July, July, July.
July has been wonderful. July has been hot, full of work, TdF-enriched and generally a blessing to live through. On the other hand, it's been hot, full of work and...um....yeah, those exact same reasons are exactly why I haven't run as much as I wanted to this month. I'm sure anyone who doesn't place running at the very centre of their life can relate to this. Stuff happens, you don't run. This is basically the drill.
With only 6 weeks to go until I leave (yes, news just in I fly on September 18th) I want to call this a disaster (of largely my own making) but of course, it's not a disaster. The world is full of disasters and tragedies unfolding every minute, and this isn't one of them. This is just a failure of prioritisation. It just means the procrastination monkey has been more active than usual. It just means I have to keep my expectations in check.
But more than that, I have to revisit my original motivations and pluck out the weeds of comparison and self-doubt that have seeded whilst I was watching Geraint Thomas take the Yellow Jersey. Indeed, some of the stuff unhelpfully growing in my mind is not mine to cultivate at all. For example, where did the thought come from that I need to do this quickly? I mean, I didn't set out to do that, and yet somewhere along the line that pernicious bindweed has taken root...THAT'S NOT MY GOAL! THAT WAS NEVER MY GOAL!....*yanks it out by the root*
I have, of course, been running this month. It's not that I haven't been. It's just that I'm probably not running enough for someone who plans to cross a country via the mountains, alone, quickly.
Until I started doing some mental weeding, the anxiety around that was starting to affect my sleep. Not all of them, because I have a sound capacity to weather most mental storms in a way that rarely touches my sleep, but if I'm honest my dreams have been a bit stressful, and this has left me with a regular jangliness in my waking, day to day life this month.
So, what have I actually done about it? Well, as I say, I've had to keep refocusing on what I set out to achieve when I defined this challenge for myself. It wasn't about time performance. It was about making a different journey in a different way. It was about seeing some new mountains. It was about exploring my own inner capability and strength as distinct from athleticism and fitness. It was about running my way, in the way that my body enjoys. It was about pursuing solitude. It was about getting active in a new culture. It was about time out to move and rest in the mountains. It was about thinking new things and writing new words. It was about carrying my temporary home on my back for a little while (because I love that feeling). It was about experiencing something that would bring joy. It was about making space to do something that would add value to my life. It was about having no regrets.
It was about a lot of things, and none of them record-setting times, and days and nights of pain.
When I revisit my intentions - even writing them again here - I get a rush of inner excitement. The sort of feeling that makes me tearful and grateful to have been born with moving feet, tough, albeit thin, skin and a creative impulse. Creativity is so much more than making art; it's problem solving. It's striving. It's pursuing your curiosity at all costs.
It's doing You, differently.
When I think of these things - along with the pragmatic reassurance from my friend Carly that I'll just get fit whilst I do it (along with various other treasured-wisdom that I'm still giggling over) - I feel calm, grounded and capable. Thank goodness there are voices who exist outside of our own heads.
My July panic was also, in no small part, precipitated by the fact of August. August is going to be an incredible month of holidays and work trips, but the danger is that I continue to sideline running either through procrastination or genuine necessity. Imagine my delight to see that Europe is entering it's own unprecedented heatwave, just as I was getting over the UKs.
But, at least now I can bring myself back from the ever present latent fear when it bubbles to the surface. I have my intentions set out right here. I am giving myself permission to run slowly and write quickly. I am just going to have a really nice time even if I have to jog. I'm still a runner. I'm the runner I want and need to be.
And, you know, at least I'll be jogging in super-comfortable new trainers kindly gifted by Columbia-Montrail. So much comfort. These guys are basically my long-distance bus ride.
Really, nothing about this is a disaster.