My calendar doesn't work like everyone else's 😳.
My mindset certainly doesn't 😂!
I look forward so much to that weekend in Snowdonia, that in many ways, it has sort of become Christmas. My running year builds up towards that, and I have a great time there 😊. The clocks change Saturday night / Sunday morning, Hafod Eryri sells it's last cup of coffee, the mountain railway runs it's last train, and the dark evenings come. I know I will not see the tops of my mountains again for months 🙁.
It's not that I can't get up there, I could, if only I could bring myself to spend the right amount of money on the right kit, but we must always make choices with money, and it's been a permanent feature of my life that there's just never enough in the pot 😔.
I'm not bitter though, I could have been born into far worse circumstances than the ones I have lived through, and I wouldn't wan't to have the wealth of a Jacob Rees-Mogg, because, well, most simply put, I wouldn't want to be a tosser like him, and it is only an excess of money that creates that particular brand of gobshite.
I digress. I often do.
I'm not a great fan of getting cold anyway, so maybe I wouldn't use the winter mountain kit even if I went out and bought it?
New Year always fills me with renewed vigour, and I very much enjoy the downtime from work between it, and the great festival of Christianity we all enjoy just after the winter solstice has passed. That's really when I start getting my running back together, and start kicking on towards new challenges ahead.
That leaves me with a bit of a gap though. Leaves me in a bit of a lull. It's not necessarily good for me that, because I am most definitely one of the lucky people who have been chosen to struggle along with Seasonally Affected Disorder (SAD) ☹️.
On a brighter note, we live and we learn, and the passage of time has equipped me with ever more tools to help control the impact that these shortening days have on me. It's never stopped me at anything, and it never will, it just makes the normal day to day a bit harder than it is at other, more hopeful, and better iluminated, times of year.
I'm usually fine by the first week of January, because there's not only the uplift of Hogmanay fresh in both head and in heart 😊, but I notice the lengthening days already 😀. Even though we usually have the coldest weather to come, I feel a warming in my bones from that wee bit of daylight 😊, and I'm good until we wind those clocks back again.
Life has gone through a few changes these last couple of years. I used to be married, and live up on the hill with views out of the front window that gave me more hours of pleasure than I ever took from an evening filled with TV (tele, not trans - it might be a fun and interesting night out if it was the latter 😃😃).
New love came into my life. There's a story there all of it's own, but respectfully I won't tell it here. In the end it didn't work out, but I bear no ills and I carry no scars. I am grateful for the time that we had, and the lessons I learned.
So I find myself here now, in my 5th house in 3 years, but it's my own this time, and though it's a long way from perfect, it ain't bad, and it fits with the important things in my life, my young son, who still needs me, and my job, and the sense of security that having your own place brings, and it is near enough to my hills and mountains that I can see them more or less whenever I like.
Snowdonia weekend is important. To me.
I think only now, having missed the Sunday trip up the mountain last year due to circumstances beyond my control, have I truly realised just how important that Sunday hike is. It's tough on the legs, it always is, heck, most of us heading up there have run a marathon the day before, but those hours of daylight, after the GMT+1 is over, stoke my fires in ways I never really knew.
I have hiked up that mountain in 2016, and that was the most amazing cloud inversion that day, on a messed up knee that could only take me as far as Beddgelert the day before. Such a worthwhile hike. Such a privilege to be there when our Kathy made it up to the top.
I have hiked up that mountain in 2015, having run on a broken foot the day before, and though I remember vividly my legs pretty much buckling as we rounded the corner at the bottom of the miner's path and got our first view of the gate at Pen-y-Pass, I felt stronger for going up there that day.
In 2017, my ankle was in tatters after doing the Chester marathon with Clair, and then the Fell Relays with Charles. It was horribly painful running on that. Maxine's face in that cafe though! That smile! Bit of a bugger getting back down into Llanberis, but again, despite the weakness, felt like it was giving me strength.
One thing that has always been there, since I started this journey of running in the summer of 2007, is that I've kept on going, no matter what.
I never knew it was going to be like that. I trained up for that first London marathon in April 2008, under the sponsorship of Flora it was back then, and looking back, with honest eyes, I never enjoyed a single training run back then 😧. It was all through necessity, all a chore. I walked, and then I jogged, and then eventually I ran, pushing further and further week upon week, and all of it was hard.
I found the joy when I crossed that finish line though, and I couldn't wait to be back out there and at it again 😁.
In the years that have followed, especially since I discovered the joys of the trails, and the hills and the mountains, and the warmth and informality of the fell runs I keep being drawn back to; I have come to realise that this fresh air time, these hills, these mountains, and the time I get on them, are really important to me in terms of maintaining good mental health.
I'm off balance without it. I would be affected by SAD.
Last year, like I say, I never made it up the mountain on the Sunday. I knew it was relevant, but I guess I hadn't realised just how so.
Every green box in that picture above, represents exercise I've done (none of it huge amounts of exercise, but all of it significant) over and above what I did the same time last year.
In 2018, from finishing the Snowdonia marathon, up until Christmas day, I exercised a grand total of....... twice 😳!
That's rubbish for someone who knows all the benefits of getting the exercise done!
Not just the theory of it, not just the medical fact, not just the physical benefits on a personal scale, but the better sleep that comes with it, the sense of contentment within, and the overall mental benefits too.
There's always a purpose to my posts. I don't really put them on here to talk about me - I just use myself as an example because I know every bit of detail of the tale.
I don't always know what that purpose is either until I've started typing it - thick as a potted plant see 😂 - tonight for example, I was initially going to blog about an achievement on my bicycle, and the fact I've started working towards the Loch Ness marathon next October; but this is bigger, there's some substance here, and maybe something that one day might help somebody in some small way.
The reason I'm posting this long winded rambling is to say this:
Look after yourselves mentally out there...
Do what's good for you...
Do what's right for you...
Sort your life out if you need to.*
Your running might suffer if you don't - but sure as eggs are eggs - it WILL come together when you do!
*(not an easy one that, but trust me, worthwhile)
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