Skip to main content

Getting Beyond the Bus Stop

2016 has been a shocker for many.. The start of the year and the end of 2015 had been bitter and I was struggling to get my head around much of life in London and changes in my personal life. I'd put on loads of weight and was in a pit that I wasn't clear on how to get out of.. Things were far from good and I was fighting through layers of problems that I just couldn't vocalise any more

At the end of February I had a huge crash into the dark days and visited my GP, who referred me to my local mental health team. While I was waiting for a counsellor to be assigned I was struggling to keep on top of everything and took a look at where I was physically. I wasn't sleeping properly; I was waking up at 4-5am each day, worrying about the world, what I had become and the chances of getting through the days. I realised that I couldn't carry on waiting for help and needed to get outdoors and get moving.

I sheepishly attempted my first run.. I got out the house early. So early no-one would see me. I tried my best to shut down the inner monologue telling me I was stupid, old and too fat to run. I tried really hard to get myself prepped up to blast out of the block, run round the corner and get back in time before anyone saw me.. I ran as fast as I could - I got as far as the bus stop 100m down the road

My lungs burned, my head pounded, my face turned a huge beetroot red - I was f**ked. 42 years old and in the worst shape of my life, with a head that kept telling me I was a failure and a body that clearly wasn't going to turn heads for any of the right reasons.. It was shameful

So, it could have ended up stopping there, and for a few days it nearly did. But as a teenager I had spent years training as a runner and at various times in my life, I have returned to putting repetitive feet in front of one another, to help resolve the cloudy head and darker days.

It's a method that works well for me, to get through the mental filing that can't be achieved through normal day to day working and being mum. It's also one of the few times in my life when I am in control of my thoughts, my direction of travel and I am truly on my own. So if my 1st attempt had been terrible, I came to think that it couldn't really have gone much worse, so I tried again.

This time, I decided that I would go for a power walk, not too far, just a few laps of the local park, then back home.. It went ok.. Tomorrow I would get further - I started a playlist and made a pact.

I set up my trainers and my running gear in the bathroom each night, so I would wake up like the 'Elves and the Shoemaker' - get dressed half asleep, pick up my keys, close the door, walk down the 5 floors of my flats and never look out the window, before the ground floor and out the front door. Never check the weather, just get up and out as quick as possible.

I started a mix of walking and running.. now being able to jog to the park, round the outside, walk through the short pathway then do loops of the park and return home. I started to track my distance, not really too fussed on time, but started to increase the amount of each until I was ready to go further.

The park turned out to be too short after a few months and I began to try to reach the docks. The view of the sun on the water in Royal Victoria Docks in the spring / summer mornings was amazing. By now my counselling had started too and I was working through a lot of issues that I had been beating myself up over. I learnt to be a bit kinder to myself and to enjoy my runs, making strategies on how I was going to complete each morning.. Run the flats, walk the bridges, sprint a few lampposts. This was a personal race, but mostly to will myself to get better.

My counsellor suggested I stop isolating myself, call a friend, go for a cuppa, have some proper conversations with people and keep up the exercise. Over time I did all of the above and decided to stop my visits to the drop in centre and let someone else in deeper crisis, have their help and support.

Over the coming months, my runs continued.. I bought a new bike on my Cycle To Work scheme and set myself a few goals. To get better, to raise money to help others who were suffering with mental health problems and to find ways to keep busy and healthy again.

This year has been tough but its had a lot of high points too, so I wanted to get a few things out of my head and into this blog to share a mixture of explanations of my journey. It will probably cover a few races on bikes and feet over time, plus a space to share the info and support I have found along the way.

Its not a plan for anyone to follow, or a suggestion that this will help resolve other people's issues. I'm still learning to be open about how I've been affected by depression and anxiety in the past year, so I hope by writing a few bits down, that others will also keep talking, doing and being.

Soph
x


Additional Posts You May Enjoy

Adventures in Girona: Winter Training Camp

It's taken a while to come down from the buzz of this camp, to try to put into words the boost which the experience has given me. To be fair, its probably gonna take a while longer for it all to sink in still, but I'll try to give you a slice of how it went, to tide you over until I have got my head back into gear and worked my way through all the footage.

In January, I was totally lucked out, to be given the opportunity to join the Adventure Syndicate ladies, in Spain for a week long Winter Training Camp, with Lee Craigie, Emily Chappell and coach John Hampshire, within the grounds of Girona Cycling. As well as being led by this incredible team, the group of ladies participating alongside me, were a force to be reckoned with.

Do you ever sign up for something, with anticipation that its going to be pretty cool, only to find that you have by some strange fate, found yourself in the middle of a complete game changer? This was my initial thought on day one and over the course o…

Calling All Ploggers

We're all finding ourselves surrounded by more and more brands and channels making us aware of the rising plastic pollution problems. Most of us have been trying to recycle for years, but there is still too much plastic ending up in landfill, or worse across our landscapes and in our seas. Our European cousins in Sweden are ahead of the game as usual with their efforts to clean up and have been combining their love of the outdoors, exercise and being generally good humans and cleaning up after each other.. Behold a new phenomenon - Plogging! Erik Ahlström started the Plogging movement, which is a combination of litter picking and jogging, when he moved to Stockholm from the Åre ski resort. He created the website Plogga to help organise events in 2016 and it has been growing internationally since. The Mindful Movement Club recently had a beach walk and clean up session at the beginning of summer near Shoeburyness, but interest in this proactive way to get exercise and clean our enviro…

Bike Week - Not just for Newbies

After months of staring at my bike and thinking about getting back to my commuter days, I finally bit the bullet yesterday and got my pedals turning again. Its been almost a year since my accident and its fair to say that I have not been feeling too cool about the prospect of dancing the wheels between the trucks and buses on route to work again. But I haven't wanted to lose the bike, or the choice, I just had a massive confidence drop in my ability to feel okay about getting back out there.
Truth is, I'm still not totally cool with it, but I am getting better. Following the old bike getting written off by the insurance company, I have been able to purchase a replacement Genesis Road bike (Ruby), but I still don't have the balls to use it. I don't want to be on the drops in traffic and this has led to me keeping it in storage, rather than putting it back out on the road. So I am dabbling again with my single speed PlugOne Charge (Old Blue) as its a familiar friend and…