Like many others at the start of January each year I have succumbed to a January offer for leisure centre membership. I don’t see it as joining a gym, but to give me an incentive to ensure I attend my weekly swim and exercise class (and as long as I keep up both each week it’s cheaper, even if I never set foot in the gym rooms!)
In my last blog for Self-Care Psychology I wrote about how I appreciated the days when I can run and how I was trying to not to take these for granted. After a strong couple of months of running during October and November 2017, ending with the long awaited Doncaster 10K event on 26th November (run by the team at Curlys Athletes and a write up is my blog) where I was over the moon to achieve a 10K PB, another muscle pinged and twisted. Yep I suddenly couldn’t run again, or even walk and drive without pain.
So there I was again on the cycle of physio and treatment; stretching and strength work. This injury is not solely a running injury but a muscle imbalance from poor posture, over use when running and the fact I have differing leg lengths. Sadly it is aggravated by my work which either involves sitting at my desk or driving long distances.
"Recovery involves longer term changes and has resulted in re-evaluation of my need for self-care."
Last year I started running for self-care. It worked. I was fitter, healthier (in body and mind) and became addicted to the runners high; seeking out my regular endorphin fix. When I couldn’t run again I realised that I still needed to be active and move more for self-care, but that this doesn’t necessarily need to be from running; and pounding out long distances on the road. So I attended a few stretching and strengthening classes at the gym and cherished that I got a similar buzz from this form of exercise.
What this has taught me about self-care is to heed the idiom “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”. For me running for self-care was amazing for my mind but too much for my body (which was not used to exercise). I am gradually running again, and have set some goals to visit different Parkruns this year, but this will be alongside other forms of exercise and movement. I love my weekly Parkrun and for me right now being able to be outside on a Saturday morning enjoying a steady 5k is truly appreciating the days I can run. And when I can’t run I volunteer at Parkrun, and still get the buzz of being up and outside whilst helping the event take place for others to run and have enjoyment.
When I look at my parkrun profile at the link which says ‘see all runs for this athlete’, I smile. An athlete! Me! And it reminds me that for self-care being an athlete is about the right combination of exercise, sleep, good food and rest.
If your January effect on self-care has resulted in joining a gym or other leisure membership, embrace this as a holistic commitment to a full and varied basket of self-care. And spending time with a gripping book, enjoying a coffee and cake in the gym café is an excellent start…..
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.