Running for Self Care
This time last year my body was telling me to move more. I was working away a lot delivering training courses, spending a lot of time on long motorway drives, eating too much hotel food and fuelled by strong coffee. I also began to crave time alone, I love my family and they are the world to me, but just an hour, just for me, would be nice. And it needed to be outside, in the fresh air, not disappearing to the bath with loud music to block out the squabbling and shouts of “where are my…?” through the door.
So I began to run. I am lucky to live across from a park, and one of the largest open spaces of park and woodland in Sheffield, and not wanting to be far away from home, I began to run laps of the bowling green from which I could still see my house. At first I couldn’t run two laps (less than 400metres) without stopping, but I kept going, walking and running and when I got to 20 laps I began to venture onto the paths in the park. And the kids still hadn’t got out of bed when I returned! By Christmas I was walking/running around 3.5km and I felt a 5km goal was actually and unbelievably going to be achievable but knew I needed support to get there. A friend then introduced me to Parkrun (in the same park) and persuaded me to come with him on a cold January morning. With his support, guiding and encouraging me every step of the way I was chuffed to finish in 00:38:37, and below the 40min goal I’d set myself.
Since then I have become addicted to running.
I am regular attender and volunteer at my local parkrun and my personal blog has heavily featured my love of running during this year, and the ups and downs that go with it. I am now part of a running group in the week and still love running on my own, up and down (well mainly down!) the undulating Sheffield hills. My breathless 400m has now progressed to a determined 10km. I am a slow and steady runner; I don’t chase PB’s (although it feels good) but relish the endorphin rush and the buzz from the happy neurotransmitters in my brain afterwards. I feel fitter in myself, I still love my strong coffee but I am looking after my body better, I have lost almost a stone in weight since January, and feel stronger physically and emotionally. I have made new friends and met some amazing people along the way.
Running is now part of my life; in fact a large part of my life. It gives me fresh-air and exercise, me-time and friendships, goals and challenges.
Shopping trips are now to buy sportswear; my supermarket trolley is filled with energy bars/protein shakes, which I would once look at with suspicion and scepticism, my aeroplane magazine treat is a running mag rather than a women’s glossy. I have just returned from my family summer holiday; our annual two weeks all-inclusive in the sun. For the first time my running gear sat alongside beach wear in my suitcase and I was delighted to complete 6 runs in the two weeks. Getting up at 6am, whilst it was still only 25 degrees and pounded the (down) hills in Gran Canaria and the flat stretches around a beautiful beach and harbour. I felt so lucky and at peace, and was still back at the hotel before the kids woke up!
What I am learning however is that I can’t completely depend on running for self-care. Running is tough on the body and injuries and niggles are commonplace. I was injured earlier this year with a muscle tear that put me completely out of action for 6 weeks and then a further month building back up. The endorphin rush from running is compared to effects of morphine. It is a drug and an addiction and when this is taken away, there was a come down I didn’t expect. I am now cautious and anxious about getting injured again. This has made me appreciate the days I can run and I try not to take it for granted. I do regret that I didn’t start this sooner in life, but listening to our bodies and minds and being aware of what we need is an important part of self-care. I wonder where running will take me over this next year? How far or fast can I push my body and mind? It’s never too late to start anything in life and I’m glad I started running
Lynn is a Social Worker & #esafety Trainer @fostercarecoop. She is studying counselling @AcademySPACE and is an aspiring writer & runner. Find her on twitter at @FosterCareLynn and read her blog here.
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