Other, Running

February Blues

Snowdrops surrounded by dead leaves.
Tentative snowdrops

A slippage has occurred.

After the success of my January goals I am feeling a little adrift and rudderless. I guess you can’t always be fired up and raring to go, and as my downswing is in the worst month of the year (according to all the polls1) it is probably inevitable that I feel this way.

How do you get yourself out of the rut?

I’m suddenly reminded of an animated film I saw when I was very young, called The Phantom Tollbooth2. The only thing I recall is that the boy, Milo, goes into the land of the Doldrums and lounges around lethargically, killing time until he’s eventually pulled out by a friend. Well that is what February feels like right now. An in between depressing month where the edges of the day may be getting slightly wider but it won’t be really felt until March. Where each little delicate snowdrop that manages to push out of the cold brown ground is crushed again by repeating waves of frost and snow. Where an ex-President is acquitted by spineless, avaricious cohorts even though the evidence against him is incontrovertible. Where our washing machine has stopped working because the water pipes have frozen up. Where …

I need to be pulled out.

I’m currently watching the wind doing a whirling dervish dance with the snowflakes acting as a visibility cloak. The few birds out are clinging on to the branches while this squall plays out. It could be quite pretty really, if I change my frame of mind.

It’s been three days since my last run and my yoga and Italian have gone out the window for the moment. I’ve done so little cycling that my buttocks are still complaining when I try. I think this slippage has created a space. A space to make excuses, and this year, like last year we’ve got the best excuse of all. All the races are still called off and the gyms are still closed.

What can I focus on?

I think good health and mental wellbeing are sometimes difficult, intangible goals to strive for but I have made a little start with the up perking. I listened to a BBC podcast the other day called ‘People Fixing the World’.3 The episodes aren’t long and they’re quite varied but each one sets out a particular problem that is being solved by ingenious people. For example ‘The breath of life’ looks at ways of creating and storing oxygen (for use in hospitals) without electricity for those places in the world that don’t have a ready supply, of either oxygen or electricity. If you have a short attention span and want a bit of happy nerdery, then this is for you.

The winds are still whipping up a hooley but invisibly as the snow has nearly melted. Tomorrow (as I’m not quite ready today) I will lace up. Bev has tasked me with training her for the Great North Run in September. During normal times, it is the UK’s largest half marathon race with well over 50,000 people running it.  It might not take place this year, but then again it might, and September is far enough away to keep the hope alive. Having responsibility for someone else’s fitness seems like a thing I can grasp more easily right now than thinking about my own. But that’s okay. It’s still a reason to get out and sometimes, if you can just get your trainers on, the rest will come.

  1. I only looked at one poll but I’m sure they all agree: (https://www.buzzfeed.com/leonoraepstein/all-the-months-ranked-from-worst-to-best)
  2. The Phantom Tollbooth:   https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0064806/
  3. People Fixing the World Podcast: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04grdbc