31 December. 2019 • Category: Running | Addiction | Mental Health | Mindfulness | Anxiety | Authenticity | Sobriety
At the end of a Half Marathon with my son back in the summer.
I want to take a minute to talk about Couch to 5k (C25k), I know many of you probably know about it, but a lot don’t and as I have found running really useful in my recovery, I thought this might help someone out there. The program takes a complete non-runner to progress to run 5k in between 8-12 weeks. I was a total non-runner and started in 2018, 18 months into my recovery and new sober life. Before that, I think I was still a bit in shock and had no extra energy for anything like running.
I heard running was good for mental health, as I have quite severe anxiety, I was happy to try anything. I didn’t have a great deal of confidence in myself or in my body, so didn’t really love going out in leggings to start with, but persevered, just picking places that I wouldn’t find too many people to make me feel uncomfortable.
So, with my new plan in my head, I downloaded the C25k app, and put on my headphones. This was great for me, it meant I could zone out and just try to run, while a voice in my ear told me when to walk and when to run. There are lots of running clubs and groups that run c25k training sessions and for some people, the camaraderie of training in a group will be great, I just wasn’t ready to run with people back then, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to keep up. My app wasn’t complicated, but the running was! I couldn’t even run for 30 seconds at the beginning. I felt terrible, I couldn’t believe I was so unfit! Before I stopped drinking I was quite skinny, so I convinced myself the two things were linked. They aren’t, and with my healthier lifestyle, I put on a bit of weight, which obviously also needed moving too.
Although it was hard to start at the beginning, I did feel that the way the programme is broken down really helped me see improvements quite quickly and if I struggled, I’d just repeat a week. It wasn’t many weeks before I could run for five minutes continuously, which may not seem like a lot, but believe me, for a non-runner like me it was amazing. As I had the little one at home, we looked out for a treadmill, so for the days I couldn’t get out, if it was too dark or anything, I could run at home instead, and it really helped with my training. They say to book a race, as it helps with motivation, and I chose to run a 5k fundraiser for The Cornwall Air Ambulance. It was great, my son and I raised over a hundred pounds, but it did put quite a lot of pressure on me. I felt like I might not be able to achieve it, or I’d be last, and I ended up hurting my knee and having to take a couple of weeks off.
Soon enough, I could go out again and learning from my mistake, I took things a little slower. I stopped worrying and tried to enjoy it. I remember a turning point quite clearly when I had to run for a set amount of time, and I thought to myself, “Only eight minutes left.” Suddenly I caught myself and realised that I had achieved something I never thought I would! I still struggle a little with my mind when I run, I often have a little voice telling me that I can’t do it. Worrying about completing a distance, however long, worries me, but I know now logically that I can do it, so I just try to push through it. That voice has got to give up one day surely?
So for anyone out there even contemplating running, get out and give it a go. There are so many people of every shape and size having a go, it’s so much more inclusive than I ever thought it would be, and there are so many opportunities for socialising too, whether it is joining a club or having a drink in the cafe after parkrun. Giving you a bit of time to yourself and a a sense of achievement, it’s a great hobby to have, I never thought I was a runner and yet here I am, enjoying it and running distances I never thought I could. You never know, taking up running could be a great New Years Resolution!
If any of you are new to running or doing C25k, let me know how you’re getting on, I’d love to hear from you.
Thanks for reading!
30 December. 2019 • Category: Running | Addiction | Mental Health | Mindfulness | Anxiety | Authenticity | Sobriety
End of parkrun photo with my son Barn.
I haven’t run properly in the last couple of months. First I wasn’t allowed to, because of my eye surgery, then I used being busy at work as an excuse -although, in fairness, it has been very busy! After that of course it was Christmas. Like most people, I’ve felt like I’m running about trying to get things sorted out and running has unfortunately been the thing I’ve let slide which is a shame, because I like the way it calms my mind. Even when I don’t feel like going out for a run, I always feel good when I get back, I feel like I’ve achieved something and my head feels clearer. It’s funny, I don’t necessarily notice the difference running makes to me, except when I don’t go out for a run.
A couple of weeks ago, I thought I’d try to make the effort to go to parkrun every week again. I find my home run a bit too busy in the summer and with all the rain we’ve had recently, the hills would be pretty tricky too, as it is one of the hilliest in the UK, so we’ve been going to our next local one which is at the Eden Project. Afterwards we get a cup of tea in the cafe. There is a lovely community feeling to it, and we are home and done by 10:30 leaving the rest of the day free.
On my first week back I was shocked as to how much slower I was, almost three minutes slower than my fastest time there back in July, and I couldn’t run up all the hills anymore. But, however disappointed I was, it was probably the incentive I needed and it was better than staying at home on the sofa. The saying that I was lapping everyone on the sofa did come to mind a few times! The next week was a minute faster and closer to my PB, and this week I took another fifteen seconds off again, which isn’t bad considering how much I’ve eaten over Christmas! The main difference is that a few years ago I would have added quite a lot of wine to the Christmas consumption list, and there would have been no way I would have gone out for a run.
I’ve got four half marathons booked in the next few months, so I’m glad I’m getting back into the swing of things, and I think being slower than I was has given me the kick I needed to get myself moving again. It’s so easy not to, and I always feel better when I have.
Thanks for reading.
28 December. 2019 • Category: Running | Addiction | Mental Health | Mindfulness | Anxiety | Authenticity | Sobriety
Exploring in the rain.
On Christmas Day I was so positive. I had a bit of a wobble but it wasn’t a big deal. I felt pretty chuffed with myself. Boxing Day was a bit of a different story. It’s weird how it catches you out. You get a bit complacent. You think you’re fixed. At least I do. Or did. I’ve realised I’m not quite there yet.
On Boxing Day my mother and father in law were planning to come around. It’s a normal thing, some years we go to them, and some years they come to us. It’s just the way we balance things out as we spend Christmas Day itself at home with the kids. In theory, everything should have been fine, I didn’t really have a reason to find a problem with any of the arrangements and there was no pressure. They know I don’t drink and have been totally supportive, but suddenly, about ten minutes before they arrived I started to panic. Over the years my mother in law and I shared quite a few bottles of wine. She is not a heavy drinker so I always drank more, but seeing them was always a reason to have few glasses. Reminding myself of that made me so envious, and I really wanted to be back there enjoying it.
It’s strange how when you reminisce, you remember just the good and not the bad. You forget how one drink wouldn’t be enough, and by the end of the evening you’d either be asleep, have embarrassed yourself or had an argument, or maybe all three. At least I probably would have.
So, I had a little cry, reminded myself that it’s my choice not to drink and that choice makes me a better person than the one I was. We put our shoes on and took the kids for a walk. It was tipping down and we got completely soaked but when we got back I felt so much better. My mind felt like it was my own again, and I’d been able to put off the temporary hijack from unwanted thoughts.
I wonder if it’s an element of being at home for a few days, without the normal routines we all follow? I haven’t even run since last weekend! That certainly makes a difference normally to the way I think and helps calm the chaos!
I don’t ever want to give in. Three years and three months is too long to throw away but crikey, some days are hard!
I hope you all had a lovely day!
Thanks for reading.
27 December. 2019 • Category: Running | Addiction | Mental Health | Mindfulness | Anxiety | Authenticity | Sobriety
Well I did it, and it was a lot easier than last year. And even more easy than the year before that. Three alcohol free Christmases. That’s something to be proud of isn’t it?
We spent the day at home, us and the kids, as is our tradition. Then we see family on Christmas Eve or Boxing Day. It’s only our parents who live near us, everyone else is hundreds of miles away so we aren’t torn in too many directions like some people are. This year work has been hectic though and I didn’t feel we have the time to prepare until the last minute. It was busy right up until closing time on Christmas Eve. Then we stopped.
Christmas Day was lovely. We were all tired, me my husband and the kids, and the little one is fighting off a bug, but just spending time together was wonderful and this year, for once, my thoughts didn’t revolve around drink.
I had one moment, where I felt a little lost, but it was over so quickly that I didn’t even bother to say anything. I was standing by the fridge, and suddenly found myself reminiscing slightly about the thought of that glass. Of course my Christmases always involved wine. I remembered the feeling of the glass in my hand and the taste of the wine, that no other drink quite matched… And then I caught myself. That moment of sadness where I remembered I couldn’t drink ‘normally’ like other people passed, and I moved on.
It’s nice that even these moments are becoming fewer and further between. I used to think they’d never stop and slowly they are, even if now they come out of the blue and surprise me.
I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and made it through without too many dramas?
Thanks for reading.
29 December. 2019 • Category: Running | Addiction | Mental Health | Mindfulness | Anxiety | Authenticity | Sobriety
Trying to explain to your family that you have an addiction is not easy. For a long time I felt that I didn’t have a problem and even when I realised I did, there was still a voice in the back of my mind that said I was just attention seeking, that someone like me couldn’t have an addiction, and that everyone would think I was just after attention.
Just to be clear, when I say everyone, I mean everyone except for my close family. My husband lived the ups and downs with me. He was there for me, even when I wasn’t there for myself, and tried to do everything he could to help me. I thought I’d hidden it well enough from my children, I thought they were young enough not to know, that they wouldn’t remember, so I didn’t tell them. One by one though, in the last year they have all spoken to me about it. My eldest has asked me the least, so perhaps he remembers more than I’d like. My second to youngest was the first to ask me, one night when we were driving home. He must have been 13 at the time, and was so nervous asking me. I’ve always had the rule, if one of the kids is mature enough to be able to ask me something (this could be anything at all) then I will do my best to answer. I hadn’t been expecting it to be this though. It surprised me and I wasn’t sure what to say, should I tell the truth or gloss over it? I don’t think there is a right answer for this question and what worked for me, wouldn’t necessarily be the right thing for someone else, but I went with it and told him everything. Over the past year he has had more questions and I’ve answered those too. It’s been tricky trying to explain something that I was so ashamed of to someone I cared so much about, I didn’t want him to hate me, but, I really feel it has made us closer. He certainly knows now why I find things difficult sometimes, or why I might avoid certain situations. It isn’t a conversation I wanted to have, but I am glad I did.
Not long after this, my daughter and I were talking, also in the car. Driving seems to be a good time to talk. She wasn’t talking about me, but a character on the TV show Grey’s Anatomy. We were talking about family gatherings and saying how awkward they could be, and I said I understood. She was surprised and told me yes, but I don’t have a problem like Amy. Amy was an addict in the show. I said actually I did. The conversation went from there, and again, although it wasn’t something I wanted to bring up, I am glad I did.
I always felt like I was stepping on egg shells, I didn’t want to admit to my problem but with it in the shadows I also couldn’t really comment on a lot of things. We’d be watching TV and there might be a portrayal of an addict that was done really well, or really badly, (they do get blamed for everything) and I felt like I couldn’t comment. Now I have the freedom to say what I think about it, and my family knows I am talking from experience. I do find TV shows difficult. They often make addicts out to be awful people who let everyone down and that isn’t always true. Sometimes they are doing the best they can.
Recently my middle son told me that he found me inspirational. Followed by, “Wow, that sounded cheesy!” But he went on, that it showed him he could overcome something difficult, like I had. I hope they never go through what I did, but if my hard-times have shown my kids that they can overcome literally anything if they put their minds to it, then at least there is a point to it.
Thanks for reading!
26 December. 2019 • Category: Running | Addiction | Mental Health | Mindfulness | Anxiety | Authenticity | Sobriety
At Eden after Parkrun last week.
Sobriety is hard. It’s probably the hardest thing I have ever done.
It surprised me because initially all my worry was around giving up drinking. I mean, I only ever drank in the evenings, except on weekends when it was allowed to be a little earlier, and holidays or special occasions for the same reason. I wasn’t an all day drinker, but when I did drink, and that was every day, without fail, I’d consume at least one and a half but more often two bottles of wine by myself. But that aside, the drinking bit, although a hard thing to do, was done. All I had to do really was stop drinking. Just refrain from going to the fridge and filling up my glass. It doesn’t sound too hard does it?
It was the thinking bit I wasn’t expecting to be so hard. Suddenly I had a lot of extra time. That time meant I did extra thinking, and the removal of wine from my life meant my emotions started to come back to life. That was weird, and even now, I still think I’m experiencing new things almost every day. Without wine to numb my thoughts, my mind was a whirring mess, but it was mine, and I had to learn to deal with all this excess of emotion. I felt like I was able to appreciate everything, that I could see things that I just couldn’t before. That I felt things that I hadn’t done for a long time. I’d thought wine made me fun and grown up and all that, but I didn’t realise how much it stopped me from experiencing. I didn’t realise how much damage it did to me. I knew it took the ‘edge’ off, but I didn’t realise it almost washed the foundations away too.
Rebuilding is taking time, but I know now that my foundations are strong. They say you have to hit rock bottom to change, and so my foundations are built on that rock. It’s certainly been a challenge, but I feel good now, I’m liking the person I’m turning out to be under it all. Three years is a long time, and yet it is nothing at all. I thought quitting drinking would be the hard part, but learning to live with your true self is harder. It’s also exciting, and although it sounds soppy, you don’t have to let anything hold yourself back.
So to anyone out there struggling in the early (or not so early) days, just go slowly and more importantly, be kind to yourselves. It does get easier and it is so worth it.