No one told me when I started running 6 weeks ago that there would be RAIN!!!
I started my Couch to 5K challenge in soft Spring sunshine. Plodding along, I drank in lush, April air to distract me from the fact my feet felt like concrete, my knees were complaining and my asthmatic wheezy lungs were squeezing in and out like a defective pair of bellows.
Regardless of this, what ever the context – being out side was lush.
But that was then. Here and now it’s RAINING: So that’s cold, wet, water falling from the sky.
WhatEVER… the hardcore keep fitters are still out there in the wet stuff, blazing through the monsoon like svelte athletic sylphs…
And I’M out there too…, sweaty, red faced and managing (just about), to put one foot in front of the other…
Basically, it was just me and the sheep out there today and even THEY were keeping a respectable social distance. In fact they were totally Baad Ass about it…
I got home from my run and my breath back, in time to do a live broadcast about my book ‘Peachey Letters’ with 2 other authors from the same publishing house.
And as well as discussing our books, our publisher told us / the world that Kindle sales have sky-rocketed in the past couple of months.
One of the reasons for the broadcast was that my book Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life – a gorgeous gathering of the best posts on this blog, is part of special Kindle promotion at my publisher is running. You can grab it – May only – for just £1.99 / $2.49 – at Peachey Letters: Love Letters to Life
As well as hitting a 5KM run, I’ve also set myself the challenge of hitting 100 reviews for my book on Amazon. I’m delighted to say they are starting to roll in already and there’s now only 79 to go (she says with a combination of irony / fear / gratitude).
And after all the excitement of running and book promoting, I still managed to have a duvet day, (I need to work on my down time – I find doing NOTHING extremely difficult).
Once the sun slipped over the yard arm, I ordered a take away curry to be delivered. This made me ridiculously excited, since it was the first meal I hadn’t cooked for myself in over 6 weeks…
But THEN I was told there would be a 2 hour wait for delivery…
So, decided not to be a grump about it and that the extra long anticipation would mean that I would enjoy it all the more when it FINALLY flipping well arrived.
But wait to do in the meantime though… Sing? Snack? Invent time travel…?
Actually I went onto Facebook and found an old friend from Uni I’ve been searching for, for decades! Hurrah! We had a lovely long catch up, shared some old pics and promised to meet the other side of the Corona curfew.
And THEN, 2 hours & 15 minutes later, there was curry!
Yours greedily, Sandra
PS: If YOU’RE waiting for anything at the mo – you can download my book in seconds, read it in a few hours, then review it in a couple of minutes…. Er – did I mention that I’m currently promoting my book Peachey Letters..?
I have to admit that these last few days I had been feeling very low. And I say this NOT because I want sympathy or to be fixed, but to make the point that this is OK and certainly not a permanent state of affairs.
For me, it’s partly health related and the varied stresses of a situation the like of which I never experienced before.
So I had to do something decisive – a few weeks ago I wouldn’t even conceived of taking up running, but I’m now on week 6 of Couch to 5K. Not that this is necessarily a victory…
Today I cried my eyes out because although mentally I was motivated, physically I really had to push myself to do it. Yep – big, childish wet tears of self-pity / ‘I can’t do this’ dropped onto my new sports- wear, as my feet of lead dragged through the rain. But who could see tears in the rain, anyway?
So what can I do about this depression / sadness / anger / confusion? Being conscious of it is my first simple strategy – having an awareness of, rather than being controlled by my thoughts and feelings means then that I can start to exercise some choice. So I’m currently choosing to take care of myself, challenge myself and be creative and you know what – it works. I sit here now, happy and contented, in the moment.
And as a coach, I’m coaching MYSELF through the experience by asking questions and reflecting on the experiences / answers that you will find in my posts and blogs.
Now, I’ve always found this to be a deliciously selfish process, but interestingly for me – having started out on personal development to ‘fix’ myself, I quickly realised that the ultimate gift it gave me was to support OTHERS and coach them – to help them understand who they really are, and work on psychological blocks and success strategies. This is when I burn brightest. And I DON’T need fixing, by the way!
On this journey my biggest break through (in every sense) happened when I combined my gifts of coaching and creativity into the act of writing. One day, 8 years ago, I was hit by a literary thunderbolt and within the space of 90 seconds came up with the concept and title for my first published book – Peachey Letters, which I decided would start life as a blog. I challenged myself to write a blog a day for a month. And what a month that was… I found myself, freed myself and altered my perception of who I was and what I was capable of, for ever. Sort of… I actually forget this last bit, a lot…
So forgetting who I am meant that the amazing worldwide reaction the book received genuinely confounded me and the media coverage and way it captured people’s hearts, blew me away.
So roll forward 8 years and here I am, inspired by the current crisis to write and reinvent my Peachey Letters again, as I scribble away at the ‘COVID Collection’ of new Love Letters to Life.
I wanted to mark the occasion, so have agreed with my publisher that the price for the Kindle Edition of ‘Peachey Letters Love Letters to Life’, will, for a short period, be dropped to just £1.99 / $2.49, so that I can reach out to more people at a minimal cost. And to up the ante, my publisher has challenged its’ authors to hit the target of 100 reviews on Amazon. Gulp… And breath… So… only 81 to go, then! And so it is that this urge to sell my book is sitting comfortably in my heart space, from where, quite simply, I would love for you to buy the book. Then read it, then, without attachment – review it honestly on Amazon: So that will be 1, 81, 281 or 2081 times, over…
So having got that out of my heart and onto the page, here are the various links to buy it across the world:
So… It’s time for a running commentary of this weeks ups, downs, reflections, learnings and laughter…
The Clap for Carers
My first run of week 5 – ‘Couch to 5K,’ got off to a good start. I finished the run without stopping or dying, so basically, am officially awesome… And here is me afterwards, just a few minutes later, outside my front door, glowing with sweat, effort and a smidgeon of pride.
As I finished the run it was the 8 pm ‘Clap for our Carers’ here in the UK, which I joined in with relish as I pounded past all the people applauding on their doorsteps (at a safe distance of course). It felt like a lap of honour for the magnificent achievement of my run, as well as a huge thank you!
As well as the marvelous carers, my appreciation goes out to ALL key workers and every single person who is working right now – no matter what they are doing – keeping the wheels of this weird Corona world turning.
I’m sending a heartfelt ‘Thank you, Thank you, THANK YOU’ –
to each and everyone of you – xx xx
Yogic Goddess or Wobbly Buffoon?
Here are a few of the things I’ve learnt about online yoga classes:
* The living room is now the centre of my universe – performing many functions, including restaurant, office and yoga studio.
* The cat’s radiator bed is just the perfect height for me to place the laptop so I can see it / the teacher from lying, kneeling, sitting, on all fours and standing. Disclaimer – always remove the cat first…
* Yoga mats and carpets are not a match made in heaven – there is much slippage and wrinkling and adjusting.
* It’s nice not having to drive to a class or put much attention into ‘getting your shit together’ in readiness.
* It’s weird having a 2D yoga teacher. I think I prefer 3D feedback.
* It’s weirder seeing yourself reflected back on screen. Well, when I say yourself – BITS of your self… The laptop is static, but YOU aren’t, so you may see head and shoulders, midriff or worst of all is that moment when you are gently curled up in a ball, rolling from side to side and you realise that your arse is centre screen…
* Zoom opens an interesting window into people’s homes… Their children, partners and pets. I secretly enjoy the nonchalant voyeurism.
* The cats prefer my gentle practice of yoga to the more dynamic one of HIIT workouts, which alternatively baffles and freaks them out. They begrudgingly accept the exercise bike, though.
* Sometimes I feel like a divine yogic goddess and at others, a fat, wobbly buffoon…
* It’s nice to fall against the sofa if you lose your balance.
* After over 18 months of yoga practice, I’ve finally achieved an unsupported head stand – the first since I was circa 10 years old. At this rate I’ll soon be doing the splits! (But then again… maybe not… )
So that’s me – an online Om chanting, upside down and occasionally Zen yogi…
Teeth and Shopping in the Time of Corona
I’ve had two more new Corona experiences this week…
First is that a crown has dislodged itself from one of my back teeth. My dentist is not seeing patients and when I asked ‘so…?’ they suggested going to a chemist and asking for a temporary dental repair kit. I researched the options online and have to say that I’m not keen on most of them, especially as I’d have to do any fixings all by myself.
After an initial flurry of panic, 3 days down the line there seems to be no discomfort or pain, so I’ve decided to wait it out for now.
Next is shopping – I’ve restricted this to the local village shop for over a month, but have now run through their entire selection of fresh fruit & vege several times over. In fact I’ve got to the point where I just can’t think of any new ways to be creative with a carrot… Also I’ve run out of things they don’t have in stock.
I was therefore spurred on to drive round to my local retail park. And I decided that if I was going out, then I was going ALL out, so donned a pretty summer dress and smartened my current COVID self up for the occasion.
When I arrived it was far less crowded than your average Saturday and parking was a doddle, with my pick of spaces. Then I visited 2 shops, queuing outside each for 5 – 10 minutes and once inside finding 90% of what I was looking for.
I have to say I really enjoyed the gentle civility of the whole experience. It’s not one I intend to repeat often as I want to minimise contact, but still it was good to know that the wheels in my part of the world are still slowly turning and I bought my purchases home, feeling very grateful that I have everything I need and more besides.
Afterwards I went for a run and mused on the fact that there is (and will be) a time and place for crowds and contact in my life, but right now my inner hermit is blatantly celebrating a slower, quieter existence. This is especially the case when I have mad, COVID hair and a missing tooth – however, NEITHER of these things can stop me from SMILING whenever and wherever I choose.
And THAT dear reader, was a week in the Time of Corona.
From, Sandra – writer, runner and om chanter.
PS: To experience more of my take on laughter and learning, buy the book of blog, where my ‘Love Letters to Life’ explore and celebrate the tiny and titanic aspects of life: ‘Peachey Letters’ is currently on special offer on Kindle. For the month of May only, you can download it for just £1.99 / €2.99 / $2.49.
So the time of Corona is moving on, as time does, in its own inexorable way and with it has come some strange new norms, not least of which for me, is the fact that I have taken up jogging.
Except that it isn’t really called ‘jogging’ any more. No, that is a word evoking a whole 1980s vibe of conscious exercise, in a disco world where the old fashioned precept of actual running (a race or for a bus), gave way to the concept of conscious, conspicuous running in order to get fit. And towelling sweatbands, of course.
But in the here and now, the act of ‘running’ has recurred; so on my sometimes slow and fast paced journey, it’s time to continue with my running commentary on the subject…
With the Spring sunshine beckoning me outside, I’ve formed a pattern of alternating running days with walking ones, choosing to take full advantage of any temperate time my tranche of UK territory will confer on me. And whilst the British have been accused of constantly talking about the weather – in our defence that’s because it can vary so much, since we can actually experience all four seasons in one day – whatever the time of year.
Fundamentally, we do have four delineated seasons, all with their own seasonal characteristics. But that being said, it’s sometimes hard to reconcile the fact that our part of the world can be stopped by a snow drift or be melting in tropical heat. That of course, is if it doesn’t happen to be raining. Now don’t be misled – it doesn’t rain all the time and how much of the wet stuff falls on your head depends on which part of the British Isles you happen to inhabit. But then again, we can experience a misty drizzle or a full blown downpour of biblical strength and diabolical effect…
But I digress – this blog isn’t about the weather. No – it’s actually about the far more lofty and interesting topic of me and my physical prowess. Or lack thereof. Or maybe both…
So I’m still running. Sort of… I’m following the Couch to 5K App, which takes you through 3 runs a week, where you alternate brisk walking with running, building up the number of minutes that you run, in a 30 minute session, as the weeks progress.
It all started with a brisk 5 minute walk, then 90 second rotations of running vs walking. During the first week I quickly noticed that my left knee was hurting. It does that from time to time if I shock it with too much upright activity. I guess it’s old age slowly starting to creep up on me. However, if I take the right supplements (Glucosamine & Chondroitin) and keep it mobile, then on the whole, it tends to be fine. I now also wear a knee support when I run and the pain has disappeared.
Being a habitual walker rather than a runner, my knees – previously pretty much neglected and unused to vigorous activity, started to ache ever so slightly; so I quickly ordered a pair of sporty running shoes to ensure that they and my feet are getting the right support.
So that’s it – time to plug phone into ear phones and go. Seems easy enough – I found an old pair of headphones with ear clips, the cord of which gets constantly tangled up, even when it’s doing nothing. I swear to you that I coil it carefully and neatly around the headband, only to find that by the next day that it has transmuted into a mass of evil, wiry knots. How is this even possible?! Having run through all the possible options, I am now forced to conclude that Gremlins are the only logical explanation. Yes, clearly the little buggers creep around when I’ve gone to bed, wreaking havoc on my carefully ordered existence, in all sorts of devious ways… But that’s the subject for another blog (I’ll add it to the list)…
Anyway, so I’m now on week four of my running odyssey. And I’d love to tell you that as a result I’ve transformed into a svelte, athletic goddess – gaining strength and stamina with every single step. But if I actually said all that, I’d be a big, fat fibber…
Instead I’m a plodding, panting pariah, pounding the pavements of the village where I live. I quickly learnt not to run on fields or uneven surfaces of any sort – it’s just harder going. Not only that, but having done several circuits of the local park last week, I realised to my cost, that it had just been mowed, and that most of the grass cuttings were stuck to the soles of my fancy running shoes, like iron filings drawn to a magnet. That is of course until I got home, whereupon they suddenly reversed polarity and flew from my shoes, scattering across every inch of carpet and floor tile in the whole, damn place. Well, either that or the gremlins have been gathering in a ghastly green harvest and dancing round my house throwing out hairy armfuls of the stuff…
And as for being gorgeously glowing with health, instead I sweat profusely and turn bright red. So red in fact, that after a run I look more like an animated tomato, than an athletic Amazonian.
By week four of using the app you build up to running in five minute blocks, tutored by a verbal ‘coach’ who keeps time and generally encourages you to keep going. So, you’d think that after running for 3 whole weeks, that I’d see running for five minutes as a natural graduation… But no… when I first saw that innocuous number displayed on the screen of my phone, I actually cursed. But at least there was the brisk walk first, then a mere three minute run and then… when the coach announced it was time to do five minutes, my eyes misted over with poignant self pity. “Don’t want to,” my inner toddler fumed, shaking her angry little head and about to burst into a torrent of tears. But run for five minutes I did.
In truth I can’t tell you that they, or the subsequent runs of five minutes thereafter, were fine. They were at differing times – OK.., good.., awful.., heavy.., or hard and sometimes I forgot that I was even running at all…
There is a script which (pardon the literary pun) runs through my head at various times during a run… Firstly it reminds me that I’m asthmatic and shifts my focus to my lungs – innocuous organs which I ignore most of the time, since they are just quietly going about the business of breathing. However now they suddenly feel constricted, wheezy and not up to the heavy physical task I’m demanding of them.
Next it’s pointed out that I currently have Rhinitis – an allergic reaction to the Rapeseed crop that is blooming in fields all around where I live. This means that my nose and eyes are puffy and sore, my body aches all over, I get headaches, have a sore throat and not least have huge, heavy bouts of sheer exhaustion, which no amount of resting or any other kind of prescription, will cure, (except for paracetamol when it feels particularly unbearable). ‘What the hell are you doing? says the Script. ‘You’d be so much better off at home right now, all comfy on your favourite couch…’
Fundamentally, when I’m hit with a long bout of Rhinitis, I’m knocked out. My energy dissipates and my body is weighted down with an invisible body suit made of lead. I have lived with this now for over 9 years and had to learn to live with its characteristics. So running feels counter intuitive, but then again as a result of this condition I’ve also realised that I simply cannot stop the world while I go through it, for the world simply won’t wait. And one of the major discoveries I’ve uncovered it and me, is that whilst resting is necessary to regain and conserve energy – in this case it doesn’t heal. So the Script gets told to bugger off – I have to balance my desire to disappear with being as healthy as I can in order to be in the best physical position I can, and not let it subsume me.
I’m told by my GP that it’s a mystery condition and nothing can be done. Instead I’ve just had to educate myself and actually have managed to manage down many of the more chronic symptoms really well.
So if that wasn’t enough, then the Script will tell me that my legs are stiff, my knees are seizing up and my feet weigh a literal ton. It goes on to tell me that running is bad for my body. It it wasn’t, it reasons, then why, after nearly a month, is this still such hard work? It then continues to tell me that I shouldn’t be doing this at my age – it will probably cripple me and I shall be riddled with arthritis as a result. And one of its favourite things to state, in no uncertain terms, is that I won’t be able to do another 10 seconds, let alone 25 minutes…
But guess what? I’m still standing and more importantly still running. And whilst running is undoubtbly a physical activity – above all I’m learning that the secret to my success is that it’s also very much a mental one, too.
Ok, so you might think that being a (LifeWork) coach myself, I’d know that… Well I do of course, but now I have to put it into hot footed practice. So, I use a few strategies I’ve learnt – one of the most successful of which is to smile as I go. Smiling is a simple feat of physiology – that by giving my body the physical signals of happiness and mirth, all will mentally be, well… happiness and mirth. Fortunately I don’t yet possess the ability to laugh whilst I’m running (and let’s face it, that would be weird for any passers-by), so I smile (thereby creeping out said passers-by), instead.
I also find that if I think about anything but running, then I forget I’m actually doing it. My favourite thing on the trot is to work out plots, blogs and anything to do with my writing. At other times, I treat it like a meditation and focus my attention outside of my body… gazing at the scenery and drinking the scenery in. I hone in on things I see – like a flower in bloom, and focus on them, committing them to memory.
I know from experience that so often, when my brain is clogged up or bogged down that a swim or a walk will unblock the flow and allow me space to work things out from a different perspective.
But back on a run, my Script kicks in and intrudes, telling me that I’m going uphill or I just damn well can’t do this… So I start chanting a mantra… Sometimes a yogic ‘om shanti om’ – “I am peace” or at other times things like ‘I bloody love running’, ‘I own this,’ or ‘look the fuck at me, I’m running like a fucking ace.’ And I apologise for my potty mouthed musings, but somehow, swearing really seems to spur me on…
So all these things are circling through my brain and body as I go. And like the British weather they are constantly changeable, and I get to experience all of them in the space of 30 minutes, (rather than a day).
And then there are the days I wake up and want to go for a run; or when I think, ‘it’s only for 30 of your waking minutes’ woman, let’s do this.’
So though the Script tries to get me to hate running when the going gets tough, more often than not I’ll choose to love myself for what I’ve achieved in the past month, and praise myself instead.
I have to say though that there are some strange side effects to this running in the time of Corona – not least that I’ve gained a profound interest in mesh wear, wireless headphones and gel soles…
And despite the Script I’m still running… In fact I’ve covered a whole lot of kilometres since I started and I have to say, that above all else, I’m proud of what I’ve done on the run.
And that’s me today – Blonde, Blogger and Runner.
PS:To experience more of my take on life, buy the book of blog, where my ‘Love Letters to Life’ explore and celebrate the tiny and titanic aspects of life: ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’ ispublished in bothpaperback&kindle. And for a special offer of a signed author copy – click here to go tomy website now and buy the paperback for just £7.99…