I’m back, I think. I fell out of love with blogging last year – mostly because my head wasn’t really in the right space and because I felt very conflicted with what my goals were and the means by which I was trying to achieve them. I fell into that classic overtraining cycle which is so difficult to break out of and my health was up and down throughout the year. But things are getting better and I’m feeling happier and more focussed – I also have a great support network keeping me on the right track, but more on that later.
In autumn of last year, I finally found my perfect distance after years and years of flipping between things half-heartedly. I entered my first half marathon in September and came in at 1h55…I raced with a cold that day but the weather was glorious and I loved every minute of it. During that race something clicked in my mind that this was the distance I wanted to focus on and that actually I wanted to change my approach to running and racing (which up until that point had very much been a ‘need to be in control and punish myself’ thing – definitely not the right reason to run), so I made a commitment to myself that things would change. Of course, life then got in the way and I forgot about that commitment. I entered another half for November just to check that I really did love the distance, and on very little half-specific training due to a busy work travel schedule, I came in at 1h51 and felt like I could have easily given more. And then I forgot about looking after myself once again and my weight dropped and life just started to feel a little tougher…but I was still hitting good times (a 5 miler 38 minute PB and a 23:02 PB at ParkRun) so carried on until I was hit with the flu at the end of December. The flu was the worst, I have never felt so low, and it lasted for two weeks…not how I wanted to start a new year.
But something good came out of the beginning of the year too – I started working with Renee McGregor. Renee is a performance and eating disorder specialist dietitian, as well as a best-selling author. We’re working on a lot of things, including fixing my relationship with food and exercise, and restoring my weight. Which all sounds very simple and straightforward when you type the words into a blog post, though trust me, it’s a lot of hard work and continual effort. But still, it’s a positive kind of effort and one we’re making progress with.
And so this weekend was supposed to be my first race of the year; the Deal Half Marathon. However it looks like it’s going to be a DNS for me. A DNS is a complicated thing – ordinarily it wouldn’t be something to celebrate and I would only not be on a start line if I had a broken leg or some other horrific injury…and whilst I’m not injured, I’m not 100% well either and if I forced myself to race it would be for the wrong reasons, which is exactly what I am trying to move away from. I had been going back and forth in my head for the past fortnight as to whether I should be on the start line…deep down knowing that I shouldn’t be but also feeling like I had something to prove with my first race of the year (but this is the thing with working with Renee and starting to work through my issues…there’s now a rational voice in my head rightly questioning my motives for a particular action). And when at the beginning of last week I was comparing last year’s results for that race with this year’s names on the start line document to see where I might place if I did race and whether I would make it into the top 10, I realised that my behaviour was falling into that completely irrational space that I know so well. So coming to the decision not to race tomorrow is actually a good thing for me, and is something I will celebrate because it means that I really am making progress. Plus, my next race is back in Monaco – and quite honestly, starting my racing season in my happy place in warm sunny weather sounds rather delightful to me.
Despite the things I’m struggling with, I am genuinely quite excited for this year’s running. I have started to place a little less pressure on myself so that I can just run for the joy of running – and it’s working. I haven’t reduced my mileage, but have started to run for myself rather than for my stats…in fact I don’t think I’ve uploaded to Strava for about two weeks now (which may sound like nothing but is progress for me). I have another great year ahead being part of the ASICS FrontRunner UK team who are just a fabulous bunch of people and provide so much motivation and inspiration, and I am genuinely feeling a lot more positive than I have done for quite some time…which may have something to do with the daffodils I’ve just bought for myself, but hey, spring is on its way and self-care through flowers is a very good thing indeed.