Over the last couple of months I have really fallen out of love with running; I can’t really explain why, but all motivation evaporated, and I hit rock bottom with it.
Kim thought that maybe I was just tired and needed a rest; which made sense considering all the running I have done over the last few months.
While it made sense, I didn’t feel like this was the whole reason for my slump.
I put a lot of pressure on myself, and it’s this pressure that I just can’t really deal with or release. For some reason I could not run less than my normal 11km route; to do any less seemed like some sort of failure. I also had to keep around the same time despite telling myself that the time was irrelevant, especially when doing the Race At Your Pace challenges; all that matters then is the distance.
Stopping mid run is also a killer for me, and seems like another failure. If no one else is around I will give myself such a bollocking out loud for stopping, if I am going down the high street then I keep it in my head until I get home.
So why all the pressure? I’m not doing this as a competition, I’m never going to become a professional athlete, and have no interest in becoming one, so why is it so important, and why can’t I let myself just enjoy the runs?
I follow Sophie Radcliffe on social media; she is a really inspirational person who believes that everyone has the capacity to achieve something extraordinary; her adventures can be found on www.challengesophie.com I remember one post she did where she went for a run and on the way she stopped to take in her surroundings, eating blackberries and saying hi to some goats and horses; she described it as running without any pressures or judgements on her performance……
I remember laughing at this post because I can’t do that, there is some sort of mental block that means when I run, I have to run…. stop! I can’t stop…..! The only interaction I have with livestock is when they look up to see some fool swearing at himself because he stopped.
On my last few runs before the Hatfield House Half Marathon, I had to stop and boy was I pissed at myself. Pardon the language but that’s the level of emotion I felt towards myself. I remember coming back from one run and saying to Kim “that’s it; I’m giving up running after the Hatfield House race. There’s just no point to any of it…..”
I know I have dreams and plans for where I want to take the running and what I want to achieve, but it seems the more I do the further I get from that dream. I think it boils down to my old nemesis TIME. I panic when time gets involved in anything I am doing, especially if I feel there is not enough time.
My logical brain knows that I’m only 40 for God’s sake; I’ve still got plenty of time! But try telling my anxious brain that.
Not having enough time is a common theme for me, and I think it stems from the feeling that I am starting again, it feels as though I’m hacking my way along this new path with a blunt machete. I hack away at the jungle in front of me, thinking I’m making progress, but when I look around I haven’t got anywhere, or rather haven’t got where I think I should be.
I’ve written previously about my inability to celebrate, or even see my achievements, and this is a big part of the problem. I am making progress; I just don’t think I am…..
I know I need to be kinder to myself, to let go and release some of the pressure, I just don’t know how to do it; my anxious brain laughs in the face of logic and plays by its own rules, which I am still trying to understand. It means that I don’t see the fun in anything anymore, which is really frustrating.
You may ask why is running so important. The answer is that I was enjoying it, and I am excited about the future challenges I want to set myself. The running has given me some sort of identity, and it does make me feel better physically; I just need to sort out the mental side of things now.
I stopped running for a few weeks but finally decided today that the only way to get over this slump was to just go for it, push through all the negative thoughts, lace up the trainers and go for a run. It’s a similar tactic I am using for the writing, just keep doing it, no matter how good or bad I think it is, just put one word after another; it seems to be working. I can’t give these things up because then there really is no point.
Guess what, I did a short run yesterday, 6km, and it felt good. I toyed with the idea of doing a second lap, but when it came to the turning to head out again I closed my eyes (only briefly) ran past it, and headed for home.
I also signed up to do another Race At Your Pace 100 mile challenge for this month; it may look as though it adds pressure and contradicts everything I’ve just said, however I feel it does give me the motivation to get out there, the fear of not completing the challenge, of failing makes me put those running shoes on and step outside.
The weather also helps, it means I can’t do my big 11km lap because most of it is over muddy fields; I have to stick to a shorter route that is solid under foot. I can do more laps if I want, but I am going to try and do more shorter runs this month, just so I can ease myself back into it.
Let’s see what happens…..
Thank you, thank you, thank you.