This poem is by Morgan Harper Nichols and feels quite apt:
When you start to feel like things should have been better this year, remember the mountains and valleys that got you here.
They are not accidents, and those moments weren’t in vain. You are not the same.
You have grown and you are growing.
You are breathing, you are living, you are wrapped in endless, boundless grace.
And things will get better.
There is more to you than yesterday.
From where I sit in the garden I can see the river move in two different ways –
A quiet, gentle, easy flow that meanders.
A few rocks and weeds and the flow speeds, is changed and pushed, it looks forced and the flow more harsh.
But what lies out of view could be either, as the river and its path alter again, but I can’t see that…I don’t know what’s there. The gentle flow could be different under the water, harsher than it appears. The more forced, volatile flow could actually be a breeze underneath, giving shelter and comfort.
I’m not a fish so will never know, but I can look on and empathise with the creatures that move through it.
Mental health is like the river!
This month marked mental health awareness week. There are many of us who are struggling, trying to adapt to harsh changes, dealing with anxieties, old problems, new problems, loneliness, fear! There are moments of ease but they may not feel that way, never judge what appears to be someones smooth stage in their river…because you are not a fish and can’t see beneath the surface.
A new month brings new potential, but there has been little change …but…but… there is a little more calm to me, a little more ease, a little more understanding that I don’t have to DO and BE, I can take time, I can be wiser, I can feel easier in my skin. Some of the things that used to haunt me don’t as much, they’re still there but time with myself is showing me that if I care about the small stuff less, the world is a better place.
This month would have seen us go on holiday and so we’ve holidayed at home – meals from different places we’ve enjoyed going, looking at photographs of places we love…or long to explore, coffee alfresco in the sun, reading and sunbathing in the garden and watching that garden grow.
This month also marked four years of living together, how time flies, and again gave us time to spend quality time together…but unlike a year ago we’re both here each day and well. It isn’t always roses, we have our moments like all couples sharing a small space, but we are making the best of the situation and growing together more.
On my way home from a run mid-month two cyclists passed me having a chat, one turned to the other and said how lovely it was to be going back to work, but how much he’d loved having eight weeks to run and cycle…and he was going to make sure he kept doing it this time. His friend turned to him and said how lovely he’d found having that time with his family, and how well they’d got along…that he wasn’t going to let work stress ruin that.
There’s an awful lot we can learn right now about ourselves, each other and how we connect together…hopefully for the better and for the long term.
For me this month in my training I had a erghhh and then an oh yeah. I started the month thinking…why am I doing this, I should be doing more, it will all be for nothing, I hurt, I’m not feeling great, I hate this….erghhhhhh.
Losing your mojo is a huge thing, something that happens naturally post event and can be hard to swing back into. My solo marathon aswell as effecting me physically, did as much at me mentally…add in Coronavirus and the uncertainty of whether my next challenge will happen…and yeah, recipe for some self hate.
This is also impeded by my monthly hormone suppressant injections and tamoxifen…my body isn’t where nature thought it would be in life, each month I have a top up of chemical to keep me menopausal and to be quite frank it’s like war breaks out every time. We’ve found a three month cycle of symptoms…every three months things shift – sometimes not hugely, but enough. This last month things shifted a little…no two day pre injection headache, no afternoon after monster, no odd weight loss in the five days before or crazy gain in the five days after. My skin has so far not flared up as badly, my energy has been even…but…I ache in my left breast like I did months ago, I have the blues and yet again feel unable to completely shake them off (some days are better than others) and angry monster took about a week to rear her head. It’s like getting to know a whole new me every few months…and sometimes I hate that, I feel like I’m along for the ride.
What this change in me did do though was push me to do a bit more self care, meditate, reflect and remember all I’ve done, been through and how far I’ve come.
As the middle of the month came round it was the anniversary of the Manchester half marathon. I hit a PB there and was two days post radiotherapy, nine weeks post chemotherapy and just starting to get to terms with the cocktail that is tamoxifen and my hormone suppressant injections.
It made me sit up a little, give myself a kick…I have time now to train wisely for my 100K – as I had then for my 50K, I have a stronger and fitter body then I had then…and while I may have an overuse injury or two – I also did then, and I took time to get better and then got on with things. I can use what I learnt at that point to train wiser and braver. I may not do what others do, the mileage others do, the types of cross training others do…but that doesn’t matter, because I’m me! If the event goes ahead in September I’m going to be ready for it in the best way I can be. If it doesn’t go ahead I’ll be using this time to lay the foundations for being able to train even wiser this time next year.
Just because we can exercise more doesn’t mean we should be and overtraining is a dangerous thing…at the moment its something very easy to slip into…and it’s even harder to recover from! I felt like I’d hit a brick wall in the first week in May and then realised just how much I was trying to do, it wasn’t sustainable…then I did a little at home cardio on the Thursday and my inner left thigh tightened. I immediately both panicked and backed off…but that Saturday, about 6K from home on an 18mile run, coming downhill, it went again but in a literal way. To say I felt like my kneecap was being removed is a huge understatement, but the best way to describe it. Did I stop…I’m me so no…I just slowed down, limped a bit, figured if I kept going and it stopped hurting I’d be okay – it stopped hurting but I hate to know what I’ve done! Come the Monday it was tender to walk on but I could run without issue. However, I’d stiffen up during the day and felt sore. I watched youtube videos about what could be wrong and after nearly a week I started to tape it…and game changer, not as much discomfort, not as much stiffening up. I felt and still feel more comfortable but it’s a work in progress…as all overuse injuries are. The good news is my physio and I have had a chat…I’m working on my glute and hip strength and now have resistance bands to help. Plus I can go and see her next week.
Be smart though fellow runners…train better than me…stop when it hurts!
Due to my leg I’ve been playing with how I train – mixing my pace on longer runs almost like interval training…but without the high speeds…showed that I can run more economically. A huge necessity for running 62miles in a day!
I also looked at playing with my long run nutrition again. When I trained for my 50K I added in protein bars to my mix of gels and water, and noted a good energy boost from them. So I’m giving that another try and so far so good…eating while running is hard, best done on the flat or downhill and never too much at once.
May has been the base building phase in my training, now I step up to intermediate level…runs get longer than I’ve ever trained at before, and so will be split when needed. This phase let’s me see how much good work I’ve done in the last five weeks and if anything needs tweaking, it’s the point at which I shall make set race day decisions and it will test me both mentally and physically.