What I’ve learned so far…

In my last blog post, I wrote about the difficulties I was experiencing running outdoors due to my OCD anxieties. Since then I’m pleased to say that I have participated in two organised outdoor runs. The first was a 15km run and the second a 12 mile run.

Doing these runs taught me a few things, things I wouldn’t have otherwise known. I learned that if I’m going to run a marathon then I definitely needed to do more outdoor running. Running outdoors felt very different to running on a treadmill, and I realised that I wasn’t as prepared for it as I should have been. In my head I now have no choice – I am going to have to run outdoors if I want to fulfil my dream of completing the London marathon.

Secondly, I learned that coming last in a run isn’t as terrible as I’d previously thought – it just depends on how you look at it. In the second run I was the last person to reach the finish line, out of a couple of hundred people. But given my fears and anxieties, just reaching the finish line was a huge achievement for me. Many other runners aim to beat their Personal Best (PBs) and hope to continuously improve against their previous times, which is great. What I learned was that there are other ways I could reach my own personal best that fitted in with my particular circumstances – which is probably a good thing for me as I’m not particularly fast! At that point, just reaching the finish line was a personal best for me, given that a couple of weeks earlier I was avoiding running outdoors completely.

Finally, I noticed a pattern. The day before my runs I was experiencing a full day of anxiety. This was new for me as I previously ran outdoors all the time, with no concerns. Now during the whole of of the preceding day I felt lost in my own world. I was unable to do very much or even speak very much – everything felt like a real effort. Which was ironic given the miles I was planning to run the next day! So in future I can anticipate this and put in place some strategies to help me. I have also experienced that amazing feeling when finishing the two runs, and in future I will keep this at the front of my mind to motivate me.

Recent developments and difficulties

Firstly, I successfully completed the 80 mile month in December!! Woo hoo! This has helped me build a really solid foundation for my London marathon training which is the main reason I took up the challenge in the first place. In fact I felt so uncharacteristically confident that today I signed up for a second marathon! I realise this may sound absurd, but I thought long and hard before I made this decision. I made sure it was right for me and my health and took advice based on my personal circumstances. And I also thought that if, nearer the time, I didn’t feel able to run the second marathon then I can always pull out. But hopefully it won’t come to that!

One of the reasons I want to run another marathon is because I feel the need to capture more interest for the cause that I am running for – improving understanding of OCD. I need people to sit up and take notice and I’m hoping this will do the trick!

In other news, my training has taken an interesting turn. In the past all my running was done outdoors and I loved that. Recently however, I have found that my anxiety is trying its best to stop me from doing that and so far, I have had to do most of my running indoors on a treadmill (thankfully my sister-in-law has one!). I have even entered runs and dropped out at the last minute due to my OCD, and I am finding that worrying about it is taking up the whole of the preceding day, to the point where I am unable to do anything else. I need to find a way of managing this fairly quickly, and I am hoping this new challenge will give me an incentive. But for now, it certainly provides a whole new dimension to the mental challenge that marathon training brings!