It has been 5 weeks since I have blogged and I’ve kept away because, well, there’s not that much news. I’d worked so hard, physically and mentally, to get to my goal time, my goal race this year. When I finally did it, I was done. Cooked. Finished. Tired, emotional, and just done. I took a week or so off from running which didn’t feel hard – I could barely move for days. And then, like a mad squirrel, my mind started doing a number on me. Prompted by some extremely unflattering race photos I went into a mini tailspin of self-loathing and cock-eyed plans for completely overhauling my life (style).
And I know, I know. You’re all going to tell me it’s about the angle, and that I don’t look bad at all – and you’re right, I know. I was in a double maelstrom (another great word, sadly underused) of self-loathing – on the one hand I was just whining: “Why do I look like that? It’s not fair! Why do I have short stubby legs? I work so hard? Why can’t I look like Kara Goucher running and wear some of those tiny little pants and look all amazing and lithe instead of like some farmer’s wife (oh irony) who could pull the plough when the cow gave up?”. And on the other hand I was SO angry with myself for thinking this crap “FGS woman you just ran a hard and fast marathon, you’r strong, you’re healthy, this IS your body and it’s serving you well, why are you succumbing to all this outside pressure of how you should look when not matter WHAT you do you will never have longer legs (really? No!) and celebrate what you are and have done instead of whining about what you don’t have”. Yes, so this whole episode was just super productive as you can imagine and you’ll be delighted you’re not hearing more of my internal monologue.
Strangely enough, after a few days I realised that this kind of unpleasant mental torture is pretty much to be expected. I had been working towards a goal for so long that letting it go was hard. My brain was just futzing around with nothing to do but this kind of ridiculous mental torture. I was trying to come up with all sorts of new goals (go vegan! Ironman! Ultramarathons! ) and then I realised I just needed to stop. If I want to have any level of success with whatever I do next I need to take time off. I need to focus on letting go of goals. Sounds difficult, but essential. And while I struggle with that kind of balance, realising that I needed to just concentrate on not concentrating meant that I could do that. So what have I been doing?
- I have been running. My first ultra is in a week and to say I feel unprepared is an understatement. Navigation is necessary (I bought a fancy schmanzy new compass) but can I use it? Ugh. Girl Scouts was a loooong time ago (and I don’t think I ever did get my navigation badge). Also 30 miles? Very much off-road? Not even trails all the way – sometimes just brambles and gorse? Hills? Not to mention that it is finally finally finally summer here (and I have vowed not to complain about it) but holy heat, hills and loooooong distance.. Next Saturday is going to be a very very long day.
- I have cleaned up my diet. I have never (I think) talked about diet on this blog. You know that I lost weight to get to where I am now and you probably figured out I did that by eating less. Beyond that I have rarely wanted to talk about diet – I feel so much of online diet talk on blogs, websites and social networking sites is faddy, gimmicky, fat-shamey and completely unscientific. However. I have been eating a lot of crap recently – primarily sugar. The past months have seen a lot of driving and I was basically getting through these long drives with sweets and caffeine. I have stopped doing that. Instead I fill the car with water bottles (and add an extra 30 mins onto my drive for the pee breaks), fruit and small packets of nuts. I am just, basically, cutting the processed stuff out of my diet. I have been suffering with some major GI stuff on and off for the past 6 months (in the days before London I could barely take on any nutrition) and I’m also having some tests there. Boring, but hopefully it will resolve the situation and I will get back to feeling on top form. And, like so many female runners I know, I am anaemic and that’s not helping either.
Beyond that – I’m ready for a break. I have some ideas about what’s next in terms of a big hairy-assed goal, but am letting it percolate a bit. It would be a HUGE commitment and I need to be rested and well to contemplate doing it. So I head to Canada and the US for 2 weeks at the end of this month and intend to just do the odd run here and there (can’t not run along the waterfront in Toronto, or in Central Park) but other than that it will be some much needed time off. Stand by my friends – big things are coming!