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I'm getting envious.
This Sunday is London Marathon day. The one day of the year that Londoners accept that it might be ok to talk to strangers on the tube. That there is nothing pathologically wrong with someone for saying "hi".
I love the atmosphere in town on marathon day.
But today I'm envious cos there will be thousands of runners who have now finished their training and are building up the excitement inside themselves. Like an elastic band getting stretched further and further until it just has to ping forwards.
I've ran marathons before but never in London and it's firmly on the bucket list.
It's been 7 years since I last had the guts to have a crack at 26.2 miles, I think it's taken that long for the memory of the exhaustion from miles 20-26 to subside.
But I learned a lot from running. To be honest I learned things that I sometimes forget to apply to myself in daily living. So I'll share it with you and treat it as a reminder to myself.
Keep putting one foot in front of the other.
It can feel dull as dish water at times when you're training. During the race the next mile marker let alone the finish line can feel an eternity away. But there's only one way to get there. One step at a time.
You just keep moving forwards and sometimes it feels like you're getting no where. Nothing feels any closer but there's no alternative.
But the single little steps grow.
100m becomes a kilometer becomes another mile ticked of.
Whatever you're doing you just have to keep moving forwards. Not just when things are smooth and you're comfortable but when it's bumpy and it hurts. Just focus on taking he next step.
Pick a tree
Distance running was a lot of trees and lamp posts for me. You can't see the finish line but you can pick a spot on the horizon and see it get closer.
Then you've passed it.
In the scheme of things nothing seems to have changed. In reality you're in a better stronger place than the you who was aiming for that lamp post.
Smaller goals to help you to your bigger goal are vital.
Quick tip - if you do this in a race beware of luminous colours. The amount of times I thought I could see the next mile marker only to find it was someone i a high vis jacket. That was gutting everytime.
Pay the price
You can't just turn up on the race line and expect to have a great race and enjoy the day if you haven't prepared.
You have to cover miles and miles of running without people watching.
No clapping crowds or back slaps and medals at the end.
There is a really unglamorous price to pay for anything you want to achieve.
Sometimes this sucks.
Sometimes it feels good.
Good or bad though you have to crack on.
If there's something you want there will be a price, either financial, emotional and/or time. It's your choice whether you want it enough to pay it.
Have a real goal.
There's no doubts when you train for a marathon. You know exactly what you want to achieve and you know exactly when you need to achieve it by.
You go out and run when it's wet or your tired cos there's a deadline looming.
Set yourself goals and deadlines.
Ones you have to keep.
A famous strength coach uses the dog food challenge.
He tells friends that he will have done x by a certain date or he'll eat the Pedigree Chum.
Whatever works for you.
You surprise yourself
It's amazing what you can do when you give yourself a chance to shine.
The first 3 mile run I felt like frankensteins more ungainly twin brother.
My feet were heavy, I was breathing like a dirty old man on a chatline and I ached like buggery afterwards.
A few months later me and the missus were doing 18 miles on a Saturday afternoon before heading out on the town with pals.
It felt ridiculous but great.
When Androulla finished she was sprinting and jumping for joy to the finish line. There were spectators really enjoying seeing her do that. In contrast I crawled over the line. et she had been worried just about running outdoors. After our first 6 mile race she went white as a ghost and spent the evening feeling ill on the couch.
Yet she smashed 26 miles.
Give yourself a chance to shine, get over the first bit of discomfort and you'll surprise with what you can do.
Friday night is beer night in our little household.
A visit to the fancy pants craft beer shop on the way home. Then when the rug rat is asleep a bottle is cracked open to round the week off.
Sunday's on the other hand are a no booze zone (usually). I hate the feeling of heading into work the day after alcohol. Even a little makes me feel lethargic and lacking sharpness.
But last night (Sunday) I wanted a drink. There are a couple of cheeky single malts lurking around in the front room and I found myself wanting a drop.
This is going to sound a little wanky, but it's true.
Over the last year I've got to know myself better.
So I knew I didn't really want the whisky. I wasn't after the taste. I wasn't wanting to sit back and enjoy the drink.
I wanted to feel good and the drink was just a crutch to do that.
I'd spent the day working on a new project. Something I really want to work but I'm not sure if it will.
I could feel my heart racing and there was definitely a bit of adrenaline skipping around the body.
My wired up mind was looking for a way to just feel good. The whisky is filled with associations of relaxing and feeling good for me.
So my mind was telling me to get the whisky even though I didn't actually want the whisky.
It thought it would be a gateway to calm, happy me.
I know I'm not the only one who does this either. So many of us find ways of sedating ourselves. Trying to calm ourselves and disengage from stresses, with habits that damage our health.
Food, booze, TV, porn.
All ways to hide and avoid feeling uncomfortable.
The whisky would have changed nothing. The challenge in front would still be the same.
Instead, I lay down on the floor.
Managing stress is a huge part of staying healthy. No matter the front we put on for the rest of the world, we all get the crush of stress on us at some point. How we respond and cope with it can mean the difference in our health, happiness, relationships with our loved ones and even finances.
So I lay down on the floor to try one technique I learned in a masters nutrition course.
The mind body scan.
Lie down for 5 minutes (it can help to set a timer on your phone so you don't get agitated trying to constantly check the time).
Then focus on each part of your body. Start at the top of your head and move down to your feet seeing what you notice.
Is your forehead frowning? Is your jaw relaxed or clenched? Are your shoulders relaxed? How are you breathing (rapid or slow. From your tummy or your chest).
Move along your arms, your abdomen, your legs. All the way to your toes.
What are you thinking?
What is going on in your thinky box?
Last night, it felt a jumble at first.
I realised I was a little nervous, but it was more excitement.
I was also pleased. Pleased to be getting shit done. I wasn't sitting around wondering like I have so often in the past. I was taking a risk and making myself be a little better.
I slowed my breathing and let myself have a little smile.
I wasn't scared. I didn't need a whisky to cheer up.
I was excited and pleased.
In 5 minutes my perception of where I was completely changed.
Try this out for yourself, it's amazing what you can figure out about yourself when you give your mind a chance to quieten and be listened to.
If you think it sounds a bit wishy washy, just try putting your cynicism on hold. You don't have to tell anyone you're doing this and if it turns out to be new age guff...no one need ever know.
It's tea for me for the rest of the week....until Friday beers at any rate.