Breaking up the work posts a bit, over the past year I’ve really struggled with what my counsellor refers to as ‘self care’, i.e. doing things that you enjoy and looking after your mental and physical health.

It’s been difficult because a lot of things are more of a long term commitment. I really like plants for example, but my interest in looking after them waned because I didn’t really expect to be around to see them grow. As such, I have a lot of plants that wanted repotting this spring but they’ll have to wait until next spring now. Oh well, at least they’re all still alive. Well, most of them.

One thing I have managed to do though is keep on top of my running. Running’s great because you go outside, you get fresh air, you tire yourself out, and you feel better during and afterwards. It doesn’t matter if it’s cold, dark, raining, snowing, windy; I don’t care. I don’t miss runs unless I’m seriously incapacitated. There is obviously a long term progression with running, which is very rewarding, but there’s an immediate hit as well. The fact I could be dead next week never mattered because I got some benefit there and then.

Before all this kicked off, I was running maybe 2-3 times a week. I always enjoyed it but I was never 100% dedicated. I quickly fell into running 6-7 times a week as a coping mechanism. I’m running 40-50 miles a week right now just for the fun of it. Even when my anaemia got bad and I actually fainted after a 5k run, I still got back on the horse a couple of weeks later.

I ran a half marathon back in October and really enjoyed it. After that I started doing my local Parkrun (timed 5k) every weekend. I did the special one on Christmas day. Even feeling like my life was on the verge of ending all the time, I found myself actually looking forward to Saturday mornings. I felt kind of guilty about it because I always had the idea that I could easily be dead by Saturday in the back of my mind, but somehow I still looked forward to it anyway. I even decided that if things didn’t turn out well, I was going to leave behind a significant donation to Parkrun (which is made possible by a lot of people giving up their free time).

I feel like I’ve grown a lot in this regard. I’ve run for years but the idea of doing organised runs with other people was always intimidating for me. That’s just self confidence and general anxiety issues, I think. But here I am now, doing Parkrun every week (half way to my 50 t-shirt), I’ve got a 10k next weekend, and I’ll be doing at least one half marathon this year. I’ve also entered into the ballot for the London Marathon next year, which could be pretty awesome, and if I’m not successful with that, I’ll be looking at other marathons.

Running is probably the only thing that has consistently brought me pleasure for the past year.

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