Over the last year or so I’ve noticed the dial slowly creeping up on my scales. I have back pain most days (thankfully a physio referral should help with that too) and I often feel sluggish and tired. So a couple of weeks ago I decided to take the issue in hand. I signed up for a 10k with 12 weeks to train, paid my entry fee and devised a training plan that gently increases my running times from 15 minutes upwards, incorporating gym sessions, swimming and pilates to improve my general fitness, offer a bit of variety and strengthen my back.
I’m only two weeks into my training, but I’ve completed all 9 of my training sessions so far, and feel so proud of myself for keeping the momentum going. Before I started training I had a very clear idea of what I thought the challenges would be. Certainly the motivation, but also the physical aspect of being able to keep my tubby little legs moving forwards without being two puffed out and collapsing in a heap on the floor. But in the last few days I had a light bulb moment when I realised that the challenge for me is actually only 20% physical and 80% mental. The reality is my mind gives out way before my body does. And that’s my battle.
The process of running is fraught with battles, and putting one foot in front of the other is only the start. For me, waking up early and reaching for my trainers instead of hitting the snooze button is a battle. Taking the first step into the biting cold at 7am is a battle. Powering through that last 5 minutes when I’m utterly exhausted is a battle. Winning the argument in my head over whether I should carry on or stop is a battle. I have never encountered so many battles in my life, and hardly any of them are to do with keeping my legs moving.
This has led me to develop a sense of pure admiration for anyone who gets off their bum, straps on their trainers and heads out for a run. They could be large or small, fast or slow, old or young, running 10 miles or 1. They're up, and they're running, and I get an overwhelming urge to high five every runner I pass (although I’m not sure that would go down well in London!)
I guess what I’m trying to say is that over the next 10 weeks before the big day, I have a lot of work to do. Not so much on the running (although that’s very important), but on banishing the constant stream of vile, negative self-talk that churns round my head when the going gets tough on my runs. “You can’t do this, why are you even bothering?” is one. “This hurts so much. It hurts, it hurts, it hurts. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it” is another. Not to mention the sneaky “oh go on, give up, it’s not like the last 5 minutes will make any difference. Go for an extra-long run tomorrow instead” (which I won’t).
While the final 10k itself is the end goal and the final battle, I’ve realised that even if I fall flat on my face on the big day, the fact that I would have spent 12 weeks running regularly, conquering my negative mentality about running and improving my fitness will make me feel endlessly proud and happy. And if it does all go wrong, I may not have won the final battle, but I would have definitely won the war.
Does anyone else find this as difficult as me?