Back up and running

19th June 2017

Three weeks have passed since my marathon misery, enough time to be (kind of) philosophical about it and move on. Marathons are hard, that’s the point. The first week afterwards was a full blown week off; no running, no exercise. It was great, but by the end of it I was keen to get back out. The next week was a three run week, no structured training or anything, just easing myself back in and topped off with a 7-miler on the Sunday. Then it was back to running club last week, fielding questions about the marathon and taking some comfort from the fact that almost everyone there had a similar tale to tell. They didn’t tell me that beforehand though! Other than a Saturday run which included a beck crossing to try (and fail) to dodge a herd of bemused looking cows (no, I couldn’t figure out what I was doing there either) it’s been a good couple of weeks of running.

Unfortunately the passing of three weeks also marks another milestone, the start of my next marathon training plan. Eurgh. I’ve ditched the plan I followed for Edinburgh, that was too much. I ended up injuring myself and let’s face it, it didn’t do me much good on the day. That plan was 6 runs a week, based around running a set distance each time save for one session a week which was varying efforts. This new one is 5 runs a week, based around running for a set period of time (again with one efforts session) with a strength training workout built in mid-week. This feels kinder, and the strength training should help. That was my undoing last time, in terms of injury, I didn’t do enough to strengthen my body to cope with all the extra mileage. The strength training is going to take some practice, I currently have no idea what a “Scorpian” is but that’s what YouTube is for I guess. And it’s going to take some extra discipline, we have a set of weights at home that have been used twice since purchase a few months ago. Ever since the gym membership got dropped I’ve quite happily neglected any strength training, such are the perils of not having a summer holiday booked for this year. I need to get back in to it.

The other difference is the time over distance factor. It’s purely psychological but seeing “3 hours steady” on the training plan feels a lot nicer than seeing “20 miles”. I suppose the danger is that once the runs get longer it’ll be tempting to drop the pace as it gets harder and not push on as much, but that’s a battle for another day. For now, this feels like the way forward. I don’t think I could face trudging through that other training plan again. The main thing I’m curious about is how you plan a 3 hour run to finish near home without knowing how far you’re going to run.

I’ll be honest, I did fall out of love with running again immediately after Edinburgh but a steady reintroduction over the last couple of weeks has worked wonders. I’m still significantly slower than when I started on the marathon training but that’s something I’m going to have to live with for this year. This was my year to conquer the marathon and I’ve still got one go left. That go starts tonight and thankfully is limited to an easy, albeit sweltering, 15 minute run.

 

Giving up on grief (not a running blog)

I started this blog after we lost E as a way to help me cope, then stopped writing it when it became evident it wasn’t helping. Earlier this year I reread my old blogs and decided to kick things off again to compliment my marathon training for the Edinburgh Marathon as running had been a big help in managing my grief. Then it struck me, I use the word grief a lot. Even defining it as “my grief” seems scary. I understand the principle behind this, and honestly I think acknowledging ownership of it is a big thing in coping with it. But as a word its one which only has negative connotations and to be honest I’m sick of it. I’m sick of how it’s come to define every aspect of my life and how, no matter what, it’s going to continue to do so until the day I die. I don’t want to hear that word any more, and I don’t want to say that word any more. So I’m not. This post will be the last time it gets a mention so lets get everything that plays over in my mind out in one go. In fact, why delay to the end of this post, the ban starts now. This is a post about it, that won’t mention it again.

The metaphor.

One key thing I’ve taken away from the past 20 months is people experience it in very different ways, it is an extremely personal thing.  I’ve seen a lot of discussion about how living with it is a little like having a grey cloud following you around, always ready to rain down on you. For me it’s not like that, my experience feels more like something from It’s A Knock Out. My life now is about moving forward, passed the obstacles being thrown at me, and a lot of the time that’s doable. However there’s always something tied around my waist, waiting to pull me back. Sometimes there’s plenty of slack there and its pull is negligable. But inevitably the further forward I get the more it pulls, slowing me down until it eventually snaps me back

Time, the great healer.

Perhaps at 20 months in I’m not qualified enough to comment on the passing of time. Perhaps the purported healing properties of time take longer than 20 months to take effect. However at this point I can categorically say it doesn’t get better with time. Time doesn’t heal all wounds. Sure the pain isn’t as immediate anymore, but it still hurts. Time masks those wounds but it’s a temporary fix, and not a great one. Time is a bodger.

I realise this sounds a little contrary, but I’m ok with the bodging nature of time’s work. Some wounds are just too deep, and in truth I can’t say I want them to be fully healed. I want to remember what I’ve lost, and more importantly what I had. To fully appreciate the special time we had with E we need to be willing to put up with the hard times as they provide the context. This is where time comes in to its own. What time does is teach you how to put up with the hard times, how to get through the day without succumbing to them and adapt to your new life. Because that’s what your life is now, new. It’s not a gleaming glistening kind of new, and you’d give anything to go back to your old life. But it is new, and you need to learn how to live it because the old rules no longer work.

The future.

Having A in our life makes a massive difference. She was the one who made sure we got back on our feet straight after E died, and keeps us looking forward, working to build more and more slack in to that bungee cord. She seems to be growing in to a happy little girl, and I hope she hasn’t been affected by spending all but the first three months of her life being brought up by grieving parents. That word, this time, was unavoidable as unfortunately it best describes how we have been these past 20 month. Thankfully we can still enjoy life with A, seeing her laugh is one of the few times when the bungee cord falls completely slack and you can soar forward without restriction. We’re learning to more relaxed with her, the slightest sniffle or temperature can drag you back and leads to some anxious times until things settle again. And I do worry about her reaching the age where she understands what happened to her sister, and how we make sure we explain this without frightening her or causing her too much upset. It’s sad to think she’s growing up without a big sister to play with and look after her, but that’s our dark spot. A will never know any different and that, as sad as it may sound, is reassuring.

The next step.

I can write all this, and I believe every word, but it’s not straightforward. There are times when it takes hold, triggered by a song on the radio, a memory from social media, or more commonly something A does that immediately sparks thoughts of her lost sibling. It takes time to get back on track again, but time is the key. Time has taught me that when I do succumb I will get back, I just have to put my faith in time and let it do its thing. The focus now is about how to manage those hard bits whilst time is doing its thing.