My only competitor is the person I was yesterday

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Week Nine, Day One: 19 May

So here I am, week nine and the final stage.

Today’s run…30 minutes, yes this is the big one, the 5K. I have had a 2 day rest in the hope that my ankle will feel better. I am not as apprehensive about this run as I thought I would be. The last run was horrible, but I am feeling better this morning than I did last week and I hope that will make a difference.

I am up early and ready to leave at 5.30am. The day is grey and really warm. My weather station tells me that it is nearly 13° outside which means that it has gone from 1° to 13° in the last 3 runs. There won’t be a sunrise, well of course the sun will rise, I just won’t see it, but I like getting out early in the knowledge that I won’t see anyone else. Doing this challenge is hard enough without having to worry about social distancing! I didn’t sleep well last night, waking at 2.30am and not getting back to sleep for ages. When I did I had very stressful dreams which I believe has been a common occurrence for people during this lockdown period.

Dog is ready to go, and I open the app and get some music ready. What have I chosen for this monumental day?…Disco! A compilation album I haven’t heard before so I am hoping it will surprise and delight me and, if I am honest, distract me. I am going to extend my first figure of eight loop this morning to ensure I finish the run before I get to the road. I don’t feel too nervous as I start the warm up walk but still give myself a pep talk about taking it slow and finding my pace. Sara Millican tells me that it is time to run and asks me if I am ready, I say ‘yes’. Off we go.

As always it takes me a little while to settle into my pace, but this time I do so without any feelings of panic. The day is not as inspiring as it has been but still beautiful, there is a low level of grey cloud but it is tinged with purple and blue, which is lovely. There is little wildlife around, that I could see anyway, probably all disappeared as they heard me coming. The 5-minute marker comes and I feel okay, then the 10-minute marker and I still feel okay but Sara says ‘well done, you only have 20 minutes to go’ which I do not find helpful. 20 minutes seems like a very long time, and I can feel my old nemesis panic starting to creep in. I try not to think about the time, and think about my motivational techniques. 10 minutes is over halfway up the hill, that’s good, then I break the run up into sections, again focusing on my next geographical marker, and not the run as a whole. I realise that my ankle isn’t hurting and it has been over ten minutes but almost as soon as I think this I feel a twinge…what!

First thoughts, ‘Did I just make that happen by thinking about it?’
Second thoughts, ‘Don’t be daft, it was probably there but you hadn’t noticed until you focused on it.’

I decide the best thing to do is ignore it and keep going. The halfway marker comes with another “encouragement” ‘only 15 minutes to go’…but that’s forever! Panic really starts to take hold, and I have to use all my willpower not to give in to it. I slow my pace slightly until I calm down, and then I come out of the field in the knowledge that I am at the beginning of the final stretch.

The 5 minute to go marker arrives with lots of encouragement from Sara, she even says ‘You can slow down a bit if you want to as the important thing is to finish’, but I don’t think I need to. The bridge is in view, and when I get there I dig deep and power up it, once down the other side I know that this really is the last stretch and I am going to make it.

It doesn’t feel too long before Sara gives me a last marker, 60 seconds to go. She doesn’t suggest it, but I speed up, well there are only 60 seconds left, but this then starts to feel like a long time! I use my last motivational technique and start to count the seconds down as I breath then, at last, I get the okay to slow down and I have done it.

Legs are wobbly and, of course, I am breathing hard but I have just run for 30 minutes, how incredible. I slow down for the cool down walk, and although incredibly pleased, it does feel a little bit of an anti-climax. Where are the fireworks, the cheering crowds, the medal?? All I have is Dog who did look quite happy, but then she always does!

The app tells me to do this run twice more this week and so I shall and I will continue this blog until I finish as that seems the right thing to do, after which I will bid you farewell.

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