I’d had such ambitious plans for this race. I had a whole summer to train, to get really fit and to smash my PB. I’d fall back in love with running and everything would be amazing. Now, a few weeks out it all feels quite different. I’ve not rediscovered my passion for running, I’m sure it’s still there, but it’s buried away reluctant to wake up from hibernation. Through my training I’ve had bouts of tiredness, poor sleep and the anxiety and brain fog that’s the two combine to produce – something I hadn’t expected with the pressures of studying temporarily from my life. Eachtraining run has been a slog, mentally and physically, and I don’t feel ready at all for this challenge.
I’ve never felt this way before about a race. I’ve always been excited. Even Hackney Half, where training took a backseat to my education and the heat meant a slow dawdle was the only option, was still a great day for me. At the moment Royal Parks just feels terrifying. Which is really messing with my head.
Being a runner, and being a reasonably good runner, is a huge part of my identity. Running has given me so much, but right at the moment it feels like a massive weight. Which is a headfuck. It sounds bratty, but it’s difficult to be in a place where you’re far less fit than you’ve been in the past. 13 miles didn’t used to mean a lot, but these days it’s a big thing. I’m finding it hard to get my head around where I’m at compared to where I’ve been. Comparison really is the thief of joy, because it’s sapped all of my energy and left me a little heap of miserable fear. Instead of enjoying the process of being outside doing something I enjoy, I’ve become self-critical and surrounded by negative feelings about my fitness and my body.
Rebooting my training a couple of weeks ago helped. It took some of the pressure off and dropping to three runs a week has definitely been better for my body and for my mind (if you’re not feeling the running love getting up and running more than you absolutely need to is just torture!). Now I want to do the same for race day.
I set myself the sub-2 hour goal in an attempt to beat my 2:01 PB from Brighton Half Marathon last year. I figured if I was going to ask people to sponsor me (which you can still do here) I’d need to make sure I was really challenging myself. After all, who really wants to sponsor something who’s doing something they love and when you know they’ve done bigger things before? Because of how I identified myself as a runner I didn’t feel it was enough to say I was running for a fantastic cause. I backed myself into a corner and now I’m beating myself up because circumstances have changed.
For the sake of my mind I need to reset my attitude to this race, after all a huge part of running is in your head. I need to take the pressure off, let the negativity slip away and enjoy a race that I’ve always wanted to do. I don’t want to start with dread and finish with regret, that would be a total waste. I have to shake off the idea that anyone gives a shit about what I’ve done before, and remember I am running for a great cause I really care about (which is possibly the only reason I’ve not already dropped out) on an iconic course that’ll be an experience in itself.
I have to remember running is putting one foot in front of another, it’s ok to walk If I need to and that it’s not about comparison. I have to remember that I want to finish, and to enjoy getting to that finish line. Enjoyment is important. No time should be at the cost of your happiness, it’s just not worth it (coincidentally, Brighton Half holds some of my happiest race memories, and not because of my time).
After all of that, here's how last week panned out...
Monday: yoga class at Brixton Pop with Brixton Yoga - this is such a nice, and really affordable, class in a great slightly quirky venue, definitely one I'd recommend. You can also follow up class with some great food!
Tuesday: 4.5 mile run and restorative yoga at home - a very standard run and stretch, nothing to see here.
Wednesday: 3 mile run and yoga at home - I'd been in a fairly vile mood all week and by Wednesday it had crescendoed into some pretty awful anxiety complete with grotty head fog. I didn't feel like running, so I went home to bed. It kind of helped.
Thursday: More Restorative and Meditation at MoreYoga (on ClassPass) - caught up my 3 miles after yesterday and went to a lovely restorative yoga class which stretched me out and chilled me out.
Friday: Yin Yoga at Studio by The Detox Kitchen (on ClassPass) - another peaceful and reflective class to help me recover from my horrible week in a really lovely venue.
Saturday: Free Range Yoga at Bullfinch Brewery and 8 mile run - Bullfinch Brewery in Herne Hill not only makes great beer, but it's also a great place to do yoga! Think twinkly lights, candles and a teacher who seriously knows her stuff and is keen to share. I deferred my 8 mile run to Sunday evening.
Sunday: yoga at home and lots of sleep! - so I did get lots of sleep, but I also ran 8 miles around the city in the evening. It was pretty slow and steady, but it wasn't awful.
Looking forward to this week, and it should be a good one!
Monday - filming and yoga with WeTrain
Tuesday - 3 mile run and yin yoga at home
Wednesday - yoga at home
Thursday - 3 mile run and mediation with
Friday - a yoga class with ClassPass, but I'm yet to decide which one! All suggestions welcome!
Saturday - Third Space - Run this Space with the Fempower crew
Sunday - yoga and R and R