February 24, 2020
I am often told “You’re nuts”
Yep completely un PC, along with “Crazy”, “Insane” and “You’ve got a screw loose” in relation to my marathon running antics.
It seems like it’s the go-to response for anyone who doesn’t really get it.
Along with the eye-rolling and shaking of the heads of course.
Marathons are extreme, they do take a certain type of person to commit to them, but in today’s blog, I want to talk about real mental health considerations associated with long-distance running, rather than the “Marathon Madness” associations.
I have spoken honestly many times via this blog and my books about my mental health. I have had bouts of depression in the past, and have to really keep an eye on things.
I am lucky that these days I can spot the warning signs, but even then, external events can knock you off your feet.
I remember around 12 years ago when my depression was at its worst. In the space of 6 months I’d got a new job (which I hated), had split up with my boyfriend of 5 years, bought my first property…oh and a few bereavements in my family.
I thought it was just overwhelm and sadness at first.
But turned out I had depression.
I remember one Saturday morning feeling just so sad. I just couldn’t get out of bed. I couldn’t stop crying. I couldn’t respond to the numerous text messages from friends and family, I had a massive cold sore which wasn’t helping things. I knew I was in a bad way. But luckily I also knew there were ways of getting help.
I decided I would go to my local walk-in service.
The only problem was I didn’t have any petrol in my car and I couldn’t face anyone…so I jumped on my dusty pushbike and cycled the 4 miles to my local hospital.
The only problem was by the time I got there, I felt fine.
The exercise and fresh air had done me the world of good. Looking back I now know that I had probably gone for around 6 months doing no physical activity at all….all of those endorphins hitting me all at one were literally like medicine.
I will never forget that story.
But the problem is sometimes you can’t get out the door even if you know it will make you feel better. That day 12 years ago was a beautiful bright and sunny day…whereas the last few weeks have been grey, wet and windy…ridiculously so.
More and more I am thinking that I am affected by the weather when it comes to my mental health.
I started off the year feeling super confident and positive…but then somehow I found myself last week feeling the all too familiar pangs of anxiety and depression.
- Not wanting to do any work
- Not wanting to show up for my clients
- Not wanting to go to CrossFit
- Finding it hard to see the bright side
- At a loss for ideas of how to feel better
- Loss of appetite
The news of Caroline Slacks suicide hit me hard.
Of course, I didn’t know her personally, but I can only imagine how she must have felt to take her own life.
I had found valentines day particularly difficult this year for some reason.
It’s just so bloody sad.
And so I took a full week off social media. I took my daughter Rose to Butlins for a half-term break and I resisted the urge to do any work….and I switched off from social media…which had started to feel overwhelming.
I also did no running…no exercise, unless you count climbing the stairs for the slides at the swimming pool, or dancing with Rose in the club of an evening.
I gave myself permission to have a week off…even though I knew my marathon plan said I should be ramping things up.
You see that’s the dilemma when you are in training for a marathon while managing your mental health…advice that tells you to head out the door even if you don’t feel like it, do not help.
We know it will make us feel better ultimately.
But a bad run can also make us feel worse than ever.
Yesterday I managed to get out of the front door. I didn’t want to go. I didn’t fancy it. I didn’t have childcare until my sister offered, but it was 4pm before I got out the front door.
It was tough…the hills of Chigwell.
But there was a hint of spring…just a hint…ie no rain.
I managed just short of 6 miles, and I finished the run feeling better than I started out. I could have gone for longer, but I hadn’t fuelled properly and I was breaking in new insoles…and didn’t want to push it.
In other news I got my bike fixed this weekend, so I can cycle on the days I can’t run…and in the evenings when Rose is asleep, as I have one of those indoor bike thingys.
There are just 62 days until the London Marathon.
The next two months will be super stressful, fitting all the training runs in, keeping on top of the fuelling, getting enough sleep and recovery, oh and plus keeping on top of my work commitments.
So anyway…I just wanted to write this blog post to share where I am at with things, and to let you know if you are also suffering with any kind of mental health issues..(marathon runner or not) you are not alone.
And my top tips for self care?
- Asking for help (especially with childcare so I can have a break)
- Stocking my fridge with health food
- Drinking enough water
- Switching my phone off at 9pm
- Unfollowing anyone on social media that makes me feel crappy
- Using insight timer to meditate (or just breathe) when needed
- Learning to say no to things which are not necessary (during this busy point)
- Blocking out recovery time in my diary
- Putting my fitness kit on in the morning
- Getting hugs from my daughter
- Going for a walk if I can’t manage anything else
Sending you all lots of love
Let’s continue to be kind to ourselves and to others xxxx