Training my Running Brain

In my life, I’ve trained through everything. At most I’ve only ever needed a few days off, and only ever took self-prescribed breaks after a goal race. Well, moving house has broken my training for sure. And it couldn’t have come at a better time.

I’d fallen out with running big time. It had been a long time coming (6 months coming!) but the toys were finally flung out the pram.

“Why won’t my body work?!”

“Why can’t I breathe properly?!”

“Why is my stomach making everything so difficult?!”

You get the picture.

The last time this happened to me was way back in the teenage injury years when my body had fallen apart after a massive growth spurt (more about this in my ‘about’ section). I wasn’t, and I’m still not, emotionally prepared to fall apart again. It’s by far my biggest fear.

In the last few weeks, I found my body did fall apart and my biggest fear was reoccurring. I couldn’t even get round 4 miles comfortably.

I DNF’d a 10k, and was left humiliated and humbled. A million thoughts were going round in my head – how could this have happened to me, I’m in PB shape, ready to go sub 45:30 and capable of running at least 18 miles. This is not something that should be happening to me.

Well, guess what? It did happen. And the world is still turning.

I needed to grieve and move on, even though I felt like wallow and give up.

Running is a brutal sport at times. I’d executed the most consistent and smartest training for 7 months and had nothing to show for it. No improvements or PBs. It made me feel like giving up.

But if I gave up now, I’d never get a PB again. I’d have all this unfulfilled potential because I couldn’t cope with a hard year.

That’s what happened last time.

I’m older and more resilient now. I have a long-term plan. If I stay consistent through this year and get through this plateau, I’ll have so much to show for it the other side.

I just need to remember that.

All it took was a week and a bit off to go from ‘running is the worst, and I’m the worst at running so I’m giving up’ to the complete opposite of ‘when can I run next, I’ve got training to get on with’.

I don’t know how my body will be when I do my first run back on Friday. But I’m working as hard as I can to get my mindset right.

I just need to shift my brain back to pre-1:42 half when running was purely for enjoyment. Since then it’s purely been about times and improvements.

Perhaps I’ve been putting too much pressure on myself. I’ve definitely been striving for too much too soon, and lost any resemblance to patience or gratitude.

My expectations have been such that I haven’t allowed any space in my brain for things to go wrong – I’ve expected everything to go to plan 100% of the time. That makes a setback really hard to process.

So even though my body is getting a break from running, my mind is not. I need to go back to training with a fresh head. A more balanced mind set. And some better coping mechanisms for when things don’t go to plan.

My body was fine after last week’s DNF. My mind was in bits.

My body is ready to get back running. My mind is still wary.

By Friday, my head will be in the right place. I’ll be happy, mindful, and spending less time evaluating how every step of a run is going.

That means no more weekly training diary unfortunately. Looking back, writing up my training every week was preventing me from getting any head space from a bad run. And it’s felt like there’s added pressure as I know my training will be on display for all to see.

Don’t worry! I’ll still be here writing up how my running is going. There will be race reviews, updates on my Welsh Parkrun tour (I’m going to do the parkruns in my new home country of Wales!) and general ramblings about running. Just like the focus in my head needs to shift, so does my blog.

So until next time, thanks so much for reading x

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