Thursday, 14 December 2017

The Fertile Void

Winter is a time for reflection, so I have been reflecting on everything I've achieved this year with my running. I started the year just about able to run six miles without stopping, and finished it comfortably running half marathons over hills, through muddy, rocky, rooty terrain. I wasn't especially fast (my road HM PB is 2:02, although that did include a few sharp hills), but I did get more technical, more competent and familiar with race strategy. I also made mistakes. I discovered what it felt like to experience a running-related injury; experienced the frustration of having to miss races, pull back on training, take more rest days. I experienced the support and encouragement of running friends who'd been through it all before and knew how I was feeling. I also experienced the opinions of people who told me I'd ruin my joints if I continued. Through that experience, I learnt to be aware of how my responses to people who were working to overcome obstacles or to take on challenges might make them feel, and to think about offering them support in place of judgement, because one's own experience is never going to be identical to someone else's. 

I learnt how to focus on getting over the injury, which has been chronic all summer, by putting in the work I needed to sort out the imbalance and condition muscles that haven't been tested this way in forty years. I listened to the advice of friends and experts and tried to find my way somewhere through the middle. I'm not there yet, but this is a journey that doesn't reach its destination overnight and I have learnt to accept that. I have also learnt, through it being tested by having to deal with this injury, how strong my will to run is, because of the sheer amount of support work required in order for me to do it. This has tested my commitment and I find myself a more disciplined, determined and focused being as a result.

I learnt I could focus on a goal (first to run 3 miles, then 6, then 9, then 10, then 13), and, through hard work, commitment and determination achieve it. My experience has encouraged others to take up running and I am so proud of them and what they've achieved as a result- all through their own hard work. I made friends with strangers on races who helped me through difficult times when I was tired and flagging. I helped strangers when they were tired and flagging. Competing in races with my husband has added a new and unlooked-for dimension to our experience of life together as we're able to talk about a shared experience; the thrills, spills, exhilarations and disappointments of the races we've run in together. I have a better understanding of something he has done and loved for years and years as a result.

Running has taught me so much this year, about myself and what I am capable of. But most important of all: I have loved every second of it. Even when it wasn't going well, it has been valuable as it's taught me more about myself. 

I have felt the need to pause and reflect as the season swings towards the shortest day. So I'm having a break, taking a few weeks off running at the end of a busy year to allow my body to rest; a little quiet time to experience the satisfaction of everything I've achieved. So far, I am enjoying it. I thought it would be hard- regular runners will know, we're like caged tigers or bears with sore heads if we have to miss any of our normal weekly runs. But once you make the decision to pause, and commit to it, it becomes easy. I am missing some races, and a few Christmas social runs which sound huge fun, but this is part of the discipline: not giving in to the temptation to break with what you've decided to do because a tempting offer arises. I'm thinking this might not be a bad pattern to follow every year.

In this fertile void is the satisfaction of knowing that something has been achieved through my own hard work, focus, determination and dedication. In it too, is the seed for next year's goal, which is my marathon. Something that, six months ago, I was still insisting I had no impulse to do. It is good that life is full of surprises. I like to embrace them.

I will try and post again before Christmas, but, as with everyone else, life is busy here so I may not. Similarly, I will try and get round and read all your lovely blogs.

Happy Christmas everyone, and thank you very much for reading Countryside Tales this year. It's been a pleasure and a joy to share this space with you.

Blessings on you all,

CT x


  1. You have achieved so much already and are such an inspiration. I'm looking forward to being able to read about your marathon success next year.
    Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas and many blessings for the New Year. X

  2. As Jules says you have achieved so much.
    I look forward to more of your posts next year, if you don't post again before Christmas I wish you a very Happy Christmas and New Year.
    Marlene x

  3. Merry Christmas to you and have come so far! x

  4. I think you are probably due a well earned rest although I have a feeling it won’t be for too long. Hard to be believe that you were only doing short distances at the beginning of this year. You are such an inspirational person, encouraging so many of us. I’m sure next year will see you achieve your goals. I look forward to hearing about the journey. Wet and windy over here so my running shoes are gathering dust at the moment. Hopefully dry and calmer soon so I can get out again.
    Have a wonderful Christmas with the family if I don’t have chance to say again. The next few days no doubt will be a whirlwind of activity in more ways than one. It’s been a pleasure blogging with you this year. Thankyou. B x

  5. I've never wanted to run - I'm more a 'pauser' - but I find your post inspiring. I'm particularly interested in what to do about good advice. Sometimes we are given advice that really is good - maybe running isn't good for your joints, I have no idea - but we have an overriding goal that makes it worth it to set that good advice aside . . . yet knowing when one is being resolute and when one is being pig-headed is often hard. How does one tell?
    But your decision to run certainly seems to have paid off and is clearly delighting your readers too!
    In case you don't post again before Christmas - hope you have a great time.

  6. Many, many congratulations on your achievements this year. I have no doubt whatsoever that 2018 will see us cheering you on as you finish your first marathon. You are a huge inspiration to all of us and I wish you, your family, and Ted and Poppy, of course, a wonderful Christmas. Hugs. xx

  7. It just shows what you can do when you put your mind to it. Well done. Have a great Christmas and all the best for 2018. I look forward to reading all about your exploits. x

  8. I think I need some of your focus and determination to help me move forward. I am giving up too soon too often. Well done for all your achievements, it has been a joy to read about your running this year. Wishing you all the best for your next running year. Happy Christmas xx

  9. Resting up with tendonitis, may try a 5k on SAturday. I've been exercising by walking and exercise bike, not really the same thing!

  10. What a lovely post. I've enjoyed following your running journey and learning about what it's like to be a runner and the camaraderie and inspiration there is to be had. Enjoy your well-earned pause, and I hope you and yours have a very wonderful Christmas. CJ xx

  11. I've enjoyed reading about your running achievements and training this year. Wishing you and your family a very Happy Christmas and best wishes for a Happy and Healthy 2018 :)

  12. Congratulations on a year of discovery and being an inspiration to others ~ even if we aren't runners!
    Wishing you and yours a Happy Christmas and Healthy, Happy New Year.

  13. Thank you for interesting blogs throughout 2017. Congratulations on your achievements running too. Life is for living and your life is a true reflection on this.
    Catch up with you on the afternoon of NYE?
    lots of love. Sally xx

  14. Happy Christmas. It's been lovely to follow your running progress this year :)

  15. You've had a good year running wise. And I've enjoyed following these reports of your interesting and intriguing running adventures. The longest fertile void I have personally experienced was 18 or 19 years ago when I injured my foot through training too intensely. At the moment ticking over nicely. Taking each week as it comes.

  16. I have enjoyed following your running and all the ups and down plus mud (hahahahahah) . Along with the two wonderful running companions.
    Merry Christmas and the most Happy of New Years.

    I am so happy I found your blog.
    cheers, parsnip and mandibles.


Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x