Maybe some people shouldn’t do marathons

Running is good for you – FACT. However, does the rule of “everything in moderation” apply too? Personally I think it does. It’s almost a year since the Yorkshire Marathon, which means it’s almost a year since I felt I could run ‘properly’.

The last running year has been difficult, crap and generally unrewarding. I’ve kept trying but felt I wasn’t making progress so I’ve spent a lot of time berating myself, punishing myself for my own perceived weakness: why can’t you just try harder, be better?

A year apart: spot the difference

As an alternative I allowed myself to consider the possibility that there may be more to my struggles – maybe it’s not all laziness or in my head? When I started paying attention I saw that my body really is struggling (heart rate data backed up how I was feeling) … and so the googling began.

Is it this? Is it that? Is it the other? Now I’m stuck in a crazy introspective maddening thought cycle. Maybe I only feel these things because I’m thinking about them? Maybe I’m subconsciously making up an issue? But, equally, how? The relief when my GP measured my standing blood pressure and told me that it plummeted too low! I couldn’t make that up could I?! Given the symptoms I have he’s referred me to endocrinology. Maybe that’ll yield an answer, maybe it won’t. It’s so stupid. I should be the healthiest person you know, actually I am really healthy! I suppose it’s a challenge to that black and white thinking.

Of course if I can run a half marathon then I must be healthy. I must. Mustn’t I? Unfortunately I have a hefty price to pay for running a half. It was the Great North Run yesterday. Originally I had entered because I wanted to smash my previous GNR17 time of 2:38. My dream was that I’d come in nearer 2:15 (not impossible, I did Leeds18 in 2:21). This would be proper data, the sort of proof that I could use to allow myself a little bit of pride and that nice feeling of wearing some toasty smug pants for a little bit.

Hahahaha it became apparent in the weeks leading up to GNR that I would not be aiming for 2:15. In fact I’d likely struggle to get round. Mentally this hit me hard. My whole purpose for this race was to show me my progress. Instead it was going to be the opposite and show me how far my running had declined. It made me very sad, and embarrassed and angry at myself for being so crap. Obviously thoughts like those are unhelpful so I worked on changing how I thought about it.

I enjoyed the race. I did run 2 mins, walk 45 secs and finished in 2:51 which actually wasn’t bad as I had a few things to deal with during the race.

Trying a free beer at GNR19 – all part of the fun

Unfortunately when I do longer runs I’m generally left fatigued for days. It’s the sort of fatigue where I struggle to do the basics, like that washing is going to have fester in the machine because carrying the load upstairs is too much. This was kind of ok when I was on my mental-illness-life-vacation but now that I’m trying to claw my way back into functioning life and society, sitting for days on end on the sofa whilst I recharge just isn’t practical.

So what do I do? Seriously. Tell me.

Giving up running – not an option.

Giving up basic life tasks – not an option.

How about reducing my distance? Focus on 10K, build my fitness, introduce cycling and swimming, that makes sense.

Except,

I’ve only got this bloody London Marathon 2020 to train for. Oh gawd. How the f*#% am I going to manage that?! I can do it, of course I can, but really, I can’t just stop functioning to recover all of the time and, without that recovery time, I actually can’t do it. Training for a marathon can feel a bit of an ask for any parent but if said parent doesn’t work and needs days to recover from runs then it really is taking the piss. Also, why am I choosing to do this to myself?!

Is the sacrifice too much? Honestly I do not know, do you? I do know that it’s a privilege to be able to participate in the London Marathon and I’m pleased to use the experience to raise money for the NSPCC.

I’m just not sure that I should. Everything in moderation, right? Maybe this is too much running. Maybe the balance isn’t right for me? Would I be healthier without running?! Surely that’s nuts. I wouldn’t be me without running so I’m not going to ditch it.

Well, I’ve picked up quite a lot from all of that googling whilst on the sofa and I’m hoping to try and incorporate it all; to train slowly and gently; to develop my physical strength. We’ll see what endocrinology makes of it all. I’ve got to try haven’t I?

If it all goes horribly wrong then I can defend my actions by reminding everyone that running is good for you. FACT.

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