Bring on the bling!

Since becoming a runner and meeting (virtually) other runners, I have been introduced to the world of Virtual Racing. I’m assuming if you have no interest in running then a) you’re probably not reading this and b) you won’t know what virtual racing is.

A virtual race is a race challenge that you complete in your own time. You pay an entrance fee of around £10-£15, as per a regular race, and on completion send in your evidence to receive a medal and have your time/distance recorded in the results table.

As a mum of children with additional needs I cannot commit to regular races that would take me away from my responsibilities too often, so for me, virtual races are a fantastic alternative.

My running goal for 2018 is to achieve a medal for each month of the year, be it in a virtual race or a regular race. There are many sites that offer these virtual races, each with their own unique medals and conditions, so for any month there is a wide choice of challenges and associated bling to sign up for.

So far I have committed to the following:

January – We’re All Mad Here January Challenge. This was to run any distance between certain dates in the month.
I will also have my RED January medal for fundraising for Mind.

February – I hope to get my C25K completion medal.

March – I’ve signed up for the International Women’s Day 10k. This can be 10k run in just one session or over multiple runs.

April – A challenge linked to the London Marathon which is to run a total of 26.2 miles over the month.

May – Miles for Mind. For this challenge you can choose what your monthly mile goal is, I have selected 50 miles, to be run over the course of the month.

I also plan to do a regular race for Race for Life sometime in June or July. But for now I am enjoying the challenge of virtual races and looking forward to achieving a medal for each one.

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My running week (7): another injury

Last week ended on a real high as I achieved a sub 30 minute 5k which is a really big deal for a novice runner; I get a happy feeling just thinking about it now… YAY! Go me!

Sunday morning dawns, the end of another week, but sadly I cannot go out running today as I have another injury. An injury that had me nearly in tears while limping around the shops yesterday. An injury that has me stuck on the sidelines.

I have consulted Dr.Google and have come to the conclusion that I’ve strained/inflammed my plantar fascia. The plantar fascia is a thick fibrous band that extends along the underside of your foot. It connects the heel to the toes and is responsible for supporting the arch of your foot. Apparently it’s a very common running injury and although it is possible to continue with some running, it may recover faster with rest and stretching exercises. I can attest to the fact that it certainly hurts a lot more following a run, and hurts a lot less when rested.

Annoying it may be, but my motivation is that in being sensible and resting, I give myself the best chance of a quick recovery. So, my run for today is cancelled and I will reassess on Tuesday.

My stats for this week are:

  • I have run on just 2 days
  • A total of just under 10km

My younger son came out with me on both runs and he’s really getting into running too, so I treated him to some proper running shoes, which he loves. We are hoping to do a parkrun together on Saturday, so I’m really hoping my foot is better by then.

Celebrity Stalker

Familiar face among us

Prompts a second look

Is that? No, it can’t be.

 

The coffee queue silent

Shy glances to the side

But no one speaks.

 

A crowd of people

Standing around waiting

Stay-in or take-out.

 

I can’t believe it

I must be mistaken

Fame within close reach.

 

He takes-out and

Leaves, he walks away

I should have spoken.

 

We have to follow

To trace his footsteps

A second chance.

 

Eyes wide open

Searching, looking

For just a glimpse.

 

Luck is with us

Walking towards him

We meet at last

 

KH 16.02.2018

Celebrity selfie :)

Things have been a little quiet in my creative brain over the past few days, I have sat intending to blog or write a poem or something but am lacking the energy, drive, focus… instead I have been knitting and trawling running websites.

It’s been my younger son’s half term this week so my time is not as much my own as it is usually. We have had a lovely few days together doing his favourite things – eating pizza and chocolate cake, and my favourite things – running and swimming (and eating pizza and chocolate cake). My older son is on half term next week, so similarly my time will not be my own… however, the payoff of not having school stress playing a part will be worth it, am I convincing anyone here?

I’ll keep this brief because exactly how exciting is it to read about someone else’s mundane life? This morning we (me, hubby and younger son) went on a DIY shopping mission… yawn.

…but afterwards headed to a very busy Costa for lunch.

Leaving hubby waiting for our drinks, me and our son found a table… eventually hubby joined us and said ‘Look who was standing next to me in the queue?’ I looked over to where he had been standing and said ‘Give me a clue, who am I looking at?’ He told me that it was Bill Bailey (who is a very funny british musical comedian), not sure how I was supposed to recognise him with his back to me but lined my camera up for a selfie in case he turned around, which he didn’t.

Shortly after, Bill (first name terms now) got his take-out coffee and well, took it out… gutted I berated hubby (nicely of course) for not speaking to him. We finished our lunch and I decided we’d walk around the retail park to see if we could spot him.

Luck was on our side, as we saw him walking towards us.

I bounced over (think excitable Tigger) and spoke to him, lovely bloke. After a brief conversation in which he mocked my use of OMG in my fb post, I left with a handshake, a selfie and proof that he had indeed been to Costa! YAY!

And, do you know what, it really brightened my day.

20180216_162017

* my son’s face is obscured for privacy

* Billy Bragg Chip Shop video chosen by hubby, who declined to be in the photo

Review: ‘The Unremembered Girl’ by Eliza Maxwell

As I have mentioned before, one of my goals this year is to tackle my unread Kindle library.  It’s probably a futile effort as each month Amazon gift me a free book and with the best will in the world, it’s unlikely that I manage to read one book each month. However, in the spirit of endeavour I am trying! I choose which book to read next based on how long it is, I figure that if I start with the shortest books I might make some progress.

Anyway, I’m drifting from the purpose of this post…

I have just finished reading ‘The Unremembered Girl: A Novel’ by Eliza Maxwell. It is a great book with an original storyline, so far removed from my usual boy meets girl and falls in love nonsense. There is an element of romance, but that is not the overriding theme. It also has a shock ending that I really hadn’t anticipated.

The main theme is to do with trauma. Pretty much all the characters have had some degree of trauma through their life; bereavement, illness, disablement. However, the ‘unremembered girl’, Eve, has lived through significant levels of abuse and this has understandably affected her behaviour, her perceptions of people and situations, and her relationships.

The final two sentences of the book beautifully express how living through trauma can open your eyes to the good things in life and it leaves the reader with a message of hope for the future, despite adversity.


“You’ll never appreciate the daylight till you’ve walked on the dark side of the night, without even the stars to show you the way.” 

“Dawn, at long last, was breaking on the horizon.”

‘The Unremembered Girl: A Novel’ – Eliza Maxwell


In my opinion, this is definitely a book worth reading.

K x

If Love Is…

If love is real
there is no need
for forced sentiment
on Valentine’s

If love is true
each day will be
filled with expression
of affection

If love is deep
a glance, a smile
a gentle touch says
more than words

If love is constant
through joy and sorrow
the light that shines
warms our hearts

If love is undying
forever in spirit
our souls are bound
for all eternity

 

KH 14.02.2018

Image: Pexels.com

Journaling

If you research ‘Journaling for mental health’ you will be able to read deeply into the subject; the pros and cons, how you should approach journaling, what you should write about, whether you need a fancy notebook with a pretty ribbon (oh yes, definitely)?! And you will also discover one of the big trends in journaling, the bullet journal, BuJo.

Bullet journals contain the whole detail of your life, they use charts, planners (daily/weekly/monthly/annual), lists for everything, you can doodle your mood, plot graphs… the possibilities really are endless. I’m quite certain you could actually spend your entire day journaling! A beautifully creative BuJo is something I aspire to as I am not very artistic. Creative, yes, but drawing and doodling is not really my thing.

I started journaling during my post-cancer depression. I started as another self-help strategy to try and improve my mood. My first journal contained weekly charts recording mood, sleep, medication etc. alongside diary entries, not daily, just as and when I wanted to write something. My journal content has changed over time, and veers from being positively focused – achievements, gratitude, goals, to more of a management tool for safeguarding my mental health.

A journal is not prescriptive, it’s not a diary demanding daily input, but a flexible and organic document which will naturally evolve over time to meet your needs and suit your mood.

The key to beneficial journaling is that it’s useful to you personally and is something you can sustain. You may want a chart listing your medication dosages and when to take them (you could include tick boxes). A mood tracker is good to monitor your mood at various times of day – you could give a score, a keyword, a description or draw representative emoji. Include inspirational quotes, your goals and ambitions, an action plan for your recovery, appointments and social engagements. It’s your journal and the detail is up to you.

I believe that journaling has a definite place in the management of mental health and well-being, so give it a go, it could be the best self-care strategy you try this year… well, that or running!

Solitude

I am alone but not alone
my eyes see no one
my ears, aware only
of birdsong
through my open window
yet voices speak within, their words
a jumble of sound

I am alone but not alone
as people walk by
absorbed in activity
their faces animated
talking, alive
mothers, daughters, fathers, sons
longing for belonging

I am alone but not alone
family, friends, acquaintances
they say they care
they say they’re there
compassion and empathy
willingly given, yet
lacking understanding

I am alone but not alone
in social situations, my body
there, yet my mind
emotionally distant
engagement minimal
awkward conversation
stilted, I fall quiet

I am alone but not alone
remain inside my walls
a physical barrier
like the walls
in my mind
keeping me safe, keeping you out
only my thoughts for company

 

KH 13.02.2018

Image: Solitude and the Sea, a theme by Jacques Bodin

Avoidance vs. Coping: Is routine beneficial to recovery?

I haven’t mentioned much about my family as, like many families, ours is a little complicated and it would be unfair to go into details on here. Briefly, I’m married, have been for almost 20 years, and my husband and I have 2 adopted children who are now teenagers. I gave up work to look after the children and due to their additional needs and my cancer/depression/ptsd have not been able to return to work.

In my life before cancer, I was a very contented stay at home mum. I easily found ways to fill my day – baking, cooking, gardening, cycling, gym, swimming, zumba. I was happy being at home, being a mum and having my own space to do what I wanted, when I wanted.

I didn’t have a routine because I was happy just living ad-lib.

Post cancer I used walking as a way of coping. My routine was to go for a walk every day, sometimes twice a day. I would listen to music and walk. I thought it was helpful as it was exercise, meant I left the house, and it gave my day structure and focus.


During psychological intervention, I was introduced to TRAP and TRAC:

TRAP = Trigger, Response, Avoidance Pattern

TRAC = Trigger, Response, Alternative Coping

The ‘Trigger’ and ‘Response’ are the same in both, but whereas ‘Avoidance’ is used in TRAP, an ‘Alternative Coping’ mechanism is used in TRAC, with the alternative coping being more beneficial than the avoidance behaviour.

Walking was in fact an avoidance behaviour and rather than being helpful, it was actually fuelling my depression.

With help from my psychologist I came up with a list of alternative coping strategies; things that I used to enjoy doing but no longer did, things that would be rewarding, things that I could give myself a huge pat on the back for doing. We looked at potential triggers and talked about what strategies I could use to manage my emotions at these times.

For me early morning was a huge trigger point; hubby off to work, kids to school, thoughts of having a whole day to get through with no distractions, scary stuff for sure… but instead of going for a walk, I scheduled piano practice and would play for at least 15 minutes but could continue for as long as I wanted.

Playing piano (teaching myself on a keyboard) is a fabulous coping mechanism; it’s engaging (we can say mindful if you like), multi-sensory, gives a sense of achievement, peace and well-being. It is calming. Whereas my routine of going for a walk each day was damaging, my routine of playing piano daily was beneficial.

Playing piano made me feel more able to manage the day ahead, which improved my ability/desire to do other activities, other positive coping strategies.


It’s three months since I was discharged from psychology and my daily piano practice has fallen by the wayside. My routine at the moment is very focused on exercise (but not obsessive walking), blogging and poetry.

The questions I ask myself are:

  • whether my routine is beneficial (TRAC) or detrimental (TRAP)?
  • whether my desire to go running/swimming etc. is avoidance or positive coping?
  • whether my poetry (emotional release) is triggering?
  • whether blogging (and reading blogs) is an avoidance strategy?

I would be interested to hear your views.


Routine can be incredibly beneficial to recovery if the tasks and activities are positive ways of coping.
However, if your routine is filled with avoidance activities then it is more likely to be detrimental.