Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Oh no FOMO

The Beardy Guy astutely pointed out to me that I tend to have something called FOMO. This is diagnosed in the ultra running book, Relentless Forward Progress as:

Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) is a frequent cause of fatigue and burnout in the ultrarunning community. As you become aware that you're capable of running vast distances, especially through gorgeous locales or with new and interesting running companions, you may continually add outings and events to indulge your physiological, spiritual, and social desires. While such desires are wonderful motivators, FOMO can leave you taking on additional events without consideration of training benefit or adequate consideration of physiological cost.
If you find yourself unable to decline invitations for a group run, you might have FOMO. If you're unable to resist signing up for every race, you might have FOMO. If you miss a holiday meal to run, you might have FOMO. Beware of FOMO. 

I think he may be onto something there. I love events and I love entering them. I love the sense of achievement, the medal, tshirt, spreadsheet with a time or sense of collective spirit of endeavour. It's why I want to do an aquathlon next week before I can even spell the word, then a 1500m swim race, then a sprint tri and then an off road sprint tri. 

I really do need to keep my enthusiasm in check. 

I've prepared a little mental filter:

  • Will the event cost a lot of money? - this gets rid of many quite easily
  • Will the event require a bit of training? - as opposed to ad hoc training that I am in now
  • Will the event add anything to my proper training? eg enhance it, be a useful benchmark
  • What is my risk of injuring myself or adding some kind of pressure by entering something I'm not ready for? 
  • Will it be loads of fun and therefore none of these above questions apply because then it would be something I would hate to miss out on?

Wait a minute with that last question... 

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Millbrook Monster

My other home of Mossley (aka Chateau Beardy Guy) is a small village nestled at the confusing crossroads of Yorkshire and Lancashire. And sometimes even Cheshire. It is full of hills, so much so, that the parts of the village are called Bottom and Top Mossley. Way above Top Mossley is a street that reaches so far into the clouds that sometimes you come across men called Jack with a handfull of beans walking down it. As a result the locals are prone to running up and down hills at speed. The Beardy Guy is no exception to this. 

We had been alerted to a local event named the Millbrook Monster - a 10k on challenging terrain. Beardy was all up for it, myself unsure. We went for a bimble together the day before and I did ok on some of the undulations, walked the mega hills and felt alright but a bit tired on the flats. Beardy declared that I'd be ok on the Monster and buoyed by his unwavering belief in me, I agreed that nothing too bad could happen. 

Well, what can actually happen is that you end up the only non club runner in a pack of local elites with Upper Millsford Cheshires Knuts Harriers branded across their chest. And that the hills are so steep that mountain goats are taking chair lifts up them. Or you summit a hill and the earth falls from under you, only to find yourself on moors so desolate that even serial killers are scared. Ok that's this city girl's perspective! 

The hill starts as soon as you have crossed the start line, off road and I managed to keep running, past the first walker, past the man taking a leak, past the girl who made me sound less asthmatic than I am. It was all going well until a marshall said: "that's a good warm up for the real hill". What could she mean? Not that big hill on the horizon looming up at us? Uh yes... I powerwalked whenever I couldn't run, until the ground turned to shale that I was just falling over and two of the four places I had made became just two and my calves burned to the point I was sure I could cook on them. I felt at one stage like I was going backwards and realised because of the shale, I was. Never fear, when I got over that bloody hill (what no flag to stick in the summit?) I wasn't going anywhere because I was on the moors and the wind resistance was rendering me motionless! 

I loved the downhills and took my two places back, zig zagging with confidence even though there were a few slips. Now if only I could get that confidence on the bike. I clocked a few 4:50s on my sportsband (usually  near 6 - kms per minute, minutes per km - who knows?!) as the ground turned to tarmac again. Running downhill on the hard stuff proved a bit painful and I went to the roadside until the road flattened but I couldn't get my legs to do something that was neither uphill nor downhill. 

At about 7km in, I realised that my fuel system always always needs something to eat. I adopted a mantra which was simply "sugar". I was actually looking at plants to consider which ones I could chew. Sugar sugar eight. Sugar sugar. A marshall who I guess must have been an experienced runner, was lovely the moment she saw my blank face and gave me calm instructions on how to run through the sugar low. It's really quite lonely being at the back of the pack - can't see who is in front or who is behind. The marshalls really do help. Sugar sugar nine. 

At the last 400m I could see someone ahead of me. I wasn't going to  beat them on the finish line (unsporting) but I also wasn't going to waddle behind them, so with all intentions of encouraging them to a quick end, I sprinted to the finish, only to surprise Beardy One with my early return. I finished about 1:03 (my time based on my start line crossing) which given that even He of the Hills had to walk the summit and confessed it was a bit hard, I was dead proud of. And I was not last. 

And best of all we got a hot sausage sanger at the end for free. I am so easily pleased that I completely forgot to kill the Beardy Guy for thinking it was a good idea to send me up such a bloody difficult hill in the first place! 

Catch up

I feel I own my regular reader (hello @Runr795) a bit of an official catch up on everything before moving swiftly ahead with being a blog about running (and now swimming and biking) for people who aren't very good at it!

We last saw our hapless heroine, attempting to convalesce from two A&E episodes whilst in the Pennines, having made some big decisions that were not yet public...

And so, of course they are very public now. I left a brilliant job at Cancer Research UK after which I could have got a nice high paid exec job selling toothpaste or cars or something. I left London, without nary a backward glance. And I have moved to Manchester. And what a move...

I have not just moved physically, I've moved spiritually! For starters, this is a great place to get into tri: rolling hills (if only I could brave the terrible city drivers to get to them), open water swimming twice a week in the Salford Quays with the excellence Dave at Uswim; and running in the hills with the fabulous encouragement of The Beardy Guy. I have moved to somewhere where a random visitor to my building will chat to me in the lift, where I know the name of the guy who makes my coffee, sells me milk and maintains the building! And I have moved to somewhere where my mind has stopped whirring and my heart is at peace.

I hope to not be disingenuous nor disrespectful to say that the last three (was it three years?) were not meant to be. I simply made the best of a trying situation and in doing so did not realise that gradually day after day, I learned to live with suspicion, fear, and an expectation of the worst at worst, and at best, indifference. In moving to the North, I in fact moved somewhere where I was more myself, celebrated and adored for who I am, supported and motivated to be who I could be. So how does this outpouring of such candid emotion have any impact on my training, I hear you ask, cringing? Oh it's very simple.

It's all very well to say you're going to do an Ironman when the idea of being out of the house for 24 hours a week of training is escape. When it's the only place to be the person you want to be. When you have a point to prove. Early mornings, late nights, exhaustion, slave to spreadsheets - bring it on. But when you're not just happy but content, when you've no longer got to escape and you're revitalised by the stunning variety of things life has for you to experience, Ironman becomes a chore.

And you lose that reason for doing it. And without an ability to articulate why you're doing what you're doing, I feel you've set yourself up to fail.

So, after much soul searching, sleepless nights and long hypothetical conversations I woke The Beardy Guy one morning to the news - I was withdrawing from Ironman Lanzarote 2013.

This was not an easy decision to make but it feels like the right decision to make. I have made some alternative competition options but I am not sharing them at this stage. In the meantime, I'll be delighted to share my interim little races for fun and how I get on in them. Because the goal for the next few months is fun while swim-bike-running! And enjoying the peace in my heart.