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.