I didn’t come this far to only come this far

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Week Five, Day Three: 24 April

I looked at the last run in week five and couldn’t believe my eyes. 5-minute warm up walk, 20-minute run, 5-minute cool down walk…20 MINUTE RUN What the…heck!!!

I had struggled to do an 8-minute run just the day before. How on earth was I going to run for 20 MINUTES, it was simply not possible, was it? I spent the rest day thinking and verbalising this. Wondering round the house muttering ‘I really don’t think I will be able to do it, I think I have met my Waterloo’.

Now, my partner has very kindly been proof-reading my blogs, correcting my grammar and spelling (Spellcheck is not infallible! (adjective, incapable of making mistakes or being wrong). So they, (fyi, not as a non-binary pronoun, but a deliberate use of they in order not to give away too much about my identity until we come to the end of this blog) are very aware of all the things I have been saying… “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t you are right. Worry is a misuse of the imagination. Fears are stories we tell ourselves”...blah, blah, blah. And, guess what? They had the cheek to say this back to me!! So, what else could I do but take their (and therefore my own) advice.

I decided not to ruminate (verb, think deeply about something) on it any longer. I was just going to do my best, and if I didn’t do it I could always go back a step and then try again. Strangely, the thought of this blog coming to a premature end was not something I relished. I am enjoying writing this far more than I ever thought possible!

The morning of the run came, I woke at 4am and thought there is no point going back to sleep now as you will just be groggy when the alarm goes off. But the thought of getting up was too much, so I lay there trying not to go back to sleep. Of course, that happened and I dreamt that I had slept through my alarm, and that it was too late to go out for my run!! I woke to find I had not slept though my alarm and it was just about to go off. Phew!

I had put some new music on my phone and was setting up a new playlist when I accidentally deleted the one I had been listening to up until now. But I had what I wanted for the run, and I made sure the shuffle was off.

Dog and I left the house at 5.50am. I find that I am chasing the sunrise like an addict chasing a hit, and today I got what I was looking for. On my warm-up walk I saw a Heron perched on a railing, which made it as tall, if not taller, than me. Our eyes met, and I like to think that I saw a glint of recognition and acknowledgement there, from one early bird to another. That is before Dog spotted it and ran ahead causing it to fly off in that majestic, almost lazy way they have.

I then spotted two ducklings on the water with their Mum and Dad, the first I have seen this year. They were so small that they must have only just left the nest, tiny little balls of fluff. It was very hard to keep up my brisk walk as I really wanted to stop and watch them for a while. There was a thick blanket of mist on the river and fields and the sun was not quite up, but when it did appear it looked enormous, a huge spherical, ember smouldering in the sky. I found being surrounded by all this natural beauty intoxicating.

When the app started, Sarah Millican said ‘this may seem like quite a jump’ (Get out of Town Sarah! Or something to that effect that I probably shouldn’t write down here!) but she assured me that if I had completed all the other runs then I was ready for this one. I am not sure that I believed her but it was still comforting.

I had chosen Moby for my motivational music and things started well. I found my pace and tried not to think about 20 MINUTES, but to just focus on my running. Unfortunately, and I don’t know how this happened, my music was back on shuffle! So I kept having to get my phone out and put it back to Moby, which was distracting and annoying.

I needed something to distract myself, and there had been tips throughout the previous runs so I started to think about these. I liked one in particular about not wasting energy by being too bouncy which gives you the following image to help – If someone saw just the very top of your head over a hedge they should not be able to tell if you are running or walking. It also tells you to measure your breathing with your strides to ensure that you don’t start to pant; I tried this but found that if I focus on my breathing I start to panic which makes me breath quicker, and is therefore counterproductive. So I try to ignore my breathing as it knows what to do.

The first marker comes – 5 minutes and I am feeling okay. The second marker comes, 10 minutes, I am at the top of my imaginary hill. I see the Heron again as it is spooked by my, probably noisy, approach and flies off. Things are starting to get difficult now but I keep going. And then there is the ‘5 minutes to go’ marker, and by now I am really struggling, but I use my imaginary hill to motivate myself (visualising myself half way down the hill!).  I think I have just run for 15 minutes and I am not going to stop this close to the end. By now it is pure willpower that is keeping me going. There is another marker, ‘2 minutes to go’, and I tell myself that I can do this it’s only 2 minutes. The bridge from hell approaches but I must be very close to the end so I keep going. Half way up the bridge Nirvana kicks in and I leave it on, all I can do now is focus on the end, and actually the music has given me that little kick I needed. And then it is over. I can’t believe it. I just ran for 20 minutes. Unbelievable. My breathing was very laboured but my legs feel okay.

If this was my Waterloo then it turns out that I am Wellington!

If you are thinking of doing something similar take care to stay safe.

To do this I am:

  • Keeping social distancing. I aim to get out by 6.30am (I am a lark not an owl), so there are very few people around, and if I do meet them I stay 2 meters away.
  • I have my phone with me, and someone knows where I am going and when I am due back.
  • And, of course, I have Dog with me.
Top tips to keep you safe and well during this strange time.
  • Keep to the self-isolating and social distancing rules.
  • Keep in contact with friends, family, and, of course, Restore.
  • Find a routine and stick to it (I can’t emphasize enough how important this is)
  • Every day do something for your physical and mental well-being. On the days I am not running I go out for a walk. I am also doing a 21-day meditation challenge with 2 friends. This benefits my well-being as well as keeping me connected every day. There are plenty of meditation apps out there, but if that isn’t your thing then find something that nurtures your soul. This can be as simple as listening to the birds sing or gazing up at the stars.
  • Set yourself a challenge. This could be big or small, it’s entirely up to you.

These are just a few ideas and there are plenty more out there. The Restore website has a directory of useful and trusted websites with information, tips and ideas, here.

The Reluctant Jogger and Dog