I’m gonna lay my cards on the table here.
I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a while, and have only left it this long because I’m scared of what it means and didn’t want to admit it to myself.
Let me get this straight from the outset – I think we all know that I love running, and keeping fit and healthy. That’s not gonna change. I love the joy it brings, the energy and endorphins it soaks me in and pushing through the pain to reach my goals and celebrate my achievements.
I love challenging myself and pushing my boundaries; running further, faster or harder than ever before. I love the communities I’m enveloped in; both on and offline, and at the same time, I love the fact that the only person who can make any of this happen is me.
But herein lies the problem.
I’m an all or nothing kind of person – in training, learning, and in love.
I’m obsessed with planning, am a sucker for structure and thrive on pedantic organisation. I throw every ounce of myself into it and let myself be consumed by it. I see my world through marathon-tinted glasses.
Everything I eat, everything I drink (or don’t drink), everywhere I go, whatever my weekend plans are, what I do and think about when I wake up, and the last thing I think of before I go to sleep – it’s all about the marathon.
I turn down social invitations, decline offers of cake or treats, (and when I don’t, am consumed by guilt), all in fear of jeopardising my running. I use exercise to counteract ‘bad’ eating, but at the same time reward myself with the exact ‘bad’ foods I try so wholeheartedly to avoid.
When I’m not training I’m writing about training; for this blog, for someone else. If I’m not doing either of these, I’m reading about it. Reading magazines, other people’s blogs, various websites and participating in a host of online communities.
Doing, talking, and reading about training.
And it’s been great – until now.
As I approach the taper (last long run on Sunday), I’m realising just how knackered I really am. Knackered from training, tired from too much computer time, weary from all the deadlines, at work and in life. It’s ironic that I’m sat here close to midnight, having been on the computer all day at work, still in front of a computer now, talking about how much I need to not be on a computer.
I love writing, I really, really do. It’s always been my ‘thing’. And running has a place deep within my heart. It’s great that I can enjoy these things with my husband and the many friends I’ve made through doing so.
But sometimes, there has to be something else.
International Day of Happiness
On International Day of Happiness (Friday 20th March), however happy it might make me, I’m not gonna go for a run.
I’m not gonna go to 7am boxing bootcamp, or hot yoga, or the gym. Instead I’m gonna wake up naturally, (I trust my body clock), walk or cycle down to the seafront with my camera, listen to the sea, soak up the calmness and breathe.
Then I’m gonna walk to work, full of calm; be productive and focused, and if the homeless man is sat outside Sainsbury’s as normal I’ll buy him a coffee and sandwich like I sometimes do but this time sit with him if he’ll allow me to. I’ll also ask his name.
At 9.30am I’m gonna walk outside, look up at the sky and hopefully experience the partial eclipse.
I’ll spend Friday night in the pub (shock, horror) with Chris and then with rested legs from two days off I’ll do Saturday’s 45minute progression run and the 3-3hr15 long run on Sunday, and however they go, I’ll be OK. If it’s slow, it’s OK. If I have to stop because my hip hasn’t loosened, or my knee keeps twinging like it has all week – that’s fine. It’s time to be kind to myself again.
I won’t come home angry or upset about it. I won’t snap at anyone or moan to anyone who asks how it’s gone. I won’t put my stress onto my husband. I’ll run a hot bath, close my eyes, and breathe.
This is, after all, something I do for fun. A hobby. Fitness is not my life.
There’s far more to life than training – other things make me happy too. Like seeing friends and family, being with my husband, crochet, playing guitar, and photography.
Maybe even a little bit of colouring in too, just for kicks.
What will you do on International Day of Happiness?
**UPDATE: Progress report on International Day of Happiness.
Do you sometimes find training takes over? How do you find a balance?