#5in5forMind Update – The Psychology of Endurance Running.

My decision to run 5 marathons in five consecutive days, has a touch of the bonkers about it, and I’m the first to admit it does; I sometimes stop and ask myself ‘what the hell am I thinking?’ 

I can comfortably run a half marathon, but the thought of doing twice that distance in one go still feels daunting.

The initial concerns were mainly physical; thinking about eating properly, and recovery between runs (which I think will include the dreaded ice bath)!  However, there is also going to be a psychological side to this challenge, which will need equal consideration.

The other week, I was lucky enough to be connected to the Sports Science team at the University of Hertfordshire (by Juanita Prescott from Stevenage Leisure Limited), and I had a great chat about the psychology of endurance challenges with Stephen Pack, who is a HCPC Registered Sport and Exercise Psychologist.

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Anxiety & The Brain, Part 10: Neurotransmitters.

Have you ever wondered what controls our mood?  What makes us feel happy, sad, or afraid?

The answer is chemical messengers called NEUROTRANSMITTERS; they are key players in helping to understand anxiety, and the physical reactions associated with it.

As we learnt in my blog Anxiety & The Brain, Part 5, the brain is made up of millions of neurons, and it’s these neurons that release the neurotransmitters in a process called FIRING.  There Are different types of neurotransmitter, and the ones that get released depends on the information received from our senses, and the emotion that our brain associates with that information.

Firstly, we need to look at the different types of neurotransmitter, and the effect each one has on our body and mind.

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Depression & Positivity

At the moment I’m fighting a constant battle between depression and positivity; I can spend days with a low mood, which literally paralyses me to a point that even doing simple tasks is a challenge; I then get angry and very irritable.

I haven’t really explored depression that much, I’ve spent most of my time focusing on anxiety but as the two normally go hand-in-hand, I think it’s about time I started giving both equal attention.

It’s hard to explain what it’s like to be depressed; like anxiety, it can be quite unnerving, illogical, and pretty hard to understand if you haven’t been there.  My brain can think logically, I can be aware of what is happening, and come up with ideas and solutions, but physically doing things takes an immense amount of energy; I often compare it to wading through treacle.

I think a lot of people liken depression to boredom, or just feeling a bit sad, but it’s a lot worse than that; it lasts for long periods of time and it makes you question your whole existence; I’m constantly asking myself “what’s the point?”

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Mental Health Doesn’t Pick Sides.

Once again the UK is divided (where’s the head-in-hands emoji?), this time it’s about the viability of covid-19 lockdowns, and the battlefield, once again, is the media and social media.

I’m all for people expressing views, but I still can’t get my head around the way people behave and talk to others, especially on platforms like Twitter and Facebook.  It’s what I call ‘The Kindergarten Wars’ (which is unfair on kids in Kindergarten because they’re probably more well behaved than most adults) because the arguments descend into a slagging match, where if you don’t agree with someone they simply tell you you’re stupid or start name calling.

I sometimes wonder what the country would be like if all the ‘armchair’ politicians actually got off their arses and did something?  We now have an army of armchair covid-19 experts, who seem to have all the answers.  A lot of fingers get pointed, and blame allocated, but how many people actually take physical action to change things for the better?

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Looking for the Positives in the Storm.

It’s safe to say that 2020 has been a rather unique year.  You don’t need me to re-cap everything and I’m certainly not going to dwell on the negative stuff, instead I want to try and start the new year with a degree of optimism.

I know some of you may not feel very optimistic and have good reason to struggle to see any light at the end of the tunnel.  Trust me, it has taken a lot for me to get writing again, let alone write an ‘optimistic’ blog, considering my experiences of the last 5 months, but I hope this story may help.

Back in August we got a call from our lettings agent, telling us that our Landlord was selling the house and therefore terminating the tenancy.

My initial reaction was rather spectacular, I basically fell apart.

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