Lockdown running

At some point during the first lockdown, I think it was June, I took up running.

I’ve always been the worst at long-distance running. I have no stamina for it at all, and I get very breathless. This has been the case my whole life.

In February of this year, I was diagnosed with asthma. I’ve been diagnosed before, as a child, but I stopped taking inhalers and generally convinced myself I didn’t need them when I turned 18 and was no longer eligible for free prescriptions in England. It’s easier to tell yourself you’re not asthmatic than to face the truth that you are and you can’t afford your inhaler.

One of the good things about living in Northern Ireland is that ALL prescriptions are free, for everyone. So when I got rediagnosed with asthma, I got inhalers.

They were life changing.

For the first time in my life, I can run.

At first, it was hard going. I couldn’t even do 60 seconds of running without stopping, tired. I had my breathing right, but my ankles, my knees and my back had no idea how to do cross-country.

Not to be deterred, I signed up for my first of several run challenges. Some were better than others. Race At Your Pace and Run Challenges were both fairly decent, but for my first challenge, I signed up with another company and they didn’t send any sort of explanation about how to get a medal, so I missed their 3-day “evidence submission” window. I emailed them after to ask how it worked, and received a snotty reply that implied I ought to have known how to submit the evidence.

Their system used this idiotic and unnecessary online portal that they didn’t send you an emailed link to access.

I hate portals. My former psychiatrist now uses one and it’s hopeless. Good thing I don’t need to see a shrink anymore.

Actually, I can (partly) thank running for that, too.

After 1 month of running every second day, I didn’t need my antidepressants that I’d been taking for post-natal depression. Once that layer was peeled away, we were able to discover that my underlying mental illness wasn’t bipolar, as I’ve been misdiagnosed with for 5 years, or borderline, as was suggested in August, but PMDD – Pre Menstrual Dysphoria Disorder – and ADHD – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

PMDD isn’t really improved by running, but I find my ADHD is. When I run, I get the energy out that builds up and can turn in on itself during the afternoon. When I run, I take time to focus on my breathing, so it’s inadvertently a mindfulness exercise. And when I run, I am doing self-care. I am also increasing my confidence.

In February, I read in a leaflet about someone who had “beat Post Natal Depression” by running. I was extremely scornful of this idea. I don’t think mental illnesses are invaders that we should approach with a “fight” mentality, they’re part of us that we need to accept in a self compassionate way while ameliorating symptoms.

My opinion on self-acceptance hasn’t changed, but I do think there’s mileage (no pun intended) in running to help with mental health symptoms, and I can understand why other people feel that way.

It’s also given me confidence in my own body. After pregnancy, I felt weak and tired all the time, whereas now I feel strong and (dare I say it?) powerful in a way I never have felt in my entire life.

The hardest thing about running was the first month. About two weeks in, I hurt my knees due to not warming up enough and not taking enough rest days. I had to rest completely, but I still had several kilometres to go before completing my challenge. I made it, at a limp, but because I hadn’t rested fully or recovered entirely, I carried those knee problems into my second month.

Three months into running, in August, I was working with a very unethical self-styled psychotherapist who I later found out had faked her credentials.

She questioned why I was going running and denigrated it as inappropriate and boring. She told me I should do ice skating instead (she was utterly oblivious of Covid and she also contributed to me getting another borderline misdiagnosis so I’m a bit annoyed but because she has faked all her credentials, there’s no one to report her to).

I thought she was full of crap and yet somehow, it got into the back of my mind and I stopped running. For two months.

I also got too invested in my stats, and when I couldn’t beat my distances and speeds, I felt like a failure. My new (ethical, qualified, and registered) therapist encouraged me to try again, without timing myself or logging my runs.

It was great advice.

I started again in October and I’ve been going ever since.

I no longer have any idea how far I’m running in any given run, but I have been doing the same route since March (lockdown… there’s literally only one lane to run down here) and I know I can get further down the lane without stopping. And my knees are no longer struggling to keep up, nor are my ankles.

I’ve realized running is all about incremental progress, not trying to do everything at once, or perfectly first time. Sometimes you don’t meet a particular challenge, for whatever reason.

Who cares? Challenges are constructs, they’re not real, and they’re not a true measure of your running ability.

So to anyone else looking to start running, I suggest you try it! With an inhaler in your pocket, if you need it.

I hope the featured image inspires you that almost anyone can start running; it’s all about the mindset.

The Creative Blogger Award

Wow so it’s awards season and I’ve been nominated for The Creative Blogger Award by Brandie at TheStripedCoyote.  Thank you so much I am delighted!

creative blogger award
Image source: https://fawksteretworld.wordpress.com/ I didn’t design this beautiful picture!

Rules

  • Thank the person who nominated you and include a link to their blog.
  • Share five facts about yourself.
  • Nominate some bloggers and add their links.
  • Notify the bloggers you included.
  • Keep the rules in your post.

5 Facts About Me (some of which I probably shouldn’t tell you but I’m going to anyway):

  1. I share life with five rabbits called Fifer, Poppy, Timmy, Cleo and Sebastien.  Two of them (Cleo and Timmy) are houserabbits and the other three live outdoors in a purpose-designed bunny village in my back garden.  This was possible because…
  2. I own my own house.  I bought a house with my future-husband-to-be when I was 26.  This was such an achievement since I was homeless at 18, but at the same time it has come with a few downsides, but the best part is not having to deal with/be dependent on any more shitty landlords.

    independent-women1
    All the women, who independent, throw your hands up at me!
  3. I love cars (but ironically I get car sick).  I love working on my car, I love driving my car, I love travelling to awesome places in my car, I love dreaming about which cars I could buy if I had any money at all…  cars cars cars.  I wish they were more environmentally friendly though.
  4. I am married.  My first wedding anniversary was in June.  I never planned to be married but I’m not complaining!  I was determined not to just disappear into the life-role, but I wanted to be my own person… but married.  Just like my childhood role model, Emma Peel from The Avengers (TV series, nothing to do with Marvel).  I get annoyed that TV (and well-meaning older relatives, and actually, society in general) leads us to believe that once a woman is married her sense of personhood dissolves into the household.  It doesn’t have to be that way!!  I am still an independent lady with my own mind, I still travel solo when I want to, I just happen to share life with someone else while I choose to do so.  People make out it’s such a big deal, but it’s basically like having a boyfriend only if one of us dies the other one has less paperwork.
  5. I have an obsession with soya sauce.  If it’s not on my rice/noodles, I don’t want to know!  Well… unless I’m not eating Oriental food.

And I’m nominating:

Laura at Laura Living Life

Ellen at Travelling the World Solo

POSH at Look at Her Hair

Megan at Megan’s Beauty Blog

HighHeelsAndABackpack at HighHeelsAndABackpack

I look forward to finding out more about you all!