Saturday was world mental health day. It was also my proper run for ages. I ran Greenwich parkrun and when my timing text came through later that afternoon I was pretty shocked. The time itself wasn’t a revelation, since I had timed myself on the run anyway, but I looked at my previous text from parkrun and it was from 2013!! Two whole years since I did a timed 5k. Pretty bad show really.
The other revelation of the day was that my hair actually sits better in a sideshed to the left than it does to the right. Like the left side of my forehead, that secret has lay uncovered for 36 years. I’m genuinely amazed that I’ve never tried it before. If only I’d known, who knows where I’d be right now? But I detect you are less impressed with this discovery than I am (seriously I think this is HUGE) So, back to the main topic…
Using last week’s anniversary as a spur to do something, rather than an excuse to feel sorry, I signed up to a half marathon in Brentwood, a town in Essex made famous by a TV show which documents the nadir of the human race as a meaningful society. I also committed to a 40k bike ride and got my ass down to parkrun at 9am on Saturday morning. Weird how such a negative can kickstart me like this and it made me think about will power, which is quite often the dividing line between those of us who like exercise and those who hate it.
So many of us talk a great game. Especially after watching an event that is inspiring. Many years of beer garden viewing of the London marathon made me eventually do it the 1st time round. Me doing the marathon first time round inspired my wife to start running 5k’s, 10k’s then half marathons.
Just this weekend I watched 2 friends who’d supported me during my marathons, run The Royal Parks half marathon in London. These same folk had been the ones telling me in the pub, post marathon “I could never do that” yet now they are the ones enjoying a celebratory pint (and what a pint it is, after completing a run of that nature, its incredibly satisfying!) and best of all they were talking about how they should have got a better time. Not just content in getting round, but thinking of how they could improve on their PB! Absolutely brilliant to see this. Also more money for two great charities was raised too (Tommy’s and Mind both very close to my heart) so everyone is indeed a winner. (you can still donate via those links folks…)
So anyone who says “I could never do that” doesn’t really mean it. What they mean is “the will power to do that just isn’t in me right now I’m afraid“.
No shame in that. If we all had our WP filled to the brim, 24/7 and were relentlessly positive then we’d probably resemble a tribe of H from Steps and that’s a fairly hideous thought.
My thoughts then on will power, when it comes to getting up and walking the walk:
I tend to go by the rule of 3, not be confused with the version described in American Pie.
If you imagine your WP is an old car battery, sitting out on the driveway in your 1997 Vauxhall nova (3 spoke alloys and Max Power sticker are optional, it’s your imagination here) the car hasn’t been driven in 2 months, it’s a chilly October morning.
You’ll have a hard job starting it, might even need an external ‘jump’ to get it going.
After 4 hours of cruising around the high st, windows down & JX “Can’t keep my hands off you” at full belt, you come home again. The next morning you might find the car starts quite well. However, leave it another week unused, get in, turn the key and it doesn’t want to know no matter how much you try cajole it.
I’ve had a few posts on here in the past, about a new challenge of trying to do 5k in under 20 mins. I did a training run, felt all good about myself, but a week or 2 passed and I hadn’t done any more. The next time I planned to go out I was back to square one, trying to talk myself into it. If this repeats a few times eventually you just give up as you’re sick of the effort taken just to do one days activity. Hence why there’s no posts about how well that challenge is going…
However if you can get out for another run/swim/gym sesh within a few days of the original, and then another one again less than a week apart you’ll find that the argument in your head about going/not going is a lot easier to win.
Whatever it is that acts as your jump leads, you need to harness that energy and keep the battery going quickly otherwise your WP drains out again. I reckon if you can do your exercise session 3 times within approx 10 days you’ll establish the pattern and it gets easier from there. We’re all creatures of habit after all, we love a routine.
I know a fair few folk that talked about taking up running, cycling or whatever. done it once, or twice at a push and then decided they hated it and it’s not for them. OR worse, the don’t even admit they hated it they just come up with more and more excuses as to how they can’t find the time for it right now. Just give it a decent chance, give yourself a decent chance. You don’t stop reading a book after 5 pages because it’s sh*t but getting to the end of a book isn’t gonna increase your chances of living a wee bit longer is it? Unless it’s a Bear Grylls book.
The last paragraph probably sounds quite annoyingly preachy but it’s my blog so I’m allowed to sound like that every once in a while. How about you suck it up then go take the negative energy you’re feeling about this smug, reverse sideshedded, blog writing **** and use it as the catalyst to a whole new life of healthy exercise and mental wellbeing?
Either that or leave a bitchy remark in the comments below and go get yourself another wagon wheel!
P.S. Just a wee word on Mental Health Day which was last Saturday. There’s loads can be said about the various issues affecting people but all I’ll remind you is that loads of us are affected by it. There’ll be more than one person in your close group of friends suffering even if just in a minor way. All it takes to help out is being the person they can offload to if they need to. The more open folk are about these things, the less it builds up inside into something bigger than it should be.
P.P.S My time at Parkrun was 22:25 which is not bad given it was my first timed 5k in 2 years. I think the sub 20 min challenge might actually get off the ground this time, watch this space….
P.P.P.S Ending a blog with the words “Watch this space…” Was so painfully unoriginal, I expected a call from the Holby City script writers […The senior experienced surgeon barked “she’s gone”, clearly annoyed at the junior intern’s refusal to give up on the patient. Suddenly a beep is heard on the heart monitor. Camera cuts to close up of intern’s hopeful eyes...], so I’ve added this extra bit instead.