Compare and despair. Good phrase, that. Got my therapist to thank for that one.
Over the past couple of years I’ve surrounded myself with people who share my love for sport and fitness, both on social media and more recently, in real life. And largely it’s great. I’ve got people to talk to who understand just how frustrating it is to be injured,why I need to buy yet more kit, and who hold my hand through new experiences whilst answering all of my daft questions. (You know who you are. Big love).
For a bit of a giggle/out of curiosity I put my recent race times into a marathon pace calculator, and was more than a little surprised when it predicted a sub-4 finish time (Obviously, this comes with the usual caveats of making sure you train sufficiently etc). Once I stopped laughing at the ridiculousness of it all, I gave it a bit of thought and decided that, f*ck it, I’m gonna aim – and train – for a sub-4 marathon.
I always said I didn’t want to just complete my first marathon, I wanted to complete it in a time I was proud of – and I couldn’t imagine being prouder than having a marathon time starting with a 3 to my name.
“I can’t do yoga – I can’t even touch my toes”. Yarp, I was one of those. Completely missing the point that my inflexibility was exactly the reason I SHOULD – and could – do yoga.
I was a typical runner – full of running, tight of hamstring, and full to the brim of excuses not to stretch. I loved the idea of doing yoga; being all lithe and calm and supple, but actually doing it? In a room full of other people? Nope. Just nope.
Before I got really serious about the running thing, I was pretty much all about the strength training thing. Determined to be something other than The Skinny One, I’ve been trying to build muscle and ‘tone up’ for a few years now, and it still forms the bulk of my training – albeit more running specific these days. So far, I’ve done all of my strength work at home. I’m a strong advocate of working out at home, and it fits into my lifestyle perfectly; allowing me to exercise when The Toddler is in bed.
I’m not known for my patience (hello, always skipping to the end of a book), but when it involves not doing the one thing that keeps me sane-ish and prevents me from starting training for a marathon that I’ve only just signed up for, it straight up deserts me.
There’s the usual stuff that is pissing me off; worrying about losing fitness, the boredom that comes from not running, the lack of Garmin/leg/trainer photos to post to Instagram, the worrying that I’m eating too much now that I’m hardly doing any cardio (this worry is despite the fact that I’m trying to gain weight. But that’s a post for another day), and the irrational fear that I’ll never run again – a fear which threatens to overwhelm me with panic at any given moment. I’m also premenstrual whilst I write this, which throws most of my scant-at-best rationality out of the window, so yeah, not the best of weeks.
Although as I sit here, shin-splint-ravaged legs elevated (all about that RICE), and having run a total of 1 kilometre in the past fortnight, it doesn’t seem like the most achievable of goals.
I mean, I’m probs being a little dramatic; I have been suffering from a rather nasty case of shin splints, likely brought on by too much racing and speed work over the past few months (did I mention I won a race? I did. I won a race. See my smiley face down there?), but two weeks of rest later and I seem to be coming out the other side.
THIS POST CONTAINS DISCUSSION AND DESCRIPTIONS OF SELF-HARM.
I’ve been pretty open about my experiences of anxiety and depression – on this blog, on social media, and in real life – but one thing I haven’t opened up about is my experience of self-harm. Only a handful of people know that I hurt myself – close friends, current and ex partners, and medical professionals. Well, those are the only people that I’ve told; a not-so-close examination of my patchwork quilt of a left arm would tell you all you need to know, so I imagine a fair few people already have an idea. Nobody has ever brought it up though – except a certain osteopath who lost my custom after some ill-judged comments.
So why the secrecy up to now? Put bluntly, I’m ashamed. Anxiety and depression are illnesses. Illnesses are nobody’s fault. I can’t help being ill. But I can help cutting myself. It’s a choice I make. It’s my fault. A sign of weakness (so my brain tells me). But what I’ve come to realise is that it is a symptom of my anxiety – and not something to be ashamed of. I’m not proud of it, of course, but there is an awful lot of unnecessary stigma attached to it, and I’m only perpetuating that stigma by keeping quiet.