I was out running at lunch time in my almost deserted local park. In front of me there was a girl in her early 20s who was probably in the (surprisingly large) contingent of people who have just taken up running in the last couple of weeks.
She was on the right edge of the path, and coming the opposite way were an older couple (70s) who were on the left. This is a wide path, there’s ample room for people to pass in single file while maintaining ‘social distance’. So, did the couple move over onto the left? The (presumably) wife did, but the man had other ideas. He veered over to the right towards the running girl and said something aggressively to her which I didn’t quite catch, but the end of it sounded like “get over, bloody fiend”, while making a kind of swatting gesture in her face by swinging his arm as if to push her away. I presumed the context in his head was that he felt she was violating his “social distance”, though she really wasn’t.
By this time I was probably 10 metres behind her. She completely ignored him and just kept going (good choice). I was expecting something similar and as I was full of adrenaline I would have told him exactly what I thought. But then he probably guessed that from looking at me, and didn’t try anything with me. Which makes him a bully, only picking on people he doesn’t expect to retaliate.
A few seconds later the path forked, she went left and I went right and that was that. These things just happen so quickly, you don’t really process it at the time. I probably should have asked if she was OK but she might not have appreciated it.
I hope she’s not put off running again.
Here is a graph of my watch’s interpretation of my stress levels over the past few months.
August is when I started on anti-depressants*. In September I started a salary negotiation with my now-ex Boss, which really stressed me out. October brought a few interviews and November had me starting a new job. January had me ‘resting’ a running injury, and February has me returning to almost daily running. It’s incredible to see what a difference regular exercise, or lack thereof, makes to my physically measurable stress levels.
*The graph probably exaggerates the practical reality a bit, because an initial side effect of the anti-depressants was a slowed heart rate (which has since gone back up to normal), which probably confused the readings a bit.
My anxiety has been pretty bad for the past week or so, and I’m not really sure why.
Last weekend I put it down to taking ibuprofen, but then I googled “does ibuprofen cause anxiety” and the answer is not only does it not cause anxiety, it kind of has the opposite effect in a lot of people. And since I’ve stopped taking it, I haven’t noticed an improvement, so… it wasn’t that.
Maybe it’s just that I’m not getting any intense exercise. Maybe I’m just frustrated. I don’t know.
My muscles are feeling… ehh. I don’t know. When I go for a long walk and then sit down for an hour, they feel sore when I get up. But then I stretch a bit and they feel fine. It’s often really hard to know how to deal with injuries like this. This kind of soreness is the kind of thing you don’t think twice about if you’re active, usually. It’s the kind of thing you usually think “if I went for a run, this would feel a lot better”.
It’s just the fact it’s been a lot worse, and it’s been dragging on for so long, that I feel reluctant to run again. But it’s very possible that the missing component in the healing process at this stage is more activity. Muscles like being worked. I won’t know until I try it. I think I’ve pencilled in next weekend as a gentle 10-15 minute run, but we’ll see.
I’ve also been thinking about swimming. My mum and sister are members of the gym right next to the station… I could get off the train and go swimming before I go home. Or go before work.
So the running went pretty well! I ran down the canal and ended up near my old workplace. I had chosen that route because the distance was about right and I knew the area where I’d have to turn around and head back. Next time I’ll go in the other direction and explore some more, but I’ll be in totally unfamiliar territory after about five minutes.
I hadn’t told anyone I was going. I’d got changed in the loos downstairs and left my clothes in a bag by the front door, with the coat stand. So I’d kind of hoped to end up back at my desk with nobody the wiser.
When I got back in, the HR lady was sat on the sofa in the entrance talking to the MD. She gave me a look. I gave her a look. “Have you been for a run?!?!”. She was surprised. Guilty! She looked at me, in my shorts, and then enquired “But don’t your little legs get cold?”. This is extra funny because that’s the exact phrasing my mum uses. I didn’t tell her that.
Later on, the MD wandered into the room and casually announced to my manager that he’d had to go to the bank on the other side of town and it was “brass monkeys” out there. Then continued… “You’d have to be mad to go running out there today. It must be a blonde thing”. Then walked off.
The hygiene thing seems to have worked out OK. I went faster than I intended, my heart rate was very elevated (Zone 4. I was intending to keep it more like Z2, but that wasn’t happening) and I was definitely sweating. Even so, I made my sister smell me this evening (lol) and she insisted I did not smell.
So this is definitely a success. I’m not sure when I’ll do it again because the weather forecast looks like it may be very wet for the next few days, but hopefully I’ll get a chance soon.
The other thing is that I definitely found I was focusing a bit better this afternoon. I even felt calm when my train was late! Having said that, my watch says I’m anything but calm. But it’s said that for the last few days. Maybe I’m fighting an infection or something.
Now I’m lying in bed with my laptop and bluetooth headphones listening to Rush.
One week today I’ll be lying in bed feeling terrified by the prospect of starting my new job, but for the moment, life is pretty calm!
The weekend was nice. I did parkrun yesterday at probably 80% effort and my abs experienced no worse than a vague ache. I then did 12k this morning with a slightly more noticeable vague ache, but overall it’s definitely moving in the right direction. I think actually the slow runs have helped it. Total rest can be unhelpful for soft tissue injuries, I have noticed.
Yesterday was my sister’s 30th birthday. I bought her a bulbasaur. She wasn’t expecting him and she seemed happy (I also bought her something she actually wanted). I hope she looks after bulbasaur. I’m not sure what they eat.
It’s taken me longer than I expected to start feeling relaxed about leaving my old job. I suppose that’s OK. I was there for seven years and I was definitely upset on Friday about leaving without people seeming to be aware. My last memory of quite a big chapter of my life is one of disappointment. That’s sad, and it makes sense it hurts a bit and it makes sense I’m a bit angry. But that will pass.
It’s made me think more about my life though. I think in the medium-long term, I should be aiming to be self employed. There’s no reason I couldn’t do software consultancy (and do a better job than my ex-boss). Well apart from the crippling anxiety of course. But maybe I’d have less of that if I felt more in charge of my own destiny.
Other stuff: I’m not running as much because I am still having trouble with my hip/ab. I managed a very slow run today without any real discomfort though, so that’s progress. I think I just need to stick to slow runs for a few weeks and keep doing some light core work every day. It feels like an ab muscle strain but it seems linked to my hips in that if I stretch my hip adductor I can feel it pulling in my abs. It’s definitely improved though. I just need to not push it too hard, like I did before.
So I’m spending a lot of time wandering around and drinking tea (not at the same time), which are probably my two other favourite things apart from running.
I’m putting on weight again. This is good, because I am underweight. In fact, one of the things that finally convinced me to start on anti-depressants was the fact my weight was steadily declining. So I’m pleased to see it going back up again. But I have mixed feelings. If it keeps going up, then, one day, I’m going to get on the scales and think “hmm, maybe I am eating too many croissants…”. This is a day I do not look forward to. I really have to get my hip better so I can keep the calories burning and maximise my croissant intake.
Today was a working from home day and I have ‘only’ covered 5km on foot (walking to and from the orthodontist). As bizarre as it sounds, I feel like I’ve been very inactive today. Last week, I covered an average of 20km a day on foot; 5km feels like nothing.
Today is the first day in about two weeks that I haven’t been running. Unfortunately I have been having some slight discomfort in my hip flexor or lower abs – not really sure which. It was getting better last week after some stretching, but then pushing it too much for Parkrun on Saturday seemed to upset my progress and even a slow run on Sunday was uncomfortable. So I decided to take a rest day today. I also won’t be running tomorrow as it’s a counsellor visit after work so I don’t really have time.
It’s surprising how different it feels to have just one easy day. I feel: a lot less tired and a lot less hungry. According to my watch I’m usually burning 3000-3500 calories a day, and it’s quite unusual tonight that it’s 9:40 and I’m not asleep yet!
I started doing so much exercise as a means to manage my mental health, and the distances just kept increasing as I got fitter. I wonder if I’m doing a bit too much though.
I had my doctor’s appointment today for my next citalopram prescription. She gave me another 8 weeks worth of tablets. She mentioned putting it on repeat next time; it’s a bit surprising they are so reluctant to do so especially since I’m not supposed to come off it without supervision, but OK. There’s not much else to report on that front. Except that I still get nervous sat in doctors’ waiting rooms. Apparently not even citalopram can stop that. It was the simplest appointment ever – I go in, I say “hello, I’ve been on citalopram for a few months and I’d like some more please”, she says “OK, here’s your prescription” and I leave. There wasn’t any uncertainty – it’s not like the doctor was going to say “nope, sorry”. But still I felt anxious about it? I was sat in the waiting room trying to breathe nice and slowly to turn off the physical anxiety response, and it kind of worked, but it’s sad that I still need to try so hard with this.
Today was a nice day though. I’ve come to quite enjoy the doctor appointment days I’ve had over the past few months. I always book the appointments mid day to use them as a work from home excuse, and then have a detour back with a long walk through the park. I’ve been lucky with the weather. I was still mostly productive with work today, so nobody can complain. Then as soon as I finished, I went for a long run just as it was getting dark.
Over the last few days I’ve been watching Fleabag, which I finished this evening (only 12 episodes). I binge watched the whole of series 2 this evening, and I never binge watch TV. It certainly wasn’t what I was expecting. I feel like I’ve been on a journey. A journey involving priests, guinea pigs and vibrators, but a journey nonetheless.
I haven’t posted for the last week because I’ve been on holiday. My parents asked me a month or two ago if I wanted to join them on holiday, and I’d usually say no because who wants to do that?, but this time I said yes because maybe I do?
I didn’t know how it would go and I wasn’t really looking forward to it. I don’t have the best relationship with my dad. I’ve always found him difficult and he’s got more difficult since he retired and doesn’t get as much human interaction as he used to. My relationship with my mum is really good, but we’re both quite sensitive to each other’s moods and we can be a bit volatile because of it.
It went pretty well though. There was one day I got grumpy because I was bored and hungry, but other than that it was good. I strongly suspect that the antidepressants helped out here and kept me a bit more amiable than I would usually have been when we weren’t doing things that I was particularly interested in.
We went to an English seaside town, which I won’t name for anonymity. The town itself was a bit tacky and touristy but we were staying in a village a mile or so outside of it which was nice. We went on some long coastal walks, which I really enjoyed.
I have written here before about my love for running, but I love walking just as much. I’ve always been quite active, but when I had problems last year I ramped it up as I found it theraputic. I still walk A LOT and get kind of grumpy if I don’t. Covering about 80 miles a week on foot (walking + running) is normal for me. I’m slightly addicted to Pokemon Go as well.
We came back Saturday after finishing the holiday with some Parkrun tourism (mum’s a Parkrunner too), which was really enjoyable. I won’t say which Parkrun, but it was smaller than my local one and I got a Parkrun PB on the flatter course with a very low finish number, which I was really pleased with.
It was interesting to see the difference in Parkruns; my local one is almost like a military operation in how it’s run whereas this one was very relaxed and maybe a bit more inviting because of it? But it’s also much smaller, so there’s that. Anyway, it’s inspired me to start branching out to do more Parkrun tourism.
Now I need to get up to date with everyone’s blogs.
The weekend was mixed. I did Parkrun on Saturday but I felt quite sick afterwards, and whereas I’d normally continue running another 8-10k, I just walked home. It was the first time I’d run in almost 2 weeks because of an ankle injury, so that was disappointing. But I ran 16k on Sunday just fine, so I was happy with that. It was probably still a side effect from the Citalopram.
More generally I felt pretty bad on Saturday but much better on Sunday.
I elected to take Monday off sick from work. Uh oh, sick day #7 this year. My manager is back on Tuesday, and I’ve run out of motivation for dealing with the client myself when it’s not my job and things aren’t going well. On its own, it wouldn’t be such a big problem, but I feel so uncomfortable in the environment at work anyway due to the whole Becky thing. I think that taking sick days just because I can’t face going to work is a strong sign that I’m not going to be here much longer.
But I did some ‘work’ over the weekend for myself. I am forever recording (guitar) stuff on my phone and then never listening to it or sorting it out because it’s too much effort to get it onto my PC. So I started writing an app to record and automatically upload to a cloud storage provider. In only about 5-6 hours, I’ve got it working end to end, so now all it needs is some GUI polish and I’ll stick it on the Play Store. I have an existing app out there that makes me a few hundred pounds a year, so hopefully this will add to that.
It’s interesting to compare this with work. At work lately it’s been a struggle to achieve anything at all, but here, I’ve got something complex working in an unfamiliar technology in around 6 hours. It’s amazing how productive I can be when I don’t have to waste energy on office politics.