Tuesday February 17th
Fresh air. Spend at least 15 minutes outside every day.
This can be 15 minutes standing outside my front door, in fact this morning I got the urge to open the door and stick my head out. The air on my face, sound of the birds singing and the hum of traffic stills my mind.
One thing that became clear to me during when my anxiety and panic was at it's highest was that staying inside all the time did me no good at all. Getting outside would most times make me feel marginally if not lot’s better, give me a relief if only temporary but that I never felt worse afterwards.
Sometimes at night I would just put my coat and headphones and walk. One really frosty evening I just stood up in the middle of a film we were watching with the kids told them all I loved them and out the door I went. Walking for about 2 hours. It was only later that it occurred to me what a worry to Christian this must have been.I had left my phone in the house and he did say that the thought I might not come back had crossed his mind.
A huge constant part of my life for the last year has been runclub and I can’t blog about this experience without talking about it. Also it is proof again to me that even the seemingly negative times no matter how hard are part of the plan that leads us if we let it to where we are meant to be.
Running lead me to runclub.
I first ran (other than in school) in 2007 after Jessica was born when I decided to train for a marathon. I took off up the road near my house like a rocket to practically collapse red faced and embarrassed half way up. I persisted though and printed off a random training plan, stuck it on the fridge and completed the Dublin Marathon 16 weeks later in a little over 5 hours. In 2011 I repeated the experience this time having trained with a running club. A new goal set to complete it in 3 hours and 30 minutes, why exactly I had picked this time I don’t know. I think it sounded to me like a time a “good” runner would finish in above average. I now no longer believe in “good” or “bad” times or “good” or “bad” runners I believe that everyone who has the courage to take that first step, tie up their laces and try their best is equal. To cut a long story short I over trained, injured my knee, was told by a physio don’t run your knee will not hold up to the pace required. Did I listen?
Of course not. I can look back now and see that a part of me was always setting the bar so high to sabotage myself, pushing me to fail and prove to myself I was as worthless as I thought deep down.
The day before the marathon in panic I went for a slow jog and could barely manage 2 miles.
31st October 2011
Start line. Dublin city Marathon.
I stood, knee strapped up beside the 3.30 pacers already filled with self-doubt. By mile 6 as we entered the Phoenix Park my knee was protesting and I was having to stop walk a minute then run.
I kept going.
By the time I arrived at the halfway point I was in agony, already well over my best half marathon time and was never going to achieve my goal time. I had said that if this happened I would stop. I did for a moment, stood on the path a lump in my throat but looking down at my runners there was a little smiley face sticker on them that Jess had given me for luck.I carried on. 3 hours and 30 minutes in the heavens opened and torrential rain came down, at this stage I was neither walking nor jogging literally dragging myself along. At mile 21 I stopped again, a girl I knew to see stopped beside me and gave me some of her drink and together we made it to the finish line.
Did I feel elation to have made it? No. Did I praise myself for the huge feat of endurance I had achieved? No. I went home cried in the bath. Two of my toenails fell off. Cried more. Painted the kids’ faces and brought them to a Halloween party in where I didn’t even allow myself a piece of chocolate.
The voice in my head had told me before how I wasn’t good enough to call myself a runner. I would like to think that I ran the marathon to prove it wrong but I know now that I ran it to prove it right.
So three years later having qualified as a Personal Trainer I had a client who’s desire was to be able to run a 5k. At the time she would have been uncomfortable jogging for more than a minute.
I had kept on running after the marathon, first embarking on a ultra-marathon training programme ( this lifelong habit of setting rather high standards for myself is getting more apparent!!), physical and mental exhaustion along with the insistence of my GP forced me to stop.
Deciding to concentrate on half marathons a distance I actually liked. I followed a plan written by George Anderson a PT and running coach I had come across online, which only involved running 3 times a week, with my injury history was ideal and following it I enjoyed my training. Result. I had also been to one of his running workshops, he was a bit of a celeb to me at the time! In fact myself and one friend used to talk about him so much another friend would burst into laughter each time we said “George says…”
Anyway I knew his plans worked and I knew he had a beginner’s plan that was free to download which I did then emailed to ask could I use it with a client. He said yes.
Both my client and I were amazed at how well it worked and after 10 weeks she was well able to run for an hour.
It got me thinking about my previous experiences of running and how bad it had made me feel no fault of the club I ran with but my own habit of comparing myself to others and self-doubt meant a competitive environment was not a good one for me.
I also knew there were people out there who really want to get active but it’s not as simple as saying “just get out, get moving”. If you haven’t exercised in years or ever, if you are self-conscious of your appearance or perceived lack of fitness “just getting out” can be a monumental and frightening task.
So the idea of a non-competitive group that followed Georges plan came about the rest as they say is history.
The first Hannah Lilly “Beginners Luck Runclub “began in May 2014 and now the 11th group has started, over 180 absolute beginner non-runners have passed through and become or are on the way to becoming runners.
It has been a constant in my life over the last year through good times and bad and every single session that I have spent with them all has brought me nothing but absolute joy.
Some days in November and December I didn't want to get up,but not wanting to let this amazing bunch of people down I would put on my woolly hat and drive to the track. One particular day I remember sitting in the car and as the group began to pull up my heart was racing and I didn’t know if I could get out.
But I did and running and chatting in the fresh air would bring me out from the problems in my head, it didn't fix me but I always felt better hence rule #6 came about.
I am filled with gratitude to George Anderson for writing a book and plan that has truly changed lives and to every single member of RUNCLUB for their dedication and bravery in pursuing something they never believed possible. You have all been a part of changing my life.
It began with a wish I had to create a club that would be about more than the running, a place where people could feel comfortable in their own skin and proud of their own achievements and inadvertently that is exactly what it and they did for me.
"The fear of doing the thing is nearly always greater than doing the thing itself"