This has been some year! A lot of it I would rather forget; too many wonderfully talented people died, the country voted to leave the EU, Trump won the election and wars and terrorism have raged around the world. It’s enough to make you cry into your eggnog latte. This past year has also been a personal struggle for me. Running-wise everything has gone pretty well, but behind the scenes it’s felt like a bit of a car crash. I recently saw a tweet by Tough Girl who are encouraging us ladies (and you men can join in too) to think up 7 challenges for 2017. I thought this would be a great way to focus my mind on what I want to achieve in the year ahead and to avoid that very real risk of crawling into a new year with the last one still clawing at my heels. Although there will always be obstacles to overcome, let’s focus our minds on what good might be yet to come and look forward to facing and conquering those challenges.
My list on this post is mostly running related which isn’t to say I don’t have other plans for the year ahead too! I’ll maybe save those for another post!
- Run my first marathon distance. I always said I would never run a marathon as a long road race seemed so dull and I was worried about what damage I might do to my body. As a compromise I plan to tackle a trail marathon. Although this may be tougher in terms of terrain, if I choose the right one I hope some beautiful scenery and an interesting location will help get me around. This will be a real challenge as the furthest race I have done to date is only 16 miles and that was a few years ago now.
- I would love to knock a few more seconds off my 10k time, this year I got my PB on a flat Sinfin Classic course of 41:59 so anything less than this would be amazing.
- Do some running in the Lake District, the home of fell running, however I am yet to do much up there and certainly never entered any races so this is a must for next year, any recommendations?
- Get to the top of Ben Nevis. I’ve been up Scafell and Snowdon but never ventured up Ben Nevis so this is on the list either in the famous fell race or just as a solo trip.
- Attempt the Belper Rugby Rover, my local longer distance race which has evaded me for the past couple of years due to either me being intimidated or bad timing. This year I feel much happier about the distance and as this race is hosted by my own running club it is definitely on the list.
- More races! Maybe a bit too vague and broad but I love to run and especially to race so I want to tick off a few more new ones and maybe compete in a few of the local “series” and also revisit some of my old favourites. I also hope to do a bit more running to represent my club. I try and do most of our local league races but have never attempted any of the regional or national events. I’m sure these will be a real eye-opener and it will be interesting to run with what will no doubt be a very good field of runners which will soon put me back in my box.
- And saving the most important challenge until last. Get well. Not many people know this about me but I have struggled with my health for many years. Mental health is that huge taboo that we better not mention in case it makes people feel uncomfortable. Well I have felt uncomfortable for the last decade dealing with this whilst also desperately trying to hide it away for fear of ridicule or worse, pity. Hiding hasn’t helped me get better, if anything it has made me worse and makes it even harder for people to understand. No-one can help being ill, but sometimes with something physical it is more tangible as there might be a medicine or an operation to cure it. With mental health, the illness isn’t always that obvious to other people and the treatment not as clearly defined as take 2 of these pills once a day for a fortnight and you’ll be better. Often it takes hard work, patience and time. Over the years I’ve felt every possible negative emotion about being ill; guilt, sadness, loneliness, fear, weakness, desperation, and have lost a lot of what I held dear. Problems like these put a huge strain on not only the sufferer but those around them. I have also learnt a lot and it is only in the past few months that I have come to terms with being able to say I am ill, I didn’t choose to be this way. That’s not a cop out or get out clause, it’s a diagnosis. How I deal with it and where I choose to go next are the important steps. Maybe this rings some bells with you. My advice is be kind to yourself, don’t blame yourself for being ill but try and take responsibility for getting better. It has taken me a long time and a lot of heartache to get to this stage and for some things in my life this realisation has come too late, but we cannot change what has already passed but only try and shape what is yet to come. Get the right help and support and in your own time you will improve. For me, running is a great way to take a step back and get some clarity on life. Sometimes running felt like the only positive thing I could do when everything else was falling apart. I head out of the door with the weight of the world on my shoulders but go out and just be at one with nature, no headphones or music, just me and the trees. Yes that all sounds terribly cliché and twee but it’s the truth. I listen to the carefree twittering of the birds, feel the warmth of the sun or coolness of the rain, breathe in the smell of the leaves on the woodland floor and soak in the beauty of the world around me. No, it won’t cure me but it’s sometimes just enough to make my own worries seem insignificant and reminds me of what the really important things in life are.
None of us know what lies ahead of us over the next week, let alone the next year. Having some challenges and goals might just go some small way in steering our path in a more positive direction instead of floundering in the worry of the unknown.
Happy running x