It’s been a busy couple of weeks of planning new things to help me relax. The allotment, the (unofficial) Leatherhead 26.2 and Fire Station 10k, the crochet course and of course the ‘Run Every Day’ and #WOD projects. It’s no coincidence that all of the new activities I’ve taken on are not only physical but in their own way designed to occupy the mind as much as the body.
I can hear you shouting ‘no shit Sherlock’. I’m facepalming myself as it happens. I mean what was I thinking? But the penny didn’t drop until I found myself with the happy coincidence of an hour with nothing better to do and armed with a book, I headed to Costa.
I’d already received a number of bothersome texts that morning so seizing the opportunity to relax, switched the phone to silent and then put it in my pocket.
And that should have been the end of it. But do you know what, within 15 minutes I’d drank my coffee, read about 5 pages of my book and in the meantime checked Facebook three times, put two Twitter posts on RTL one on my own account, re-tweeted from all my accounts then went back to Facebook via Pinterest and Instagram and I wonder why the hell I’m on edge all the time.
I reflected back to Sunday on the allotment. It was the first couple of hours of proper work. There are no plans as yet. Just a rough outline and the only job we had was to clear a space on the hard standing to temporarily house the blueberries (this space will eventually become a shed 🙂 and dig over enough ground to get the rhubarb crowns in.
We’d been marshalling at the usual point at the Greensand marathon all morning. It could possibly be one of the most beautiful marshal points in the country.
I love it, not only because of the views but also because of the attitude of the runners. This is a race that is well thought out and loved by its organiser, but because of logistical difficulties, you stand a reasonable chance of getting lost at. The unpredicability of which direction the runners are going to come at you adds a certain frission of excitement. But all take it in with a laissez-faire attitude and good humour. It’s a pleasure to be there.
Anyway, later that day I was back on the allotment and all consumed by the job in hand. My thoughts focussed only on the motivation to dig to the path and wondering who on earth was responsible for inventing rhizomes.
(Whoever it is, is up there on the ‘kill list’ with the top dressing guy let me tell you).
The only sounds were the quiet murmur of others working on the allotment (it was a beautiful day and many were enjoying the late afternoon warmth) and the hum of the M25 just over the way. And for once, the noises in my head were quiet also. Just the steady mantra of (just keep digging, just keep digging, just keep digging). It was so peaceful.
Then yesterday, the thing that started the epiphany appeared in my Facebook feed (shown below)…
I thought about how many times I’d told people that 90% of running marathon was in the head and they needed to plan for that. I thought about the fact I considered important enough to invite an NLP coach along to my marathon training seminars.
I then thought about when people asked me why I ran marathons and did Ironman (and my response). I’m generally a fit person, but why tackle distances I know I may fail at (and do a reasonable amount of time) because of the mental challenge of course. The ‘learning about yourself’ aspect of it. And then I thought about recent club members who have bloomed with achievement in the last few months (you know who you are) just by being brave enough to take on new (physical) challenges.
And then I looked back at the post and thought, that’s the main point. Actually I’d go to argue the whole point. It’s been said many times that some of the worlds greatest runners are generally running away from something. Not like a bear or anything but of course that might speed you up too*. But something mental or emotional.
So, there you go, it turns out the solution to quietening the noises may be physical after all.
*Many years ago Alan and I had gone out to visit Marina in California. We went hiking in the hills behind her home and before commencement received a quick briefing that went something like… ‘Now before we start I need to tell you about the Bears. There are Grizzlies in the woods, not many but they are there. If we see one we need to stand together in a huddle and make ourselves really big ok?’ I could Alan thinking ‘fuck that, I’m the fastest one here, I’m on my toes’.
So if this blog teaches you nothing else, take away from it the fact we are not training to get fitter or stronger or healthier, we’re just need to pick our friends carefully and ensure if you don’t intend to huddle, you are fast enough to run away from the bears 😉