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  • Writer's pictureLou

Let's get physical!!

Updated: Dec 28, 2019

My weekly training routine looks a little something like this:

Monday, Thursday and Saturday’s I wake up at 0700 arrive at the gym about an hour later and spend 40 minutes on a mixture of cardio and strength exercise.

Tuesday, Friday and Sunday’s I wake up at 0700 and head out running. One long run which is usually 10 plus miles, one medium sized run that is more about pace work and one interval training session.

Wednesday – Rest day 😊

But it wasn’t always like this, in-fact a year ago I couldn’t lightly jog up 10 steps without being completely out of breath.

I was an active kid at school. I did all the sports, by the time we hit our GCSE’s I was on the cross country, athletics, field hockey, basketball, volleyball, rounders and gymnastics school teams.

Not only this but I was a member of the South Essex Gymnastics club as well. I loved all the sports, except for Netball. I’ve nothing against it, but I learnt to play basketball first and could never get my head around not be able to run with the ball.

I loved it my sporty lifestyle. It was my thing. And this was back in the days when we we’re just discovering girl power and I totally wanted to be Sporty Spice.

When my mum left my dad, he did three things:

- He first told mum that she was not to contact us, she was not to come anywhere near the house, and she was not under any circumstances allowed to go anywhere near our schools. If she did, then dad would cut off all contact (even though that’s exactly what he was already doing, but such is the power of a manipulator).

- He then told us that he doesn’t understand why she doesn’t try to see her own children. Seriously. He made out like this was her decision and that we we’re unwanted by our own mum.

- Then he cancelled our gymnastics memberships because he said that he worked on Saturday’s and therefore we had no one to take us plus the membership was expensive. It was't expensive and mum wanted to take us. But Dad wanted to punish Mum, and therefore had no problem using us to do so.

It was devastating enough that mum left, and that we at the time believed mum didn’t want anything to do with us, my only solace was gymnastics and he took that from me as well. But in his controlling way made it out like this was another thing that was mum’s fault and that I ought to be grateful that I got to do gymnastics for as long as I did.

Over the next few years all my other sports fell away, I was too deep into mental ill health to be able to do anything, I was barely functioning.

When I cut my dad out of my life, it was almost like I went on a narcissist detox. It took about 6 months on the dad detox before I was able to start processing it all. Memories came back in waves, some good and some truly terrible ones.

The dad detox also opened my eyes up to the reality that I could end up waiting forever for my boyfriend to be on the same page as me in terms of what we wanted out of our relationship. Actually, I already knew that I could end up waiting forever, what the dad detox did was make me realise that I didn’t want to wait and why should I? But I was completely torn between this feeling and the life lesson of my dad which was be grateful for any shred of love/attention you get. The internal battle going on inside my head couldn’t always be contained and I ended up lashing out at my boyfriend. We split shortly after this. Neither one of us wanting to get to a stage where we hated each other which would have been inevitable.

He will always remain in my heart in a small way, because he was my first boyfriend who wasn’t also a narcissist (learnt how men behave from my dad of course), he loved me for who I am. In other words, he opened my eyes up to the idea that someone can just love me for who I am, and like spending time with me for the sake of it and without judgement or an agenda.

I hit rock bottom shortly thereafter and what came out of it was desperately wanting to just actually be happy. I needed to change something, and it suddenly dawned on me that the last time I remember being happy was when I was doing all my sports.

I had wanted to run another marathon and had every intention of running my third marathon in a row, but as my mum puts it ‘double pneumonia’ put a stop to that.

A couple of years ago I had signed up for the Beachy Head marathon, but ended up not doing it because ultimately, I wasn’t ready to change. I also went out far to hard to quickly and it put me off. Then I just felt like crap because I hadn't even tried.

So often this happens. With the best intention we all at some point think, ‘yeah, it’s time I changed!’ Then we might join the gym, and in the first week go every single night, maybe we even do this for two weeks and after two weeks we ache, and we hate it and we stop.

Or we might dust off that fitness DVD we bought last January, we do it solidly for a week and then we stop because we ache or because it’s boring or literally because we can’t seem to fit it in and it gets left on the shelf to gather dust for another year.

My ex said he went out running a couple of times but would run fast, push himself to the point of nearly being sick and this puts him off. When I suggested to him, that he is allowed to run slower and stop if he needs to, it blew his mind and I spent half and hour laughing and the look of enlightenment on his face. I miss his humour actually, he did always make me laugh.

The one thing I did differently this time round was to be kind to myself and I therefore set myself realistic goals. It didn’t stop the first run, on January 1st being truly horrible, but I had been expecting it to feel a bit rubbish for a few reasons. Firstly I was deep into withdrawal town, so my body was already feeling a bit weird and head achy, I of course was not on refined sugars or carbs so I literally had zero spring in my step, if anything my legs felt like lead, and I had been used living in Kemp town, and running a relatively flat route, the Fiveways areas is definitely NOT flat.

So yeah, it was pants but I had managed my expectations, and therefore was not hard on myself for not being able to run the entire route. I instead praised myself for my attempt at running in the first place and set myself the goal of running slightly more of the route next time.

The trick is discipline. Not to get up every day and go to the gym for 4 hours where you end up sweating buckets and hating all your muscles and everyone in the near vicinity, the discipline comes from being able to pick yourself up after a workout doesn’t quite go as planned and try again another day. Discipline is not being hard on yourself. Discipline is having the courage to both recognise and praise yourself for your achievements no matter how small. Discipline is having the patients to build on your fitness day after week after month after year. Discipline is NOT quitting on yourself.

When people ask me about my latest run, and I tell them I ran 12 miles they always gape at me and say they couldn’t even run one mile.

Thing is, it’s important to remember that I love running, so if you’re a person who doesn’t enjoy running then don’t run. Pick another activity that you do enjoy.

The other thing to remember is I couldn’t run a mile to begin with either, but each time I went out for a run I would walk less and run more, then once I could run the entire route without stopping or walking, I increased the distance and kept on working at it, 3 times a week at least.

10 months later and I’m running that same distance in half the time, because I went out and worked at it. This is why it’s important to enjoy the activity you do because you will be doing a lot of it, and if you hate it, it will feel like hell.

Discipline comes from not quitting on yourself, remember that.

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