Saturday, 12 April 2014

Running On Empty

‘If it is important, you will find a way. If not, you will find an excuse’ - unknown

I’ve been going through a tough patch over the last few weeks. It probably started after my birthday. I think, like having reached the end of a 100m sprint, I had hit the target of my birthday and needed a rest. I had gone all out for 3 months and I think my reserves were slightly depleted.

Party Time!
March in my family is always ‘party season’. The amount of births and marriages mean there are more celebrations than in any other month of the year. I’d managed to battle through until my birthday but then I seemed to run out of steam. I’d managed to mostly keep up the diet and exercise, until I hit one particularly party-heavy weekend where there were events both the Friday and the Saturday. I hadn’t planned to indulge, I kept telling myself and anyone who’d listen that I’d only have a couple of drinks. However, at the Friday party in particular, there was a great atmosphere coupled with lovely generous people buying my drinks – who could resist?! I did calm things down the following night and then did only have a couple of drinks. If you didn’t count the alcohol, I had managed to stick to my calorie allowance (bar one slice of pizza!) so on that score I shouldn’t have done too much damage.

Exercise however was a totally different matter. I hadn’t gone to the extreme where I was hungover or vomiting everywhere, but I was feeling a general malaise on the days following and couldn’t get motivated. It may have even been the late nights that wiped me out more than the drinking as I was in bed past midnight both nights. As a mum of a toddler I’m usually tucked up by 10pm!
I did my last run on the Thursday but no amount of talking to myself could get me back in gear until the following Tuesday. I went for a run and afterwards broke down in tears. I felt like I didn’t have anything more to give and I was finding it too hard. I had found the previous week of my couch to 5k plan harder than I had expected anyway, but this particular week nearly finished me off completely. I was frustrated, disappointed and drained. 

I knew I had to repeat that week of my plan and I found out that other people have also had to repeat weeks, which did give me a bit of a boost, but I had to have a good talk with myself. Was this really all worth it? Or was I going to stop here and say ‘I gave it a try but this is as far as I could go’? I had already done better than I ever expected and was at a comfortable stage now, despite not being at my final goal. I knew I would look like a failure in the eyes of some, but who cared what they thought if I was happy?

I knew I didn’t want to stop here unless I really had to. I had set myself the goal of running the Race For Life, the 5k fun run for Cancer Research UK I was participating in with my family and friends, and it meant a lot for me to get to that point. I’d achieved great results so far, I obviously could do it, so why stop where I didn’t really want to? Of course it was hard, as the saying goes – nothing worth having comes easy. I wasn’t doing this because it was easy, I was doing it because I was getting results. 

The next day I weighed myself and I had put on about half a pound. Well, I said to myself, time to make a decision now. The weight was starting to go back on so I had to sort myself out. I had decided I wasn’t going to give up but maybe I needed to take it a bit easier on myself for a little while until I got back on track. I could do this though, I told myself, I’m stronger than I think. I went to work and spent the day talking myself into going for run to see how it went. I got through it having to push myself a fair bit but I didn’t break down in tears this time and started to feel more positive. 

Yoga Progress
My head was still not in the right place however and I really needed something to get me back on track. I decided to have a go at a bit of yoga as I had been progressing really well with that and it is well documented that it is supposed to be good for the mind as well as the body. It did turn out to be just the thing I needed – for the first time I managed to get my head on my knees in a seated forward bend and was centimetres off doing the same in a standing forward bend. It really gave me a boost to see the progress I had made and I did feel more like I could do the same with my running.

From then on I gradually pushed myself more and managed to complete that week of couch to 5k ending with running for 25 minutes without stopping. I wasn’t quite as exhilarated as when I had completed the 20 minute run 2 weeks earlier, but I did feel better and that I could do this, just at a slower pace.

I’m currently on week 7 of the couch to 5k plan which is 3 runs of 25 minutes without stopping. I’ve had to repeat it a second time as I was really struggling getting through the runs without walking and I don’t want to move on until I’m doing it a bit more comfortably. I’m feeling more positive but it is still a struggle for me. I’m persevering though as I know the results are worth it and the feeling of letting myself down if I did stop is not worth stopping. I've just completed the 2nd run of the week for the second time and I have definitely noticed it is getting easier. I can now run for pretty much 25 minutes without stopping. I did trip on tree root and fall flat on my face today, luckily there was no one to see it, but even that didn't stop me for long. I also lost another 2lbs this week which does hammer home the point about doing it for results. When I got back on the exercise wagon, the weight came off again. 

I will end with a little motivational picture I found which really spoke to me when I was finding it hard – the person you really are is a lot stronger than you think if you push yourself.

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