Thankfully March sees me feeling more upbeat – good news for our loyal reader, for they will stop visiting this blog if I continue in my recent vein of pity chic lit.
In truth, nothing has really changed in terms of the door I am pushing against (mainly house purchase but I will resist a Land Registry litany). My options are limited but I have had a change of heart – rather, I have decided to engage my heart because I seem to have been ignoring it altogether; my brain has been taking advantage of my self-inflicted heart bypass by indulging in a glut of overthinking and this has not been healthy. Thoughts are not facts and it turns out that my brain does not always speak the same language as my emotions – it just encourages my body to run in the opposite direction and to avoid situations that I should be addressing if I want to push through.
So instead of moaning about this hiatus, this limbo, this frustrating lack of ability to move my life forward, I have decided to hoax my brain that it is an opportunity to reset, an opportunity to check in on some of the decisions I am trying to make, and an opportunity to taper.
Now tapering is a gorgeous bonus. Because I have had so much time on my hands – time I should have been spending by ordering removals, getting walls replastered and sorting out my wifi…and breathe… my neighbour – who has been foolish enough to enter the Manchester Marathon (again) – has sneakily coaxed me out of retirement to train with him. He knows that I cannot plead that I am too busy of a weekend. Admittedly we are the only long distance runners to stop midway for a strong milky coffee (I wish he wouldn’t record this training strategy on Strava for it makes us look like complete amateurs) but it has done wonders for my wellbeing and I am feeling pretty smug about the mileage. Our routes are always circular, so I may not be moving forward, but then again I am not running away either; at least there is a sense of momentum again.
Long distance running can be a double bonus if you are able to chat as you run – thankfully all my running mates indulge me here and all allow me to run at the speed of chat. Over the last couple of weekends I have benefited from three-hour sessions and have run through some self-limiting beliefs with a very good listener – either that or the running is taking its toll and he just has no energy to answer.
I think it is the same with any form of physical movement – at the risk of sounding virtuous – you rarely feel worse for getting off the sofa. (I am ignoring an arthritic hip as I type, for this is surely just pain leaving my body or a nudge that I still have some issues to discuss). So flipping fabulous are my friends, that they have walked and jogged me through a dark February and now they point out that we are running in the light again and that the trees are starting to blossom. I will leave you to unpick the metaphors.
Earlier in the week I manage a post-work amble with one of our boot campers. As we head to a local hostelry she literally walks me through the highs and lows of her first round of chemo. She is punctuating each cycle by walking when she can and I am lucky enough to be invited on this outing. Next day she sends pictorial evidence that she has been outside again, this time enjoying the snow. She is a doctor, so I have to give her some licence for sharing a photo of a snow sculpture that looks nothing like a snowman. I gently reprimand her for sharing dick pics to our book club whatsapp group, but she responds, ‘As a doctor I am concerned about testicular pathology – I fear this subject may be struggling with a possible hydrocoele or direct inguinal hernia’.
I am gifted with the offer of a different walk with another fabulous friend. She is not only a friend, she is a published author and educationalist with a focus on the wellbeing of our young people (https://flourishingeducation.co.uk/homenew/online-assessment/) – you can see that I have very intelligent friends. On this occasion my friend is interested in the wellbeing of me, an older/mature ‘student of life’. Walking through a local wood with her, she tunes right into my learning style by morphing our surrounding into a visual aid to show how trees learn to flourish by adapting to their environment (think convoluted root system navigating around all sorts of obstacles to get to water) and by supporting each other. I come back – albeit with aching legs, for I have foolishly been out running on the same day – and am able to view my stubborn property purchase as an obstacle to navigate around. She also highlights how much support I am getting from my own friendly eco-system even though I have been viewing this as a season of drought. I would not have accessed this learning from the sofa and she has my brain working in a much more productive fashion than its default overthinking mode – metaphorically I feel like I have stepped off a boring treadmill and I am out trail running again which is much more interesting.
I realise now that good friends have encouraged me off my figurative sofa and ignored my disposition to fester. Even without metaphors, without really acknowledging it, I have completed the training for a full marathon; I promise that I have not entered one, but it is good to know that I could should I wish to. It also means that, if I feel like it on the day, I can now upgrade to join my neighbour on his pre-marathon 20 miler event next weekend, rather than complete the half marathon route that I had lethargically entered back in January. I resolve to be kind to myself; I will wait until next Saturday and base the decision on the quality of cake they are serving in the runners’ village. If the weather is good, there is a lovely wood close by and I could just relax there and wait until my friend finishes – after all, he knows that I am officially in a season of taper, although he seemed to conveniently forget this when he had me running 19 miles this morning. Maybe I am just overthinking it, I just want to keep all my options open.
If I should sneak off back to my car while my marathoner friend is still running, I am reminded of the boot camper mentioned above. I think it tells you something about her personality (if the snow sculpture was not enough) that once after a group run, she left a little smiley face – crafted out of a fallen autumnal leaf – under my windscreen wiper (see photo). My buddy was clearly ahead of the eco-system metaphor, there is just no running away from all this positivity. I am looking forward to a restorative jog with her again very soon.
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What a lucky girl you are! X