“I’ve got new rules; I count ‘em” Have you heard the song by the pop artist, Dua Lipa called New Rules? Well, she sings about trying to manage a break-up from an ex which she’s struggling with, probably keeps making the same mistakes, so she makes up some rules to stick to help her get over her bad habits and ex.

  1. Don’t pick up the phone; he’s only calling because he’s drunk and alone,
  2. Don’t let him in; you’ll have to kick him out again,
  3. Don’t be his friend; you know you’re going to wake up in his bed in the morning.

Admit it; you sang that out in your head, right? Me too! Ha! Ha!

Anyhow, it got me thinking about my training or at present lack of training, diet, way of thinking etc. I started thinking about the past couple of years leading up to now and that maybe I needed to sort myself out some new rules to go by.

Old Rule 1

No matter how much you’re booked to do, you can always add more.

I did my very first OCR/mud run in Oct 2014. Major Series 5k (RIP). I ran three more in between Feb and July 2015. I had been training for my first marathon and first 100km ultra as well. Between Aug and Dec I’d got the OCR bug and racked up 15 more. In 2016, I went hell for leather regarding OCR and distance events. I had severe FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), so I wanted in as much as possible. The last of 2015 was Muddy Furlong on Dec 27th, and the first of 2016 was Jan 3rd.

Rough calendar of 2016 consisted of:

  • Jan- McTough, Tough Guy
  • Feb- cold water training 3x weekends
  • March- Nuts, Suffering, Bigfoot
  • April- Ram Run, Reaper, Dirty Dozen x2, Spartan x2
  • May- RRDW full mucker
  • June- Cateran Yomp 54 mile, The Wall 69 miles
  • July-Man v Lakes, MHSOF x2
  • Aug- Mud7, Dirty Dozen x2
  • Sept-Man vs Mountain, The Unknown
  • Oct- Spartan x2, OCRWC x3
  • Nov- UK OCR championships
  • Dec- 7 marathons in a week (then went skiing two weeks later)

Believe it or not, there were a few races that I would’ve booked in for had logistics and finances allowed. It was all about quantity and who cared if it didn’t look pretty or that I was slowly making myself ill with it. Just think about the bling and swag!

Old Rule 2

Deferring a race/Quitting is not an option, keep pushing.

On top of the race schedule, I worked 8am-6pm five days a week plus was On Call about 3-4 times per week as well until October, when I changed contracts. By the July, I was starting to hurt. I mean really hurt. I was near exhaustion physically and mentally, but deferring wasn’t an option (actually I did duck out of a couple of shorter races in July/Aug, but they were on the road so don’t count!).

Winter Nuts was my first ever DNF. I’d signed up for four but halfway through lap two my legs had gone (who’d have thunk eating food between the laps would’ve mattered so much?!) and I was a gibbering wreck by the time I got to the slide. I sobbed my way over the finish line and didn’t touch the medal they gave me. Lots of others did things like sent their medals back or cut them in half to symbolise their ‘failure’ but I couldn’t bring myself to look at it I was so disappointed in myself. I was determined that I would have to be dragged off before I ‘quit’ again.

Some people got seriously hurt throughout the year, but it seemed the more punishment you could take the more badass you were! Broken leg?! Pah! You got crutches ain’t ya?! Cracked open your head? Stick a plaster on it, and it’ll be fine! It got to December and time for the finale of the year; Dover, Kent to Bacton, Suffolk on foot, in a week. I covered a total of 185 miles which is just over seven marathons in 7 days. Unfortunately, my partner in crime had to duck out of the full distance, so I decided to do the final three marathons from home. I was going to finish that distance even if I had to crawl it. I nearly did have to crawl it because I was stupid and thought it would be a great idea to do my final marathon on Beastie’s Peppa Pig scooter. It was built for a small child, so it was really uncomfortable scooting on it then about 4 miles in, I fell off and landed awkwardly on my knee. Cuppa, a truckload of painkillers and a cuddle from The Husband and Beastie and I got back to it. Got to admit, I’m a little bit proud of completing that week.

Old Rule 3

Can’t let people down.

I was also on a year-long fundraising mission, and I didn’t want to let anyone down. I was on antibiotics for the whole of Aug and half of Sept which added to me being wiped out, but that didn’t matter, I was still going to run those events. There was worry it was Lyme’s Disease as I’d been bitten by a tick, the bite area still gets swollen even now but looking back, it was more likely that my poor body had just had enough and couldn’t fight off a simple UTI. I remember doing DD and screaming every time I stopped moving the pain in my back was so bad. I had planned to do the 18k, 12k and 6k that day but was gutted I only ‘managed’ the 18k and 6k. I was also on call that night and had to talk my colleagues out of dragging me to A&E after I nearly passed out from pain and fever mid case. I’d run that day because it was part of my year-long fundraising thingy and then, in turn, I told myself that it was my fault I was feeling like death’s shite so I couldn’t call in sick and let everyone down.

Old Rule 4

Train Harder, Faster, Stronger as quickly as possible.

Fast forward to Sept 2017, having had a ‘lazy’ 9 months, I decided that it was time to get off my arse and get back into ‘training’ for the 2018 season. I’d put on 7kg from what I was at, at the beginning of 2016, mostly down to the huge reduction in training. I was still active but not to the extent I had been at. I’d become slower, weaker and fatter. Seeing lots of social media posts of running/ lifting/ Cross fit PBs was a reminder that I’d been lazy, made excuses to myself and now had to crawl it all back. I also figured that as well as losing the weight I needed a new goal to help motivate me, so it was no longer good enough to do the distance, but it now had to be done faster. I’d decided I wanted to try for a Good For Age time of 3hrs 45min to qualify for London Marathon. I’ve run for 15hrs plus previously so an hour should be fine to start myself off with. Gym sessions had been a good 2hrs 5x a week so an hour every day should be easy enough. I quit my gym and joined a running club instead (which was better than I thought it would be) to try and help me focus and maybe even learn to love run training because I ‘knew’ that GFA was going to require a lot of it. I was pretty strict with myself for a couple of months. I went to running club 2-3x a week, got up at 04:45 in the morning to go out for a 30-60min run 2-3x a week too along with HIIT workouts at home.

What Happened?

Going by my ‘Old Rules’ and way of thinking, by the time I got to Jan 2018, I had got no further than where I was the previous Sept. I had already kind of started on this journey of new thinking in the Jan of 2017, after an utterly miserable run around McTough with yet again more kidney pains. It was during this miserable run; I realised that The Husband, Beastie and I, had only spent two whole weekends it being just us, without anyone else, without being on call, without them waiting for me at a finish line. Just two whole weekends. I’d spent so much of 2016 either working, training, racing or looking after other people, making sure they were ok, that I had made myself ill and lost out on quality time with my own family.

‘Training’ utterly sucked. The daily/ high volume running, which works for some people, really, really doesn’t suit me. First few weeks were ok, but then halfway through an early morning run, I got this searing pain on the inside of my knee. I’ve never had that before and it proper hurt to even walk properly let alone jog/run. I foam rolled and waited a week and went out again, determined not to quit. I told myself that it was just me being crappy about running. I told myself I needed to suck it up. Eventually, my osteopath ‘ordered’ me not to run. He told me to walk, lift weights, gently cycle but no running if I wanted to get better. We were also in the process of moving house which disrupted the ‘training’, so it gave me an opportunity to stop and have a good hard think about what it is I want to achieve. I was due to do a marathon on May Bank Holiday. I’d known for a while that I had no hope of hitting sub 5 hrs let alone a GFA time but not wanting to quit, I had told myself that I would walk it for training. It also happened to be the same day that I had booked for Beastie’s birthday party for the late afternoon, so I asked her three weeks beforehand if she minded if I still did the marathon in the morning. Her reply was ‘I’d rather you didn’t Mummy. I don’t want you to get hurt even more and then not enjoy my party’. Couldn’t argue with that logic, could I, so instead of being a stupid twat, I spent the morning having breakfast and sitting in the sunshine with The Husband and Beastie. One thing my osteopath told me, was that it was the cross training that had got me to that first marathon and ultra, back in 2015. It was the mixed training that helped my overly mobile lower back, ankles and knees get strong in the first place. This piece of information made me really happy because I love mixed training so much. I’ve started something that I’ve always wanted to do but had never quite managed to start. It’s relatively new to me, so it’s forcing me to start from the very beginning which is what I need.

New Rules for 2018

Only took 18 months and constant searing pains in my left leg and hip to realise that I really needed to stop with my old, self-sabotaging mental habits and start from the beginning. So, the ‘New Rules’ for 2018 and onwards are as follows;

New Rule 1

Don’t be a FOMO idiot! You do not need to do every single event. It’s expensive in both money and time. The only thing you’re going to miss out on is your own life and your family.

New Rule 2

Don’t be a deluded idiot! If you’re injured so severely that your body is screaming F*%K NO!!! Then listen to your body!! You don’t need to push through injuries; chances are you’re going to make them a whole lot worse. Seriously think about whether the result will be worth putting your body and loved ones through the pain. There is no shame in calling it.

New Rule 3

Don’t be a martyr idiot! Have a really hard think about who you’re really going to be letting down. Spend more time on yourself and your own family. Other people will understand. If they don’t then they probably don’t really give a shit about you, so they don’t deserve your time in the first place.

New Rule 4

Don’t be an impatient, masochistic idiot! Exercise is fun and meant to be enjoyable so stop ‘making’ yourself do things. Remember things take time. Do something you enjoy doing regardless of what you see everyone else doing.
They might not fit into a song as well as Dua’s rules, and they might seem a bit obvious, but I guess that I’m hoping to say them out loud and writing them down will save me from being a complete idiot and maybe, just maybe help me get to where I want to be in one piece, mentally and physically.

Love and Squishy Hugs
TP x