A Weighty Topic

Can we talk about weight for a minute?

I wasn’t sure quite how to tackle this topic, but I think it’s one worth discussing. Even if it’s just to document how I’m feeling now so I can refer back to it in a year or two.

If I were to go and stand on a scale right now, it would tell me a number that would bring many women to tears. I’m 20-or-so kilos heavier than when I was at my last fittest peak. I jiggle when I walk (and run!). I have cellulite. And stretch marks. I have to test all trousers with a squat test before I buy them.

And I bloody love my body.

I can’t remember a time when I’ve loved it this much.
I don’t accept it as it is.
I don’t love it despite my weight.

I love my body.
For what it does to keep me alive.
For what it does to keep me safe.
For what it does when I push it to work hard.
For what it does. Full stop.

I know that losing weight will help my body with my running.
Less fat on my body will reduce the effort required to propel it forward.
A lighter frame will reduce the stress on my joints.
If I lost weight, I’d reduce the likelihood of injury over these months of training.

All valid. All make perfect sense.
And if I lose weight during my training, great.
But I am done actively trying to shrink myself.

I do not need to make myself physically less to feel more.

This body – obese if you trust my BMI – walked the width of England this summer. 6 days along the length of Hadrian’s Wall. There were long days. There were complaints. There were blisters on blisters, sore legs, and an aching back from carrying my gear from accommodation to accomodation. We walked in the (English) summer sun, and the pouring rain.

This body is a good body.
This body deserves love and respect.

Running with Anxiety

Running is a powerful tool for maintaining good mental health, but what happens when that mental health is hindering your training?

Because I’m really struggling with this right now.

I have strugged with anxiety since I was in my early twenties. Well, it was diagnosed and medicated in my twenties, when my hair started falling out and I finally asked for help. But I have always been an anxious person.

I haven’t been medicated for years, and I had gotten into a rhythm with my body, where I went about my life and it let me know when I needed to slow down a little, to concentrate on more physical activity, and to take time to re-anchor myself. You can probably map my mental health journey to a log of my gym visits.

With the global pandemic – unsurprisingly – I’ve been struggling with managing my anxiety. It’s one of the reasons I set myself this challenge of running a half-marathon. I’ve been doing my guided meditations, limiting caffeine, and making sure I head to bed at a good time to get my 8 hours of shut eye. Some of my bigger fears have come to pass, and while that has offered some relief, I still have not breathed properly in weeks. Probably 2-3 months, if I’m honest.

Shallow and tight.

And I didn’t realise quite how bad it was until I started running. The first few runs I was really out of breath – of course I was – I’m not a runner and my cardio fitness terrible (for now). But I’ve come to realise that it’s primarily by breathing holding me back on my runs.

While cardio exercise is usually medicine for my mental health woes, it’s not helping now. My anxiety is basically punching me in the stomach as I warm up at the starting line.

My worries aren’t about the run. I actually really enjoy it, when I’m filling my lungs with the air they’re crying out for.

But I’m breathing into my chest, not my abdomen, and I find I’m holding my breath when I’m not actively concentrating on it. Iiiiiiiinnnnnn… ooooouuuutttt…

Have you experienced anything similar?
Any tips?