I haven’t written about running for a while here, because running is tough. Very very tough. My race number arrived this week making it feel even more real. To mark being at the three weeks to go mark, I’ve made a video, that took so long to record and get right, it felt like I’d been on another long run….
For those who are unable to watch, it is basically a massive SPONSOR ME plea and a summary about why I am running for Gateshead Youth Council.
Long distance running is so so hard right now, and I probably didn’t need to run 12 miles in training to realise this. I have an odd amount of energy at the moment, some days I want to dance around the house all day and talk non stop, and other days making sentences make sense is hard work because I feel utterly exhausted. I’ve found myself very consumed by running. A hyperfocus I never thought I’d have.
As I mention in the video above, I am running the Great North Run for Gateshead Youth Council, who are my constant source of motivation when I don’t want to carry on any more. It takes A LOT to make a clumsy, uncoordinated, mostly anxious woman run 13.1 miles in a crowd of people, after a pandemic, and as I’ve discovered this is mostly fuelled by pushing though emotional pain. I’ve had many moments when I’ve thought “WHAT AM I EVEN DOING?!”, when I’ve gone out for a run in the rain or spend weekend after weekend plodding along the same route, desperately trying to get the miles in. “Are we nearly there yet?” I used to scream at my parents from the back of the car on the way to Cornwall where we used to holiday every year. I now internally ask this to myself. And yes we are nearly there. I am nearly about to run my first half marathon in three weeks time, and you, if you are reading this, have supportively decided to come along on this journey with me. It’s nice to know I have my own group of cheer leaders encouraging me to keep going, even though I know most people won’t be able to be there on the day.
I’m now up to 12 miles of training. I’ve never missed a long run even though some of them, like today’s, have had to be cut short. Being able to run 12 miles is a long long way. I started my long weekend runs with the running club on Sundays, but since getting confused by routes started to make me anxious, and my muscles tense, I’ve decided to go it alone for the last few long runs before Raceday. I’ve realised that straight out and back routes make so much sense for my brain. I can’t my head around circular routes, and would rather play it safe with a route I know well, and add a bit extra on each time, than stress myself out with trying to follow complicated routes I haven’t ran before. It’s worked, and I’m able to focus on other things, and not where I’m going. One thing I’ve learned during longer runs, is places I once only thought I could get a bus to, I suddenly end up in on foot without thinking. It’s really expanded my world. I’ve been very confined to my home town during the pandemic, which isn’t very big, so being able to get out to the countryside that surrounds me has been lovely. I ran past a farm on an 11 miler a few weeks ago, and stopped to take a bad selfie with an Alpaca. It made me happy. The little things.
I have been worrying a bit recently about muscle tightness, and so most runs recently have been a slow and steady. I’m at the stage of “shit what do I need for race day panic”, that I see is normal before a big race judging by running Facebook groups, especially if you haven’t ran one before. A friend told me recently about some lotions and potions for happy muscles, so I’m excitedly awaiting the arrival of the postman this week. I also need to work out the water carrying situation, and how I am going to keep my energy up. I’ve discovered Cliffs energy chews today, which aren’t too bad and are apparently better than gels. There really is so much to think about when you get up to running longer distances. This running lark really is a full time job!
Running has given me a lot of time to think, and thinking I do. I’m an expert in thinking. I didn’t sleep well last night because I was thinking so much. Tip: don’t plan for a long run on no sleep. It will literally end in tears. I’ve decided to fundraise for a tiny local charity, that no one has really heard of, because I knew that if anyone was going to fuel me with enough emotion to carry on, it would be the Youth Council. Young people really are remarkable, and after working as a youth worker during the pandemic, I’ve realised why I do the job I do. Youth work changes life, it really really does. This pandemic has taught me that young people need youth workers now more than ever. When schools were closed, youth workers became all of the support some young people had. They provide young people that space, away from school or other anxieties to just be young people and to belong. As a young person, the first place I really felt I’d fitted in was at Gateshead Youth Council.
Running has been pretty tough recently, my race number dropping through the door a couple of days ago makes it feel even more real. Can I do this? Have I just sold people a lie, and I don’t really have it in me to complete a half? What if I come last? Are all thoughts that have crossed my mind recently. But I’ve also felt incredibly humbled by support Ive had from friends and complete strangers. THANK YOU person who I just know as “a stranger” for your generous donation, and telling me to keep going when training gets tough. If you’re reading this, your donation really did help me to keep going when I ran 11 miles a few weeks ago and almost got lost. Today was a bad run day, but I know with all the bad runs, there will be good runs that come along to. Just to prove that it’s not all bad. Getting to bed earlier, just in case my brain refuses to sleep will be a plan for long runs going forward. That and not beating myself up too much if I’m not feeling it on a particular day. The crowd will be there to get me round on Great North Run day, and I get to run over the Tyne Bridge twice, what’s not to love! Joking aside, I honestly wouldn’t have been able to do any of this without any of you supporting me and encouraging me not to give up. I aborted todays run earlier because I reasoned that trying again later would be better than running upset and getting injured.
I’ve surpassed my original set fundraising target of £500 quite early on so have upped it to £1000. I didn’t think I’d raise half as much as I have already, post pandemic when the world is still imploding. I’ve had to ban myself from watching the news this week because I find it too upsetting, and wish I could do more to be helpful for people who have more going on in their life, than me complaining I haven’t ran as many miles as I’d hoped. If you can sponsor me at all I will be so so grateful, as will Gateshead Youth Council and the young people who benefit. THREE WEEKS TO GO! I can do it!!