Time for some honesty…. I’ve been struggling a bit this past week.
When I last wrote this blog, I was on a high, having just got my PB at the Surrey Half Marathon. But the problem with this just being part of my overall marathon build up is that I was back out training hard less than 48 hours after my race. With hindsight, maybe I should have treated the half like a training run and less as a race…. but I really wanted that PB to boost my confidence! Anyway, I think it took more out of me than I appreciated and meant that I hit last week’s training cycle more depleted than usual, which is not what you need when you know you’ve got to fit in running 40-odd miles, at least 2 sessions of strength and conditioning work, not to mention your day job and all the usual mum stuff – doing the school run, helping with homework, cooking, cleaning, shopping, washing, emotional coaching your kids…….
Just a brief segue into the emotional coaching thing – if you’ve got children, I don’t know about you, but do your kids seem to pick up when you are at your lowest ebb and seem to match your mood with theirs? I think sometimes that my boys are like my barometer. When I am high energy, happy and carefree, this seems to be reflected in their mood and energy level. Where as when I am feeling low, tired and sensitive, they mirror me. Which just creates a bit of a cycle of doom whereby I have less and less energy to help them and they in turn become more high maintenance?! This certainly was the case last week.
I also had two very exciting things to go to last week. Firstly, TheLunaHive launch at NeomOrganics on Thursday night. If you haven’t already checked out The Luna Hive, then you absolutely should . Briefly, the aim of The Luna Hive is to bring together a collective of trusted women’s health expert practitioners (including yours truly!) under one rather lovely umbrella, so you can read a blog, search for an expert in a particular field or find help, advice and inspiration on their social media feeds, knowing that the advice and support you’re getting is from a reliable, qualified source.
Anyway, I gave a little talk at the launch about exercise and mental health, including sharing my own story (gulp) about how exercise has helped me navigate the stormy waters of postnatal depression and anxiety. Before I go any further, I should say that I am more than happy to share this story. But I haven’t always felt this way. In fact, when I was feeling really bad, literally nobody aside from my husband and my parents knew how bad things were. But that is one of the many things I have learnt about mental health problems – they’re a bit like a particular poisonous form of mushroom, in that they thrive in the dark. That’s where all the really icky side effects of feeling so utterly desperate become more intense – the guilt, the shame, the loneliness. By talking about it and bringing it into the light, I found that actually, there was hope of not always feeling this way and also, I wasn’t alone, other people had gone through this, too! I wasn’t a complete weirdo! Even though I wouldn’t wish feeling that way on anybody, it was hugely validating to know that other people – friends, acquaintances, mums I would meet through work – had been through similar and that they had sought treatment, felt better and found ways of helping their mental health going forwards. This is why I feel fine, no scrap that, I actually feel good talking about it now. I hope that by sharing these things then it might resonate with someone who is struggling and perhaps encourage them to seek out some help, give them hope that they won’t always feel this way, and make them feel a little less alone.
Anyway, I said that there were two exciting things, well the other thing was my wonderful friend’s 40th birthday drinks. I was so excited to help her celebrate and pretty much never go out, so was looking forward to it so much. I had a little word with myself before I headed out. I told myself I had 14 miles to run the next day. I told myself to be sensible and come home at midnight and no later. I told myself that I should have 3 drinks, tops, then move on to water. Hmmmm. You can imagine how that went! Will I ever learn? Probably no! However, despite drinking more than I can reliably recall and crawling into bed at crazy o’clock, I did still get the 14 miler in on Sunday. And, weirdly, it actually felt really good. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I was falling asleep on the sofa at 8pm that night, but I bloody well did it. The sun shone, the legs felt fine and I had some interesting and funny podcasts to keep me company – what more could I ask?!
However, all of this excitement has had a downside. My running watch informs me that my training status has slipped into, horror of horrors – “unproductive”. That stings like a slap round the face with a wet fish! If you’re unfamiliar with the intricacies of Garmin training status, put simply this means that whilst I’m training a lot, my fitness appears to be decreasing. Ugh. Sometimes this is called “overtraining”. Now, before I go further, I should say that fitness trackers/running watches/whatever you want to call them are only a training aide and therefore have to be taken with a pinch of salt. However, my resting heart rate has also been a bit higher than usual (as has my heart rate on some of my recent runs), which is a decent objective indicator that my body is having to work harder than it should do to keep up with the demands I’m putting on it. Plus, I’ve been feeling generally lethargic and a bit low of mood, which are again suggestive of overtraining. So, I’d say that in my case, it doesn’t take a degree in sports science to see that I have definitely been burning the candle at both ends and not getting enough rest or sleep. Plus I probably didn’t take sufficient time to recover from my half marathon, or indeed the cold I had last week..
This obviously isn’t very encouraging (what a contrast to the half marathon high of last week!) but I know there is plenty I can do this week to help myself, mostly by getting enough downtime, sleep and making sure I’m eating well. Let’s see if I can reverse this trend….
Check out how my training progresses this week over on Instagram.