I won’t achieve my goal and I’m fine with that

It became clear a few weeks back that I won’t hit my sub-4 goal for Berlin marathon this year. To be honest, I had been feeling pretty down about it. I can’t run anywhere near the times I used to be able to run, and it’s pretty depressing to watch people around you and on social media achieve amazing feats while you just get slower.

I finally clicked out of this funk on Friday morning. I aim to be as honest as possible about my mental health, and recently I have been feeling very up and down, with a lot of things on my mind. It feels like my brain never stops whirring; a constant erratic stream of thoughts, leaving me unable to concentrate on anything for very long. I can’t sleep properly because my brain just doesn’t shut up and I am exhausted. Constantly.

So, Friday morning. I went running. I joined an adidas runners group for a short run, followed by a pilates class on a rooftop in east London. I saw and chatted with some familiar faces, as well as some new ones, and finished the morning off with a coffee before walking to work. As I was walking to work, one of the things that has been weighing heavily on my mind popped in to my head, and I realised that it was the first time all morning that I’d thought about it.

It was at that moment that I remembered exactly why I loved running, and exercise in general. Especially in groups. When I’m running, I fall in to a sort of meditation. Legs moving, arms pumping, chest heaving. When I’m in a group, my steps fall in line and I feel like part of a bigger unit, moving together. The whirring in my brain stops. After a run there’s always a sense of peace. A quiet exhaustion. I run for that peace. For that quiet.

I realised that that’s why I hate chasing times so much. I’ve never run a PB because I’ve trained for one. PBs seem to come around by accident, just when I’ve been enjoying my training or I’ve found someone I love training with. Anytime that I’ve tried to train for a PB I have cracked under the pressure, and I think it’s because it’s just too much for me. I am a private practice lawyer; my life is full of stress, deadlines, pressure and clocks. Most of my time is lived in six minute increments. The last thing I need outside of work is more pressure. More clocks!

So, no more time chasing for me. I can’t run the times I used to run because my life is very different now. I ran those times when I was at law school and in charge of my own schedule, which is a luxury I don’t have now. On top of my job, I’m planning our wedding, renovating our flat, and trying to balance social and family life too. I need to make fitness work for me and my lifestyle, not feel like I’m a slave to fitness.

I’ll be running the marathon in Berlin in three weeks time. I will run a very average time, nowhere near my sub-4 goal, and I couldn’t care less. I’ll try and enjoy my surrounding, the amazing feeling of running with thousands of other people, and being in one of my favourite cities with the love of my life.

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14 Comments

  1. Hannah
    September 5, 2016 / 4:34 pm

    This really resonates with me. I’m a lawyer too and you’re so right about living your working life in six minute units and needing fewer clocks outside of the office! Best of luck in Berlin – hope you have an amazing trip.

    • prettyfit
      September 13, 2016 / 10:47 pm

      Thanks so much! Honestly sometimes I feel like I just have numbers constantly swirling around my head, it’s nice to just switch off and run for the peace.

  2. September 12, 2016 / 11:24 am

    “I need to make fitness work for me and my lifestyle, not feel like I’m a slave to fitness.” – I love this, and totally agree. x

    • prettyfit
      September 13, 2016 / 10:47 pm

      Thank you! x

  3. September 12, 2016 / 5:19 pm

    Throw away the clock and run for the fun of it

    • prettyfit
      September 13, 2016 / 10:46 pm

      Definitely the plan!!

  4. September 13, 2016 / 2:26 pm

    I know this feeling. I’m in a really similar place right now and taking inspiration from your attitude, let’s let go of the past and embrace feeling good! Times are not all there is, very far from it. xx

    • prettyfit
      September 13, 2016 / 10:46 pm

      Thank you! I hope that can enjoy your running and forget about times 🙂 xx

  5. Sylvo
    September 18, 2016 / 5:34 pm

    Hi Soph – beautifully put. I’m on a bit of a knife edge (why knife edge? No blummin idea) re sub 4 hours for Berlin Marathon myself, and I came to the conclusion the other day it’s just plain daft (I won’t deny that the sub 4 hour goal has gone away completely though). Injuries, thinking I could run 10k every other day whilst on holiday in Miami in 95 degrees/65% humidity, my legs and belly are too chubby to run fast – I could go on.
    I thought of it like this: I could run 3:59:59 and be ecstatic, and I could run 4:00:01 and be pissed off. For the sake of two seconds? Insanity.
    I’m running Berlin on behalf of Mind, the mental health charity, and it’s also my first marathon. It is an absolute privilege to run for Mind. If I get round, in whatever time that is, I’ll be ecstatic and my >£1,000 of sponsorship will go to a bloody good cause.
    I wish you all the best in Berlin, and if I see you I’ll say ‘hello – I’m Sylvo, I post comments on your blog – lovely to meet you’ or something like that.
    Safe trip, safe run, stay mindful.

    • prettyfit
      September 27, 2016 / 7:30 pm

      Thanks so much for your comment, and I completely agree! Hope you had a great race this weekend and enjoyed yourself, and raised money for such a deserving charity.

  6. September 19, 2016 / 9:18 pm

    Interesting point about PBs! I had not thought about it like that, but PBs do tend to happen when you are relaxed and having fun! Best of luck with Berlin. Enjoy!

    • prettyfit
      September 27, 2016 / 7:26 pm

      Thank you!!

  7. Hannah
    September 20, 2016 / 1:15 pm

    Best post from you in a while. So glad to hear you’re feeling positive about Berlin.
    You remain an inspiration to me, sub-4 or not!
    Thank you

    • prettyfit
      September 27, 2016 / 7:26 pm

      Thank you so much for your lovely comment x

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