Whether you think you can or you think you can’t you are right

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Week Two, Day One: 1 April

I have had a bit of a roller-coaster of emotions over the last couple of days. After my last run of week one I found I had the strangest feeling; I was actually sorry I wasn’t going to run the following day, how remarkable. This left me feeling really positive. Had I cracked running and my anxieties around it so soon? I decided not to ponder that thought as it would probably feed into some negative thinking so I let myself bask in the moment.

As you might have guessed, it didn’t last. But I did manage not to worry about it until the actual morning of the run. Another cold crisp morning and I was out of the house at 6.30am. I had organised my music into a playlist and I started the 5-minute brisk warm up walk listening to The Velvet Underground and trying to ignore my second thoughts which were worrying that I wouldn’t be able to do this next step.

This first run started and I could feel an ache in my thighs. This was new, but manageable so far. In this second week I am running for 90-seconds interspersed with 2 minutes’ brisk walk. First run over and although not easy I managed it. I had managed to get out of the house by 6.30 am in an attempt to avoid meeting anyone else. This wasn’t entirely successful as I saw 3 other Dog Joggers, a term I have made up for people who, like me, are running with their dogs (I just googled this to make sure it wasn’t rude!). It was quite light but the sun was not quite up so the horizon was a beautiful pink, then the sun appeared over the trees behind me and everything ahead was bathed in a beautiful orange glow. I took a picture during my brisk walk, sorry if it is a little blurry!

You hear a little bell to tell you when you are half way through, and at this point I had completed three runs. ‘That’s not so bad’, I said to myself, ‘you can do another three’. When I do any exercise (including swimming) I visualise myself going up and down a hill; the top of the hill is half way through the exercise. I then use this to encourage myself, saying things like ‘you’re nearly at the top’, ‘you’re now half way down and almost at the bottom.’ This helps me break the exercise up so that it does not feel quite so daunting – it works for me. I did struggle with the last two runs but I kept going and made it round.

Writing this blog is helping me focus on how I think. At first I was disappointed that I was feeling anxious about starting this week but then ‘I thought just because you say you are going to overcome your anxiety doesn’t make it go away immediately – if only.’ It is my belief that repeatedly facing and overcoming something that makes you anxious will train your brain to become less anxious, because reality is rarely as bad as you imagine it is going to be. It is natural to feel some level of anxiety but the problems start when anxiety prevents you doing what you want to do. So I am going to accept that at each stage of this challenge I am going to feel anxious, but I am not going to let that stop me. If I physically can’t go on, or I have just had enough, then I will stop (and feel proud of myself for getting as far as I have), but I will not let anxiety about what might be stop me.

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