the month, before setting off on my run. I noticed the sound it made as I ran and decided to run to the noise, and not allow myself to speed up (or slow down) and change it. The result…for the first time in the few years I’ve been running I paced evenly, not perfectly, but as close as possible. It was 14miles that felt utterly different, I still have a psychological wall near the end of a run…my brain noting that we’re nearly done and my body going “urgh you mean I have to go a bit further!!!”…but that wasn’t as bad and afterwards…well…you’d never have known I’d run 14miles that morning. I used the same noise combination on my next two long runs, with the same outcome.

My Wednesday morning speed work, or hill training sessions, have also felt improved. I had energy, speed on the speed work and strength with the hills. I didn’t feel uncomfortable or sore after my runs in any way and had no aches or pains during them either.
I am still seeing my physio regularly both to keep my back loose, and check that no other issues are presenting themselves. She gave me the thumbs up mid-month and did acupuncture on my back to ease it further – a huge help but I did struggle with nausea as a result for 24hrs, something which is completely normal and more water and less caffeine would have helped!

As the month has drawn to an end I started my last cut back week, before my peak weeks start. I did feel tired after my last 18mile run and was still a little groggy the next day…but…not half as tired as I usually have been at the same point in my plan before. More muscle, more bodyweight, being fitter and more hydrated are all paying off. It has been a week of more mindful slower, calmer running, more sleep and gentleness to my mind. Yoga for the feet was a hugely beneficial find and yoga meditations have also made me feel quite restored.
In all I feel February has made me connect with myself more. It’s made me pay attention to myself and stop sweating the small stuff.

We end with an extra day…all hail the glory of a leap year…and an extra digital badge earnt. Next months mileage hits it’s height but tapering then begins…making it a month of two halves – double the chance of maranoia!!!

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