I have never wanted to do intervals.

I said to Andrew, my partner, today as we were jogging around at the park after doing some intervals that this is the first time literally ever that I had really wanted to get out and do intervals. Bizarrely, I feel much more invested in my running now than I think I have ever been – including when I was training for the Royal Parks Ultra in 2013! It’s an odd feeling, being serious and wanting to work hard.

I didn’t really do that much but it was quite hard – my poor legs aren’t used to being pushed hard.

I ran down the length of a football pitch (so on grass, which I’m also not used to), and then jogged (ahem, walked) around and back to the start. I did two sets of four with a short break in the middle. Next week I will try and do two sets of 5, and after that I think I will move up to some more targeted intervals (rather than this ad hoc style of putting something together as I am on my way to the park).

All in all, I think it was successful, even though I didn’t really do that much work. I’m very pleased!

Neon.

My first real easy run (80/20)

I’ve been thinking about the way that I run, and why it didn’t stick when I tried to reboot my running six months ago.

As I am an academic, I came at this problem by thinking ‘I need to read all the things‘, but perhaps it turns out I only needed to read one of the things. And that thing is Matt Fitzgerald’s 80/20 Running. Which I have been reading, obviously.

So, I’m trying to take Matt’s advice to begin (before I have even got to the juice of the programme, even) with a running detox. That is, to spend a bit of time running at an actual ‘easy’ pace to get yourself ready for a new kind of running (M likens it to a juice cleanse to get all the chocolate and sugar out of your diet – though here, that means the habit of your ‘regular easy’ pace). As per M’s advice, I decided to take my run by heart rate rather than pace.

Full disclosure – I’ve never done this before. I’m not a fast runner, and I probably never will be. But I learned today that what I think of as my ‘easy’ pace is a lot faster than my body’s ‘low intensity’ pace really is. Somewhere in the order of 1:30 to 2 minutes slower.

So I ran to heart rate, and I ran easy. I could have kept running, really – but the 1 hour and 4 minutes that it took me to cover 8 kilometres (!) was quite enough, and I was hungry.

I’m slightly sad to say that I already have an Intervals date with my partner booked in for tomorrow so I won’t be running slowly. But, I am going to keep at the 80/20 programme. While I love racing, what I love more is feeling like I am running the exact distance my body can handle on a given day. I’ve never cared much about the time, but I do care about the distance. Hopefully, with the 80/20 programme, I can get better at both.

So after all that – my run. It was amazing and frustrating. It was really frustrating to run so slowly, and I struggled to keep in my HR zone, but when I got into a rhythm is was wonderful, and being slow and purposeful meant I could really focus on my form, and how my body felt. From that perspective it was great.

I think it was also very encouraging to finish feeling like I had a lot more in me. Last time I ‘came back’ to running I really struggled with motivation, and I suspect it was because I just wasn’t giving myself time to fall back in love with running.

I am already getting to that point. Today I really did not want to go. I was tired and had been fighting off waves of panic throughout the day. But, I knew that I needed to run and, more than that, I really wanted to run. Of course, the run gave me some time to process what that making me feel anxious, to feel whole in my body, to punish myself in a normal way*, and to be at one with myself.

So, who cares that I was going slower than I’ve ever been. I also don’t remember the last time I ran 8 kilometres and had some juice left, so… that’s awesome.

I’m not sure my tune will be the same after tomorrow’s intervals… Stay tuned!

Neon.

*This is something I am going to talk about in another post!

It begins (RPHM training, day 1)

At this stage I’m sure it will shock no one who regularly reads my blog, watches my YouTube channel, or follows me on Twitter, when I say that I have had issues with mental health. I have type 1 Bipolar and have a panic disorder. I’m not alone.

The Guardian has a section titled ‘Mental Health: A University Crisis‘. In the last NUS, 78% of students reported they had mental ill health. Tenure She Wrote called mental health in academia an epidemic.

It might sound odd but I never ran for my mental health, but exercise has proven benefits for mental health – so although I am driven by the (self)competition I also get significant benefits for my all-round health. What better way to make a different for myself and for others than to combine my love of running with raising money for a charity that does a significant amount to assist people struggling with mental ill health and the loved one who support them: Mind. I have personally benefited from the information and support services that Mind offer, as have my family when seeking out information

I am officially running the Royal Parks Half Marathon, but over the coming months, I will be adding some more (training) races and some other sub-sections (including a link to my training plan, when I eventually write one). You can follow my running journey here. In 2013 I ran the Royal Parks Ultra Marathon, also to raise money for Mind.

I am aiming to raise £550, but obviously I would like to raise as much as possible (and I dream of raising over £1000!).

And! You can sponsor me at uk.virginmoneygiving.com/EMackin.

The Me-ness of Being Me

It seems strange to say, but sometimes I forget what it’s actually like to be me.

I mean, to be me without the medication, without the support, without the blind faith that stuff is going to work out. Occasionally I get a glimpse of that person, the unadulterated and unfiltered me-ness of me. Now they are just glimpses, like someone pulls back the curtains at the exact moment that you look up into their window and for a moment you are watching each other. I get the feeling of being outside the person I used to be.

But even that is a fallacy, because the person I used to be is still me. It’s just that I now control me, rather than the other way around. Not that things don’t ever go wrong in that confusing equation.

And that’s why I started running again, and that’s why I think I need to keep running, because there is clarity and power is making yourself suffer like that. I forgot that making myself feel bad could actually feel great, because usually when I’m making myself feel bad it makes me feel like I want to evaporate into nothingness.

But I don’t. I won’t. Ever. Because I like being corporeal.

371 days.

Things have been bad for the last few months. It was bad before that too, but not as much.

I’ve been ill. Things started happening that I didn’t understand. I went from being able to comfortably run for 10, 15, 20km to barely being able to run 5, then 3. Then I stopped. It was easier while I tried to work out what was wrong. I haven’t run for 371 days.

 

For my birthday this year I was given an activity tracker. I am going to start again. I miss running. I miss feeling tired. I miss it.

 

Lessons

I recently read an article about being a high functioning schizophrenic which ended with the sentiment ‘I am high functioning with a condition that is very low functioning’, the implication being that in those cases it doesn’t actually take much to go from high to low function, and that change can happen really quickly.

What I took from the article is that I don’t respect my condition (bipolar) or myself enough. I don’t think I’m ‘high functioning’, merely functioning. I know things about myself, my triggers, the first signs of decline, the consequences, but I do nothing. I have already lost a significant amount of time, life, happiness, love, and many other uncountable things to this condition. I say I am not willing to lose any more but I don’t know if I am acting in a way that backs up that desire.

I have always considered myself to be strong, but I am not. I am very fragile. I am susceptible to words, a lack of words, actions, lack of actions. I need to get better at that because it is making my path through life very difficult – more difficult than it needs to be.

I do not know where to go from here.

It’s done, I’m (almost) a doctor.

I thought I’d just follow up from my last post, although I am not going to give all the context for this.

My corrections have (finally) been accepted, almost three months after I submitted them.

4 years, 6 months, and 22 days after I began; 8 months, 8 days after I submitted, and 5 months, 9 days after my viva I am finished (also, I am a bit obsessed with time counting, just in case you hadn’t figure that out).

I will have to wait until my uni ratifies the result.  I hope this will happen at the end of this month, but it might be the end of next month.  It means my degree will be ratified in time to graduate this July.  Which is just as well, because my parents have already organised their trip over.

Anyway, there’s not too much else to say.  That’s it.  My part is over.  Finally.

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