Fear is an idea-crippling, experience-crushing, success-stalling inhibitor inflicted only by yourself

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Week Six, Day Three: 1 May

I kinda knew a big run was in the post and here it was….5-minute warm up walk, 25-minute run, 5-minute cool down walk.

Having completed the 20-minute run a week ago I was not feeling quite so daunted by this one. Not that I was confident, I had my doubts and worries, but it was not the huge leap it had been last time. So I sat on my fears, and tried not to think about it too much.

I wake before the alarm goes off and, feeling nervous, I get straight up! I check that my music is set up as I drink my tea, and Dog and I are out of the house by 5.45am…let’s get this over with. I have chosen a compilation album, for this run hoping that the different music will help to distract me from the sheer enormity of today’s run. The album is Awesome Mix Vol. 2. If you don’t know it, it is the soundtrack to the second Guardians of the Galaxy film (which is also awesome!) I start my warm up walk to ELO’s Mr. Blue Sky, impossible not to feel good to this…but it would appear I am doing my best! I am very nervous by this point, and am so focused on my physical state that I barely notice my surroundings. What is that twinge in my right knee? What is that pain in my left thigh? How am I going to do this if I am in pain before I start? Sarah Millican had reassured me at the start that I could do this, and now she asks if I am ready to run. I reply ‘yes’, which surprises me. But things don’t start well. My anxieties are threatening to overwhelm me, and I am really struggling to control my breathing. There is no physical reason for this as I have only just started. It is my head freaking out about the task ahead, and the worse my breathing becomes, the more I worry about it, and round and round in a vicious circle.

Then, luckily, two things occur that help. Firstly, I see the barn owl again. I think that it is time to name him/her. Barny…too obvious. Hedwig…wrong type of owl. This is a barn owl not a snowy owl. (I completely ignored my partner’s suggestion of Owly McOwl Face!) It needs to be something majestic. I remember that the Greek goddess of wisdom had an owl’ Athena then. But hang on; Athena had a rival called Hera, and Dog is named after Hera’s Roman counterpart…so that settles it, Hera it is. A bit convoluted (adjective – (especially of an argument, story or sentence) extremely complex and difficult to follow), but I like the symmetry of it. Not that I am thinking any of this at the time. I just enjoy watching (her) sweeping back and forth across the field and, on occasion, plunging into the undergrowth. This distraction helps me to forget my breathing which start to settle down.

Then, after I leave Hera to her last hunt, one of my favourite tracks comes on; Fleetwood Mac – The Chain. I focus on the music and my pace, trying to run in time, but at the pace I want. This calms me down further, and I just keep going. I am trying not to think about the distance, but I know I’m waiting for the halfway marker and am very happy when it eventually arrives. I then experience a slump in motivation. There is a thrill that I am ‘at the top of the hill’, but after a while I realise there is still a long way to go to the ‘bottom’ (finish). So, I buckle down, and just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

I then start thinking about the bridge. No one could blame me for bypassing the bridge today. I could just keep going round the field, and that would give me the best chance of completing the run, yes that is what I will do. But, as the bridge gets closer, my second thoughts take on an unusual stubborn streak saying ‘go on, you can take that bridge’. And just before the bridge I get the five minutes to go marker, and that settles it. Over the bridge I go, slowing down a bit when I get to the bottom to get my breathing back, and once I have, I settle into the last stretch. Sara Millican says 1 minute to go and ‘if you feel good then speed up for a great finish’…and I do!!!

At the end of the cool down walk Sara Millican tells me that I am officially a runner, and I am as pleased as punch. The clouds have broken up, I can see Mr Blue Sky, and I am feeling good!

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