I feel as if I’m finally coming to terms more with the new me, and the pandemic. I’ve started to adapt my life and live better. My therapist and I both highlighted that I’m living a more ‘value’ driven life and less of a ‘goal’ driven one.
For a goodly while I felt I had to “do”. It wasn’t to prove anything to you, it was to prove something to myself. But with my self confidence rock bottom, I was trying to find it elsewhere – for example social media posts, looking to likes and praise to show I was good enough, doing enough and being enough.
In falling apart I’ve realised I don’t want or need that attention. I really just need space, peace, quiet and time.

I’ve started this new year feeling calmer and more peaceful, more balanced. I also feel more confident in myself as I’ve had to look at myself! I’ve had to look at my values and think about me!
It feels selfish writing that, but I don’t, and can’t, care. I’ve learnt that there’s only me who will really think about me.

Self care hasn’t got to be fluffy, bubble baths and at home spa sessions etc. Those are also good self care, but just brushing your teeth, having a shower, heating up soup for lunch, vacuuming to make the house clean so that you can breath easier…essentially whatever it takes to make you feel good, to make you feel like you is self care.

Think about your ‘needs’!

What do I need to do to help myself!

What do I need to do to help others to help me.

I recently read Bryony Gordons ‘No such Thing
As Normal’. I originally bought it thinking that if I had a bad spell I’d read it to help me. However, I realised I needed to read it in a better spell (shall we say) so that I’d see the bad spell coming and would know what may help, and have guidance of who to contact if the bad gets really bad again. I highly recommend it, even if you only read the chapter about getting out of your own way….an absolute revelation, the sad fact being that most of us blame other external factors for how we are and feel…when really it’s us, ourselves – and we just really need to take some small steps to look at how best we can get out of our own way!

As the new year started I threw away thoughts of resolutions, deciding instead to incorporate acts or items into my life that help keep my life aligned to my values. Some of these are small…making sure I drink enough water by filling my water bottle each morning, having my lavender pulse point roller by the bed for every afternoon nap or bedtime, setting a timer so that I do sit and read for 20mins. Some things have more impact and my Daily Planner is one of those. Each Sunday I sit and map out my coming week, add any notes or tasks where necessary. It helps ground me and quieten my mind…it’s not a to do, it’s more a basics for each day, with a few extras thrown in…for example some days I’ll purposefully put ‘read 20mins’, ‘wash your hair or ‘art’. There’s the odd Doctors or therapy appointments of course, and calls with family and friends. If something isn’t ticked off by the end of the day, that’s fine…it can be done another day, or just left. My therapist recommended it, but stipulated that I’m not allowed to beat myself up if I have to do other things, or if there’s something I simply don’t want to do – because sometimes even just the small things can be hard enough. Having the energy and drive to do all that’s needed can be hard. It’s easier than it was but is a work in progress…and just getting up, ready and going to work some days is enough…let alone a pile of washing, dishes to do, people to message back, and an Ultramarathon plan to crack. If you too also feel overwhelmed by all that you feel needs to be done, or you think ‘why aren’t they getting back to me – why are they so busy’ STOP, think about what you’ve already had to achieve that day so far, or just how hard even getting out of bed may have been for that other person.

Another help in my life has of course been exercise. Running mostly, but also now daily yoga, and where and when possible walking and strength training.
In January I made sure to keep myself accountable by uploading ALL my exercise to Strava. I was also taking part in an accumulative running challenge as part of a North Pole To South Pole virtual team challenge – we covered all 12,998miles in just 9 weeks.

January also saw me write myself a new training plan to slowly boost my mileage, to look to get to running 40 mile weeks comfortably and consistently. It’s the distance Nicky Spinks once mentioned in a Trail Running Magazine article, that she runs to before races – no matter what the distance of the race, as she knows her body can handle it, but it’s still a challenge, however doing more could lead to overuse injuries and overtraining.
So I figured if it works for Nicky it can’t be a bad idea. Especially when I needed to consistently, but comfortably, boost my mileage while training for my Ultramarathon.
As the weeks progress on my plan I’ve gone from 23-35mile weeks with good cutbacks.
Then up to 37, again with good cutbacks and slow progression. Then slowly I’ll build up to 40 – to be maintained a few wks, then cutbacks, then back to it.

Before work one day just as February rolled round I saw an article on Facebook. It mentioned that due to covid the Paris 2021 marathon had of course been moved to the Autumn, but could be run virtually on the original date of April 11th and places could be signed up for. Now Paris has always been on my to do list, but you need a clear medical certificate to get in… given what life has thrown at me these past few years I know that may be hard to get, plus of course…global pandemic. So as I commuted to work I had a good think about it… all 11 minutes of my commute. I then parked up, signed up and went off to the office like it was an everyday thing to sign up to a spring marathon.
I had to alter my training plan – but not by much, and I still keep my slow and steady climb up to a 40 mile week. I can’t say I’m not bothered by my marathon time, or that I won’t be trying for a PB…but more realistically I will use it as a fun longer run in a beautiful area, and as training for my Ultra.

My Ultra was set for September, but given all that is still going on with the pandemic and the vaccine roll out, I was getting quite anxious. The day after the Government’s road map announcement I received an email from the Ultra Challenges team, offering a free transfer to 2022. It felt like fate was guiding me, giving me a chance of peace of mind…so I took it. I also signed up to run the virtual London Marathon on 3rd October, so that I’ve two marathons this year to test me…and aide my training for next year. At the moment I’m considering training for my Ultra, with all the mileage and time needs that will bring, so that I both know what I’m in for next year, and know that the training is achievable…and what parts I may need to tweak. I am however undergoing tests on my right hip due to a constant ache in it, which has built over the past few months. So far cancer has thankfully been ruled out, but I know it may dictate what running I can and can’t do depending on what they find.

Full confirmation and a decision on all that is something for next season…for Spring. In the meantime I’m carrying on as normal, training for my Spring Marathon and taking part in a Sustainbility virtual running and walking challenge, with the same team who I undertook the Pole to Pole challenge with. This challenge supports the Sustainable Development Goals set up to help save the planet…with 17 steps and a target of 10,710 miles. A great motivational exercise, with a wonderful team!

One thought on “Winter – 2021

  1. Hi Em

    Have just read your ‘Building Em’ and it’s so lovely to hear what you’ve been up to. I too have ‘me’ days where on occasions I have a treat just for myself or even just a day to be calm, read and enjoy life – it’s like a tonic xx You sound like you are doing well and enjoying life and I hope your hip is something they can easily fix. Good luck with the marathon training, keep well and safe xxx. PS Love your hair 😘

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