Full-Size Snickers Training! Week 3: A is for Anxiety

Knackered females

Knackered females

I’ve signed up to do a half-marathon in March with Olly – bring on Richmond! And hooray for Olly, getting all carried away! (It’s totally flat, right? I can only run if it’s flat.)

Week two schedule:

4 mile + strides
5 mile slow/fast
4 mile easy run
11 mile long run

I forget I’m not good at winter. Even though it happens every single year, the days when I get a punch in the brain from the lack of light always come as a surprise. It can take me hours until I go “Oh wait: you aren’t going mad, you know how this works, it’s just your brain having a sulk about January.”

I’d had a proper case of the back-to-schools since New Year’s Day. Anxiety: my heart going like the clappers, too wired to sleep. All very boring, and all very much like last January. I ran through everything in my head and couldn’t think of anything to be anxious about: it’s just an irritating physical thing.

Tuesday wasn’t great. Instead of going out to run at lunch, I felt more and more in a slump, nervous about running at lunch, and then, by the end of the day, so tired that I knew I had to have a Knackered Evening. I cancelled the screening I was going to, and went to Waitrose to look at nice, calming things in the toiletries aisle, buy a nice, calming biscuit, and just walk around being very patient with myself, like a parent taking a toddler out to the park. I spent the evening in the bath with some new bath oil, then got into a onesie and hunkered down on the sofa with the cat before going to sleep.

Run 1

Running from work being off the menu for the time being, I ran in the morning instead, after grappling (not physically) with a particularly annoying builder. It was lovely. I can’t get over how short strides are though, but at least 20 seconds running fast is something I can do. I was starving for the rest of the day. Maybe a hangover from winter fizzing in my head going “PIES! PIES! MASH! McDONALD’S!” or maybe from the run. I ate everything in sight, and then some more.

I’d bought a Garmin 110 and heart rate monitor off eBay, and my boyfriend set it up in the evening. We watched 24 Hours in A&E and took our pulses. “How much do you weigh?” he asked, waving the Garmin. I replied with the ringing positivity of someone who could not give a shit. And then I weighed myself, realised I’d put on 4kg since New Year, and went to have a small nervo in the bathroom.

Run 2
Determined to try and get some order in the week, I ran to work, stroking the beautiful Garmin, and obviously forgetting about the heart monitor. Good LORD but running with a backpack is awful. Not doing that again. If I’d been more prepared, I would have brought clothes and so on in yesterday. My five mile failed entirely as it turns out that my current route to work is only 3.94 miles, and by the time I got there I was so bored of my backpack that I didn’t have it in me to rinse another mile or so out.

Burgess Park looked wonderful in the morning light (no picture, my arms were constrained by the wretched backpack). Running through there took me back to when I did my first jog-stagger to work last year. Even though I was tired and a bit on edge, I could feel the strength I’d built up over the last 12 months. I remembered the tentative walks I took through the park, building up to jogs and wanting to go further. But obviously, as mentioned earlier, not that much further.

I had dinner with Oldest Friend Annabel in the evening, and mentioned the needing to eat everything all the time. “Eat more protein, you fool,” she said, but in nicer tones. Eggs it is then. Well, right after we had pad thai at the Pepper Pot.

Run 3

brockwell park
Oh God, so hungover. Staggering home after a night of fondue, Pinot Noir and Covent Garden Cocktail Club’s obscenely excellent cocktails led to a truly lacklustre run. At one point, having a bit of a walk in Brockwell Park, two men lapped me before I’d walked 20 metres.

On the bright side, my befuddled brain inspired me to go through the middle of the park instead of sticking to the usual circumference, which meant getting to explore by the flower garden, the massive clock and all the genteel bits I usually forget are there until it’s time for the Lambeth Country Show again, or to build a snowman. Out of guilt for Thursday’s short run, I did an extra mile. Although given my state at the time, I’m not sure that mile counts for much beyond feeling a bit unwell.

Before I’d embarked on the fondue party of joy and all the booze, I read a thread on the Mind marathon runners’ Facebook page, in which people talked about why they’d picked Mind. It was so sad – so many suicides or illness of friends and family – and incredibly motivating. One guy, Sid, is running it dressed as a phone box. He’s running around England now, training, in his phone box frame.

I’m so bored of the repetition of running now that I don’t think I could do this for a charity I wasn’t invested in.

Run 4
Oh God, even more hungover. This has to stop. Fuelled, or maybe felled, by an amazing dinner party the night before, I spent hours in bed taking pictures of my being sat on by the cat, before forlornly heading out of the door.


This is my usual long run checklist:

  • Vaseline on feet
  • Vaseline under chafing bit of bra at the front
  • Ibuprofen
  • Keys
  • Check wearing correct shoes
  • Water
  • Something to eat
  • Tissues
  • Stretch like a motherfucker

I did not adhere to this list this time. In fact, I probably managed about five.

I’d run half a mile before I realised I was wearing New Shoes of Death, had no ibuprofen for when my hips complain at seven miles, and had failed to Vaseline my chest. Zombies, Run! crashed six times, and I ditched it at Battersea Park in favour of Helen’s dulcet tones on the Empire podcast.

Hangover-wise, I wasn’t sick so much as tired, but I do love these long runs. There’s something of an aim about them, instead of just having to do your best relentless Terminator impression and run fast. I wheezed my way around back to Clapham and then Brixton and then home, and then flopped on the sofa with Sherlock and a chicken stew.

Brain spiders addendum

All those “change your life in a week!” pieces seem to think a week is no time at all. But given how crap I felt on Tuesday, and how good I felt on Sunday (hangover subtracted), it feels like a lifetime. This is a brilliant video by an Australian writer/artist called Matthew Johnstone about his black dog, which I found really inspiring, and accurate. I don’t have depression anymore, but the cracks around the edges still pop up from time to time. When I surface, I feel even more focused on running the best Marathon I can for Mind.

UPDATE: And this is a brilliant piece on anxiety from the Guardian by the ever excellent Daisy Buchanan.


4 thoughts on “Full-Size Snickers Training! Week 3: A is for Anxiety

  1. Good work on getting through the week. My week also started badly when I decided I couldn’t be bothered to go to the gym yesterday and then proceeded to eat my body weight in food that isn’t good for me. It’s not going much better today. I need to get my mojo back.

    However, gym tonight before going out for dinner. I’m going to make myself sweat AND do the first run in 3 months. That’ll be fun!

    • Your messages always cheer me up love! Have a brilliant time tonight – both gym and dinner. And let me know how the run goes. I’ve just had some v good advice about running in the morning and protein which I’ve been massively neglecting.

  2. Pingback: Full-Size Snickers Training! Week 4: Pitiful Small Animal Gif | Exotic Maypole

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