There is no illusion greater than fear

with No Comments

Week Eight, Day One: 12 May 

Week Eight, I can hardly believe it. I honestly didn’t think I would get this far, but now I have I am determined I am going to get to the end.

I was so elated after finishing my run on Friday that I couldn’t wait to see what the next run was going to be, so I looked ahead as soon as I got back to the house. 28 minutes, well okay, that is only 3 minutes more than I have been doing this last week, that is fine. These were my thoughts while still riding high on all those lovely natural chemicals you get form exercise that make you feel so good! But as the days passed that confidence started to turn into apprehension. Then, for various reasons that I won’t bore you with, I didn’t run when I was due to on Monday morning. Apprehension turned to anxiety. I had now, not run for three days, could my fitness have dropped in that time? Those 3 minutes started to become a disproportionate weight in my mind.

I then had a bad night’s sleep. I was awake at 2.30am, again at 3.30am, and then I couldn’t get back to sleep but I also felt too tired to get up. The alarm went off and I dragged myself out of bed. I took Dog out into the garden, and the morning was crystal clear and freezing cold with a frost on the ground. I donned my hat and gloves, put Soundgarden on the headset, and Dog and I left the house at 5.29am. This was not early enough to see the sunrise as it was already a dazzlingly bright yellow sphere above the trees. As I started my warm-up walk the internal butterflies sprang into life and I tried to settle them by looking at my surroundings. The moon was still out and looked striking in the blue sky and there was an almost ethereal (adjective, extremely delicate and light in a way that seems not to be of this world) mist on the river.

I start the run but something isn’t right, that old feeling of panic has me in its grip again. After completing the 25-minute run four times, I was feeling pretty pleased with myself and had a confidence, with regard to running, that I had never felt before. But in hindsight, I think it was quite unrealistic to think that I could had got over my fear of running in just a few weeks. It is, after all, something that I have carried around with me since I was a child. It has always been a part of my identity, so on some level, it may never go away. The important thing is to recognise it for what it is, an irrational fear, and not let it get the better of me.

I keep going and settle into my pace but I am still not happy, my legs feel heavy and it all just feels wrong. I keep slogging round and when the half way marker comes Sarah Millican says ‘Well done, you have run for 14 minutes, you might want to consider changing pace now.’ I have to admit that I uttered an expletive (noun, oath or swear word). I had got into a nice routine with the 25-minute run. I did a circuit of the field, then over the bridge, and up the tow path and finished just before the road, where of course I have to put Dog back on the lead. I knew that running for 28 minutes was going to take me past this point and I didn’t want the hassle of putting Dog on the lead and crossing the road as I was trying to finish the run. So I decided not to go over the bridge but to keep going along the path, then turn around and go back and over the bridge. I knew even before I did this that I would not like it; I have a strange aversion to going back the same way I have come. I will do almost anything to ensure that I do a circular walk with the dogs and even out in town, shopping (remember when we could do that!). I like to walk in one direction and circle round.

I was not wrong, running up that path knowing that with every step I was taking myself away from my end point was soul destroying. Of course, this made no sense as I was running a set time, not a distance, but psychologically that is how it felt. Again, it was sheer will power that kept me going. I got the five minute to go marker and forced myself to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Back to the bridge, over, and down again, my breathing was laboured, my legs hurt, and I felt rubbish. Somehow I managed to keep going, waiting for the 1 minute marker but it didn’t come. As I was thinking I can’t believe there is still more to go I am told that I have done it and can slow down to a walk. Which I do, more shattered and wobbly than I have felt in a long time.

I am feeling downhearted on the way home until I see an astonishing view of the river, the mist is rushing towards the sun in swirls and eddies. It is so beautiful I spend a few minutes standing on the bridge watching, until I start to get cold and head for home.

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