10.8/500 – Daytimes at the gym suck

The gym during the day is an awful place. It’s busy. I don’t just mean that as in it has people in it but the very daytime gym scene is ‘busy’.

Today I did 4.14k in just over half an hour. I’ll be honest, I wanted to do 5 but I had gone too late and had class at 1 (I finished running at 12:30). I couldn’t go after class because I had a dinner date so conceeded to the lunchtime slot seeing as I was on campus.

Big. Error. 

It’s awful having the time constraint put on you, unsure how much you’ll get done because you have other plans. I much prefer rocking up at 7pm when it’s dead and having time to just run as far as I want. 

I have decided I will make up for this with 6k tomorrow. My reasons being 2 fold.

1- make up distances lost to the daytime pit

2- there’s a 5 mile race I have my eye on soon and I think I can do it as long as I push harder. It’s like 8k. I can do it… maybe. 

Either way, more on the 500 total and now into double digits. Let’s keep it up! 

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I get knocked down…

I fell.

Well, I didn’t fall flat but I stumbled enough to make my ankle twist and shake me up.

It was a cross country run; puddles, mud and potholes. I was going downhill. I was weaving, going a fair pace. It was a small puddle. Instead of weaving it I take a big step, a leap over. The mud gives way to my right foot which in that moment supported my body weight. The mud slid and I went with it. My ankle bends to stop me falling. I slide back and my hands go out to stop the fall happening. I end up in a starter position, looking like I’m waiting for the gun to go off. I’m relieved that aside from a pair of muddy palms and mud on the side of my shoe I am unscathed, spared the humiliation of a mud covered face through housing estates.

Then the pain hits.

My ankle interrupts my momentary relief to alert me to the odd position it is in. It starts as a murmur and quickly escalates to a scream of pain. I realise it twisted much more than was safe. I can feel the unnaturalness of what it has done and I am sorry.

Ultimately I am fine, there is not a breakage, nothing out of place and I will live to fight other puddle based battles, but my nerve has gone.

They say running is a mental test and I would agree. The mental will to keep going km by km, mile by mile is what separates you from success and failure. I feel I have conquered my will when it comes to going forward but I have a new beast in my way. Hills.

It’s not going up hills that bothers me, walking or running. Its going down. I am convinced I will fall, smash my head open and die… Quite melodramatic I know but it is a fear none the less.

It started in China. The private school I worked at had marble floors everywhere which is not very ‘health and safety’ when all the corridors were outside, summers have rain daily and the winters are foggy and damp. I worried when kids were slipping and sliding all over. I slipped myself a few times and each time I walked a little slower and held on a lot more. It developed into a fear of going downward generally, hills, stairs, small dips, the lot. Climbing the great wall was amazing… Up until I went up a staircase, looked down and the panicked about going downstairs.

Running roads in Scotland has seen a development of this fear, either avoiding down hill sections completely or walking down only. Mum pointed out ‘won’t your races have down hill bits?’. Damn. I couldn’t avoid it forever.

I have started slowly to incorporate these parts, watching my step and taking my time.

Today was a disaster. I slipped and hurt my ankle trying to overcome the thing I was scared of, reinforcing the fear. I limped home and put some ice on my ankle where a faint bruise looked like it was developing. I frantically Pinterest   searched for tips and set about various rubbing and stretching to make sure I wouldn’t be hurt long term. I limped around the living room. Damn damn damn! No no no!

That night I went out to run 5k again in sheer defiance. It was probably a terrible move medically and I would probably be doing more damage but my nerves couldn’t hack the failure.

I ran up. I ran. Screams from my ankle. I ran down. I ran. I didn’t think about the hills. I stumbled once on a pavement kerb but kept going. I was not going to let the fear of falling get me. No. Falling is temporary. Success is long lasting.

I did it. I got home and sat down, ignoring my screaming ankle. I write this now and am still ignoring its intermittent tantrums. I’ll be fine. No matter.

Stand up to your fear. It’s not fixing itself you know.

How to feel after ‘bad runs’

Today was a terrible run. I feel like a total failure.

It had promise. I got changed and felt good, charged my phone, tied up my laces and felt ok.

I had eaten some crap noodles in lieu of having any real food and they tasted awful. I regretted it and chugged some water to destroy the taste, another error. I went down to the track at 6:20pm, an hour earlier than normal but it wasn’t as hot has it has been in previous days.

Walking down I knew I felt ill, walking the track as a pre warm up to the warm up I knew I felt awful. My stomach was churning and I was already hot. it was bright. My head was hurting.

I went over every cliché mantra I could think about mind over matter in order to understand that it was just my mind giving up and I was physically fine.

I ran, my feet went through the normal protest before subdueing. I focused on straightening my back and neck in order to put myself off the churning in my stomach. But it wasn’t working.

Everything hurt.

Everything was failing. I barely made my halfway mark before I checked my time, something I have been trying to stop doing. I began clockwatching and I knew I had already mentally given up. I was debating shaving 5 minutes off and cutting my loss. Training was training…

At the end I died, I went at snail pace on cool down and wobble. I took out my headphones and grew sick of listening. I was in a foul mood. A phone call topped the lot. Nothing serious, just a friend asking me to be the gooseberry on a date, I declined, she called me a name in jest. I took it too personally.

Walking into my apartment I felt like a failure and called my mother to talk, venting all my frustrations which seemed to be more than just the run, in fact the run wasn’t even the issue anymore.

That’s when I understood, yes my poor diet choice and timing had resulted in my stomach issues which created the pain but it really was the mental aspect that had taken over.

I was drained from dealing with the issues of others that surrounded me. Living as a foreign teacher in a boarding school creates a bubble type of life that when toxic can destroy you from the inside. Normally running was positive but it seemed that too much negativity was getting to me and in my mind I had given up.

After calling my mum and venting I realised that it all wasn’t so bad. I had still ran far and for a good length of time. That wasn’t always something I could have done.

So here is my advice for a bad run, the one where you just give up. (remember, I’m no professional. Just another person in trainers trying to keep motivated)

What’s wrong? Get it out. Vent it and realise that your run is still a positive thing regardless of what else is going on. Be proud of your actions regardless of what others are up to. You are doing really well! Most people don’t bother even putting on the trainers. Hell, strapping into the sports bra is a nightmare enough! And you are telling me you made it all the way out to actually run? Well done!

Vent. Reassess. Try again.

Tomorrow is another run. I will ace it.