I ran 100km (60 miles) in March. Training has been challenging. There were tears when I first put the training shoes on back in November. For the first few sessions I couldn’t run 3 km without having to stop and walk several times. I would get home exhausted and deflated. My hips and elbows would be sore and I was tired. Why bother? You may well ask. I suppose it’s a combination of things. It’s to prove to myself that I still have it in me, that I still have the drive to achieve. That I can be stubborn, determined and driven, when faced with a goal. A sense of satisfaction. A desire to feel energised, able, fit and to rise above the effects of Tamoxifen and surgery and scar tissue and to live a best life.
Running and in particular races, have always filled me with an immense sense of fulfilment. It’s a long and often arduous process from deciding to train, pushing on for weeks and months before the glory of the final race day.
This time, I know it is the journey and not the destination that is significant and of substance. In my 20 years of running on and off, completing five half marathons and various 5km and 10km with effort but relative ease, this time, it’s proving to be tough, demanding, strenuous and at times fatiguing. Training is allowing me to take a far reaching look deep inside my mind and body. I am at all times mindful of the aging process, (it’s five years since my last half marathon) I endure the effects of the cancer drug Tamoxifen that I have taken for 4 ½ years, (mouth ulcers, joint pain, memory loss, fatigue in varying amounts), I’m still conscious of the scar tissue that runs from my mid chest to under my left arm which still causes acute stabbing from time to time, the skin to the back of my armpit remains numb. I consider all these obstacles in order that I can overcome the hurdles. I listen to my body and rest to repair and reduce inflammation, even if that means missing training for three days, I use my mind to push on and motivate myself, I fuel my body with a diet packed with nutrients and protein to rebuild muscle and elevate my immune system, carbohydrates to maintain energy levels, plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated and avert fatigue. Training this time, is teaching me to get more out of myself, to judge my recovery and to make allowances.
If you were given a brand new vehicle, the chances are, you would maintain it well, service it regularly, keep the tyres inflated to the correct pressure, check the oil, ensure it passes it’s MOT when required, keep it road worthy, you may even wash and polish it from time to time or treat it to a full valet. The thing is, we all started off with a brand new vehicle. Pristine, no bangs or scrapes, generally speaking a vehicle that was in great working order that required little attention other than putting in fuel. As the years pass it’s inevitable that our vehicle becomes worse for wear, slows down, doesn’t perform so well, breaks down, encounters the occasional accident, begins to show the scars, rust spots creeping in here there and everywhere, we begin to neglect this aging chariot, no longer serviced, hoping each year that it scrapes through the MOT and that it can hang on a bit longer, no more incentive to fill it with the best oil, or to fit the best tyres. But stop. What about those fabulous classic cars? “An older type of car, one that is no longer produced, one that people like to own because it has special features and looks stylish.” We are all capable of a stylish, on the road, well performing vintage. Yes, of course it takes effort, it may be costly, sacrifices to be made. It takes time, day, months, but the benefits are huge.
And so I set about rediscovering this vehicle of mine. My body. Aged, weathered, scarred, rusty. Hours, days, weeks of training, fine body tuning. Looking to see which parts were running smoothly, which parts needed attention? Muscles and bones to strengthen and tone, a healthy heart to maintain, feet to attend to with a reflexology and pedicure, skin care (be generous every day with the sunscreen) good nutrition and attention to what goes in, easy for me in the summer months with a plentiful supply of organic allotment produce and a love of home cooking. And so, after much effort, this sluggish vehicle began to run faster, recover better, rest well, shine and feel invigorated.
My goal of two half marathons within three weeks was a big challenge but the journey to get to the start line in the first place, was tougher.
The challenge now is to keep in tip top condition while easing off the road miles. This vehicle will not miss a service or MOT. This Classic will be staying on the road, tyre pressure checked, air filter cleaned, oil changed. Ready for the next big road trip in this adventure called Life.