This morning I ran to and then did Mile End parkrun for the third week in a row. Habits don’t stick easily with me, but this is a good one and one I’m intending to keep up.
This is despite the fact that halfway around today’s second lap, I had a panic attack. Only a really little one – relatively short compared to most – but it happened all the same. I couldn’t mistake the building hyperventilation which rose in my chest, resulting in shallow, squeaky breath and tears forming in my eyes.
I’ve been asked in the past if I’m not just mistaking a panic attack for an asthma attack. Although the symptoms sound similar, they feel completely different. The best way I can describe it is that one is a result of the physical (usually cold, damp weather if I’m running) and one is absolutely the result of what’s going on in my mind.
I don’t know why today’s run would be worse than any other – I guess if I knew that it wouldn’t happen. Every so often, I just get all up in my head and the doubt swells and entirely consumes any other thoughts.
As soon as I was brought back out of the negativity and reminded why I was there, it was immediately okay.
You might think that if running makes me feel this way, maybe I shouldn’t do it. This has happened several times before. Times like the Great North Run training run along the canal in Nottingham which resulted in my then boyfriend having to come and collect me. Like the night run in Manchester last year with some of my favourite people. Like at kilometre eighteen of the Copenhagen half in 2013.
But for every run where this has happened, there are at least fifty others where I’ve enjoyed myself, run faster, run happy or – at the very least – not had a panic attack.
And really, it just makes me want to continue running even more. I know that I am stronger than an occasional overwhelming sense of panic. Just like building endurance, building knowledge or building confidence, building mental strength is just another part of the training process and another challenge to overcome. One run at a time.
In the style of my first post of this kind from my last cycle of marathon training, hello and welcome to the first of my Monday morning training updates – here to clog up your screens for the next three months as I hurtle towards the start line of THE BLOODY LONDON MARATHON.
I am now fully into bona fide training and I’ve run seven times and covered 43 miles in only thirteen days. After months of hating, dreading, worrying, procrastinating and just not doing anything, I’ve had two great weeks of running and I know I’ve made the right decision as to which marathon to run this spring.
Highlights of my running fortnight have been…
A quick solo run out along the river to Canary Wharf last Saturday morning. It was flippin’ windy so it was really slow, but it was the first time in ages I’d voluntarily got myself out of bed to go running because I actually wanted to.
Being reunited with my marathon training buddy, Leah, and meeting Cara for the first time as we took on a 10k race around Battersea Park (along with a sneaky few extra miles at the beginning). We chatted the whole way round, paced ourselves beautifully and earned a stonking little medal.
Going to Mile End parkrun for the first time with my housemate Sam (also his first ever parkrun, woop!) Just two miles along the canal got us to the park. Eight hills later I’d achieved my best parkrun time in ages and found my new home run.
Doing a route that I’ve been wanting to do for almost a year – running out east along the river to the Thames Barrier. I’ve never been further along than Greenwich before, but I navigated through puddles, mud and industrial areas (alright, it was 98% concrete, I’m trying to sound heroic) to make it there, take a few quick snaps… and then turn around and head straight back again. I’m always happy when I’m by the river.
At the start line of the Battersea Park 10k last weekend, I found myself involved in a chat about podcasts. I’ve got a real thing with podcasts at the moment, mostly because my headphones keep my ears warm in the chilly, windy weather.
This is the first podcast I ever listened to and has been a constant feature in download charts for several years. If you don’t already listen to this, where have you been and what have you been doing? The first word on movies, I would recommend listening to this even if you’re not that fussed about movies. The conversations between Mark and Simon are always entertaining, I laugh out loud at least three times at every episode and after a while you get to know all the in jokes and recurring conversations like you’re listening to old friends. And if you do actually like to go and see a film every so often, there’s a load of accessible but insightful news, reviews and interviews. Just great. (Also good on the same subject is The Guardian Film Show – more just about film, less witty chatter around the edges.)
At the time of writing this, there’s only a pilot and one episode of this podcast, which is the new radio format for the long standing and popular advice column Dear Sugar. It’s presented by Steve Almond and Cheryl Strayed – who just so happens to also be the author of Wild, which is about to be released as a movie adaptation. But listening to this you wouldn’t know (and don’t need to know) this backstory – it is essentially just two warm and compassionate people offering advice to their listeners. I found them both to be highly likeable almost instantly. Probably a little bit too hippie/American/flowery for some people, but I think the episodes are just short enough to stay enjoyable.
A fortnightly podcast about anything and everything London. Presented by someone (N Quentin Woolf) with the silliest name but the most listen-to-able voice, the bulk of the podcast is interviews with very interesting people, along with reviews, news and music. My favourite so far has been the ‘Discovering Vanished London‘ episode where writer Tom Bolton is interviewed about neighbourhoods that have completely disappeared from London’s map.
This one was definitely brought to my attention by Steph & Harry. It’s tagline is ‘a podcast for long distance besties everywhere’. I don’t know why you need a long distance bestie to enjoy this – I still thoroughly enjoy listening in on their regular catch ups all on my own. Some of the conversation is very US-centric (I don’t get most of the politics chat), but they also talk a lot of lighter subjects – Beyoncé, listener questions and my absolute fave feature, the menstruation update. All the LOLs. (Not for the faint hearted.)
This is like the University Challenge of podcasts. I don’t understand a lot of the words they say in this one either and I haven’t heard of a lot of the books they discuss. Every so often I have read something they talk about and I feel cultured and clever and involved… before it quickly descends back into me feeling like I really have to concentrate. That being said, this week there was a really interesting discussion with the author of Stuffocation, James Wallman, on the value of doing things vs the value of owning things, and how ultimately everyone would be happier if they just had less stuff. One for fans of The Minimalists and the Chuck It Challenge.
And a couple of others…
The guys who present this remind me of the dorky groups of friends you’d find down the local on a Friday night. Listeners write in with random general (or not so general) knowledge questions, Helen and Olly answer them, hilarity ensues.
A football podcast, presented by THREE WOMEN. Novel, I know.
Back (and weekly!) after a six month break, podcast queens Sam and Leah do chat, cocktails and cake.
In my last post I hinted at the small epiphany (yes, I’m being melodramatic, running does that to me) I’d had whilst out on my solo LSR last weekend. And now, I’ve sorted the logistics required to be able to say THIS YEAR I WILL BE RUNNING THE LONDON MARATHON.
This wasn’t this year’s race plan. 2015’s spring marathon was supposed to be Barcelona, but after my usual routine of writing out a training plan to the letter, ignoring it for a couple of months and then freaking out, I’ve decided that trying to run 26.2 in what is now nine week’s time is not for me. Yes, running a marathon is all in your head (more on that another time), but my head is not in the game for this one.
As soon as I thought of the idea of switching races around I knew it was the right thing to do. I signed up for Barcelona months ago and always said if I got into London I would defer it. But when I thought about the prospect of using my prized ballot place this year, I got so excited.
My two planned half marathons (Brighton and Berlin) fit in perfectly with training, I’m exactly where I need to be distance-wise to train for a marathon in almost four months and most of all it’s on flippin’ home turf. The route passes by the end of my road… TWICE.
I’m not sure if I mentioned, but I. Am. So. Excited.